Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Drone Snaps Eagle In Flight

A drone took a photo of an eagle flying over Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia:


From: Eagle Shot Wins Drone Photography Competition. More drone photos on Dronestagram.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Olive Oil Shown To Promote Atherosclerosis

Olive OilThe following studies provide evidence for the atherosclerosis-promoting effect of olive oil, in monkeys, mice, and humans:

1. Hepatic Origin of Cholesteryl Oleate in Coronary Artery Atherosclerosis In African Green Monkeys, Enrichment By Dietary Monounsaturated Fat, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 1997
"[We observed in monkeys] that the amount of coronary artery atherosclerosis was similar in the monounsaturated and saturated fat groups, in spite of the significantly improved LDL cholesterol concentration and LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio in the former."
2. Dietary Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Promote Aortic Atherosclerosis In LDL Receptor–Null, Human ApoB100–Overexpressing Transgenic Mice, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 1998

Mice were fed one of 6 diets with different fatty acid content: saturated, monounsaturated (cis and trans), polyunsaturated (n-3 and n-6), and a control diet.
"The reduction in aortic atherosclerosis was not found when either cis or trans monounsaturated fatty acids were fed. Rather, just as much atherosclerosis was seen when cis monounsaturated fat diets were fed as when saturated fat was fed, and significantly more atherosclerosis was seen when the trans monounsaturated fatty acids were fed."

This is an important outcome when one considers that monounsaturated fats, often in the form of olive oil, are widely promoted as being healthful and effective for protection against heart disease.
3. Effect Of Fat And Carbohydrate Consumption On Endothelial Function, Lancet, December, 1999
"Consumption of a meal high in monounsaturated fat was associated with acute impairment of endothelial function when compared with a [low-fat] carbohydrate-rich meal."
4. The Postprandial Effect Of Components Of The Mediterranean Diet On Endothelial Function, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, November 2000
"Contrary to part of our hypothesis, our study found that omega-9 (oleic acid)-rich olive oil impairs endothelial function postprandially.

The mechanism appears to be oxidative stress because the decrease in FMD was reduced (71%) by the concomitant administration of vitamins C and E. Balsamic vinegar (red wine product) and salad reduced the postprandial impairment in endothelial function to a similar extent (65%).

In a clinical study, olive oil was shown to activate coagulation factor VII to the same extent as does butter (44). Thus, olive oil does not have a clearly beneficial effect on vascular function."

The major unsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are oleic acid (18:1n-9) and linoleic acid (18:2n-6) (42). A high-oleic and linoleic acid meal has recently been shown to impair FMD in comparison with a low-fat meal (28). (That's the study above by Ong et al.)

In terms of their effects on postprandial endothelial function, the beneficial components of the Mediterranean and Lyon Diet Heart Study diets appear to be the antioxidant-rich foods—vegetables, fruits ... not olive oil. Dietary fruits, vegetables, and their products appear to provide some protection against the direct impairment in endothelial function produced by high-fat foods, including olive oil."

Clearly, olive oil is not the heart-healthy food it's made out to be. It truly is a feat of marketing that a food which has been shown over and over to impair artery function exists in peoples' minds as an elixir. The Mediterranean diet, with its generous portions of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, improves health not because of olive oil, but in spite of it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

New Location

I'm working on setting up the Fanatic Cook at a new location: fanaticcook.com. I won't be posting here while I'm setting it up, and future posts will reside at the new location. See you there!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

23andMe Suspends Gene Test

This is what you now see when you visit 23andMe's site:

23andMe sells (rather, used to sell until the FDA told them to stop) a $99 test kit that tells you your risk for over a hundred diseases by having you mail back your spit and comparing its DNA with other people's DNA.

The test was never validated for that use, so the FDA, after years of working with 23andMe, told them they "must immediately discontinue marketing the PGS [personal genome service] until such time as it receives FDA marketing authorization."

I have read comments from people defending 23andMe, saying the test is valid, implying that the health risks it returns are accurate, generalizable to diverse populations, and actionable. The FDA says otherwise, that the test has not been validated ("we still do not have any assurance that the firm has analytically or clinically validated the PGS for its intended uses".)

Is 23andMe selling an insufficiently tested, unvalidated product to an unsuspecting public? Yes, they are. Or, they were.

A medical device should be sufficiently validated for its use in assessing risk before it is used as justification for any additional test, any surgery or other intervention, any further expense - to prevent doing more harm1 than good. Health risks associated with a DNA analysis should be communicated by a team of healthcare professionals, who are prepared to advise on a course of action.

Speaking of harm ... See that "I Understand" button at the bottom of their splash screen? Is that there to protect the consumer?
1 Why 23andMe Has The FDA Worried: It Wrongly Told Me I Might Die Young

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chris Voigt Ate Only Potatoes For 60 Days, His Health Improved

Chris Voigt is the Executive Director of the Washington State Potato Commission.

"After the USDA had proposed eliminating the potato or restricting its consumption in various federal feeding and nutrition programs, Chris decided to protest these proposals and ate nothing but potatoes for 60 days. His health improved and he lost weight. His potato only diet attracted a lot of media attention, which helped Congress to intervene and save the potato."
Some of his pre and post numbers:

Pre: 197 lbs
Post: 176 lbs

Pre:214 mg/dl
Mid: 162 mg/dl
Post: 147 mg/dl

Fasting Glucose:
Pre: 104 mg/dl
Post: 94 mg/dl

Monday, December 09, 2013

Low Vitamin D Not A Cause Of Poor Health, New Study Finds

Population studies describe an association between levels of vitamin D and disease ... low vitamin D seems to increase risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other chronic illnesses. But does it? Supplementation with vitamin D, in intervention studies, does not improve health. What's going on? Autier et al. in this recent analysis say that low vitamin D may merely be a marker for ill health:

Vitamin D Status And Ill Health: A Systematic Review, The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, Online 6 December 2013
"We did a systematic search of prospective and intervention studies that assessed the effect of 25(OH)D concentrations on non-skeletal health outcomes in individuals aged 18 years or older. We identified 290 prospective cohort studies (279 on disease occurrence or mortality, and 11 on cancer characteristics or survival), and 172 randomised trials of major health outcomes and of physiological parameters related to disease risk or inflammatory status.

Investigators of most prospective studies reported moderate to strong inverse associations between 25(OH)D concentrations and cardiovascular diseases, serum lipid concentrations, inflammation, glucose metabolism disorders, weight gain, infectious diseases, multiple sclerosis, mood disorders, declining cognitive function, impaired physical functioning, and all-cause mortality. High 25(OH)D concentrations were not associated with a lower risk of cancer, except colorectal cancer.

Results from intervention studies did not show an effect of vitamin D supplementation on disease occurrence, including colorectal cancer. In 34 intervention studies including 2805 individuals with mean 25(OH)D concentration lower than 50 nmol/L at baseline supplementation with 50 μg* per day or more did not show better results. Supplementation in elderly people (mainly women) with 20 μg vitamin D per day seemed to slightly reduce all-cause mortality.

The discrepancy between observational and intervention studies suggests that low 25(OH)D is a marker of ill health. Inflammatory processes involved in disease occurrence and clinical course would reduce 25(OH)D, which would explain why low vitamin D status is reported in a wide range of disorders."
* 50 μg is 50 micrograms or about 2000 IUs

Vitamin D has become a darling in the supplement world. That reputation may not be founded. What's more likely is that low vitamin D levels, rather than being a cause of poor health, are a consequence.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Autier:1
"Ageing and inflammatory processes involved in disease occurrence... reduce vitamin D concentrations, which would explain why vitamin D deficiency is reported in a wide range of disorders."
1 Doubt Cast On Vitamin D's Role Against Disease, BBC, 5 December 2013