Provided by Richard Grossman, L.Ac., O.M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 2, Issue 18
Friday, August 03, 2001

In This Issue:

·         Could Lack of Sleep Wear Down Your Brain?

·         Nature's Platform for nature's call

·         Early Ovarian Cancer May Cause Symptoms

·         Rainfall, Temperature Dips Linked to Infection Risk

·         Snacking, Meal Skipping Can Boost Calorie Intake

·         Why Pesticides May Increase the Price You Pay For Food


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The effects of some vaccines on the autoimmune system can be far greater than the adverse effects of the infectious disease itself.  For example, live oral polio vaccines have been shown to induce polio at a rate of 0.2 cases per 100,000.  This has caused some countries, including the U.S. to immunize with a killed polio vaccine instead of the live vaccine. 

In the case of the hemophilus influenza vaccine, immunization may only prevent 30 to 36 cases of meningitis per 100,000 while it may cause a rise in the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes in children (i.e., 200 cases per 100,000).  On one hand, the vaccine is helping a small number of potential meningitis cases, but on the other, is contributing to a chronic disease for which there is currently no cure.  In this case, the benefit does not outweigh the risk.

The Ministry of Health in France recently announced the suspension of routine hepatitis B immunizations of school age children in France.  Routine Hepatitis B immunizations given at birth would continue.  The reason for this decision was the increased risk of autoimmune diseases associated with the vaccine when it is given to school age children as compared to newborns.

Immunologist John B. Classen, M.D. originally published papers linking the hepatitis B and other vaccines to the development of insulin dependent diabetes, an autoimmune disease.  At that time certain public health officials attempted to deny an association between auto-immunity and immunization; however, two recently published U.S. government studies have supported the association.  One study linked hepatitis B immunization to an autoimmune form of hair loss.  Another small study showed that when hepatitis B immunization was given at two months and older, it was associated with a near doubling of the risk of diabetes.

“The French decision to continue hepatitis B immunization at birth while discontinuing immunization starting at school age suggests the French Ministry of Health may believe that timing of immunization has a role on the development of auto-immunity.  They appear to be accepting our findings.” Dr. Classen is referring to his numerous publications indicating immunizations given at birth are associated with lower risks of auto-immunity than immunization given later in life.

Long-term safety studies are typically not performed on vaccines prior to them attaining government approval.  “Without these studies we can not be sure that the benefits of immunization exceed the risks of and thus we should not mandate the hepatitis B or other vaccines,” adds Classen.

For more information about polio, hepatitis B, influenza vaccine safety visit the Vaccine Safety Web site at

As always, your questions and comments are welcome. 

Talk to you soon and deepest regards,

Dr. Grossman


Could Lack of Sleep Wear Down Your Brain?

Disrupted Hormonal Circadian Rhythms May Trigger Brain Atrophy

Anyone who's ever gone through the whole night without a wink knows what a struggle the next day can be. Eyelids feel like lead weights, muscles ache, and the body feels trapped in slow motion. Just thinking clearly suddenly becomes an insurmountable intellectual challenge.

What's happening in the body to precipitate these responses? Mounting evidence suggests that sleep deprivation may upset the normal secretion pattern of hormones, causing short term - and possibly even longer term - effects on cognitive health.

In one recent experiment, researchers used timed salivary sampling to measure hormone levels in military service personnel on the day after they were completely deprived of a night's sleep. They found that levels of melatonin in the sleep-deprived subjects were much higher the afternoon after the subjects lost sleep, compared with controls. Surges of this pineal hormone would be likely to induce more intense feelings of sleepiness.

At the same time, levels of the stress hormone cortisol were also higher the afternoon following sleep loss. That may be because the body pumps out more cortisol in the psychological stress that results in the ongoing struggle to stay awake, the researchers surmised.

These and other hormonal disruptions are potentially significant because they may underlie side effects of chronic sleep deprivation, such as excessive fatigue, mood deterioration, and poor concentration. In fact, over time, the resulting hormonal imbalances could even change the physiognomy of the mind.

According to a brief communications appearing in a recent issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, chronic jet lag can disrupt the body's natural circadian rhythms and trigger cortisol elevations that may “erode” the part of the brain that controls spatial learning and memory.

In flight attendants with only short recovery rest periods between international flights (less than 5 days) higher levels of cortisol (measured in saliva) were correlated with a reduced volume of the right temporal lobe in the brain (measured by an MRI). This relationship was not found in flight attendants with a longer recovery time between international flights.

Previous research has linked high cortisol with a degenerative “wearing away” of the hippocampus, resulting in memory loss. Ensuring that the body has proper rest and recovery time may be crucial for preventing cortisol elevations associated with atrophy of the brain's temporal lobe, the researcher suggested.

NOTE: Use the following timed, salivary endocrine assessments to evaluate hormone activity that both influences and is influenced by sleep patterns:

The Comprehensive Melatonin Profile analyzes three saliva samples to determine the secretion pattern of this critical circadian hormone. Melatonin levels have been linked specifically with sleep onset, sleep duration, and sleep quality.

The Adrenocortex Stress Profile assays four saliva samples over a 24-hour period for levels of cortisol and DHEA. Chronic imbalances of these adrenal hormones have been linked with progressive deterioration of the hippocampal region in the brain, possibly leading to accelerated brain aging and memory loss.


Goh VH, Tong TY, Lim CL, Low EC, Lee LK. Effects of one night of sleep deprivation on hormone profiles and performance efficiency. Mil Med 2001 May;166(5):427-31.

Cho K. Chronic 'jet lag' produces temporal lobe atrophy and spatial cognitive deficits. Nat Neurosci 2001;4(6):567-568.

Nature's Platform for nature's call

By JOHN O'DOWD/Watauga Democrat

It's now official. Recognized by no less an authority than the U.S. Patent Office, Boone has a resident who truly knows “squat.”

In July, local inventor Jonathan Isbit was awarded U.S. Patent No. 6,256,800 for an invention that he claims can prevent some serious health problems. The invention allows a standard toilet to be used in the squatting position.
Isbit cites extensive medical research indicating that the invention could help prevent hemorrhoids, colon cancer and other common gastrointestinal ailments.

“Doctors feel that fecal stagnation is one of the causes of colon cancer,” Isbit said. “A lot of fecal matter is not evacuated in the sitting position.

“It remains in the body and stagnates,” said Isbit. The squatting position, “used by two-thirds of the world's population, is much healthier.”
Isbit said that many medical authorities consider the use of the sitting posture for elimination to be an unnatural and unhealthy development, which has only existed for the past 150 years.

“I feel like I've been given a mission to expose 150 years of an unnatural sitting position,” Isbit said.

Creating his invention was a labor of love. Protecting it through the patent process was not nearly as difficult as he had been led to believe.
According to Isbit, he carried out most of the patent application process himself, without the use of a patent attorney.

“I had a professional patent writer prepare the description but I didn't like the way he wrote it so I redid it myself.”
He said he had a friend do the engineering drawings and he handled the patent protests when an examiner said that his Nature's Platform was similar to another device. Isbit said he explained that the other device simply raised the user's feet while seated on the toilet, relieving some, but not all, of the pressure.

The important difference between the two devices, according to Isbit, is that the Nature's Platform places all of the body's weight on the feet and properly aligns the intestines and colon (see accompanying photo).
The examiner was convinced and the patent was awarded.

“I hope that it (the Platform) will make itself obsolete. I hope to sell thousands and then millions throughout America and Europe and make toilet manufacturers redesign all toilets to allow squatting.”

This is not a new quest for either health or enlightenment. Isbit said that he discovered this position 30 years ago after reading a book on yoga. There was a picture of a yogi in this position with an explanation.

“I've now been doing it for 30 years and wanted to communicate this idea. In today's culture, if you don't have something to sell, people don't listen.”

Isbit cites one study involving 20 patients with severe hemorrhoids. According to his research, the patients had all used conventional treatments with little or no results. Then they were told to switch to the natural squatting posture, and within a few days to a few months, 18 of the 20 patients were free of all symptoms of hemorrhoids.

“This is an area of life which no one likes to discuss, for obvious reasons,” said Isbit. “But that's precisely why this ignorance has persisted. Before the 1850s, everyone used the squatting position. Then the Œporcelain throne' was created to allow aristocrats to use the more Œdignified' sitting position. No one dared to oppose it for fear of being ridiculed and being associated with an indelicate issue.”

So, like the Emperor's New Clothes, it was tacitly accepted, leaving a legacy of health problems that haunt us to this day.

“The authentic squatting position, used throughout the world, puts the body's full weight on the feet. Nature's Platform is the only product on the market which allows the use of this posture on an ordinary toilet. It can be used even by people who thought they were incapable of squatting.”

After designing Nature's Platform, Isbit found a manufacturer. The platform is made by Advanced Tube Forming in Mt. Carmel, Tennessee.
He said that he wanted to make the product light, convenient and easy to use and was concerned that not all people in a family, or their guests, would want to use the Platform.

The first engineering challenge was to make it easy to assemble and store. The Platform can be taken down and put up in a manner of seconds. It is thin enough to store next to a standard toilet and strong enough to support a 300-pound man or woman.

Isbit demonstrated the proper position on Nature's Platform, quickly and easily stepping up on the frame and, yes, the user can read newspapers and magazines in this position.

The Nature's Platform receives orders on the Internet at and ships the product to customers throughout North America.


Early Ovarian Cancer May Cause Symptoms

By Merritt McKinney

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Ovarian cancer is generally thought to have no tell-tale symptoms, particularly in its early stages. But New York researchers report that the disease may indeed cause some recognizable symptoms, even early on.

The knowledge that ovarian cancer can cause identifiable symptoms may lead to earlier detection of the disease, according to the study's authors.

About 23,000 women in the US develop ovarian cancer each year. With early detection, the outlook for women with ovarian cancer is good. But the cancer is rarely caught early, in part because symptoms such as bloating and abdominal discomfort can signal any number of problems.

Most women are not diagnosed until a later stage of the disease, when the odds of surviving more than 5 years are small. Each year, about 14,000 US women die from ovarian cancer.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often thought to be “vague and nonspecific,” according to Dr. Sara H. Olson of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

But a study conducted by Olson and her colleagues suggests that even though the symptoms experienced by women with ovarian cancer are common in healthy women, they are more common and slightly different in nature in women with the disease.

The researchers asked 168 women with ovarian cancer and 251 similarly aged healthy women how often they had symptoms such as unusual bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, lack of energy and lower back pain.

Both women with ovarian cancer and healthy women reported having had these symptoms, but with the exception of nausea, the symptoms were much more common in women with ovarian cancer, the authors report in the August issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

And the nature of the symptoms varied a bit between women with and without cancer, according to the report. In women with cancer, bloating, fullness and pressure in the abdomen tended to be constant, rather than intermittent, as it was in healthy women. These symptoms also tended to develop shortly before the women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

And despite the belief that early ovarian cancer causes few or no symptoms, there were few differences between the symptoms of women whose disease was detected early rather than late. Almost 9 out of 10 women diagnosed at an early stage had at least one cancer symptom before diagnosis.

The findings may be a wake-up call for women with these sorts of symptoms to see a physician, Olson told Reuters Health in an interview.

Unlike the mammogram used to detect breast cancer, there is no feasible test for screening for ovarian cancer, she said. Doctors identify cancer in women using ultrasound testing.

SOURCE: Obstetrics & Gynecology 2001;98:212-217.

Rainfall, Temperature Dips Linked to Infection Risk

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - While it may not be possible to “catch your death of cold,” rainy and chillier-than-normal weather can affect the odds of contracting infections via water and air, according to two new studies.

In one study of waterborne disease outbreaks in the US, researchers found that more than two thirds of outbreaks between 1948 and 1994 were preceded by heavy rainfall--which can overload municipal water systems and help contaminants spread to the drinking water supply. More than half of these outbreaks occurred shortly after an onslaught of “extreme precipitation,” according to a report in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of the American Public Health Association (news - web sites).

More than 50% of the 548 outbreaks studied involved gastrointestinal infections. And although the US drinking water supply is thought to be “high-quality,” there remains the risk of contamination from leaking septic tanks and agricultural runoff, according to Dr. Jonathan A. Patz of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues.

They note that it is possible for increases in rainfall and runoff to usher infectious agents from animal feces into the water supply.

In a second study reported on in the same issue, researchers found that when the temperature dipped 5 degrees over several days in two California cities, rates of hospitalization for viral pneumonia among females rose sharply.

Like other respiratory infections such as the flu, viral pneumonia has a “season,” with cases peaking in the fall and winter. But in the current study, investigators found that, regardless of season, an average dip of 5 degrees in the minimum temperature over 4 days was followed by an upswing in hospital admissions for viral pneumonia in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The picture was different, however, in the inland city of Sacramento. There, higher hospitalization rates were linked to a 5-degree decrease in the maximum temperature difference--the gap between the high and low daily temperature. In addition, in years affected by El Nino weather patterns--which in Sacramento meant warmer autumns and colder temperatures in the winter and early spring--pneumonia hospitalizations went up for women but down for girls.

El Nino had little effect on the temperatures in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

It is unclear what is behind the link between these temperature change and hospitalization patterns, according to lead researcher Dr. Kristie L. Ebi of the Electric Power and Research Institute in Palo Alto, California.

It could be that sudden drops in temperature send more people indoors for longer periods, increasing the chances of transmitting viruses person-to-person, she told Reuters Health.

On the other hand, rainfall, which would also keep people inside, was not linked to increased hospitalizations. “There must be some other components in weather” affecting infection rates, Ebi said.

“Changing weather variables do not cause pneumonia,” she and her colleagues point out in their report, “but they may set up conditions that facilitate increased or decreased viral transmission.”

Traditionally, Ebi said, researchers have looked at the pattern between season and viral rates. But while her team found that pneumonia hospitalizations peaked at the appropriate time of year, they also found increases based on temperature dips no matter what the season. In other words, it did not have to be cold, according to Ebi.

She said there should be more study of how short-term weather changes influence disease risk, adding that she will next study how temperature shifts affect heart disease. Heart attack deaths have been found to rise slightly in the winter.

“Hopefully, this will encourage (researchers) to look at weather changes and not just season,” Ebi said.

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health 2001;91:1194-1199, 1200-1208.

Snacking, Meal Skipping Can Boost Calorie Intake

By Sara Kuzmarov

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Skipping meals may seem like a sure way to cut calories and lose weight, but study findings indicate that it may lead to increased snacking of sugary foods that can pack on the pounds in the long run.

The study of more than 1,500 eighth-grade students found that 20% said they ate just two meals a day, mostly lunch and dinner. These meal skippers generally consumed more snacks than their peers did, the investigators found. And these snacks were generally rich in simple sugars and salt, and low in fiber.

Indeed, overweight students were more likely to skip breakfast, suggesting that “eating breakfast is not necessarily associated with increased weight,” Dr. Johanna Dwyer of Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and colleagues write.

But nearly 80% of students ate four or more times per day and the more often students ate, the more calories they consumed, according to the report in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The findings demonstrate the relationship between adolescents' eating patterns and nutrient intake and suggest that efforts to promote healthy eating should target snacking.

“If you want to change what you eat, look at both how often you eat and the combination of meals and snacks eaten,” Dwyer said in an interview with Reuters Health.

She said that healthy eating is learned at home and at school. More than three quarters of students in the study ate their lunch at school and 80% ate dinner at home. Therefore, better food choices by parents and in school cafeterias can go a long way, Dwyer said.

“At dinnertime, parents have to be involved in food choices,” Agnes Kolor, a registered dietitian, told Reuters Health. She said adolescents should focus on eating fewer treats, smaller portions and at least three vegetables and two fruits a day.

The study results are based on student reports of food intake over a 1-day period. Students from 96 public schools in San Diego, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Austin, Texas participated in the study.

SOURCE: The Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2001;101:798-

Why Pesticides May Increase the Price You Pay For Food

A global shortage of bees and other insects that pollinate plants is destroying crops around the world and could lead to far higher prices for fruits and vegetables, according to researchers at the University of Guelph, Canada. 

"The consumers are ultimately going to pay," said Dr.  Peter Kevan, an environmental biology professor at the university.  "Instead of buying an apple for 30 cents, you'll end up paying $1.50 for it."

Pollinator populations have been hit hard by increased pesticide use in recent years, and much of their natural habitat, such as dead trees and old fence posts, have been destroyed to make room for more farmland, Dr.  Kevan added.

In their report, published recently in the online journal Conservation Ecology, Dr.  Kevan and Dr.  Truman Phillips say that pollination systems in many agricultural areas today are threatened by an inadequate number or complete lack of sustainably-managed pollinators, either indigenous or imported.

Although concerns about pollinator shortages date back at least to Biblical times, their report is the first one to quantify the effects in economic terms.  Their research does not pinpoint exactly how high food prices will rise, but rather presents a model for assessing the economic ramifications if birds, bees and other pollinators continue to disappear. 

Their economic analysis indicates that consumers of a commodity affected by a pollinator deficit may suffer since the commodity will likely cost more and become less available.  At the same time, producers of affected commodities may experience crop declines but may also experience economic gains resulting from higher prices.  The amount gained or lost by producers depends on the supply and demand curves.

Their research states that there is ample evidence to suggest the existence of pollinator declines and that such declines are affecting agricultural productivity.  They conclude that the adverse economic effects of pollinator deficits on food prices must follow from on-farm considerations, but that the effects could be much broader. 

Although there is little data to work with, they state that security, trade and the global food supply could be in serious jeopardy if "pollinator abundance, diversity, and availability are not reversed."

The team's model, which is based on variables such as individual products, trade situations and market conditions, adds another level of clout to a long list of research that says deteriorating supplies of pollinators are ruining billions of dollars worth of food.

Pollinators such as bees, bats, butterflies and birds play a key role in agriculture, transferring pollen from one seed to another.  It is a vital step in the production of most fruits and vegetables, as well as a handful of nuts.  An under-pollinated apple usually means a smaller, less appealing apple.

Honey bees, which the Canadian Honey Council says are responsible for CAN$1-billion worth of produce each year, are one of the most affected species. 

In the province of Ontario in the mid-1980s, for example, there were 115,000 honey bee hives, producing nearly 60,000 bees apiece.  Today, there are barely 80,000 hives, said Doug McRory of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The amount of beekeepers who "rent" their bees to farmers is also down from recent years, forcing farmers to pay heftier fees for pollination.  Cherry growers, for example, may have to make better offers this summer to rent pollination services, said Troy Fore, the executive director of the American Beekeeping Federation.

Dr.  Ken Richards, a researcher with Canada's Ministry of Agriculture, said the federal government is very aware of the shrinking number of pollinators, and is now gauging ways to measure the decline and find ways to halt it.  "All sorts of things could possibly happen if we don't look to start to take care of our pollinators."

Conservation Ecology 5(1):8, June 2001






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