Thursday, November 05, 2009

BINGO! Folic acid intake increases asthma chance by 30pc

I was very critical of dosing the whole popluation with folic acid and warned of dangerous side-effects and now we see some evidence of just that. The findings are epidemiological so are not conclusive but compulsorily dosing everyone with something requires very strong evidence of safety and that is now clearly in question

Mums who took folic acid supplements throughout their pregnancy, in a well-intentioned attempt to boost baby's health, were increasing their risk of having a child with asthma, a study has found. A groundbreaking Australian study, which could explain rising rates of the chronic lung condition, found pregnant women who overuse the supplement were 30 per cent more likely to have a child with asthma. Taking a folic acid supplement is recommended for women who intend to fall pregnant, as it is known to prevent neural tube defects during a foetus' critical first weeks in the womb.

Associate Professor Michael Davies, from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute, has uncovered an "additional and unexpected" consequence for women who also take the supplement throughout their pregnancy. "We see a substantial proportion of women taking these folate supplements throughout pregnancy and it may be because people think it is entirely benign," Dr Davies said. "Folate is incredibly important because of its role in preventing neural tube defects (like spina bifida) but because it is so important, and so bioactive, it needs to be treated with some respect as well."

Dr Davies reviewed the cases of more than 550 women who had given birth, assessing their diet and supplement intake before pregnancy and then rates of asthma among their children. For women who took the supplements according to advice - before conception and not more than several weeks into their pregnancy - there was no increased risk of asthma.

However, Dr Davies found women who took the supplement throughout their pregnancy, or from 16 to 30 weeks, increased their risk of having a child with asthma by about 30 per cent. "Our finding should be reassuring to women who take folate for the purpose of preventing neural tube defects, because we found no evidence of early supplementation (leading to asthma)," Dr Davies said. "It was really only use in later pregnancy, it was confined to that area alone ... and only for supplemental use."

Dr Davies said having a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, certain nuts and fruits known to be sources of folate (the natural form of folic acid) did not carry an asthma risk.

Childhood asthma rates have been increasing across developed countries and Dr Davies said his research showed how changing diet, and particularly the overuse of a supplement, could play a role. It also comes after mandatory fortification laws required Australia's bakers to add a small amount of folic acid to their bread products (organic flour excluded).

This move, from October, was designed to address a known folate deficiency across the community. "There is no evidence to suggest dietary sources of folate, or even folate fortification, increases the risk of asthma," Dr Davies said. "(But) that is a sensible question for further study".

The research is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.


The tiny tube that could help men beat impotence

A tiny metal tube implanted in the pelvis could transform the love lives of men who suffer erection problems. The device, not much bigger than a grain of rice, works by propping open the artery that supplies blood to the genitals. Restricted blood flow to the male sex organs is thought to be a major factor in impotence, or erectile dysfunction.

British doctors hope to carry out the first such implant within the next few months as part of a trial involving up to 30 men. A separate trial is also planned in the U.S. Surgeons will insert a tube-like device called a stent to try to solve the problem. Stents resemble miniature metal 'cages' and are already widely used in the treatment of heart disease, where blood vessels feeding the heart have narrowed because of a build-up of fatty deposits.

Their success in restoring-blood flow to and from the heart has prompted researchers to investigate whether they might also benefit men who struggle to get an erection even with drugs such as Viagra. Although Viagra and similar medications, such as Cialis and Levitra, have transformed the treatment of impotence in the past ten years, around 30 per cent of men who take them see no improvement.

For these men, the only other options are to inject drugs straight into the penis, or use a pump that manually increases blood supply to the organ. Neither is very popular. It's estimated that half of men over the age of 40 suffer impotence problems from time to time.

Potential causes range from diabetes and hormonal problems to stress and depression. But, in recent years, medical attention has focused on the link with heart disease. Just as the heart needs a constant and healthy supply of blood, a man's genitals also need to be able to call on a substantial rush of blood during arousal.

Recent evidence suggests blood vessels in the pelvic region can become diseased through poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise, in much the same way as coronary arteries. Indeed, some cardiologists believe erectile problems are a powerful early sign of hidden heart disease, giving up to three years' warning before any other symptoms emerge.

Now Medtronic Inc., one of the world's biggest medical device firms, has started a stent trial in the U.S. involving 50 men with erectile dysfunction who failed to respond to drugs. At the same time, a team at the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff, is setting up a similar project. Each man will initially be scanned to check for signs of blockages in blood vessels in the pelvic region. One of the main targets is the iliac artery, which branches off in different directions to transport blood to the lower half of the body.

Once the problem area has been identified, doctors will insert a thin catheter into the artery until the tip has reached the blocked area. On the end of the catheter is the stent, which has been collapsed down to make it easier to manoeuvre. When it's in position, a tiny balloon is inflated which makes the stent expand until it is wedged into place. The balloon is then withdrawn.

But there can be problems with so-called 'bare metal' stents. These can cause the body's healing mechanism to over-react, triggering a build-up of scar tissue that simply blocks the blood supply again. To get round this, the trials will use newer generation drug-eluting stents. These release a medicine that dampens down the rapid healing process and keeps blood vessels open.

Julian Halcox, professor of cardiology at Cardiff University, and a member of the British research team, says the principles behind using stents for erection problems are exactly the same as in heart disease. 'The only difference is that the blood vessels might be a little smaller than coronary arteries,' he says.



Anonymous said...

"Mums who took folic acid supplements throughout their pregnancy, in a well-intentioned attempt to boost baby's health, were increasing their risk of having a child with asthma, a study has found."

Wow. This is a SECOND paradoxical effect of vitamins. It's not so much that "vitamin pills" (including Omega-3 oil) have an bad effect on cell health but that the overall body is calibrated to normal health cells and if some cells are made MORE healthy by a given tonic that this can upset the health of the overall body.

Cancer is the FIRST paradoxical effect. Namely, vitamin pills makes cancer worse by making the youthful and rapidly growing cancer cells MORE healthy. When you have cancer you need poison, not tonic!

A related paradoxical effect is hormesis in which background radiation, for instance, stimulated the health of the body by setting off its fire alarm without actually causing a real fire. In that case the body's repair mechanisms kick in when they otherwise would remain shut off. This is real world homeopathy, minus infinite dilution that makes it ridiculous.

Yet another paradoxical effect is how very spicy foods can help diabetes. Diabetes is related to asthma in being an autoimmune disorder, meaning due to an immune system that is too responsive, meaning too vigorous and thus too "healthy".

In Asthma the immune system acts up when it shouldn't. Asthma is thus a type of allergy. It's well known that both polio and allergies are preventable to a large extent by letting children expose themselves to literal dirt in the form of soil organisms. This allows the immune system to realize that there are all manner of low level invaders that are not worth sending in the SWAT team.

In this study we see that making a baby's immune system HEALTHIER than the overall body is used to being, that the overall body becomes less healthy.

This is *not* a reason to avoid vitamin pills. It is reason to study when to not take them.

If alcohol is very healthy in terms of longevity, do you suddenly condemn it if it causes lower IQ in babies? Of course not! You simply get the word out that pregnant women should stop drinking.

No study has shown that vitamin pills are a major contributor to cancer incidence. They are not "carcinogenic" in the manner that actual carcinogens mutate DNA. You can give yourself cancer by buying those tritium fueled glowing necklace charms and smashing them and drinking the heavy water inside. Or by taking apart fire detectors and scraping off the Americanium-241 to spice your food with. But you can't give yourself cancer by sprinkling Vitamin C on your salad.

Nor can you expect to get Asthma by taking folate as an adult.

Finally, if you want the worst case of corrupt epidemiology imaginable, that being the central thrust of this entire blog, might there be a *very* strong correlation between mothers who take vitamin pills and those who buy all manner of disinfectant cleaners in a neurotically fanatical manner? That is the main cause of asthma, not nutrition. Asthma is caused by too much "hygiene". Babies are meant to be born on the swampy shores of a river, not in a literally sterilized hospital environment followed by an amateur version of the same thing at home.


Anonymous said...

I too want to comment on the Folic acid issue. Supplementation and fortification of foods is justified only when there is a real risk of deficiency. It is deficiency that causes problems and leads to disease. You can have too much of a good thing. Of course establishing the nutritional status of every pregnant woman would be an expensive exercise, much easier to force everyone to take supplements they don't need and may not want. The vast majority of human beings, including all femal human beings, are not pregnant at any given time. Why do I have to be force fed things I don't need because somebody else is reproducing?