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My intention is to provide the general public with reliable and truthful information on antioxidants, foods, beverages, supplements, cosmetics, and natural products. The volume of information that becomes available every day is such that even the professionals working in the respective fields are having difficulty keeping up with it. For a layperson, it is impossible to read the original sources, to evaluate them, and to understand their scientific value. These "informational pieces" will help the general public to make educated choices, at the time when the federal and state agencies do not adequately protect them from potentially hazardous compounds.

    Vitamin E supplement causes prostate cancer!

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) claims that large doses of Vitamin E taken as a supplement, can cause a significant increase in prostate cancer incidence. The trial was carried out with 35,000 men, who were given 268mg of Vitamin E (400 IU) over a period of 10 years. Not only did Vitamin E fail to act as preventive means, but, unexpectedly, a 17% increase in prostate cancer was observed. Now the problem is that the authors of this study did NOT use natural Vitamin E. They used a synthetic one, which is much cheaper, but is structurally different from its natural counterpart. The designation of the synthetic product is rac-alpha-tocopherol acetate, while the natural product is enantiomerically pure, gamma-tocopherol derivative.

My feeling is that the days are long gone when structural and stereoisomeric differences can be ignored and the same efficiency could be expected from the synthetic sample as compared with the natural one, unless they are chromatographically and spectroscopically identical. This kind of research brings - undeservedly - a bad reputation to the word "synthetic." It should be kept in mind that Vitamin E is a complex organic molecule that, other than having four different structural analogs (alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-), can also have 8 different stereoisomers for each structural analog! And natural Vitamin E is just one among many (gamma-isomer with R,R,R-configuration). It is conceivable that different isomers will have different biological activity inside the human body. Some of them can exhibit a desirable biological effect, some of them can be harmless, but also useless, some of them can cause harm to the human body, and some of them can be even more active in certain areas than the natural compound.

Most importantly, the very fact that natural Vitamin E exhibits "good" properties, cannot be the justification for recommending the general public to take any other Vitamin E isomer, or isomers, implying that they have the same properties as the parent molecule. In other words, each and every structural isomer of Vitamin E should be thoroughly checked before any recommendation can be made.

I would like to thank Dr. Randolph McClain who has kindly brought this news to my attention. His professional philosophy is to defy "natural" processes of sickness and death by optimizing health through sound medical research (www.defymedical.com).

    Bad news: high BPA levels found in people who used canned foods

In my book (below), I have allocated a whole section to bis-phenol A, or BPA. The reason is its proven ability to act as an endocrine-disruptor. In other words, it's known to interfere with a delicate hormonal balance. BPA is used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics and resins, and since polymers tend to leach, residual amounts of BPA are found in food and beverage containers. Can you imagine that mice being kept in polycarbonate cages could suffer chromosomal aberrations in their eggs? We are talking irreversible changes on a cellular level! And despite what is known about BPA, the general public is still, unknowingly, exposed to it.

The latest study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that eating canned food every day, for five days, increased the level of BPA to 20.8 micrograms per liter of urine. Another group of volunteers who ate fresh soup had levels of 1.1 micrograms per liter. The study was conducted at one school with students and staff acting as volunteers. Although a single soup brand was tested, the researchers expect analogous results from canned food with a similar BPA content. We should also keep in mind that whatever is measured in urine is the amount of BPA that avoided an enzyme-induced metabolism and exited the human body. So, the actual exposure can even be higher ...

So, the authors' recommendation is to reduce canned food consumption and hope that the manufacturers will stop using BPA in the lining of cans. Well, let us hope together and see how long it will take. By the way, have any of the presidential candidates recently talked about protecting the American public from exposure to hormone disruptors? And finally, is it too much to ask, when we eat food, or drink beverages, to not have our hormonal balance messed up?

    Misplaced funding priorities

Congratulations to all of us! A new, Earth-like planet was recently discovered! It's called Kepler-22B, it's about 2.4 times the radius of Earth and about 600 light-years away. As media outlets reported, this discovery " ... supports the growing belief that we live in a universe crowded with life ... ." Well, I totally agree. The universe is really overpopulated if we only need 600 years of traveling time in order to visit our nearest neighbor. How much this finding cost the taxpayers is not reported. In other news, the largest extraterrestrial explorer, called Curiosity, was recently sent to Mars, our next-door neighbor, so to speak. It will take 8 1/2 months to reach the target, and it will cost us $2.5 billion!

My question here is the following. If we, as a society, have so much money to spend on the space program, how come we don't have means to support cancer research and save people who are dying NOW? Why don't we send the results emanating from these research programs to some 120 women who will die by tomorrow morning from breast cancer? Or, approximately, to the same number of men who will be lost to prostate cancer – in one day? Why don't we explain to their beloved ones that their fathers, or mothers, or sons and daughters, could not be saved because the money was spent on more important things?

It's sad that we are losing more than 1,400 people a day to all types of cancers, and there is no public outcry that would force people in power to finally change course. How many elected officials have to die from, or lose their family members to cancer before Congress will get its priorities straight?

    Good news: carcinogen cadmium is banned in jewelry and plastics

The European Union has banned the use of cadmium in consumer products, in particular, in jewelry and plastics. Cadmium is a chemical element long known to be a human carcinogen. It has been banned in the EU countries since 1992, but was allowed in some PVC plastics because of the lack of alternatives. Since then the alternatives were found (manufacturers can definitely find alternatives when cornered!), and now the ban will be fully enforced. This legislative act is intended to protect consumers, particularly children, from the toxic metal, which was repeatedly found in inexpensive jewelry imported from China. Well, it is nice to know that the general public in EU countries is now safe. But, what about us? Are we going to hide behind euphemisms again? Or, this time we are going to do the right thing.

    Breast cancer 101: Microcalcification

If your next mammogram shows some small dots of calcium, please be aware that it does NOT mean that you have cancer. So-called microcalcification can be indicative of the normal aging process, and it requires additional studies before any conclusions, good or bad, can be made. The very distribution of tiny spots in the breast tissue will tell the professional what the likely outcome can be. Most probably, you will be asked to come back in six months to monitor the progress, and to decide if the biopsy is justified. The statistics clearly favor a positive outcome, i. e. in approximately 80% of cases, microcalcification is benign,with only 20% being indicative of a cancerous, or precancerous, state.

     Good news

I would like to share good news with you. The Guilty has won an award in the "Science" category from the USA Best Books 2011 Awards competition! (http://www.usabooknews.com/nonficscience.html) As much as this news is rewarding to me, as an author, more importantly, an elevated profile of this book will now allow me to reach out to a wider audience. If you haven't checked out the Guilty's website recently, please do so at www.csun.edu/gmelikyan. You can read a sample chapter on natural compounds and learn a lot more about the book (Novelty, Significance, Book outline, Customer reviews, Press releases, Public presentations, etc.). You can also read the previous issues of the newsletter published by the Alliance of Concerned Citizens.


cid:part2.01030803.02090607@csun.eduBook information: Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Antioxidants, Foods, Supplements, and Cosmetics, 376pp, Dec 2010. This book is the only one on the market that tells the truth about antioxidants, green tea, red wine, coffee, hair color, food supplements, sunscreen lotions, natural compounds, and parabens, which are widely used in cosmetic formulations. It is written for the general public, and also for professionals from academia, food industry, government agencies, public and university libraries, business world, consumer protection and advocacy groups.

The book is available through Amazon, $29.99 (incl. tax & S & H), and also from Matador bookstore, CSUN campus.

    You can help

Public presentations are critically important for disseminating this knowledge about foods, supplements, antioxidants, and natural compounds that our bodies are exposed to. During the last three months, I have made seven presentations for students, faculty, doctors, dieticians, pharmacists, engineers, businessmen, and also the public at large. Extensive Q&A sessions and book signing usually concluded the events.

You can assist the general public by helping me to organize more presentations at different venues, such as churches, synagogues, professional and health-related organizations, interest groups, business forums, and public gatherings of an educational nature. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please give me a call (818-677-2565) or just drop me a line (gagik.melikyan@csun.edu).

About this email message
This is an informational piece, which I am sending to my students, colleagues, community members and other interested parties to inform them of the latest developments pertaining to consumer products.
I expect to send these messages on a regular basis. Besides the scientific updates, you will also learn about my upcoming public presentations and book signing events.
If your friends and family are interested in receiving these messages, please send an email request to gagik.melikyan@csun.edu. If you prefer to be removed from this email list, please respond to this message with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line.
No part may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information, storage or retrieval system, without a written permission from the author. Suggestions and feedback are welcome at gagik.melikyan@csun.edu.