Something New Under the Sun:
Adapting to Change in the 21st Century


AnthroHealth News

February 2002

Volume 1, Issue 2


Greetings!! February is often considered the month for lovers since we celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving gifts to our sweethearts. In order to be able to truly love someone else, we need to love ourselves first. We need to feel self-confident and happy with who we are. The best ways to achieve this are by getting in shape, maintaining our health, and having a positive attitude toward life.

News Updates: Several different issues are covered in this month’s news. The issues include: possible problems with vitamin A; breast cancer and latitude of residence; children and sleep; and antioxidants.

Excess Vitamin A and Hip Fractures: Researchers analyzing data from the Nurses Health Study found that women who had a vitamin A intake of 2000 mg (~6700 IU)/day were twice as likely to later develop a hip fracture as were women who had a vitamin A intake of less than 500 mg (~1700 IU)/day. The results of this study are in line research done in Sweden. The conclusions are for the retinol form of vitamin A. Beta carotene intake did not significantly increase risks. The researchers hypothesize that the reason for this relationship is that excess retinol depresses vitamin D production, resulting in an adverse effect on bone remodeling.

Comment: It may well be that the problem is not with the amount of vitamin A/retinol per se, but with the ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D. Eating foods or taking supplements where the ratio of A to D is too large may cause D to be depressed. For instance, the action of vitamin D on bone is extremely adversely affected by eating one serving of liver. One hundred grams of beef liver contain 36,105 IU units of vitamin A and only 8 IU units of vitamin D. This is a grossly imbalanced ratio. A cup of whole milk has 307 IU of A to 98 IU of D. The ratio is even worse for skim milk: 500 IU to 98 IU. A multiple vitamin pill has 5000 IU of A (4000 as retinol), but only 400 IU of D. On the other hand, sardines have an almost 50/50 ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D.

Vitamin A the AnthroHealth way: We need vitamin A for good health, but it might be wise to try to get most of our daily requirement in the beta carotene form (by eating carrots and other orange and red-colored vegetables) and by eating fish such as sardines and salmon where vitamin A and vitamin D are in balance with each other.

Breast Cancer and Latitude of Residence: An analysis of data from 35 countries found that breast cancer risk was associated with animal foods (dairy foods and meats), drinking alcohol, and living at high latitudes. Risk was reduced by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables (antioxidants), and fish (vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids), and living at lower latitudes. These factors explained 80% of the difference in mortality from breast cancer. That is, modifiable behaviors play a large role in breast cancer risk. Breast cancer mortality rates were doubled among women living in the northeast compared with the southwest in the United States. Women in northern Europe have higher rates of breast cancer than do those living in southern Europe. W.B. Grant, An ecologic study of dietary and solar UV-B links to breast cancer mortality rates. Cancer, 94, 272-281, Jan. 1, 2002. Comment: UVB radiation striking unprotected skin produces vitamin D, which has been shown to be a tumor suppressant in breast cancers. Higher latitudes receive dramatically less UVB radiation than is received in lower latitudes. For instance, Paris, France receives about 300 times less UVB radiation than does Accra, Ghana.

Fighting breast cancer the AnthroHealth way: Eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Eliminate dairy products. Drink tea and water. Eat meat only occasionally. Eat plenty of fish, especially sardines and salmon. Get adequate UVB radiation exposure. Depending on skin color and latitude of residence this could be from 20 minutes to six hours each day. If getting adequate UVB radiation exposure is impractical, take a vitamin D supplement each day, along with eating sardines and salmon.

Children and Sleep: Short attention span, hyperactivity, inability to focus, easily frustrated, aggressive, impaired reaction times, impulsiveness: ADHD? Could be, but in this case it is what happens when children are sleep-deprived. It is possible that a number of children diagnosed and treated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are simply not getting enough sleep each night. Children and teens need 10 to 12 hours sleep each night to function most effectively the next day. If they don’t get enough sleep they become irritable, have difficulty concentrating, and may move restlessly in an attempt to keep themselves alert. This may also apply to adults who have problems at work. Adults need 8 to 10 hours sleep each night. Most do not come close to getting that much. To function at peak efficiency, make sure to get enough sleep each night.

Herbs as Antioxidants: Research has found that herbs (the leafy parts of certain plants) pack a powerful antioxidant punch, and that oregano tops the list. In terms of antioxidant activity, oregano is more powerful than apples (30 times more), oranges (12 times more), and blueberries (4 times more). [Note the power of blueberries compared to apples: eat more blueberries.] One tablespoon of fresh oregano is equivalent to one medium apple in antioxidant activity. Other fresh herbs such as rosemary, dill, thyme, and peppermint are also powerful. Spices, the seeds or woody parts of plants, have antioxidant activity, but are much less powerful than herbs. S. Wang , Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Nov. 2001.

Herbs the AnthroHealth way: For a one-two health punch, add fresh oregano to tomato sauce when cooking Italian. Season other foods with herbs instead of salt. Your body will thank you.

Chocolate Hearts: And the concluding news item for this month (when chocolates are given with abandon): current research has shown that dark chocolate and cocoa are good for our health! Cocoa and chocolate are plant extracts rich in flavonoids which are antioxidants. In addition to being cancer fighters, antioxidants are beneficial to the heart. Eating about 1.25 ounces of chocolate has an immediately beneficial effect of lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, while eating about 4.5 ounces/day maintains a continuing effect on reducing LDL levels. Only dark chocolate and cocoa are flavonoid-rich, and care must be taken not to over-indulge since the fats and sugar in chocolate and cocoa add calories without health benefits. However, it appears that ending a meal with a little dark chocolate is not such a wicked indulgence after all. "Evidence that the Antioxidant Flavonoids in Tea and Cocoa are Beneficial for Cardiovascular Health," January, 2002, Current Opinion in Lipidology. P.M. Kris-Etherton and C.L. Keen.

AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: Human bodies are designed for walking, not running. Our vertical posture, broad hips, large gluteal muscles, and femurs that are swung under our torso all work together to produce efficient walkers. While we can run, we are not as efficient at it as are four-footed animals. Also, the angle of our femurs puts extra stress on our knees when we run, resulting in knee injuries. So, walk, don’t run. And try to walk at least 2 – 3 miles each day. This will help you build bone and muscle mass, get an aerobic workout, and maintain a healthy weight. Walk on!

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Copyright © 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.