NATURAL HEALTHLINE® is a free bi-weekly newsletter of events and information for the Natural Health Village - 21 July 1997.
by Michael Evers
Scientists who work for the Environmental Protection Agency have gone on record is support of an initiative that would reverse the California legislature's 1995 law mandating fluoridation of the state's drinking water.
Local 2050 of the National Federation of Federal Employees, which consists of toxicologists, chemists, biologists and other professionals at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, voted unanimously on July 2 to co-sponsor the California Safe Drinking Water Initiative because "It is our hope that our co-sponsorship . . . will have a beneficial effect on the health and welfare of all Californians by helping to keep their water free of a chemical substance for which there is substantial evidence of adverse health effects and, contrary to public perception, virtually no evidence of significant benefits."
In a statement issued by NFFE Local 2050, the union of scientists said "Our members' review of the body of evidence over the last eleven years, inlcuding animal and human epidemiology studies, indicate a causal link between fluoride/fluoridation and cancer, gentic damage, neurological impairment, and bone pathology. Of particular concern are recent epidemiology studies linking fluoride exposure to lowered IQ in children."
"As the professionals who are charged with assessing the safety of drinking water, we conclude that the health and welfare of the public is not served by the addition of this substance to the public water supply."
For more information,
J. William Hirzy, PhD
Senior Vice President
NFFE, Local 2050
P.O. Box 76082
Washington, DC 20013
(202) 401-3129 fax
Citizens for Safe Drinking Water
3243 Madrid Street
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 222-6981 fax
email -- firstname.lastname@example.org
email -- email@example.com
by Peter Barry Chowka
Proponents of universal access to medical care, such as the Clinton Administration during its unsuccessful effort to "reform" American health care in 1993-94, have claimed that costs would not rise significantly and in fact would be brought under control by such changes. A new study offers different information.
An article in the July 9 issue of JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) by Shou-Hsia Cheng, PhD and Tung-Liang Chiang, ScD reports on their study of the situation in Taiwan. In 1995, the government of Taiwan introduced universal health insurance to cover all citizens with the purpose, according to the authors, of "assur[ing[ the accessibility to health care at reasonable cost." The authors conducted a survey of over one thousand randomly selected Taiwanese adults both before and after the implementation of the national health insurance program. The survey measured physician visits in the 2 weeks prior to the survey and hospital admissions and emergency department visits in the previous year.
Not surprisingly, "After the introduction of universal health insurance," the authors note, "the newly insured consumed more than twice the amount of outpatient physician visits and hospital admissions than before universal health insurance was implemented." The authors' conclusions: "The co-payment design in the insurance scheme seemed to have an insignificant effect on curbing medical care utilization. Taiwanese health policy analysts should seriously consider the growth of health care expenditures since the implementation of universal health insurance."
For more information,
The Effect of Universal Health Insurance on Health Care Utilization in Taiwan
by Peter Barry Chowka
In the July 3 Natural Healthline®, I reported on the article by William Grant, PhD on the link between Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and dietary fat intake. Grant's article is novel not only because of its original conclusions, but because it appeared in the June 19 issue of a medical journal published exclusively on the Internet. Many of the mainstream media accounts of Grant's article, including by Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, made prominent note of that fact, as if "published on the Internet" is the equivalent of lacking credibility. But the journal in question, Alzheimer's Disease Review, is peer reviewed and is published by the respected Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky.
Grant's study is quickly emerging as a potential flashpoint in the medical community's understanding of Alzheimer's Disease, a chronic, degenerative condition which leads to progressive mental and physical debilitation and ultimately death. Most of AD experts posit a genetic link to the disease. Grant contends in his article, however, that:
"Recent findings that elderly African-Americans and Japanese living in the United States have much higher prevalence of Alzheimer's Disease than those still living in their ethnic homelands suggested that environmental rather than genetic factors are the primary agents causing AD. Recent papers linking clinical expression of AD to oxidative stress and cerebral infarct suggest that diet is a key factor in the development of AD. To test this hypothesis, regression analyses were performed on the prevalence of AD in the 65+ age population for 11 countries. . .The primary findings are that fat and total caloric supply have the highest correlations with AD. . .In addition, fish consumption is found to reduce the prevalence of AD in the European and North American countries. The literature suggests that fat contributes to oxidative stress and inflammation and that fish oils combat inflammation. Recent papers finding that several dietary components and supplements have been found effective in delaying the onset of AD, including antioxidants, fish, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are consistent with this finding."
Similar to the reactions to earlier studies linking diet with cancer and heart disease, critics of Grant's conclusions have emerged, and claim that the data does not support his conclusions and that further studies are needed (Grant supports further studies). Grant's enthusiasm for his work, which is done on his own time and in addition to his primary career as a NASA scientist, is reminiscent of other scientists I have known who, often working outside of their areas of original expertise, have made original and remarkable contributions to our understanding of medicine and health. The late Linus Pauling, PhD is a prominent example. Grant noted that his next project in medicine will be on diet and rheumatoid arthirits.
I interviewed Grant by e-mail shortly after his Alzheimer's study was published.
Peter Barry CHOWKA: Your article reminds me, in terms of its potential impact on the field of AD, of the seminal epidemiological work during the 1970s that began to show an unequivocal link between diet and cancer.
William GRANT, PhD: I think you are correct that this paper should represent a turning point in the history of the study of Alzheimer's Disease. There have been a number of cases in history when someone from outside a field made a major impact on that field: Gregor Mendel, a monk, and genetics; Richard Feynman and the O-ring on the space shuttle Challenger; and Louis and Walter Alvarez and the bolide impact theory for the extinction of the dinosaurs.
CHOWKA: Could you add a bit more detail about your earlier work in medical science (has any of it involve nutrition, for example) and your background in general?
GRANT: I have a PhD in Physics, University of California, Berkeley, 1971. I learned to do a thorough literature search in any field, and not be afraid to tackle new fields, and to try to work for the good of humanity. My professional work has been with the development and application of laser-based instruments for the remote measurement of atmospheric constituents. I work at NASA Langley in Hampton, VA, and I go on a field mission once a year to measure ozone and aerosols somewhere around the world.
It was the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991 that changed my career from one of developing instruments to one of interpreting data. After I learned to combine two diverse data sets to get new knowledge, there was no stopping me. In March 1995 I volunteered to do a "small" project for the Sierra Club which was to be a literature search on the effects of air pollution on the trees and forests of the Appalachian Mountains. Well, it turns out that while scientists had described the individual effects, not one was willing to say that broad-leaved trees were experiencing decline or excess mortality due to air pollution. I found a [strong] statistical association. I showed this to Harvard Ayers, my Sierra Club contact, who was so impressed he decided to commission a Sierra Club book, due out next year, on how air pollution was affecting trees in the eastern U.S. I spent 1200 hours, contacted over 600 authors, collected over 1500 journal articles, 30 books, 50 reports, 7 theses, etc. I am thorough if nothing else.
My work on diet and disease was inspired by John Weisburger who sent me some of his papers in 1991. At that time, I was trying to determine whether an apparent correlation between latitude and cancer was influenced by sunlight. His work showed that fat was the driver, and that people eat more fat at higher latitudes. People with Alzheimer's Disease are known to have excess aluminum in their brains. Acid ion deposition to forest soils increases the available aluminum, with adverse impacts to trees. Since Japanese-Americans have 2.5 times the Alzheimer's Disease rate of Japanese living in Japan, it must be the American diet, and I can prove it, since I now have the tools for doing statistical analyses on epidemiological data. I got the data on nutrition from the same source that Weisburger used.
CHOWKA: It has been reported that you had a personal inspiration for looking into Alzheimer's.
GRANT: My mother, who is 80, developed Alzheimer's Disease 5 years ago. She grew up on a dairy farm, and was overweight as a young adult. She is very frail now. Her mother and grandmother also had Alzheimer's Disease.
CHOWKA: Do you think your study is conclusive enough for people concerned about preventing AD to make dietary changes?
GRANT: Yes. My statistical associations are backed up the the vitamin E study of Sano (fights free radicals), the NSAID study by Stewart (fights inflammation caused by fats), and the linoleic acid/fish study of Kalmijn. Also, Dr. Khalsa [in Tucson] has an Alzheimer's Prevention Foundation where the main ideas are low-fat diet, juices, supplements, and exercise.
CHOWKA: Do you have any indications of prospective clinical trials in the works or being discussed to test your findings?
GRANT: Yes, Dr. Kennedy of the Albert Einstein in New York, a geriartric psychiatrist, says that some prospective study currently underway will address the issues I raise.
CHOWKA: Are you satisfied with the emphasis that medical science places on potentially beneficial strategies for AD (and other degenerative diseases) involving, for example, dietary modification?
GRANT: Are you kidding? In my world view, the food processing industry wants to sell food, the medical profession wants to sell treatments, the pharmaceutical industry wants to sell drugs, the nursing home industry wants to sell services, and the Alzheimer's Association wants to provide support, and our government is supporting all these industries. There is very little incentive to prevent disease. It is primarily the non-profit organizations, and the writers of books, such as the ones I mentioned in my article, that are trying to prevent disease caused by the wrong diet. The medical profession has very little inkling about or inclination to do anything about nutrition and health in my opinion, and particularly when it comes to Alzheimer's Disease.
I think that one of the surprises of my study and that of David Snowdon is that Alzheimer's Disease can be considered a vascular disease. While my [epidemiological] approach may be a bit antiquated, the signal is so strong that I am convinced that the medical profession will confirm my findings using their approach.
Some comments about Grant's work point to its significance:
-- "Dr. Grant's study is important; he has shown that simply decreasing caloric/fat intake should significantly decrease the incidence of AD." (Denham Harman, MD, emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha);
-- "A remarkable aspect of this study is that Dr. Grant. . .is an atmospheric scientist who works on air pollution. His study reflects a tremendous personal effort to compare the incidence of Alzheimer's Disease in various countries with data on fat intake. His results are very plausible and are certain to stimulate further investigation." (Jim Geddes, PhD, associate professor at Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington).
In his first appearance at a medical meeting since the publication of his Alzheimer's study, Grant will be the keynote speaker at the 12th annual convention of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians in Phoenix, AZ, August 20, 1997. For information about his presentation, or the convention, the AANP may be contacted at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
For more information,
Dietary Links to Alzheimer's Disease (Grant) in Alzheimer's Disease Review 2, 42-55, 1997 (full text)
by Peter Barry Chowka
The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), also known as the Office of Complementary Alternative Medicine (OCAM), recently launched its own Web site, the Home Page of which is subtitled "Bringing together the best of healing. . ."
Funded by Congressional legislation in 1991, the OAM, according to its Home Page, "identifies and evaluates unconventional health care practices. . . supports and conducts research and research training on these practices and disseminates information." The description goes on: "Organized under the Associate Director for Disease Prevention within the Office of the Director of the NIH, the OAM does not serve as a referral agency for various alternative medical treatments or individual practitioners. The OAM facilitates and conducts biomedical research. The NIH cautions users not to seek the therapies described on these pages without the consultation of a licensed health care provider. Inclusion of a treatment or resource on the OAM Web site does not imply endorsement by the OAM, the NIH, or the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)."
When I visited the OAM site on three occasions in early July, the pages loaded slowly, although there is a faster text-only option available. Some features, like the minutes of the meetings of AMPAC (the Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council), were not yet available. But there was quite a bit of information about alternative medicine that could be potentially useful to someone looking for credible healing options. Highlights include a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions file), a search-the-site feature, information on the OAM's grants and its new information clearinghouse, suggestions on how to search for information on and off the Net, and the text of the OAM's quarterly newsletters going back several years. It is hoped that eventually the site will offer links to medical sites and sources on the Internet other than simply government ones.
Ultimately, the existence of the OAM's Web site that people around the world can now visit, like the introduction over five years ago of the OAM itself, is a de facto indication of the mounting importance, credibility, and political viability of complementary alternative medicine.
For more information,
Office of Alternative Medicine Home Page
by Peter Barry Chowka
The Second Montreal International Congress of Homeopathy will take place August 23-25, 1997 at the University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Fifteen experts on homeopathy from nine countries will lecture. As the Congress home page notes, "Going to Bombay, Athens, Berlin to attend seminars given by the masters of homeopathy need not stay a dream as about fifteen of the great homeopaths from 9 different countries will meet for you at the Second Montreal International Congress of Homeopathy!"
Among the speakers at the Congress are M. Georges Arragon (Quebec), Paul Mittman, ND (US), and Dr. Nicoletta Bratcoveaniu (Rumania). All presentations will be made available in simultaneous English and French translations. A conference booklet will be available in English and in French "at an affordable price."
The cost of attending is approximately $230 (Canadian currency) for non-Canadian residents and, with tax, slightly more for Canadian citizens.
The Congress is sponsored by Centre de Techniques Homeopathiques in Montreal which offers two courses of training in homeopathy following the recommendations of the I.C.C.H. (International Council for Classical Homeopathy): personal (200 hours of study) and professional (1,000 hours in homeopathy and 500 hours in complementary courses).
For more information,
Centre de Techniques Homeopathiques inc.
e-mail/courrier electronique: <cth@Mlink.net>
910 Belanger, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2S 3P4
tel: 514-277-1007 / fax: 514-277-5927
by Michael Evers
California businesses can now provide their employees acupuncture and Chinese medicine health coverage with Acupunture Plus, the first alternative, stand-alone acupuncture healthcare plan that also provides comprehensive Chinese medical benefits. California is the first state to approve Acupunture Plus; the company intends to obtain approvals for the plan throughout the nation over the next 12-18 months.
The Acupunture Plus plan is approved for businesses with 51 or more employees, and is available as a stand-alone option, or as an additional benefit through participating HMOs (health maintenance organizations).
Clifford Der, founder, president and CEO of privately-held Acupunture Plus said, "Unlike Western medicine where costs can be astronomical, acupuncture and other Chinese medical therapies offer much lower cost alternatives for over 40 medical conditions: from the common cold, acute and chronic pain, chronic fatigue and anxiety to fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, arthritis and diabetes. With Californians spending some $20 billion a year on healthcare costs, alternative medical treatments, such as acupuncture and Chinese herbs, can relieve chronic and acute conditions at significantly reduced costs, and often without troubling side effects, as well."
Acupunture Plus is backed by Alburger Basso de Grosz (ABD), the largest privately-held re-insurance company in the world, and the ACU-CARE network of acupuncturists. The plan presently encompasses over 300 of California's 3,500 licensed and active acupuncturists, and also provides coverage for using out-of-network acupuncturists.
For more information,
Clifford Der, founder and CEO
Acupunture Plus, Inc.
1900 McCarthy Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035
by Peter Barry Chowka
On July 1, 1996, the Weekly Standard, a supermarket tabloid, published an article on its cover by Matt Labash which claimed that Deepak Chopra, MD had frequented a prostitute and committed plagiarism. The allegations against Chopra, educational director of the Chopra Center for Well Being in La Jolla, CA, the author of best selling books such as "Quantum Healing," and a leading advocate of Ayruvedic and holistic medicine, subsequently received wide circulation in the mainstream media. Chopra's law team responded by filing a lawsuit against the The Weekly Standard and threatening action against The New York Post for reprinting the allegations. Both the Standard and the Post are owned by international media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
On June 23, 1997, it was announced that the suit had been settled and both the Standard and the Post published uncharacteristic apologies and corrections. The Standard's editors wrote: "We apologize to Dr. Chopra and to our readers. We regret any harm that may unjustly have been done to Dr. Chopra's reputation. We trust that this correction and apology will help in repairing any such harm, and will set the record straight." In acknowledging that "the general tone of our article was unfair to Dr. Chopra," the editors concluded: "We believe that Dr. Chopra is sincere and forthright in his teachings, and regret our publication of allegations about Dr. Chopra that we now believe, to be erroneous. Thus, we offer this apology to Dr. (Chopra) and to our readers."
In a statment, Chopra's literary agent Muriel Nellis, President of Literary and Creative Artists Agency in Washington, D.C., commented: "We are pleased that this very difficult, damaging and distracting year for Dr. Chopra has come to an end. Too often, gossip, and innuendo feed a culture of increasing cynicism that leads to the severe injury of people's families, lives, and careers. This has become especially true for an author, a public personality, or anyone who is on the cutting edge of furthering the debate of new ideas."
During the past year, the situation involving Chopra has been widely discussed on the Internet -- on Web sites and in Usenet newsgroups. Reports circulated widely that representatives of Chopra were targeting people who reported and discussed the allegations. For example, one of Chopra's critics, who had posted excerpts of Labash's article on his Web site, claimed that Chopra's attorneys had "faxed me threats of legal action for reporting on this scandal. . .[and] later went so far as to insist they would sue me despite my compliance with their request to remove the excerpts they claimed were defamatory."
For more information.
Use DejaNews to search Usenet newsgroup archives using keywords "Chopra" and
Deepak Chopra: The Official Website
by Michael Evers
A patient sued Hal Huggins, DDS, his Diagnostic and Rehabilitation Center, Inc. and one of its dentists for torts allegedly committed while removing her mercury amalgam fillings. Her husband was an employee at the Center and he had already had his amalgams removed. He provided his wife a book by Huggins and a video of a "60 Minutes" program on the amalgam controversy. She subsequently had another dentist at the Center remove her amalgam fillings and later sued for misrepresentation and malpractice. A jury returned verdicts in her favor and all counts and Huggins appealed only on the issue of negligent misrepresentation by him and the Center. The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed, ruling that Huggins could not be liable for any alleged negligent misrepresentation made to the plaintiff because he owed her no duty of due care.
The Court of Appeals expressly noted that the "expression of opinions upon matters of public concern is the core value protected by the First Amendment." And it added: "To subject authors of such opinions to the risk of multiple claims for personal injuries, at least in those instances, as here, in which the opinions do not address or impugn any specific individual, based solely upon the majoritarian view that the opinion is 'false,' would impose an intolerable burden upon the author of such opinions. And, the imposition of such a burden would have a ruinous and unjustifiable chilling effect upon free speech."
Bailey v. Huggins Diagnostic & Rehabilitation Center, Inc.
Colorado Court of Appeals, No. 96CA0586
June 26, 1997
Articles by Peter Barry Chowka are copyright by Peter Barry Chowka
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