George Carlin, Gone at 71


The world just got less funny. At 71 years old, legendary funnyman and comic genius George Carlin has died. He succumbed to heart failure this Sunday. Mel Watkins of The New York Times reports:
The cause of death was heart failure. Mr. Carlin, who had a history of heart problems, went into the hospital on Sunday afternoon after complaining of heart trouble. The comedian had worked last weekend at The Orleans in Las Vegas.

Recently, Mr. Carlin was named the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He was to receive the award at the Kennedy Center in November. “In his lengthy career as a comedian, writer, and actor, George Carlin has not only made us laugh, but he makes us think,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Kennedy Center chairman. “His influence on the next generation of comics has been far-reaching.”

Mr. Carlin began his standup comedy act in the late 1950s and made his first television solo guest appearance on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1965. At that time, he was primarily known for his clever wordplay and reminiscences of his Irish working-class upbringing in New York.

But from the outset there were indications of an anti-establishment edge to his comedy. Initially, it surfaced in the witty patter of a host of offbeat characters like the wacky sportscaster Biff Barf and the hippy-dippy weatherman Al Sleet. “The weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused with a Mexican high. Tonight’s forecast . . . dark, continued mostly dark tonight turning to widely scattered light in the morning.”
George Carlin was a hero of mine. Thankfully I had the privilege of seeing him perform a few years ago. Heart failure, makes me wonder if it was preventable. Goodbye George.

Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol


Jacki Donaldson of That’sFit dishes some tips for lowering your cholesterol. Have a look:
  • Cut down on saturated fat and trans fats and eat good fats in moderation -- they still have lots of calories.
  • Limit calories -- eating too much can lead to weight gain, which increases your risk of high cholesterol.
  • Eat sparingly all high cholesterol foods, like egg yolks, shrimp, and organ meats.
  • Consider a Mediterranean-style diet, which is low in saturated and trans fats and allows for a healthy intake of unsaturated fats from fish and nuts.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week -- while it won't lower your cholesterol on its own, it can keep your weight down and reduce other cardiovascular risks.
Dr. Fuhrman’s not keen on the Mediterranean diet, but they’re decent suggestions. Actually, here’s a great tip from Dr. Fuhrman, Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally:
Though saturated fat is the most heart-disease-promoting substance in animal products, it is not merely saturated fat and cholesterol in animal products that is the problem. Animal protein raises cholesterol too. Those who cut out red meat and instead eat plenty of chicken and fish do not see substantial changes in their cholesterol levels or a profound reduction in cardiac events.1

If you are looking for maximum protection from heart disease, your diet must receive 90 to 100 percent of its calories from unrefined plant foods. If you choose to include a small amount of animal products in your diet, white meat chicken and white meat turkey are better choices, but if you have more than one or two servings a week, you are not going to see optimal results. One serving of a non-polluted fish a week, and one serving of white meat fowl is the maximum amount of animal products permitted. Any more than that will prevent the huge drop in cholesterol level and heart disease risk observed from eating a plant-based diet style.
The exercise tip is funny. 60 minutes a day would be a vacation for me! Continue Reading...

Stress Tests Fail to Determine Heart Attack Risk


By now you probably already know, but the much beloved host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert, has died. He collapsed from a heart attack at the NBC News studio in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Nicole Weisensee Egan of People Magazine reports:
In a statement detailing autopsy results, Dr. Michael Newman said his famous patient had passed a stress test on April 29 and had even worked out on a treadmill the morning of his death.

"Russert, age 58, was known to have asymptomatic coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), which resulted in hardening of his coronary arteries," Newman said. "The autopsy revealed an enlarged heart and significant atherosclerosis of the left anterior descending coronary artery with (a) fresh clot which caused a heart attack resulting in a fatal ventricular arrhythmia…"

…Dr. Cyril Wecht, a nationally renowned forensic pathologist, said Newman's description of why Russert died makes sense. "The left anterior descending artery is well known among pathologists as the widow-maker," he tells PEOPLE. "That tells you a lot, doesn't it? It's a classical situation that one encounters with great frequency in sudden unexpected death where you get a blood clot, or a thrombosis, or bleeding and if he had an enlarged heart, that adds to it."

Clots can be caused by any number of things, he said. "Sometimes it's associated with stress and exertion, physical and/or emotional," he said. "Was he flying a long time? Was he tired? People shoveling snow in the wintertime can get them. People working excessively hard. Or people under great physical and/or emotional stress and that can include flying."
He PASSED his stress test, how could that be? If he checked out okay, how could be dead a couple months later? Something doesn't seem right. I called Dr. Fuhrman and asked him about stress tests. Here’s what he had to say:
A stress test is not an accurate test for determining the risk of a heart attack. A stress test only identifies obstructions, it doesn't identify vulnerable plaque—the plaque that is likely to throw a clot. A stress test can only detect a blockage of more than 80% and the propensity of plaque to rupture has nothing to do with the amount of obstruction. You could have a completely normal stress test and then have a heart attack the next day.1 Juvenile plaque, which is thinly laid down, has a higher propensity to rupture then the old plaque that is more obstructive.


Cardiologists' attempt to intervene with cholesterol-lowering drugs hoping that cholesterol-lowering will reduce the thickness of the lipid pool within the plaque, but it only partially reduces risk. Over fifty percent of Americans still die of heart attacks and strokes. About 70 percent of the clots that cause death are formed in areas of the heart with non-obstructing lesions, not visible to cardiac testing and not treatable with stenting or bypass.

Stress tests are big money-makers for doctors. They identify those people with large blockages who qualify as candidates for costly angioplasty or bypass surgery. However, drugs and medical procedures reduce risk only slightly. There is a more effective option. People who normalize their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol through nutritional excellence and exercise don't have heart attacks.
Dr. Fuhrman makes it pretty clear. Protection against cardiovascular disease will not be found by a scalpel or in a bottle of pills. The best way to prevent heart disease is through aggressive dietary intervention; specifically a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet. He explains:
A high nutrient, plant-based diet is more effective at lowering cholesterol than drugs, but also the weight loss, blood pressure lowering and reduction of oxidative stress from the high levels of micronutrients are all important factors in dramatically lowering one’s risk of heart disease.2 Their have been numerous medical studies to document that dietary intervention is more effective than drugs, and that heart disease is preventable and reversible.3,4 That’s why my patients with advanced heart disease get well and never have heart disease again.
Maybe if less focus is placed on pointless money-making procedures that only promote a false sense of security, millions of Americans, like Tim Russert, wouldn’t die needlessly each year.
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Arthritis Bad for the Heart


According to a new report rheumatoid arthritis can double your heart attack and stroke risk. More from Reuters:
A report by a medical task force to the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Paris concluded the risk was comparable to that associated with type 2 diabetes, which is already an established cardiovascular risk factor.

Dr Michael Nurmohamed , leader of the task force, said the inflammatory processes underlying rheumatoid arthritis appeared to increase patients' risk of serious heart problems.

"There is mounting evidence that inflammation may be the missing link," he said in a statement.

As a result, giving patients cholesterol-lowering statin medicines and anti-hypertensives to reduce blood pressure may yield greater benefits than in the general population, he added.
This will make you think twice about your achy joints.

Pomegranate Juice Good for the Little Man


New research claims that drinking pomegranate juice can help with erectile dysfunction. Chris Sparling of That’s Fit passes it along:
Pomegranate juice has for quite some time been touted for its antioxidant properties. Citing heart health as a primary benefit of its ability to help prevent free radical damage, many people made the switch to this more expensive juice in recent years…

…A University of California study revealed that drinking a glass of pomegranate juice every day helps erectile dysfunction. It turns out that the same antioxidant properties that help ward off free radical damage also prevent circulatory issues, thus offering a wee bit of help to the fellas who need it.
I drink a shot of pomegranate juice everyday, but not for this reason! Now, Dr. Fuhrman is a big fan of pomegranates. Take a look:
Not only are pomegranates good for your heart and blood vessels but they have been shown to inhibit breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia and to prevent vascular changes that promote tumor growth in lab animals.1


Pomegranates' potent antioxidant compounds have also been shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.2 Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.

Pomegranate juice has also been found to contain phytochemical compounds that stimulate serotonin and estrogen receptors, improving symptoms of depression and improving bone mass in lab animals.3

Given the fact that pomegranate juice is so rich in heart protective compounds and there are animal studies to support the beneficial findings in human studies, it makes the results of these recent investigations understandable and believable. Pomegranate is a powerful food for good health.
So, why not give these pomegranate inspired recipes a try: Got Pomegranate?
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Low Vitamin D, More Heart Attacks in Men


Apparently low levels of vitamin D can double a man’s risk of having a heart attack. Martin Mittelstaedt of Globe and Mail reports:
The findings, published yesterday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, may help shed light on why many people with no known risk factors - such as high blood pressure or smoking - inexplicably develop heart attacks. It also suggests it may be possible to reduce the incidence of the often fatal condition by popping an inexpensive pill that is widely available in pharmacies and supplement stores.

"It's an important finding," says Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, one of the researchers.

"It does indicate that even individuals without the standard risk factors for heart disease may be at somewhat higher risk if they have lower vitamin D levels," he said.

Dr. Giovannucci said vitamin D may be beneficial by reducing the buildup of plaque in arteries, one of the causes of heart attacks.

The possible link between vitamin D insufficiency and heart attacks is among a growing number of recent medical observations about the nutrient, which is often dubbed the sunshine vitamin because it can be created in people's skin when it is exposed to strong ultraviolet light, in addition to being available in a pill form.
Shameless plug, but Dr. Fuhrman sells a great vitamin D, its called Osteo–Sun.

Clean Teeth, Healthy Heart!


According to a new study having good oral hygiene lowers your risk of developing bacterial disease in your heart valves. HealthDay News reports:
In the study of 290 dental patients, researchers analyzed the amount of bacteria released into the bloodstream (bacteremia) during tooth brushing and tooth extraction, with and without antibiotics. Blood samples were taken from the patients before, during and after these activities, and analyzed for bacterial species associated with IE.

The researchers found the incidence of IE-related bacteremia from tooth brushing (23 percent) was closer to that of extraction than expected -- 33 percent for extraction with antibiotics and 60 percent for extraction without antibiotics.

"This suggests that bacteria get into the bloodstream hundreds of times a year, not only from tooth brushing, but also from other routine activities like chewing food," study author Peter Lockhart, chairman of the department of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., said in a prepared statement.

"While the likelihood of bacteremia is lower with brushing, these routine daily activities likely pose a greater risk for IE simply due to frequency: that is, bacteremia from brushing twice a day for 365 days a year versus once or twice a year for dental office visits involving teeth cleaning, or fillings or other procedures," Lockhart said.
That’s why every 4 months you’ll find me digging my nails into a dentist chair getting scraped and cleaned—eek!

Heart Health: No Point in Monitoring Blood Sugar?


New research contends that individuals with type-2 diabetes do not lower their heart attack and stroke risk by controlling their blood sugar. More from Gina Kolata of The New York Times:
The results provide more details and bolster findings reported in February, when one of the studies, by the National Institutes of Health, ended prematurely. At that time, researchers surprised diabetes experts with the announcement that study participants who were rigorously controlling their blood sugar actually had a higher death rate than those whose blood sugar control was less stringent.

Now the federal researchers are publishing detailed data from that study for the first time. Researchers in the second study, from Australia and involving participants from 20 countries, are also publishing their results on blood sugar and cardiovascular disease. That study did not find an increase in deaths, but neither did it find any protection from cardiovascular disease with rigorous blood sugar control.

Thus both studies failed to confirm a dearly held hypothesis that people with Type 2 diabetes could be protected from cardiovascular disease if they strictly controlled their blood sugar.

It was a hypothesis that seemed almost obvious. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 65 percent of deaths among people with Type 2 diabetes. And since diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood sugar, the hope was that if people with diabetes could just get their blood sugar as close to normal as possible, their cardiovascular disease rate would be nearly normal as well.
Dr. Fuhrman was not impressed by this report. His thoughts:
That is because when you are an overweight diabetic the metabolic consequences are not the blood sugar alone and taking drugs is not the answer. Some of the drugs (especially insulin) cause weight gain and make the metabolic syndrome worse. Losing weight, exercising and eating high on the nutrient density line is the answer, not more medications.
Not more medications! But how will the drug companies make bigger profits?

Heart Health: Sprint or the Long Haul


A new study claims short high-intensity workouts are just as heath health as endurance training. The New York Times Well blog is on it:
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada recruited 20 healthy men and women whose average age was 23. All of the study subjects rode stationary bikes. Some exercised five days a week, doing 40 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling. Others did four to six sets of 30-second sprints on the cycle, allowing 4.5 minutes of recovery time between sets; their total exercise time was about 15 to 25 minutes just three days a week.

After six weeks, the researchers found that the intense sprint interval training improved the structure and function of arteries as much as traditional, longer endurance exercise.

“More and more, professional organizations are recommending interval training during rehabilitation from diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, peripheral artery disease and cardiovascular disease,'’ said Maureen MacDonald, academic advisor and an associate professor in the department of kinesiology.
I do both. I run for a steady pace and then I sprint the last leg—it’s not how you start, but how you finish! Here’s more on my exercise routine: Blogging and Dieting, a Follow Up.

Salt, Not a Big Deal?


This sounds a little nutty, but a new study claims that a low-salt diet might not be heart healthy after all. More from Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News:
"No one should run out and buy a salt shaker to try to improve their cardiovascular health. But we think it's reasonable to say that different people have different needs," said study author Dr. Hillel W. Cohen, an associate professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The study, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, doesn't confirm that a low-salt diet itself is bad for the heart. But it does say that people who eat the least salt suffer from the highest rates of death from cardiac disease.

"Our findings suggest that one cannot simply assume, without evidence, that lower salt diets 'can't hurt,' " Cohen said.

Cohen and his colleagues looked at a federal health survey of about 8,700 Americans between 1988 and 1994. All were over 30, and none were on special low-salt diets.

The researchers then checked to see what happened to the volunteers by the year 2000.

Even after the researchers adjusted their statistics to account for the effect of cardiac risk factors like smoking and diabetes, the 25 percent of the population who ate the least salt were 80 percent more likely to die of cardiac disease than the 25 percent who ate the most salt.
Yeah, I wouldn’t start downing the salt anytime soon. Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of salt. Here are his thoughts on salt and health:
For maximum disease prevention, sodium levels should be held to the levels that are normal to our biological needs—under 1000 mg per day. High-sodium diets lead to high blood pressure, which causes an estimated two-thirds of all strokes and almost half of all heart attacks. According to the National Institute of Health. Consuming less sodium is one of the single most important ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.1 The most commonly cited behaviors that lead to maximal health and disease prevention and reversal are: not smoking; maintaining a healthy, slim body weight; eating a high-nutrient-dense diet rich in vegetables and fruits; and limiting trans fat and saturated fat. But avoiding excess sodium ranks right up there alongside them. Excess sodium consumption is a primary killer in our modern toxic food environment, but it is all too often overlooked by most people until it is too late to do anything about it.


Natural foods contain about .5 mg of sodium per calorie or less. If you are trying to keep the sodium level in your diet to a safe level, avoid foods that have more sodium than calories per serving. It would be impossible to consume too much (or too little) sodium if a person just ate a healthful diet of real food in its natural state.

If your daily intake of whole natural foods consists of about 2000 calories, your daily intake of sodium will be less than 1000 mg. By comparison, the average adult sodium intake in the United States is around 4000 mg for every 2000 calories consumed. Americans are not alone in their dangerous over-consumption of sodium. Most of the world’s population consumes 2300–4600 mg of sodium each day (1–2 teaspoons of salt).

I suggest that you should not add more than 200–300 mg of extra sodium to your diet over and above what is in natural foods. That allows you to have one serving of something each day that has some sodium added to it, but all other foods should have only the sodium that Mother Nature put in them.
I think what the research is should say is that a crappy diet without salt isn’t that much better than a crappy diet with salt.
Continue Reading...

Thursday: Health Points


Using surveillance of hospital staff to observe the ways the wipes are used routinely, researchers discovered hospital workers were using the same antimicrobial wipe on many surfaces, from bed rails to monitors, tables, and keypads. One wipe was frequently used to wipe down several surfaces or to wipe down the same surface repeatedly before being thrown away.

The research team then replicated the disinfecting methods they’d observed for laboratory analysis. The lab findings showed that some wipes were more effective than others at removing bacteria from hard surfaces but they did not kill them. When the bacteria-laden wipe was used repeatedly on one surface or on several, it spread the bacteria instead of eliminating it.
The Agriculture Department, which detected the flu in samples tested at its Ames, Iowa, laboratories, said the H7N3 strain of influenza isn't dangerous to humans. Although the Tyson flock of 15,000 chickens is being destroyed, regulators aren't blocking U.S. consumers from eating chicken raised in Arkansas, the largest poultry-producing state after Georgia.


The Tyson label has been a point of contention and confusion since it was cleared by the Agriculture Department in May 2007. As the department was moving to rescind the label, Tyson officials tried to beat regulators to the punch by announcing earlier this week that it was "voluntarily" withdrawing the label.

Removing the label quickly is a logistical and financial headache for Tyson, which said Tuesday that the Agriculture Department's June 18 deadline is "unrealistic." Tyson says it has "several months" of chicken labeled "antibiotic-free" in storage.

Agriculture Minister Chung Woon-chun said earlier Tuesday that Seoul had asked the U.S. to refrain from exporting any beef from cattle 30 months of age and older, considered at greater risk of the illness.


Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said the president told a weekly Cabinet meeting that "it is natural not to bring in meat from cattle 30 months of age and older as long as the people do not want it."

The spokesman also expressed hope that the United States would respect South Korea's position following large-scale anti-government protests over the weekend.
The risk of being hospitalized was greatest among babies 6 months old and younger, but the increased risk persisted up until the children were 8 years old, Dr. M. K. Kwok of the University of Hong Kong and colleagues found. Children who were premature or low birth weight were particularly vulnerable.


The findings suggest that secondhand smoke exposure may not only be harmful to children's respiratory tracts, but to their immune systems as well, Kwok and colleagues say.

Hong Kong banned smoking in public places in 2007, but babies and children may still be exposed to secondhand smoke at home, the researchers note in their report in the journal Tobacco Control. While the danger smoke exposure poses to children's developing respiratory systems is well understood, less is known about its effects on overall infection risks.

Scientists previously thought that fat cells were relatively passive and inert. Now they have evidence that fat cells are metabolically active, continuously communicating with the brain and other organs through at least 25 hormones and other signaling chemicals.


For example, fat cells seem to release hormones that inform the brain how much energy is left and when to stop (or start) eating, guide muscles in deciding when to burn fat and tell the liver when to replenish its fat stores.

All this cross talk can be a mixed blessing in the body, however. A healthy population of fat cells, for example, helps the immune system fight off infection by releasing chemicals that cause mild inflammation. But an overactive group of fat cells might keep the inflammation permanently in the "on" position, eventually leading to heart disease.
Adult-onset asthma, like other inflammatory diseases that disproportionately affect women such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, may be a relatively strong risk factor for heart disease and stroke, Dr. Stephen J. Onufrak from the US Department of Agriculture, Stoneville, Mississippi told Reuters Health.


Onufrak and colleagues used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study to examine the association of asthma with the risks of heart disease and stroke according to gender.

They found that, compared with their counterparts without asthma, women with adult-onset asthma had a 2.10-fold increase in the rate of heart disease and a 2.36-fold increase in the rate of stroke.

There was no association between childhood- or adult-onset asthma and heart disease or stroke in men, or between childhood-onset asthma and heart or stroke in women.

Researchers found that among 9,100 middle-aged men at higher-than- average risk of heart disease, those with gout were more likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular cause over 17 years.


The findings should give men with gout extra incentive to have a doctor assess their cardiac risks, lead researcher Dr. Eswar Krishnan told Reuters Health.

And if they have modifiable risk factors -- like high cholesterol, high blood pressure or excess pounds -- it will be particularly important to get them under control, noted Krishnan, an assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Give Yourself Permission to Do Less.
If you're struggling to exercise at all, bribe yourself with a mini-workout--it's better than none. You may not need to, once you get going, but the "permission" should be sincere. It's not the end of the world to shave off 10 minutes of cardio or skip a few strength training exercises. Check your routine for duplicate exercises that work the same muscles --you may be able to alternate rather than doing them all every time. If the thought of an easier workout gets you out the door, it's well worth doing "less" sometimes.


Change Routes and Routines.
Another obvious tip, but one we don't do often enough. If you exercise outdoors and have found the "best" route available for your run or walk, it can be tempting to just stick to it until you are totally sick of it but don't even realize it. Find new routes, or if there are none, revisit rejects that seemed too hilly or busy or boring--they may make a good change of pace even if they're not perfect.

Bacon: Bad Just Got Worse!

Now I’ve seen it all. Someone actually figured out how to bacon MORE unhealthy! Presenting, canned bacon. Via MREdepot.com:


Please don’t tell me our soldiers are actually eating this garbage! Just look at bacon’s poor nutrient scores. From Dr. Fuhrman’s Food Scoring Guide:



And remember this report linking stomach cancer-risk to processed meats, like sausage, smoked ham, and bacon. Here’s a bit:
A review of 15 studies showed the risk of developing stomach cancer rose by 15 to 38 percent if consumption of processed meats increased by 30 grams (1 ounce) per day, the Karolinska Institute said in a statement…

…The institute said processed meats were often salted or smoked, or had nitrates added to them, in order to extend their shelf-life which could be connected to the increased risk of stomach cancer, the fourth most common type of cancer.
And of course Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of over-consuming animal products:
Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
I wonder who gets up in the morning and says, “Gee, I could really go for some canned salt and fat!” Yuck