Men who have excessive faith in their theories or ideas are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations. Of necessity, they observe with a preconceived idea, and when they devise an experiment, they can see, in its results, only a confirmation of their theory. In this way they distort observation and often neglect very important facts because they do not further their aim….
Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
This article discusses our experience at the one-day Institute of Medicine workshop on vitamin D and calcium. Both of us had an opportunity to make comments before the committee. Here are Paul’s comments and slides and here are Amy’s comments and slides. Note that our 2009 paper in Autoimmunity Reviews discusses some of the science we allude to in further detail.
On the cab ride to the IOM committee meeting on whether to change the dietary reference intake (DRI) of vitamin D, Amy practiced her speech.
The cabbie had been silent for the whole ride, but broke character by talking to us. “So, let me ask you a question,” he said. “Do you take vitamin D?”
“Actually, no, we don’t,” Amy said. Amy explained briefly how our data suggests that the form derived from supplementation is immunosuppressive, meaning that while it may temporarily improve signs and symptoms of disease, we have found it may do so at the cost of long-term health.
We asked him if he took vitamin D. He said yes and explained that a few years back, he had a partially blocked artery. It scared him, so he searched the internet and found that high doses of vitamin D were being recommended for cardiovascular disease. He wasn’t clear about the evidence, but in his words, “I had to do something.”
Which brings us to this point in time. At least in the United States, rates of chronic disease are rising. One recent study predicted that if current trends continue, all Americans will be obese by 2040. Other studies have shown chronic disease is rising at rates faster than could otherwise be explained by an aging population and/or a general increase in population. One recent estimate says that by 2030, 171 million Americans will have a chronic disease. We have to do something, right?
In a recent prospective study appearing in Neurology, researchers at various scientific institutions including many in Korea set out to examine the relation between milk and calcium intake in midlife and the risk of Parkinson’s disease. The team analyzed data based on records of dietary intake observed from 1965 to 1968 in 7,504 men enrolled in a cohort called the Honolulu Heart Program. The men ranged from 45 to 68 years of age.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a degenerative condition affecting movement and balance in more than one million Americans each year: its prevalence is expected to rise in aging populations.
The men were followed for three decades. At that point, 128 men had developed Parkinson’s. But… cue drum roll… the risk of Parkinson’s disease increased as the amount of milk consumed each day rose. Heavy milk drinkers, who drank more than 16 oz a day, were 2.3 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those men who didn’t drink any milk. Milk was related to PD whether it was whole or skim.
One may ask, “Why?” The beautiful person with the milk mustache in the latest magazine add told me milk was good for me!
Translational medicine. The concept was invoked frequently last week at the Days of Molecular Medicine Conference (DMM). It’s an approach to medicine in which researchers are urged to take the data they have collected in the laboratory and find a way to apply it directly to patients. The term also suggests that researchers and doctors must work together, and that collaboration among researchers in different fields is essential if medicine is to advance.
The Marshall Protocol epitomizes translational medicine, which is why, in my opinion, our poster presentations at the Conference were, for the most part, viewed with great interest and optimism.
The researchers who filled the lecture and poster halls at DMM had travelled to Sweden from the most prestigious universities in the world. It didn’t take long to realize that many of them have spent their entire careers looking for faulty genes that might be able to cause mental illnesses such as autism or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Several recent reports have made it abundantly clear that until drug companies understand the infectious pathogenesis of chronic disease, they will continue to churn out dangerous drugs with numerous side effects – drugs that only offer “Band–Aids” for symptoms at the cost of billions of dollars to the consumer.
A few days ago, researchers at Stanford University released the results of a study that tracked the effects of a drug called Sutent on patients with kidney cancer or gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Sutent, which is widely being tested for the treatment of several other cancers, works by starving tumors — stopping them from growing blood vessels to feed themselves.
Fifteen percent of study subjects taking Sutent developed heart failure, a chronic condition in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood properly. Sutent, made under the generic name sunitinib by Pfizer, has also been shown to damage heart cells.
What do Microsoft and medical research have in common?
Let’s start with the simple fact that they have both been wildly successful. Microsoft has 79,000 employees, global annual revenue in the year 2007 exceeding $51 billion, and has made more than 12,000 of its employees millionaires simply by increases in stock valuation. Additionally, Microsoft’s market share for the operating systems on desktop computers, by one 2003 estimate, is 90%. Not bad for a garage startup.
In the United States alone spending on medical research is at or near the $100 billion mark in the year 2007. That’s about $300 for every man, woman, and child and more than doubles what was spent just a decade ago. According to Dan Fox, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, a philanthropic group that works on health policy issues, the data in a recent JAMA review makes it plain that “we are spending huge amounts of money, more than any other country, to develop new drugs and devices and other treatments.”
Amy Proal graduated from Georgetown University in 2005 with a degree in biology. While at Georgetown, she wrote her senior thesis on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Marshall Protocol.
Amy has spoken at several international conferences and authored several peer-reviewed papers on the intersection of bacteria and chronic disease.
If you have questions about the MP, please visit CureMyTh1.org where volunteer patient advocates will answer your questions. Another good resource is the MP Knowledge Base, which is scheduled to be completed within the next year.