Life Extension Magazine August 2002
As We See It
NEW VIEWS ON ATHEROSCLEROSIS
Artery disease remains the leading cause of death in the Western World. The reason so many people continue to suffer heart attacks and strokes is that long held concepts about atherosclerosis have turned out to be wrong!
That’s what was reported in graphic detail in the May 2002 issue of Scientific American. According to the publication, atherosclerosis is the result of chronic inflammation in the arterial lining. Emphasized in the Scientific American article was how pro-oxidants, cytokines, LDL-cholesterol and products of glycation contribute to atherosclerosis by facilitating inflammation.
Life Extension members were long ago informed about the cardiovascular dangers of chronic inflammation and what they could do to protect themselves. As prestigious scientific publications confirm our early findings, a growing number of cardiologists are testing their patients’ blood for C-reactive protein, homocysteine and fibrinogen. When any of these inflammatory blood markers are elevated, the risk for heart attack or stroke dramatically increases.
Prescription drug folic acid
A drug company has patented a product called FOLTX that cardiologists are now prescribing to their patients for the purpose of lowering homocysteine. Each tablet of FOLTX contains:
The cost for 90 tablets of FOLTX from www.drugstore.com is $38.08—or about double the retail price of these same potencies of vitamins when purchased in a health food store.
Cardiac patients are being told by their doctors to stop taking other vitamins and only use FOLTX. The problem with this recommendation is that many people need higher doses of vitamin B6 in order to lower homocysteine levels to below 7 (mcmol/L). In the March 1999 issue of Life Extension magazine, a report was published based on our research showing that high-dose folic acid does not always adequately suppress homocysteine. We found that a significant percentage of supplement users still need 250 mg to 500 mg of vitamin B6 plus 1000 mg and greater of TMG (trimethylglycine) each day.
Mainstream medicine is still not prescribing enough homocysteine-lowering supplements to protect everyone against homocysteine overload. As is the case with all prescription medications, the cost of homocysteine-reducing drugs is considerably inflated.
The media has not ignored the findings about the dangers of homocysteine. Frequent news updates report that people who consume higher amounts of folic acid and other vitamins have a decreased risk of heart attack and stroke.
The media, however, is erroneously crediting the FDA for requiring food makers to add folic acid to cereals, pastas and breads. The implication is that the FDA knew of the cardiovascular-protecting effects of folic acid and wanted to make sure Americans were not deficient. Nothing could be further from the truth!
For years, the FDA battled against folic acid food fortification and supplementation. The only reason the FDA capitulated on the fortification issue was irrefutable evidence that folic acid would prevent birth defects. The FDA still does not acknowledge folic acid’s multiple disease-preventing benefits.
When the FDA raided Life Extension’s premises on February 26, 1987 at gunpoint, they not only seized folic acid supplements, but they also carted away every piece of our literature that described folic acid’s cardio-protective effect. When challenged about the seizure of the literature, FDA officials stated that it was illegal to make a health claim that folic acid has any relationship with heart attack risk.
The FDA has been openly hostile to folic acid for decades, and the result has been millions of needless heart attacks and strokes that could have been prevented if a health claim could have been made about folic acid.
Crediting the FDA for mandating folic acid fortification is an egregious distortion of history. An analogy would be to credit the British for freeing the American colonies while failing to mention the long-fought Revolutionary War that resulted in England’s capitulation.
The FDA versus folic acid
For decades, the FDA argued against folic acid supplementation because the presence of folic acid in the blood could mask a serious vitamin B12 deficiency. But the Journal of the American Medical Association (Dec. 18, 1996) noted that folic acid supplements fortified with vitamin B12 would be a prudent way of gaining the cardiovascular benefits of folic acid without risking a B12 deficiency. Hundreds of studies in the world’s most respected scientific journals have confirmed the benefits of folic acid and other vitamins as a means of reducing the incidence of heart attack and stroke. Nevertheless, the FDA still does not accept that folic acid has any benefit other than preventing a certain type of birth defect.
It took the FDA more than 30 years to acknowledge that folic acid prevents neural tube birth defects. Tens of thousands of deformed babies were born because the FDA prohibited claims that pregnant women should take folic acid. When former Commissioner David Kessler was confronted with overwhelming evidence that women of child-bearing age should supplement with folic acid, he responded in an NBC interview:
The scientific facts are that it is elderly people who most often develop methylation deficits that result in excess homocysteine formation. Life Extension has reviewed blood test results of elderly members and found acute increases in homocysteine over short periods of time. The result of this homocysteine spike is accelerated atherosclerosis and aortic valve stenosis, along with kidney and neurological disorders.
Dr. Kessler was determined to keep folic acid away from the elderly—the very group of people that most need to keep their homocysteine levels in optimal ranges (below 7 mcmol/L) of blood.
Is the FDA safe and effective?
In this issue, we introduce a new website that dissects the FDA in meticulous academic detail. The massive body of historical data contained on this website represents a stunning indictment of the FDA’s multiple failures to protect the public’s health. Here is a brief introduction that appears on the home page of this new website:
Life Extension believes the data provided on this website will result in future legal and political defeats for the FDA, as their long history of bureaucratic incompetence is irrefutably exposed. The domain name of this new website is www.FDAreview.org. It was put together by the enormous efforts of Daniel B. Klein, Ph.D. and Alexander Taborrok, Ph.D., two impressively credentialed members of establishment academia.
Protecting your own health
The medical establishment and government bureaucracies are inherently slow to react to new scientific findings. The result is that staggering numbers of people suffer and die while effective means to prevent their diseases already exist.
As more studies document that the risk of contracting disease can be significantly reduced, it becomes imperative for individuals to protect their own health. Physicians cannot be expected to initiate this role.
Obesity is rapidly becoming the leading cause of disability and death. In this month’s issue, we introduce novel methods of shedding excess body fat. While doctors may tell you to lose weight, they provide little practical guidance.
We also present solid evidence for physicians to prescribe overlooked hormone drugs for the treatment of depression. While the FDA approves these drugs, most doctors disregard their safe and diverse therapeutic benefits.
As a Life Extension member, you acquire practical knowledge that your doctor may not learn about for many years.
For longer life,