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How Depression Affects Brain Structure & What You Can Do To Change It Back

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 400 million people, of all ages, suffer from depression, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide.

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This is a massive target market for pharmaceutical companies, and that’s no secret. There are huge profits to be made, and drug companies are taking every opportunity to make the most of this seemingly limitless source of income — at the expense of the consumer. It is not difficult to find evidence to support this notion, and a recent study published in the British Medical Journal is just one of many compelling examples. The study showed that pharmaceutical companies were not disclosing all information regarding the results of their drug trials. Researchers looked at documents from 70 different double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) and found that the full extent of serious harm in clinical study reports went unreported.

And it’s not the first time this has happened. To read more about that and to find the study, click here.

Not feeling well can take a toll on your physical health in a number of ways; when it comes to the brain, episodes of constant depression can actually can actually reduce the size of your hippocampus — an area of the brain involved in forming and regulating emotions and memory. This is especially concerning for teenagers, given their brains are still developing in significant ways.

There is good news, however: the damage can be reversed, and you can change your brain in a number of different ways, but to do so requires you to make the decision to help yourself and then act on it.

Depression & Your Brain

Several studies have stated that depressed people tend to have a smaller hippocampus. According to Professor Ian Hickie of The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute:

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[The] more episodes of depression a person had, the greater the reduction in hippocampus size. So recurrent or persistent depression does more harm to the hippocampus the more you leave it untreated.

This largely settles the question of what comes first: the smaller hippocampus or the depression? The damage to the brain comes from recurrent illness…

Other studies have demonstrated reversibility, and the hippocampus is one of the unique areas of the brain that rapidly generates new connections between cells, and what are lost here are connections between cells rather than the cells themselves.

Treating depression effectively does not just mean medicines. If you are unemployed, for example, and then sit in a room doing nothing as a result, this can shrink the hippocampus. So social interventions are just as important, and treatments such as fish oils are also thought to be neuro-protective.  (source)(source)

It’s also noteworthy to mention here that feelings of sadness and negativity can code different information into the heart’s electromagnetic field, and that the heart will actually send signals to the brain which can create chaos in the nervous system. These findings come from the scientists at the Institute of HeartMath, who investigate heart and brain interaction. You can read more about that here.

Scientists have also used brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data to examine the hypothesis that depression changes the brain. For example, an international team of researchers found that those who suffered from recurring depression do indeed have a smaller hippocampus. (source)(source)

Chemical Imbalance Or Not? 

Joseph Coyle, a neuroscientist from Harvard Medical School, perhaps sums it up best when he explained that this idea of a “chemical imbalance is sort of last-century thinking. It’s much more complicated than that.” And it’s true; depression cannot truly be reduced to the commonly accepted notion of  a chemical imbalance in the brain. Posed in the late 1950s, this theory essentially posits that depression is a deficiency of select neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) at critical points, like synapses. One of these neurotransmitters, for example, is serotonin; others include norepinephrine and dopamine.

As Scientific American reports, “much of the general public seems to have accepted the chemical imbalance hypothesis uncritically,” but “it is very likely that depression stems from influences other than neurotransmitter abnormalities.” (source)

Harvard Medical School also put out a press release a few years ago stating that it’s “often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn’t capture how complex the disease is.” Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, a prominent author and British psychiatrist, explains further:

Of course, there are brain events and biochemical reactions occurring when someone feels depressed, as there are all the time, but no research has ever established that a particular brain state causes, or even correlates with, depression. . . . In all cases studies yield inconsistent results, and none have been shown to be specific to depression, let alone causal. . . . The fact that more than 50 years of intense research efforts have failed to identify depression in the brain may indicate that we simply lack the right technology, or it may suggest we have been barking up the wrong tree! (source)

The most commonly cited evidence to support the chemical imbalance theory is the ability of some drugs to increase and decrease mood in human and animal models. While many antidepressants increase the amounts of serotonin and other neurotransmitters at synapses, they do not address the underlying issues or help the brain heal itself. And what we fail to realize today is that just because mood can be artificially manipulated with drugs does not mean that depression cannot be treated in other ways, or that the chemical imbalance theory is true.

We are simply incapable of saying with certainty that a human being has a chemical imbalance (to whatever extent) or identifying what neurotransmitters are involved. This is why the chemical imbalance theory of depression remains a theory. Chemical levels in the brain cannot accurately be measured or ‘looked at,’ either.

Yet much of the general public still accepts the chemical imbalance theory. A survey conducted in 2007 of 262 undergraduates at Cleveland State University found that more than 80 percent of the participants found it “likely” that chemical imbalances cause depression. According to Jonathan Leo, an Associate Professor of Neuroanatomy at Lincoln Memorial University, this really has yet to be proven:

At best, drug-induced affective disturbances can only be considered models for natural disorders, while it remains to be demonstrated that the behavioral changes produced by these drugs have any relation to naturally occurring biochemical abnormalities which might be associated with the illness. (source)

It’s important to keep in mind that there are probably many chemicals involved, working both inside and outside of our nerve cells. As Harvard Medical School points out, there are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.

Jonathan Leo further points out that “the cause of mental disorders such as depression remains unknown. However, the idea that neurotransmitter imbalances cause depression is vigorously promoted by pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatric profession at large.” (source)

As I hope I have made clear, the theory that depression is caused by low levels of serotonin, along with similar such theories, came into existence because scientists were able to observe what drugs do to the brain. It is a hypothesis that attempted to explain how drugs were able to fix the problem, but whether or not depressed people actually have lower serotonin levels remains to be proven. You can read more about the science here.

“The serotonin theory is simply not a scientific statement. It’s a botched theory – a hypothesis that was proven incorrect.” – Dr. Joseph Mercola (source)

Not only is there no solid scientific proof to back up the chemical imbalance theory, many depressed people are not even helped by taking antidepressants like SSRIs. For example, a review done by the University of California in 2009 found that one third of people treated with antidepressants do not improve, and a significant portion of these people remain depressed. Scientific American too points out that “if antidepressants correct a chemical imbalance that underlies depression, all or most depressed people should get better after taking them.” (source)

That being said, there are many who do report positive benefits, but there is no way to tell if the drugs are working or if they are just working like a placebo.

Think about this for a moment: so many of us are made to believe that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, when there is actually little scientific evidence to support that statement. Association between various brain changes and depression is large, and no studies have established a solid, cause-and-effect correlation between the brain and the disorder.

Depression has one focus — brain chemistry — despite it being a multi-faceted problem. Focusing on this one theory and then dishing out drugs that actually alter brain chemistry is, as Scientific American puts it, simply “shortsighted.”

“In spite of the enormous amounts of money and time that has been spent on the quest to confirm the chemical imbalance theory, direct proof has never materialized.” (source)

I am astounded that people fail to see the irony in the situation. The only chemical imbalances we can prove exist in people’s brains are the ones being inflicted upon them by psychiatric drugs.

There Are Other Biological Factors Implicated In Depression

As Dr. Mercola points out:

Contrary to popular belief, depression is not likely caused by unbalanced brain chemicals; however there are a number of other biological factors that appear to be highly significant. Chronic inflammation is one such factor.5

Scientists have also found that your mental health can be adversely impacted by factors such as vitamin D deficiency and/or unbalanced gut flora — both of which, incidentally, play a role in keeping inflammation in check, which is really what the remedy to depression is all about.

He also talks about sugar, which is extremely toxic to the body and a catalyst for multiple diseases. You can read his article on depression and these other biological factors here.

Some Great Ways To Combat Depression

1. Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the idea that the brain is adaptable and changeable. It’s now being used to treat learning disabilities, brain damage, chronic pain, and more. A great person to learn more about this from is Dr. Norman Doidge, among others. He is the author of The Brain That Changes Itself. He writes:

The idea that the brain is plastic in the sense of changeable, adaptable and malleable is the single most important change in our understanding of the human brain in four hundred years. Neuroplasticity is that property of the brain that allows it to change its structure and its function, it’s a response to sensing and perceiving the world, even to thinking and imagining. Human thoughts and learning actually turn on certain genes in our nerve cells which allow those cells to make new connections between them.

It’s the idea that the way you think can actually change your brain. This is not a new idea, and it has been demonstrated by a number of experiments ranging from quantum physics, where factors associated with conscious can change the behaviour of an atom, to placebo studies, which demonstrate the power of the mind.

For example, a Baylor School of Medicine study, published in 2002 in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at surgery for patients with severe and debilitating knee pain. Many surgeons know there is no placebo effect in surgery, or so most of them believe. The patients were divided into three groups. The surgeons shaved the damaged cartilage in the knee of one group. For the second group they flushed out the knee joint, removing all of the material believed to be causing inflammation. Both of these processes are the standard surgeries people go through who have severe arthritic knees. The third group received a “fake” surgery; the patients were only sedated and tricked into thinking they actually had the knee surgery. Doctors made the incisions and splashed salt water on the knee as they would in normal surgery, then sewed up the incisions like the real thing and the process was complete. All three groups went through the same rehab process, and the results were astonishing. The placebo group improved just as much as the other two groups who had surgery.

“My skill as a surgeon had no benefit on these patients. The entire benefit of surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee was the placebo effect.” – Dr. Moseley (surgeon involved in the study) (Lipton, Bruce. The Biology of Belief. Hay House, Inc, 2005)

The power of the placebo effect was also clearly demonstrated in a report published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 1999. It discovered that half of severely depressed patients taking drugs improve compared to the thirty-two percent taking a placebo. Considering all of the side effects and dangers associated with anti-depressant use, this marginal difference hardly seems worthwhile. And let’s not forget that the anti-depressant industry is a multi billion dollar one.

A 2002 article published in the American Psychological Association’s Prevention & Treatment by University of Connecticut Psychology Professor Irving Kirsch titled, “The Emperor’s New Drugs,” made some more shocking discoveries. He found that 80 perecent of the effect of antidepressants, as measured in clinical trials, could be attributed to the placebo effect. This professor even had to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to get information on the clinical trials of the top antidepressants. (source)(source) Kirsch found that the difference between the response of the drugs and the response of the placebo was less than two points on average on this clinical scale that goes from fifty to sixty points. That difference, as Kirsch points out, is clinically meaningless.

Researchers all over the world have found that placebo treatments can stimulate real biological and physiological responses — everything from changes in heart rate to blood pressure and even chemical activity in the brain. It’s been effective with a number of different ailments, from arthritis, to depression, fatigue, anxiety, Parkinson’s, and more.  (source) Why are we not utilizing our brain’s own remarkable ability to heal itself more often?

2. Food

Take a look at these factors.

  • Added sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  • Genetically engineered (GE) ingredients (primarily corn, soy, and sugar beets) which, besides their own unknown health risks, also tend to be heavily contaminated with glyphosate—a Class 2A carcinogen that can also damage your gut microbiome and has been linked to antibiotic-resistance. Most conventional (non-GE) wheat is also treated with toxic glyphosate prior to harvesting.
  • By altering the balance of your gut flora, pesticides and herbicides also disrupt the production of essential amino acids like tryptophan, a serotonin precursor, and promote production of p-cresol, a compound that interferes with metabolism of other environmental chemicals, thereby increasing your vulnerability to their toxic effects.
  • Artificial sweeteners, along with thousands of food additives, most of which have never been tested for safety
    Chemicals in the food packaging, such as bisphenol-A (BPA), bisphenol-S (BPS), and phthalates, which can migrate into the food
  • Trans fats

3. Exercise 

Exercise has been shown to  effectively combat depression and help rebuild the hippocampus. Studies have shown very clear links between inactivity and depression. As Dr. Mercola tells us, women who sat for more than seven hours a day were found to have a 47 percent higher risk of depression than women who sat for four hours or less per day. Furthermore, those who participated in zero physical activity actually had a 99 percent higher risk of developing depression than women who exercised.  Studies have shown its efficiency typically surpasses that of antidepressant drugs, and it also helps rid your body of stress chemicals that can lead to depression.

4. Meditation

As Forbes points out,

The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the ‘me’ centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. . . .

Skeptics, of course, may ask what good are a few brain changes if the psychological effects aren’t simultaneously being illustrated? Luckily, there’s good evidence for those as well, with studies reporting that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.

Related CE article: Harvard Study Unveils What Meditation Literally Does To The Brain

For more helpful ways to overcome depression, you can check out THIS article.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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Awareness

Studies Show What A Whole Foods Vegan Diet Does For People With Diabetes

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple studies have shown that a whole foods, plant-based diet can help manage, prevent, and, in some cases, even reverse diabetes.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is dietary intervention not a priority of conventional doctors? Especially when it can be much more beneficial to the patient than medication?

Food truly is medicine, and nutrition is a great way to combat multiple diseases. What’s extremely confusing is why so many doctors still choose to prescribe medication first, without considering the power of nutrition. Many doctors are not even aware of the power of nutrition and its ability to heal diseases, and this is probably because they know next to nothing about it given that they learn nothing about it in medical school.

However, things are changing. There are an abundance of doctors who are not prescribing medication when it’s not needed, and instead prescribing a proper diet. Many of them are starting to educate themselves using the literature and science surrounding nutrition. It’s not only doctors, but patients are choosing to self educate themselves now as well.

When it comes to the medical industry, self education is important, given the fact that “The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry.”   Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard Professor of Medicine and Former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal (source)

Not long ago, Dr. Asseem Malhotra, a well-known Doctor in Britain, had some choice words to say in front of the European Parliament about modern-day medical education and the overall knowledge doctors possess. He’s one of many who continues to emerge and speak out. You can read more about that here.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, it’s one of the diseases that can easily be managed with a proper diet. The undue influence the pharmaceutical industry has on the medical industry and doctors’ lack of understanding of nutrition is why, I believe, more than 370 million people around the world suffer from diabetes, and approximately 100 million Americans have it or are likely to get it.

It’s firmly established in scientific literature and quite clear now that moving to a whole-food, plant-based diet can drastically reduce the symptoms of type 1 diabetes and can even help manage, or in many cases completely reverse, type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. Giving up animal products and processed foods helps as well, and there is an abundance of research that shows this.

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Perhaps one of the most important pieces of evidence is the fact that there are real life success stories. Forks over Knives has a plethora of examples and real-life case studies that support the notion that eliminating animal products and following a healthy, whole-foods diet can make it easier to live with diabetes.

In 2016, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published a study that showed plant-based diets can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by a third. This involves simply switching out animal products for plant-based alternatives. A whole-foods, plant-based diet is rich in beneficial dietary fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients, and low in saturated fats. This is excellent for overall health outcomes, whether they’re related to diabetes or not.

Multiple studies have shown that red and processed meats (also recently linked to cancer by the WHO), as well as animal protein in general, increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. In omnivore populations, the risk of diabetes is doubled compared with vegans. Another study found that eating meat once a week or more over a 17-year period increased the risk of diabetes by a startling 74%. A follow up study was conducted and found that increasing red meat intake by more than just half a serving per day was closely associated with an almost 50% increased risk of contracting diabetes over four years.

Removing animal products and shifting to a diet consisting of whole and minimally processed plant foods can reduce the problems created by type 1 and type 1.5 autoimmune diabetes big time. Although there’s no cure for this type of diabetes, the right diet has plenty of benefits. Cyrus Khambatta, PhDwrites that following a low-fat, whole-foods plant-based lifestyle can:

  • Boost insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin use by more than 40 percent after six months.
  • Lead to more predictable blood glucose, making it easier to manage diabetes.
  • Increase blood flow to tissues in the body and reduce the likelihood of diabetes-related nerve damage.
  • Reduce the burden on the kidneys, decreasing the chances of getting kidney disease.

People have also reversed type 2 diabetes with a plant-based diet and fasting.

For more on that you can refer to the article linked below:

The Complete Guide To Fasting & Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: A Special Interview With Dr. Jason Fung.

Here are some other related articles you might be interested in as well:

9 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat

Internal Medicine Physician Shares What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Eating Meat 

Plant-Based Protein VS. Protein From Meat: Which One Is Better For Your Body

Scientist: Milk From Cows Has “The Most Relevant Carcinogen Ever Identified” & “Turns on Cancer”

Scientist Explains How Cow’s Milk Leeches Calcium From Your Bones & Makes Them Weaker

Studies Show What Happens To Your Heart When You Go Vegan or Vegetarian

The Takeaway

The takeaway here is to recognize that a whole foods, plant-based diet can be life changing. There are a number of studies that have emerged and continue to emerge showing this, while many more show a strong connection between various diseases and eating meat. It makes one ponder, are humans even designed/supposed to eat meat, or has this simply been the tactic of clever marketing by the big food industry? Something to think about.

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Awareness

Research Reveals How Sugar CAUSES Cancer

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was written by Sayer Ji, Founder of Greenmedinfo.com where it first originally appeared. Posted here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    The average American consumes their body weight annually in this cancer-causing substance, and yet hospitals freely feed it to their cancer patients, seemingly oblivious to the harm it does.

Hospitals feed cancer patients sugar and high carbohydrate diets for a simple reason: they are abysmally ignorant of the role of nutrition in health and disease — hence their burgeoning growth, packed rooms, and ‘return customers.’

Even though the science itself shows – at least since the mid-20’s with Otto Warburg’s cancer hypothesis — that tumors prefer to utilize sugar fermentation to produce energy rather than the much more efficient oxygen-based phosphorylation* – hospitals have actually invited corporations like McDonald’s to move into their facilities  to ‘enhance’ their patient’s gustatory experience, presumably to provide comfort and take the edge off of the painful surgery, radiation and chemo treatments erroneously proffered to them as the only reasonable ‘standard of care.’

But the times are changing, with new research requiring these medical institutions to reform their dietary strategies, at least if they wish to claim that their interventions are in fact ‘evidence-based,’ as they so often claim.

Study Reveals Sugar Doesn’t Just Feed But Causes Cancer

A groundbreaking study, uncovered by one of our volunteer researchers at Greenmedinfo, is the first of its kind to identify sugar, not only as fuel source for an already existing cancer, but as a primary driver in oncogenesis – i.e. the initiation of cancerous characteristics (phenotype) within previously healthy cells.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and titled, Increased sugar uptake promotes oncogenesis via EPAC/RAP1 and O-GlcNAc pathways, researchers addressed a common perception (or misperception) in the cancer research community regarding sugar’s relationship to cancer: namely, “increased glycolysis [sugar based metabolism] is frequently viewed as a consequence of oncogenic events that drive malignant cell growth and survival.”

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Contrary to this conventional view, the new study “provide[s] evidence that increased glycolytic activation itself can be an oncogenic event.”  That is to say, the activation of sugar-based metabolism in a cell – driven by both the presence of increased quantities of glucose and the increase glucose receptors on the cell membrane surface (i.e. “overexpression of a glucose transporter”) – drives cancer initiation.

Moreover, the study found that “Conversely, forced reduction of glucose uptake by breast cancer cells led to phenotypic reversion.” In other words, interfering with sugar availability and uptake to the cell causes the cancer cell to REGRESS towards its pre-cancer structure-function (phenotype).

What Are The Implications of This Research to the Diet?

What this new research indicates is that sugar – of which Americans consume an astounding 160 lbs annually (imagine: 31 five-pound bags for each of us!) – is one of the primary causes of metabolic cell changes in the body consistent with the initiation and promotion of cancer. And, the research indicates that removing it from the diet, and depriving the cells of it, could REVERSE cancer. Why is this so surprising? It’s because Americans have been lead like lambs to the slaughter to think of “prevention” as “early detection,” focusing not on identifying and removing the well known nutritional and environmental causes of cancer, rather, to spend their time, energy, and money on cause-marketing campaigns focused on “finding a cure” — as if one didn’t already exist right in front of our noses, or more aptly, on the end of our forks.

Hidden Sugar, Crouching Cancer

It has been estimated by the USDA that the average American consumes 200 lbs of grain products annually. Why is this relevant to the question of sugar in the diet? Because refined carbohydrate products – e.g. crackers, bread, pasta, cereal – are actually ‘hidden’ forms of sugar. In fact, puffed rice causes your blood to become sweeter (and presumably feeds more cancer cells sugar) than white sugar, as it is higher on the glycemic index. Adding the two figures together – annual per capita consumption of sugar and grain-based products – we get a jaw dropping 360 lbs of sugar (both overt (table sugar/high fructose corn syrup) and covert (grain carbs) annually – all of which may contribute to promoting the ideal metabolic situation of cancer cells: aerobic glycolysis.

This is one reason why the ketogenic diet – that is, a fat- and protein-focused diet devoid of carbohydrate, both in simple (sugar) and complex (grain product) form – has been found so useful in the most aggressive of cancers: including brain cancer. Once you ‘pull the rug out’ from under the sugar/carb-craving cancer cells, they are forced to either undergo programmed cell death (apoptosis) or re-differentiate back into non-cancerous phenotypes.

If It’s So Bad For Us, Why Do We Eat So Much?

One of the primary reasons why we eat sugar and carbohydrate rich diets is because they are addictive. Within minutes of consuming sugar/carbs our body goes through a neuroendocrine roller coaster. Your brain can not survive very long without glucose, the fundamental energy unit of the cell, and will ‘freak out’ if deprived of a steady stream of this ‘nutrient’ within only 2-3 minutes. The endocrine system, on the other hand, perceives the danger of high sugar – namely, glycation associated damage to protein and lipid structures within the cells of our body; think: blood caramelizing, getting sticky, and gumming up the finely tuned works – and will release hormones such as insulin, adrenaline and cortisol, in order to try to get the elevated sugar in the blood and tissues under control. Insulin forces the sugar into storage within the cell, both as glycogen and as fat, but often does its job too well, causing available glucose levels in the brain to be depleted – setting off a vicious cycle of ’emergency signals’ telling the body to release more cortisol and adrenaline to increase the levels of glucose in the blood. This, of course, will result in additional insulin production and release, causing the same cycle to be repeated over and over again.

This seemingly endless vicious cycle is responsible for the insatiable cravings a high carb/sugar diet generates – not to mention the fructose-based hedonic effects generated in the brain that modulate both opioid and dopamine receptors in the nervous system (not unlike alcohol), and the pharmacologically active peptides in many gluten-containing grains, which also drive addictive behaviors and an almost psychotic fixation on getting carbs at each meal.

No wonder we have an epidemic of cancer in a world where the Westernized diet prevails. Certainly, we do not mean to indicate that a sugar/carb-rich diet is the only cause of cancer. There are many other factors that contribute to cancer initiation and promotion, such as:

  • Chemical exposure
  • Radiation exposure
  • Chronic stress that suppresses the immune system
  • Vaccines containing hidden retroviruses and cancer causing viruses
  • Natural infection with bacteria and viruses that are cancer causing
  • Lack of sleep
  • Insufficient nutrients (lack of methyl donors such as B12, folate, and B6 will prevent the body from ‘turning off’ (methylating) cancer-promoting genes

Even though cancer is a complex, multi-factorial phenomena, with variables we can not always control, one thing we can do is control what goes into our mouth. Sugar, for instance, does not belong there if we truly want to prevent and/or treat cancer.  And don’t forget, carbohydrates that don’t taste sweet on the front end – bread, crackers, cereal – certainly convert to sugar in the body within minutes post-consumption.

In a nutshell, if you are concerned about cancer, have cancer, or would like to prevent recurrence, removing sugar and excess carbohydrates is a must. Not only is it common sense, but it is now validated by experimental research.

Additional Research

Note: another recent study found that Candida albicans (yeast) also contributes to cancer initiation and promotion. C. albicans thrives on sugar, lending additional support to the notion that sugar (consumed excessively) may be a primary driver of the cancer epidemic in those consuming the modern Western diet. For information on sugar alternatives that are not synthetic toxicants like Splenda (sucralose), read my latest article on the topic:  4 Sugar Alternatives That Won’t Poison You.


 *Note: Cancer cells prefer to ferment sugar as a form of energy even when there is sufficient oxygen available to the cells to do so; hence Warburg’s description of cancer metabolism as ‘aerobic glycolysis’ or the so-called ‘Warburg effect’

Originally published: 2017-12-04

Article udpated: 2019-07-19


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Alternative News

The Medical Journals’ Sell-Out—Getting Paid to Play

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[Note: This is Part IX in a series of articles adapted from the second Children’s Health Defense eBook: Conflicts of Interest Undermine Children’s Health. The first eBook, The Sickest Generation: The Facts Behind the Children’s Health Crisis and Why It Needs to End, described how children’s health began to worsen dramatically in the late 1980s following fateful changes in the childhood vaccine schedule.]

The vaccine industry and its government and scientific partners routinely block meaningful science and fabricate misleading studies about vaccines. They could not do so, however, without having enticed medical journals into a mutually beneficial bargain. Pharmaceutical companies supply journals with needed income, and in return, journals play a key role in suppressing studies that raise critical questions about vaccine risks—which would endanger profits.

Journals are willing to accept even the most highly misleading advertisements. The FDA has flagged numerous instances of advertising violations, including ads that overstated a drug’s effectiveness or minimized its risks.

An exclusive and dependent relationship

Advertising is one of the most obviously beneficial ways that medical journals’ “exclusive and dependent relationship” with the pharmaceutical industry plays out. According to a 2006 analysis in PLOS Medicinedrugs and medical devices are the only products for which medical journals accept advertisements. Studies show that journal advertising generates “the highest return on investment of all promotional strategies employed by pharmaceutical companies.” The pharmaceutical industry puts a particularly “high value on advertising its products in print journals” because journals reach doctors—the “gatekeeper between drug companies and patients.” Almost nine in ten drug advertising dollars are directed at physicians.

In the U.S. in 2012, drug companies spent $24 billion marketing to physicians, with only $3 billion spent on direct-to-consumer advertising. By 2015, however, consumer-targeted advertising had jumped to $5.2 billion, a 60% increase that has reaped bountiful rewards. In 2015, Pfizer’s Prevnar-13 vaccine was the nation’s eighth most heavily advertised drug; after the launch of the intensive advertising campaign, Prevnar “awareness” increased by over 1,500% in eight months, and “44% of targeted consumers were talking to their physicians about getting vaccinated specifically with Prevnar.” Slick ad campaigns have also helped boost uptake of “unpopular” vaccines like Gardasil.

Advertising is such an established part of journals’ modus operandi that high-end journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) boldly invite medical marketers to “make NEJM the cornerstone of their advertising programs,” promising “no greater assurance that your ad will be seen, read, and acted upon.” In addition, medical journals benefit from pharmaceutical companies’ bulk purchases of thousands of journal reprints and industry’s sponsorship of journal subscriptions and journal supplements.

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In 2003, an editor at The BMJ wrote about the numerous ways in which drug company advertising can bias medical journals (and the practice of medicine)—all of which still hold true today. For example:

  • Advertising monies enable prestigious journals to get thousands of copies into doctors’ hands for free, which “almost certainly” goes on to affect prescribing.
  • Journals are willing to accept even the most highly misleading advertisements. The FDA has flagged numerous instances of advertising violations, including ads that overstated a drug’s effectiveness or minimized its risks.
  • Journals will guarantee favorable editorial mentions of a product in order to earn a company’s advertising dollars.
  • Journals can earn substantial fees for publishing supplements even when they are written by “paid industry hacks”—and the more favorable the supplement content is to the company that is funding it, the bigger the profit for the journal.

Discussing clinical trials, the BMJ editor added: “Major trials are very good for journals in that doctors around the world want to see them and so are more likely to subscribe to journals that publish them. Such trials also create lots of publicity, and journals like publicity. Finally, companies purchase large numbers of reprints of these trials…and the profit margin to the publisher is huge. These reprints are then used to market the drugs to doctors, and the journal’s name on the reprint is a vital part of that sell.”

… however, even these poor-quality studies—when funded by the pharmaceutical industry—got far more attention than equivalent studies not funded by industry.

Industry-funded bias

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), nearly three-fourths of all funding for clinical trials in the U.S.—presumably including vaccine trials—came from corporate sponsors as of the early 2000s. The pharmaceutical industry’s funding of studies (and investigators) is a factor that helps determine which studies get published, and where. As a Johns Hopkins University researcher has acknowledged, funding can lead to bias—and while the potential exists for governmental or departmental funding to produce bias, “the worst source of bias is industry-funded.”

In 2009, researchers published a systematic review of several hundred influenza vaccine trials. Noting “growing doubts about the validity of the scientific evidence underpinning [influenza vaccine] policy recommendations,” the authors showed that the vaccine-favorable studies were “of significantly lower methodological quality”; however, even these poor-quality studies—when funded by the pharmaceutical industry—got far more attention than equivalent studies not funded by industry. The authors commented:

[Studies] sponsored by industry had greater visibility as they were more likely to be published by high impact factor journals and were likely to be given higher prominence by the international scientific and lay media, despite their apparent equivalent methodological quality and size compared with studies with other funders.

In their discussion, the authors also described how the industry’s vast resources enable lavish and strategic dissemination of favorable results. For example, companies often distribute “expensively bound” abstracts and reprints (translated into various languages) to “decision makers, their advisors, and local researchers,” while also systematically plugging their studies at symposia and conferences.

The World Health Organization’s standards describe reporting of clinical trial results as a “scientific, ethical, and moral responsibility.” However, it appears that as many as half of all clinical trial results go unreported—particularly when their results are negative. A European official involved in drug assessment has described the problem as “widespread,” citing as an example GSK’s suppression of results from four clinical trials for an anti-anxiety drug when those results showed a possible increased risk of suicide in children and adolescents. Experts warn that “unreported studies leave an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of the risks and benefits of treatments.”

Many vaccine studies flagrantly illustrate biases and selective reporting that produce skewed write-ups that are more marketing than science.

Debased and biased results

The “significant association between funding sources and pro-industry conclusions” can play out in many different ways, notably through methodological bias and debasement of study designs and analytic strategies. Bias may be present in the form of inadequate sample sizes, short follow-up periods, inappropriate placebos or comparisons, use of improper surrogate endpoints, unsuitable statistical analyses or “misleading presentation of data.”

Occasionally, high-level journal insiders blow the whistle on the corruption of published science. In a widely circulated quote, Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of NEJM, acknowledged that “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.” Dr. Angell added that she “[took] no pleasure in this conclusion, which [she] reached slowly and reluctantly” over two decades at the prestigious journal.

Many vaccine studies flagrantly illustrate biases and selective reporting that produce skewed write-ups that are more marketing than science. In formulaic articles that medical journals are only too happy to publish, the conclusion is almost always the same, no matter the vaccine: “We did not identify any new or unexpected safety concerns.” As an example of the use of inappropriate statistical techniques to exaggerate vaccine benefits, an influenza vaccine study reported a “69% efficacy rate” even though the vaccine failed “nearly all who [took] it.” As explained by Dr. David Brownstein, the study’s authors used a technique called relative risk analysis to derive their 69% statistic because it can make “a poorly performing drug or therapy look better than it actually is.” However, the absolute risk difference between the vaccine and the placebo group was 2.27%, meaning that the vaccine “was nearly 98% ineffective in preventing the flu.”

… the reviewers had done an incomplete job and had ignored important evidence of bias.

Trusted evidence?

In 2018, the Cochrane Collaboration—which bills its systematic reviews as the international gold standard for high-quality, “trusted” evidence—furnished conclusions about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that clearly signaled industry bias. In May of that year, Cochrane’s highly favorable review improbably declared the vaccine to have no increased risk of serious adverse effects and judged deaths observed in HPV studies “not to be related to the vaccine.” Cochrane claims to be free of conflicts of interest, but its roster of funders includes national governmental bodies and international organizations pushing for HPV vaccine mandates as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—both of which are staunch funders and supporters of HPV vaccination. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s president is a former top CDC official who served as acting CDC director during the H1N1 “false pandemic” in 2009 that ensured millions in windfall profits for vaccine manufacturers.

Two months after publication of Cochrane’s HPV review, researchers affiliated with the Nordic Cochrane Centre (one of Cochrane’s member centers) published an exhaustive critique, declaring that the reviewers had done an incomplete job and had “ignored important evidence of bias.” The critics itemized numerous methodological and ethical missteps on the part of the Cochrane reviewers, including failure to count nearly half of the eligible HPV vaccine trials, incomplete assessment of serious and systemic adverse events and failure to note that many of the reviewed studies were industry-funded. They also upbraided the Cochrane reviewers for not paying attention to key design flaws in the original clinical trials, including the failure to use true placebos and the use of surrogate outcomes for cervical cancer.

In response to the criticisms, the editor-in-chief of the Cochrane Library initially stated that a team of editors would investigate the claims “as a matter of urgency.” Instead, however, Cochrane’s Governing Board quickly expelled one of the critique’s authors, Danish physician-researcher Peter Gøtzsche, who helped found Cochrane and was the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre. Gøtzsche has been a vocal critic of Cochrane’s “increasingly commercial business model,” which he suggests is resulting in “stronger and stronger resistance to say anything that could bother pharmaceutical industry interests.” Adding insult to injury, Gøtzsche’s direct employer, the Rigshospitalet hospital in Denmark, then fired Gøtzsche. In response, Dr. Gøtzsche stated, “Firing me sends the unfortunate signal that if your research results are inconvenient and cause public turmoil, or threaten the pharmaceutical industry’s earnings, …you will be sacked.” In March 2019, Gøtzsche launched an independent Institute for Scientific Freedom.

In 2019, the editor-in-chief and research editor of BMJ Evidence Based Medicine—the journal that published the critique of Cochrane’s biased review—jointly defended the critique as having “provoke[d] healthy debate and pose[d] important questions,” affirming the value of publishing articles that “hold organisations to account.” They added that “Academic freedom means communicating ideas, facts and criticism without being censored, targeted or reprimanded” and urged publishers not to “shrink from offering criticisms that may be considered inconvenient.”

In recent years, a number of journals have invented bogus excuses to withdraw or retract articles critical of risky vaccine ingredients, even when written by top international scientists.

The censorship tsunami

Another favored tactic is to keep vaccine-critical studies out of medical journals altogether, either by refusing to publish them (even if peer reviewers recommend their publication) or by concocting excuses to pull articles after publication. In recent years, a number of journals have invented bogus excuses to withdraw or retract articles critical of risky vaccine ingredients, even when written by top international scientists. To cite just three examples:

  • The journal Vaccine withdrew a study that questioned the safety of the aluminum adjuvantused in Gardasil.
  • The journal Science and Engineering Ethics retracted an article that made a case for greater transparency regarding the link between mercury and autism.
  • Pharmacological Research withdrew a published veterinary article that implicated aluminum-containing vaccines in a mystery illness decimating sheep, citing “concerns” from an anonymous reader.

Elsevier, which publishes two of these journals, has a track record of setting up fake journals to market Merck’s drugs, and Springer, which publishes the third journal as well as influential publications like Nature and Scientific American, has been only too willing to accommodate censorship requests. However, even these forms of censorship may soon seem quaint in comparison to the censorship of vaccine-critical information now being implemented across social media and other platforms. This concerted campaign to prevent dissemination of vaccine content that does not toe the party line will make it harder than ever for American families to do their due diligence with regard to vaccine risks and benefits.


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