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I’ve Backed ‘Cereal Killers – The Movie’ – What About You?

Published on June 18, 2013,

A new film is being put together following 41 year old Irish man on his quest to avoid the heart disease and diabetes that has afflicted his family. The film features some noted personalities who have appeared on this site including Professor Tim Noakes and Dr John Briffa. It sets out to show that everything we have been taught about nutrition is the wrong way round and looks into the vested interests behind the myths that suggest carbohydrates are good and fats are bad. The film has been made and now there is a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the final touches and launch. I’ve backed the project – have a look at this and see if you fancy ‘starting a storm’ too…

(please refresh page if video does not appear…)

See more about the project at the Kickstarter page - you can help by pledging less than the cost of your morning coffee!

Cereal Killers backer

Statins: Side Effects Could Be Much More Common Than Statistics Suggest and They Could Cause Diabetes

Published on March 20, 2013,

Two recent online articles have shone a light onto both the nature of and the scale of side effects of the cholesterol lowering drugs statins. The Diet Doctor looks at a recent acknowledgement by the Swedish catalogue of approved drugs that diabetes is a possible side effect of statins, whilst Dr Briffa explains why side-effects from statins could actually be much higher than official statistics suggest…

Drugs and Medications

First this is from the Diet Doctor…

Cholesterol-lowering drugs, so called statins, may decrease the risk for heart disease somewhat. But they may also lead to side effects, such as: muscle pain, muscle fatigue, disorientation and a lower IQfatigue, impotence and so on.

One side effect that has long been known is that statins increase the risk of developing diabetes. You could, for example, have read about this on my Swedish blog three years ago and in my Swedish book The Food rEvolution, 2011. Now, a few years later, it’s been added as a “very important” update of the text in the Swedish catalogue of approved drugs, FASS: Diabetes is a possible side effect.

Hence another reason not to spread statins far and wide to heart-healthy individuals with “high cholesterol” – which is often defined as 200 mg/dl and above. Most of the healthy population has a total cholesterol number above 200 mg/dl, so this is one of the more obvious cases of disease mongering (the “selling of sickness”) you can imagine.

When it comes to heart disease (angina, previous heart attack) the benefit of statin treatment might be worth the risk. But if you treat your normal cholesterol number with statins you risk getting diabetes for no good reason. Does this sound like a good idea? Hardly, but it happens many times every day.

More at:  Statins May Cause Diabetes

Then Dr Briffa considers why side effects might be much more prevalent than suggested…

I was interested to read about a recent review in which the frequency of adverse effects from statins was assessed over time. The authors of this study make the point that when side effects occur, these can often come on quite soon after therapy is commenced (just as in the man referred to above). However, they also point out that side effects can be delayed for several years too. The relatively short duration of studies leads the authors to conclude that it is: “…impossible to determine with certainty the frequency of long-term side effects with these drugs.”

In reality, though, there’s a pretty good chance those who start statins will not be taking them in the long term. That’s because about three-quarters of people who start statins promptly stop them within a year. And last year, a poll conducted by drug company Eli Lilly discovered that the most common reason for people discontinuing their statin was side-effects. In fact, 62 per cent of people cited this as the reason. By my reckoning, it seems that getting on for half of people will stop their statin within a year of starting because of side effects.

Despite this sort of data, we are often assured that the side-effects from statins are ‘rare’. In fact, if you look at the studies in which people are treated with statins, this generally appears to hold true. However, there’s a number of ways in which the design of studies can downplay the risk of side effects. Here’s a few:

1. short duration and ‘early termination’ of studies (this also tends to exaggerate benefits)

2. screening out those susceptible to side effects before the study begins

3. logging side effects only if there’s extreme deviation from normal biochemistry (some studies only log side effects once biochemical markers are several times the upper limit of normal)

4. not looking for certain side effects in the first place

These devices help explain the disparity between what studies show in terms of statin side effects, and our apparent experience in the real world. My own experience (and that of many doctors I speak too) tells me that statin side effects are much more common than official statistics would have us believe.

More, including study references at: Some reasons why the side effects of statins are likely to be much more common than official statistics suggest

Study Finds Dietary Fibre is More Likely to Cause Rather Than Cure Constipation

Published on March 14, 2013,

Dr Briffa has been taking a look at a new study examining the impact of dietary fibre on people with constipation. His concludes that fruits, vegetables and so-called ‘healthy wholegrains’ are more likely the cause rather than a cure. This is from Dr Briffa…

Dr Briffa Escape The Diet TrapI get a sense that almost all individuals feel better for having regular, easy, complete bowel motions. Should someone be having problems in this area, the usual first-line approach is to up the intake of fibre. This can come in the form of fruits and vegetables, but many will see ‘healthy wholegrains’ such as wholemeal bread and high bran breakfast cereals as good and convenient options. However, a recent study suggests that if overcoming a sluggish bowel is the aim, one of the last things we should be doing is upping our fibre intake.

The study focused on 63 adult (average age 47) individuals who had persistent constipation for which no medical cause could be identified. Stool (bowel motion) frequency was less than once every three days for at least three months. All participants were on a high-fibre diet and/or were taking fibre supplements.

Study participants were instructed to adopt a low-fibre diet, and specifically to eliminate fruit, vegetables, breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread and brown rice for two weeks. After this, participants were asked to continue eating as little fibre as possible if this helped their symptoms.

6 months after the start of the study, 41 patients had persisted with the ‘no-fibre’ diet, 16 were eating a reduced fibre diet, and 6 were on a high-fibre diet for a variety of reasons (including being vegetarian or religious reasons).

  • In the 41 patients on the no-fibre diet, average bowel frequency had increased from an average of once every 3.75 days to once every day.
  • In the 16 patients on the reduced-fibre diet, average bowel frequency had increased from an average of once every 4.19 days to once every 1.9 days.
  • In the 6 patients who remained on a high-fibre diet, bowel frequency was once a week initially, and it remained the same on the high-fibre diet (as expected).

Symptoms of bloating occurred in 0 and 31 per cent of the low- and reduced-fibre eaters respectively. Of those on the no-fibre diet, no one had to strain to pass a stool. Abdominal pain also improved in this group and any anal bleeding they had resolved completely.

The authors of this study start their discussion of these results with these words:

This study has confirmed that the previous strongly-held belief that the application of dietary fiber to help constipation is but a myth.

They then go on to attempt to explain their findings:

It is well known that increasing dietary fiber increases fecal bulk and volume. Therefore in patients where there is already difficulty in expelling large fecal boluses through the anal sphincter, it is illogical to actually expect that bigger or more feces will ameliorate this problem. More and bulkier fecal matter can only aggravate the difficulty by making the stools even bigger and bulkier. Several reviews and a meta-analysis had already shown that dietary fiber does not improve constipation in patients with irritable bowel diseases.

The authors also provide this handy analogy:

The role of dietary fiber in constipation is analogous to cars in traffic congestion. The only way to alleviate slow traffic would be to decrease the number of cars and to evacuate the remaining cars quickly. Should we add more cars, the congestion would only be worsened. Similarly, in patients with idiopathic constipation [constipation of no known cause] and a colon packed with feces, reduction in dietary fiber would reduce fecal bulk and volume and make evacuation of the smaller and thinner feces easier. Adding dietary fiber would only add to the bulk and volume and thus make evacuation even more difficult.

It’s difficult to argue with the logic of this, nor the results they achieved in their study subjects.

More (including study reference details) at:  Study finds dietary fibre is more likely to be cause of, rather than a cure for, constipation and other bowel symptoms

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