Common Household Chemical May Double Heart Disease Risk





 

A new clinical study finds that a common household chemical (perfluorooctanoic acid) may double the risk of heart disease.


 

 

COMMON HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL MAY DOUBLE HEART DISEASE RISK

Cardiovascular disease continues to be one of the most common causes of disability and death, accounting for one out of every four deaths in the United States.  The most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease are well known, and include lack of physical activity, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes.  Additionally, a strong family history of cardiovascular disease, particularly at an early age, also increases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.  Now, a newly published research study raises the possibility that a manmade chemical commonly found in household products may also significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.  This new study appears in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) appears in numerous household products, including carpet-care products, clothing, floor-care products, non-stick surfaces in cookware and paper food-wrapping products, polishes, dental floss, and implantable medical devices, among others.  In fact, PFOA is so ubiquitous in the United States that it is detectable in the blood of 98 percent of the population.  Moreover, once ingested, PFOA remains in the human body for many years, and can therefore accumulate at increasingly higher levels over time.

In addition to being a known carcinogen, PFOA has been previously linked with cardiovascular disease in animal studies.  Therefore, this new clinical study was designed to assess the association between cardiovascular disease and blood levels of PFOA in humans.  In this clinical study, 1,216 volunteers were recruited from the ongoing National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) prospective public health study, and were tested for the level of PFOA in their blood.  They also underwent both extensive surveys regarding their health and physical examinations for signs of peripheral arterial disease.  Importantly, known risk factors for cardiovascular and peripheral artery disease were assessed in each of these volunteers, and this information was used to improve the accuracy of the study’s conclusions regarding PFOA and the risk of cardiovascular and peripheral arterial disease.

Even after correcting for preexisting risk factors for cardiovascular and peripheral arterial disease, this study found a significant association between PFOA levels in the blood and the incidence of cardiovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease.  When comparing volunteers with the lowest and highest levels of PFOA, patients with the highest levels of POFA were found to have two times the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and almost twice the risk of developing peripheral arterial disease.  Once again, the association between PFOA levels in the blood and the risk of cardiovascular and peripheral arterial disease remained even after correcting for gender, age, race/ethnicity, smoking status, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.

While the findings of this study will have to be verified by additional and larger prospective clinical studies, these findings do nonetheless raise concerns that PFOA may, itself, be an independent cause of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease.  Given that almost every adult in the United States has at least some measurable concentration of PFOA in their blood, even a small associated increase in the risk of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease could have a significant impact on the overall incidence of these diseases within the larger population.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 40 percent of adult Americans already have at least two conventional cardiovascular disease risk factors.  However, given that PFOA is present in virtually everyone’s body, our risk of cardiovascular and peripheral artery disease may actually be significantly higher than previously appreciated, based upon the findings of this important new clinical study.

 

At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 






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New Vaccine and Antibodies May Prevent Heart Disease





 

New studies suggest that heart disease may someday become preventable with vaccine and antibody therapy.


 

 

NEW VACCINE AND ANTIBODIES MAY PREVENT HEART DISEASE

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, cancer has recently surpassed cardiovascular disease to become the #1 cause of death in many areas of the world.  However, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke continue to kill millions of people around the world every year.

In general, atherosclerotic artery disease arises when thick “plaques” develop on the inner walls of arteries.  These plaques can rupture, thus exposing their inner surfaces, which can then activate the components of the blood responsible for forming blood clots.  The progression of blood clots on the surface “atheromatous” plaques within the arteries of the heart and brain can directly cause blockage of affected arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke, respectively.  Even more commonly, however, clumps of clot and atheromatous plaque can break off and travel downstream, where they block coronary artery and brain artery branches, causing heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and strokes, respectively.  As inflammation, caused by our bodies’ white blood cells and antibodies, plays an important role in the development of atherosclerosis, scientists have been testing both vaccines and blocking antibodies in laboratory animals in an effort to prevent (or even reverse) the development of atherosclerosis, in the hope that heart attacks and strokes (and limb loss, in the case of peripheral vascular disease) can be prevented.

Two experimental new approaches to preventing and treating cardiovascular disease were unveiled at the Frontiers in Cardiovascular Biology conference this past week in London, and they have generated a great deal of interest among cardiovascular disease experts around the world.

In one recent study, which was performed using laboratory mice, an experimental vaccine (“CVX-210”) that reprograms inflammatory white bloods cells into inflammation-fighting white blood cells was evaluated.  In this mouse study, the CVX-210 vaccine was able to reduce the extent of arterial atherosclerosis by 60 to 70 percent!  While treatments that are effective in laboratory mice do not always work in humans, the manufacturer of the CVX-210 vaccine, CardioVax, is currently awaiting FDA approval to begin preliminary human clinical trials.

A second immunological approach to the prevention and treatment of arterial atherosclerosis involves the use of blocking antibodies that are designed to target oxidized LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol,” which is a major component of atherosclerotic plaques, and which also participates in the inflammatory cascade that leads directly to plaque formation.)  When injected into a patient, these antibodies attack oxidized LDL particles and, theoretically, block the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.  At this time, there is an ongoing human clinical trial that is evaluating this “BI-204” human monoclonal antibody.  (In preclinical studies, BI-204 has already been shown to decrease the extent of existing arterial atherosclerotic plaques in laboratory animals by as much as 50 percent!)

In addition to the potential of the CVX-210 vaccine and the BI-204 human monoclonal antibody to significantly reduce, and possibly prevent, arterial atherosclerosis, these two still experimental therapies, if proven to be safe and effective in humans, would also be available for use in combination with current cardiovascular disease prevention therapies, including the cholesterol blocking statin drugs, high blood pressure medications, and diabetes medications.  (When considered together, these three current, conventional treatments for the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease are estimated to reduce the risk of heart attack by about 40 percent.)  Because all of these therapies target different risk factors for cardiovascular disease, combining CVX-210 and/or BI-204 with current conventional cardiovascular disease prevention therapies could dramatically further reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease and significantly prolong our lives in the future.

As a disease prevention expert, I consider these two new developments to be of potentially enormous importance in the area of cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment.  Given that inflammation is known to play an important role in the development of both cardiovascular disease and cancer, I will be very interested to see if these two new experimental approaches to cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment also have a beneficial risk on cancer risk as well!



For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a lighthearted perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 





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The Four Critical Cardiovascular Disease Risks That You Can Change

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



New research shows that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking account for the vast majority of all deaths caused by cardiovascular disease.


 

THE FOUR CRITICAL CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE RISKS THAT YOU CAN CHANGE

As I mention in my recent bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, many of the very same lifestyle and dietary habits that increase our risk of developing cancer also increase our risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, heart attacks (myocardial infarction), peripheral vascular disease, and stroke.  Likewise, adopting an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle can not only cut your cancer risk in half, but can also significantly reduce your risk of developing life-threatening cardiovascular disease as well.

A newly published research study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, provides, for the first time, a comprehensive assessment of the lifetime risks of developing cardiovascular disease based upon the following four health-related factors: blood pressure, cholesterol (lipid) levels in the blood, smoking status, and diabetes status.  Importantly, this huge meta-analysis study, which appears in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, comprehensively analyzes the data from 18 different prior clinical research studies, which included 257,384 adult black and white men and women.  These research volunteers were assessed for these four critical cardiovascular risk factors every 10 years, beginning at age 45 and ending at age 75.  This enormous group of research volunteers was then closely followed, and the incidence of cardiovascular disease and death rates due to cardiovascular disease were then carefully evaluated and analyzed.

When looking at cardiovascular risks factors at age 55 as predictors of future cardiovascular disease risk, and the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, the findings of this extremely large clinical study were striking.  In this study, a low-risk profile for cardiovascular disease was defined as total blood cholesterol less than 180 milligrams per deciliter (4.7 mmol per liter), average blood pressure less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), nonsmoker status, and nondiabetic status.

Among the 55 year-old men and women who met all of the criteria for a low-risk profile for cardiovascular disease, their lifetime incidence of cardiovascular disease, through age 80, was remarkably lower than for the 55 year-olds who failed to meet two or more of the four low-risk criteria.  In fact, the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, through age 80, was only 5 percent among the men who met all four low-risk criteria at age 55, while the men who met only two or fewer low-risk criteria faced a dramatic six-fold increase in the risk (30 percent) of dying of cardiovascular disease by age 80.  Among the women volunteers, only 6 percent of the women who met all four low-risk criteria went on to die of cardiovascular disease by age 80, while 21 percent of the women who failed to meet two or more of the four low-risk criteria died of cardiovascular disease between age 55 and age 80 (for a nearly four-fold increase in the risk of death).

Fatal and nonfatal coronary artery disease occurred in only 4 percent of the men who met all four low-risk criteria, but occurred in nearly 10 times as many of the men (38 percent) who failed to meet two or more of these four criteria.  The women who met all four low-risk criteria faced a less than 1 percent risk of fatal and nonfatal coronary artery disease, while the women who met two or fewer low-risk criteria experienced an 18 percent incidence of fatal and nonfatal coronary artery disease (for a more than 18-fold increase in risk).

The risk of fatal and nonfatal stroke was also significantly lower among men and women who met all four low-risk criteria for cardiovascular disease.  Among the men who met all four low-risk criteria, the incidence of stroke through age 80 was only about 2 percent, but quadrupled, to more than 8 percent, among the men who failed to meet two or more of the four low-risk criteria.  Among the women who met all four low-risk criteria, the incidence of stroke was about 5 percent, but more than doubled, to nearly 11 percent, among the women who failed to meet at least two of the low-risk criteria.

The findings of this very large study cannot be overstated in terms of its public health importance, as this is the only study that has prospectively assessed very large numbers of men and women, including both black and white adults, over long periods of time, and that has analyzed the long-term impact of the four most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease on incidence and death rates associated with cardiovascular disease.  As with the studies that I discuss in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, the impact of lifestyle, diet, and other modifiable health-related factors on both cardiovascular disease risk and cancer risk is enormous, particularly when measured over the lifespan of the average adult.

The findings of this epic public health research study also add further weight to my strong belief, based upon my review of thousands of research studies, that we, as individuals, hold the key to improving our health, and to significantly reducing our risk of serious illness and premature death, by living evidence-based healthy lifestyles.  If your blood pressure is high, change your diet and increase your level of exercise, with the support of your doctor.  If diet and physical activity interventions alone do not correct your hypertension, then ask your doctor about medications for high blood pressure.  If you have diabetes, you also need to change your diet, increase your levels of physical activity, and safely lose any excess weight.  If these lifestyle changes do not completely resolve your high blood sugars, then you may also need to ask your doctor about medications for diabetes.  If you smoke, or use smokeless tobacco, stop immediately.  Finally, if your LDL and total cholesterol levels are high, then, once again, you need to be more careful about what you eat.  (The cancer-preventing foods and diets that I discuss in my book have also been linked to lower levels of blood cholesterol, as well as a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease.)  You may also need to increase your physical activity levels, and get your weight down to a healthy level, to improve your LDL and total cholesterol levels.  Once again, if these prudent lifestyle measures are not enough, by themselves, to bring your cholesterol levels down into the normal range, then your doctor may need to add a cholesterol-lowering medication as well.

The striking results of this important cardiovascular disease prevention study provide all of us with the key to maximally reducing our risk of developing—and dying from—largely preventable cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke.  Better long-term health (and a longer and more vigorous life) is within your grasp, and this study, in addition to my book, can show you the way forward.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!



Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 








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Green Tea Epicatechin Reduces Heart Damage & CHF

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”


GREEN TEA EPICATECHIN REDUCE HEART DAMAGE & CHF

Epicatechin is a member of a group of dietary antioxidants known as flavonoids.  Epicatechin is found in a variety of plant-based foods, but is particularly abundant in green tea and dark chocolate. 

Regular readers of this column are already familiar with previous research studies suggesting that green tea flavonoids, including epicatechin, have been linked to a potential decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as decreased blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure (hypertension).  Now, an innovative new laboratory research study has suggested that daily epicatechin supplements may dramatically reduce heart damage, and the risk of congestive heart failure (CHF), following heart attacks (myocardial infarction).

In this study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, laboratory rats underwent surgical blockage of their main coronary artery, which reproduces the acute blockage of human coronary arteries that cause heart attacks (myocardial infarctions).  In one group of rats, daily oral supplements of epicatechin (1 mg/kg per day) were started prior to tying off the rats’ coronary arteries, and were continued after coronary artery ligation.  In a second group of “control” rats, daily water supplements (without epicatechin) were started 10 days prior to coronary artery ligation.  Yet another “control group” of rats underwent “sham surgery,” wherein the chest wall was surgically opened (as with the other two groups of rats), but the coronary arteries were not tied off.  In this group of rats, daily epicatechin supplements were also started 10 days before their sham operations were performed.

When the hearts of these laboratory animals were evaluated 48 hours after their surgically induced heart attacks, the animals that had received daily epicatechin supplements (before and after coronary artery ligation) were found to have 52 percent less permanently damaged heart muscle (myocardial infarction) when compared to the animals that received only daily “placebo” water supplements.  Moreover, these “control” animals, that underwent coronary artery ligation but did not receive epicatechin supplements, were observed to develop signs of CHF, as was expected, following the surgical induction of a massive heart attack.  Amazingly, the animals that were pretreated with epicatechin prior to surgical ligation of the main coronary artery did not display evidence of CHF (these animals’ heart function did not significantly differ from that of the “sham surgery” rats that did not have their coronary arteries tied off)!

At 3 weeks after coronary artery ligation, the rats that had received epicatechin supplements, in addition to coronary artery ligation, had, on average, a 33 percent decrease in the extent of dead heart muscle (myocardial infarction) when compared to the “placebo control” animals that received only water supplements (but no epicatechin) before and after coronary artery ligation.  Once again, there was a significant incidence of CHF in the rats that received only water supplements, in addition to coronary artery ligation, 3 weeks after surgical induction of myocardial infarction, while the animals that received epicatechin supplements in addition to coronary artery ligation retained normal heart function (similar to what was observed in the “sham surgery” rats that did not have their coronary arteries ligated).

 

This is quite an amazing research study, as the protective effects of daily epicatechin supplementation following ligation of the main coronary artery in rats was profoundly significant, and essentially prevented the onset of CHF in these laboratory animals.  If epicatechin was to be shown to have similar “cardio-protective” effects in humans, then this would enormously increase the potential role of epicatechin, and other related green tea and dark chocolate flavonoids, in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease!Fortunately, there are several clinical research studies that are evaluating the potential cardio-protective effects of epicatechins, and other green tea and dark chocolate flavonoids, in patients with elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and other conditions that are associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack.  (At least one other study is also evaluating these same dietary flavonoids in patients who already have CHF.)

Meanwhile, green tea is well tolerated by most people, and if there are no preexisting medical illnesses that prevent you from drinking green tea, then a few cups or glasses of green tea a day may help to decrease your risk of heart attack and CHF.  (As always, however, I must remind readers that laboratory experiments with rats and mice often do not translate to human beings once the same treatments are evaluated in high-quality prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research trials with human volunteers.)

 

To learn more about the role of green tea, dark chocolate, epicatechin, and other dietary flavonoids in the prevention of cancer, look for the publication of my new landmark book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the summer of this year.



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 1000,000 new and returning readers who visit our premier global health information website every month.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.



 

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