100th Issue Celebration: The Latest Developments in Health, Nutrition, and Fitness

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Uncategorized

Looking To The Future: The Next 100 Issues

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

100th issueIn the roughly year and a half that I have been publishing “Health Tips From The Professor” in its current form, I have tried to go behind the headlines to provide you with accurate, unbiased health information that you can trust and apply to your everyday life. The 100th issue of any publication is a major cause for celebration and reflection – and “Health Tips From The Professor” is no different.

I am dedicating this issue to reviewing what has been covered in the last year and a half and reflecting on the future direction of this publication. Let’s start by looking at some of the major issues that have been covered.

Environmental Toxins and Our Health

We live in an increasingly toxic world. Some of those toxins come from industrial pollution. Some come from agricultural pollution (pesticides and herbicides). Some come from household pollution (cleaning products and outgassing from carpet, drapery, etc.). And some come from the additives that BIG FOOD adds to the processed foods we eat.

I’ve covered the effects of a few of those toxins on our health in articles like “Do Toxic Homes Cause Asthma?” , “Are Toxic Chemicals Lowering Our IQ?” , and “Do Artificial Colors Cause Hyperactivity?”. Look for more information along those lines in future issues of “Health Tips From The Professor”.

Exercise and Our Health

exercise and healthMany of you exercise on a daily basis and would like more guidance on the best exercises and how you can best support your exercise nutritionally.

I have covered the benefits of exercise in articles like “Run Long and Prosper”. I have covered nutritional approaches that support exercise gains in articles like “Does Leucine Stimulate Muscle Growth?” and “Do Protein Needs Increase As We Age? “.  Finally, I have covered the dangers of many of the sports supplements on the market in articles like “Are Fat Burning Supplements Safe?”, “Are Sports Supplements Safe?”, and “Sports Supplements To Avoid”.

I plan to expand these topics in the coming year and perhaps bring in an expert who can advise you the best exercises for a long and healthy life.

Healthy Eating

Most of you have told me that you are very interested in healthy eating.

I have covered healthy eating in general with articles like “Can Diet Alter Your Genetic Destiny?” , “The Seventh Generation Revisited” and “Are Organic Foods Healthier?”.

I have talked about foods and eating patterns to avoid with articles like “Does Sugar Cause Heart Disease?”, “Do Sodas Cause Arthritis?” and “Do Grilled Meats Cause Prostate Cancer?”.

I have covered controversial areas with articles like “Are Saturated Fats Good For You?” and “When Is GMO not GMO?” and a webinar on “The Truth About Genetically Modified Foods”.

Look for more healthy eating articles like these in upcoming issues.

Obesity

obesityI don’t need to tell you that in today’s world obesity is a huge problem (pun intended).

I have covered some of the less known causes of obesity in articles like “Do Diet Sodas Make You Fat?”, and “Can Gut Bacteria Make You Fat?”.

I’ve covered the risks of obesity in articles like “Belly Fat Could Be Killing You?” and “Does Belly Fat Make You Dumb?”.

Finally, I’ve given you some useful tips on how to lose weight in articles like “What Is The Best Diet For Weight Loss?”, “Are High Protein Diets Your Secret to Weight Loss?”, “7 Easy Ways To Spot Fad Diets”, and “Do Diets Really Work?”.

Look for more informative articles like this in future issues.

Family Nutrition

I have had lots of requests for articles providing nutritional advice for young families.

I have written articles for women such as “Women’s Heart Health Begins At 20” () and “Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Decrease The Risk Of Depression In Women?” . I have written articles for children such as “Can DHA Help Johnny Read?” and “Do Foods Make Them Fidget?” (coming next month). I have written articles for men such as “A Big, Fat Problem With Testosterone”. I have even written articles about gender differences such as “Is Omega-3 Uptake Gender Specific?”.

Look for more articles like these in future issues.

Debunking The Nutrition Myths

mythsThere is a lot of misinformation on the internet, and some of that misinformation has been repeated so often that it has become generally accepted as true. It has become what I refer to as a “nutrition urban legend” or nutrition myth. I have done my best to shine the light of science on these myths and expose them as the untruths that they are.

For example, I have debunked the myths about soy in articles like “Does Soy Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer Recurrence?”, “Should Women With Breast Cancer Avoid Soy?” and my video “The Truth About Soy”. I have debunked myths about antioxidants in articles like “Do Antioxidant Supplements Cause Cancer?” and “Do Selenium & Vitamin E Cause Prostate Cancer?”. I have debunked myths about omega-3 fatty acids in articles like “Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Cause Prostate Cancer?”. I have debunked the myths about calcium in articles like “Do Calcium Supplements Increase Heart Attack Risk?”.

However, debunking nutrition myths is a lot like the “Whack a Mole” game you see at state fairs. As soon as you debunk one myth, another one pops up somewhere else. For that reason I will continue to expose nutrition myths in future issues of “Health Tips From The Professor”.

Exposing The Lies

Unfortunately, there are a lot of charlatans in the food supplement industry, and some of their more sensational claims are popularized by doctors who should know better.

I have tried to expose the worst of these unsubstantiated claims in articles like “Can Chocolate Help You Lose Weight?”, “Water Is Water” and “Is Green Coffee Bean Extract Bogus?”.

Unfortunately, the charlatans truly believe that a “sucker is born every minute” so there will always be new products and new outrageous claims. I will do my best to protect you from products that drain your pocketbook but do not provide you with any substantiated benefits.

Telling The Truth About Supplementation

supplementationOn one hand you have experts who tell you that supplements are a waste of money. They don’t do any good. On the other hand, you have people who tout supplements as cure for whatever ails you. Neither extreme is accurate. I have done my best to bring balance and scientific rigor to this discussion with articles like “The Two Biggest Misconceptions About Supplementation”.

The Naysayers base their advice on studies of supplementation in healthy populations, something we scientists refer to as primary prevention studies. Because 95% or more of the healthy test population will never develop the disease being tested for within the time period of the study it is almost impossible to demonstrate a beneficial effect of supplementation in that kind of studies. I have illustrated that point by highlighting the difficulty in proving that statins provide any discernable effect on heart disease risk in healthy populations of people who have not experienced a prior heart attack in my book “The Myths of the Naysayers” and my article “Can An Apple A Day Keep Statins Away?”. If you can’t even show that statins prevent disease in healthy populations, why would you expect to be able to show that supplements prevent disease in those populations?

However when you look at the effects of supplementations in populations at high risk of developing disease (because of age, poor diet, increased need, genetics or pre-existing disease) supplementation does appear to be effective. I have highlighted these studies in articles like “Is Fish Oil Really Snake Oil?”, “Do B vitamins Slow Cognitive Decline?”, and “Do Vitamin D Genes Affect Mortality?”.

In future issues I will continue to highlight the benefits of supplementation. Unlike, the more sensational blogs, however, I will also be quite clear about which population groups are most likely to benefit.

Of course, I can’t cover all 100 issues in this one article. Suffice it to say that I have also provided you with information on nutritional breakthroughs that may dramatically decrease your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and much more. You can find many of these articles just by going to https://www.healthtipsfromtheprofessor.com and entering the appropriate term in the search box.

What Does the Future Hold?

I have just touched on a few of my most popular articles in the list I gave you above. You may want to scroll through that list to find articles of interest to you that you might have missed. If you don’t see what you are looking for, just go to https://www.healthtipsfromtheprofessor.com and type the appropriate term in the search box.

In the coming year you can look for more articles debunking myths, exposing lies and providing balance to the debate about those health topics that affect you directly. As always I pledge to provide you with scientifically accurate, balanced information that you can trust. I will continue to do my best to present this information in a clear and concise manner so that you can understand it and apply it to your life.

Based on input that I have received from many of you I will increase my coverage of exercise and topics of interest to young families. I will also be bringing back Julie Donnelly as a guest expert for a series of articles on how to relieve back pain. Julie is an expert on deep muscle massage therapy and her articles on self-treatment for muscle pain have been among the most popular over the last year and a half. I know you will be happy to have her back.

If you have other topics that you would like me to cover, please click on this link to enter your suggestions in the comment box.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Comments (2)

  • Merlena Cushing

    |

    Dr. Chaney, I want to give you a huge “shout out” for persevering in this formidable task. Your Health Tips from the Professor have been a tremendous asset to us – our family, friends and customers – for many years! You so effectively put the scientific data on the table – study to study – in an understandable manner… evaluating and then giving us the take away we need in The Bottom Line in each article. I truly wish I could send those who take as “gospel” the skewed information they find on most health websites/blogs over here to get the unbiased and truthful information that could enhance their health and might even save lives. What you don’t know can hurt you is SO true in this arena!

    SO continued blessings upon you and your efforts – you are a godsend!

    Merlena

    Reply

  • Sue

    |

    Congratulations on your 100th issue, Dr. Chaney!!!
    Thank you for this very valuable information!

    Sue

    Reply

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Latest Article

Should We Use Supplements For Cardiovascular Health?

Posted July 10, 2018 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Are You Just Wasting Your Money On Supplements?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

supplements for cardiovascular health wast moneyYou’ve seen the headlines. “Recent Study Finds Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Don’t Lower Heart Disease Risk.”  You are being told that supplements are of no benefit to you. They are a waste of money. You should follow a healthy diet instead. Is all of this true?

If I were like most bloggers, I would give you a simple yes or no answer that would be only partially correct. Instead, I am going to put the study behind these headlines into perspective. I am going to give you a deeper understanding of supplementation, so you can make better choices for your health.

 Should we use supplements for cardiovascular health?

In today’s article I will give you a brief overview of the subject. Here are the topics I will cover today:

  • Is this fake news?
  • Did the study ask the right questions?
  • Is this a question of “Garbage In – Garbage Out?
  • Reducing Heart Disease Risk. What you need to know.

All these topics are covered in much more detail (with references) in my book “Slaying The Supplement Myths”, which will be published this fall.

 

How Was This Study Done?

supplements for cardiovascular healthThis study (D.J.A. Jenkins et al, Journal of the American College Of Cardiology, 71: 2540-2584, 2018 ) was a meta-analysis. Simply put, that means the authors combined the results of many previous studies into a single database to increase the statistical power of their conclusions. This study included 127 randomized control trials published between 2012 and December 2017. These were all studies that included supplementation and looked at cardiovascular end points, cancer end points or overall mortality.

Before looking at the results, it is instructive to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Rather than giving you my interpretation, let me summarize what the authors said about strengths and weaknesses of their own study.

The strengths are obvious. Randomized control trials are considered the gold standard of evidence-based medicine, but they have their weaknesses. Here is what the authors said about the limitations of their study:

  • “Randomized control trials are of shorter duration, whereas longer duration studies might be required to fully capture chronic disease risk.”
  • “Dose-response data were not usually available [from the randomized control studies included in their analysis]. However, larger studies would allow the effect of dose to be assessed.”

There are some other limitations of this study, which I will point out below.

Is This Fake News?

supplements for cardiovascular health fake newsWhen I talk about “fake news” I am referring to the headlines, not to the study behind the headlines. The headlines were definitive: “Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Don’t Lower Heart Disease Risk.” However, when you read the study the reality is quite different:

  • In contrast to the negative headlines, the study reported:
    • Folic acid supplementation decreased stroke risk by 20% and overall heart disease risk by 17%.
    • B complex supplements containing folic acid, B6, and B12 decreased stroke risk by 10%.
    • That’s a big deal, but somehow the headlines forgot to mention it.
  • The supplements that had no significant effect on heart disease risk (multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C) were ones that would not be expected to lower heart disease risk. There was little evidence from previous studies of decreased risk. Furthermore, there is no plausible mechanism for supposing they might decrease heart disease risk.
  • The study did not include vitamin E or omega-3 supplements, which are the ones most likely to prove effective in decreasing heart disease risk when the studies are done properly (see below).

Did The Study Ask The Right Question?

Most of the studies included in this meta-analysis were asking whether a supplement decreased heart disease risk or mortality for everyone. Simply put, the studies started with a group of generally healthy Americans and asked whether supplementation had a significant effect on disease risk for everyone in that population.

That is the wrong question. We should not expect supplementation to benefit everyone equally. Instead, we should be asking who is most likely to benefit from supplementation and design our clinical studies to test whether those people benefit from supplementation.

supplements for cardiovascular health diagramI have created the graphic on the right as a guide to help answer the question of “Who is most likely to benefit from supplementation?”. Let me summarize each of the points using folic acid as the example.

 

Poor Diet: It only makes sense that those people who are deficient in folate from foods are the most likely to benefit from folic acid supplementation. Think about it for a minute. Would you really expect people who are already getting plenty of folate from their diet to obtain additional benefits from folic acid supplementation?

The NIH estimates that around 20% of US women of childbearing age are deficient in folic acid. For other segments of our population, dietary folate insufficiency ranges from 5-10%. Yet, most studies of folic acid supplementation lump everyone together – even though 80-95% of the US population is already getting enough folate through foods, food fortification, and supplementation. It is no wonder most studies fail to find a beneficial effect of folic acid supplementation.

The authors of the meta-analysis I discussed above said that the beneficial effects of folic acid they saw might have been influenced by a very large Chinese study, because a much higher percentage of Chinese are deficient in folic acid. They went on to say that the Chinese study needed to be repeated in this country.

In fact, the US study has already been done. A large study called “The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE)” study reported that folic acid supplementation did not reduce heart disease risk in the whole population. However, when the study focused on the subgroup of subjects who were folate-deficient at the beginning of the study, folic acid supplementation significantly decreased their risk of heart attack and cardiovascular death.  This would seem to suggest using supplements for cardiovascular health is a good idea.

Increased Need: There are many factors that increase the need for certain nutrients. However, for the sake of simplicity, let’s only focus on medications. Medications that interfere with folic acid metabolism include anticonvulsants, metformin (used to treat diabetes), methotrexate and sulfasalazine (used to treat severe inflammation), birth control pills, and some diuretics. Use of these medications is not a concern when the diet is adequate. However, when you combine medication use with a folate-deficient diet, health risks are increased and supplementation with folic acid is more likely to be beneficial.

Genetic Predisposition: The best known genetic defect affecting folic acid metabolism is MTHFR. MTHFR deficiency does not mean you have a specific need for methylfolate. However, it does increase your need for folic acid. Again, this is not a concern when the diet is adequate. However, when you combine MTHFR deficiency with a folate-deficient diet, health risks are increased and supplementation with folic acid is more likely to be beneficial. I cover this topic in great detail in my upcoming book, “Slaying The Supplement Myths”. In the meantime, you might wish to view my video, “The Truth About Methyl Folate.”

Diseases: An underlying disease or predisposition to disease often increases the need for one or more nutrients that help reduce disease risk. The best examples of this are two major studies on the effect of vitamin E on heart disease risk in women. Both studies found no effect of vitamin E on heart disease risk in the whole population. However, one study reported that vitamin E reduced heart disease risk in the subgroup of women who were post-menopausal (when the risk of heart disease skyrockets). The other study found that vitamin E reduced heart attack risk in the subgroup of women who had pre-existing heart disease at the beginning of the study.

Finally, if you look at the diagram closely, you will notice a red circle in the middle. When two or three of these factors overlap, that is the “sweet spot” where supplementation is almost certain to make a difference and it may be a good idea to use supplements for cardiovascular health.

Is This A Question Of “Garbage In, Garbage Out”?

supplements for cardiovascular health garbage in outUnfortunately, most clinical studies focus on the “Does everyone benefit from supplementation question?” rather than the “Who benefits from supplementation?” question.

In addition, most clinical studies of supplementation are based on the drug model. They are studying supplementation with a single vitamin or mineral, as if it were a drug. That’s unfortunate, because vitamins and minerals work together synergistically. What we need are more studies of holistic supplementation approaches.

Until these two things change, most supplement studies are doomed to failure. They are doomed to give negative results. In addition, meta-analyses based on these faulty supplement studies will fall victim to what computer programmers refer to as “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. If the data going into the analysis is faulty, the data coming out of the study will be equally faulty. It won’t be worth the paper it is written on. If you are looking for personal guidance on supplementation, this study falls into that category.

 

Should We Use Supplements For Cardiovascular Health?

 

If you want to know whether supplements decrease heart disease risk for everyone, this meta-analysis is clear. Folic acid may decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease. A B complex supplement may decrease the risk of stroke. All the other supplements they included in their analysis did not decrease heart disease risk, but the analysis did not include vitamin E and/or omega-3s.

However, if you want to know whether supplements decrease heart disease risk for you, this study provides no guidance. It did not ask the right questions.

I would be remiss, however, if I failed to point out that we know healthy diets can decrease heart disease risk. In the words of the authors: “The recent science-based report of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, also concerned with [heart disease] risk reduction, recommended 3 dietary patterns: 1) a healthy American diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and meat, but high in fruits and vegetables; 2) a Mediterranean diet; and 3) a vegetarian diet. These diets, with their accompanying recommendations, continue the move towards more plant-based diets…” I cover the effect of diet on heart disease risk in detail in my book, “Slaying The Food Myths”.

 

The Bottom Line

 

You have probably seen the recent headlines proclaiming: “Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Don’t Lower Heart Disease Risk.” The study behind the headlines was a meta-analysis of 127 randomized control trials looking at the effect of supplementation on heart disease risk and mortality.

  • The headlines qualify as “fake news” because:
    • The study found that folic acid decreased stroke and heart disease risk, and B vitamins decreased stroke risk. Somehow the headlines forgot to mention that.
    • The study found that multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C had no effect on heart disease risk. These are nutrients that were unlikely to decrease heart disease risk to begin with.
    • The study did not include vitamin E and omega-3s. These are nutrients that are likely to decrease heart disease risk when the studies are done properly.
  • The authors of the study stated that a major weakness of their study was that that randomized control studies included in their analysis were short term, whereas longer duration studies might be required to fully capture chronic disease risk.
  • The study behind the headlines is of little use for you as an individual because it asked the wrong question.
  • Most clinical studies focus on the “Does everyone benefit from supplementation question?” That is the wrong question. Instead we need more clinical studies focused on the “Who benefits from supplementation?” question. I discuss that question in more detail in the article above.
  • In addition, most clinical studies of supplementation are based on the drug model. They are studying supplementation with a single vitamin or mineral, as if it were a drug. That’s unfortunate, because vitamins and minerals work together synergistically. What we need are more studies of holistic supplementation approaches.
  • Until these two things change, most supplement studies are doomed to failure. They are doomed to give negative results. In addition, meta-analyses based on these faulty supplement studies will fall victim to what computer programmers refer to as “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. If the data going into the analysis is faulty, the data coming out of the study will be equally faulty. It won’t be worth the paper it is written on. If you are looking for personal guidance on supplementation, this study falls into that category.
  • If you want to know whether supplements decrease heart disease risk for everyone, this study is clear. Folic acid may decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease. A B-complex supplement may decrease the risk of stroke. All the other supplements they included in their analysis did not decrease heart disease risk, but they did not include vitamin E and/or omega-3s in their analysis.
  • If you want to know whether supplements decrease heart disease risk for you, this study provides no guidance. It did not ask the right questions.
  • However, we do know that healthy, plant-based diets can decrease heart disease risk. I cover heart healthy diets in detail in my book, “Slaying The Food Myths.”

 

For more details, read the article above.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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