How Weed Can Protect Us From Cancer and Alzheimer’s?

Hardly the harmful intoxicant that many once thought it was, cannabis is a nourishing plant that actually improves and prolongs life.

The following is an excerpt from MARIJUANA: GATEWAY TO HEALTH—How Cannabis Protects Us from Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease.

For thousands of years cannabis has been used as a medicine for a remarkably broad range of ailments. Opponents of medical marijuana have claimed that nothing works on so many diverse illnesses and that the only relief offered was one of stupor from being stoned. But in 1988, the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered and since then researchers have learned that there are two types of cannabinoid receptors which are distributed throughout our bodies and that we make chemicals within our bodies—endocannabinoids—that are similar to the cannabinoids made by the cannabis plant. Both plant and human cannabinoids bind to and influence these receptors in order to discourage the rise and progression of numerous disease processes.

The discovery of the cannabinoid receptor system has changed our entire understanding of cannabis and its effects. In fact, from the inception of the anti-marijuana campaign of the 1930s and its subsequent prohibition until today, almost everything we believed about it was wrong. Hardly the harmful intoxicant that many once thought it was, cannabis is a nourishing plant that can improve and prolong life.

We have recently learned that cannabinoids can help bring our bodies and nervous systems into balance, but what happens when certain compounds block the interaction between endocannabinoids and their receptors, effectively depriving our bodies of sufficient cannabinoids?

It is well known that one of marijuana’s most notable effects is appetite stimulation, or what is colloquially referred to as the “munchies,” a compelling drive to eat and snack. Researchers studying the endocannabinoid system have found that this phenomenon is linked to the activation of the CB1 receptor in the part of the brain that regulates appetite. With the increasing incidence of obesity becoming a public health crisis, scientists have begun to explore the effect of cannabinoids on the regulation of appetite. Researchers working for the international pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, for example, began looking for chemical agents that effectively block CB1 receptor activity (known as CB1 receptor antagonists), which they reason could help suppress appetite and reduce compulsive eating. The company eventually developed a compound called rimonabant, which appeared to effectively inhibit the ability of cannabinoids to activate the CB1 receptor.

The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) approved rimonabant for use in Europe in mid-2006, and it was soon available in Great Britain as an over-the-counter drug available without prescription.By early 2008, the drug was available in 56 countries. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, refused to approve it for distribution in the United States due to concerns about its possible side effects. This decision was based on the recommendation of an FDA review panel, which in mid-2007 unanimously concluded that rimonabant was associated with unacceptable increases in the risk of adverse psychiatric events, suicidality, neurological problems, nausea, vomiting, and more. Then, in late 2008, the EMEA decided to review the drug’s post-marketing data. Agreeing with the FDA’s belief that the risks of rimonabant outweighed its benefits, the European regulators revoked its previous approval and suspended Sanofi-Aventis’ marketing authorization for the drug.

The first cannabinoid-blocking drug turned out to be a disastrous failure. An alarming number of research subjects in clinical trials around the world (which included 16,000 subjects in the U.S. alone) experienced severe neuropsychiatric side-effects including anxiety, depression, panic attacks, sleep disorders, amnesia, and psychomotor agitation leading to contusions, concussions, falls, traffic accidents, and whiplash injuries. Others had gastrointestinal symptoms and erectile dysfunction at a rate three times higher than those who had not received the drug. One patient experienced an increase in multiple sclerosis symptoms and another developed optic neuritis. Two committed suicide. Rimonabant also appeared to promote the development of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.

Evidence also suggested that rimonabant could increase the likelihood of colon cancer. A study at the University of Texas published in August 2008, for example, found that mice treated with a CB1 receptor blocking drug—like rimonabant—had increases in the size and number of colon polyps, which are benign tumors that can become cancerous if not removed. Conversely, the study found that treatment with endocannabinoid activators—like THC from marijuana—decreased the number of polyps. In other words, while blocking the cannabinoid receptor increased the likelihood of colon polyps, stimulating it decreased that likelihood. Rimonabant and marijuana apparently have opposite effects on the likelihood of developing colon cancer. This suggests that it would be wise to conduct follow-up studies to assess the impact of rimonabant on increases in colon cancer. The damage already done by rimonabant may be beyond calculation. By 2007, before the EMEA suspended its approval, about 37,000 patients in the U.K. were using the drug. Even worse, although it is prohibited in both Europe and the U.S., rimonabant is still marketed over the Internet to unsuspecting consumers as a weigh-loss drug by Indian pharmaceutical companies.

The global policing organization INTERPOL states on its Web site that “member countries remain firmly committed to their enforcement efforts against the cultivation and trafficking of cannabis products.” Given what we know about the beneficial nature of cannabis and the harmful effects of cannabinoid-blocking drugs, it makes little sense that the eradication efforts of INTERPOL and other law enforcement organizations are more focused on marijuana than they are on drugs that are—like rimonabant—actually proven to be dangerous.

The suppression of the endocannabinoid system has been connected to numerous health-related problems, involving cognitive function, sleep cycles, digestion, sexual response, physical coordination, and overall happiness. In order to study the endocannabinoid system scientists have selectively bred mice with a specific genetic mutation that disables the CB1 receptors. Studies of these “CB1 knockout mice” have shown that an absence of activity at the CB1 receptor has devastating effects on the physical and mental health of these animals. These effects include:

  • Increased anxiety, increased susceptibility to the depressive effects of chronic stress
  • Reduced responsiveness to rewarding experiences
  • Reduced appetite and pronounced weight loss
  • Reduced ability to forget traumatic memories
  • Increased activity in the HPA axis, an area of the brain associated with stress and fear
  • Increased susceptibility to neurotoxins
  • Reduced ability to regenerate neurons in the hippocampus
  • Reduced amounts of trophic factors (biological compounds associated with cellular growth and healing) in response to damage

The CB1 Knockout mice also had a greater risk of developing neurological problems (such as seizures) and had a greater overall mortality. One group of researchers was somewhat mystified at the severity of the effects, going so far as to comment that “the CB1 knockout animals died suddenly without any obvious signs of disease.” (It is also worth noting that taranabant, another cannabinoid-blocking diet drug, manufactured by Merck, has proven to have similar negative psychiatric and GI side effects as rimonabant.)

The side-effects of cannabinoid blockers and the results of experiments on CB1 knockout mice point to the existence of what we could call the “Cannabinoid Deprivation Syndrome.”

Cannabinoid researcher Ethan Russo, M.D., theorizes that endocannabinoid deficiency might well offer an “alternative biochemical explanation for certain disease manifestations.” It appears that a number of hard-to-treat diseases such as migraines headaches, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may well be related to a lack of proper endocannabinoid activity—implying that supplemental cannabinoids derived from or based on marijuana could be of great value. Russo reasons that some people could be “endocannabinoid deficient” and has labeled the syndrome Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD). Cannabis won’t kill you, but a lack of cannabinoids could.

Let’s re-examine the evidence. Taking a drug that inhibits cannabinoid activity—like rimonabant—can cause agitation, anxiety, depression, vomiting, sleep disorders, suicidal tendencies, and an increase in accidents and injuries. On the other hand, drugs that increase the activity of the endocannabinoid system—like marijuana—result in euphoria, laughter, suppression of nausea, better sleep, resistance to cancer and dementia, and increased brain cell production. The implications are clear: When our cannabinoid receptors have an adequate supply of cannabinoids, we experience a heightened state of health. When they do not, we suffer from Cannabinoid Deprivation Syndrome. The rimonabant debacle and scientific studies have given us even more evidence that maintaining a well-nourished and active cannabinoid receptor system is vital to our health.

Clint Werner is a journalist and medical marijuana advocate, and is the author of Marijuana: Gateway to Health – How Cannabis Protects us from Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease.



Source: galactic free press

New Parasite Prevalence Maps Help Pet Owners Prepare.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) has redesigned its website1 for pet owners and now features a set of maps you can check for information on parasite prevalence in a specific area.

If you’re only interested in heartworm disease, you can select your state from a drop-down menu on the right side of the home page to see the infection risk for your state. If you’d like more extensive information, you can view the entire U.S. map.

If you choose the second option, you can find out the risk for several different diseases for dogs and cats individually, by state. The maps include infection rates for:

  • Tick borne diseases (Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis)
  • Intestinal parasites (roundworm, hookworm and whipworm)
  • Heartworm

You can also click on a state and see infection rates for individual counties, then hover your mouse over a county to see its name.

According to Dr. Christopher Carpenter, executive director of CAPC, “Our unique parasite prevalence maps provide localized statistics about diseases that affect dogs and cats in consumers’ backyards, and we update them monthly.”

Keep Your Pet Safe from Overuse of Parasite Preventives

I think these maps are useful for pet owners looking for general information about the prevalence of a certain disease in a certain location. The intent of the maps is to “… help drive clinic visits,” according to Dr. Carpenter, because “People respond to and appreciate it when experts share pertinent information.”

He goes on to say that CAPC hopes veterinarians leverage the maps “… to strengthen client relationships and consistently ‘tap consumers on the shoulder’ with facts that underscore the risk of parasitic disease that exists everywhere.”

Since the Companion Animal Parasite Council is sponsored by a “Who’s Who” list of major veterinary drug manufacturers, I think it’s safe to assume the real intent of the maps is to get pet owners to buy into the belief that every dog and cat in the country should be on parasite preventives year-round.

And while I agree pet owners appreciate learning information pertinent to the health of their furry family members, I think it’s extremely irresponsible of veterinarians to encourage the overuse of parasite preventives. These drugs, like all drugs, have side effects.

Just because a drug is used as a preventive doesn’t automatically put it in the category of “better safe than sorry.” This is a lesson the traditional veterinary community is slowly learning about vaccines. Every single thing we put into or onto an animal should be carefully assessed to insure its benefits outweigh its risks.

And keep in mind that even pets loaded down to the point of toxicosis with chemical preventives still frequently wind up with pests and parasites. There is no absolutely foolproof method for keeping every single pet protected from every single pest.

Around this time last year I saw my first dog patient with Lyme disease AND heartworm disease – conditions she acquired while taking a monthly, year-round heartworm preventive drug AND a spot-on flea/tick preventive prescribed by her regular vet. This is a good illustration of the ineffectiveness of some of these drugs, as well as the fact that parasites are growing resistant to them because they are being overused.

Preventing Tick Borne Diseases

  • In the spring, summer and fall, avoid tick-infested areas.
  • If you live where ticks are a significant problem, check your pet for the little blood suckers twice each day. Look over his entire body, including hidden crevices like those in the ear, underneath his collar, in the webs of his feet, and underneath his tail. If you find a tick, make sure to remove it safely.
  • Use a safe tick repellent like Natural Flea and Tick Defense. If you live in a Lyme endemic region of the U.S., your veterinarian will probably recommend you use a chemical repellent. Remember: it’s important to investigate the risks and benefits of any medication before you give it to your pet. Natural repellents are NOT the same as toxic preventives … they are not a guarantee your pet won’t be bitten by ticks….they only reduce the likelihood of infestation. So frequent tick checks are really important.
  • Create strong vitality and resilience in your dog or cat by feeding a species-appropriate diet. Parasites are attracted to weaker animals. By enhancing your pet’s vitality, you can help her avoid the ill effects of a tick borne disease.

Preventing Intestinal Parasites

  • Puppies and kittens can get intestinal parasites from an infected mother – either across the placenta or from their mother’s milk.
  • Beyond that, most pets acquire intestinal worms by eating infected poop. So the best way to prevent infection is to make sure your pet’s environment is clean and ‘feces-free.’ Pick up your pet’s poop and make sure she doesn’t have access to infective feces from wild or stray animals around your property or anywhere else outdoors.
  • Whipworm eggs in the environment are extremely resilient and resistant to most cleaning methods and freezing temperatures as well. They can be dried out with strong agents like agricultural lime, but the best way to decontaminate a whipworm-infested area is to replace the soil with new soil or another substrate.
  • Keep your pet’s GI tract in good shape and resistant to parasites by feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet. I also recommend either periodic or regular probiotic supplementation to insure a good balance of healthy bacteria in your pet’s colon, as well as a good quality pet digestive enzyme.
  • Have your vet check a sample of your pet’s stool twice a year for GI parasites.

What You Need to Know About Heartworm Disease Prevention

According to heartworm preventive dosing maps, there are only a few areas of the U.S. where dosing your dog with 9 months to year-round heartworm medicine might be advisable. Those locations are in Texas and Florida, and a few other spots along the Gulf coast. The rest of the country runs high exposure risk at from 3 to 7 months. The majority of states are at 6 months or less.

Preventives don’t actually stop your dog from getting heartworms. What these chemicals do is kill off the worm larvae at the microfilaria stage. These products are insecticides designed to kill heartworm larvae inside your pet. As such, they have the potential for short and long-term side effects damaging to your canine companion’s health.

To reduce your pet’s risk of exposure to heartworms, control mosquitoes:

  • Use a non-toxic insect barrier in your yard and around the outside of your home.
  • Don’t take your pet around standing water. Eliminate as much standing water as possible around your home and yard by cleaning your rain gutters regularly and aerating ornamental ponds and decorative water gardens.
  • Stay out of wet marshes and thickly wooded areas.
  • Keep your pet indoors during early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are thickest.
  • Make liberal use of a safe, effective pet pest repellent like my Natural Flea and Tick Defense.

If You MUST Use a Chemical Heartworm Preventive …

If you live in an area of the U.S. where mosquitoes are common and you know your pet’s risk of exposure to heartworm disease is significant, here are my recommendations for protecting your precious furry family member:

  • With guidance from a holistic vet, try using natural preventives like heartworm nosodes rather than chemicals. Make sure to do heartworm testing every 3 to 4 months (not annually) as natural heartworm preventives can’t guarantee your pet will never acquire the disease.
  • If your dog’s kidneys and liver are healthy, try using a chemical preventive at the lowest effective dosage. This could mean having the drug compounded if necessary for dogs weighing in at the low end of dosing instructions. Give the treatment at 6-week intervals rather than at 4 weeks, for the minimum number of months required during mosquito season.
  • Remember, heartworms live in your pet’s bloodstream, so natural GI (gastrointestinal) dewormers, such as diatomaceous earth, and anti-parasitic herbs (such as wormwood and garlic) are not effective at killing larvae in your pet’s bloodstream.
  • Avoid all-in-one chemical products claiming to get rid of every possible GI worm and external parasites as well. As an example, many heartworm preventives also contain dewormers for intestinal parasites. Remember – less is more. The goal is to use the least amount of chemical necessary that prevents heartworm. Adding other chemicals to the mix adds to the toxic load your pets’s body must contend with. Also avoid giving your pet a chemical flea/tick preventive during the same week.
  • Follow up a course of heartworm preventive pills with natural liver detox agents like milk thistle and SAMe, in consultation with your holistic vet.
  • Always have your vet do a heartworm test before beginning any preventive treatment. A protocol I put in place in my clinic last year is to run a SNAP 4Dx blood test every 6 months on dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors during warmer weather. The 4Dx tests for heartworm and tick borne diseases. Because parasites are becoming resistant to overused chemical preventives, the sooner you can identify infection in your pet, the sooner a protocol can be instituted to safely treat the infection with fewer long-term side effects.
  • ·         Source: Dr. Mercola

Dozens of Genetically Modified Babies Already Born – How Will They Alter Human Species?

 When I first read that genetically modified humans have already been born, I could hardly believe it. However, further research into this story featured in the UK’s Daily Mail1 proved it to be true. They’ve really done it… they’ve created humans that nature could never allow for, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen next.

Even more shocking was the discovery that this is actually old news!

The Daily Mail article was not dated, and upon investigation, the experiments cited actually took place over a decade ago; the study announcing their successful birth was published in 20012.

While I typically comment on recent findings and health related news, in this case I will make an exception, because I think many of you may be as surprised by this information as I was. I do not propose to have any answers here as this is out of my scope of expertise.

At best, I hope I can stir you to ponder the implications of this type of genetic engineering, and I invite you to share your perspective in the vital votes’ comment section below. As reported in the featured article:

“The disclosure that 30 healthy babies were born after a series of experiments in the United States provoked another furious debate about ethics… Fifteen of the children were born… as a result of one experimental program at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St Barnabas in New Jersey.

The babies were born to women who had problems conceiving. Extra genes from a female donor were inserted into their eggs before they were fertilized in an attempt to enable them to conceive.

Genetic fingerprint tests on two one-year- old children confirm that they have inherited DNA from three adults—two women and one man.”

Human Germline Now Altered… What Happens Next?

Today, these children are in their early teens, and while the original study claims that this was “the first case of human germline genetic modification resulting in normal healthy children,” later reports put such claims of absolute success in dispute. Still, back in 2001, the authors seemed to think they had it all under control, stating:

“These are the first reported cases of germline mtDNA genetic modification which have led to the inheritance of two mtDNA populations in the children resulting from ooplasmic transplantation. These mtDNA fingerprints demonstrate that the transferred mitochondria can be replicated and maintained in the offspring, therefore being a genetic modification without potentially altering mitochondrial function.”

It’s relevant to understand that these children have inherited extra genes—that of TWO women and one man—and will be able to pass this extra set of genetic traits to their own offspring. One of the most shocking considerations here is that this was done—repeatedly—even though no one knows what the ramifications of having the genetic traits of three parents might be for the individual, or for their subsequent offspring.

Based on what I’ve learned about the genetic engineering of plants, I’m inclined to say the ramifications could potentially be vast, dire, and completely unexpected.

As a general, broad-strokes rule, it seems few scientists fond of gene-tinkering have a well-rounded or holistic view of living organisms, opting instead to view the human body as a machine. And as demonstrated with the multi-varied problems that have arisen from genetically engineered foods—from the development of superweeds and superpests, to the creation of a never-before-seen organism now linked to miscarriage and infertility—such a view is bound to lead you to the wrong conclusions…

Surprise, Surprise… “Unpredictable Outcomes” Reported

As it turns out, this type of genetic modification, called cytoplasmic transfer, is actually a hot topic among geneticists, but it’s rarely published or discussed in the lay press, if at all—as evidenced by my own surprise when reading this decade-old piece of news.

Many follow-up reports continue to tout the high success of this method of treating infertility. But some, including a book put out by Cambridge Press, warns of the dangers and risks of this procedure. For example, the following excerpts from a report3 delivered during the 2003 World Congress on Controversies in Obstetrics, Gynecology & Infertility in Berlin raises questions about the less than thoughtful implementation of this technology, and some of the problems encountered:

“… Cytoplasmic control of preimplantation development is not a “new” concept, but ooplasm transfer have been amazingly rapidly applied in humans, with relative success, in the absence of extensive research to evaluate the efficacy and the potential risks of the method, resulting in some publications highlighting the potential dangers (Winston and Hardy 2002, DeRycke et al 2002, Templeton 2002), and unpredictable outcomes (Cummins 2001, 2002).

… A frank follow-up of ooplasmic transplantation pregnancies and infants reports that two out of 17 fetuses had an abnormal 45, XO karyotype. The authors assume the hypothesis of a link between chromosomal anomalies and oocytes manipulation, and reveal that one of the babies has been diagnosed at 18 months with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a spectrum of autism-related diagnoses.” [Emphasis mine]

So it didn’t take long—less than two years, in fact—for reports of “unpredictable outcomes” to crop up. I for one am not surprised. It’s somewhat disconcerting that so much of this research is taking place without open discussion about the ethical questions associated with it.

The US FDA appears to have begun looking at the ethics of ooplasmic transplantation, and in one powerpoint4 it is pointed out that an 18-month-old child born from this procedure has been diagnosed with autism (PDD), and that the incidence of chromosomal anomalies is known to be higher in children born from the procedure than the rate of major congenital abnormalities observed in the natural population.

The document also states that lack of testing and long-term follow-up of the children born from the procedure so far is a significant shortcoming, making evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of the technique very difficult. The genetic modification of humans appears to have been running alongside the genetic engineering of plants, being just a few years behind in terms of the technology being unleashed, and the lack of proper evaluation of health effects is apparently on par as well, which is to say near non-existent…

Could They Create Patentable Humans? Perhaps…

Another horrific side effect that has nothing to do with health per se, is the potential that making this procedure widely available may trigger a “patent” war; meaning these genetically modified humans could become patentable property.

Sound crazy?

You bet! But it’s not outside the realm of possibility. The world is already embroiled in discussions about which genetically engineered life forms can and cannot be patented5, and biotech companies have secured patents on everything from genetically modified seeds to engineered animals of various kinds. Even human genes have already been patented!

As explained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)6:

“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patents on human genes, which means that the patent holders own the exclusive rights to those genetic sequences, their usage, and their chemical composition. Anyone who makes or uses a patented gene without permission of the patent holder – whether it be for commercial or noncommercial purposes – is committing patent infringement and can be sued by the patent holder for such infringement. Gene patents, like other patents, are granted for 20 years.

For example, Myriad Genetics, a private biotechnology company based in Utah, controls patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes [two genes associated with hereditary breast- and ovarian cancer]. Because of its patents, Myriad has the right to prevent anyone else from testing, studying, or even looking at these genes. It also holds the exclusive rights to any mutations along those genes. No one is allowed to do anything with the BRCA genes without Myriad’s permission.

A 2005 study found that 4,382 of the 23,688 human genes in the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s gene database are explicitly claimed as intellectual property.  This means that nearly 20% of human genes are patented. In addition to the BRCA genes, genes associated with numerous diseases, both common and rare, are patented, including Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, some forms of colon cancer, Canavan disease, hemochromatosis, some forms of muscular dystrophy, Long QT Syndrome, and many others.”

If this sounds outrageous, illegal, and nonsensical, it’s because it’s all of those things. The ACLU claims to be engaged in a noble lawsuit against the US Patent and Trademark Office to stop the practice of issuing patents that are contrary to the law, which states only inventions can be patented—not naturally occurring parts of the human body. Still, the precedent has been clearly set. So what’s to stop a company from eventually claiming patent rights on an entire individual?

Human Cloning Next?

According to the featured article7, “altering the human germline—in effect tinkering with the very make-up of our species—is a technique shunned by the vast majority of the world’s scientists. Geneticists fear that one day this method could be used to create new races of humans with extra, desired characteristics such as strength or high intelligence.”

But that’s clearly not the end of the line in terms of where this technology might lead, if it hasn’t already:

“… Jacques Cohen is regarded as a brilliant but controversial scientist who has pushed the boundaries of assisted reproduction technologies,” Mail Online states8. “He developed a technique which allows infertile men to have their own children, by injecting sperm DNA straight into the egg in the lab. Prior to this, only infertile women were able to conceive using IVF.

Last year [2000], Professor Cohen said that his expertise would allow him to clone children—a prospect treated with horror by the mainstream scientific community. ‘It would be an afternoon’s work for one of my students,’ he said, adding that he had been approached by ‘at least three’ individuals wishing to create a cloned child, but had turned down their requests.”

That was then—12 years ago. One can only guess what might have transpired in laboratories such as that of Professor Cohen since then…

Source: Dr. Mercola




This Nightly Activity Can Have a Profound Influence on How Much You Weigh.

 A new study of 1,800 pairs of twins found that even if you’re genetically predisposed to being overweight, there is one easy thing you can do to put yourself in control of how much weight you gain.

As reported by CNN, researchers found that genes accounted for 70 percent of the differences in body mass index (BMI) in those who slept less than seven hours per night. Environmental factors, such as diet and exercise, accounted for just four percent of the differences. But in twins who slept nine or more hours per night, environmental factors shot up to 51 percent, and genetic influences dipped to 32 percent. So, sleep deprivation appears to have a significant influence over your genetic expression.

According to CNN Health1:

“Getting adequate sleep, in other words, appears to dampen genetic risk and allow the influence of diet, exercise, and other controllable lifestyle factors to “surface,” the researchers say.”

Sleeping Well Matters if You’re Struggling with Your Weight

Previous research has already shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a night tend to have a higher body mass index (BMI) than people who get more sleep. The biological mechanisms linking sleep deprivation and weight gain are numerous.

Alterations to your metabolism account for some of this effect, because when you’re sleep deprived, leptin (the hormone that signals satiety) falls, while ghrelin (which signals hunger) rises. In one 2010 study2, researchers found that people who slept only four hours for two consecutive nights experienced:

  • 18 percent reduction in leptin
  • 28 percent increase in ghrelin

This combination leads to an increase in appetite. Additionally, sleep deprivation tends to lead to food cravings, particularly for sweet and starchy foods. Researchers have suggested that these sugar cravings stem from the fact that your brain is fueled by glucose (blood sugar); therefore, when lack of sleep occurs, your brain starts searching for carbohydrates to keep going. If you’re chronically sleep deprived, consistently giving in to these sugar cravings will virtually guarantee that you’ll gain weight.

Sleeping less than six hours per night can also radically decrease the sensitivity of your insulin receptors, which will raise your insulin levels. This too is a surefire way to gain weight as the insulin will seriously impair your body’s ability to burn and digest fat. It also increases your risk of diabetes. In short, sleep deprivation puts your body in a pre-diabetic state, which can lead to increased weight and decreased health.

Sleep Deprivation, Stress, and Weight Gain

Biological stress is another mechanism that can help explain the link between poor sleeping habits and increased risk of weight gain. According to the featured article on CNN Health3:

“Sleep deprivation puts stress on your body, and that stress could help explain the relationship between sleep and gene expression seen in the study, says Carl Boethel, M.D., director of the Sleep Institute at Scott & White Healthcare, in Temple, Texas. “When you are constantly depriving yourself of sleep, you are keeping yourself in a state of stress, and the genes that encode for that stressful environment start saying, ‘I need to hold on to calories,'” Boethel says”.

When your body is under stress, it releases hormones that increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Your muscles get tense, your digestive processes stop, and certain brain centers are triggered, which alter your brain chemistry. For example, it tends to raise your levels of corticosterone, the stress hormone associated with road rage. Left unchecked, this stress response can eventually lead to a variety of health problems including:

  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure

Unfortunately, precious few are willing to take a much-needed look at their sleeping habits and make the required readjustments to their schedules and habits. I strongly urge you not to be part of the majority in this regard…

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Chronic lack of sleep has a cumulative effect, so you cannot skimp on sleep on weekdays and then try to “catch up” over the weekend. In order to benefit your health, you need to be consistent in your sleeping habits.

As a general rule, adults need between six and eight hours of sleep every night. However, there are plenty of exceptions. Also, as the featured study on twins suggests, you may need upwards of nine hours a night in order for it to outweigh certain genetic predispositions, by allowing your body to reap maximum benefits from a healthy diet and exercise regimen. The amount of sleep you need can also drastically change depending on your circumstances, such as illness or going through an emotionally stressful time.

Pregnant women also typically need more sleep than usual during the first trimester. My advice is to pay close heed to your body, mind and emotional state. For example, if you consistently feel tired upon waking, you probably need to sleep longer. Frequent yawning throughout the day is another dead giveaway that you need more shut-eye.

Optimizing Your Sleep Sanctuary

There are many factors that can influence your sleep, but one that many fail to consider is the use of light-emitting technology, such as your TV, iPad, and computer, before going to bed. These emit the type of light that will suppress melatonin production, which in turn will hamper your ability to fall asleep. Ideally, you’ll want to turn all such light-emitting gadgets off at least an hour prior to bed time.  Next, making some adjustments to your sleeping area can also go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep:

  1. Cover your windows with blackout shades or drapes to ensure complete darkness. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby disrupting your sleep cycle.

So close your bedroom door, get rid of night-lights, and refrain from turning on any light during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. If you have to use a light, install so-called “low blue” light bulbs in your bedroom and bathroom. These emit an amber light that will not suppress melatonin production.

  1. Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 70 degrees F (21 degrees Celcius). Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees F (15.5 to 20 C). Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep.
  2. Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields(EMFs). These can also disrupt your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.
  3. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your head. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet.

If you’re feeling anxious or restless, try using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which can help you address any emotional issues that might keep you tossing and turning at night. For many more recommendations and guidelines that can help you improve your sleep, please see my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep.



Source: Dr. Mercola



Novartis gains FDA approval for Afinitor® in advanced breast cancer marking a significant milestone for women battling this disease.

  • Approval represents the first major advance for US patients with advanced HR+ breast cancer since aromatase inhibitors were introduced more than 15 years ago[1]
  • In a Phase III trial, Afinitor plus exemestane more than doubled the time women lived before the cancer worsened compared to exemestane alone[2]
  • Afinitor, the first mTOR inhibitor approved for advanced HR+ breast cancer, is given after the disease progresses following prior therapy with letrozole or anastrozole[2]

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Afinitor® (everolimus) tablets* for the treatment of postmenopausal women with advanced hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer (advanced HR+ breast cancer) in combination with exemestane after failure of treatment with letrozole or anastrozole[2].

“Afinitor is the first and only treatment that boosts the effectiveness of endocrine therapy, significantly extending the time women with advanced breast cancer live without tumor progression,” said Gabriel Hortobagyi, MD, Chair of Breast Medical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “This approval redefines the treatment and management of advanced hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, offering a critical new option for physicians and patients.”

Each year, an estimated 220,000 women globally will be diagnosed with advanced HR+ breast cancer, the most common form of the disease[2],[3]. In the United States, nearly 40,000 people are expected to be newly diagnosed with advanced breast cancer this year alone[4]. Approximately 70% of all invasive breast cancers are positive for HR expression at the time of diagnosis[3].

The approval was based on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center trial called BOLERO-2 (Breast cancer trials of OraL EveROlimus-2), which evaluated 724 postmenopausal women with advanced HR+ breast cancer with recurrence or progression following prior therapy with letrozole or anastrozole[2].

This pivotal Phase III study found that treatment with Afinitor plus exemestane more than doubled median progression-free survival (PFS) to 7.8 months, compared to 3.2 months with exemestane alone (hazard ratio=0.45 [95% Cl: 0.38 to 0.54]; p<0.0001) by local investigator assessment[2]. An additional analysis based on an independent central radiology review showed Afinitor plus exemestane extended median PFS to 11.0 months compared to 4.1 months (hazard ratio=0.38 [95% CI: 0.31 to 0.48]; p<0.0001) with exemestane alone[2]. The most common adverse reactions (incidence >= 30%) were stomatitis, infections, rash, fatigue, diarrhea and decreased appetite[2]. The most common grade 3-4 adverse reactions (incidence >= 2%) were stomatitis, infections, hyperglycemia, fatigue, dyspnea, pneumonitis and diarrhea[2].

“The approval of Afinitor in advanced breast cancer marks a very proud day for the breast cancer community and Novartis. We are bringing a highly-effective treatment to women and their physicians who are in need of new approaches in the battle against this disease,” said Hervé Hoppenot, President, Novartis Oncology. “This milestone is a result of an extensive collaboration with researchers around the world who have helped study Afinitor in advanced breast cancer, as well as the more than 700 women who participated in the trial.”

While endocrine therapy remains the cornerstone of treatment for these women, most will eventually develop treatment resistance[5]. Therapeutic resistance has been associated with overactivation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway[5]. Afinitor targets the mTOR pathway, which is hyperactivated in many types of cancer cells. mTOR is a protein that acts as an important regulator of tumor cell division, blood vessel growth and cell metabolism[5].

Marking the fifth indication for Afinitor, this is the first FDA approval for an mTOR inhibitor in the treatment of advanced HR+ breast cancer in the United States[3]. Afinitor is also being studied in HER2-positive breast cancer in two ongoing Phase III trials. On June 21, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) adopted a positive opinion for Afinitor in the HR+/HER2-negative population[6]. Additional regulatory submissions are being reviewed by health authorities worldwide.

About Advanced Breast Cancer

Advanced hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer (advanced HR+ breast cancer) is comprised of metastatic breast cancer (stage IV) and locally advanced breast cancer (stage III)[7]. Metastatic breast cancer is the most serious form of the disease and occurs when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones or liver[7]. Locally advanced breast cancer occurs when the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and/or other tissue in the area of the breast, but not to distant sites in the body[7].

It is estimated that women with metastatic breast cancer have a life expectancy of approximately 18-36 months after diagnosis[8], and median survival for women with stage III disease is less than five years[9].

Advanced HR+ breast cancer is characterized by hormone receptor tumors, a group of cancers that express receptors for certain hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. Cancer cell growth can be driven by these hormones[7]. The presence of estrogen receptor (ER) and/or progesterone receptor (PgR) is one of the most important predictive and prognostic markers in human breast cancers, and is collectively referred to as hormone receptor-positive.

About Afinitor (everolimus)

Afinitor® (everolimus) tablets is approved in more than 80 countries including the United States and throughout the European Union in the oncology settings of advanced renal cell carcinoma following progression on or after vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeted therapy, and in the United States and European Union for locally advanced, metastatic or unresectable progressive neuroendocrine tumors of pancreatic origin.

Everolimus is also available from Novartis for use in non-oncology patient populations under the brand names Afinitor® or Votubia®, Certican® and Zortress® and is exclusively licensed to Abbott and sublicensed to Boston Scientific for use in drug-eluting stents.

Indications vary by country and not all indications are available in every country. The safety and efficacy profile of everolimus has not yet been established outside the approved indications. Because of the uncertainty of clinical trials, there is no guarantee that everolimus will become commercially available for additional indications anywhere else in the world.


Afinitor® Important Safety Information

Afinitor®/Votubia® can cause serious side effects including lung or breathing problems, infections, and renal failure, which can lead to death. Mouth ulcers and mouth sores are common side effects. Afinitor/Votubia can affect blood cell counts, kidney and liver function, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Afinitor/Votubia may cause fetal harm in pregnant women. Highly effective contraception is recommended for women of child-bearing potential while receiving Afinitor/Votubia and for up to eight weeks after ending treatment. Women taking Afinitor/Votubia should not breast feed.

The most common adverse drug reactions (incidence >= 15%) are mouth ulcers, diarrhea, feeling weak or tired, skin problems (such as rash or acne), infections, nausea, swelling of extremities or other parts of the body, loss of appetite, headache, inflammation of lung tissue, abnormal taste, nose bleeds, inflammation of the lining of the digestive system, weight decreased and vomiting. The most common grade 3-4 adverse drug reactions (incidence >= 2%) are mouth ulcers, feeling tired, low white blood cells (a type of blood cell that fights infection), diarrhea, infections, inflammation of lung tissue, diabetes and amenorrhea. Cases of hepatitis B reactivation and blood clots in the lung and leg have been reported.



[1] Redmond C. Breast Cancer Hormone Therapy Options. Available at: Accessed April 27, 2012.

[2] Novartis Data on File.

[3] Buckley N, Isherwood A. Breast Cancer. Decision Resources, March 2011.

[4] Dobrescu, Andrei. Study of Estrogen Receptor and Progesterone Receptor Expression in Breast Ductal Carcinoma In Situ by Immunohistochemical Staining in ER/PgR-Negative Invasive Breast Cancer. May 9, 2011. Available at: Accessed on April 9, 2012.

[5] Baselga, J. Everolimus in Postmenopausal Hormone-Receptor-Positive Advanced Breast Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. February 9, 2012.

[6] European Medicines Agency. Summary of Opinion for Afinitor. June 21, 2012.

[7] National Cancer Institute. What You Need to Know About Advanced Breast Cancer. Available at: Accessed on March 8, 2012.

[8} Eniua A, Palmierib F and Perez E. Weekly Administration of Docetaxel and Paclitaxel in Metastatic or Advanced Breast Cancer. The Oncologist, 2005.

[9] Giordano, S. Update on Locally Advanced Breast Cancer. The Oncologist, 2003.

Source: Novartis newsletter.



Esophagectomy Is Not Justified for Mucosal Neoplasia in Barrett Esophagus.

Rates of detection of lymph node metastasis and mortality were each about 2% using esophagectomy.

Endoscopic ablation is increasingly used to treat high-grade dysplasia (HGD) and intramucosal carcinoma (IMC) in patients with Barrett esophagus (BE). Although this approach is highly effective, it cannot cure cancers that have metastasized to lymph nodes. Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) — the standard of care for T staging to guide further treatment of these patients — unfortunately cannot always detect lymph node involvement. As such, many surgeons recommend esophagectomy instead of EMR and ablation, citing high rates of unexpected lymph node metastasis. However, reported rates of metastasis have varied widely.

To estimate the frequency of lymph node metastases in patients with BE and HGD or IMC, investigators performed a systematic review and identified 70 relevant reports involving 1874 such patients who underwent esophagectomy. Of 524 patients with HGD, none had lymph node metastases. Of 1350 patients with IMC, 26 had lymph node metastases (1.93%; 95% confidence interval, 1.19%–2.66%).

Comment: These data strongly suggest that well categorized HGD alone in patients with BE is not associated with lymph node metastases. The risk for unexpected lymph node metastases in patients with BE and IMC is 1% to 2%, which is comparable to, if not lower than, the reported mortality rate for esophagectomy (often >2%). Endoscopic resection is advised for T staging of BE and dysplasia with a visible lesion. If the lesion shows no submucosal invasion, ablation therapy is appropriate. Gastroenterologists and surgeons should take note that concern for lymph node metastases in these patients does not justify the use of esophagectomy. Furthermore, these data underscore the lack of need for endoscopic ultrasound if the EMR staging demonstrates only HGD or IMC.

Source: Journal Watch Gastroenterology

Pediatric Asthma Admission Is Less Likely with Early Steroid Administration.

Every 30-minute delay in steroid treatment increased odds of admission.

In a prospective observational study, researchers assessed whether early administration of corticosteroids reduces hospital admission in children (age range, 2–17 years) with moderate to severe asthma exacerbations (Pediatric Respiratory Assessment Measure score 5 to 12). Of 406 children (median age, 4 years) who presented to a single pediatric emergency department (ED) in Montreal during a 3-month period, 50% received corticosteroids early (within 75 minutes of triage), 33% received corticosteroids late (>75 minutes), and 17% did not receive corticosteroids. The ED’s clinical pathway recommended systemic prednisone or prednisolone (1mg/kg; maximum, 50 mg) administered within 60 minutes of triage.

Overall, 36% of patients were admitted or had prolonged ED length of stay (>6 hours), and 6% relapsed within 72 hours of ED discharge. Patients who received corticosteroids early were less likely than those who received corticosteroids late or not at all to be admitted or have prolonged ED stay (odds ratio, 0.07). For every 30-minute delay in corticosteroid administration, active ED treatment time increased by 60 minutes and odds of admission increased by 1.23. Delays were less likely in patients with severe asthma exacerbations (Pediatric Respiratory Assessment Measure score 8; OR, 0.17). Compared to patients who received delayed treatment, those who did not receive corticosteroids had lower admission rates and shorter active ED treatment time (OR, 0.1 and –2.2, respectively). Factors associated with not receiving corticosteroids included preschool patient age (OR, 2.50), lower triage priority (OR, 11.26), physician graduation more than 20 years prior (OR, 3.32), and nonpediatric emergency medicine specialty or general practitioner (OR, 3.33 and 4.82, respectively, compared to pediatric emergency specialty).

Comment: Although children who did not receive corticosteroids had less severe asthma, steroids would still be indicated for them. The finding that provider characteristics were associated with no corticosteroid administration indicates a need for education and implementation of evidence-based treatment pathways. As previously shown, triage administration of steroids for asthma is feasible and effective for preventing unnecessary admissions (JW Emerg Med Apr 13 2012).

Source: Journal Watch Emergency Medicine.

Expert calls for more research on endocrine disrupters as risk for child development.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and have been the topic of numerous studies, but additional studies are needed to determine whether there is a link between the chemicals and child development, according to one researcher. John D. Meeker, ScD, associate professor of environmental health sciences and associate chair of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, wrote a review published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine discussing adverse effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), calling for more research on the issue. “Once inside the body, EDCs can affect the endocrine system through a multitude of specific mechanisms that can target different levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonad, thyroid, and adrenal axes, ranging from effects on hormone receptors to effects on hormone synthesis, secretion, or metabolism; therefore, they can have far-reaching health implications throughout the life course,” Meeker wrote. Bisphenol A has come under the media microscope recently, but Meeker said other EDCs such as persistent organic pollutants, phthalates, contemporary-use pesticides and chemicals, including parabens, triclosan, perchlorate, alternative brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, and fluorinated organic compounds such as perfluorooctane octanoate and perfluorooctane sulfonate should be studied further. Meeker said there is inconsistent evidence linking reduced birth weight with exposure to persistent organic pollutants, organophosphate insecticides and triazine herbicides. However, several studies have been conducted to assess the relationship between the EDCs and fetal growth and gestation duration. “Because study designs and results have varied across studies, for most EDCs it is currently difficult to conclude whether a relationship exists between exposure and birth weight,” he wrote. Meeker said male reproductive tract development, pubertal development, neurodevelopment and obesity are all areas of concern when it comes to EDC exposure. He encourages clinicians to consult with other physicians or professionals in the environmental and occupational health field to address potential risks for environmental-related health conditions. “A growing body of evidence shows that exposure to a number of chemicals may adversely affect child development through altered endocrine function. However, many of the potential exposure-response relationships described here have not been adequately explored,” Meeker concluded. Disclosure:Dr. Meeker reports no relevant financial disclosures. Perspective   Andrea C. Gore

  • The primary reason this review is important is that it provides a balanced summary of the evidence for endocrine disruption in humans. The problems with linking EDCs to disease in humans include the potentially long lag between exposure during critical developmental periods (fetus, infant) and manifestation of disease. Human exposures vary between populations and in individuals, and we are each exposed throughout our lives to complex mixtures. Nevertheless, the evidence is growing from a combination of controlled animal experiments, epidemiology, and exposure assessment, that there is very real risk of EDCs, leading to a variety of disease outcomes.
    • Andrea C. Gore, PhD
    • Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology University of Texas at Austin

Source: Endocrine Today.

High blood sugar levels identified patients at risk for death from pneumonia.

Patients with elevated blood glucose levels upon hospital admission for pneumonia were more likely to die than those with normal glucose levels, according to data from a multicenter prospective cohort.

Philipp M. Lepper, MD, consultant physician in the department of internal medicine at University Hospital of Saarland, in Homburg, Germany, and colleagues collected data from the German collaborative network on community-acquired pneumonia (death from pneumonia) from July 2002 to December 2009.

Of the 7,400 patients originally included in the cohort, 509 were excluded due to missing information on death. The remaining 6,891 patients from 12 clinical centers throughout Germany were analyzed (mean age, 59.8 years).

Within 28 days, 324 (4.7%) patients died, an additional 514 (7.5%) died within 90 days, and 648 (9.4%) patients died within 180 days.

“Patients with increased serum glucose levels on admission were more likely to die within the first 28 days after admission than those with normal serum glucose levels (adjusted P for trend <.001.),” researchers wrote.

Results indicated that patients with mild acute hyperglycemia had a heightened risk for death at 90 days when compared with those with normal glucose levels (HR=1.56; 95% CI, 1.22-2.01) — a risk that increased significantly when serum glucose concentrations were 14 mmol/L or higher (HR=2.37; 95% CI, 1.62-3.46).

“In the past, stress hyperglycaemia was often thought to be a useful adaptive response, glucose being a ready source of fuel for brain, skeletal muscle, heart and other organs at a time of increased metabolic demand,” the researchers wrote. “Our results show that hyperglycaemia on admission in patients with community-acquired pneumonia is associated with an adverse outcome and predicts mortality.”

Additionally, overall mortality on days 28, 90 and 180 was significantly higher in patients with pre-existing diabetes compared with patients without diabetes (day 90: 14.5% vs. 6.1%; crude HR=2.47; 95% CI, 2.05-2.98). Patients without diabetes and low glucose levels were not associated with mortality.

However, there were several limitations within the study, including difficulty identifying patients with undiagnosed diabetes and those with stress-induced hyperglycemia.

“Oral glucose tolerance test and close glucose monitoring after discharge are necessary to diagnose overt diabetes and to prevent subacute or long-term complications,” researchers concluded.

They said large-scale trials are needed to determine whether drug intervention is a suitable method in reducing mortality in patients with community-acquired pneumonia.

Source: Endocrine Today.




New diabetes model uses patient-reported outcomes to deliver effective health care.

Using patient-reported outcomes, US clinicians could provide more cost-effective treatment options for patients with diabetes, through the new Southeast Minnesota Beacon Program diabetes model.

Created by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Beacon Program merges technology with medicine to improve coordination and delivery of health care through patient-reported outcomes. The model was presented recently at the third annual conference of the Health Data Initiative in Washington, D.C.

“We have compiled substantial evidence that [patient-reported outcomes] are indeed credible targets for diabetes assessment and intervention,” Jeff Sloan, PhD, a health sciences researcher at Mayo Clinic, said in a press release. “In fact, we have shown that the scientific value of many [patient-reported outcomes] is actually superior to many commonly used laboratory and clinical outcome variables.”

Sloan led a team that developed the new diabetes care model in which patient-reported outcomes use particular interventions specifically geared toward improving patients’ quality of life. The website can be accessed via smartphone or computer.

The Southeast Minnesota Beacon Program created the model of care in collaboration with Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Health System, Olmsted Medical Center, Winona Health, Allina Health and public health departments in 11 counties.

The model begins with the introduction: “On the next few screens please tell us about a concern that you would like to discuss with your diabetes care team today and answer a few questions about how you are feeling.”

After the introduction are a series of colorful tabs specifically named for concerns patients may have, such as personal relationships, monitoring health, emotional health, money, health behaviors, medicine, getting health care, work or physical health.

When clicked, each will open a checklist, followed by a well-being scale. The entire process takes about 1 minute, and responses are shared electronically with the patients’ doctor. The data are also accessible to county health departments to encourage continuous care in the home.

“It is about time we were asked about these things beyond just glucose levels,” one participating patient said in the release.



Donna Rice

  • It’s very exciting to see a shift to a true patient-centered approach. The new ADA guidelines focus on patient centric, and this model puts the emphasis on “what is important to individuals with diabetes,” rather than what is important to providers.  It is bridging the gap.

Working with high-risk populations and all populations, it is especially important to asses those critical social, physical and financial issues that certainly are the barriers to care. I am also confident it will enhance the patient-provider interactions.

Source: Endocrine Today.