Thank you to all of you who sent your well wishes for my speedy recovery from hip surgery. Your kind words must have worked because I am off crutches and recovering swiftly.
I have received countless emails about the H1N1 virus and vaccines. This is not surprising considering that the subject is dominating the media. In their latest weekly update, the World Health Organization reports that there have been 414,000 lab-confirmed cases of the influenza and almost 5,000 deaths worldwide. For most people who become infected, the virus causes moderate typical flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, aches, headache, fatigue, chest discomfort and a cough. A small percentage of people suffer serious illness and require hospitalization. The majority of hospitalizations and deaths are those who are obese, who have weakened immune systems and/or an underlying health condition such as diabetes, heart disease or asthma.
To help stem the spread of the virus, a vaccination protocol is being heavily recommended. The H1N1 vaccine is destined to become the largest mass vaccination program in history. Pregnant women, young children, health care workers and adults with chronic health conditions are amongst those considered more "at risk" and will be given priority in the coming shot line-ups. The following are facts about H1N1 to help you make a better decision about whether you wish to be vaccinated.
In the United States, four H1N1 vaccines have been approved for use. Three are injectable versions manufactured by CSL Limited, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Ltd., and sanofi pasteur Inc. The fourth is a vaccine nasal spray by MedImmune LLC. The US Food and Drug Administration based its approval on "preliminary data from adults participating in multiple clinical studies."
In Canada, there is one approved H1N1 vaccine and it is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Health Canada has deemed this H1N1 vaccine "safe and effective" based on European clinical trials. High claims of effectiveness were reported in these trials. Clinical trials in Canada and the US have only recently started; there is no long-term safety data on these fast-tracked vaccines.
The bulk of H1N1 vaccines contain adjuvants. Adjuvants are chemical compounds that boost the immune system's response. Exposure to the adjuvant squalene, which is found in adjuvanted versions of the H1N1 vaccine, has been linked to Gulf War Syndrome. Similarly, adverse reactions in military personnel to the anthrax vaccine occurred in those who had received vaccines from batches containing squalene. Adjuvants can cause the immune system to overreact, which is associated with autoimmune diseases such as Guillan-Barre syndrome, where the immune system attacks the nervous system, causing weakness and tingling in the extremities and sometimes paralysis
Like seasonal flu vaccines, H1N1 vaccines are being produced in formulas that contain thimerosal, and in formulas that do not contain thimerosal. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative associated with brain and immune dysfunction. Due to concerns, it has been withdrawn from most childhood vaccines, and several European countries have banned its use in vaccines entirely. The Public Health Agency of Canada website notes that both the adjuvanted and unadjuvanted vaccine in Canada contain thimerosal. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the live virus nasal spray H1N1 vaccine by MedImmune does not contain thimerosal. The other three H1N1 vaccines available in the US might contain it depending on whether they are single- or multi-dose varieties. If you opt for vaccination, be sure to ask whether your particular vaccine contains thimerosal and note its batch number. If you have an adverse reaction to a vaccine, you must know the batch number in order to report it.
The H1N1 vaccine is grown in an egg culture so people allergic to eggs should avoid it. Likewise for anybody who has had a previous vaccine adverse reaction. People who are running a fever also should not receive the vaccine.
A Canadian study found that those vaccinated for regular annual flu in the past might be more susceptible to contracting H1N1. Those who have had the annual seasonal flu vaccine should avoid being vaccinated for H1N1 until this debate is clarified.
Additionally, the H1N1 vaccine might cause more noticeable side-effects than the regular flu vaccine, which include soreness at the injection site, mild fever, body aches and fatigue. There is also a small risk of contracting Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Whether or not you choose to get vaccinated, the best defence against the H1N1 virus remains avoiding exposure whenever possible and keeping your immune system strong. In my August 2009 eletter, I included suggestions for avoiding colds and flus and for strengthening immunity that I encourage you to forward to friends and family.
Kind regards, Lorna
In this issue:
- Why Protein Good for the Heart
- Teenage Acne and Period Problems
- The Hidden Thyroid-Heart Connection
- Statin Heart Drugs Are Dangerous
You may already be familiar with the benefits of whey protein on muscles, bone health, immunity and blood sugar regulation, but a new University of Connecticut study reveals its cardiovascular health effects as well. Whey protein increased the dilation of blood vessels and improved blood flow, suggesting that it may protect against high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.
Teenage Acne and Period Problems
Q: I just bought ESTROSMART for my 16-year-old daughter, who has an extremely irregular menstrual cycle and acne, and is moody and sometimes over-emotional. How many capsules should she take? Should they be taken every day including the days of her period? And should ESTROSMART be started at a specific time during the menstrual cycle?
A: Your daughter should start with 2 capsules per day with food. ESTROSMART should be taken every day of the menstrual cycle. This should help with her PMS and hormonal acne. She can start any time, and stay on ESTROSMART indefinitely. In fact, I encourage all women to take ESTROSMART throughout life to help correct hormonal imbalances and protect us from the effects of toxic hormones in the environment. For more common Q&As, my website has a great Q & A section that I try to update regularly.
The Hidden Thyroid-Heart Connection
Far too many women are not aware that low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) can increase the risk of heart disease and aggravate cardiovascular problems. The thyroid gland is important for metabolism, digestion and muscle function. When the thyroid doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone, the heart can't contract and relax effectively. If unaddressed, dysfunction can occur during the phase of the cardiac cycle when the heart is relaxing between beats and filling with blood. In this condition, called diastolic dysfunction, the heart ventricles "stiffen," resulting in irregular blood flow and pooling. In serious cases, blood pools in the organs, mainly in the lungs, causing congestion and possible heart failure.
Low thyroid function further increases C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation and a risk factor for heart disease. Low thyroid is also very important in cholesterol metabolism. People with severe hypothyroidism have higher elevated total and "bad" LDL cholesterol and, in 2003, the American Thyroid Association noted that even mild cases of low thyroid can elevate blood cholesterol. It is believed that a lack of thyroid hormones incites the liver to produce more cholesterol - possibly as a protective measure - and, at the same time, inhibits cholesterol breakdown. Symptoms related to the cardiac/thyroid connection include:
- A slow or irregular heart beat, or heart palpitations (thyroid modulates heart beat)
- Shortness of breath and inability to exercise (caused by weakened muscles)
- High diastolic blood pressure (due to stiffer arteries)
- Swelling (edema; often a symptom of heart failure)
- Worsening of heart failure
- High cholesterol
- Hastening of atherosclerosis.
Low thyroid function can be improved with diet, lifestyle and supplementing with THYROSMART. For more information, browse my website and read Sexy Hormones, coauthored with Dr. Alvin Pettle, MD.
Statin Heart Drugs Are Dangerous
Statins are the top-selling category of prescription drugs in North America today. Statins are typically used to lower cholesterol and they belong to a drug category known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Commonly used branded drugs in this category include: atorvastatin (Lipitor), cerivastatin (Baycol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor). They are also costly, and depending on dosage (the dosage range is 10-80 mg per day), their use is estimated at $3-8 per day or $90-240 per month. Statins are typically prescribed with the goal of lowering bad LDL cholesterol. They work on inhibiting cholesterol manufacture and increasing the number of LDL receptors in the liver. Use of statins is not without risk, however; some side-effects are:
- Muscle pain, weakness and damage
- Nerve damage
- Measurable decline in cognition
- Increase risk of cancer
- Liver problems
- Joint pain
- Heart failure
- Muscle inflammation.
Statin medication use is also associated with breast cancer. One study in the Procedures of the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that the incidence of breast cancer increases when women use statin medications. A total of 66,843 women over the age of 35 were included in the study. Statin use was identified from pharmacy data collected from 1997 until 2002. Statins were found to increase estrogen levels in women. The average age of women in the research group taking statins who developed breast cancer was 57.6 years. The researchers reported that women taking statin medications should be advised of the potential increased risk of breast cancer.
Statins and CoQ10
Statin drugs further inhibit the body's manufacture of CoQ10 just like they do cholesterol, so the reduction of CoQ10 in the body when taking statins is not a side-effect but an inherent function of the statin drugs. Statin drugs can decrease the body's manufacture of CoQ10 by as much as 40 percent. Coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, often referred to as CoQ10 or Q10, is one of the most powerful antioxidants known for helping maintain a healthy heart. CoQ10 enhances energy at the cellular level, especially in the heart, enabling your heart muscle to pump blood efficiently. With the help of CoQ10, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is made inside the mitochondria and provides the fuel that gives the entire body energy. CoQ10 acts as the battery charger for the energy system in the heart and other body cells. The heart is the one few organs that never takes a rest, continuously functioning. This is the main reason CoQ10 is probably the single best nutrient that you can take for a healthy heart.
It is imperative if you are taking statin drugs that you supplement with CoQ10 daily. In May 2007, the American Journal of Cardiology reported a study of 32 patients with muscle symptoms associated with the use of statins. The patients were randomly divided into two groups. For one month, one group took daily CoQ10 at a dosage of 100 mg while the other took 400 IU (international units) of vitamin E daily. After 30 days, the patients who received CoQ10 experienced a 40 percent reduction in the severity of pain associated with statin use. No significant changes were found among those who received vitamin E.
Not only does CoQ10 provide a strong, healthy heart, but it also helps:
- Maintain healthy cholesterol ratio
- Protect all cellular membranes
- Halt free radical damage (CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant)
- Keep gums strong and prevents and treats gingivitis (an indicator of cardiovascular disease)
- Support healthy skin
- Slow cellular aging.
Sytrinol is not only advantageous compared to statin medications but has also been shown to be a superior therapy in its ability to safely reduce cholesterol without dangerous side-effects. Sytrinol is a safe, effective cholesterol- and triglyceride- (blood fat) lowering nutrient that works in 30 days. It's comprised of a patented blend of powerful antioxidants including polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs) and a range of palm (alpha, delta and gamma) tocotrienols. Studies have revealed that sytrinol is able to significantly lower total cholesterol, bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. Better still, this proprietary ingredient has also been shown to increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Sytrinol should not be taken with sterols, another natural remedy for improving your lipid (triglycerides and cholesterol) profile, because sterols inhibit sytrinol's absorption and reduce its effectiveness.
To date, three main studies have been carried out to investigate sytrinol's effects on high cholesterol levels. The first study involved 60 participants with raised cholesterol levels. After taking 300 mg of sytrinol each day for four weeks, the researchers found that sytrinol lowered total cholesterol by 25 percent, the bad LDL cholesterol by 19 percent, and triglycerides by 24 percent.
In the second, smaller study, 10 subjects with elevated cholesterol levels benefited after four weeks of treatment with 300 mg of sytrinol per day. Sytrinol therapy lowered total cholesterol levels by 20 percent, LDL cholesterol by 22 percent, apolipoprotein B (a component of LDL) by 21 percent, and triglycerides by 28 percent. Participants also had a significant five percent increase in apolipoprotein A1, an important structural protein of the good HDL cholesterol.
Researchers have now completed a third clinical trial, a 12-week, placebo-controlled study involving 120 men and women with moderately elevated cholesterol levels. Compared to those in the placebo group, subjects taking sytrinol had a 30 percent drop in total cholesterol, 27 percent in LDL cholesterol, and 34 per cent in triglycerides. In addition, HDL levels increased by 4 percent, resulting in a significant 29 percent improvement in the LDL:HDL ratio.
In my latest book, Your 30 Day Heart Smart Solution, I discuss sytrinol, coQ10 and other key nutrients that have been chosen for their scientific validity, safety and effectiveness in preventing heart disease and also treating existing cardiovascular problems. Look for Your 30 Day Heart Smart Solution in health food stores and learn about important dietary and lifestyle advice that, like nutritional supplements, are important components of cardiovascular health.