Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ultraprevention by Mark Hyman MD & Mark Liponis MD

Ultraprevention by Mark Hyman MD & Mark Liponis MD

“[In the old] Chinese medical system, a doctor is only paid to keep his patients well. If they get sick, the treatment is free.” P37

“more than 60M Americans suffer [from] irritable bowel syndrome… Today’s prevailing thesis is that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an unknown condition requiring medication to stop its symptoms… We think however, that IBS is caused by an imbalance in the ecology of the intestinal tract… Around 100 quadrillion organisms live within the human digestive tract, which at 3lbs, could be considered the largest internal organ other than the liver.” P43

“Gold, injected in liquid form into the bloodstream, was a popular and effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis until the 1940s… Gold has only recently returned to favor, despite the fact that no one knows exactly why it works.” P46

“Estrogen builds bone, the more estrogen, the denser the bones. This is why women with very dense bones have much higher rates of breast cancer – more estrogen promotes more breast cancer.” P61

“Glucosamine, a natural substance present in the body, not only relieves symptoms, but reduces the joint damage that occurs in arthritis… Chondroitin is found in normal joint fluid, and it MAY act as a lubricant of sorts. P85

All of us carry genes that encode for a protein called APO E (apolipoprotein E). This gene comes in several flavors: type 2, 3 and 4. If you have type 2, you’re lucky. You possess what is nicknamed the ‘immortality gene’, which means you may actually get away with smoking, eating poorly, and not exercising and still live to be 90. If you have type 3 (like 80% of us), you must eat right, control your weight, exercise, and avoid bad habits to remain healthy. A small percentage have type 4. Such individuals can eat right, exercise, and avoid smoking, but still suffer from heart attacks, stroke, or Alzheimer’s in their 60’s.” p94

“A study in Lancet looked at 212 patients with degenerative arthritis of the knee. This randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study showed that the patients taking 1500mg of glucosamine per day for 3 years showed no significant loss of cartilage during that time [no further loss but also no gain], whereas patients taking a placebo all showed progressive joint space narrowing due to loss of cartilage.” P114

“There’s a gene in the cells that line the colon that may determine whether or not you get colon cancer – it’s a tumor suppressor gene. This gene is turned on by a substance called butylrate, which is a type of fat produced by the healthy forms of bacteria that normally inhabit our colon… So by keeping the right bacteria in your gut and by eating enough fiber [the bacteria feed on the fiber], you can turn on a gene that turns off cancer.” P96

“in a 1979  Harvard study, researchers turned back the clock for a group of men aged 75 and older. The researchers brought these men to a retreat center and asked them to pretend it was 1959. The center duplicated life as it was through music, magazines, books; furthermore the researchers told the men to talk about events of that period… Acting younger had a profound effect on these men. Their memory and manual dexterity improved, they were more active and self-sufficient, they took responsibility for self-care tasks that they had depended on others to do for them. Even aspects that were considered irreversible effects of aging changed… Their fingers lengthened; their flexibility, posture, muscle strength, eyesight, and hearing all improved.” P106

“Everyone has a certain degree of organ reserve… For example, dialysis for kidney failure is not needed until kidney function drops to less than 20% of what is normal (50% loss of function is needed before it even shows up on a lab test). You’d have to lose at least 90% of your adrenal gland before insufficiency would be evident.” P108

“Researchers in 1997 found that a commonly used over the counter anti-inflammatory drug reduced the likelihood of Alzheimers by 70%. The drug was ibuprofen. That’s not to say we recommend that everyone start taking Advil to prevent Alzheimer’s. In the process of protecting the brain, you could damage the liver.” P111 It is always something.

“In 1999, a 46 month study on the heart from France, looked at 605 people who had suffered heart attacks and survived. Some of these people were told to eat a Mediterranean diet, others were told to the American Heart Association (AHA) prevention and cholesterol lowering diet. The Med diet included fats from foods such as fish, olive, and canola oils, it also included a high number of fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and eggs, as well as some wine. It was significantly higher in fiber than the AHA diet, as well as 2 important fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) and oleic acid (from olive oil). The results? The group eating the Med diet had 50 to 70% fewer 2nd heart attacks. They even had to stop the study early because too many people eating the AHA diet were dying from heart attacks.” P124

“There’s been a recent inversion of our diet even more dramatic than the way we switched from hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural society. This is due to our practice of refining oils, which has increased the saturated fats and vegetable oils in our diets. Back when humans were hunter gatherers, our diets contained a 4:1 ratio of omega 3 to 6. that ratio remained constant for eons, and it suitably reflects the makeup of our membranes… Once we began to refine oils from plants, we switched to a high omega 6 diet, which accounts for the more than 20:1 ratio [that we currently experience]… This shift is making our bodies malfunction, causing inflammation, dry skin, and increased oxidation.” P130

“Recent research at Harvard has shown that supplemental essential fatty acids can improve the symptoms of bipolar disorder. This is based on the fundamental understanding that the cells of the brain normally contain high levels of DHA, which is commonly found in fish fat, and that adequate levels of this type of fat are critical for healthy communication between brain cells.” P132

“Newsweek (April 23, 2001) reported on a man who had suffered a psychotic breakdown, becoming so delusional that he landed first in jail, and then in a psychiatric ward. Lithium didn’t seem to help. An asst. prof from Harvard then recommended the man eat a ¼ lb of salmon every day (while still taking lithium). 6 mos later, the doctor was able to declare the treatment a complete success.” P133

“It would be extremely difficult to raise your blood cholesterol by eating cholesterol, since over 50% of all cholesterol in our bodies does not come from dietary sources, but is manufactured in our cells, particularly in the liver and the intestines.” P135

“Soluble fiber comes most often from nonwheat types of fiber, such as from fruits and vegetables, and is broken down by the beneficial bacteria in your gut; these bacteria rely on soluble fiber as their own food source. Generally, the more soluble fiber in your diet, the more you promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon… They produce an important fatty acid (butyrate). Butyrate in turn is a significant source of nourishment for the cells that line our intestinal tract, and this lining is critical for the health of our intestines, as well as helping preserve their ability to absorb food and eliminate waste. Reduced levels of butyrate in the stool have been associated with colon cancer, as well as colitis.” P142 Other studies, curiously, have not shown that increased fiber intake leads to lower colon cancer rates. Perhaps a study that gives you probiotics (healthy bacteria) and soluble fiber are needed to prove this?

“[Many skeptical doctors say] Our ancestors have lived 1000s of years without vitamin and food supplements. So we don’t really need them, either… Even if our ancestor’s diet wasn’t perfect, our modern diet lacks many nutrients common to our ancestors. This is due in part to changed farming practices and lack of organic matter in the soil. Furthermore many modern foods have been genetically altered for the worse (native Indian corn has omega 3, while modern genetically modified corn does not). They’ve also been stored for prolonged periods before and during transportation, then overprocessed and overprepared [all of which deplete nutrients]. Furthermore, all the varying medications we take interfere or compete with nutrients for absorption. Considering all this, it’s not surprising that more than 80% of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients on a daily basis.” P144

The more you eat, the more vitamins you need. That’s because eating a lot of food equals burning a lot of food… Which gives rise to 2 outcomes: energy in the form of ATP, and waste, which includes free radicals, and other cellular products that have to be eliminated from the cells. P145

Food is also the biggest source of free radicals, manufactured by oxidative stress. This is because when the body processes food (specifically when we convert food into usable energy inside our mitochondria), it releases free radicals that need to be quenched by our antioxidant system. That’s why so many research studies have shown that the best way to add 30 years to your life span is to eat less. The less you eat, the less oxidative stress is placed on the mitochondria… Thus people who eat the most food have the highest level of oxidative stress, and need the most vitamins to compensate. P146 (What about exercise then? It should increase the oxidative stress, and cause you to age earlier?)

Drinking a solution with zinc can indicate a zinc deficiency if a person cannot sense it, because normally it tastes like dirty metal. P154

“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself; art cannot become manifest; strength cannot be exerted; wealth is useless, and reason is powerless.” Heterophiles (physician of Alexander and father of anatomy) 300 BC

Suppose someone injects beef directly into your bloodstream. You will develop a horrible allergic reaction and perhaps even die – humans are so different from cows that your immune system would immediately freak out. But if you first broke down that cow protein down into its component amino acids, you could inject all the cow you wished into the bloodstream, and no reaction would result. [This is precisely what your digestive system does every day.] p180

The surface area of the digestive tract is literally the size of a tennis court. P185

Any protein that is not recognized as yours is considered a potential invader and attacked. So if you eat a protein and don’t digest it completely, you’ll have an immune reaction… And if you were to eat that protein again and it wasn’t completely digested, but entered your blood in a non or partially digested form – your immune system would make an antibody against the protein. P186

Your body makes 2/3 of its own weight each day in ATP; the avg 150lb human makes upto 100lbs of ATP every 24 hours! P189

ATP is made from glucose… Our brain runs exclusively on glucose. P191

Researchers gave acidophilus (gut bacteria) to women during pregnancy, and to their babies after birth. The babies had a 50% lower chance of developing asthma compared with a control group. P206 (Lancet 4/7/01)

Nothing can get into the bloodstream from the digestive tract without first passing through the liver… If you swallow something that shouldn’t get into your bloodstream, such as an artificial preservative [or sweetner] the liver will trap it and say ‘This is not food…I’ll trap it and keep it here so I can detoxify and eliminate it.” P211

Some of the best human evidence of the calorie reduction concept sprang from the Biosphere 2 experiments… after 2 years were up, the men had lost 18% of their body weight; the women 10%. And every measurable variable (body fat, blood pressure, exercise capacity, white blood counts, cholesterol, etc.) showed that these people had become substantially younger than when they entered.

Try an elimination diet. During this phase, the following foods should be avoided:
  • Wheat and gluten

  • Dairy

  • Eggs

  • Sugar and refined grains

  • Corn

  • Peanuts

  • Caffeine

  • Processed/Packaged foods

  • Alcohol
Why these foods? They include the most common allergens, rust causing foods (sugar and refined grains), and artificial foods/chemicals. What can you eat?
  • Colorful fruits and vegetables

  • Beans

  • Whole grains (except wheat/gluten)

  • Omega 3 rich foods (fish, flax)

  • Olive oil

  • Lean animal protein

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Take probiotics (acidophilus, lactobacillus, bifidum bacteria)

  • Increase fiber (to feed your bacterial pets)

Friday, September 09, 2005

(***) The Deep Hot Biosphere by Thomas Gold

This book challenges the very - geologic - foundation of our fossil fuel based economy by questioning the mechanism and sources for oil and gas. Who was Thomas Gold? He was a former professor of physics at Cornell (he died in 2002) who has consisently challenged the establishment with his bold theories. The book very convincingly shatters the fossil fuel theory and builds a credible case for the abiogenic theory of oil and hydrocarbons. What does this mean to you? Well, for one thing it means that oil, gas, and coal are continuing to be formed at essentially the same rate as they have for millenia, and second, our oil reservoirs are actually filling up from underneath (this is no joke, evidence of such has been found!). We are therefore not going to run out of oil very soon, and there's more oil below that if we can figure out how to drill deeper. Don't write off the internal combustion engine just yet.

“About once every 5 years, he invades a new field of research and proposes an outrageous theory that arouses intense opposition from professional experts in the field. He then works very hard to prove the experts wrong. He does not always succeed… He was famously wrong when he promoted the steady-state universe in which matter is continuously created to keep the density constant as the universe expands… He was right about the theory that pulsars are rotating neutron stars. He was also right about the “90 degree flip of the axis of rotation of the earth… He proposed that earth’s axis might occasionally flip over through an angle of 90 degrees within a time on the order of a million years, so that the old north and south poles would move to the equator… Gold’s paper was ignored by the experts for more than 40 years… 1997 evidence that a 90 degree flip of the rotation axis actually occurred during a geologically short time in the early Cambrian era… Gold’s most controversial idea is the non-biologic origin of natural gas and oil [fossil fuels]… The biological molecules found in oil show that oil is contaminated by living creatures, not that oil was produced by [once and now dead] living creatures. Pp ix-xi

The biogenic [fossil fuel] theory holds that biological debris buried in sediments decays the in into oil and natural gas in the long course of time and that this petroleum then becomes concentrated in the pore spaces of sedimentary rocks in the uppermost layers of the crust… Where petroleum reservoirs were found in rocks possessing no materials that could have given rise to the oils, it was simply accepted that crude oil and natural gases often migrate vast distances and that source rocks may therefore sometimes be indeterminable. [In other words, the current fossil fuel theory doesn’t have a reasonable, proven explanation where the oil really comes from and how it got there.]… The discovery of molecules of clearly biological origin [because chirality] in all natural oils greatly strengthened the biogenic theory [because it claims these are remnants of the decayed biological debris].” P40 “The abiogenic theory holds that hydrocarbons were a component of the material that formed the earth, through the accretion of solids some 4.5 BYA. With increasing internal heat, liquids and gases were liberated, and because they were less dense than the rocks, buoyancy forces drove them upward. In favorable conditions, the upward journey would be dammed temporarily in porous rocks at depths that our drills can reach.” P41

The abiogenic theory of petroleum formation depends on the truth of 5 underlying assumptions. 1st, hydrocarbons must have been a common constituent of the primordial materials out which the earth was formed. 2nd, in 4.5 BY since the earth accreted, the primordial hydrocarbons must not subsequently have become dissociated and fully oxidized to carbon dioxide and water by exposure to significant amounts of oxygen bound in the rocks of the earth’s crust. 3rd, hydrocarbons must be chemically stable at the combinations of high temperature and pressure w/in the earth. 4th, hydrocarbon fluids must have found or created suitable pores in which to exist at depth and through which to travel in their journey upward. 5th a source of hydrocarbons must still exist at depth. P43

1. Are Hydrocarbons primordial?
“Carbon is the 4th most abundant element in the universe and also in our solar system after hydrogen, helium and oxygen. Among planetary bodies [earth included], carbon is found mostly in compounds w/hydrogen – hydrocarbons – which at different temperatures and pressures, may be gaseous [methane – natural gas], liquid [oil], solid [coal]… It is therefore clear that the occurrence of hydrocarbon molecules within the earth is in no way an anomaly.

2. Was the earth subjected to a partial melt allowing some of these primordial hydrocarbons to be preserved?
Until the middle of the 20th century it was thought that the earth had formed as a hot body, that it had been a ball of liquid rock – and that it had then gradually cooled, providing a differentiated crust over a homogeneous mantle. In such an evolutionary history, no primordial hydrocarbons could have survived the molten state [without oxidation or reduction]… It has become quite clear now that our planet, as well as other inner planets and satellites of the outer planets, all accreted as solid bodies from solids that had condensed from a gaseous planetary disk… In the early earth, partial melting did take place, causing melts of lower density to make their way to the surface [forming the crust] while melts of higher density sank down toward the center [forming the core]…

3. Are Hydrocarbons stable at great depth?
It used be thought that above 600 degrees C would dissociate even the simplest and most heat resistant hydrocarbon – methane, and that temps as low as 300C were sufficient to destroy most of the heavy hydrocarbon components of petroleum. Because such temps are reached at depths of only a few 10s of KMs in the crust, it seemed pointless to discuss an origin of hydrocarbons from sources at deeper levels… This conventional view reigned unchallenged simply because of the cost of conducting experiments at the appropriate pressures [yes the temp is very high 200 km below the surface, but so is the pressure!]… High pressure greatly stabilizes hydrocarbons against thermal dissociation. [New experiments have confirmed this hypothesis.] Methane is the most stable molecule of the hydrocarbons; most of it would survive at all levels down to 300km, provided the temp there did not exceed 2000C.

4. Does rock at depth contains pores to hold these hydrocarbons?
“Do pore spaces in fact exist those realms [deep underground] to accommodate [hydrocarbons], and do mechanisms exist to facilitate their flow? … [Conventional theory states] the weight of the overburden would be so great that even the strongest rocks would be crushed to a degree that all pore spaces would be eliminated; no fluids could be contained there, and no movement of any fluids through all the deeper rocks would be possible… This is about as silly a [notion] as the question of a schoolboy who first learns about atmospheric pressure and asks why he is not squashed as flat as a pancake if there is a pressure of 14.7lbs per sqin on his body [your body with its pores – think of all the places where you have holes full of air and water is all at equal pressure with the atmosphere. It’s also as silly as asking why the fish in the ocean are crushed even 20,000ft below the surface. Water and other fluids can withstand immense pressures.]

5. Are hydrocarbons still upwelling?
See items 2, 4 & 5 below for details.

There are 7 empirical types of evidence collected from our geological investigations that back up the abiogenic theory, and that challenge the fossil fuel hypothesis:

1. Reservoirs of petroleum are frequently found in geographical patterns of long lines or arcs extending for 100s or even 1000s of KMs. The island arc of Indonesia is perhaps the best example. These [large] linear patterns related more to deep seated and large-scale structural features of the crust than to the smaller scale patchwork of the sedimentary deposits [needed for fossil fuels genesis].
2. Hydrocarbon rich areas tend to be hydrocarbon rich at all lower levels, corresponding to quite different geological epochs, and extending down to the crystalline basement… Invasion of an area by hydrocarbon fluids from below could better account for the vertical reach of hydrocarbons than does the chance of successive deposition of hydrocarbon producing biological sediments in epochs that differ by 10s of millions of years and that show no similarities of climate, vegetation, or other relevant characteristics.
3. Methane is found in many locations where a biogenic explanation for its presence is improbable… These locations include ocean rifts, which lack any substantial sediments.
4. Hydrocarbon deposits of a large area often show common chemical features regardless of the varied composition or the geological ages of the formations in which they are found.
5. A number of hydrocarbon reservoirs seem to be refilling as they are exploited for commercial purposes… I don’t think the biogenic theory could – at least, I have not heard of any prediction of the refilling phenomenon. [Read that again! We are not going to run out of oil anytime soon if this turns out to be true. Yes, it might be a bit deeper than that what we have already found, but what Gold is saying is that we are merely scratching the surface – literally.]
6. The distribution of the large amounts of carbonate rock in the upper crust and the isotopic composition of the carbon atoms argue against the theory of biological origin.
7. A well-established association of hydrocarbons with the chemically inert gaseous element of helium have no explanation in the theories of a biological origin. But these associations are explained if the hydrocarbons have ascended from great depth [along with the helium as well].

Well what about those fossils we find in our fuels then? This is the so-called smoking gun that everyone points to as a biological origin for the hydrocarbons. Let’s examine that according to Gold.

“First, all natural petroleum contains admixtures of groups of molecules that are clearly identified as the breakdown products of complex, but common, organic molecules synthesized by life… Second, petroleum frequently exhibits an optical property suggestive of biological activity…Rather one hand dominates [from a polarization standpoint] which is characteristic of biological liquids [rather than being] represented by statistically equal numbers.”

Gold posits that these are indeed biological markers after all. But they are not created from ancient fossil life, but are instead the fodder for life that still exists underground. “Rather they are evidence of a thriving community of microbes living out their lives at depth, feasting on hydrocarbons of a deep abiogenic origin… Indisputable evidence of living indigenous microbes [bacteria] has been reported in oil wells at depths of more than 4KM. I believe that all the depths to which our drills can reach are shallower than the transition level below which biology can’t operate. Hence all hydrocarbons will show this type of biological enhancement.”

Yeah, but are there really enough bacteria underground to really infect and be present in all hydrocarbons? Some have argued by investigating the presence of special biological markers based upon carbon formations [called hopanoids] that “The global [subsurface] stock of hopanoids alone would be at least 10 to 100 times more than the estimated tons of organic carbon in all living surface organisms.” Here’s another calculation by Gold on the size of the biomass below our feet: “Let us begin with a presumed upper temperature for 150C (which at pressure would be below the boiling point of water). This would place a depth limit of 5 to 10km… The total pore space being only 3% of the available volume in the earth to depth of 5km yields 2x10^22 cc. If material of a density of water fills these pore spaces. This would represent a mass of 2x10^16 tons. If only 1% of this mass was bacteria, it would be the equivalent of to a layer of living material that would be approximately 5 feet thick if it were spread out over all of the land surface.” So yes, there’s a lot life below us.

But what about the literal fossils found in coal? Things like leaves, and tree stems and trunks? Isn’t that clear evidence of a fossil origin? No, that is guilt by association, and it doesn’t discuss the mechanism by which the fossil became entombed and preserved within the coal. “It is not uncommon to find lumps of carbonate rock within a coal seam and upon breaking them open, to find fossils containing wood – not black, but light in color – and showing no signs of turning into coal. Similarly, fossilized tree trunks that span through the coal seam from the carbonate rock below to that above. Those fossils are coalified where they are within the coal seam, and are not coalified where they are in the carbonate.” Gold hypothesizes that the fossils don’t create the coal, they are simply embedded with in the rocks that trap the upwelling hydrocarbon that becomes the coal.

Gold further challenges the fossil origin for coal and oil by pointing out a flaw in that theory that can be explained abiogenically. “It is assumed that oil and coal are the result of completely different circumstances. This is because proponents of the biogenic theory regard coal as the altered remains of plants and oil as the altered remains of marine debris, yet it would seem improbable for nearly the same biological material to be found in both. If coal was an end product of oil [the leftovers from the bacteria’s diet], then this coincidence would be explained.”

OK. I’m starting to be convinced. But how exactly does this new oil keep coming up, and why isn’t this so obvious? “I believe that substantial coal formation is not just a thing of past. It is happening today. We don’t recognize it simply because coal is forming largely as incremental additions to existing coal deposits. Not only the oil and gas fields are recharging [by upwelling] but the coal deposits also, only at a rate too slow for us to recognize.”

How deep do the carbon reservoirs go? Diamonds present an interesting evidence that carbon is indeed present at very deep levels. “The pressure needed to reach the domain of diamond stability [over geologic time, diamonds will degrade to graphite at lower pressures. Diamonds are not forever!] is 40,000 times our atmospheric pressure… that [pressure occurs] approximately 150km below the surface – in the earth’s mantle below even the crust… This in turn implies that carbon bearing fluids were abundant at those levels also, and that they deposited clean carbon [necessary for perfect diamonds].”

Are you convinced? It seems that we won’t run out of oil or gas or coal anytime soon. We just have to dig a little deeper. And better still, more is on the way. Fill’er up!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

(*) The Darwin Awards by Wendy Northcutt

These awards are handed out annually to those who thankfully remove themselves from the gene pool. In this manner, over the millenia our species has become ever fitter. However reading this book may bring that into question. In any case, here are 2 excerpts that I enjoyed. In both o these cases, the actual Darwin Award cannot be awarded, since the main characters failed to actually remove their genes. All in all, an easy light humorous read.

Questions and Answers p125
A young man presented himself in the emergency room covered with burns on all exposed skin. Even his hair was singed close to his scalp.

What had caused these injuries? He had posed himself a question, and then, overwhelmed by curiosity, empirically determined the answer. In order to discover the answer to his question, which will soon be revealed, he proceeded to shoot a propane tank with a .22 caliber rifle. Having survived the 1st stage of his stupidity, he gave the propane 10 minutes to leak out, and then held a burning lighter and walked slowly TOWARD the hissing tank.

[So after this description, can you guess this guy’s initial question?]
The question: How close do you have to be [to a leaking] propane tank before it blows up?

[So now can you guess his empirically determined answer?]
The answer: 15 feet

Stingy Scientist p193
There are many toxic jellyfish off the coast of Australia. Our dedicated scientist knew he must test his hypothesis that this gelatinous creature was toting the particular venom that causes Irukandji syndrome [sufferers endure excruciating back pain, sweating and nausea]. And how best to go about this?

He chose the most expedient method available: he stung himself.

Foolish? Yes, but the good doctor was not done yet. To reach dizzying heights of Darwinian grandeur one must ensure that one’s deficient DNA is entirely removed from the gene pool. As Dr. Barnes had already sired an heir, there was only one thing left to do… He stung his 14 yr old son as well!

Despite his truly outstanding effort to place the continued existence of the Barnes lineage in mortal peril – alas it wasn’t to be. Dr Barnes, his son, and the nearby lifeguard whom the good doctor also introduced to the joys of Irukandji syndrome were all rushed to the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital. All 3 survived.