Newsletter v3n15

Newsletter v3n15
Back Issues

"I am weary of explanations explaining things explained." (Abraham Lincoln)

The DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER (Vol. 3, No 15) June 20, 2003

"Free of charge, free of advertising, and free of the A.M.A." Written and copyright 2003 by Andrew Saul, PhD, of , a free online library of over 350 natural healing articles with nearly 4,000 scientific references.


A rule in the teaching profession is, "You can't make it too simple." I have also heard this expressed as the "KISS" rule: "Keep it simple, stupid."

The human body is certainly complex, but what it asks of us is very simple. An automobile is made up of about 15,000 parts and is also complex. Remarkably, all you do is turn the key and it starts. With your body, the ignition key is eating right. Good nutrition is good preventive maintenance, and more.

Unlike a car, your body is self-repairing. Even the medical profession admits that most illnesses go away when doctors do nothing at all. I have grown to respect physicians who are reluctant to interfere with the normal healing process. Believe it or not, during the 19th century there was a movement among some American doctors to see patients and give them pills containing no medicine. These doctors were very popular because fewer of their patients died! If good bedside manner and a placebo (a drugless sugar tablet) gets a cure, that's good. To do something harmless and be helpful is good medicine. Eating right is better still.

Good nutrition does not directly cure disease; the body does. You provide the raw materials and the inborn wisdom of your body makes the repairs. You provide the bricks and mortar and the mason builds the wall. Without supplies, the most skilled workman on earth can build nothing. Without plenty of nutrients, the body can't, either.

Our role is so simple because the body is so capable.

A common remaining question is, "If the body cures itself, then why doesn't it cure itself of really serious disease?"

Let's consider the two most serious diseases of all. Heart disease and cancer are expected to kill nearly 1.5 million Americans this year. At least 20% of those deaths can be prevented by stopping smoking.

And the other 80%? Check your dinner table.

Cornell University's extensive nutrition studies in China have shown that people eating little or no animal protein are less likely to get either cancer or heart disease. "These diets are much different from the average American diets, containing only about 0-20% animal based foods, while the average American diet is comprised of about 60-80% animal based foods. Disease patterns in much of rural China tend to reflect those prior to the industrial revolution in the U.S., when cancers and cardiovascular diseases were much less prevalent." ( )

Decades earlier, researchers such as Dr. Francis Pottenger and Dr. Weston Price ( ) ( ) had repeatedly shown that "primitive" peoples or laboratory animals eating a natural, nearly vegetarian diet simply do not have serious diseases.

Does it get any more simple than that?

It comes down to this: living healthfully is prevention AND cure for most ailments of humanity. That is indeed simple. It is also true, it works, and you can prove it.


We all have something we can do to improve ourselves. Mark Twain tells of a doctor at the bedside of a very sick, elderly lady. The doctor told her that she must stop drinking, cussing and smoking. The lady said that she'd never done any of those things in her entire life. The doctor responded, "Well, that's your problem, then. You've neglected your habits."

Twain added: "She was like a sinking ship with no freight to throw overboard."

What are your bad habits? What is keeping you from feeling better? Below is a list, with my opinion of the very worst first. Go through this list and see what freight YOU can drop overboard.

1. SMOKING kills over 400,000 Americans each year. Each one of those deaths is completely preventable.

2. USE OF ALCOHOL, even in moderation, damages brain and body cells. Alcoholic beverages generally contain chemical additives as well. Most suicides are alcohol related. ( ) ( )

3. LACK OF SLEEP makes any problem worse. There's rarely any real need to stay up late. Turn off that TV and read until you are drowsy. A good sleep each night beats most vacations. ( ) ( )

4. CHEMICAL ABUSE hurts your body. Of course it does. Chemical abuse includes over-use of prescription drugs as well as narcotic addiction.

5. EXCESS USE OF OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICINES is basically another form of chemical abuse. Headaches are not caused by aspirin deficiency, nor are digestive problems due to insufficient "TUMS" in your diet. Look for the real cause of illness. ( )

6. OVERWEIGHT by more than 20%? Most of us are. You can expect many more health problems and a shorter life. If you travel overseas, try playing "Spot the Americans." They are usually the most overweight people in sight. That's no way to represent Uncle Sam. Lose that excess weight! ( ) ( )

7. DRINKING COFFEE is not harmless, "Garfield" jokes notwithstanding. If you "have to have your morning cup of coffee," then you are dependent on caffeine, which is a drug. ( ) ( )

8. EATING CHOCOLATE negatively affects more people than you might think. Theobromine and other chocolate chemicals may not be ideal for your body. Try something else instead.

9. SUGAR is not your friend. Avoid it and feel better right away. You will notice fewer mood swings.

10. WORRY is useless. A one-hundred year old lady was (predictably) asked to give a single bit of advice that would help a person live a long time. She said, "Well, I think that people should not worry. 95% of the things we worry about never happen, and the 5% that do you can't do much about anyway."

11. DRINKING SOFT DRINKS. If you are going to drink something, why not have something that is good for you? Carbonated drinks erode tooth enamel (because they contain carbonic and phosphoric acids) and also appear to promote kidney stones. ( )

12. USING ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS adds chemicals instead of sugar to your body. What kind of an improvement is that? ( ) ( ) ( )

13. EATING MEAT is a tradition, not a necessity. ( )

14. EATING JUNK FOODS gives you extra calories and gives the big food corporations extra profits. ( )


16. EATING ANYTHING WITH AN INGREDIENT THAT YOU CAN'T SPELL EASILY means you need to read those food labels more carefully.

17. WORKING TOO HARD. Henry David Thoreau said that after years of hard work, the farmer really didn't have a farm... the farm had him. We should work to live, not live to work.

18. NOT CHEWING YOUR FOOD results in an enormous variety of health problems. We are not wolves; slow down. As my mother said to me, "Nobody is going to take it from you." Although it is clear from this statement that she was not watching my brothers, it is still true.

19. CONSTIPATION makes your body into a plugged sewer. Eating a raw food diet, one-half cup of molasses or a can of sauerkraut will put an end to it. ( )

20. HURRYING YOUR MEALS almost guarantees poor digestion. Put on some music and relax. My parents had the following mealtime rule: "No discussion of money or politics at the table." Not a bad idea. Forget those high-pressure business lunches. ( )

If you are going to do something FOR your health, you first should stop doing bad things TO your health.

Just what are you willing to do to get better? If you limit your answer, you are limiting your success. Do everything possible to enjoy good health. Don't worry about being called a "health nut." What are the others called, then? "Disease nuts?"

It has been said that Mother Nature will not be fooled... at least not for long. If you are what you eat, and you eat a lot of worthless stuff, don't expect good health. If you provide your body with good food and a happy life style, you will feel better and look better. Lincoln said that anyone over age 55 is responsible for his face. We are most likely responsible for even more than that.


The criticisms I have about the June 14, 2003 Lancet study (361: 2017- 2023) are as follows.

1) It was not a prevention study since most of their subjects were sick. They do mention secondary prevention which in fact means "treatment," and should not be called prevention.

2) Many of the studies selected for analysis used the "dl" or synthetic form of vitamin E, which is cheaper but not as effective.

3) The Lancet study, in the authors' own works, was "driven by Caret and ATBC studies." The Finland study is flawed because of their sampling. I pointed this out in an editorial in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine (9:67-70, 1994, which follows below), but this is ignored. Note that the carotene group had been smoking one year longer than any of the other groups and this would have a major impact in lung cancer incidence. The Finland paper authors concluded that their results were due to a statistical fluke, i.e. were not statistically significant.

I agree that the natural carotenoids as found in vegetables are much to be preferred over synthetic beta-carotene supplements. In 50 years of practice, I have used a lot of vitamin E and find it beneficial to my patients and for myself. But I do not think that the vague and slight changes that result from large scale trials ought to be transferred to clinical outcome. And if smoking and synthetic beta-carotene together are harmful, we should recommend that people stop smoking and not the other way around.

COMMENTS ON THE 1994 FINNISH ANTIOXIDANT AND LUNG CANCER STUDY (Heinonen OP et al. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. New England J of Med 330:1029-1035, 1994.)

The report of the study in Finland of Vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of cancer in male smokers is important, not because of its scientific value, but for the way it was treated in the national press. The news media headlines carried the grim message - vitamins may increase cancer (1). This is the message that many of my patients received, and for the next few days I received anxious calls even though my patients are much more sophisticated about vitamins than are the average individuals. They wanted reassurance that it was safe to continue with their Vitamin C, or Vitamin E and beta carotene. The media did not distinguish between the vitamins. There is a tendency in the public (including physicians) to have a global view of vitamins. If there is bad news about one, it means it is bad for them all. The vitamin critics were given one more opportunity to blast the use of vitamins, and to return to their ancient position that only food was safe and no one needed added vitamins.

But this is not what the dozens of authors of this study concluded. They found that these two antioxidants did not decrease the incidence of lung cancer, and because there was an increase in risk in the treated group suggested the possibility that it might increase it. It is therefore very important to know exactly what this study did. They used a large population of male smokers ages 50 to 69. One group was given the synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) equivalent to 50 mg of d-alpha tocopherol. (There is 12.5 percent d alpha tocopherol in the synthetic mixture of 8 tocopherols.) This means that the total amount of tocopherols includes the levo- form which the body cannot use, and other isomers not nearly as active as d alpha. What is the effect of giving this mixture? For many years, orthomolecular physicians have recognized that "trans" (synthetic) fatty acids are harmful. These are present in hydrogenated fats like margarine. The question is whether levo-tocopherols, present in four times greater amounts, are also harmful. Another group was given 20 mg of beta carotene, a third group was on placebo, and the fourth group received both antioxidants. All the subjects smoked 5 or more cigarettes daily, mean 20 for over 35 years. They were followed for 5 to 8 years. But the beta-carotene group smoked one year more than the no-beta-carotene group, a difference of 3 percent. How significant is one year more of heavy smoking in increasing the number of advanced lung cancers? The authors do not discuss this. Smokers have lower vitamin C blood levels. Their vitamin E blood levels are within the normal range but washings from their lungs show they also are 30% lower in vitamin E. What is the effect on beta carotene?

At the end of the study, the men in the placebo group with the highest blood levels of these two antioxidants had the lowest incidence of lung cancer. In the dl-alpha tocopherol group there was a insignificant 2% reduction in incidence of lung cancer (P = 0.8). We do not know what the effect would have been if all the tocopherol had been d alpha tocopherol, the natural form. In the beta carotene group there was an "18% increase" in incidence. Out of 14,560 men on beta carotene, 474 developed cancer, while out of 14,573 men not on beta carotene 402 did. The incidence increased from 2.76% for the control group to 3.26% for the treated group. I suggest that this minor difference is surely not of clinical significance, even though it is statistically significant. In this statistically sophisticated study, comparing 3.26 to 2.76 yields the much larger number of 18 percent, which appears enormous and will be the only figure the unwary reader will remember and probably the only figure which will be used by the popular press. With large sample sizes such as these, a minor variation becomes fully blown up to a major finding. An inspection of Figures 2 and 3 will immediately show that none of the findings with every one of the cancers they examined showed any significant difference. But large scale studies have a tendency to show statistical significance which too many people equate with clinical or practical significance.

There must have been something very odd about that Finnish group of men. For one thing, the authors reported that 34% of the men (on a mere 20 mg of beta carotene daily) developed yellow skin. This is totally foreign to my experience. I have started at least 500 subjects on this amount of beta carotene and more, and have never seen any yellowing of the skin with this dose but have seen some with higher doses. Does this mean that these heavy smokers had so compromised their livers that they could not deal even with normal doses of beta carotene?

I will not say much about the minor doses of the synthetic alpha tocopherol. I consider the 50 mg dose equivalent of d-alpha tocopherol to be virtually a homeopathic one when it come to preventing and treating cancer. The authors do point out the many possible factors which might have given them these results, and in an editorial in the same issue, the commentators also refer to them. These authors write, "Finally, study findings regarded as showing supplementation to be beneficial or harmful may occur by chance" when referring to the literature. But both in the original paper and in the commentary they still draw the hasty conclusion that these antioxidants might increase the incidence of cancer. There is one comment they did not make, which is simply that if you run statistical trials you can expect that every now and then they will yield spurious results, as did the original double blind controlled studies which showed that l-dopa did not help patients with Parkinsonism, and more recently a large scale study which showed that folic acid did not prevent spina bifida. These last two studies were properly dismissed as anomalous.

Finally I wish to make clear the significance of the words "may" or "might." For example, one person claims that vitamin C "may" cause kidney stones. He never has written that it will nor has he given any probability statistics. Since there are no reported cases proving an association between consumption of vitamin C and kidney stones from the millions of people routinely taking large doses of this vitamin for decades, the probability is infinitesimally small. One can say that vitamin C "may" cause kidney stones but that the probability that it will do so is zero or close to it. However the claimants, that vitamin C may cause stones, always leave out the second part of the statement and by so doing perpetrate lies and misinform the public.

I consider that this study simply proved nothing, except that if you give tiny doses of Vitamin E nothing will happen, and if you give heavy chronic smokers 20 mg of beta carotene their incidence of lung cancer will not change. I suspect that the authors of this study were disappointed with the negative results they eventually saw and tried to salvage something so that the paper could be published. Or else it might have made it easier to have it published by the New England Journal of Medicine, which traditionally finds it easier to publish negative reports when large doses of vitamins are used.

Cancer is probably present and undetectable in patients for a long time, perhaps several years, before it is finally discovered. The truly preventive study should therefor start long before any tumors have started, which could mean many years. With this group of heavy smokers it is certain that a large fraction already had the cancer. This was therefor a mixed study: (1) treatment for those already with cancer, (2) prevention for those who did not have any. Unfortunately, it will never be possible to say how much each group contributed. I would suggest that future studies start with a much younger population in whom there is much less chance of already having cancer.

(1) "Vitamin Supplements are Seen as No Guard Against Diseases" and "Study Sees No Benefit in Vitamins on Cancer or Heart Disease". New York Times, April 14, 1994.

DOCTOR YOURSELF WEBSITE OF THE MONTH Blake Graham, a 21-year-old Australian nutrition student, has a passion for orthomolecular medicine, particularly for mental health conditions. At his website, you will find much information about the work of Abram Hoffer, Carl Pfeiffer, William Walsh and many others. The research-heavy content of Graham's website reminds me of Dr. Melvyn Werbach's books ( ), and that is one serious compliment. I would like to see another column added to the vitamin and mineral recommendations chart (http://www.nutritional- ) that would support higher intakes of vitamin C, niacin, and zinc. Be sure to look at his page of links for good free email health newsletters

READERS SAY S. B. writes: "I was reading your suggestions on treating candida and thrush ( ), I noticed you failed to mention the use of acidophilus. I have been "doctoring myself" for 8 years and have found, along with vitamin C, that acidophilus will get rid of any yeast infection, thrush or any other yeast problem. Use only the refrigerated kind."

Right on. Thank you for the additional suggestion.


Here's a dilly from "Fluoride Loss Worries Dentist" by Jamie Willey, Parsons Sun

"While dentists don't recommend children drinking sugared flavored drinks such as Kool-Aid, those drinks still benefit children as far as fluoridation goes if they're made with city water."

Golly, THAT sure is reassuring, isn't it.

When I taught junior high, I wondered where the girls' rather weird colored hairdos came from. The girls 'fessed up: they dyed their hair with "Kool Aid." Not a new idea, it turns out. In The Wizard of Oz movie, the animals used as the Horse of a Different Color were colored, from fetlock to mane, with a mixture of "Jell-O" powder.

I concede that artificial colors are great for dying hair. But I am not convinced that we should voluntarily EAT paint, even paint fortified with fluoride. So read every label and vote with your dollars. Then send the only message that carries any weight in the food industry: DO NOT PURCHASE ANY FOOD THAT CONTAINS AN ARTIFICIAL FOOD COLOR.


The answer is, probably.

When I downloaded "Spybot Search and Destroy" from , the program promptly found eight unwanted resident "tracking" programs on my computer. The first time a friend of mine ran Spybot on his computer, it found literally dozens.

Why does this matter? The program's website says:

"Spybot - Search & Destroy" can detect and remove spyware of different kinds from your computer. Spyware is a relatively new kind of threat that common anti-virus applications do not yet cover. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you didn't intentionally install, if your browser crashes, or if you browser start page has changed without your knowing, you most probably have spyware. But even if you don't see anything, you may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging that is silently tracking your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile of you that will be sold to advertisement companies."

The Spybot website is also forthright in explaining, right up front, that it may interfere with free advertisement-supported services that some people use. Personally, I have not seen any problem with our instant messenger or computer-phone programs.

Spybot is a totally free-of-charge program. I have found it to be very valuable.

(Here are two other important computer reminders from previous issues of the DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER. Please share them with a friend.)

FREE DOWNLOADABLE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE Be sure you have an up-to-date-this-month antivirus system operating on your computer. Cautious people know that to help avoid computer viruses, it is good policy to **never** open attachments to any emails you may receive, even if they are from someone you know or from an address you recognize. Viruses routinely fake return addresses, and absolutely anyone can be thoroughly fooled. You can get fully functional (not a trial edition) antivirus software absolutely free from . Select "Download AVG Free Edition." Remarkably, updates from the Grisoft website are also free of charge. They are currently at update number 289. If you wonder if a free antivirus program can be any good, consider that this recommendation comes from a fellow who has used it, who publishes this international newsletter. . . and who never opens or reads attachments, nor sends any attachments to his subscribers. (With the exception of this Newsletter, if you receive anything purporting to be from me, well, it ain't.)

FREE "POP-UP" ADVERTISEMENT-KILLING SOFTWARE may be downloaded from . I am well satisfied with this program and I recommend it. This is free, fully-functional software, not a trial edition. I think this is valuable to have because so many otherwise very good internet sites have pop-up ads from their sponsors. (You will never find any ads of any kind at .)

Taking care of your computer is much like taking care of your body: an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.

READERS SAY E. K. writes: "I'm paying attention to your article on heart arrhythmia ( ). Like the student you wrote about, I'm at risk for the listed adverse effects, such as increased risk of heart failure, or excessively slow heartbeat (bradycardia) of the number one drug (Amiodarone hydrochloride, or "Aratac") that the specialists use to treat this condition. I used to get arrhythmia every second day, lasting up to 23 hours. The occurrence is less now, and I'm gaining confidence that I'll find a way to control it completely. In my experience, the magnesium supplement seems to work best on an empty stomach. Thank you so much for your user-friendly and hope engendering website. (I particularly enjoy your jokes.) Good health to you and your beloveds!"

Your kind letter and compliments are much appreciated. You made my day. I also thank you for sharing your observation about magnesium on an empty stomach. Remember, I am not a physician. My readers keep me honest, or at least they try to. And as for this next section . . . well, you asked for it:

HUMOR, SORT OF: So this guy asks, "Can I still get into heaven if I don't take vitamins?" And the answer is, "Yes, and a lot quicker, too."

HOW TO WORK SOME REAL MAGIC Illusionist Howard Thurston was one of the truly great stage magicians. Both his fame and his salary were enormous, back in a time before TV when a buck still bought a lot of groceries. Mr. Thurston, however, was subject to stagefright and still got butterflies in the stomach even after years of success. To overcome his problem, I'm told he used to look out at the audience through a little peephole in the curtain before he went on. He said to himself: "I love my work; I have the greatest job in the world. I love my audience; I love entertaining people. I have the greatest job in the world." He repeated this over and over. As his music came up and the curtain opened, Thurston strode on stage now just radiating confidence and warmth. People loved his show because he loved doing it. It just took him a few extra reminders before showtime and the rest took care of itself.

For decades, I have followed Thurston's example before every consultation or lecture that I deliver. You can alter his exact words, depending on your profession, but the payoff will be just as good.

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AN IMPORTANT NOTE: This newsletter is not in any way offered as prescription, diagnosis nor treatment for any disease, illness, infirmity or physical condition. Any form of self-treatment or alternative health program necessarily must involve an individual's acceptance of some risk, and no one should assume otherwise. Persons needing medical care should obtain it from a physician. Consult your doctor before making any health decision.

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