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2. The Start of Orthomolecular Medicine

Hoffer MD PhD, Abram Basic Health Publications ePub

CHAPTER 2

THE START OF ORTHOMOLECULAR MEDICINE

Leading gas companies here (New York) say the Edison’s invention has no appreciable effect on gas stocks in this city, and if there is anything of practical value in it, a slight reduction in price may be caused, but it cannot supersede gas for general lighting purposes. They say they have been kept well informed concerning all the recent discoveries in electricity both here and in Europe, and are very skeptical about the promised electrical millennium which is to abolish gas.

—December 24, 1879, from the Globe and Mail (Toronto, October 21, 2003)

It is unfortunately the case that traditional medicine follows other branches of science and invention in ignoring or scorning many important discoveries until long after their initial introduction. In 1968, Linus Pauling published his paper, “Orthomolecular Psychiatry, in Science,” and provided a scientific, theoretical, and practical basis for the concepts of orthomolecular medicine. He defined orthomolecular medicine “for the preservation of good health and the treatment of disease by varying the concentrations in the body of substances that are normally present in the body and are required for health.” This definition referred to a new concept, or paradigm, in medicine with respect to the use of supplements for treating disease. The older and still highly respected paradigm is called “vitamins as prevention.” This concept supports the use of very small doses of a few vitamins needed to prevent the occurrence of a few deficiency diseases such as pellagra. With the vitamins-as-prevention paradigm, vitamin supplements are not needed except for preventing these diseases, and megadoses are never required.

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11. Selenium

Hoffer MD PhD, Abram Basic Health Publications ePub

CHAPTER 11

SELENIUM

It is difficult to establish strong correlations between any diseases and any one nutrient when a large number of nutrient factors are involved. H.D. Foster (1992) in his excellent review concluded that the evidence for a negative correlation between selenium intake and the incidence of cancer was strong. In one twenty-seven-country survey, breast cancer mortality correlated strongly and negatively with dietary selenium. However, case control studies yield conflicting data. Some workers find no difference in blood selenium levels between breast cancer cases and controls, while others find they are low in the cancer cases. Prospective studies also yield mixed data. One study on 4,480 subjects, of whom 111 developed cancer, showed a significant but small decrease in selenium in the patients who developed cancer.

More recent reviews confirmed Foster’s conclusion. A study by Cornell University and University of Arizona showed that patients taking selenium had a 41 percent less chance of getting cancer compared with those taking a placebo. The treated group experienced 18 percent less mortality. Wahrendorf, Munoz, and Lu (1988) supplemented the diet of people living in a high-risk area in China for esophageal cancer. They found that at the end of the trial, individuals who showed large increases in retinol, riboflavin, and zinc blood levels were more likely to have normal esophagus tissues when they were microscopically studied. Yu, Mao, Xiao, et al. (1990) gave 300 micrograms of selenium to forty healthy miners in a double-blind experiment to test its safety. They concluded that this use of selenium was safe and effective in humans with low selenium status, and that selenium protected lymphocytes against DNA damage. Cancer Research announced on June 15, 2003, that some genes were related to incidence of breast cancer and that these genes were less responsive to selenium stimulation. Over a hundred animal and dozens of epidemiological studies linked high selenium state with decreased risk of cancer. On February 21, 2003, the Food and Drug Administration announced the validity of two health claims: (1) selenium may reduce the risk of certain cancers, and (2) selenium may produce anti-carcinogenic effects in the body.

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6. Vitamin E

Hoffer MD PhD, Abram Basic Health Publications ePub

CHAPTER 6

VITAMIN E

Vitamin E includes the tocopherols, of which d-alpha tocopherol succinate has the most anticancer properties. It is the major lipid-soluble antioxidant, protecting the polyunsaturated fatty acids in membranes against peroxidation—the process by which fatty acids are oxidized through the action of an enzyme called peroxidase. The usual intake is about 12 IU (international units) daily. I have patients who take 800 IU daily. Vitamin E destroys nitrites, which have been shown to increase the incidence of cancer. It protects the red blood cells in lungs against the toxic effect of ozone, and from hydroxyl radical toxicity. K.N. Prasad (1999) reported that alpha tocopherol succinate induced differentiation in melanoma cells and inhibited the growth of neuroblastoma, rat glioma, and human prostate and melanoma cells.

Differentiation

The process of changes by which cells become specialized in form and function. It is the degree to which a tumor resembles normal tissue. Well-differentiated tumors resemble normal tissue; the closer the resemblance, the better the prognosis.

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9. Vitamin D

Hoffer MD PhD, Abram Basic Health Publications ePub

CHAPTER 9

VITAMIN D

Without enough vitamin D3 (the biologically active form of vitamin D), we get rickets. But rickets should have disappeared long ago. We know that this vitamin is made in the skin on exposure to ultraviolet light, and that it is readily available in fish liver oils, particularly in halibut liver oil and in smaller concentrations in cod liver oil. Cod liver oil given to children, in spite of its bad taste, was a special spring event for many families. This seems to have vanished as a spring habit, but many of my patients still remember how their mothers forced them to take the foul-tasting substance.

Rickets

A nutritional disease caused by not getting enough vitamin D. This interferes with the ability of the body to absorb calcium and causes softening and deformation of the bones.

Rickets was caused by ignorance then, and it’s coming back again, due to ignorance of a different kind. This time, it is an iatrogenic disease caused by advice from the medical profession, especially by dermatologists. They have become extremely fearful of ultraviolet radiation as a cause of skin cancer, specifically the melanomas. This fear, and their advice to stay out of the sun, to use sun screens, and to keep their children covered at all times has had the unintended consequence that rickets is once more becoming a public health problem. Canadian doctors are seeing more cases of childhood rickets, and apparently this number is increasing each year. In the past two years, there have been eighty-four reported cases of rickets in Canada. Three generations ago this disease was so rare that rickets was considered a medical curiosity. Once considered an old disease of the nineteenth century, when children were malnourished or forced to work in dark mines and factories, rickets is again being seen in Great Britain, the United States, Australia, and Canada. Canadian pediatricians are recommending that vitamin D supplements be used in addition to what is present in breast milk and in other foods. Perhaps the pediatricians should talk more to the dermatologists.

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5. Vitamin B3

Hoffer MD PhD, Abram Basic Health Publications ePub

CHAPTER 5

VITAMIN B3

Vitamin B3 is the anti-pellagra vitamin. Adding niacinamide to flour almost eradicated pellagra, a disease that was a major scourge in the Southeast United States until the cause of pellagra was discovered. There are several forms of vitamin B3. All are equivalent as vitamins, but there are differences as well. Niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) is the one most commonly added to multivitamin preparations because it does not cause vasodilatation or flushing. It has no effect on blood lipid levels, and has not been tested for any protective effect against vascular disease. Niacin (also known as nicotinic acid) acts as a vasodilator when it is first taken. It is the gold standard for lowering cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipoprotein A, and for elevating high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It also decreases deaths in patients who have already had one coronary. It is available in no-flush forms, which have to be carefully formulated. Inositol niacinate is a combination of two vitamins, inositol and niacin. The niacin is released from this compound so slowly that it does not cause flushing. It also has an effect on lipids, but it is not as effective as niacin. All the forms are equally therapeutic for the arthritides (inflammations of the joints), for healing, and for cancer. When I think circulation should be improved, I prefer niacin as a vasodilator. For my cancer-treatment program, I use 300 mg to 3 grams daily.

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