Monday, August 01, 2005

Vitamin E: A Problem or the Solution? by Dr. Myron Wentz

Hello, this is Dr. Wentz.

Today I want to talk to you about the controversy surrounding reports on Vitamin E that were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last fall and the Journal of the American Medical Association this Spring. Both of these studies included conclusions that Vitamin E, the premier antioxidant, does not provide protection against disease such as heart attacks and cancer and might actually raise the risk of heart disease.

Well, you can imagine my response. I had dismissed the earlier report as simply another example of the on-going prejudice in the medical establishment against supplementation and any other type of health practice not officially sanctioned by the medical powers that be. Reviewing the study myself, I felt once again that it was hardly worth responding to publically. It was so full of bias and misinterpretations.

Controversy and confusion

But then a few months later, when JAMA published the second report, that indicated that vitamin E was not only not supportive of good health but possibly even a threat, I could no longer be silent. And it appears I’m not the only one. Over recent months there has been an outpouring of critical reaction about both of these reports. The controversy has grown with the public once again left confused and wondering who they should believe. That’s why I feel its important to reveal the scientific truth on this subject.

To begin with, based on value of scientific discovery, neither of these reports should have received the amount of attention in the media as they did. Neither of them provided any real information or insights on the mechanisms or effectiveness of vitamin E supplementation. I can only surmise that the sensational nature of the conclusions made by the authors of these studies which contradict accepted knowledge about a proven nutrient attracted the attention of the media because of shock value. The studies themselves in my opinion have serious problems and the media have misinterpreted the implications.

Not good science

The primary problem with the study published in the Annals was that it simply was not good science. It was what is called a meta-analysis – a statistical manipulation of old data with no new research. The numbers from a total of 19 clinical trials performed between 1993 and 2004 involving 136,000 people were combined and analysed to come up with a conclusion that “vitamin E supplements may increase deaths and should be avoided”. Now when performed correctly a meta-analysis can sometimes provide new insight what multiple studies may be telling us, but in this case the original studies that were combined into a large data set varied widely in size, quality and in patient characteristics. Some of the study subjects suffered from a wide range of diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease or cataracts while others were in groups of healthy adults.

In addition, only nine of the 19 studies focussed solely on vitamin E while ten looked at vitamin E combined with other vitamins and minerals. In plain English, the authors were not comparing apples to apples. For example, not all of the studies in this report even used the same form of vitamin E. Some of them used the synthetic form which we know does not perform in the same way as the natural vitamin E found in foods and may even compete for binding sites with natural vitamin E. Its interesting to note that virtually all the vitamin E sold in quality health food stores is now natural vitamin E. Only in some large clinical trails do we see synthetic vitamin E used today. Possibly because its less expensive. Possibly because they don’t know any better. In one of the more perplexing aspects of this review, studies in which there was little difference in mortality between study groups were excluded from the meta-analysis even though they met all the criteria for inclusion. This is not science and a quest for truth. This is selecting only the data that support your view.

Patient selection a problem

Patient selection was also a serious problem in the JAMA study. The participants were all at least 55 years old and suffered from a range of degenerative diseases. All of the over 7,000 study subjects had vascular disease or diabetes and at least one other significant cardiovascular risk factor. In addition, subjects in the study were typically taking five different pharmaceutical medications including beta blockers, platelet anti-sticking agents, statins, diuretics, calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors. And yet, the 1.5 % increase of heart failure over the placebo group was attributed to, you guessed it, vitamin E with no adjustment or consideration for the pharmaceutical therapy.

Pharmaceutical mind-set

Information derived from this population gives us no guidance of the proper vitamin E intake for healthy individuals in different age groups which points out another problem with both of these reports – the mind-set of pharmaceutical thinking. These industry-supported so-called medical researchers are testing the effects of vitamin E as if it were a drug. They want to know if it can cure heart disease after it has already progressed in elderly people. I believe optimal nutrition is powerful enough to help people to recover from degenerative disease but nutrients are very different from drugs. They behave very differently in your body. Second, these kinds of studies treat nutrients as if they were drugs by trying to measure the effect of just one or sometimes two nutrients. The food you eat doesn’t contain a single or a couple of nutrients. That’s why I insist on people consuming wide spectrum antioxidants and why I consider supplementation to be of far greater value when combined with healthy diets.

The term vitamin E refers to a family of eight different compounds, each of which has different effects on the body. Consuming the complete spectrum of the forms in the correct balance enhances the positive effects of vitamin E. That’s why its important for a vitamin E supplement to include mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols. Also, there is good evidence that vitamin E may prevent artherosclerosis by preventing the oxidation of LDL, a first step in plaque formation. However, once the plaque is formed, vitamin E may not be useful in preventing plaque rupture, the cause of many heart attacks. This would help to explain why clinical studies run on people who already have heart disease show little effect.

Expecting a single nutrient like vitamin E to effectively treat heart disease is like servicing your car by replacing the spark plugs without checking the oil. When you continue to run the car this way, you might end up doing serious damage if it turns out to be low on oil. A clinical study aimed at providing a true measure of the effectiveness of a nutrient would have to take into consideration the combined and inter-related effects of all the 40-odd essential nutrients consumed by the study subjects throughout the study. That is nearly impossible to do of course and would be extremely expensive, but that’s no excuse for taking the easy route of treating nutrients as though they were pharmaceuticals. We must understand how nutrients depend on each other and interact with each other in order to function.

News sensationalism

One of the main problems illustrated by this whole episode is that its another example of the sad way that people get their information on nutrition today. Unfortunately for the public, the mass media are less interested in providing information than they are in selling their form of medium via sensationalism. Oxidative stress and the diseases associated with it, is a complex biological process and rarely will journalists take the time to understand the implications of clinical studies on such a subject before they attempt to report on it. Not only does vitamin E work with other nutrients to protect the cells from free radical damage, it also plays multiple other positive roles in human physiology from modulating gene expression to influencing enzyme activity. Clearly a headline splashed across a newspaper or television report is not going to give you a clear and accurate report of medical findings on the subject as complex as this.

Common sense

The bottom line is that in all matters of good nutrition, just as in all matters of health, we need to use our common sense when making decisions. As a medical scientist, I respect the power of scientific enquiry but to me common sense is necessary to properly interpret science. Without being moderated by common sense, the devotion to numbers, data and other facts can result in a step away from the truth rather than discovery of truth. Common sense also allows us to understand the fact that vitamin E is an essential nutrient so we have to obtain it from our diet. With the knowledge that our diets rarely provide the optimum amount, we know that we have to supplement to acquire adequate amounts.

Finally, we need to place both of these studies into context and look at the bigger picture. That picture includes all the other clinical studies with much larger patient populations. Studies that showed significant preventive cardio-vascular benefits from vitamin E supplementation and demonstrated its role as an effective and safe part of a healthy lifestyle.

People now uncertain and at risk

About 40% of adults in the US take vitamin E supplements. When I read that about 20% of these people have now decided to reduce their intake due to these reports, I feel that it’s a real shame. The authors of the meta-analysis admitted that: “generalisation of the findings to healthy adults is uncertain.” But that isn’t going to prevent many people from hesitating the next time they consider supplementing with vitamin E. This could be truly detrimental to the health of these people, some of who may have a critical need for high levels of vitamin E.

It would be next to criminal to deny ourselves the benefits of vitamin E – the premier antioxidant – but that may already be happening. In fact a recent news item reported that a major clinical study on the protective effects of vitamin E and selenium on prostate cancer is in jeopardy of losing participants due to media counts of these two studies. There is no question that vitamin E supplements are one of the most powerful tools that we have in protecting ourselves from degenerative disease.

A recent report estimated that increased intakes of vitamin E and certain other supplements could potentially contribute to saving US$89 billion of care costs annually by delaying the onset of cardio-vascular disease, stroke and osteoporosis.

In the end, you have to make your own choice. I would hope that would you make that choice based on the best information and evidence available. I know what my choice is – to provide my body with the benefits of natures most important antioxidants in the right forms and optimal amounts.

Thank you.

Transcript of LifeMasters audio, August 2005

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dr. John Cuomo talks about product quality

Dr. John Cuomo is the Executive Director of Product Development. His experience in synthetic organic chemistry, manufacturing, and analytical methods make his contribution to USANA invaluable. Dr. Cuomo holds 17 United States and European patents and is the author of numerous scientific papers. "There are several areas that I think set USANA apart from other nutritional companies," says Dr. Cuomo. "The first is USANA's quality assurance in product development and manufacturing. Few companies have the level of quality control that USANA does. We spend a tremendous amount of time and money making sure that product composition exactly matches what's on the label. One of the ways we do that is through our in-house testing of ingredient potency."

Dr. Cuomo has seen many other companies include product lines solely based on the marketability of the products. "We won't jump on the bandwagon to join the latest health craze simply to make a profit."

Audio link

Dr. Ladd MacNamara gives a doctors view

Dr. Ladd McNamara graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas, and completed his residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He has been involved in medical research ranging from infertility to cancer treatment, and is now involved in clinical nutritional research. He has been in private practice in obstetrics and gynecology in Atlanta, Georgia, and worked with Dr. Wentz to create the Wentz Wellness Center for Women in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Audio link

Source: Ladd McNamara, M.D. - expert in nutraceutical and anti-aging medicine,

Dr Ray Strand talks about insulin resistance

Dr. Ray Strand is a graduate of the University of Colorado Medical School. He finished his post-graduate education at Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California. He has been involved in a private family practice for over 30 years. During the past eight years, he has focused his practice on preventive and nutritional medicine.

He is a published author, and his book, What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You, explains the amazing health benefits of taking high-quality, complete and balanced nutritional supplements. He has lectured on this subject across the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Dr. Strand is quickly becoming one of the world's leading authorities in nutritional medicine. His most recent book is called Death by Prescription.

Audio link

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Robert Allen talks about USANA - video (9 mins)

Robert G. Allen best selling author of Multiple Streams of Income, Creating Wealth and Nothing Down and the best-seller, the One Minute Millionaire, talks about why he joined USANA and why it still is the company of choice.

Video link

True Health Video (10 mins)

Video link emphasizing the need to take nutritional supplements to stay healthy.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Eternal struggle for pop star

by JACKIE STEVENS, Daily Mail Last updated at 16:46pm on 8th April 2005

As part of girl band Eternal, Kelle Bryan spent the Nineties touring the world. But in 1999, she became seriously ill with the auto-immune disease Lupus and was told she could be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Here, she tells her story for the first time

A crowd of 100,000 people had gathered in Hyde Park for the biggest music event of the Nineties -the first Party In The Park festival. For the first time, Eternal were high on the bill, alongside Robbie Williams, All Saints and Lionel Ritchie.

I was so excited - it was going to be the most amazing day of my career so far.

What I didn't know was that it would also be my last performance with Eternal, the band I'd joined six years earlier, and that my life was about to change beyond all recognition.

Within months, I'd be in a wheelchair, struggling to feed and wash myself, and facing a lifetime of degenerative illness.

A week after the performance, the band members told me they no longer wanted me with them and a stressful legal battle ensued.

I tried to carry on, forging a solo career, but my body had other plans.

Severely fatigued

Just days before I was due to start recording in Italy, I went down with a bad cold. I felt severely fatigued and had ulcers in my mouth. My hand also went stiff.

My GP said I had Post-Viral Syndrome and told me to take paracetamol three times a day. But four weeks later, my face and my mouth were covered in ulcers and I couldn't eat; I had a scaly rash across my cheeks, and the pain and stiffness had spread to my arms.

My mum, Marilyn, was worried. She persuaded me to let our family dentist in East London look at my mouth. As soon as he saw the ulcers and the butterfly-shaped rash on my face, he said he thought I had Lupus, a debilitating auto-immune disease which affects the skin as well as the body.

He told me to ignore my GP and go straight to a specialist in Harley Street. But when I did, the results came back negative.

The doctor said I didn't have Lupus and just gave me steroid injections for the pain.

They worked temporarily, but soon stiffness spread to my whole body and I couldn't move at all; I had to be lifted and carried everywhere by my mother and my boyfriend.

My manager did extensive research and insisted I get a second opinion. I saw Dr D'Cruz, a rheumatologist at the London Independent Hospital, and he admitted me to hospital.

After a week of tests, I was finally diagnosed with Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), the most common type, which affects about 3 in 10,000 people in the UK.

Doctors explained that the illness is caused by the immune system producing too many antibodies attacking, rather than protecting, your body. It affects skin, muscles, joints and major organs, so can, in rare cases, be fatal.

I would have periods of remission when symptoms were reduced, but I might never regain my full strength and could be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

The doctors who broke the news to me in my hospital room said that my liver and kidneys had already suffered damage because it had taken months to diagnose me.

But further damage could be prevented with steroids, anti-malerials - and other immuno-suppressive medication.

However, there was a possibility that I'd be on this medication for the rest of my life and possible sideeffects include obesity and brittle bones.

It wasn't until they told me I wouldn't be able to have children that it really hit me. But when everyone had left the room, I had a really odd experience. I remember feeling intensely light in my body and everything around me was light.

A wave of reassurance went through me and I remember saying to my mum and my boyfriend later: "Don't worry, I'm going to be fine. I'm going to eat properly, I'm going to exercise. I'm going to do absolutely everything I can to get better."

Refused to accept

From that moment I refused to accept the picture the doctors had given me; I was not going to be ill for the rest of my life.

I left hospital a week-and-a-half later and with the help of my boyfriend Rene and the doctors I designed my own programme of rehabilitation, involving positive thinking, exercise and good nutrition.

I was convinced that with the right attitude and approach I would get my strength back.

I started with simple things, such as walking to the bathroom and brushing my teeth, and gradually built up one step at a time. To strengthen my arms I started exercising using cans of beans. I'd do a couple of lifts, then have to stop, but this slowly built up over the weeks.

I made sure I ate plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, had three solid meals a day, and took an American nutritional product, called Usana - a powerful superfood concentrate tablet - that would boost all my vitamin levels and keep my immune system as strong as possible. I didn't eat meat or drink alcohol. After a couple of months I felt well enough to resume recording my album.

I'd sing one line and then have to rest for half an hour, but slowly I got there.

By the end of 1999, six months later, I was ready to start promoting it. But by this time I was working so hard that I suffered a slight relapse.

During early 2000, I flew to Los Angeles and the night before we began filming my video, my hair started to fall out. I was in the bathroom and it was coming out in handfuls.

It was a side effect of the steroids - and stress. I remember just collapsing on the floor crying. It was my lowest point, but I still wouldn't let it stop me.

The next morning I had a wig woven specially for me and had a beauty therapist use specialist makeup to cover up my problem skin. We went ahead with the video, even though I was in a lot of pain and had to sleep four or five times a day.

It was worth all the hard work because my album Higher Than Heaven reached number 15 in the charts, and I proved that I could make it as a solo artist.

Back in the UK, however, the first thing I did was to get back to my rehabiliation regime. By sleeping, eating well and exercising, within six months my hair grew back and my skin healed. And month-bymonth with healthy living my strength grew and grew.

Mentally strong

Finally, by 2002 I had more than halved my steroid medication, I was jogging three times a week and had even taken up kick-boxing again - something I'd tried seven years before. It had a great strengthening effect on my body - but above all it helped me keep mentally strong and positive.

By the end of 2003, I was able to come off my drugs completely as all my three monthly drug blood tests which monitor Lupus activity or antibodies in the blood had been negative for more than a year.

I haven't had flare-ups since and in April 2004 I was given the medical all clear. As far as I am concerned I am 100 per cent better.

My doctor will never say it is completely cured, Lupus can come and go throughout your life, but I have been told that my recovery is exceptional, and I am convinced I am in more than just remission.

Today, the only remnants of the illness are scars on my face and arms from ulcers and the butterfly rash and, if I don't drink two litres of water a day, the odd twinge from my damaged kidneys.

I am now the patron of St Thomas' Lupus Trust in London, helping to raise awareness of the disease. I have spoken to many sufferers and my advice is always to use your mind. It's the strongest tool you have.

When I was diagnosed, I decided I was going to get better regardless of the diagnosis - and with that mindset anything is possible.

• St Thomas Lupus Trust would like to clarify that while lifestyle changes can greatly help Lupus, there is no cure.

A spokesperson says "Kelle is an exceptional person and an excellent Patron- however, how she manages her illness would not work for all sufferers. Lupusis currently incurable but may in some cases go into remission, but it never 'goes away'.

Lupus by it's very nature 'waxes and wanes' and patients often have periods of feeling well. Lupus can be affected by factors such as diet, exercise and stress.

A good diet and exercise can improve how a patient feels, as can reducing stress - which is a known trigger. As for pregnancy.

Our general advice is for lupus patients not to becomepregnant when they are very acutely ill, once over the acute episode they should then discuss pregnancy with their doctor.

Pregnancies amongst lupus patients are very often successful, indeed our own pregnancy clinic has an 80-85 per cent success rate."

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Professional and Serious Athelete

January 2005

This month's newsletter focuses on the professional or serious athlete. It really does not matter which sport the athlete is involved, but instead, it is critical to understand the importance of nutritional support required to protect the health of the athlete and enhance his or her performance. This month's newsletter will shine a light on this subject from a medical standpoint and hopefully give the reader a much better understanding of what is necessary to achieve both goals of optimal performance and optimal health.


This newsletter has been written by Ray D. Strand, M. D. who is a family physician who has been involved in a private family practice for over 30 years. For the past 12 years, he has focused his practice on nutritional and preventive medicine. He has written several best selling books like What Your Doctor Doesn't Know about Nutritional Medicine, Death by Prescription, and Healthy for Life. He has lectured across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore on preventive and nutritional medicine. He has also appeared on many radio and television shows.

His primary focus is to guide and educate those individuals who desire to become more proactive in protecting their health or regaining their health. His "online" medical practice is located at*** where he shares a wealth of information in regards to those healthy lifestyles that have been shown to truly protect your health or even allow you to regain your health if you have already lost it. Members of his "online" medical practice also have personal access to Dr. Strand via email and phone consults at a very reasonable fee. Members also have access to his specific nutritional recommendations for over 100 different diseases and his bi-monthly newsletter.

There is so much information that is now available on the Internet today and it is hard to know what is true and what is not. Dr. Strand's mission is to be that health care provider that you can trust.

On his website, he also shares his clinical experience along with his extensive research of the medical literature in the following forms:

* Specific Recommendations
* Healthy Lifestyles
* Newsletters
* Health Nuggets