In 2013, the Swiss Medical Board, an independent health technology assessment initiative, was requested to prepare a review of mammography screening. The team of medical professionals included a medical ethicist, a clinical epidemiologist, a pharmacologist, an oncologic surgeon, a nurse scientist, a lawyer, and a health economist. Two of those members, Nikola Biller-Andorno, M.D. Ph. D. and Peter Juni, M.D, opened up about the project in the New England Journal of Medicine.
They said: “As we embarked on the project, we were aware of the controversies that have surrounded mammography screening for the past 10-15 years. When we received the available evidence and contemplated its implications in detail, however, we became increasingly concerned.”
In 2016, it is estimated that approximately 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States as well as 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. Mammograms continue to be touted as the most effective screening tool we have today to find breast cancer.
However, these two doctors were shocked to discover that there is minimal evidence that actually indicates that the benefits of mammography screening outweigh the harms.
“The relative risk reduction of approximately 20 percent in breast-cancer mortality associated with mammography that is currently described by most expert panels came at the price of a considerable diagnostic cascade, with repeat mammography, subsequent biopsies, and over-diagnosis of breast cancers — cancers that would never have become clinically apparent.”
The Canadian National Breast Screening Study, which was conducted over the course of 25 years, concluded that 106 of 484 screen-detected cancers were over-diagnosed.
The doctors explained: “This means that 106 of the 44,925 healthy women in the screening group were diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer unnecessarily, which resulted in needless surgical interventions, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or some combination of these therapies.”
The fact that the benefits of this form of cancer screening are so overestimated seems worrisome for the medical community and patients at large. How, in this day and age, do we not have more awareness, more answers, and better technology?
Another review of 10 trials involving more than 600,000 women discovered no evidence that mammography screening was effective on overall mortality. This caused concern over the benefits of the medical practice. A survey of U.S. women’s views on the mammography screenings discovered that 71.5 percent of women think that it lessened risk of death from breast cancer by half, while 72.1 percent believed that 80 deaths could be avoided per each 1,000 women screened. Their perceptions were gravely over-calculated. In fact, when looking at the real numbers, mammography results in a risk reduction of 20 percent and only 1 death can be prevented per 1,000 women screened.
The Swiss Medical Board report became public in February 2014, provoking the board to advise that the quality of mammography screening ought to be evaluated and that women should be educated about both the benefits and the harms of the medical practice.
The report created controversy within the Swiss medical community, even though it supports a growing perspective around the world that mammography for breast cancer screening in asymptomatic populations is outdated and harmful at best.
When reviewing the data in regards to every breast cancer death prevented in U.S. women over a 10-year period of yearly screening starting at the age of 50, you will find that:
- 490-670 women usually have a false positive mammogram with repeat examination
- 70-100 women usually have an unnecessary biopsy
- 3-14 women were the victim of over-diagnosed breast cancer that would never reach clinical relevance
Furthermore, up to 50 percent of women have breast tissue that is dense. This makes it very hard to read mammograms correctly, as dense breast tissue and cancer both show up white on an X-ray.
Due to the lack of evidence in support of mammography and the clear potential risks involved with them, the board chose to recommend cancelling mammography-screening programs altogether. Although their recommendations are not legally binding, the report caused an uproar amongst Swiss cancer experts and organizations. The doctors on board reported:
“One of the main arguments used against it was that it contradicted the global consensus of leading experts in the field… Another argument was that the report unsettled women, but we wonder how to avoid unsettling women, given the available evidence.”
It’s clearly no mystery why the board become increasingly concerned about their researcher. The “evidence” simply does not back up the global consensus of other experiences in the field suggesting that mammograms were safe and capable of saving lives.
When it comes down to it, we are dealing with outdated clinical trials, the benefits do not clearly outweigh the harms, and women’s perceptions of mammography benefits do not match reality,
More Information On Breast Screenings
I believe that if you did have a tumor, the last thing you would want to do is crush that tumor between two plates, because that would spread it. – Dr. Sarah Mybill, General Practitioner (taken from the documentary trailer below)
I think if a woman from the age of 50 has a mammogram every year, or every two years, she’s going to get breast cancer as a direct result from that – Dr. Patrick Kingsley, Clinical Ecologist (take from the documentary trailer below)
In 2011, 220,097 women and 2,078 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,931 women and 443 men in the United States died from breast cancer. It has become the most common type of cancer among women.
Below is a trailer to a documentary entitled, “The Promise.” The film interviews various researchers, scientists, doctors (and more), all of whom are hoping to shed light on a practice which is turning out to be not only useless, but harmful to those taking part. There is more information below the video, but I highly recommend you watch the documentary.
There is a wealth of scientific data concluding that mammograms are not, as the CDC claims, the most effective way to detect breast cancer. In fact, having a mammogram is likely the last thing you want to do if you have breast cancer.
A study published in The European Journal of Public Healthtitled “Trends in breast cancer stage distribution before, during and after introduction of a screening programme in Norway” found that breast screenings actually increase the incidence of localized stage cancers without reducing the incidence of advanced cancers. (source)
The study, which used a huge population sample of 1.8 million Norwegian women diagnosed with breast cancer from 1987 – 2010, found that:
“The annual incidence of localized breast cancer among women aged 50–69 years rose from 63.9 per 100 000 before the introduction of screening to 141.2 afterwards, corresponding to a ratio of 2.21 (95% confidence interval: 2.10; 2.32).The incidence of more advanced cancers increased from 86.9 to 117.3 per 100 000 afterwards, corresponding to a 1.35 (1.29; 1.42)-fold increase. Advanced cancers also increased among younger women not eligible for screening, whereas their incidence of localized cancers remained nearly constant.”
This study outlines how Norway’s breast screening program has actually increased the chance of being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer by more than 200%, as well contributing to an increased chance of receiving advanced stage breast cancer diagnosis by 35%. This is the opposite of what mammograms are supposed to do; if they were useful then the incidence of cancers would be lower and not higher.
The study concluded that:
Incidence of localized breast cancer increased significantly among women aged 50–69 years old after introduction of screening, while the incidence of more advanced cancers was not reduced in the same period when compared to the younger unscreened age group.(source)
It’s important to note that, “although the study did measure the impact of Norway’s breast screening programme, a comparison of trends between participants and non-participants in the age group eligible for screening warrants further investigation. Also the causal link between stage distribution and mortality needs to be investigated in the context of screening.”
A paper published in 2011 in the British Medical Journal set out to prove that breast screening by mammography is associated with a steeper fall in mortality cancer compared to other countries who were not offering this service. They did not expect to find the complete opposite; they found a drop in breast cancer mortality among women who were not screened. They concluded that the recent downward trend in breast cancer mortality had nothing to do with screening and everything to do with improvements in treatment and service provision. (source)
The new data published in the BMJ now suggests that none of the gratifying falls in breast cancer can be attributed to screening and that the very existence of a NHSBSP (national breast screening programme) should be questioned. Unless there is public pressure for an independent inquiry to challenge the status quo, it will be business as usual for the screening programme. Furthermore, the Department of Health has painted itself into a corner and it is no longer a question of scientific debate – the subject has become too politicized by those who like to avoid U-turns at all costs. – Michael Baum, Professor Emeritus of Surgery and visiting Professor of Medical Humanities at University College London, is a leading British surgical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer treatment (source)
This would be an asymptomatic woman walking along the high street, having a mammogram, and then two weeks later she’s told she has to have a mastectomy. This is so cruel that it should make you weep. (quote taken from the documentary trailer above)
As Sayer Ji, founder of Greenmedinfo.com points out, a National Cancer Institute commissioned expert panel concluded that “early stage cancers” are not cancer, they are benign or indolent growths. This means that millions of women were wrongly diagnosed with breast cancer over the past few decades and have been subjected to harmful treatment, when they would have been better off leaving it untreated or diagnosed; frighteningly, it is not uncommon for a breast cancer misdiagnosis to occur.
Another study that was recently published in the British Medical Journal concluded that regular mammogram screenings do not reduce breast cancer death rates. And they found no evidence to suggest that mammograms are more effective than personal breast exams at detecting cancer in the designated age group. The study involved 90, 000 Canadian women and compared breast cancer incidence and mortality up to 25 years in women aged 40-59.(source)
The study was conducted over a period of 25 years.
Many Studies Showing The Same Thing
The sheer number of studies that have been published on breast mammography examinations and their failure to produce a benefit in screened populations is overwhelming. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that these types of examinations have also been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer, and to have negative implications for both physical and mental health.
U-turns do not embarrass clinical scientists, unlike politicians: if the evidence changes then our minds must change. As the national programme began to run its course, two disturbing observations made me begin to question my original support. First, about 10 years after the initiation of the service, updated analyses of the original data set by independent groups in Europe and the US found that the initial estimate of benefit in the reduction of breast cancer mortality was grossly exaggerated. – Michael Baum, Professor Emeritus of Surgery and visiting Professor of Medical Humanities at University College London, is a leading British surgical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer treatment (source)
Other sources used not listed in the article.
For a database of published studies on this topic, you can click HERE
CDC’s Recommendation for Hepatitis B Vaccination in Infants. Are There More Risks Than Benefits?
- The Facts:
The CDC’s recommendation for universal hepatitis B vaccination of infants puts most children at unnecessary risk of harm from the vaccine. By Jeremy R. Hammond, Contributing Writer, Children’s Health Defense
- Reflect On:
How much do physicians really know about vaccines?
Parents are told by public health officials and the media that they should vaccinate their children strictly according to the schedule recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s routine childhood vaccine schedule is based on solid science, we are told, and it is imperative that all parents comply to reduce the societal disease burden. Anyone who dares to criticize or dissent from public vaccine policy is characterized as dangerously ignorant and irrational. A recent New York Times editorial, for example, characterized anyone who does so as “the enemy” and described all vaccines on the CDC’s schedule as “crucial shots”.
So is the HepB vaccine really necessary for all infants? Why does the CDC treat this vaccine as a one-size-fits-all solution when the vast majority of infants are not at significant risk of infection?
But is it really “crucial” for all children to be so vaccinated? To highlight the rationality and importance of this question, consider the example of the CDC’s recommendation that all newborn babies receive a hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine, typically on their very first day of life. Many parents naturally wonder why it is considered so necessary to vaccinate their baby against a virus that is primarily transmitted sexually or through sharing of needles among injection drug users. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can also be transmitted to infants at birth if the mother is a carrier, but screening to identify infected pregnant women is done routinely, and an alternative effective treatment has long been available for infants born to carriers. So is the HepB vaccine really necessary for all infants? Why does the CDC treat this vaccine as a one-size-fits-all solution when the vast majority of infants are not at significant risk of infection?
To answer this question, we need look no further than the CDC’s own stated rationale for this policy, which was adopted in 1991. Close examination of the CDC’s reasoning and the evolution of this policy illustrates that, far from being based on science, the decision by the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee to adopt this policy was faith-based and concerned primarily not with the health of infants, but with the agency’s overriding goal of achieving high vaccination rates.Comparing the policy with the science reveals that parents are right to be concerned because the policy unnecessarily puts children who are not at risk of infection at risk of harm from the vaccine.
The Risk to Infants of Hepatitis B Infection
To place the CDC’s stated rationale for this policy into proper context, it’s important to understand a little bit about the nature of the virus and the risk it poses generally to the population and particularly to infants.
According to the CDC’s “Pink Book”, while most acute hepatitis B infections among adults are effectively dealt with by the host’s immune system, chronic infection is a known cause of liver disease, contributing significantly to the disease burden of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinomas. Most children and about half of adults with acute infection do not show any symptoms. Those with chronic infection may also be asymptomatic but are known as “carriers” since they still carry and can spread the virus.
Subpopulations at highest risk therefore include sexually active individuals, injection drug users, health care workers, and children who are born to infected mothers…
Transmission of the virus occurs through infected blood or other bodily fluids. Subpopulations at highest risk therefore include sexually active individuals, injection drug users, health care workers, and children who are born to infected mothers or otherwise come into prolonged close contact with infected household members. Mother-to-infant transmission usually occurs during birth. If an environmental surface is contaminated, the virus can remain stable and infectious for seven or more days, so indirect transmission, while unlikely, is also possible. Replication of the virus occurs only in liver tissue.
Most adults completely recover from acute infection and come away with lasting immunity. However, 1 percent to 2 percent of acute cases result in fulminant disease. Among these cases, 63 percent to 93 percent will result in death. About 200 to 300 deaths occur each year in the US due to severe HBV disease.
Before routine childhood vaccination, more than 80 percent of acute infections occurred in adults, about 8 percent in adolescents, and about 4 percent in children infected through perinatal transmission. Although at lower risk of becoming infected, such children are at higherrisk of their infection becoming chronic, disproportionately accounting for about 24 percent of chronic infections. While chronic infection occurs in only about 5 percent of adult cases, the risk of an acute infection becoming chronic increases as the age of the host decreases. An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of infections occurring in children aged one to five years become chronic, and for infants infected from their mothers, the rate is as high as 90 percent.
An estimated 25 percent of individuals with chronic infection will die prematurely from liver disease. About 3,000 to 4,000 people die from HBV-related cirrhosis each year, and another 1,000 to 1,500 die from HBV-related liver cancer.
It is primarily these fatal outcomes in adults—the few hundred deaths from fulminant disease and the few thousand deaths from liver disease—that public health officials have aimed to prevent through mass vaccination.
The hepatitis B virus has a number of different antigen components. (This gets a bit technical, but it’s important context, so bear with me.) The CDC defines an “antigen” as any foreign substance in the body, including but not limited to viruses or bacteria, which is capable of causing disease, and the presence of which triggers an immune response, including but not limited to the production of antibodies. As the CDC’s Pink Book explains, “Several well-defined antigen-antibody systems are associated with HBV infection.” These are the HBV core antigen (HBcAg), another protein contained in the viral core called the HBV e antigen (HBeAg), and a surface antigen (HBsAg).
The presence of HBsAg in the blood indicates infection, but only the complete virus is infectious, not individual antigen components. The presence in the blood of antibodies to this antigen, called “anti-HBs”, is considered indicative of immunity. Infection may also stimulate production of antibodies to HBcAg, or “anti-HBc”, the presence of which indicates past infection. The presence of anti-HBc of the immunoglobulin M class (IgM-anti-HBc) indicates recent infection. Chronic infection is determined by a positive result for HBsAg along with a negative result for IgM-anti-HBc.
The HepB vaccine contains just one viral antigen, HBsAg. Unlike natural infection, the vaccine does not stimulate production of anti-HBc.
For nearly three decades now, the CDC has treated vaccination during early childhood as a one-size-fits-all solution despite the variability in individual immune responses, individual risk from the virus, and individual risk from the vaccine.
Despite the advancements of modern science, much remains unknown about the human immune system and the full impact of viral infection or vaccination. And reading through the CDC’s Pink Book chapter on hepatitis B raises as many questions as it answers. Why do some individuals develop protective anti-HBs to fight off infection while others don’t and hence become carriers? What is the clinical significance of the development of anti-HBc in addition to anti-HBs versus the development only of the latter? In what other ways does natural immunity differ from vaccine-conferred immunity? Why would an individual’s immune system—and particularly children’s immune systems—fail to generate protective antibodies in response to the live virus, yet still be capable of doing so in response to the vaccine? Why do some individuals also fail to develop protective antibodies in response to the vaccine?
One would think that such questions would be relevant for understanding how to develop more effective methods of disease prevention, but answers to them cannot be found in the Pink Book. Indeed, answers to them are not readily found by perusing the broader scientific literature. The most obvious reason for this curiosity is the influence of the pharmaceutical industry and government policies on the direction of scientific research.
For nearly three decades now, the CDC has treated vaccination during early childhood as a one-size-fits-all solution despite the variability in individual immune responses, individual risk from the virus, and individual risk from the vaccine.
The vast majority of children in the US today are not at significant risk of hepatitis B infection, and yet the CDC nevertheless recommends universal infant vaccination.
To answer that question, in part two of this series, we will examine the evolution of the CDC’s HepB vaccine recommendations, revealing how the agency began recommending vaccination for pregnant women and infants at high risk of infection despite a complete lack of randomized, placebo-controlled trials demonstrating that these practices are safe.
Then in part three, we’ll examine the CDC’s stated rationale for its 1991 policy shift to recommending that infants be universally vaccinated, typically on the first day of their lives. Part three will show how the CDC itself concluded that its policy was a failure because of low vaccination rates among high-risk groups, as well as illuminate how the agency’s goal of achieving high vaccination rates overrode any considerations of individual risk-benefit analysis, thus placing millions of children at unnecessary risk of neurodevelopmental harm from the vaccine.
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“I Tried Every Diet & Nothing Worked” How Mucus Free Living Saved This Woman’s Life
- The Facts:
After a year on a high-fat/high-protein lifestyle, Livia Macdonald nearly died. After adopting a 'mucus-free' lifestyle, a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, she cured her depression, anxiety, and health issues.
- Reflect On:
True healing takes time and commitment, and a willingness to face the emotions and trauma buried beneath our eating habits.
In 2011, Livia Macdonald was looking for answers to her health. At nearly 300 lbs and stuck in the despairs of chronic illness, she was ready to make a big change. The first step—divorcing allopathic medicine all together. Like many others stepping away from conventional medicine, Livia found herself enveloped by the siren of holistic healthcare, adopting the protocols laid out by natural-health celebrity and functional medicine doctor, Mark Hyman.
Following Hyman’s vitality guidelines, Livia cut out grains, starches, and processed sugars, while incorporating more vegetables, ‘healthy’ fats and animal products into her diet.
“I was told that high protein and high fats is the way to go because our brain needs fat. I even made my own ghee and ate loads of coconut oil and eggs every day,” she told Collective Evolution.
At first the high-fat diet did wonders for Livia’s health. She felt more energized, had more mental clarity, and even began to drop weight. “I lost almost 80 lbs the first year on the [high-fat] diet,” she said.
But after twelve months of a high-fat lifestyle, Livia said her body began to shut down.
“I started to feel awful. Like everything turned on me. I got severe depression, anxiety, shaking, internal tremors, my organs started to really hurt, I had them checked and my pancreas had so many fat deposits all over it and my cholesterol was through the roof after being optimal. My entire body started to shut down and I became bed ridden for an entire year.”
During this difficult time Livia came across the work of Dr. Robert Morse, a regenerative detoxification specialist well known in the natural health world. One of the foundations of Dr. Morse’s teachings is that man is a part of the primate family, and therefore we are primarily a frugivore species whose bodies thrive off of fruit, some vegetables and herbs. Livia says that a lightbulb went off in her head immediately upon reading Dr. Morse’s work.
“My intuition was screaming that this was the missing piece of my puzzle, and that he speaks the absolute truth.”
Next, Livia discovered the work of a 19th century natural health educator named Arnold Ehret. Ehret’s rise to fame came through his in depth knowledge about the body, specifically in healing chronic disease through systematic fasting and a diet similar to what Morse prescribes—raw fruit and vegetables.
His magnum opus, The Mucusless Diet Healing System, detailed his many years working in a clinic for the chronically ill while implementing his detox protocols to cure their diseases. Ehret’s work garnered a cult-following throughout the early 20th century and inspired the works of well-known detox specialists like Robert Morse himself, Paul Braggs, and Alfredo Bowman.
Adopting A Mucus-Free Lifestyle
But Livia said her biggest aha moment did not come until she discovered the work of South-African detox specialist Alexandra Cousins. Inspired by the teachings of Robert Morse and Arnold Ehret, Cousins takes their healing principles and merges them with the shamanic and emotional work which she feels is the missing piece for those seeking full-bodied healing.
“What I am witnessing is that trauma, PTSD, OCD, addictions are running everyone’s lives,” she writes in her Facebook group, Living Mucus Free. “The degree will vary but we all have it unless we have specifically addressed it. It is safe to say that all my clients, especially the chronically ill suffer from some form of unresolved trauma. If you have adrenal, hormonal, thyroid, or CFS issues, you are dealing with trauma residue. Living mucus free tends to bring up all our unresolved trauma. As we no longer consume foods that numb us or stimulate us, trauma rises to the surface so that it can be felt and dealt with.”
Having endured years of ill-health herself and having tried almost every diet trend out there, Cousins eventually found solace through a lifestyle termed Living Mucus Free (LMF). Mucus, for those wondering, is the residue which builds in the body from eating non-species-specific food, i.e., animal products, grains, or most cooked food. This mucus putrefies and plaques to the intestinal walls, eventually causing acids to build up in the body and damage our organs and glands.
LMF does away with mucus-causing foods while utilizing fruit, vegetables, herbs, systematic fasting, lymphatic movement, and various trauma-release therapies. Today, Cousins teaches what she’s learned at detox retreats around the globe and inspires thousands through her fierce social media presence.
Livia says she has dedicated herself to the Living Mucus Free principles with great results, incorporating daily intermittent fasting, herbal tinctures, movement and breathing practices targeted at draining the lymphatic system, as well as raw food diet.
“I have been vegan one year and living mucus free for 10 months now. My anxiety and depression cleared up within two months, never to return. I have so much more clarity and mental focus now and that is getting better with time, not worse. I am slowly healing my endocrine system and gaining more energy back, I am no longer bed ridden since the first couple of months on this lifestyle.. all my spiritual and emotional stuff has surfaced to be healed and it’s truly a fascinating and incredible journey to learn the truth and realize just how wrongly we have been conditioned in such a deep way.”
The emphasis in Living Mucus Free is elimination—getting out of the body’s way and allowing it to do its job of eliminating acids, toxins, undigested food material and mucoid plaque. This is primarily achieved through daily dry fasting and eating watery, astringent fruit, which pulls out toxins as it transits the digestive tract.
Another principle to the Living Mucus Free lifestyle is eating little to no fat while detoxing, a principle that goes against many of the high-fat diet trends of today. But as Alexandra Cousins explains, in the case of those who are cellularly degenerate, fats only serve to cover up their issues. Fats are anti-inflammatory, buffering the acidity in the body but never pulling the acids out. A temporary bandaid for true healing.
Livia feels this is what happened in her case, and it is why she thinks so many initially feel great adopting a high-fat diet.
“I feel the high fat diet works for some because it suppresses and clogs their lymphatic system so naturally they will feel instant relief. But now that I understand how the body actually works, of course you are going to show improvement at the beginning if you remove junk food, sugars/grains, dairy etc.”
Cousins also speaks much to the notion that fats, salts, animal products, and processed foods are stimulating to our nervous system which cover up our emotional wounds, so when we begin to remove these foods and focus on detoxifying the body, we are suddenly faced with old emotions or traumatic memories, and this, Alex says, is mostly what Living Mucus Free is about.
“When we detox on a cellular level, we are consistently clearing old information, old cellular memory in the form of emotion which is held in physical waste stored in the body, replacing it with new cellular information,” Alex Cousins, Living Mucus Free.
For those looking for a quick fix, Living Mucus Free probably isn’t the right fit. Those living the Mucus Free lifestyle don’t make false promises that you will be healed after a 30 day detox. The journey is slow and steady, one with bumps along the way known as healing crises. During a healing crisis any number of uncomfortable symptoms can arise as the body expels old debris and toxins. But as Livia says, walking through the discomfort is the only way towards true healing.
“I believe that our society has everything so backwards,” says Livia. “We are taught to chase feeling good, and run away from feeling bad, and Living Mucus Free isn’t going to feel good in the beginning as it brings up our weaknesses for healing.”
The reward, as promised by Cousins, Morse, Ehret, and thousands of others who have healed through regenerative detox principles, is beyond anything we can imagine:
“Unimaginable health and vitality, weight loss and reversed ageing, improved energy levels, mental clarity and confidence, liberation from anxiety, mood swings and self-doubt, resolution of stored trauma and a deeper connection to source, vastly improved sex life and orgasms.”
Is Living Mucus Free really the key to such incredible feats? The answer, it seems, is to be discovered only by those willing to walk through the fire to find out.
For more information about Living Mucus Free, visit Alexandra Cousins’ website, Living Mucus Free.
Two Doctors Explain Autophagy, How To Induce It (Fasting) & What It Does To The Human Body (Video)
- The Facts:
Dr. Guido Kroemer and Rhonda Patrick sit down and discuss autophagy, how to induce it and it's health benefits.
- Reflect On:
Why do we never hear about fasting interventions as an 'official' treatment for certain from our federal health regulatory agencies when there is so much scientific proof?
Fasting and caloric restriction, if done correctly in a healthy and appropriate manner, combined with a healthy diet can have tremendous benefits for the human body. Interventions like fasting are gaining tremendous amounts of popularity, and that is in large part due to the fact that this information is being spread across the world via alternative media outlets and independent websites, youtube channels, etc. It’s not really a health topic that we’re hearing from mainstream media sources or our federal health regulatory agencies. Why? Because you can’t make money off of fasting. Perhaps when drugs are developed that mimic the effects of fasting, that’s when its popularity will skyrocket; but unfortunately, modern day health authorities don’t really seem to be as concerned with our health and wellbeing as they are about profiting and making money, and nobody is going to make any money if people starting eating less. That being said, the information revolution cannot be stopped, and fasting is now on the minds of many, and for good reason.
On October 3rd, 2016, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy, a term that translates to “self-eat.” In short, autophagy is the body’s self-cleaning system, a mechanism in which cells get rid of all the broken down, old cell machinery (organelles, proteins and cell membranes). It is a regulated, orderly process to degrade and recycle cellular components.
The process of autophagy is like replacing parts in a car—sometimes we need a new engine or battery for the car to function better. The same thing happens within each of our cells. During autophagy, old cellular debris is sent to specialized compartments within the cell called “lysosomes.” Lysosomes contain enzymes that degrade the old debris, breaking it down into smaller components to be reused again by the cell.
Scientists have found that fasting for 12 to 24+ hours triggers autophagy, which is thought to be one of the reasons that fasting is associated with longevity. There is a large body of research that connects fasting to improved blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, weight loss, and improved brain function, and Oshumi’s findings provide greater insight into this research.
“Sporadic short-term fasting, driven by religious and spiritual beliefs, is common to many cultures and has been practiced for millennia, but scientific analyses of the consequences of caloric restriction are more recent… short-term food restriction induces a dramatic upregulation of autophagy in cortical and Purkinje neurons. As noted above, disruption of autophagy can cause neurodegenerative disease, and the converse also may hold true: upregulation of autophagy may have a neuroprotective effect.
Food restriction is a simple, reliable, inexpensive and harmless alternative to drug ingestion and, therefore, we propose that short-term food restriction may represent an attractive alternative to the prophylaxis and treatment of diseases in which candidate drugs are currently being sought.”
If you look at the plethora of studies that’ve been published regarding caloric restriction and fasting, the benefits are overwhelming. These benefits are seen across the board, not just in humans, but in animals as well. Some of these benefits are talked about below in a fascinating interview and discussion between Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Guido Kroemer. Dr. Patrick, as her website states, “is dedicated to the pursuit of longevity and optimal health and shares the latest research on nutrition, aging, and disease prevention with her audience. She has a gift for translating scientific topics into understandable takeaways for all levels of education and interest.” She has a lot of great content on her Youtube channel with some very interesting people who are leaders in their respective field.
Dr. Guido Kroemer is currently a Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris Descartes, Director of the research team “Apoptosis, Cancer and Immunity” of the French Medical Research Council (INSERM), Director of the Metabolomics and Cell Biology platforms of the Gustave Roussy Comprehensive Cancer Center, Deputy Director of the Cordeliers Research Center, and Hospital Practitioner at the Hôpital Européen George Pompidou, Paris, France. He is also a Foreign Adjunct Professor at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
The takeaway here is to recognize the potential of dietary interventions for certain ailments. It’s also to recognize the importance of seeking out knowledge and wisdom, and not just relying on your doctor for advice or prescription medications.
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