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  • Podcast update

    By Mark Schauss | June 26, 2009

    After another long hiatus, I’ve restarted my podcast and vow to keep up with a regular schedule. The latest interview is with Shari Kingston Adams who runs the Sykia Group, an educationbased marketing agency focused on the health lifestyles industry. For any health care professional who wants to improve their practice and increase the educational component of their practice, this is a can’t miss podcast.

    Future podcasts already in the works includes information about amino acids, what laboratory tests to run for over 21 different disorders and health concerns and more interviews with top people in the complementary and alternative health industry.

    Topics: Health, Laboratory Tests, Healthcare, Podcast | No Comments »

    General News From the World of Science

    By Mark Schauss | May 20, 2009

    Today’s blog is just a gathering of things I’ve learned recently while perusing the numerous journals I subscribe to.

    Topics: Uncategorized, Drugs, Health, Opinion, Research, Our World, Life, pharmaceuticals | No Comments »

    Correlation & Causation – Genetics versus Epigenetics/Metabolomics

    By Mark Schauss | May 3, 2009

    People ask me why I am not all that excited about genetic testing. I think the following explanation from Dr. H. Frederik Nijhout, Department of Biology, Duke University puts it my thoughts together perfectly. He talks about genes and what they really do and how our behavior and environment are as important, if not more so than the existence of a specific gene.

    “Think about using a key to open, then turn on a car. The key doesn’t actually control the car but it can be thought to be correlative to the control. The key must be turned and used to turn on the car. It is a stimulus from the outside influences – a human – that makes it work, the true controller and causation of the car turning on and moving. the gene is just a key that needs outside stimulus (environment) to turn on.”

    He further goes on to say – “When a gene product is needed, a signal from its environment, not an emergent property of the gene itself, activates expression of that gene.”

    This is why I feel that just because we know what the gene is, doesn’t mean it will express itself unless the outside environment triggers it and causes it to move. This is why I think it is far more important to fight environmental damage which turns on some of the “bad” genes causing cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other debilitating diseases. It’s not just about global warming, it’s about our species existence. The planet will survive, it’s us that may not the way we’re going.

    Topics: Health, Opinion, Toxicity, Global Warming, Our World | 1 Comment »

    The Tide Is Turning – Hotel Chains Going Green

    By Mark Schauss | April 15, 2009

    The green revolution was always in my opinion, a movement that was going to gain momentum not just because it was the right thing to do but because it was also the smart economic way to go. This article is another example of how businesses are realizing that greening themselves is economically beneficial. In today’s tough economic times, businesses are being forced to reduce waste and energy expenditures so they are being forced to make changes.

    While these changes are not perfect and more can be done, I really feel that the direction we are going in is correct. Change doesn’t always have to be sudden, sometimes it needs to be gradual so we can judge the full implications of our changes. An example is the removal of trans-fats from many foods on the market. No million man march necessary. People wanted the change and economically, food manufacturers were faced with the reality that unless they removed the trans-fats, they were going to lose business to the products that were removing them.

    All of us need to do something, big or small to improve our world by consuming less, demanding better and more efficient products, by spending our money at places who are trying to green their business. Don’t forget to tell then that is why you chose to use their services or buy their products. If enough people do that, we may yet save this world we live in.

    Topics: Opinion, Environment, Our World, Life | 2 Comments »

    Icecap.us, Just Who Are These Global Warming Denialists

    By Mark Schauss | April 13, 2009

    I just love it when people tell me that global warming is a sham and point to groups of so-called scientists to back up their claims such as the bunch from icecap.us. Being the eternal skeptic myself, I decided to find out who the people are at icecap so I looked over the list of adviser’s and I headed to Sourcewatch.com to find out where these people get their funding. Guess what? Yup, they are people who make their living from those who would most suffer from controls on global warming emissions.

    Let’s look at who some of these people are:

    Robert C. Balling Jr –Balling has acknowledged receiving $408,000 in research funding from the fossil fuel industry over the last decade (of which his University takes 50% for overhead). Contributors include ExxonMobil, the British Coal Corporation, Cyprus Minerals and get this OPEC!!!

    Sallie Baliunas – Between December 1998 and September 2001 she was listed as a “Scientific Adviser” to the Greening Earth Society, a group that was funded and controlled by the Western Fuels Association (WFA), an association of coal-burning utility companies.

    Robert M. Carter– Sits on the advisory board os the Institute of Public Affairs which is funded by the mining and tobacco industry along with Monsanto.

    Reid A. Bryson– While certainly a climatologist and skeptic, Dr. Bryson passed away last year yet is still listed on icecap as being a consultant. Maybe they discovered how to channel the deceased?

    To me, I’d rather follow 30,000 scientists who believe that global warming is real than a handful of industry backed people. My biggest concern is that if the skeptics are wrong and we do nothing, billions of people will suffer. Paying a little bit more for energy is well worth the expense to protect our world.

    Topics: Opinion, Environment, Websites, Global Warming, Our World | 21 Comments »

    DNA Testing – Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    By Mark Schauss | April 9, 2009

    DNA testing is the latest fad to hit the health market. Companies like Navigenics are selling test kits that will supposedly tell you if you have increased risks for developing a number of diseases like Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration and many more. From there, you can make the appropriate lifestyle changes that will bring your risk back down. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well not so fast, there are real problems with this type of testing.

    First off, say you have a 20% greater risk for developing Multiple Sclerosis that the average person. That would make you concerned right? Well, according to this article from MSNBC.com, that only would lift your risk from .3% to .5% (3 out of every 1,000 versus 5 out of every 1,000, respectively). This is inconsequential yet the lab highlighted it which would cause unwanted concern for most lay people who are not geneticists or statisticians.

    Secondly, do we really understand what all the genetic variants mean? Does one abnormality really increase the risk for developing a disease or is it really a combination of interactions that is most important? It is my belief, which is backed by a lot of research and the opinions of a lot of people in the field, that we are truly in the infancy of genetic testing and that claiming that a genes configuration means that you are more likely to develop a disease. We don’t fully fathom all the subtle nuances that make up our genes.

    Next problem lies in those supposed markers that might indicate you have a lowered risk of developing a disease. Do you then not concern yourself with the possibility of getting sick? Lifestyle and environmental causes of disease are far, far more likely to cause a disease than a supposedly abnormal gene would.

    Another problem I have is when you use the myopic line of thinking that if you have a gene that increases your risk of developing a disease and turning it off is definitely a good thing. Do we know that by turning off the gene we aren’t increasing the risk of developing another more deadly disease? We don’t.

    Here is an extreme example of this problem. People with sickle cell anemia, a life-shortening disease actually protects the person with the genetic disorder from malaria. Think of living in equatorial Africa with the high levels of malaria. Many children would have died without the sickle cell protective gene. There are literally thousands of other examples, many we are not sure of.

    In the case of breast cancer, having the bad gene is one thing, but prophylacticaly removing ones breast is an extreme case of acting on the bad gene news. Environmental and lifestyle choices such as depressed vitamin D, exposure to toxins, smoking, and alcohol intake vastly increases your risk of developing the disease, more so than the gene. If you choose to do these things, do you remove your breasts to reduce the risk of developing the disease? Of course not. Having the gene increases your risk but working to increase your vitamin D3 level, avoiding toxic exposure and detoxing regularly, not smoking and reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake would be more beneficial and would actually lower the risk to those women with the gene.

    In a nutshell, lifestyle choices have a greater impact on overall health than genetics. This is the concept of metabolomics, but that is a whole other blog.

    Topics: Health, Opinion, Laboratory Tests, Research, Environment, Toxicity, Healthcare | 3 Comments »

    Eat Local, Eat Better

    By Mark Schauss | April 3, 2009

    Eating locally is known to be better for our environment as well as our health and the local economy. The problem is finding those local co-ops, farmers markets and other resources. Well, look no further than the website Local Harvest. Here, you just type your city or zipcode into the search box and out comes the list of local organic farmers and other sustainable food sources.

    Enjoy the bountiful harvest while making the world a better place to live in.

    Topics: Health, Environment, Websites, Our World, Life, Food | 1 Comment »

    A Green Site

    By Mark Schauss | March 31, 2009

    Yahoo, has a nice little site dedicated to promoting a greener environment. Try going to it to learn what you can do to improve our world.

    One article I likedwas about water filters. It states that if a person were to get 8 glasses of water a day via bottled water, it would cost $1,400 a year. The same water from your tap would cost 49 cents. In today’s economy, that sounds like an easy way to save some serious cash. Not only that but think of all the bottles that won’t go to the landfill or end up needing to be recycled.

    The article also has a link to a site that should be visited by anyone who drinks bottled water regularly. It is called Break the Bottle Water Habit. There you can calculate how much you waste drinking water in a bottle. If that doesn’t break your habit, nothing will.

    Topics: Opinion, Websites, Our World | No Comments »

    How to Eat

    By Mark Schauss | March 30, 2009

    Michael Pollan, author of the must read books, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, was interviewed by Daniel DeNoon over at WebMD recently. He made a fantastic list of 7 rules for eating which I think everyone should follow. If you do, it is sure to improve your health dramatically.

    The 7 rules are:

    1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?” 
    2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
    3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
    4.  Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food.” Pollan says.
    5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.'”
    6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It’s a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. “Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?” Pollan asks.
    7. Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

    Following these rules just makes sense.

    Topics: Health, Food | 1 Comment »

    Possible Cautionary Use of Glycine in Prostate Cancer

    By Mark Schauss | March 17, 2009

    In the February 12, 2009 issue of Nature, researchers led by Sreekumar reported on the correlation between the progression of prostate cancer and the amino acid sarcosine. Sarcosine is derived from glycine and methionine through methylation pathways. Functionally low levels of vitamin B2, aka riboflavincan cause a build-up of sarcosine as well as low folic acid levels.

    What ramifications this study has in the treatment of prostate cancer is unclear but it should help in possibly slowing the progression through the denial of glycine and possibly methionine in the diet.

    In my comment about B2, I mention functional deficiency. I do this as opposed to a measured deficiency. The difference is that while person A and B may have the same levels in their blood, plasma or whatever fluid you are testing, person B may be functionally deficient because they may need more of the nutrient due to things like genetic polymorphisms, stress, environment or other factors. So while measuring nutrient levels may be helpful, they may not be as clinically relevant as functional markers like sarcosine.

    Topics: Health, Opinion, Supplements, Laboratory Tests, Research, Healthcare | 1 Comment »

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