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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26016 Posts

Posted - 03/21/2004 :  01:10:57  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
I'm not quite certain, and I don't mean to poke fun, but there's got to be some sort of irony involved here, right? Perhaps since his wife is a nutritionist?

From CNN:
quote:
Brian Maxwell, founder of the multimillion-dollar PowerBar empire and a former world-class marathon runner, has died of a heart attack, friends said. He was 51.
Perhaps it's just my Skeptic-Sense tingling, but it seems to me that maybe the vast majority of diet and nutrition researchers are correct, and that at least half of all heart attacks are due to bad genetics instead of "lifestyle" issues. The promoters of the current crop of fad diets, of course, would often have us believe otherwise, but they seem to have simply taken the real expert's words and twisted them into an "eat this way or die" sensationalism which is a near guarantee of book and product sales.

Mind you, I haven't looked into this in detail, and it's possible that Maxwell didn't subscribe to such health nonsense. It's also possible that in the last 24 years (or less), he'd "let himself go" quite a bit. Having a "nutritionist" for a wife and a successful product which purported to be healthy (at least on its face) suggests otherwise, on both counts, however.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.

filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 03/21/2004 :  04:42:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
I think that you are right about the genetics. After all, only until recently did our bodies have to last much beyond 30 or 40 years, which is close to the age that, having mostly made our donation to the gene pool, evolution is done with us as individuals. What is remarkable is that so many of us live as long as we do.

I don't believe that all of these 'health' foods and nostrums are crap. I'm sure most have some nutritional value, and many might be quite good (I've never used any of it and don't know first hand). It is the unbelievable ways that they are hyped that I object to. Most of the ads make claims that, when you think about it, makes you wonder if you are not being sold on the nutritional evquivelent of the Q Braclet. Which, by the bye, is still in business along with magnetic nonsense and many other, venerable flim-flams, proving that these ads work and that we are a species of idiots.

What it is, we love short cuts. We want to get rid of that beer belly, but really don't want to cut back on the beer, or anything else we might like. So, in our laziness, we throw money at it.

Twinkie, anyone?


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Renae
SFN Regular

543 Posts

Posted - 03/21/2004 :  08:49:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Renae a Private Message
Dave, good point. It's easy to forget how complicated health and wellness are.

I've read that some heart disease may be linked to viruses like the cytomegalovirus and to c-reactive protein in the blood.

Even with all that, it's of course a good idea to eat well and exercise. But remembering that we aren't totally in control of our wellness is humbling.
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gezzam
SFN Regular

Australia
751 Posts

Posted - 03/21/2004 :  09:47:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit gezzam's Homepage Send gezzam a Private Message
quote:
What it is, we love short cuts. We want to get rid of that beer belly, but really don't want to cut back on the beer, or anything else we might like.


Heard anything groundbreaking on that one filthy??????

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.

Al Franken
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 03/21/2004 :  14:54:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by gezzam

quote:
What it is, we love short cuts. We want to get rid of that beer belly, but really don't want to cut back on the beer, or anything else we might like.


Heard anything groundbreaking on that one filthy??????



Naw. Indeed, I follow mine own, prodigious pauch around, hither and yon.

It'll shrink a bit as the weather get's warmer and I get more active (read: off my lazy ass and out into the field, which is the only secret).


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26016 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2004 :  11:03:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
A very large agreement, here, filthy, that people largely go after the easy health fads out of laziness and a desire for a "quick fix" to a complex and difficult problem. People want to live how they want to live, after all. Telling people they've got to do certain things to stay as healthy as possible seems downright unamerican with its implications that we can't make our biology conform to our ideals of personal freedom.

Renae, C-Reactive Protein is now used as a measure of inflammation in the body. CRP is basically a by-product of inflammatory processes, and atherosclerosis is exactly that: something damages the heart's arteries, which results in an inflammatory response which in turn creates a "plaque" on the artery wall, and if that plaque bursts, the resultant blood clot can block the artery, depriving the heart of oxygen, resulting in pain and possibly death.

There are, however, many things which can cause the damage that sets the whole chain of events off. Viruses, smoking, dietary cholesterol, alcohol and other drug abuse, obesity, etc.. CRP simply measures all of these things, and presents us with a measure by which we can say people are at high or low risk for a heart attack.

And "risk" is the key word. You can have low CRP levels, and still drop dead. Likewise, you can have extremely high CRP levels and live for years. And other factors can, of course, complicate the measure. I've got psoriasis - an inflammatory skin condition - and thus my blood levels of CRP will assuredly be somewhat higher than if I did not have psoriasis.

But, on the other hand, psoriasis (and other inflammatory conditions) add to one's heart-attack risk, since the chemicals which promote inflammation (called "pro-inflammatory cytokines") don't "play nice" and stay right where needed, but float about in the blood and can trigger inflammatory responses where they shouldn't be happening (like in coronary arteries). Gingivitis - inflammation in the gums - can exist long-term without making life unbearable, and is indeed not only a heart-attack risk, but can make diabetics require more insulin or other drugs.

That particular point brings up just why health is so damn complicated. One pro-inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa) is commonly found in inflammatory conditions. But it is also pumped out by fat cells which have become full. Why do fat cells make TNFa when they become full? Because TNFa just happens to turn off the "machinery" through which insulin works, and turning off the insulin receptors turns off the fat cells' ability to grow fatter.

So, very large people, with lots of full fat cells, can make lots of TNFa, which can float around in the blood and make muscle cells become "insulin resistant," too, leading to higher-than-normal blood glucose levels. The pancreatic beta cells respond by pumping out more insulin to overcome the resistance, and over the course of many years, those beta cells can "burn out," and stop producing insulin at all. That's diabetes.

Meanwhile, all the extra insulin floating around is no good for the coronary arteries, which become damaged by it. The extra TNFa floating around means the inflammatory response to the damage from insulin can be quicker or more severe, leading to a nasty build-up of arterial plaques, and an even higher risk of heart attack.

It is this kind of interconnectedness of what one would think are different biological processes which makes all this stuff difficult to sort out, and ensures than any truly "easy" answer is almost undoubtedly wrong. A single chemical (such as TNFa) can often serve more than one purpose within the human body.

And all that is without even touching upon genetics. We know that some people are at higher risk for heart attacks just because they've got a family history. We don't yet know which particular gene or genes put one at higher risk, or how they do so, but we know they exist, and that they do something bad. Especially since there are plenty of people who've dropped dead despite doing all the right things, like eating sensibly, exercising, and not smoking (these three, by the way, are the only known methods by which one can significantly reduce CRP levels without drugs, though the drugs - statins - work very well and are very safe).

But, as filthy pointed out, people would rather look for an easier way out than to take a walk every day, give up the nachos, and/or quit smoking. The last is, admittedly, very difficult, and certainly doesn't guarantee that a person won't keel over tomorrow, but not smoking is very much better overall than doing so. But the other two? Still too much effort for many people.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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lazur
New Member

1 Post

Posted - 03/22/2004 :  14:38:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send lazur a Private Message
There are those who will not have a heart attack,(fill in any disease), no matter what they do, and those who -will-, (also, no matter what). There are many whose fate -is- altered by their behavior, which strikes me as the only way to bet.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26016 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2004 :  16:20:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Exactly, lazur. Welcome to the Skeptic Friends Network!

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Renae
SFN Regular

543 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2004 :  06:40:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Renae a Private Message
Wow, Dave. Thanks. That helped.

I was recently tested for C-Reactive Protein, which was thankfully negative. I did some research on it, but stopped before I tweaked myself out! (Some of us are dangerous when connected to the Internet.)

Sorry to hear about your psoriasis. My family member has pustular psoriasis, which is greatly improved now. She also has sky-high cholesterol, though her diet is fairly good. Her docs seem to think these two things are somehow linked to a third factor: an auto-immune disease involving her liver, if I recall correctly. She could live on brown rice and tofu and become a marathon runner, and her cholesterol might drop somewhat...but her liver is working against her.

My doc has said he thinks someday they'll find a "z factor" for my cluster of symptoms (hay fever/atopic nature, low iron, etc.).

Fascinating. I learn so much here.

PS Hi, Lazur!

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26016 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2004 :  07:44:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Well, Renae, hopefully your CRP wasn't negative, but just less than 1 mg per liter (or milliliter, I forget which). People need CRP to live, they just don't need a lot of it.
quote:
Sorry to hear about your psoriasis.
Thanks. Apparently, you missed my old signature, with its pointer to Dave's Psoriasis Info. Actually, if it weren't for one particular wacko on the psoriasis newsgroup, who strongly argues (badly) that psoriasis is a result of a high-carb diet, I probably wouldn't know nearly as much as I do about CRP, heart disease, diabetes, and the rest of the Syndrome X problems. I had to learn a whole lot to be able to refute the guy.

By the way, I've got a friend who is pencil-thin, eats right, and has even taken statins for a while, and her total cholesterol doesn't come down below 600. Yeah, six hundred.

With people like her (and your family member) around, it's pretty obvious that the idea that diet is the solution to all of mankind's health woes is simply wrong. Some people just have crappy genes.

Best wishes for your Z factor! Is your particular "constellation" of symptoms a fairly common one?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Renae
SFN Regular

543 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2004 :  20:37:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Renae a Private Message
Dave, I do remember your signature. I did look through your site, which is excellent. I just didn't remember if it was you that had psoriasis, or a family member, and it seemed impolite to ask.

My symptoms are common and mostly not serious. Gee, how many women do you know with hay fever, low iron, low blood sugar....LOL!

Apparently, some women have seen a decrease of PMS mood problems with mega iron doses. But the side effects are too great, I guess, for this to be used commonly as a treatment--at least in injection form. I think that estrogen, serotonin, and IgE receptors are linked in ways (including maybe a z factor.) that I only kinda understand and maybe in ways that aren't fully understood even by researchers. For example, I feel depressed and irritable when I have a hay fever attack--which could, of course, be due solely to the sneezing, runny nose, itchiness, etc. Hard to say, there.

I understand about your friend. That's got to be frustrating for her, knowing she's doing the right things but still has high cholesterol. Ah well, cholesterol is but one risk factor, right?
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