I'm going to try to develop the habit of posting about new and interesting research findings that I come across in the science literature. Where appropriate, I'll add some pithy commentary as well.
Research Bias Against Alternative Medicine
"Slowly they are beginning to report on the welcome trend of evidence based clinical trials for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including herbal remedies. Unfortunately, the media still rely for their sources on high quality medical journals, which are more likely to report negative results about CAM and positive results about pharmaceuticals, The clinical trials in the study showed no difference in quality between herbal remedy and pharmaceutical trials, but CAM was still reported on more skeptically".
Finally someone has the courage to address the bias against plant medicines often seen in the major media and high-profile science journals. As I have said many times before, the risks of herbal medicine are often blown way out of proportion, while the corresponding high risks of certain pharmaceuticals always seem to be "acceptable in light of their potential benefits." Every medical intervention carries risk, but when viewed against the huge number of drug reactions per year (20,000+ people die every year from NSAIDs such as Advil or Tylenol) the small number of reactions to herbal medicines (mostly allergic type reactions) appear to be over-exaggerated as part campaign of deception. Thanks to my colleague Rick Kirschner for recently mentioning this article.
Take it from me: After more than a decade of similar treatment, I know one of these campaigns when I see one.
ABO Blood Group and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer
In two large, independent populations, ABO blood type was statistically significantly associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer. Further studies are necessary to define the mechanisms by which ABO blood type or closely linked genetic variants may influence pancreatic cancer risk.
This study was extensively publicized in the media, and while welcome as yet another link in the under-explored relationship between blood group antigens and cancer (see my 'Verisimilitude' lecture), these results have been reported in earlier studies (as well as similar results in bile duct cancer).
More interesting to me is the link between ABH secretor status and the predictability and reliability of the most common tumor marker test for pancreatic cancer. This tumor marker, called CA19-9, is variable based on ABH secretor status, yet this fact is virtually unknown in oncology.
Involvement of intestinal alkaline phosphatase with ABO and secretor blood group types
These results indicate that IAP is strongly involved in chylomicron formation and fatty acid metabolism might change among ABO blood type. In addition, ABO blood type classification in apoB-48 measurement would improve the diagnostic value in the evaluation of metabolic syndrome.
Tom Greenfield wrote about this study a few years back, but I wanted to bring it back since, like most studies of this sort, it has gone completely unnoticed by the nutrition communinty at-large. IAP is an enzyme implicated in transcellular transport of chylomicrons, large molecules that transport dietary lipids from the intestines to other locations in the body. Since 1966 it has been known that this enzyme varies among ABO blood groups and secretor status, with type O secretors having the highest amount and A non-secretors the lowest. Since IAP is critical for breaking down dietary cholesterol and enhancing the assimilation of calcium.
This calls into question the so-called 'Bone Hypothesis,' a long-treasured argument of vegans and dietitians everywhere, that dietary protein (especially from animal sources rich in the sulfur amino acids) should increase acid production in the body, and that in response to the acid load induced by a high animal protein diet, bone may be called upon to act as a reservoir of alkali using bone calcium as a buffering source.
As the theory goes, the long-term consequence of this reliance on bone to buffer the endogenous acid would be increased rates of skeletal loss and a decrease in bone mineral density. The hypothesis would also predict that a long-term, high protein diet would increase fractures.
However, in a recent study it was found that:
Studies conducted over the past 8 years in our laboratory call the traditional high protein bone hypothesis to question. We have found that a high protein diet induces high levels of urine calcium primarily because it increases intestinal calcium absorption. Second, a low protein diet acutely reduces intestinal calcium absorption, resulting in an abrupt rise in serum parathyroid hormone.
No only is IAP induced at high levels in blood group O individuals by a protein diet, one can expect it to increase bone density in these people. Not only that, evidence exists which indicates that the physical expression of the blood type A antigen appears to turn off IAP in the intestinal tract.
We found that red cells of blood group A bind almost all intestinal alkaline phosphatase; erythrocytes of blood group B or O to a much lesser degree. This is in accordance with the fact that intestinal alkaline phosphatase is found more frequently in the serum of individuals of blood group O or B than in serum of persons of blood group A.
I challenge anyone who still clings to the idea that blood groups have no scientific role in dietary personalization to respond to these basic facts.
It comes down to this simple challenge: Either put up or shut up.
Here are the .mp3 audio transcript and .pdf handout for the lecture that I gave at the 2008 New York State Naturopathic Association Conference. The audio is rather large for the Internet (40 mb), so be patient:
The handouts are in the form of a Adobe Acrobat file (pdf) so you can work through the lecture exactly as it was presented.
If you right-click and choose "Save As" you can download the files to your hard drive. If you find this information interesting, consider burning the lecture and handout files onto a CD and passing it along to friends and colleagues.