Immunity Is Critical To Good Health
Lyme Expert Defends North Carolina Infection Expert, Blasts AP for Many Errors and Takes On Drs. Shapiro and Mead
To the Associated Press,
The story entitled "Doctor Disciplined over Lyme Disease Treatment" (4/14/06) has numerous inaccuracies. First, the title makes it sound like Dr. Jemsek has already been convicted of some crime. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the story finally acknowledges in the fourth paragraph. By then the casual reader has been totally misled.
The story quotes Dr. Paul Mead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who makes comments about the treatment of chronic Lyme disease. Dr. Mead is a research epidemiologist at the CDC. He is not involved in direct patient care, and he has no expertise in the clinical management of patients with chronic Lyme disease. His comments are irrelevant to the thousands of patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease, and his uninformed clinical views are irrelevant to Dr. Jemsek's case.
The story also quotes Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a pediatric researcher from Yale University who helped formulate the now-obsolete Lyme guidelines of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Dr, Shapiro makes another one of his nihilistic comments for which he is notorious:
"It's not that the people diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease don't have problems," he said. "It's that chronic Lyme disease is not the problem."
Over the past decade, it has become obvious that a major problem for people with chronic Lyme disease is Dr. Shapiro himself, who has used his stature as a university professor to spread misinformation about Lyme disease around the country. Sadly there are gullible reporters who blindly print his dismissive statements while ignoring the immense problems with chronic Lyme disease, which confers disability similar to congestive heart failure. Dr. Jemsek is trying to solve those problems. Dr. Shapiro is making them worse.
A story like this one should have included comments from more enlightened physician groups such as the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS, www.ilads.org) and from patient advocacy groups such as the national Lyme Disease Association (LDA, www.lymediseaseassociation.org). Let's hope that the Associated Press does a better job next time.
Raphael Stricker, MD
Without a properly functioning immune system, we as human beings would cease to exist. Our bodies would be virtually overrun by various bacteria, viruses, cancers and other pathogens in hours to days. Fortunately, however, the majority of us have an adequately functioning immune system. But is it optimal? Bear in mind that our immune system is constantly under assault from various toxins in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, and even in the food we eat.
For example, studies now indicate the over consumption of sugar and simple carbs can potentially decimate the immune system, and even double the rate of breast cancer. Maintaining optimal immune functioning cannot be overstressed.
I was pleased to see a study that was published in the current edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) regarding vitamin E and immune function. In the study, 617 elderly nursing home residents were followed for approximately one year. Half of the group was given 200 IU of vitamin E daily. It was found that those individuals who were given the vitamin developed slightly fewer respiratory tract infections during the study. In addition, those taking the vitamins were actually 20% less likely to develop a cold during the study. Although this study is certainly not a major breakthrough, it certainly offers some credence for the use of vitamin E as a potential immune stimulator.
In another study published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 22 adults from Great Britain with relatively low plasma selenium levels were given either 50 or 100 mcg of selenium or placebo daily for fifteen weeks in a double-blinded trial. All subjects in the study were given an oral polio vaccine after six weeks. Those given selenium supplementation noted improved cellular immune response through the production of certain proteins called cytokines, along with an increase in T helper cells. The selenium-treated individuals also showed more rapid clearance of the polio virus. The authors concluded that the data indicated that those individuals with selenium deficiency had sub-optimal immune status and a deficit in viral handling. They also suggested that the additional 100 mcg of selenium a day may be insufficient to support optimal immune function.
Selenium and vitamin E are two extremely important nutrients for ensuring proper immune function.
Selenium has been the subject of many studies in the last decade regarding cancer. In a review article published in the January 2004 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition, it is mentioned that there have been eight clinical trials with human subjects regarding the influence of selenium on cancer incidence or bio-markers of cancer. In seven of the eight trials, a positive benefit was shown for selenium for reducing cancer or bio-markers of cancer. The article goes on to mention that there have been about 100 small animal studies where selenium has been shown to reduce the incidence of tumors in most of these trials. There was a landmark study published in JAMA in 1996 indicating that 200 mcg a day of selenium in the form of selenomethionine decreased the overall incidence of cancer by 37%, reduced cancer mortality by 50%, and reduced the incidence of prostate cancer by an amazing 63%.
You may be aware that there is currently a nationwide study underway studying both vitamin E and selenium in regards to prostate cancer. This study will involve thousands of men and run for a decade. The evidence is so strong for the safety and effectiveness of these nutrients that it makes no sense for people to wait for the results of yet another study, especially when hundreds of thousands of people are dying every year in America from cancer.
Although you might think that modern science has so many of the answers, it was not until the late 1970s that researchers even realized that selenium was an essential micro-mineral for human existence.
And while we do get selenium in our diets from consumption of wheat products, garlic and brown rice, in point of fact, most people in this country have a relative deficiency of selenium. For you holdouts still taking typical, mass-produced multi-vitamins, I would suggest that you pick up your bottle at this time and read the label. What you will likely find is that your vitamin only contains a small amount of the most inexpensive form of selenium, selenium selenite. Compare this to Nutraceutical Science Institute (NSI) nutrients. The typical NSI Synergy product contains 200 mcg of the organic form of selenium, known as selenomethionine. Both products contain selenium, but the form and amount in the typical multi-vitamin is inferior. In fact, the typical multi-vitamin contains only 30 IU of synthetic vitamin E. Compare this to most Synergy products, which contain several hundred units of a mixed blend of natural vitamin E. These nutrients, along with numerous others found in Synergy products, will certainly promote and enhance your overall physical, immune and neurological well-being. The same cannot be said for many other multi-vitamins.
For those of you that need additional immune system benefits, NSI's MGC-5 has become an extremely popular product. It contains a blend of the four most powerful standardized mushrooms and 100% pure beta-1, 3-D glucan. It is a great synergistic complement to any of the Synergy multi-vitamins.
By Allen S. Josephs, M.D.
Reprinted with permission and my thanks.