[Originally posted at http://bbs.anjia.com/dispbbs_4_245846_1_1.html ]
> 如果经济条件允许的条件下，最好用橄榄油是最好了。[If you can afford, it's best to use olive oil.]
Olive oil is the best, but it lacks Omega-3 fatty acid. So you either need to supplement Omega-3 by taking tablets or capsules you buy from a nutrition store, or buy olive oil fortified with Omega-3, and of course eating plenty of fish is recommended too.
Also, peanuts, peanut oil, or anything made from peanuts have a trace amount of aflatoxin, a very potent carcinogen (cancer-inducing agent). There's no peanut oil that is completely free of this toxin.
Friday, November 21, 2008
[Originally posted at http://bbs.anjia.com/dispbbs_4_245846_1_1.html ]
Posted by Yong Huang at 5:48 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
My neighbor, a pharmacist working in the same hospital as I, lent the book to me, Dr. Andrew Weil's Eating Well For Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Bringing Health and Pleasure Back to Eating. I'm about half through. I just checked the readers' reviews on Amazon. It's amazing; even with 135 reviews, it's still 4-star (normally when the number of reviews goes up, the rating goes down).
This is an extraordinary book on health, nutrition, and general and his "integrative" medicine. Dr. Weil is a graduate of Harvard Medical School (HMS). While excellent education doesn't automatically translate to excellent real-life experience, I generally have more trust in people attending a more competitive school than otherwise; their intelligence and ability to self-teach to keep up with new discoveries in science play a role here. That aside, Dr. Weil has extensive clinic experience and travels and/or talks to people around the world, Eskimos, Native Indians, Africans, and of course those an ordinary traveller would also have a change to talk to.
The pharmacist neighbor is a "picky" lady. Sure enough, the book she recommends is not a disappointment at all. It thoroughly examines macronitrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates including sugar) and micronutrients (vitamin, calcium, etc) in words perfectly understandable to readers with higher education not specialized in medicine. (My Ph.D is in analytical chemistry.) I believe the technical accuracy is pretty much guaranteed, based on my other readings over the years, and some memory of basic knowledge of biochemistry. The writing is clear and logical, and as a bonus, occasionally entertaining; after he reveals the "secret" why an Atkins diet follower can lose weight quickly but get no further afterwards, he "suggests" eating high-fat cheese cake, and only cheese cake, to lose weight. You sure will lose weight, because you're so fed up with cheese and stop eating. There's so much new stuff in the book to a non-professional like me. We don't lack Omega-6, but Omega-3, and so their ratio is not right; we shouldn't blame fat indiscriminately, but should know what oil is good or bad and why (olive oil is good overall but remember it lacks Omega-3, etc). I wish the book index was more extensive to help the book serve as a reference for easy lookup.
Dr. Weil unintentionally demonstrates his appreciation for the health benefit of Oriental, and of course Mediterranean, diet. With Chinese origin in my background and personal interest in traditional Chinese medicine, I feel gratified to read that, and hope my Mom and Dad and others in China live a better longer life. In case you didn't pay attention, there's not too much of variety of vegetables in a typical American grocery store compared to one in China town; in other words, Americans probably don't eat with as wide a selection as Chinese. Not that everything Chinese eat is good (some eat exotic animals and get uncurable diseases). But generally a greater variety of food is a good thing. Nevertheless, obviously unhealthful features of Chinese food should not be overlooked, deep oily stir-frying, possibly smoking of pork, etc.
The book was published in 2001. Some new findings were not incorporated. For instance, the risk of taking vitamin E supplements was not well known until recent years.[note] Readers should always have a balanced reading "portfolio" even if emphasis is placed on honest and earnest researchers like Dr. Weil.
[note] 1. Supplemental Vitamin E May Increase Heart Failure Risk
2. WHS: Women's Heath Study -- Aspirin and Vitamin E for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, "qualified success for aspirin in cardioprevention, but no benefit associated with the use of vitamin E."
3. Meta-analysis Results Suggest High-Dose Vitamin E Increases All-Cause Mortality
Posted by Yong Huang at 8:41 PM
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Just because it offers cardiovascular benefit doesn't mean you can ignore its adverse effect.
Cohort 70,000 people, time span more than 20 years. Quite convincing. "women who drank between one and two alcoholic drinks per day increased their risk of breast cancer by 10 percent compared with light drinkers who drank less than one drink a day. The risk of breast cancer increased by 30 percent in women who drank more than three drinks a day."
Practical advice. "If you want to drink wine, limit your intake to four glasses or fewer per week, and be sure to take a multivitamin every day." "increased risk could be somewhat offset by ingesting the recommended daily amount of folate or folic acid (400 mcg). Both are forms of Vitamin B9. Folate occurs naturally in green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and dried beans, while folic acid, which is better absorbed, is synthetic and mainly found in multivitamins."
Some researches show that it's alcohol in wine or champaigne that is responsible for the positive cardiovascular effect. But now you face a dilemma, especially if you're a woman of the age for breast cancer. The above articles didn't say, but you can still eat dark chocolate, or many other good things, and exercise, for the health of heart and blood circulation.
Moderate Alcohol Intake and Cancer Incidence in Women, Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Posted by Yong Huang at 9:10 PM
Saturday, July 26, 2008
In China, teachers and parents often associate sports with health. No doubt if you want better health, regularly doing exercise is a must. On the other hand, pushing people to limits in sports often goes in the wrong direction of a healthy life. Not everyone in China agrees with that view, or immediately realizes it. Failing to realize this danger, thousands of parents send their kids, usually one per family, to sports schools known for Spartanic training. While we cheer for the Olympics to be held in Beijing next month, anticipate extraordinary influx of visitors and money, and the boost of national pride too tightly interwoven with sports, we should never forget the boys and girls, now men and women, that failed to achieve the absolute top, and all because of over-training and inhumane treatment, failed in health, and subsequently failed financially and in personal life. Read NPR's renowned reporter Louisa Lim's heart-breaking report Many Chinese Athletes Find No Glory In Retirement. These retired athletes' miserable life is not a hot topic in China, not among many parents and teachers, and particularly not hot during the frenzied cheers for the upcoming Olympics.
All we need is a sober mind. Be cool, be healthy. Tell your friends, those dads and moms, and teachers, that sports is not health unless moderation is practiced. Beijing Olympics is just an event. National pride comes from 1 out of 1 million. While you root for the 1-millionth, remind yourself of the 999,999 that may become another "Zhao Yonghua, 31, spent much of the past decade in bed". I believe only when the whole country stops treating gold medals as national pride this fanatically will sports and health be closer in concept.
(To have a balanced view, read all four of Ms Lim's reports at China: Glory For The Nation)
Posted by Yong Huang at 9:00 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Words in some Webmd.com articles (highlight added by me):
"Premature graying has been associated with certain medical conditions such as thyroid disorders, vitiligo, vitamin B12 deficiency, and anemia. Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which the cells that make pigment (melanocytes) are destroyed, resulting in patches of hair and skin that become white."
"Contrary to popular belief, having kids or a stressful job won’t turn hair gray. But oxidation, the damaging effect of unstable oxygen molecules — which have been linked to many aspects of aging — may be one of the causes of gray hair. ... the process of synthesizing melanin generates a slew of unstable oxygen molecules. When the Humboldt team exposed healthy and productive pigment-producing hair follicle cells to oxidation, the cells began to die off."
"Of course heredity plays some role, ... [and race]...
Both articles talk about dyeing the hair as a way to "treat" this problem. That sounds surprisingly silly! They already have strong suspicion, if not proved theory, about the cause. And yet the treatment is still so superficial. Why not recommend the gray hair guys and gals go see an endocrinologist for possible thyroid disorder, take vitamin supplement or B12 fortified cereal for B12 deficiency, (and take less bananas for possible reduced B12 absorption caused by potassium), and eat fruits such as apples strong in antioxidation? Individual causes warrant their own attention. I'm not a doctor or trained dietician. So I'll leave it to you and your doctors to make decisions. But even as a non-medical professional, I'm absolutely sure dyeing hairs is not a real solution, not to mention body's absorption of the foreign, non-natural, dye chemical molecules.
Posted by Yong Huang at 6:56 AM
Sunday, June 15, 2008
A friend emailed me the URL to Health News Review web site. The site posts daily reviews of medical articles or news broadcast on popular news media, magazines, web sites, or TV, and rate the articles on a few critiria. The reviews and ratings are made by medical professionals. I think it's a near perfect solution to the general public's frequent complaint that medical advice on news media is often confusing and contradicting. It does not replace directly reading research articles, which give you the original source of how the control study was done and what the raw data looks like. But it's a great site for general reading and provokes critical thinking for all of us. The topic selection is also attractive; it highlights those that catch most people's eyes, weight loss, cardiovascular problems, etc. Rare diseases are, well, rarely selected.
Posted by Yong Huang at 6:54 AM
Sunday, May 4, 2008
My last posting "fruit juices = increased hazard of diabetes" still bothers me. The researchers did not offer any explanation, not even a hypothesis. It reminds me of numerous health and medical science articles that recommend we eat fresh fruits and vegetables but none explain why fresh. We all know freshness means better taste and smell. But scientifically, it does not logically follow that they're healthier than not as fresh fruits and vegetables, although rotten ones, obviously, should be excluded for food poisoning.
So here's my theory, or hypothesis. Many fruits and vegetables have anti-oxidants, those that scavenge free radicals in our bodies. As a chemist, I know that if something is anti-oxidant, it must easily react with oxidant, most notably in our everyday life, oxygen. Have you ever asked yourself why a cut-open apple exposed to air for a few minutes has a layer of "rust"? If you must leave it open for a while, you can put food wrap on it tightly to avoid oxygen exposure, and the rust will not appear. Like apples, many fruits and vegetables have nutrients that chemically react with oxygen, depleting the health benefit due to decreased amount of the nutrient. If they were still on the plant, the nutrient would be continuously produced. But once harvested, time is running to gradually lose the oxygen sensitive nutrient. If you must, store them in a CO2 or nitrogen environment.
Well, here I'm assuming oxygen to be the only chemical that eats aways the good stuff. But it's likely that the nutrient may degrade anaerobically. In that case, eating fresh is the only way to make best use of the healthy plants.
Back to the "fruit juices = increased hazard of diabetes" topic. Science is making progress. But there's always a little gap to reveal the secrets of real nature. There got to be something fruit juice manufacturers are missing. Before the missing part is found, let's eat fresh fruits for the time being.
Posted by Yong Huang at 8:47 PM
Thursday, April 24, 2008
"April 11, 2008 — Consumption of green leafy vegetables and fruit was associated with a lower hazard of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), whereas consumption of fruit juices may be associated with an increased hazard of diabetes among women." Nobody will doubt the first part of the statement. But the second part, highlighted by me, is surprising. The study does not offer an explanation or hypothesis.
"They advise caution in replacing some beverages with fruit juices in an attempt to provide healthier options and in classifying 100% fruit juice as a serving of fruit."
Posted by Yong Huang at 8:37 PM
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Whether children should be vaccinated is a hot topic on public forums, such as misc.health.alternative. There's a possibility that children with certain rare disease such as scimitar syndrome should not be vaccinated the same way as normal children are (Ref: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scimitarsupport/). But it's probably hard to argue that vaccination should be banned altogether.
Now here's something even stronger against this medical practice, a case where the plaintiff claims autism was aggravated by vaccination. ("On March 6, a federal court granted compensation to a Georgia girl because she developed autism-like symptoms after receiving childhood vaccines in 2000. Officials did not say the vaccines caused autism; rather, they concluded the vaccines aggravated a preexisting condition." Source:Medcape.com) Interestingly, the Medscape poll shows that most medical professionals think the ruling is wrong, and physicians are even stronger than nurses in thinking this way, pharmacists in the middle. (Source) Looks like the more knowledge you have, the more likely you'll laugh at the connection.
Posted by Yong Huang at 8:03 PM
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Supplemental Vitamin E May Increase Heart Failure Risk
WHS: Women's Heath Study -- Aspirin and Vitamin E for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
qualified success for aspirin in cardioprevention, but no benefit associated with the use of vitamin E.
Meta-analysis Results Suggest High-Dose Vitamin E Increases All-Cause Mortality
"At 400 IUs, which is the most common marketed dose, the risk of dying is about 10% higher than risk among people not taking the vitamin."
Dr.Gibbons, who served as chair of the scientific program committee at the meeting, said he has been urging his patients to stop taking vitamin E for years. Dr. Gibbons said that cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines from "vitamin E is ‘not recommended'. It doesn't get clearer than that — don't take it."
Dr. Miller said there are several theories about why vitamin E increases risk. One theory is that it increases bleeding risk, which would increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, while another theory suggests that at high doses vitamin E stops working like an antioxidant that mops up free radicals that attack cells that line blood vessels and instead becomes a prooxidant and actually promotes the production of free radicals.
Still another scenario suggests that high-doses of vitamin E tend to destroy other fat-soluble antioxidants, which disrupts the body's natural antioxidant protection system.
Antioxidant Vitamins May Increase Mortality
March 1, 2007 — The largest analysis of data on antioxidant vitamins ever conducted has shown that beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E probably increase mortality. Two other antioxidant substances — vitamin C and selenium — had no effect on mortality.
"Vitamin A and beta-carotene seem to have a dose-related effect, with mortality increasing as doses increase, whereas vitamin E does not appear to have a dose-related effect, with all doses associated with increased mortality."
antioxidant vitamins could actually also have prooxidant effects. "We don't know exactly how they are doing harm but rather than preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer, they actually seem to be accelerating these conditions."
Multivitamins Do Not Reduce Risk for Lung Cancer, and Vitamin E May Raise It
February 29, 2008 — The long-term use of supplemental multivitamins does not reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, and high doses of vitamin E may even raise the risk, particularly in smokers.
Although consuming higher amounts of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk for lung cancer, multivitamins and supplements have generally not demonstrated a benefit in reducing this risk.
Posted by Yong Huang at 7:55 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The book "Dressed to Kill" was published in 2005 and I was not aware of it till a few days ago. I haven't read it but read some comments and related articles about the same topic, relationship between breast cancer and wearing bras. There're a couple of comments I want to make. Briefly,
1. The relationship is unproven according to American Cancer Society's research (also this). Then how is any study scientific? One of the most compelling review of Sydney Ross Singer et al.'s book is by D. Pilipovich (Kapaau, HI United States). There may be some medical hypotheses that can't be or can't easily be studied by single- or double-blind methods. If ACS does not think this is one of them, then there should be a panel of experts that organize such a study. Singer's study may be too simplistic, not excluding too many confounding factors. But if the cohort number is large enough, it doesn't really matter, although the explanation for the observed relationship may be questionable. This reminds me of some ever-lasting debate in relational databases, such as Oracle. Should one rebuild a table's index or not? In spite of experts' caution, if you rebuild it and it improves performance and it doesn't realistically cause downtime or problem either now or in the near future, do it. By the same token, if a survey of a large number of respondents corroborates the "rumor", give the rumor credit. Even though the theory behind the rumor given by the researchers (Singer and Grismaijer here) is not sufficiently substantiated, the survey result is hard fact and cannot be dismissed unless you find flaws in the survey itself. (I haven't read the book. The theory of lymphatic flow restriction sounds plausible but I wonder why they pick the lymphatic, not for instance blood flow.)
2. Chinese women living in cities generally wear tighter clothing, and possibly tighter bras, and yet have less common occurrences of breast cancer than American women. Do eating more tofu, more exercise (walking and biking) and possibly less smoking explain the difference?
Other articles supporting Singer et al.'s claim:
Bras And Breast Cancer
Health After 40
Bras and Breast Cancer
Posted by Yong Huang at 5:55 AM
Sunday, February 3, 2008
This recent article on Medscape (originally in Arch Dermatol. 2008; 144:58-64) is interesting. Moles that may suggest malignant melanomas (a dangerous form of skin cancer) have these distinct features:
A. Be asymmetric.
B. Have border irregularities.
C. Have variations in color.
D. Be large in diameter — often bigger than the size of the eraser of a pencil.
Posted by Yong Huang at 6:40 PM
Here's what I saved in my latest reading:
**************** BEGIN QUOTE ****************
Obesity May Protect Against Joint Damage in Rheumatoid Arthritis
This apparent protective effect of obesity is observed only in patients positive for rheumatoid factor, however, suggesting that different autoimmune conditions affect biochemical processes in the arthritic joint.
Dr. Westhoff's group speculates that the effect of adipose tissue may be mediated by secretion of anti-inflammatory proteins.
Arthritis Rheum 2007;56:3575-3582.
**************** END QUOTE ****************
When it comes to science, we should be cautious about good vs bad judgement, including health science. Obesity is bad. Everybody knows that. But we should not cover up any finding that points to its positive side. This is by no means an excuse for fat people to stay fat, because there're too many risk factors associated with it. Instead, these studies serve as a reminder that we sometimes use when considering overall health of a person. Have you heard of smoking associated with reduced Parkinson's disease risk (Neurology 2007;68:764-768)? The same reasoning applies.
Posted by Yong Huang at 6:37 PM