Read the Medical Journals: Your Doctor May Not be Reading Them!

One of the many newsletters I scan each month is Dr. Williams “Alternatives for the Health Conscious Individual.” In the July 2002 issue he mentions an editorial in Circulation by Dr. Leaf of Massachusetts General Hospital on the “Lyon Diet Heart Study.” Results of this study were published years ago and showed that one teaspoon of cold pressed flax seed oil per day resulted in a 70% reduction in deaths from heart disease in the study group, more than any result from any previous cholesterol study ever published.

Dietary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease: The Lyon Diet Heart Study (Editorial)

Alexander Leaf, MD

Circulation. 1999;99:733-735

Dr. Leaf comments: “This issue of Circulation contains an article that I believe deserves special attention from cardiologists and physicians. It reports the 46-month mean follow-up findings on the original report of the study on “Mediterranean -linolenic acid–rich diet in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease,” the so-called Lyon Diet Heart Study. This study was undertaken because of the interest of the investigators in explaining the very much lower mortality from cardiovascular disease, mainly coronary heart disease, in the countries bordering the Mediterranean compared with that in northern Europe. The initial report was published in Lancet in 1994 after the study was terminated by its Scientific and Ethics Committee at 27 months mean follow-up time of what had been planned as a 5-year study, because the benefits in the experimental group at that time were so favorable. Despite the striking findings in the first report of a 70% reduction in all-cause mortality due to a reduction in coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality and comparable large reductions in nonfatal sequelae, I have encountered few cardiologists here who are aware of that study.

There are few cardiologists at one of the world’s leading medical centers who are even familiar with the study! I don’t want to be too critical of busy physicians because Dr. Halamka, CIO of CareGroup, is also responsible for information technology for the Harvard Medical School. Every day he searches the internet and finds 40,000 new pages of information to post for medical students. This is more pages than most physicians read in a lifetime of medical practice.

What this means, is that an intelligent person must research the medical literature for pertinent information and bring this information to their physician and use the physician as a consultant. We don’t expect our lawyers to understand our business and we are at great risk if we expect our physician to fully comprehend our health status. That is just the way it is, and anyone who says otherwise is just not reading the medical literature.

To their great credit, the American Heart Association freely publishes the full text of their journal, Circulation. Check out the article on the Lyon Diet Heart Study update.

Another key point that Dr. Williams points out, is that if you are using aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or other COX-2-inhibiting medications and getting some pain relief benefit, you are probably treating the symptom, not the disease. Since aspirin and like medications work by inhibiting the effects of eicosanoids from omega-6 fats, you need to increase you intake of omega-3 oils from flaxseed, or better yet, pharmaceutical grade fish oil. Flax seed oil or fish oil pushes the omega-3/omega-6 oil balance in your body in a positive direction. Continually treating your headache or arthritis with the drugs mentioned above could set you up for a heart attack. There a much better ways to eliminate aches and pains by curing the underlying condition.

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