Asthma responds well to intravenous infusions of the essential mineral magnesium. After pooling results from five controlled studies on 182 children in emergency rooms for acute attacks of asthma, researchers found that IV magnesium improved both lung function and symptom scores. The rate of hospitalization was reduced by 70 percent in those children treated with the magnesium. (Cheuk DK, et al., A meta-analysis on intravenous magnesium sulphate for treating acute asthma. Arch Dis Child. 2005 Jan; 90 (1):74-7.) Magnesium treatment for asthma is safe and inexpensive compared to drugs or hospitalization. It is free of side effects when administered appropriately.
In 27,017 post-menopausal women, red-meat protein increased their risk of dying of heart disease, while vegetable sources of protein, such as beans, soyfoods, peanuts, and nuts, decreased the risk (Kelemen LE, Associations of dietary protein with disease and mortality in a prospective study of postmenopausal women. Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Feb 1; 161 (3):239-49). Over 15 years, those women who most often substituted meat or dairy protein for carbohydrates had an over 40-percent greater risk of cardiac mortality, while those who substituted vegetable protein for carbohydrates had a 30-percent reduction in heart deaths. Note that the relationship to refined carbohydrates (white flour and sugar) is the reverse, as these type of carbohydrates increase the risks compared to whole grains.
A diet rich in vegetables and high in fiber is as effective as statin drugs in lowering cholesterol. Emphasizing soy proteins, almonds, oats, barley, eggplant, and psyllium seeds, the subjects in this study had no problem following the diet and they felt fuller when consuming these foods. Statins lowered LDL-cholesterol by 33 percent and the diet by 30 percent. (Jenkins DJ, et al., Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb; 81(2):380-7.) The researchers note that this treatment is good “for those who do not tolerate the drugs.” As the results are virtually the same for both treatments, it is prudent to try the diet first to avoid the side effects of the drugs, as well as the lowering of coenzyme Q10 that they cause.
A study of zinc in tissues shows that a low level is associated with an increased risk of cancer of the esophagus. In a study of 132 subjects, those with the highest level of zinc in esophageal tissue had an 80-percent reduction in esophageal cancer compared to those with the lowest levels. (Abnet CC, et al., Zinc concentration in esophageal biopsy specimens measured by x-ray fluorescence and esophageal cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Feb 16; 97(4):301-6.) Zinc deficiency increases the effects of some carcinogenic compounds. Zinc is available as a dietary supplement by itself, and it is in many multiple vitamin-mineral formulas. It should be balanced with copper supplements to prevent a copper deficiency. Some healthy food sources include beans, grains, and tofu.
The herb feverfew contains an active component called parthenolide. New laboratory studies of parthenolide reveal that it can inhibit the growth of certain leukemia cells without harming normal cells. In addition, it gets at the root of the problem by attacking the leukemia stem cells. (Guzman ML, et al., The sesquiterpene lactone parthenolide induces apoptosis of human acute myelogenous leukemia stem and progenitor cells. Blood. 2005 Feb 1; [Epub ahead of print]. Parthenolide is apparently much more specific than the chemotherapeutic drug used in this kind of leukemia.
Resveratrol, a substance found in red wine, grape skins, and peanuts, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects. A recent cellular study showed that resveratrol can induce cancer cell death in human brain tumors (glioma), and found that it works by multiple mechanisms (Jiang H, et al., Resveratrol-induced apoptotic death in...glioma cells. Mol Cancer Ther. 2005 Apr; 4(4):554-61). Other reports indicate that resveratrol inhibits the initiation, promotion, and progression of tumors (Alarcon de la Lastra C, Villegas I, Resveratrol as an anti-inflammatory and anti-aging agent. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2005 Apr 14; [Epub ahead of print]) and increases the lifespan of yeasts and fruit flies. While effects in yeasts and fruit flies may seem remote from human physiology, the genetics of these organisms has much in common with humans, making these effects relevant to potential human benefits.
Michael Janson, MD, is Past President of the American College for Advancement in Medicine. He is the author of four books, including Dr. Janson’s New Vitamin Revolution and the User’s Guide to Heart Healthy Supplements. He has a free monthly newsletter, Dr. Janson’s Healthy Living, available at his website, www.drjanson.com. He practices in New England and Florida.