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*September 2004 issue of Dr. Greger's Newsletter*

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  • Michael Greger, M.D.
    ************************************** September 2004 issue of Dr. Michael Greger s Monthly Newsletter *******************************************************
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 25, 2004

      September 2004 issue of Dr. Michael Greger's Monthly Newsletter


      CONTENTS (online at http://www.veganmd.org/newsletters.html)

      I. Latest Updates in Human Nutrition
      A. Full-Fat Salad Dressings Healthier than Fat-Free
      B. Prostate Cancer and Milk
      C. Reversing Arteriosclerosis with Pomegranate Juice
      D. Vegan Children: A Recent Review
      E. Vegetarian Athletes: A Recent Review
      F. Endometriosis and Diet

      II. Live Paratuberculosis Bacteria Found in U.S. Milk
      III. USDA Food Pyramid Comments-We only have two days left!
      IV. Grassroots Animal Rights Conference workshop proposals
      V. Update on Mad Cow Disease
      VI. Personal Update-The Atkins legal threat



      A. Full-Fat Salad Dressings Healthier than Fat-Free

      There is a misconception in the vegetarian movement that all fat is
      bad for you. In reality, there are good fats (those found in nuts),
      bad fats (saturated animal fat), great fats (omega-3's found in flax
      seeds) and killer fats (trans fats found in both animal fat and
      hydrogenated oils used in processed foods). Although experiments on
      nonhuman animals show conflicting results (as usual), the human data
      is quite good. For example in the Harvard Nurse's Study, after
      following over 75,000 women for a decade, those that put oil and
      vinegar dressing on their daily salad had less than half the cardiac
      mortality compared to those who, for instance, used fat-free
      dressings. They cut their risk of dying from a fatal heart attack in
      half with Italian dressing! Those that used dairy or egg-based creamy
      dressings, of course, had zero benefit.[1]

      Canola oil-based salad dressings are an important source of omega-3
      fatty acids in this country. For example, one tablespoon of Annie's
      Goddess Dressing contains about 25% of your daily recommended omega-3
      intake--add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds or a handful of walnuts
      to your salad and you're basically set for the day.

      The Harvard researchers are concerned about people switching over to
      fat-free dressings. They conclude their report with the sentence "Our
      findings suggest that a reduction in consumption of foods such as
      oil-based salad dressings... may increase the risk of fatal ischemic
      heart disease."[2]

      Eating a source of fat with your salad greens (or any vegetable for
      that matter), also helps the absorption of critical nutrients. Your
      intestines require the presence of fat to absorb carotenoid
      phytonutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. A new study published
      in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
      found that fat is essential.[3]

      Researchers at the University of Iowa gave people nice salads
      containing spinach, romaine lettuce, grated carrots and cherry
      tomatoes. With the dark green leafy spinach in there, the salad was
      just packed with cancer-fighting antioxidant carotenoids, but it's
      not what you eat, it's what you absorb. And the researchers found
      that "Essentially no absorption of carotenoids was observed when
      salads with fat-free salad dressings were consumed." So be sure to
      include some source of fat at your meals. The healthiest sources of
      fat, of course, are from unrefined whole foods. So by adding nuts and
      seeds or avocado to your meal you not only get all their nutritional
      benefit, but you enhance your absorption of other nutrients in the
      rest of the meal.

      Don't be a fatphobe :)


      B. Prostate Cancer and Milk

      Prostate cancer is now the single most common cancer among men in the
      United States and is on the rise in almost every country in the world
      as they adopt a more meat and dairy centered diet.[4] Does drinking
      cow milk really increase a man's risk for developing this killer
      cancer, though? Yes, according to a meta-analysis of 11 independent
      studies published this summer. Milk-drinking men seem to have about a
      70% greater chance of developing cancer of the prostate. In fact the
      case against milk is so strong and consistent that even if 50 new
      studies came out all failing to show any link between milk and
      prostate cancer, the balance of evidence would still indict milk as a
      significant cancer risk factor.[5]

      Although the butterfat in dairy may play a role, the researchers
      blame the hormones in milk as the likely culprit. "Because commercial
      milk is mainly produced by pregnant cows in developed countries," the
      researchers claim, "it contains considerable amounts of estrogen."
      Combined with other growth hormones in the milk designed to make a
      calf gain 100 pounds in 50 days,[6] cow milk may promote the growth
      of hormone-sensitive cancers.

      Milk is for babies.


      C. Reversing Arteriosclerosis with Pomegranate Juice

      Folk medicine has been extolling the medicinal qualities of
      pomegranates for thousands of years. Modern science has been a bit
      slow catching up, but with the fruit's intense ruby red color, it
      should come as no surprise it has topped the antioxidant charts,
      blowing blueberries right out of the water. But Israeli researchers
      have just permanently placed pomegranates on the map with a landmark
      study published this summer in the journal Clinical Nutrition.[7]

      The researchers took a group of people coming into a vascular surgery
      clinic with severe carotid artery blockage--the arteries in their
      neck providing blood flow to their brain were 70-90% obstructed. Half
      of the patients were then instructed to drink a little less than a
      quarter cup of pomegranate juice every day for a year.

      At the end of the year, the arteriosclerotic plaques in the arteries
      of those who did nothing predictably worsened, thickening 9%, closing
      their arteries off even further. But in the pomegranate juice group,
      after just 3 months the plaques in their arteries shrank 13%. By 9
      months the plaque was down 26%. And after one year of drinking less
      than a quarter cup of pomegranate juice a day, the arteriosclerotic
      lesions were 35% reversed. The investigators attribute the
      anti-arteriosclerotic properties of pomegranates to the antioxidant
      polyphenols (which I talk about in my new Stopping Cancer DVD).

      So should we start forking out $4 a bottle for that "Pom Wonderful"
      juice that started popping up in grocery stores? Well, you can get
      cheaper (and organic!) pomegranate juice in your natural food store,
      but the whole fruit is always preferable to juice--you get the
      additional benefits of the fiber and other nutrition discarded during
      processing. Expect to start seeing pomegranates in your local produce
      section as the growing season peaks around October.


      D. Vegan Children: A Recent Review

      Vegan babies are sprouting up all over. The medical journal
      Pediatrics in Review recently took on the topic in an article
      entitled "Vegan Diets in Infants, Children and Adolescents." Out of
      the Children's National Medical Center in D.C., the assessment noted:
      "Multiple experts have concluded independently that vegan diets can
      be followed safely by infants and children without compromise of
      nutrition or growth and with some notable health benefits."[8]

      The health benefits of raising children vegan are particularly
      pronounced now in the context of our childhood obesity epidemic. Ever
      since the landmark autopsy reports on soldiers who died in the Korean
      War[9] and the Vietnam War,[10] we have known that young adults can
      have advanced coronary artery disease. Now we're finding fatty
      cholesterol buildup in the arteries of children as young as 2 years
      old.[11] No wonder Dr. Benjamin Spock, the most esteemed pediatrician
      of all time, recommended that all children be raised vegan in the
      latest edition of his world-famous Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care,
      the best-selling book in American history (second only to the

      This new review of pediatric vegan nutrition is in line with the
      position of the largest organization of nutrition professionals in
      the world, the American Dietetic Association, who declared
      "Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are
      appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during
      pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence."[13]

      What is meant by well-planned, though? Vitamin B12 of course, which
      is especially critical during infancy, and attention paid to adequate
      energy, protein and mineral intake. For details, read Feeding Vegan
      Kids at http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.htm by Reed Mengels, the
      nutrition advisor for the Vegetarian Resource Group.

      "Of course it takes time and thought to feed vegan children," writes
      Dr. Mengels, "Shouldn't feeding of any child require time and


      E. Vegetarian Athletes: A Recent Review

      The July/August issue of the journal Nutrition had a review on the
      "Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Athletes." The last
      comprehensive review of athletic performance and vegetarianism was
      over 5 years ago.[14] Not much has changed.

      There still hasn't been a single well-controlled long-term study on
      the effects of vegetarian or vegan diets on athletes, but the best
      science we have so far suggests that there are no consistent
      differences in strength, fitness, or performance between vegetarian
      and nonvegetarian athletes. Vegetarian athletes seem to perform just
      as well as their flesh-eating counterparts.[15]

      The review addressed the role of creatine. Creatine is a compound
      found in your muscles that your body produces to facilitate quick
      bursts of energy. People who eat the muscles of
      others--meat-eaters--tend to build up higher levels of creatine than
      vegetarians. While this has not been shown to offer a competitive
      advantage, there is some evidence that massive creatine
      supplementation may offer additional benefit for vegetarian athletes
      who may have lower baseline levels.[16,17] The level of creatine
      supplementation typically used, however, is the equivalent of eating
      about 10 pounds of meat a day,[18] the safety of which has not been
      established.[19] The review concludes that "the most prudent
      conclusion is that more data on the long-term safety profile are
      needed before creatine supplementation can be endorsed for athletes,
      vegetarians, or others."[20]


      F. Endometriosis and Diet

      Up to 50% of menstruating women have endometriosis,[21] a condition
      that can result in excruciating chronic pain and infertility. The
      only cure is radical surgery. And no one even knows exactly what
      causes it, or even clearly what the risk factors are.[22] A new study
      just published, though, offers some insight into the development of
      this disease.

      Studying hundreds of women with confirmed endometriosis, Italian
      researchers found that those eating just one daily serving of meat
      (beef or pork--poultry was not studied) seemed to double their risk
      of developing endometriosis. Eating fresh fruit, on the other hand,
      seemed to drop their risk 20% and eating just a single serving of
      green vegetables every day may cut your risk of developing
      endometriosis in half!

      So to help prevent this painful condition, women may want to eat more
      greens and less beings.


      II. Live Paratuberculosis Bacteria Found in U.S. Milk

      There has been a media blackout in this country about one of the most
      important nutrition stories of the year, the recent finding of live
      paratuberculosis bacteria in retail milk purchased from stores in
      Wisconsin, California and Minnesota, proving that the organism can
      indeed survive pasteurization.[23]

      In the view of Dr. Hermon-Taylor, leading paraTB researcher and
      Chairman of the Department of Surgery at St. George's Medical School
      in London, "There is overwhelming evidence that we are sitting on a
      public health disaster of tragic proportions."[24]

      Although thousands die from food poisoning every year in the United
      States, most sufferers only experience acute self-limited episodes.
      Up to 15% of those that contract Salmonella, however, go on to get
      serious joint inflammation that can last for years. An estimated
      100,000 to 200,000 people suffer from arthritis arising directly from
      food borne infections each year in the United States.[25]

      One of the most feared long-term complications of food poisoning,
      however, is Guillain-Barre syndrome, in which infection with
      Campylobacter, a bacteria infecting up to 90% of Thanksgiving turkeys
      every year in the United States, can lead to one being paralyzed for
      months on a ventilator.[26]

      Some scientists now fear, though, that an even more serious disease
      may be infecting our food supply. The United States has the highest
      incidence of Crohn's disease in the world, a devastating lifelong
      gastrointestinal condition.[27] The United States also has the
      highest incidence on the planet of a similar disease in cattle called
      Johne's disease.[28] We know that Johne's disease is caused by a
      bacteria called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, and more and more
      evidence is accumulating that human Crohn's disease may be caused by
      this bacteria as well.[29]

      Drinking milk from cows infected with Johne's disease is how people
      are exposed to paratuberculosis.[30] Although these bacteria are
      found free-floating in milk, their transmission may be facilitated by
      their presence inside pus cells.[31] This is a particular problem in
      the United States, as we have the highest permitted upper limit of
      milk pus cell concentration in the world--almost twice the
      international standard of allowable pus cells (750,000/ml vs.
      400,000/ml)[32] By US federal law, Grade A milk is allowed to have
      over a drop of pus per glass of milk.[33]

      Despite research showing that by hiding in fat droplets, pus cells,
      and fecal clumps in milk[34] paraTB might be able to endure
      temperatures much higher than currently used in pasteurization,[35]
      the FDA and the USDA have continued to deny this pathogen could
      survive pasteurization. Now that the bacteria has been found growing
      in pasteurized milk taken right from supermarket shelves here in the
      U.S., their position is no longer tenable.

      Why haven't we heard about this is the press? In an editorial
      entitled "Media and Censorship," the editor-in-chief of the Cleveland
      Free Times wrote: "The dairy lobby is notoriously powerful inside the
      Washington DC beltway. And a tax on dairy farmers helps the dairy
      industry spread its advertising dollars around generously (most
      notably the 'Got Milk?' ad campaign), to the point where the
      wholesomeness of milk goes virtually unquestioned in the media. How
      else can it be explained that the possible link between a bacterium
      in milk and Crohn's disease is virtually unknown in the United
      States, despite front-page coverage in England and other places
      around the world?"[36]

      The dairy industry knows what kind of time bomb they're sitting
      on.[37] An article in Milk Science International entitled "Is
      Mycobacterium paratuberculosis a possible agent in Crohn's Disease?"
      warns that "the present state of knowledge is... potentially
      catastrophic for the dairy industry..."[38]

      Every few hours, another child in this country is diagnosed with
      Crohn's disease and may be condemned to a life of chronic
      suffering.[39] The balance of evidence strongly suggests a causative
      link between Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in milk and Crohn's
      disease.[40] This public health issue has been at the periphery of
      the dairy industry's agenda for years, a nagging concern on the back
      burner.[41] Now that live paraTB bacteria have been found in retail
      milk here in the U.S., we need to move this issue to the front burner
      and we need to turn up the heat.

      For background on this critical issue, please read my article at
      http://www.veganoutreach.org/health/gotmilk.html and for updates on
      this evolving crisis, go to http://www.crohns.org


      III. USDA Food Pyramid Comments--We only have two days left!

      The reason I needed to get the September issue out early is because
      we only have two days left to mail in our comments to the USDA.

      The USDA is for the first time updating their 12 year old Food Guide
      Pyramid and is accepting public comments up until August 27th.

      The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is urging it's members to
      write in and tell the USDA to stuff the pyramid with beef,
      complaining that young children simply don't eat enough meat.[42]
      Similarly, Poultry Times and the American Meat Institute are ensuring
      meat-friendly comments continue to flow in during these final days.
      The Atkins Corporation even has an action alert featured prominently
      on their website to encourage people to write in and urge the USDA to
      base the pyramid around meat. We definitely need to add our voices to
      the mix.

      The USDA is not accepting emailed comments. We actually have to mail
      them a letter postdated no later than this Friday, August 27th. Maybe
      you want to encourage the USDA to emphasize healthier plant-based
      sources of protein such as beans and nuts in their "meat" group? Or
      maybe you'd rather them change the "Milk" group to the "Calcium"
      group and feature leafy green vegetables, the healthiest source of
      the mineral? This is our chance to have our voices heard!

      Letters need to be mailed to:

      The Food Guide Pyramid Reassessment Team
      USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
      3101 Park Center Drive Room #1034
      Alexandria, VA 22302


      IV. Grassroots Animal Rights Conference workshop proposals

      I'm very excited to be involved in the planning of the very first
      Grassroots Animal Rights Conference, which will be taking place Feb
      18-21, 2005 at NYU in New York City. Its guiding principle is to
      empower, organize and motivate the grassroots by promoting discussion
      and skill sharing workshops at an affordable, accessible, and
      inclusive conference. Please check us out at
      http://www.grassrootsAR.org and get involved.

      We are now accepting proposals for activities to take place during
      the conference (workshops, plenaries, protests, etc). Anyone can
      submit a proposal for any activity, including sessions/events that
      you would like to facilitate or speak at, or activities you would
      like to see run by others (e.g. speakers you would like to hear at
      the conference). Workshop proposals can be submitted directly online
      at: http://www.armedia.org/garc/workshop.htm


      V. Update on Mad Cow Disease

      In May, the findings of the British tonsil and appendix survey I've
      been telling everyone about for years were finally published. Years
      before the symptoms of the human form of mad cow disease
      start--terrifying hallucinations, dementia, psychosis--the deadly
      prions can be detected building up inside the body. So British
      researchers got the brilliant idea to just go through the thousands
      of tonsils and appendixes that were taken out of people during
      routine surgery to see how many people were infected and awaiting
      what Britain's Health Secretary called the "worst form of death"

      Based on the results, thousands of young people in Britain alone seem
      destined to die in the coming years from mad cow disease.[43] Worst
      case scenario? A half a million people dead.[44] Or at least that's
      what we thought up until last month.

      Up until now, every single known human death from mad cow disease has
      been in people with a relatively uncommon genetic makeup. Most
      estimates as to how many people would eventually succumb have been
      based on the fact that only a minority of the population even seemed
      susceptible. But I and others have been warning that those with the
      rarer genetic makeup may just be falling sick earlier than the rest
      of us. And in August 2004, autopsy results were published showing mad
      cow infection in an individual with the majority genetic makeup
      common to most of the general population. This opens up the
      possibility of 30 million more human carriers of mad cow disease in
      Britain alone.[45]


      VI. Personal Update--The Atkins legal threat

      A huge thank you to everyone who offered to help me find legal
      representation to fend off the attempts by the Atkins Corporation to
      intimidate me for speaking up about their "nightmare of a diet" (as
      the American Dietetic Association calls it) on my website

      None other than the one and only Steven Wise stepped forward to help
      me fend off threats from Atkins, Inc. Author of such classics as
      "Rattling the Cage" and "Drawing the Line," he has a wealth of
      experience defending activists from frivolous corporate defamation
      lawsuits and is even taking time off from his vacation to take on the

      So if the Atkins Corporation is stupid enough to put their diet on
      trial I have but three presidential words for them: BRING IT ON! We
      all remember the McLibel trial, right? Dubbed "the biggest corporate
      PR disaster in history",[46] McDonald's Corporation spent up to $15
      million in an attempt to silence London Greenpeace activists from
      handing out pamphlets documenting McDonald's corporate abuses.
      McLibel became the longest running trial in English history, forcing
      McDonalds executives onto the stand, generating 60,000 pages of
      testimony, and providing a forum for activists to bring out the truth
      behind the golden arches.

      The verdict was devastating for McDonald's. The judge ruled that they
      "exploit children" and workers, produce "misleading" advertising, and
      are "culpably responsible" for cruelty to animals. You can order the
      upcoming McLibel documentary, which one reviewer called "an often
      hilarious expose of big business arrogance," on DVD at

      Hopefully we can expose the truth behind the Atkins Corporation and
      their diet in the same way the London activists exposed McDonalds.
      But I need your help.

      Even with Steven Wise's generously discounted rate, the legal fees
      are starting to mount. There are so many wonderful worthy causes out
      there (the Eastern Shore Sanctuary and Education Center, for example,
      at http://bravebirds.org/ has just recently fallen on hard times), so
      I feel a bit uncomfortable asking for help. In fact there are other
      activists that need legal funds too, like SarahJane Blum who was
      arrested for the courageous open rescue of unspeakably tortured ducks
      from a foie gras factory farm (donate to help her fight at

      But if you believe in my work, if you want to help support me in
      exposing the reality behind the Atkins Diet, please consider donating
      to the "Michael Greger Legal Fund" by going to my homepage at
      http://www.veganMD.org and clicking the donate link at the bottom. Or
      send a check to me at 185 South St #6, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

      Thank you for considering helping me draw this line in the sand, to
      help me stand up against this corporate bully and expose the truth
      behind the low carb lies.


      (Full text of specific articles available by emailing
      1 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 69(1999):890
      2 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 69(1999):890
      3 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80(2004):396
      4 European Journal of Cancer 37(2001):S4
      5 Nutrition and Cancer 48(2004):22
      6 NorthEast DairyBusiness August 2002:24
      7 Clinical Nutrition 23(2004):423
      8 Pediatrics in Review 25(2004):172
      9 Journal of the American Medical Association 158(1955):912
      10 Journal of the American Medical Association 216(1971):118
      11 New England Journal of Medicine 4 June 1998
      12 Spock B, Parker S. Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. New York,
      NY:Pocket Books, 1998
      13 Journal of the American Dietetic Association 97(1997):1317
      14 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 70(1999):532S
      15 Nutrition 20(2004):696
      16 European Journal of Applied Physiology 82(2000):321
      17 Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 35(2003):1946
      18 Sports Medicine 18(1994):268
      19 Journal of the American Dietetic Association 99(1999):593
      20 Nutrition 20(2004):696
      21 American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 129(1977):245
      22 Postgraduate Medicine 107(2000)
      23 Cheese Reporter 19 August 2004
      24 Chemist & Druggist 2000 Jan 29:11.
      25 USDA: APHIS: ORACBA. Revue scientifique et technique
      (International Office of Epizootics) 1997 Aug;16(2):337-41
      26 Cornell Cooperative Extension Food and Nutrition 1998 Nov/Dec
      27 American Journal of Surgery 145(1983):546
      28 PARA. MAP in the United Kingdom. 1999.
      29 http://crohns.org/articles/index.htm
      30 Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis 5(1996):353
      31 European Commission: Directorate -- General Health & Consumer
      Protection; Directorate B -- Scientific Health Opinions; Unit B3.
      SANCO/B3/R16/2000. Adopted 2000 Mar 21:49
      32 Smith KL, Hogan JS. Milk quality -- a worldwide perspective.
      Annual Proceedings of the National Mastitis Council; 1998; St. Louis,
      33 Assuming a billion lymphocytes/ml as a reasonable defining
      concentration of pus, regulations per [Heeschen WH. Codex regulations
      and food safety. Bulletin of the International Dairy Federation
      1997;319:24], a standard 20 drops/ml, and a "glass" as 500 cc, Grade
      A milk may have more than seven drops of pus per glass.
      34 USAHA. Report of the USAHA Committee on Food Safety; 1998 Oct 5;
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
      35 Grant IR, Ball HJ, Rowe MT. A novel staining technique for
      assessing clumping and viability of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis
      cells during pasteurization. Proceedings of the International
      Colloquium on Paratuberculosis 5(1996)
      36 Project Censored. PARA Newsletter 2000 Jul:2
      37 Wisconsin Agriculturist 1997 Dec.]
      38 Milk Science International 1997;52:311-6
      39 Wisconsin Agriculturist July 1998
      40 European Commission: Directorate -- General Health & Consumer
      Protection; Directorate B -- Scientific Health Opinions; Unit B3.
      SANCO/B3/R16/2000. Adopted 2000 Mar 21:4
      41 Wisconsin Agriculturist December 1997
      42 National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
      43 Journal of Pathology 21 May 2004
      44 Daily Mail (London) 21 May 2004
      45 Lancet 13 August 2004
      46 Guardian 28 March 2002


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