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930 Why Vitamin E Is Not a Waste of Time, but Beta Blockers Are and Ear Tubes Might Be

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click here if you cannot view audio player: PP-930VitEEarTube.mp3

Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here's what it's about:

It is hardly any wonder so many people feel confused and discouraged about the health headlines. One week we are told that vitamins are worthless and a complete waste of time and money. The very next week, research appears showing that supplemental vitamin E can help delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease better than a medication doctors prescribe for that purpose. What should we believe?

The new guidelines for blood pressure treatment suggest beta blockers such as atenolol, metoprolol and propranolol should not be the first choice in treating hypertension. Millions of Americans take such medicines for blood pressure, but the evidence against beta blockers has been available for some time. We talk with a physician whose research demonstrated problems with this class of drugs several years ago.   

For years, parents were urged to have tubes placed in the ears of children with recurrent ear infections. This intervention was supposed to improve hearing and with it learning over the long term. A new study from the University of North Carolina shows only a short-term impact of ear tubes, though. We talk with the head researcher to get his perspective.

When people have problems with a generic drug, the FDA requests certain information on the report to help them track it down. The trouble is, those data aren't included on most pill bottles we get from the pharmacy. Joe rants.

Call in your questions and comments at 888-472-3366 or email radio@peoplespharmacy.com between 7 and 8 am EDT.

Guests: Mary Sano, PhD, is Director of the Alzheimer Disease Research Center and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she is also Associate Dean of Clinical Research. In addition, she is Director of Research at the James J Peters VAMC in Bronx, NY. Her research on vitamin E for treating mild Alzheimer's disease was published in JAMA.

Franz Messerli, MD, FACC, FACP, is Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University college of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. The JNC 8 Guidelines for treating high blood pressure were published in JAMA.

Michael Steiner, MD, is chief of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. His article reviewing research on the long-term consequences of ear tubes was published in Pediatrics.

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

 

 

 

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I have high blood pressure that I'm having trouble getting down, I am sure because I can't seem to exercise regularly. I started taking the diuretic, but that lowered my potassium levels too much so I ended up taking lisinopril with no side effects that I can tell, but my blood pressure wasn't as low as I wanted.

Last year I read an article online that reported on a study that showed that people with HBP who take Beta blockers have a much lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease. My mother just died of Alzheimer's at the age of 95. Since there is a 50/50 chance of getting it if we live to age 85 I believe this is something that should concern all of us. I also am at increased risk , because I found out by taking the Berkeley particle size test that I have an APOE 3/4 . I didn't hear anyone discuss this study in the discussion of meds for HBP. Any thoughts?

Hi Terry and Joe -- Just heard this week's show. One fellow called in to discourse about vitamin K. When he was done, Joe also spoke some about vitamin K. Almost NObody manages to speak clearly about vitamin K, and on this occasion neither the caller nor Joe did either. Here is a one-page attempt to do better.

There are two natural forms of vitamin K: K1 is necessary for normal blood clotting; in the past it was called simply "vitamin K". K2, the relatively new guy, works together with vitamin D to put calcium into the bones and to keep calcium out of the arteries and soft tissues.

Vitamin K1 comes from green plants; anyone who eats a reasonable amount of green vegetables like kale and spinach probably has enough K1. Vitamin K2 comes from animal foods and from certain fermented foods. (Some interconversion occurs in the body, but not much. A little K2 is formed in the intestines, but not much.)

Meat and dairy contain K2 if they come from animals fed on grass. But almost all commercial meat and dairy are now from animals fed grains and soy. So most Americans are deficient in K2. (Some cheeses provide K2, but most Americans do not eat such cheeses regularly.)

K2 is a crucial nutrient. To begin, K2 seems to be essential to skeletal health. It sustains bone mineral density and helps prevent fractures. Together with vitamin D and calcium, K2 is important for both prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

K2's ability to protect against heart disease is also clearly established. Research seems to be moving toward redefining heart disease largely as a deficiency of K2. Adequate intake of K2 is associated with reduced risk of aortic calcification, heart disease mortality, and all-cause mortality. K2 also protects against kidney stones.

Most of this is quite new, and there likely are a number of other functions of K2. For example, cell experiments suggest that K2 has powerful anti-carcinogenic properties, especially against leukemia.

There is no standard lab test for K2 status. The lack of a test is not a big problem, since deficiency is almost certainly the rule, and because no toxicity has ever been reported, even at doses thousands of times what is needed.

What can be done? Most people are not going to go to continuing trouble and expense to obtain grass-fed meat and dairy. A supplement (one without K1, which should not be supplemented) is perhaps the simplest measure to recommend. To avoid having this comment suppressed, I mention no specific brand of supplement or of specialty food like butter oil.

Although observations of K2 go back 60 years (google: Weston Price K2), it has been identified and studied only recently. So there is nothing like the boatloads of articles that there are for vitamin D. But there’s enough to be compelling, as even a cursory search of the medical literature will show.

K2, a little like vitamin E, is a whole group of substances, not a single one (as K1 is). The big players are MK-4, from animal sources, and MK-7, from fermentation. Though substantive, I’ve omitted these and various other details from this brief write-up.

As I said at the start, almost NObody manages to speak clearly about vitamin K. My recommendation is, after saying something like, "K1 is necessary for normal blood clotting; in the past it was called simply 'vitamin K'", to never use the phrase 'vitamin K' again, but always to speak specifically of K1 or K2. Endless confusion arises from the customary practice of using 'vitamin K' to refer, often within a single discussion, to K1, K2, either, or both.

I am taking Timolol (Cosopt) for glaucoma. It apparently lowers the numbers in the measurement of eye pressure. Is there any research about the efficacy of Beta blockers in actually slowing vision loss due to glaucoma?

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