Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Bad News For Supplements

Foods that have selenium in them, are good for your heart. We now learn that selenium supplements actually INCREASE your cholesterol.

Here are some more points to ponder:
Vitamin C supplements can increase your risk of getting cancer (even though food with Vitamin C decreases your risk).

Vitamin E supplements most often do not lower your risk of cardiovascular disease (even though food with Vitamin E does).

Beta carotene supplements do not decrease you likelihood of getting breast cancer (even though food with B-carotene does).

Welcome to our culture of health. What's interesting here is that taking pills -- as a substitute for eating real food -- is seen as a perfectly rational solution.

In fact, we assume that they are good for you, rather than making the assumption that they are not. We assume that the molecular constituents of your foods can be abstracted, put into a pill, and that they will work just the same in your body.

The burden of proof, in this case, is that we must prove that supplements are not good for you. Supplements are basically "innocent until proven guilty." It seems like our approach as a society should be that any item was have people put in their mouths are guilty until proven innocent, rather than the other way around.

This article from the lends its voice to the growing research showing that our assumptions on health are just wrong.

From the article:

Taking selenium supplements may increase cholesterol levels by as much as 10 per cent, according to a new study. Writing in the Journal of Nutrition, scientists at the University of Warwick Medical School said consuming too much selenium can have adverse effects.

“The cholesterol increases we have identified may have important implications for public health. In fact, such a difference could translate into a large number of premature deaths from coronary heart disease.

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For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mammograms: Get a Screening, or Just Skip It?

Here we go again. Another study raises questions about the benefits of mammograms, and another set of confusing statements issue forth from experts.
The Mayo Clinic, via Associated Press

A tumor detected by molecular breast imaging, right, was not found in a mammogram.

Last month, Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer, told The New York Times that the medical profession had exaggerated the benefits of cancerscreening, and that if a woman refused mammography, “I would not think badly of her, but I would like her to get it.”

Then, the cancer society issued a statement saying women over 40 should keep having mammograms every year, because seven studies have shown that the test decreases the risk of death from breast cancer.

But the statement also said mammography can “miss cancers that need treatment, and in some cases finds disease that does not need treatment.” In other words, the test may lead to some women being treated, and being exposed to serious side effects, for cancers that would not have killed them. Some researchers estimate that as many as one-third of cancers picked up by screening would not be fatal even if left untreated. But right now, nobody knows which ones.

So what are women supposed to do?

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