Ooops! I have to digress for a moment, once again. In our last issue, we talked about how the press has pretty much ignored the Vioxx scandal. However, that doesn't mean nothing's been happening. There's been some fascinating maneuvering going on in the background that you should be aware of -- and that may have profound implications in terms of your ability to access alternative health treatments.
Since the news about Vioxx raising the risks of heart attacks and strokes first broke, and since Merck "voluntarily" pulled their blockbuster drug from the market because they wanted to put "patient safety first," the share price of Merck has dropped in half, slicing some $30 billion off the value of the world's fourth-largest drug company. And as bad as that is, Merck would be happy if that were their only problem. After the news on Vioxx broke, an article appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine on October 21st blasting Merck for putting “sales over safety.” It also lambasted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sitting on its hands as evidence of health risks mounted.
The Chairman of the US Senate Finance Committee seconded that opinion when he said that the leaked memos indicate that the FDA silenced one of its drug experts who raised safety concerns weeks before Merck pulled Vioxx from the market. Dr. David Graham, associate director for science in the FDA Drug Center's Office of Drug Safety, told Senate investigators he faced stiff resistance within the regulatory agency to his findings. Or to quote Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, in a statement after finance committee investigators interviewed the researcher, "Dr. Graham described an environment where he was 'ostracized, subjected to veiled threats' and 'intimidation,"'
Circling its wagons, the FDA responded by saying that it "values open discussion and frank exchange about scientific and medical issues" and subjects its scientists to "more rigorous" scrutiny than typical scientific peer reviews. Nevertheless, the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress (which already had been asked to look into whether the FDA muzzled another staffer who linked antidepressants to raising the odds of children suffering suicidal tendencies) was asked to roll the FDA's handling of the Vioxx affair into their ongoing investigation.
It now appears that the FDA may be maneuvering to protect its back. It has asked the Institute of Medicine to study the way it monitors the safety of drugs on the market. And, to make a long story short, in an attempt to look proactive, on November 4th, the FDA announced three major regulatory initiatives designed to clamp down on the dietary supplement industry.
"These initiatives refine the direction the agency is taking to regulate dietary supplements," said FDA Acting Commissioner Lester M. Crawford. "We now have a clear roadmap to share with the dietary supplement industry, while at the same time giving consumers a higher level of assurance about the safety of dietary supplement products and the reliability of their labeling."
Is the timing of this announcement a coincidence? Would you like to buy a bridge?
The next few months could be very interesting for the alternative health community. After all, why throw a friend (the drug industry) to the lions, when you can offer up a sacrificial lamb (natural supplements) to satisfy the bloodlust of the mob?
But enough of that. Let's get back to the topic at hand.
One hundred years ago, colon cancer was virtually unknown. Yet, this year alone, 130,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it, and close to 60,000 will die from it. Colorectal cancer is the leading cancer among men and women combined, and it's not just a disease of old age. More and more people under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with it every year. Even children are now dying from it at ever increasing numbers.
What causes it?
Current theory on colon cancer, at least among the medical intelligentsia, is that colon cancer is one of the most common inherited cancer syndromes known. They postulate that the genes involved in colorectal cancer are: MSH2 and MSH6 both on chromosome 2 and MLH1, on chromosome 3. Normally, the proteins produced by these genes help to repair mistakes made in DNA replication. However, if the MSH2, MSH6, and MLH1 proteins are mutated and therefore don't work properly, the replication mistakes are not repaired, leading to damaged DNA and, thus, colon cancer.
Well, there you have it. If you believe current theory, colon cancer has nothing to do with diet and lifestyle. It's all inherited and out of your control. Your only option is to visit your doctor for regular colonoscopies, snip out any pre-cancerous polyps, and undergo full scale surgery and chemotherapy if it ever advances beyond the pre-cancerous phase. And if you thought a high fiber diet was going to help you, forget it. Medical studies have shown that a high-fiber diet does not prevent the polyps that can lead to colorectal cancer, at least according to two large studies published in the April 20, 2000, New England Journal of Medicine.
Colon cancer was virtually unknown 100 years ago, and yet it's now the single leading cancer in men and women combined. Genes don't change in 100 years. Only diet and environment change that rapidly. And that's not the only change we've seen in the intestinal tract. Diverticulosis was also virtually unknown 100 years ago. Now virtually everyone living in the modern world has many herniations of the colon if they live long enough. Not to mention the fact that the incidence of Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome is spiking through the roof. Hey, we're not talking about genes here. We're talking about changes in diet and environment. Don't be fooled by a statistical slight of hand. Diet and environment are fundamental to your odds of getting colorectal cancer.
For example, we know that merely supplementing with sufficient folic acid can reduce the incidence of colon cancer by some 75%. So much for the genetic theory.
Can some people have a genetic weakness that predisposes them to colon cancer if exposed to dietary and environmental influences likely to stimulate it? Of course! But the genetic predisposition does not cause the disease. If you clean up your act and use the proper supplements, your odds of getting colon cancer (with or without a genetic predisposition) become minimal.
What Can You Do?
First of all, forget the New England Journal of Medicine studies. There were many holes in those studies, not the least of which was their definition of high fiber. Many other studies have shown that societies that eat relatively few processed foods and eat true high fiber "natural" diets have a minimal incidence of colon cancer.
Also, there are a number of supplements that are known to dramatically reduce the incidence of colon cancer, and cancer in general, for that matter.
- As I've already mentioned, 800 mcg of folic acid a day has been shown to reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer by some 75%.
- Selenium, curcumin, lycopene, lutein, green tea, resveratrol, and tocotrienols have all been proven to be beneficial in reducing the incidence of colorectal cancer. (Incidentally, all can be found in full dose levels in the Ultimate Antioxidant™.)
- Indole-3-carbinol, a key antioxidant found in broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts has also been proven beneficial. I3C supplements are now readily available in health food stores and on the internet at a cost of about $10 a month.
And finally, regularly do an intestinal cleanse and colon detox. Nothing is more soothing to the intestinal tract, and more healing of herniations of the colon and polyps. I do them twice a year -- alternating with the liver flush and blood cleanse. Bottom line, I do four cleanses a year (kind of a Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter house cleaning).
Conclusion: Natural Health
Don't believe the nonsense that colorectal cancer is genetically pre-ordained and that your only option is a regular colonoscopy and a life lived in fear. If you want the peace of mind derived from a regular colonoscopy, by all means do so. But absolutely understand that you can dramatically shift the odds in your favor with some simple lifestyle changes. Remember, even the simple option of supplementing with 800 mcg of folic acid cuts your chances of getting colorectal cancer by 75%. If you add in a good antioxidant formula that contains full doses of ingredients such as selenium, curcumin, lycopene, lutein, green tea, resveratrol, and tocotrienols; incorporate more raw foods and fiber into your diet; and regularly detoxify your colon, you'll cut that number by some 95%. Now those are good odds.