Be prepared for the next Corona epidemic

The population is not

May 29, 2020

The Corona is spreading more slowly now, and, here in Denmark, Covid-19 is gradually infecting fewer and fewer people and we are more aware of protecting ourselves against it.

There have been good effects from keeping our distance and from maintaining good hygiene in which we have all been well instructed.

Much to the surprise of the Danish Serum Institute, less than 2% of the Danish population has had the disease, and only a few of these individuals may have obtained immunity to SARS-CoV-2, which the virus is called.
This means that more than 98% have not been infected and are completely without immunity. So forget about herd immunity.

The Danish population is just as vulnerable it was were in March when it all started.

Let’s try to summarize what we know and what we can do about it.

What do we know now?
SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus responsible for the current Covid-19 pandemic, is characterized in that it – like the influenza virus – triggers a reaction with the release of a number of signaling molecules such as interleukins, interferons, and lymphokines.

When this release is powerful, it is called a “cytokine storm”, and with Covid-19, it is so powerful that immune cells begin to damage the tissues where the process is taking place, and, in this case, it is primarily the lung tissue that is damaged.

During the cytokine storm, a violent inflammatory response and increased release of free oxygen radicals are created, which further damages the lung tissue due to the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation seen in the pulmonary vessels. Adding too much oxygen at this stage will only aggravate the situation, which several anesthesiologists have experienced when Covid-19 patients’ conditions worsen when they are put on a respirator.

What can we do about it
Thus, it is primarily about attenuating the fatal cytokine storm.
Here vitamin D, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin C are particularly important as they specifically inhibit this cytokine storm and the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation in the pulmonary vessels.
If the level of these essential substances in the body is high enough then you will have a subdued cytokine storm and thus attenuated symptoms, as seen during influenza infection. Fresh extract of Coneflower (Echinacea) has also been documented in several scientific studies to effectively inhibit this cytokine storm.

It should be obvious to protect ourselves by promoting such harmless and inexpensive remedies, but unfortunately in the medical and pharmaceutical world, one tends to stare blindly at the most expensive solutions.
Medical professionals were first intrigued by the antiviral drug Remdesivir, which could shorten the disease period of Covid-19 from 15 to 11 days. This fascination has now been replaced by a new one, another drug, an experimental cancer drug, Bemcentinib that may prevent viruses from entering the cells. A phase II trial is underway for 120 people, and we hope we will be able to get the result in a few months.

Well, it is excellent that medical professionals try to find a medicine that can help in this situation, but is it absolutely necessary to find a new, expensive medicine with side effects, when there are other far cheaper options without side effects?

The long awaited vaccine
While all this is going on, the pharmaceutical industry is working full speed on a vaccine. A vaccine against an RNA virus is very difficult to make, and using a vaccine is especially problematic because viruses constantly mutate and thereby often change the immune response.

No vaccine has ever been safety-tested, in the same way that medicine is tested, and this is a bit problematic because in recent years, the industry has started to add substances whose purpose is to stimulate the immune system for effective antibody formation. And stimulating antibody formation is good enough, too, but the safety of these substances has never been investigated. In Denmark, the use of mercury (thimerosal or thiomersal) in childhood vaccines was stopped from 1992 and in influenza vaccines from 2004, with the exception of the vaccine in 2009, which was an embarrassing exception. The toxic mercury should never be used again for human use – neither in the teeth, for that matter.

But in recent years aluminum has been added in the form of nanoparticles as well as squalene emulsions. These adjuvants have not been safety tested. It has just been noted (WHO has noted) that the number of side effects is not greater than is usually seen with vaccination. Aluminum is a neurotoxin, but it has been used in vaccines in the form of various aluminum salts since 1930, so in that form it probably isn’t particularly harmful. The problem is that nanoparticles are now being used that cannot be stopped by a cell membrane. They can penetrate all tissues.
It cannot be ruled out that it is safe to use these additives. It’s just never been investigated.

It should be a simple task to make a study with each of these ingredients against a real placebo such as brine.
We have many excellent vaccines, so let’s not be vaccine deniers. Let’s welcome a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine when it arrives, and then just hope it is properly safety tested. Of course, this hope becomes a requirement if we are to be mandatory vaccinated.

Of course, the Coronavirus will return
When and how bad we do not know, but it will come.
As mentioned in the Vitamin C newsletter, one of Europe’s experts in Covid-19, Professor Christian Drosten from the University of Berlin, has stated that the second wave could be tougher than the current one.
And since more than 98% of the Danish population is without immunity against it, we should not sit with our hands in our laps and wait for a vaccine.

We need to be proactive.
We need to make sure that we have enough of the nutrients that can reduce the risk of our getting sick, and especially the nutrients that can dampen the cytokine storms, so that we get a mild course of illness if we get sick anyway.

Especially old people and people who eat only very little, who may also be weakened by chronic disease, will do well by supplementing the diet in order to be well equipped with an optimally functioning immune system as the next virus threat approaches.

An appropriate daily dose for a normal-weight adult will typically be:

  • Vitamin A: 1-2 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 4-5 mg
  • Vitamin C: 2-3,000 mg
  • Vitamin D3: 75-100 µg
  • Selenium: 100-200 µg
  • Zinc: 20-30 mg
  • Magnesium: 200-300 mg

Note: The low dose is for those weighing less than 70 kg (155 pounds / 11 stones).

If you start now, you will be prepared in the fall. This is an obvious strategy for the country’s nursing homes.

This is the fifth and final Covid-19 newsletter.

Unfortunately, the five newsletters are necessary as this knowledge and scientific back-up are neglected in the public counseling of the population.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs:

  • McGonagle D et al. (2020) Immune mechanisms of pulmonary intravascular coagulopathy in COVID-19 pneumonia. Lancet May 7, 2020:1-9
  • Zhang Y, Leung D, Richers B, et al. (2012) Vitamin D Inhibits Monocyte/Macrophage Proinflammatory Cytokine Production by Targeting MAPK Phosphatase-1. Journal of Immunology. 2012;188(5):2127-2135.
  • 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.
  • Sharma M, Anderson A et al.(2009) Induction of multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines by respiratory viruses and reversal by standardized Echinacea, a potent antiviral herbal extract. Antiviral Research, 2009;83(2):165-170.
  • Cannell JJ, Zasloff M, Garland CF et al. (2008) On the epidemiology of influenza.
    Virol J. 2008;5:29.
  • 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
  • WHO Global advisory committee on vaccine safety 2020 (ikke ændret siden 2006). https://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/adjuvants/squalene/Jun_2006/en/

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.

Severe Covid-19 disease can be prevented

But we don’t hear about it.

May 6, 2020

“Immunity! Well, that comes naturally.”
Does it?

Now we are so far into the corona crisis that the first serious scientific results are beginning to emerge, and since no one else does, the Vitality Council will try to disseminate these results.
“Just throw people into the water. They will swim by themselves ”.
A foolish claim. It is well known that the chances of surviving a dive into the water increases if you have learned to swim.
But that is, in fact, what the (Danish) authorities are saying, now that they are opening up the country while coronavirus is still circulating.
They are throwing people into increased viral exposure because then it is thought that people automatically get built-up immunity.
Well, this may be true if people can defend themselves, that is, have a well-functioning immune system.
Without good immune defence, people have no chance.

The (Danish) authorities  know very well that there are large groups in the population that have a impaired immune system. And yet, they expect us all to sit with our hands in our lap without doing anything while we wait for a vaccine that stands as an angel of salvation on the horizon.
A vaccine may be excellent, but firstly, it takes at least a year before we have it, and secondly, a vaccine can never keep up with a virus in the many mutations that make its immune profile so varied that a vaccine quickly becomes obsolete as we have seen with the flu vaccine.
The only thing that can keep up with an adequate immune response against a virus’ mutations is a well-functioning immune system in the individual.
Despite the knowledge that many people have an impaired immune system, we have in the months that the corona crisis has lasted, not once heard the (Danish) authorities give the public advice on how to optimize the immune system.
If the population has a fundamentally strong immune system, then a virus will do less harm as the individual course of disease will be milder.
People still get infected and maybe sick too, but they don’t have to die from it.

Let’s start with the simple, Vitamin D3.

It is quite evident that the Covid-19 disease is massively over-represented in the northern hemisphere. Just like the annual flu epidemic, which ravages the northern hemisphere in precisely December to March, whereas it ravages the southern hemisphere from August to October – and why is that?
We can thank the Sun for that. It is high in the sky in the summer and charges our stores of vitamin D, so we have a strong immune system from June to November, and of course the other way around in the southern hemisphere. We never get the flu in July-August.

A second indication is that elderly people are at particular risk. Older people more often have a very low level of vitamin D in their blood, as they do not get much out in the sun.

A third indication is that obesity is at particular risk. Vitamin D accumulates in the adipose tissue, where it does not benefit the immune system. Overweight people must therefore have a significantly higher dose of vitamin D to achieve the same blood concentration as slim persons.

A fourth indication is that the disease is over-represented in immigrants, who often have severe vitamin D deficiency. On the one hand, most immigrants have dark skin, which allows less passage of sunlight, and on the other hand, many immigrant women are covered, even in the summer, when they need to get their annual vitamin D dose.

A fifth indication is that diabetics are also a special risk group. On the one hand, diabetics often have an impaired immune system, and, on the other, many diabetics receive cholesterol-lowering medication. If people lack cholesterol, you cannot produce vitamin D, even though the sun is shining sufficiently.

A sixth indication is approaching evidence in the case of a recently published observational study that compared mean vitamin D levels in 20 European countries with prevalence and mortality caused by Covid-19. There was significant negative correlation between vitamin D level and both prevalence and mortality. It was interesting to see that both morbidity and mortality approached 0 in those populations where the vitamin D level was above 75 nmol/L.
Vitamin D levels are seriously low in the aging population, especially in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. This is also the most vulnerable group of the population in relation to Covid-19.

A healthy diet with green vegetables is also important, as they contain magnesium, which is a prerequisite for activating vitamin D.
Magnesium is included four places in the synthesis as well as the activation and deactivation of vitamin D, so without magnesium, vitamin D is ineffective.

If you combine these indices with solid evidence that vitamin D3 is essential for a functioning immune system, it is not far off to propose a solid dose of vitamin D3 to optimize a suffering immune system in immigrants, diabetics, older and overweight people in particular.

In the past, people were nervous about overdosing on Vitamin D, but this has proved unfounded. Extremely high doses need to be taken over a long period of time before there is any risk. In the past, it was also thought that a vitamin D level of 50 nmol/L was sufficient in the blood, but this is too low.
If people want to be sure that the vitamin D level is sufficient for an optimal immune system, the level should be between 75 – 150 nmol/L.

This newsletter is the first about some of the factors in our environment, nature, surroundings and diet that can optimize our immune system and thus reduce the risk of serious Covid-19 disease.
The next will deal with the latest research on selenium and Covid-19 disease.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke; MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs:

  • Hewison M. Vitamin D and innate and adaptive immunity. Vitam Horm, 2011; vol 86:23-62.
  • Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1).
  • Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Jan;55(1):96-108.
  • Dancer RC, Parekh D, Lax S, D’Souza V, Zheng S1, Bassford CR, et al. Vitamin D deficiency contributes directly to the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Thorax. 2015 Jul;70(7):617-24.
  • Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1255-60.
  • Sabetta JR, DePetrillo P, Cipriani RJ, Smardin J, Burns LA, Landry ML. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections in healthy adults. PLoS One. 2010 Jun 14;5(6):e11088.
  • Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2018 Mar 1;118(3):181-189.
  • Valint S. Vitamin D and Obesity. Nutrients. 2013 Mar; 5(3): 949–956.
  • McCartney DM, Byrne DG. Optimisation of Vitamin D Status for Enhanced Immuno-protection Against Covid-19. Ir Med J. 2020 Apr 3;113(4):58.
  • Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, Baggerly CA, French CB, Aliano JL, Bhattoa HP. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 2;12(4). pii: E988.
  • Aldridge RA, Lewer D, Beale S, et al. Seasonality and immunity to laboratory-confirmed seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV-NL63, HCoV-0C43, and HCoV-229E): results from the Flu Watch cohort study 30 March 2020.
  • McCullough PJ, Lehrer DS, Amend J. Daily oral dosing of vitamin D3 using 5000 TO 50,000 international units a day in long-term hospitalized patients: Insights from a seven year experience. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2019 May;189:228-239.
  • Ilie PC, Stefanescu S, Smith L. The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019, infection and mortality. Aging Clinical and Experimental research (https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8) Springer Switzerland. 2020 May 6.

Vitamin D protects against colon cancer

January 26, 2010

A huge European study now confirms that vitamin D may lower the risk of colon cancer by 40%.

The Danish Vitality Council has in several previous newsletters refered to scientific studies showing that vitamin D may lower the risk of cancer, and we have even been urged by journalists to withdraw those statements. Fortunately we have not complied.

A few days ago British Medical Journal published the largest study ever of the link between diet and health, known as the EPIC study, and this is just one of many results, we will see in the near future from this huge study.
More than half a million mostly healthy people from ten European countries have been closely studied and followed over 10 years by researchers from across Europe.

Participants completed detailed dietary questionnaires, and they have been checked with blood tests to identify their nutritional status.

At the time of analysis 1,250 cases of colon cancer had occurred and after comparison with a healthy control group researchers found that those who were low in vitamin D in their blood had significantly higher risk for this type of cancer.

Unlike many other studies this is characterized by being a prospective study. Thus looking-forward from the start time, and based on a group of healthy people. The study also distinguishes itself by involving so many different countries, cultures and – not least – food cultures.

Vitamin D, we primarily get from the sun, and a little bit from the diet. Danes are not the most tenacious fish eaters and much of the fish we eat is farmed and therefore does not include the fatty acids and other substances, we think they contain.

So we’re back at sunlight as the main natural source of vitamin D.

However, some of our ancestors for inscrutable reasons have found reason to settle north of the Alps, and it leads to midday sun high enough in the sky to make enough vitamin D in the skin for only 3-4 months a year (providing we have enough cholesterol).

So we must therefore tend to sunbathing when the Sun is at its highest point, ie the middle of the day, without sunblock, and therefore only half an hour, so we do not risk burning.

If it gets too complicated, you can also just grab a vitamin D capsule as a supplement. It is perhaps a little easier, and it can be done the whole year.
The dosage is somewhat controversial and should ideally be measured in a blood sample, but most serious scientists recommend between 2,000 and 4,000 IU, equivalent to 50-100 micrograms daily.

It will take a long time before we again will see such a thorough, multi-national study including so many people over such a long period.

So it is not just any study. It has high validity and ought to push the critically low RDA-value we have today.

By: Vitality Council

 

Litterature:
Jenab, M. et al (2010). Association between pre-diagnostic circulating vitamin D concentration and risk of colorectal cancer in European populations: A nested case-control study BMJ, 340 (jan21 3)
Can be downloaded directly at: www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/340/jan21_3/b5500

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

Healthy and Safe

October 25, 2007

There are over 480,000 published peer-reviewed research studies on food supplements or ingredients used in food supplements, and the vast majority of these show positive effects. There are only a small handful of studies that have shown negative effects, these generally being associated with high doses or synthetic forms of ingredients like vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E.

In the case of vitamin A, there is no doubt that high doses of this fat soluble vitamin can be harmful and an upper safe level or maximum permitted level for this vitamin makes perfect sense.

There are three key studies showing negative effects of beta-carotene on diseased or high-risk patients, but these have all used synthetic beta-carotene, in the absence of natural carotenoid complexes found in natural carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables which have been found to be potent cancer-fighting nutrients. Ironically, these natural ‘mixed carotenoids’ are disallowed by the Food Supplements Directive.

Finally, there are four key negative studies on vitamin E, all of them conducted with synthetic vitamin E, which comprises only one of the eight vitamin E forms found in nature, but in its esterified form. This form, alpha-tocopherol, the only vitamin E form allowed by the Directive, actually reduces the body’s absorption of gamma-tocopherol which is the key antioxidant form of vitamin E found in food sources.

By: Robert Verkerk, The Alliance for Natural Health, United Kingdom

Vitamin C inhibits cancer. But How?

September 18, 2007

New research sparks new theories about how vitamin C inhibits cancerous growth.

A great deal of research indicates that vitamin C has a considerable inhibitory effect on the growth of cancer cells.

The biochemical effect of high-dose treatment with vitamin C is reasonably understood; vitamin C acts as a pro-oxidant on cancer cells at such doses. This causes increased free radical strain on the cancer cells and thereby acts as a poison to the cancer.

In moderate doses, the kind of doses which we can get through our diets, vitamin C is an antioxidant. But even at these doses, vitamin C has shown an inhibitory effect on the growth of cancer cells.

It was therefore believed that vitamin C blocks the free radicals which cause the cancer forming mutations in the cells, and that the reason for its protective effects is that it protects the cells’ DNA.

This is presumably not the whole truth.

Many years ago a famous professor by the name of Warburg was among the first to maintain that cancer cells grow in oxygen poor tissue. Today this is common knowledge, but there lacks knowledge on how this occurs. Ten years ago Gregg Semenza of John Hopkins University found that cancer cells are dependent on a protein called HIF-1 (hypoxia induced factor), which helps the cells by compensating for lacking oxygen in the surrounding tissue and thus allows cancer cells to convert sugar to energy without oxygen. HIF-1 also catalyses the creation of new blood vessels so that hungry cancer cells can get fresh supplies of nutrients and oxygen. If a cancer grows aggressively, it quickly uses up its oxygen supply and becomes entirely dependent on HIF-1. The HIF-1 protein is dependent on the presence of free radicals, which are also necessary for many other processes in the body. A powerful antioxidant like vitamin C eliminates the surplus of free radicals, which causes HIF-1 to become ineffective and thus inhibits cancer growth.

This new theory is based on a study done by a research group at the centre of oncology at John Hopkins University in conjunction with Dean Felsher of Stanford.

They set out to study antioxidants’ roles in cancer growth and found, to their great surprise, that antioxidants destabilise the protein on which cancer cells are dependent. As professor Chi Dang from John Hopkins University wisely stated, “By uncovering the mechanism behind anti-oxidants, we are now better suited to maximize their therapeutic use.”

By: Claus Hancke, MD

Reference

HIF-Dependent Antitumorigenic Effect of Antioxidants In Vivo. Cancer Cell, Volume 12, Issue 3, 11 September 2007, Pages 230-238Ping Gao, Huafeng Zhang, Ramani Dinavahi, Feng Li, Yan Xiang, Venu Raman, Zaver M. Bhujwalla, Dean W. Felsher, Linzhao Cheng, Jonathan Pevsner et al.

www.cancercell.org

Vitamin D inhibits cancer

June 26, 2007

An overlooked but very sensational study suggests that vitamin D could inhibit almost 80% of all cancer cases. We just need much more than we normally get (1).

One out of every three people in Britain die of cancer and a world without this feared disease seems utopian. But if an American study is correct, we can approach this unattainable goal with a historic leap forward. We just need more, much more, vitamin D, and maybe also more calcium. According to the study, a combination of calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of cancer by about 60%. Additionally, it seems that if cancer is avoided during the first year of taking supplements, then the risk of cancer the following year is reduced by nearly 80%! It is hard to expect more.

It is strange that such sensational news has received almost no official consideration. Especially because it comes from a highly trustworthy double blind, randomised trail published by highly respected researchers.

The participants in the study were 1,180 women with an average age of 67. They were from Nebraska, which is just as far south as southern Italy and receives a lot of sun. Not surprisingly the women had on average good blood levels of vitamin D before the study.

In the study 446 of the women received an advantageous daily supplement of as much as 1,100 units (27.5 micrograms) vitamin D. This is at least five times more than the contents of a normal vitamin pill and about three times the recommended dosage for people over age 60. They also received 1.5 gr. calcium (as carbonate or citrate), which is about the amount of calcium in a litre of milk.

Another 445 women received only calcium and 288 received placebo. Neither the women nor the researchers knew who got what. The study lasted for four years while it was noted who and how many got cancer.

We now have the results. The group which received the vitamin D and calcium was subject to many fewer cases of cancer than the group which received placebo. The difference was not coincidence! It was statistically extremely solid. The biggest difference (77% lower risk) was shown during the last three years of the study. The researchers surmised that this was because some of those who got cancer in the beginning of the study already had undetected cancer before the study started.

It could be true
The women who just received calcium also had a lower risk of cancer (40%). This finding was not completely certain statistically. The cancer risk for these women did not, as in them who received both vitamin D and calcium, become more reduced after the first year. It is therefore uncertain if this effect is actual or just the result of coincidence.

On the other hand, at least two further arguments indicate that vitamin D actually works. The first is that the women who had the poorest vitamin D status before the study, were those helped the most, their risk was the most reduced. The vitamin D status of the participants during the study also played a role, the lower the status, despite the supplements, the larger the cancer risk. The second argument that vitamin D has this effect is that the risk was directly link to the amount of vitamin D used.

Can it really be true that something as cheap as vitamin D can be so beneficial? We know that the vitamin regulates at least 200 genes, many of which control the cells’ growth and degree of specialisation. Animal studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency promotes cancer growth. For more than 60 years it has been known that cancer is less common in countries where the sun is high in the heavens leading to the production of more vitamin D in the skin. It has also be proven time and time again that low vitamin D status and high cancer risk in people go hand in hand (2,3).

The only thing that has been missing is a proper study with sufficient supplements so that cause and effect could be analysed. We now have just that study!

The women in Nebraska had a typical vitamin D status (25-hydroxy-vitamin-D3 in the serum) of 71 nanomolsl/L before the study. This is a very acceptable value. But the supplement increased this value to an average of 96. This is normally regarded as too high.

Vitamin D status is measured with a blood test! It is most important during the winter, when it is the lowest. According to the Nebraska study, this level should be no less than 100.

By: Vitality Council

References: 

1) Lappe J M et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: Results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1586-91.

2) Feskanich D et al. Plasma vitamin D metabolites and risk of colorectal cancer in women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004;13:1501-8

3) Ahonen M H et al. Prostate cancer risk and prediagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (Finland). Cancer Causes Control 2000;11:847-52

www.ajcn.org
cebp.aacrjournals.org
www.springerlink.com/content/0957-5243

Folic acid for stroke – and to remember

June 12, 2007

You must remember your folic acid, otherwise you forget it.
This sounds like nonsense, but its not.

Folic acid helps keep the brain in good shape, and if you don’t get enough you might have problems thinking clearly and remembering when you get older.

Folic acid is the vitamin that fertile women should take (0.4 mg per day) unless they are 100% sure that they will not become pregnant. Far from all do this, even though folic acid prevents children from being a lifelong invalids due to spinal chord herniation (spina bifida) and reduces the risk of cleft lip and palate! That it is preventative is so called new knowledge (1) which is to say that it was pointed out, but ignored, over twenty years ago.

But folic acid also helps the memory and thought ability. Who do we know this? The English neurologist Edward Reynolds demonstrated it 40 years ago in hi article in The Lancet. He showed that 26 epilepsy patients who suffered folic acid deficiency due to their medicine improved when they received folic acid (2). This has since been forgotten.

Now there are new studies. One had negative results. Its authors concluded that folic acid has no effect on cognitive function, which did not improve for study participants who received 0.4 mg folic acid daily (without vitamin B12, in which they were mildly deficient) (3).

There is a simple explanation for this: the only lasted 24 weeks. This is not long enough, which will be explained below, but first a couple of other results.

An issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from last February included an article which outlined that the more pronounced folic acid deficiency in elderly people, the poorer (statistically) their cognitive function. The likelihood of decreasing cognitive function was more than doubled in those with a deficiency of folic acid (4). There are many people with folic acid deficiency because folic acid is primarily found in liver and leafy vegetables, which many people push to the side if their plates.

20% fewer strokes
Lack of folic acid is shown roughly by finding increased blood levels of the substance, homocysteine. It is an amino acid which is poisonous to the blood vessels (among other things) and which is believed to lead to atherosclerosis, but that the body nonetheless creates. Normally it is neutralised in part by folic acid. If you lack folic acid, you homocysteine levels rise.

A link between lowered cognitive function and homocysteine has been shown in Sweden (5). There it was shown that elderly people with documented memory problems often had high levels of homocysteine. This was only true with the poor memory was found along with atherosclerosis, which homocysteine is believed to promote!

In addition, Dutch researchers recently showed in a randomised trail that a supplement of folic acid (o.8 mg daily) for 50 – 70 year olds not only reduced their levels of homocysteine, but also statistically improved the “brain functions which have a tendency to decline with age.” Memory, reaction time, and the ability to speak quickly and fluently were bettered. The study lasted for three years, which is a necessary time period (6).

If that is not enough, a comprehensive study of eight randomised studies has recently shown that the risk of stroke resulting from atherosclerosis generally is reduced by 20% when taking folic acid supplements. The studies which lasted longer than three years showed the best results. Participants who had already had a stroke were less protected and if those who were lucky enough to live in a country where food is enriched with folic acid (USA, Canada) showed fewer effects.

We should remember our folic acid. The daily dosage should be between 0.4 and 0.8 mg daily.

By: Vitality Council

 

References:
1. Bille C et al. Folic acid and birth malformations. BMJ 2007;334:433-34.
2. Reynolds E. Folate and aging. Lancet 2007;;369:1601.
3. Eussen SJ et al. Effect of oral vitamin B12 with or without folic acid on cognitive function in older people with mild vitamin B-12 deficiency: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84(2):361-70.
4. Haan M et al. Homocysteine, B-vitamins, and the incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment: Results from the Sacramento area latino study on aging. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:511-7.
5. Nilsson K et al. Plasma homocysteine is elevated in elderly patients with memory complaints and vascular disease. Dement Geriatr Cogn Discord 2007;23(5):321-6.
6. Durga J et al. Effect of 3-year folic acid supplementation on cognitive function in older adults in the FACIT trial: A randomised double blind controlled trial. The Lancet 2007;369:208-16.
7. Xiaobin Wang et al. Efficacy of folic acid supplementation in stroke prevention: a meta-analysis. The Lancet 2007;369:1876-82.

www.bmj.com
www.thelancet.com
www.ajcn.org