Update on Corona virus

August 26, 2020

Since the last newsletter from May 28, things have gone well here in Denmark.
On the other hand, viruses have become widespread, especially in those countries that have not taken the spreading of infection seriously.
In the past month, however, localized infection clusters have emerged in various places here in Denmark as well, especially in immigrant communities.
The reasons for this have been mentioned in the previous newsletters, whose advice is still valid, so I will not repeat it here, but instead focus on what has happened in the last 3 months.

Studies
In a literature study(1) from Norwegian, Russian and Swedish public health institutes six researchers have concluded that early intervention with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin-D can alleviate the course of the disease, and virtually prevent the cytokine storm, which is the process responsible for the destruction of tissues, microthromboses, inflammation, etc. -the whole cascade that can take the life of the Covid-19 sick persons.

An almost simultaneous study(2) from Germany analyzed Serum-Selenium and Serum-Selenoprotein P, and both values were significantly lower in those who did not survive Covid-19.
(Selenium: 53.3 ± 16.2 vs. 40.8 ± 8.1 μg / l, Selenoprotein-P: 3.3 ± 1.3 vs. 2.1 ± 0.9 mg / L p<0.001). These results must be said to be highly relevant in our country, where we consume so little selenium. This study falls nicely in line with the former study.

On August 3, an article was published in the Lancet(3) which strongly calls for increased intake of vitamin D based on solid literature reviews.
This also falls in line with the first study mentioned above.

And, finally, there is a meta-analysis(4) of the role of vitamin D in the development of acute respiratory infection. It includes 30,000 people in controlled trials (RCTs), and has shown significantly reduced risk of acute respiratory infection already at 10-25 µg of vitamin D daily.
This confirms a previous meta-analysis(5), which also found a significant inverse correlation between the risk of acute respiratory infection and the vitamin D content in the blood.
All of the above studies are nicely in line with the advice mentioned in the five newsletters from May.

Authorities distribute vitamins
Azerbaijan has registered 35,000 Covid-19 cases in a population of 10 million. Of these, 1,800 were hospitalized and 508 died.
Here, the Ministry of Health has provided more than 3,500 Covid-19 patients with a free “medicine package” containing: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc and Paracetamol.
The idea is then that the patients stay at home and treat themselves there.
Every day they are then contacted by the local hospital clinic and have to answer a series of questions, just as the doctor checks that they are taking their pills.
So far, a significant reduction in the number of hospitalizations in this group has been observed(6).

You can only shout cheers when you see authorities who can think outside the box and dare to start such a project. My guess is that the trend will continue and that home treatment will continue to reduce hospital admissions in Azerbaijan.

The idea is not bad because you initiate a completely harmless treatment of a, for some people, -dangerous disease.
But why wait until they get sick?

With timely care, one can improve the immune system of the entire population if one simply provides information about these supplements and their significance.

What could be done here in Denmark is to provide subsidies to the vulnerable groups, especially residents of the country’s nursing homes, who are completely dependent on the public perception of vitamins and minerals. If their own doctor does not prescribe a vitamin supplement, then residents are often denied help to get the supplements, despite their own desire. They are completely dependent upon the doctor’s knowledge or lack thereof. I think Danish authorities and medical staff would be shocked if we measured the level of vitamin D in the country’s nursing home residents.
If you do not want to use public funds to donate these subsidies to the residents, then you can at least make sure that both residents and their relatives are informed.

These newsletters on Covid-19 are unfortunately necessary as this knowledge and the scientific back-up are neglected in the public advice to the Danish population.

Take care of yourself and others

Claus Hancke MD
Specialist in general medicine

References

  1. Alexander J, Alehagen U et al. (2020) Early Nutritional Interventions with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin D for Raising Anti-Viral Resistance Against Progressive COVID-19. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2358.
  2. Moghaddam A, Heller R et al. (2020) Selenium Deficiency Is Associated with Mortality Risk from COVID-19. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2098.
  3. Martineau A, Forouhi N (2020) Vitamin-D for Covid-19: a case to answer. Lancet 2020;8:735-6.
  4. Joliffe D, Martineau A, Damsgaard Camilla et al. (2020) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of aggregate data from randomised controlled trials. medRxiv BMJ (endnu ikke peer reviewed) 17.juli 2020.
  5. Martineau A et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.
    BMJ 2017;356:i6585.
  6. lmahamad A, (2020) 3.500 covid-19 patients provided with free medication. Azernews 18.august 2020. https://www.azernews.az/healthcare/168099.html

A second wave of Corona epidemic is coming

That is why we need to be prepared

May 20, 2020

The Corona virus will return. Of course it will.

When and how bad it will be, we do not know, but it will come.

Curiously enough, most people expect the second wave this fall – what we are not being told is that this is because the population’s vitamin D level again will be low at that time that we also call the “flu season”.

One of Europe’s experts capabilities on Covid-19, Professor Christian Drosten of the Charité Institute at the University of Berlin, even thinks that the second wave could be tougher than the current one.

But should we then sit with our hands in our laps and wait for a vaccine?’
No, no and again no.

We must, of course, do everything we can to boost every Dane’s immune system so that we are “armed to the teeth” and can prevent a severe epidemic.

Well, isn’t it precisely an overreaction of the immune system (a cytokine storm) that kills lung patients? Yes. If they are vitamin-depleted, then it will happen.

However, several of the vitamins and minerals I have mentioned will specifically inhibit this cytokine storm from the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which releases the inflammatory cytokines. Here, vitamin D and magnesium, selenium and the antioxidant vitamins are particularly important as they inhibit this cytokine storm and the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation seen in the pulmonary vessels. It was described a week ago thoroughly in the Lancet by Prof. Dennis McGonagle and colleagues. They describe how there is actually inflammatory coagulation in the pulmonary vessels, rather than a pneumonia. Of course, this causes oxygen deficiency and such coagulation cannot be treated with a respirator. McGonagle and colleagues call it a diffuse alveolar and pulmonary interstitial inflammation in COVID-19 resulting in a macrophage activation that triggers extensive immunothrombosis.

Thus, according to this article, it is an inflammation-triggered immune response that leads to microcoagulation in the lungs, and that is what Covid-19 patients die from. This is interesting because this reaction can be dampened by vitamin D, selenium, magnesium and vitamin C.

Some of these substances have direct antiviral properties. We see this confirmed in the few scientific studies that are already published, as mentioned in the previous newsletters. The higher the level of intake (within a safe limit), the lower the mortality rate. Therefore, it is important to have high enough vitamin / mineral content for the immune system to be so effective that it will not cause severe lung disease. The more effectively we can prevent disease, the less we need treatment. The previous three newsletters have dealt with Vitamin D, Selenium and Zinc. Now we come to one of the cornerstones of human survival, namely Vitamin C. It is also called “ascorbic acid” after “a-scorbut”, ie against scurvy.

In the past, just as with other vitamins, these were believed to only protect against a deficiency of that vitamin. Thus, it was believed that vitamin C merely protected against scurvy, ie vitamin C deficiency.

However, the past 60-70 years of research have shown that vitamins (and certain minerals) have completely different and quite potent therapeutic properties when dosed accordingly.

Vitamin C is essential for our immune system, which has been documented in over 1,000 scientific articles. Finding evidence is not difficult. Rather, one must know how to limit oneself when searching.

Some of these articles are listed in the literature list. I have included a few old ones for historical reasons. After all, it is interesting that Frederick Klenner with high-dose vitamin C cured children from active polio, while here in Denmark we put them in iron lungs (the respirator of that time), while letting the virus rage in the body. Klenner killed the virus.

Another classic is Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling’s classic “The common cold …”, which created a great debate for and against.
Since that time, the scientific evidence has been well established and unanimously shows that vitamin C is essential for a well-functioning immune system.

Vitamin C has many extraordinary properties in that it can not only prevent disease but also be used in disease treatment.

If we are to concentrate on the current Covid-19 pandemic, then several serious studies around the world are using ascorbic acid intravenously to treat severe Covid-19 disease.

Contrary to the often heard mantra, “we have no treatment to offer Covid-19 patients”.

Well, we have.

It is true, however, that there are no gold standard randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published in reputable, peer-reviewed, medical journals. But come-on.

This is a completely harmless treatment with an extremely cheap, natural vitamin for a potentially fatal disease.

If the seriously ill Covid-19 patients have to wait for the above publication, then they will be dead. Why not try it when it can never hurt them? If doctors are nervous about the legal aspect, use Article 37 of the Helsinki Declaration on compassionate care. Here, the doctor’s judgment applies.

The theoretical basis for the antiviral effect of vitamin C is present, along with a second-to-none safety track record. There is even more than 70 years of clinical experience from doctors who have used ascorbic acid for a variety of diseases, including severe viral infections. In addition, a large number of scientific studies, which more than indicate that Vitamin C has a place in the treatment of viral infections.

The least that could be done was to do a pilot study with 10 patients hospitalized with severe Covid-19 disease and compare with 10 who did not receive vitamin C. All 20 patients would receive the standard treatment available today.
Then you can compare mortality, hospitalization time, and recovery time.
The study can be completed in a month within a general medical department’s budget. It can hardly be more simple.

But that is perhaps the problem.

The first four newsletters have dealt with optimization of the immune system using vitamin D, Selenium, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin C.

The next newsletter will summarize our knowledge of the Covid-19 pandemic and conclude with a comprehensive overview of what you can take if you want to be highly equipped with an optimally functioning immune system as the next virus threat approaches.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs.

  • Alberto Boretti, Bimal Krishna Banik (2020) Intravenous vitamin C for reduction of cytokines storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome PharmaNutrition. 2020 Jun;12:100190.  Published online 2020 Apr 21.
  • Cannell JJ, Zasloff M, Garland CF et al. (2008) On the epidemiology of influenza. Virol J. 2008;5:29.
  • Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients 2017;9(11):1211.
  • Chambial S et al (2013) Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2013 Oct; 28(4): 314–328.
  • Gerber, WF (1975) Effect of ascorbic acid, sodium salicylate and caffeine on the serum interferon level in response to viral infection. Pharmacology, 13: 228
  • Gonzalez MJ, Berdiel MJ, Duconge J (2018) High dose vitamin C and influenza: A case report.  J Orthomol Med. June, 2018, 33(3).
  • Gorton HC, Jarvis K (1999) The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manip Physiol Ther, 22:8, 530-533
  • Hemilä H (2003) Vitamin C and SARS coronavirus Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Volume 52, Issue 6, December 2003, Pages 1049–1050
  • Hunt C et al. The clinical effects of Vitamin C supplementation in elderly hospitalised patients with acute respiratory infections. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1994;64:212-19.
  • Kennes B, Dumont I, Brohee D, Hubert C, Neve P (1983) Effect of vitamin C supplements on cell-mediated immunity in old people. Gerontology. 29:305-310.
  • Klenner F 1949, Southern Medicine & Surgery, Volume 111, Number 7, July, 1949, pp. 209-214
  • Li W1, Maeda N, Beck MA. (2006) Vitamin C deficiency increases the lung pathology of influenza virus-infected gulo-/- mice, J Nutr. 2006 Oct;136(10):2611-6.
  • McGonagle D et al, 2020, Immune mechanisms of pulmonary intravascular coagulopathy in COVID-19 pneumonia. Lancet May 7, 2020:1-9
  • Pauling L (1971) Vitamin C and the common cold Can Med Assoc J. 1971 Sep 4; 105(5): 448, 450.
  • Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH (2006) Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab. 50:85-94.
  • Yejin Kim, Hyemin Kim, Seyeon Bae et al. (2013) Vitamin C is an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses through the production of interferon-α/β at the initial stage of influenza A virus (H3N2) infection. Immune Netw. 13:70-74.

Zinc is important for the immune system

– also for Covid-19 disease

May 18 2020

In continuation of the previous two newsletters on Vitamin D and Selenium, a little important information about Zinc and its importance to the immune system is now presented here.

In these corona times, it is especially necessary that we each optimize our immune system so that we are well prepared for a possible new wave in about half a year from now, when people’s deposits of vitamin D again are declining.

In the Western part of the world, about 25% of the population has some level of zinc deficiency, especially the elderly, people with high alcohol consumption, people with chronic infections, those who get certain types of medicine, and elite athletes, who use up their magnesium and zinc.

Zinc is part of more than 200 different enzyme systems and is a prerequisite for normal growth and cell formation and a well-functioning immune system.

There is solid evidence that zinc deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to infection. Since zinc supplementation has also been found to reduce the duration of a cold, various zinc lozenges have been tried, and a Cochrane study of 18 studies found that 75 mg of zinc a day could reduce the duration of cold symptoms in healthy people, provided the zinc tablets were given within the first 24 hours after symptom onset.

The effect lies, among other things, in the skin and mucous membranes, where zinc is necessary for the cell replication that the body initiates when an infection is to be fought. This is especially true regarding the growth, maturation and differentiation of circulating lymphocytes, T cells and the killer cells, NK cells that we need to fight viruses.

In 2010, an in vitro study showed that zinc inhibits another coronavirus, namely SARS-CoV, which caused an epidemic in 2002. Zinc has a direct antiviral effect by inhibiting SARS-CoV RNA polymerase, which is a prerequisite for virus replication.

There is no specific study yet on the effect of zinc on the current CoV-Sars-2, but natural connections are looked for and, for example, the current Covid-19 disease is characterized by many people’s losing the sense of taste and smell, which is also seen in the case of zinc deficiency.
But it could be coincidence.

We have to take zinc all the time, as it is not stored specifically. It is not difficult to get enough zinc here in Denmark, just by eating real food and not industrial synthetic ‘plastic’ food. Zinc is found in meat, seafood, organ meat, fish, eggs, legumes, cereals, dairy products, green vegetables, fruits and berries. An intake of 20-30 mg per day is enough.

If you take zinc as a supplement, remember that it can reduce the copper content of the body, as zinc will upregulate the metallothionein synthesis, which can cause copper loss. This is probably not of great importance here in Denmark, where a large pig production has given us all a solid copper supplement.

In any case, we need zinc to optimize our immune system, so we are ready to fight an virus infection.

Now you have read about vitamin D, selenium and zinc in relation to the immune system.
The next newsletter to arm your immune system against Covid-19 will be about Vitamin C.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs:

  • Read Scott A, Obeid S et al. The role of Zinc in antiviral immunity.(2019) Adv Nutr 2019;10:696–710
  • Skalny et al: Zinc and respiratory tract infections: Perspectives for Covid-19. Int J Molecular Med. April 13, 2020
  • Mossad S, Macknin M, Mendendorp S, et al. Zinc Gluconate Lozenges for Treating the Common Cold: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Annals of Internal Medicine 15 July 1996
  • Velthuis AJW, van den Worm SHE, Sims AC, Baric RS, Snijder EJ, van Hemert MJ (2010). Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture. PLoS Pathog 6(11): e1001176.
  • Shankar AH, Prasad AS. Zinc and immune function: The biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68 (2 Suppl): 447S-463S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.2.447S.
  • Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4
  • Yoshimura A, Naka T, Kubo M. SOCS proteins, cytokine signalling and immune regulation. Nat Rev Immunol 2007;7(6):454–65.

Selenium attenuates Covid-19 disease

But we don’t hear about it

May 11, 2020

At this time, new research is emerging, newly published, especially about SARS-CoV-2, which has shut down the world with its follow-up Covid-19. This disease specifically affects the lungs, which is why people with lung disease are at special risk of serious illness.

One of the world’s most respected selenium researchers, Margaret Rayman, together with a team of researchers, has just published an important letter in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition that shows a significantly (P <0.0001) higher cure rate for Covid-19 patients with higher selenium levels in the body.

An interesting study from 2004 (Beck) showed that if a virus like corona passes through a host animal with selenium deficiency, the viral virulence will increase. The host animal lacks selenium to produce glutathione peroxidase for its own protection, thus allowing the virus to mutate freely to a more virulent form. Such selenium-deficient host animals are found in large selenium-poor areas of China, and could, for example, be a bat, or more likely a civet, which is a Chinese cat-like animal resembling a mongoose a little bit. It is eminent for adapting to urban environments and can be a nuisance near human housing where the cats’ excrements make a mess and carry diseases – especially if the animals lack selenium.

Rayman mentions a number of diseases that are improved by optimizing selenium supplementation via the immunomodulatory effect of selenium, in particular selenium’s ability to attenuate the virus’s ability to mutate in a more virulent direction.

Along with the above zoological observation, this led Rayman and colleagues to assume that selenium status and Covid-19 disease had a relationship, and they wanted to find it.

In a retrospective population-based analysis, daily reports (from a credible, non-governmental source) were collected from each province, municipality and city on confirmed cases, cured and deceased Covid-19 patients.

From previous studies, data on selenium levels in individual small districts were reported as selenium concentration in hair. Hair selenium concentrations have shown strong correlation with selenium intake in the different Chinese districts.

By the term “cured” is meant more than three days of fever-free lung function and lung symptoms clearly improved pulmonary x-ray or scan normal, and negative immunological test for the lung pathogen in question in two subsequent tests at least one day apart.

The recovery was significantly lower in Hubei Province (13.2%) compared to all other provinces (40.6%), and mortality in Hubei Province higher (3% – sick) than in all other provinces (0.6 %). Both differences are highly significant (P <0.0001).

However, one of the cities of Hubei Province showed remarkably higher recovery rates than the rest of the cities of Hubei, and it was Enshi (36.4%), which is known for high selenium intake and high selenium status.
The reason China is so thoroughly researched for selenium, is because there are areas in China with both the world’s lowest – and the world’s highest occurrences of selenium in the soil and in the food.

An area of very low selenium status is Keshan in northeastern Heilongjiang Province. We know Keshan disease, which is a cardiomyopathy / heart failure due to selenium deficiency. In Keshan, the mortality rate was 2.4% compared to the other province’s 0.5%.

The Rayman study has significant weaknesses in confounding factors and the use of old selenium data. It was also published as a “facilitator” so that the news can come out as quickly as possible at a time when any whistleblow is welcome and every stone must be turned over.
The Vitality Council has emphasized that the research does come from a serious researcher, Margaret Rayman.

Furthermore, when we can link her new data with a large number of heavy scientific studies, all of which point to selenium as a key ingredient in our immune system, the Vitality Council will conclude that selenium is necessary to optimize our immune system, so we won’t get so sick from Covid-19.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke; MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs:

  • Rayman Margaret et al, 2020, Association between regional selenium status and reported outcome of COVID-19 cases in China Am J Clin Nutr 2020; 00: 1–3
  • Beck MA, Handy J, Levander OA. Host nutritional status: The neglected virulence factor. Trends Microbiol 2004; 12: 417–23.
  • Rayman Margaret. Selenium and human health. Lancet 2012; 379: 1256–68.
  • Harthill M. 2011, Micronutrient selenium deficiency influences evolution of some viral infectious diseases. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Dec; 143 (3): 1325-36.
  • Huang Z, Rose AH, Hoffmann PR. The role of selenium in inflammation and immunity: from molecular mechanisms to therapeutic opportunities.
    Antiox Redox Signal. 2012 Apr 1; 16 (7): 705-43.
  • Beck MA, Nelson HK, Shi Q, Van Dael P, Schiffrin EJ, Blum S, Barclay D, Levander OA. Selenium deficiency increases the pathology of an influenza virus infection. FASEB J. 2001 Jun; 15 (8): 1481-3.
  • Steinbrenner H et al. 2015, Dietary Selenium in Adjuvant Therapy of Viral and Bacterial Infections. Adv Nutr 2015; 6: 73–82.

Fat is beneficial for the eyes

June 15, 2009

Two new studies suggest that the most common cause of functional blindness is preventable with healthy fatty acids.

This newsletter has previously suggested that certain vitamins and other nutrients have a preventive effect against the age-related macular degeneration (AMD), meaning a degeneration of the cones in the macula. The cells of the retina responsible for our central vision and our color vision.

Recently two new scientific studies have appeared from Australia, which very convincingly make probable that it is the healthy fatty acids that prevent this frequent visual impairment.

The first study showed that high intake of omega-3 fatty acids and low intake of linoleic acid protect against AMD.

In this study, 2,454 people were followed for up to 10 years, where the incidence of AMD related to their intake of fish, nuts or fatty acids in the form of supplements was recorded.

The study showed a risk reduction of 31% and 35% in those who regularly ate fish and nuts or consumed n-3 fatty acids (fish oil and flaxseed oil) and the authors advise you to make an effort to attain this and avoid a diet rich in linoleic acid that occurs especially in the cheap cooking oils e.g. corn oil.

The second study showed that high intake of omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil reduces the risk of AMD, and that a high intake of trans fatty acids increase the risk.

Data from 6,734 people between 58 and 69 years was examined.
It turned out that the highest intake of trans fatty acids increased the risk of AMD by 76% compared to the lowest.

To the contrary a high intake of fish oil also here showed a reduced risk (15%).
But most compelling was that a high intake of olive oil reduced the risk of AMD with whole 52%.

The healthy essential fatty acids is beneficial for virtually every cell in the body and bad fats can cause just as much harm.

So again in these fat frightening times let´s strike a blow for the good fat we should eat much more of

By: Claus Hancke, MD

References:
• “Dietary fatty acids and the 10-year incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Blue Mountains Eye Study,” Tan JS, Wang JJ, et al, Arch Ophthalmol, 2009; 127(5): 656-65.
• “Fat consumption and its association with age-related macular degeneration,” Chong EW, Robman LD, et al, Arch Ophthalmol, 2009; 127(5): 674-80

Selenium still helps preventing cancer

January 26, 2009

A huge U.S. study showed that supplementation of selenium do not prevent cancer of the prostate. But this result is only valid if you get plenty of selenium in advance.

12 years ago it aroused hope and optimism when American Larry Clark could tell that the mineral selenium prevents cancer, particularly prostate cancer, the second most common cause of death from cancer in men. He had to stop his trial before expiry when he learned that far fewer selenium-treated than placebo-treated patients (placebo: Inert tablets) got cancer.

Now a second, much larger, selenium trial has been stopped prematurely. Also in this case the focus of interest was the effect against prostate cancer. This was also an American study. But SELECT, as the trial was named, unfortunately showed that selenium had no effect. One could even not exclude an, admittedly very little, harmful effect. So, it was stopped.

In the meantime, Clark’s trial has been studied more closely. Was it really as convincing as was first believed? With 1.312 participants it was not nearly as large as SELECT where 35.000 attended. Very important was that the final report which came in 2003 showed that the benefit was smaller than first believed. Some cases of prostate cancer among selenium treated had for various reasons been overlooked.

What was left was a statistically significant benefit among those who at the beginning of the experiment had the least selenium in the blood and with most certainty did not have incipient cancer of the prostate. The latter could be concluded from the very low values of PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) in the blood of these people. In this group, while the trial was in progress, the incidence of cancer of the prostate was three times less than in the placebo group.

More selenium in the U.S.
Now the question is whether the much larger SELECT trial cancels Clark’s trial. It seems to be the general opinion as for example reflected in the leading article of the same issue of the American medical journal, JAMA, where SELECT was published. So far physicians should not recommend selenium as a prevention against prostate cancer, it says.

And yet one can rightly come to the diametrically opposite conclusion: There is every reason to believe that selenium prevents cancer of the prostate, and presumably also other kinds of cancer.

The fact is that Americans, but not all Americans, get far more selenium in their diet than we Scandinavians. In Clark’s study, participants were selected on the basis of consistently having relatively little selenium in their diet for U.S. standards. Two-thirds had less than 122 micrograms of selenium per. liter of serum. In the SELECT study only one in five had that low values. In other words, it is conceivable that most of the SELECT participants already got plenty of selenium so that additional supplementation would not benefit them. In Denmark almost everybody get less selenium than the participants of both the first and the second study mentioned. Our values are typically 80 micrograms per liter.

This is in excellent compliance with the fact that incredible few participants died from prostate cancer during the SELECT study. Statistically one would have expected 75 to 100 deaths for this reason, during the 5.6 years duration of the study. But only one died (!).

A contributory cause may have been that the vast majority of participants in the SELECT study on their own underwent PSA measurement annually. Possible prostate cancer was therefore detected and treated early. On the other hand, other studies have shown that annual PSA measurement does not reduce mortality. Therefore it is not recommended in Denmark.

Despite the termination of the SELECT study, as a Dane you should still remember that the research that involves us – as opposed to Americans we get very little selenium in our diet – suggests that supplementation with selenium in the order of 1-2 tablets (100-200 micrograms) per day seems to reduce the risk of prostate cancer to a third.

By: Niels Hertz, M.D.

References:
1. Lippman SM et al. Effect of selenium and vitamin E on risk of prostate cancer and other cancers. JAMA online December 9, 2008: E1-E13
2. Gann PH. Randomized trials of antioxidant supplementation for cancer prevention. JAMA online December 9, 2008: E1-E2.
3. Selenium supplementation, baseline plasma selenium status and incidence of prostate cancer: An analysis of the complete treatment of the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial. BJU Int. 2003;91:608-12.

jama.ama-assn.org
www.bjui.org

Vitamin C slows cancer growth

August 13. 2008

More than 30 years of experience have shown the anti-cancer effect of vitamin C in both test tubes, animal tests and human trials.

Nevertheless, the Danish Cancer Society does not consider it acceptable to apply yet.

Well-known effect on humans
As early as 1936, a young registrar at the Blegdam Hospital in Copenhagen published in the danish scientific journal “Ugeskrift for Læger” an experiment on two leukemia patients in which the disease improved on treatment with vitamin C (1). The young registrar was later to become the renowned professor of pediatrics, Preben Plum.

………………..

References:
1. Plum P. Thomsen S. (1936) Remission under forløbet af akut aleukæmisk leukæmi iaggtaget i to tilfælde under behandling med ascorbinsyre. Ugeskr Læger (98):1062-67.
2. Benade L. Howard T. Burk D. (1969) Synergistic killing of Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells by ascorbate and 3-amino-1, 2, 4, -triazole, Oncology, 23, 33–43.
3. Cameron E. Pauling L. (1976) Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 73, 3685–3689 .
4. Cameron E. Pauling L. (1978) Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Reevaluation of prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 75, 4538–4542 .
5. Murata A. Morishige F. Yamaguchi H. (1982) Prolongation of survival times of terminal cancer patients by administration of large doses of ascorbate, International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, Supplement, 23, 101-113.
6. Chen et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 20.Sep.2005;102:13604-9
7. NIH News (2008) Vitamin C Injections Slow Tumor Growth in Mice, Embargoed for Release, Monday, August 4,

Vitamin D against atherosclerosis

January 28, 2008

Vitamin D counteracts the development of atherosclerosis and prevents fatal complications of high blood pressure – but vitamin D deficiency is very widespread.

We are not done with vitamin D. More and more information is streaming in about this amazing substance, which is actually not a vitamin but a hormone created in skin exposed to sunlight.

Now we will look at vitamin D’s effects on the heart and circulation. It seems as though the risks of blood clots in the heart and the brain are far lower in people who get enough vitamin D, which is to say people who get more than most. This “vitamin” is especially effective at lowering the risk in people with high blood pressure.

This find appears in a recent report from Farmingham, a little town in Massachusetts where the health and lifestyles of thousands of people (and their descendents) has been registered since 1948 in order to find lifestyle related reasons for cardiovascular disease. The Farmingham study is, without a doubt, the most famous of its kind. When we today take for granted that exercise, healthy diet, and aspirin prevents cardiac death it is the Farmingham project that we should thank.

The report in question is on a part of the study involving 1,739 people aged 50 – 70 who were free of cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. From 1996 to 2000 their vitamin D status was measured with blood tests after which their health was monitored for an average of 5.4 years (up to 7.6 years). Who suffered blood clots?

Those who had the least vitamin D in the blood! After seven years blood clots in the heart or the brain (stroke) was registered in one in ten with vitamin D levels over 37 nmol/l, but in no less than one in four of those with levels under 37. After correcting for differences within the group such as age, sex, cholesterol levels, smoking, diabetes, and so on, the group with the highest vitamin D levels still had a cardiovascular risk 60 % less than that of the group with the lowest levels. If these numbers are right, vitamin D is more important for cardiovascular health than aspirin or cholesterol medicine.

Strong immune system
The beneficial effects of vitamin D seem to be even greater for those with high blood pressure, which is the most important cause of cardiovascular disease. Among participants with high blood pressure the risk for those with vitamin D levels over 37 was half that of those with levels under 37.

This result is similar to that of other studies which have shown that low vitamin D status and high blood pressure and clogged cardiac arteries are related. The Farmingham has an even stronger message: If you lack vitamin D you are at risk of a heart attack within the foreseeable future.

Does this mean that vitamin D prevents atherosclerosis? Yes, this seems to be the case. This fits in well with other known effects including: that vitamin D counteracts an important hormone (renin) which is responsible for raising blood pressure and that when heart cells which normally use vitamin D are prevented from using vitamin D (through genetic manipulation) in experiments on mice, blood pressure rises quickly.

Without eating fatty fish is you get almost no vitamin D from October to May. Deficiency is therefore very widespread. In a European study of teenage girls more than one out of every three had severe anemia (blood percent of under 25 nmol/l). Over 90% of these girls would have, if they lived in Farmingham, ended up in the study group with severe atherosclerosis.

How much vitamin D is it wise to take? There is no rule of thumb, but it should be considered that a typical vitamin pill contains 200 units whereas one out of every two adult Americans need 1,000 units in order to have an “acceptable” vitamin D status (which is a concentration of 75 nmol/l – most American researchers recommend 75 – 150 nmol/l). It is also understood that it is completely safe to take up to 2,000 units daily.

Luz Tavera-Mendoza and John White, two molecular biologists from the American McGill University have shown that vitamin D causes the skin and the immune system to form antibiotics (cathelicidin and more) which kill bacteria, including tuberculosis bacteria. This is probably the explanation for the earlier idea that it is possible to cure tuberculosis with sunlight. These two researchers have written an easy to read summery of recent research and even reveal what they take as supplements during the dark months.

Luz, who is a younger woman, takes 1,000 unites (25 micrograms).
John, who is a younger man, takes 4,000 units (100 micrograms).

By: Niels Hertz, MD

References:
1. Wang TJ et al. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease. Circulation 2008;117:000-000.
2. Tavera-Mendoza L, White J. Celle defences and the sunshine vitamin. Scientific American 2007 (11):36-44.

circ.ahajournals.org
www.sciam.com

Never Calcium Without Magnesium

January 17, 2008

Calcium tablets as monotherapy increase the risk of blood clots in the heart and brain.

Last year, the British Medical Journal in their web version published a scientific article with the above-mentioned gloomy message.

1,471 healthy women over 55 years were randomly divided into two groups, one with 732, who took a supplement of calcium citrate for 5 years and a group of 739 who took placebo.

During these five years, they were examined every six months, and for each year, the distance between the two groups increased with statistic significance.

It was found that in the group who took calcium tablets, there was a significant increase in the risk of blood clots in both the brain and the heart.

The authors are surprised by the result and have reservations until the matter has been investigated further with more studies.

But do we have to wait five years for a new study of this result?

Is not it predictable?

Most people who have experience with the use of minerals for disease prevention are well aware that you should never take calcium without taking magnesium at the same time.

Magnesium is the key
(If you think it becomes too biochemical, then just read the conclusion at the end).
Magnesium sits like a bolt in the calcium channel of the cell membrane.

The moment calcium wants to enter a cell, magnesium closes the door and when calcium wants leave the cell, magnesium will open up. It’s the opposite in bone cells.

Therefore, the cells in the soft tissues are almost empty of calcium. The calcium concentration outside of a cell is about 10,000 times as high as within a cell. Thanks to magnesium.

If we lack magnesium, the calcium channels will open.

This means that through the open calcium channels, calcium flows into the cells, causing the cell to cramp and, in the long term, (hours) destroy its mitochondria.

The cramp causes immediate contraction of the blood vessels due to the smooth muscle cells around the small arteries, resulting in increasing blood pressure and risk of brain hemorrhage and destruction of calcification plaque and thus risking a blood clot in the heart. At the same time, the energy production of the cell is minimized due to the destruction of the energy-producing mitochondria with their vital content of coenzyme Q10.

This not only results in less energy production in the cells, but also a smaller consumption of oxygen absorbed in the cell, which in turn means that a greater proportion of this oxygen are then used to produce harmful free radicals, IF there is iron present as a catalyst for this process, and this is precisely the case in this group of women who no longer menstruate.

Then the roulette runs with destruction of the cell membrane and the surrounding cells from within, because now the cell has suddenly had its own little “Chernobyl meltdown”.

If we lack magnesium, we have no control over the distribution of calcium, and it is distributed more or less evenly throughout the cell phase, ie. both in bone cells and in soft tissue cells, muscle cells, skin cells, connective tissues, etc.

But are we lacking magnesium?
Yes we are. More than 70% of the population do not even get the recommended daily allowance of 300 mg of magnesium.

Why not?

The food has gradually become more and more low in magnesium. In part, the industrialization of the diet has resulted in a large loss of magnesium in the finished product, and we eat less vegetables where we find this magnesium and when we cook the vegetables, we pour the magnesium out with the boiling water.

Furthermore, many elderly people loses magnesium because they take diuretic medicine or because they drink too much coffee.

70% of research participants with low intracellular magnesium are more than sufficient to explain the significant increased risk associated with calcium intake as monotherapy.

There is therefore no surprise in the achieved result, and it should not be necessary to wait a lot of years to take extra magnesium along with ones calcium supplement. This will not only benefit muscles, heart, brain and bones, but also a variety of processes in the body that rely on the more than 300 enzymes for which magnesium is required.

So: Never take calcium without magnesium!

By: Claus Hancke, M.D.

 

References

Mark J Bolland, P Alan Barber, Robert N Doughty, Barbara Mason, Anne Horne, Ruth Ames, Gregory D Gamble, Andrew Grey, Ian R Reid. Vascular events in healthy older women receiving calcium supplementation: randomised controlled trial. BMJ published online 15 Jan 2008;doi:10.1136/bmj.39440.525752.BE

Promising treatment for macular degeneration

December 22, 2007

New orthomolecular treatment named as the “first choice” for AMD, otherwise known macula degeneration.

In the November 28, 2006 edition of the Vitality Council Newsletter we reported on a study which indicated that eating eggs, which contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine, has positive effects on AMD.

Almost two years ago we described a maybe even more important study undertaken at the University of Rome. It showed that normal recommended doses of simple dietary supplements prevents the most common form of blindness, the age related degeneration of the retina otherwise known as “retinal calcification.” This is what medical professionals call AMD. About one in eight people over the age of 85 have AMD severe enough to cause vision loss.

This study has recently been published again, giving us grounds to discuss AMD in more detail.

One does not become completely blind due to AMD. Peripheral vision is still maintained, enabling one to orient themselves in a room or go for a walk. Even so, AMD does cause handicap. Central vision is lost, which means that the ability to see shapely is lost. Therefore reading is impossible, seeing the TV, cooking, using tools, working on the computer, and recognising friends and family is difficult. A grey dot in the middle of the field of vision replaces everyone’s faces.

Central sight is governed by a yellow spot on the eye’s retina where the highest concentration of colour registering cones is found. This is why one of the first things lost in AMD is colour vision.

The changes in AMD can be directly observed on the retina when one looks into the eye. In the early stages it is characterized by small or larger deposits of yellowish waste products in the eye. Every one of these deposits represents a hole in the field of vision. This is unnoticeable so long as these hoses are small. Almost everyone over the age of 50 has at least one of these deposits, but if there are many deposits of greater size, the risk for blindness is great.

Severe cases of AMD can be characterised by an accumulation of larger deposits alone. This is called dry AMD. Another, and more dangerous, form is the so called wet AMD. In this form “leaky” blood vessels grow in under the retina, possibly as the body’s effort to bring more energy to the retina. The result is that liquid seeps out of these vessels causing total destruction of central vision. This can occur very quickly, but with quick intervention of an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) the new blood vessels can be blocked with laser treatment and vision can be saved in many cases.

The deposits and new blood vessels lead to the creation of dents in the retina. In severe cases scars form and pull on the retina. This leads to vision where straight lines seem bent. Often, but not always, one can discover the beginnings of AMD by holding a piece of graph paper at a normal reading distance and looking at it one eye at a time. If the lines are curved, an eye doctor should be consulted immediately.

New methodology
The republished study mentioned earlier is a double blinded study that showed with statistical certainty an improvement in the sight of patients with early stage AMD after they received a combination of n-3 fatty acids, Q10, and L-carnitine. The improvement in sight, which was slight, was first present after 3-6 months, after which sight remained stable until the end of the study one year later. This effect lasted even longer in a following study. It was also observed that the number of deposits decreased! This is important and very promising. Improvement occurred primarily for those with mild cases, but also for some with more severe AMD. Early diagnosis is paramount.

The theory behind these finds is that AMD is a disease of the mitochondria, which means that it is a disease which affects energy production in the cells. This is supported by the fact that cells from AMD affected retinas have more damaged mitochondria than normal cells when viewed under and electron microscope. The logic behind the treatment used in the study is therefore the following:

The vitamin-like substance carnitine is necessary for mitochondrial fat uptake and metabolism.

The fat is added as n-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish oil. N-3 fats compose no less than 30% of the structure of the retina!

Q10 can be understood as the motor’s sparkplug. It optimises metabolism so that energy production can start. The body’s own Q10 production falls with age and because of this, and carnitine deficiency, there becomes less energy available. It is hardly coincidental that patients with wet AMD have less Q10 in their blood than normal.

This important study powerfully indicates that quick action can stop newly diagnosed AMD. The authors strongly believe that their treatment should be the treatment of choice for newly diagnosed AMD.

By: Vitality Council

References:
1. Feher et al. Metabolic therapy for early treatment of age-related macula degeneration. Orv Hetil 2007;148:2259-68.
2. Feher et al. Improvement of visual functions and fundus alterations in early age-related macular degeneration treated with a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine and coenzyme Q10. Ophtalmologica 2005;219:154-66
3. Feher et al. Mitotropic compounds for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. The metabolic approach and a pilot study. Ophtalmologica 2003;217:351-7
4. Blasi et al. Does coenzyme Q10 play a role in opposing oxidative stress in patients with age-related macular degeneration? Ophtalmologica 2001;215:51-54.
5. Feher J et al. Mitochondrial alterations of retinal pigment epithelium in age-related macular degeneration. Neurobiol Aging 2005;June 22: 15979212.