New Under the Sun:
Volume 1, Issue 9
Greetings!! September is a month of transition from the heat of summer to coolness of fall; from a period of leisure, to a return to work. While transitions can be stressful, they are also necessary. When changes are resisted, health can suffer. So this month, be open to the benefits of change and transition.
News Updates: This month’s news items concern the role infection plays in ulcers, heart disease, and infertility; the benefits of potassium in preventing stroke and osteoporosis; and the role calcium plays in the spread of prostate cancer.
Helicobacter pylori Infection and Disease: Diseases and conditions as disparate as duodenal and gastric ulcers, heart disease, and infertility have in common H. pylori infection as one of their underlying causes. It was only in the mid-1990s that it was realized that H. pylori infection played a role in the development of a major portion of duodenal and gastric ulcers. Further research has now shown that this infection also plays a role in heart disease and infertility. H. pylori infections are found in at least 50% of the stomachs of the world’s population, with higher rates in developing than in industrialized countries. Transmission of H. pylori remains unclear, but contaminated water, sharing of drinking and eating vessels/implements, and fecal-oral transmission from pets or the very ill have been shown to be probable routes. The human stomach, and possibly the oral cavity, act as reservoirs of the pathogen.
Infertility: Research on infertility patients found that 100% of follicular samples from women and 50% of sperm samples from men showed antibody reactions to H. pylori, indicating the presence of H. pylori infection in these patients. The presence of H. pylori infection was significantly higher in patients than in controls. Based on this study, it appears that H. pylori infection contributes to infertility problems. Figura N, Piomboni P, Ponzetto A, Gambera L, Lenzi C, Vaira D, Peris C, Lotano MR, Gennari L, Bianciardi L, Renieri T, Valensin PE, Capitani S, Moretti E, Colapinto R, Baccetti B, Gennari C. Helicobacter pylori infection and infertility. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2002 Jun;14(6):663-9.
Heart Disease: Other research has shown that virulent strains of H. pylori occurred at a significantly higher rate in subjects with a coronary event than in those without one. However, the mechanism by which H. pylori affects heart disease is unclear since some studies do not show an association with an increase in atherosclerotic plaques. However, inflammation due to infection may play a role. Singh RK, McMahon AD, Patel H, Packard CJ, Rathbone BJ, Samani NJ. Prospective analysis of the association of infection with CagA bearing strains of Helicobacter pylori and coronary heart disease. Heart 2002 Jul;88(1):43-6.
Comment: If you have an ulcer, or suffer from heart disease or infertility, it might be wise to have your doctor test you for H. pylori infection. Eradication of the infection should be the first step in the treatment process.
Preventing H. pylori infection the AnthroHealth way: Make sure water sources are uncontaminated. Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables in clean water. Do not share drinking and eating vessels/implements. Wash hands thoroughly after handling pets. Wash hands thoroughly after dealing with sick individuals, their clothes, and bed linens.
Potassium, Strokes, and Osteoporosis: Potassium plays important roles in bone strength and stroke prevention.
Osteoporosis: A high-salt diet leads to an increased loss of calcium in the urine, resulting in increased bone resorption: a factor in osteoporosis. Calcium loss is moderated by a diet high in potassium. Research showed that individuals on a high salt diet who had a low intake of potassium had significantly higher urinary losses of calcium than did those who had a high salt intake, but also had a high potassium intake. Sellmeyer DE, Schloetter M, Sebastian A. Potassium citrate prevents increased urine calcium excretion and bone resorption induced by a high sodium chloride diet. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2002 May;87(5):2008-12.
Stroke: Risk of stroke is higher in those with low potassium intakes than in those with high intakes. Researchers also found that diuretics reduce blood levels of potassium. Risk of stroke was particularly high in those on diuretics who also had low dietary intakes of potassium. This was especially true for those with atrial fibrillation, who had a risk of stroke 10 times higher than those with high dietary intakes of potassium and no atrial fibrillation. However, diuretics are useful in lowering high blood pressure, another factor in stroke. Therefore, the best solution appears to be to increase dietary intake of potassium. Green DM, Ropper AH, Kronmal RA, Psaty BM, Burke GL. Serum potassium level and dietary potassium intake as risk factors for stroke. Neurology 2002 Aug 13;59(3):314-20.
Potassium the AnthroHealth way: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables each day. Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium followed by tree nuts, tomatoes, and spinach. One can of sardines has almost as much potassium as one medium banana.
Prostate Cancer and Calcium: Research has shown that men who ate large amounts of dairy foods were at greater risk of developing prostate cancer than were men who did not. Questions concerned the degree to which the fat and/or calcium content of dairy foods were involved. Based on current research, it appears that high fat and high calcium intake do not cause the onset of prostate cancer, but do encourage the growth and spread of the disease once it has begun. [High energy intake (excessive calories) is associated with the onset of prostate cancer.] The authors suggest that men with early stage prostate cancer decrease both their fat and calcium intake. Men who had calcium intakes of around 500 mg/day had less than half the risk of their cancer spreading compared to men whose intake was 1200 mg/day (from foods or supplements). Kristal AR, Cohen JH, Qu P, Stanford JL. Associations of energy, fat, calcium, and vitamin D with prostate cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2002 Aug;11(8):719-25.
Comment: The average calcium intake of individuals in most traditional societies is around 500 mg/day. The men in these societies tend to have low rates of prostate cancer. They also tend to have high activity levels relative to their caloric intake: they are lean and fit.
Preventing Prostate Cancer the AnthroHealth way: Eat a low-fat diet. Eliminate dairy foods from your diet. Keep calcium intake to about 500 mg/day. Either obtain adequate UVB radiation exposure for your degree of pigmentation and latitude of residence, or take a vitamin D supplement of at least 1000 IU/day. [For those concerned with bone strength, adequate vitamin D intake is more important than calcium intake. In fact, excessive calcium intake with inadequate vitamin D intake does more harm than good.] Walk 2 – 3 miles each day. *Vitamin D in 1000 IU doses can be obtained from VitaminShoppe.com.
AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: Some stress can be a good thing. It can motivate us to get a job completed. But too much stress is detrimental to our health. A particularly good way to relieve stress is to find an attractive location and take a leisurely walk through the area. Look carefully at the scenery as you walk past. Listen to the sounds in the area. Feel the breeze and the sun on your skin. Really open your senses to fully experience that place at that moment in time. Although walking itself helps reduce stress, the point of this particular walk is to reorient yourself and to reconnect with nature. By the end of the walk, you should feel calmer, more peaceful, and more capable of dealing with what comes your way.
© 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.