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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 lay person, 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.

     Good news

The word about Guilty spreads out and I was recently interviewed by CBS (Channel 9 News). Please see the url below. I hope you'll like it.



cid:part2.01030803.02090607@csun.eduThis 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.

The book 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).

    More proof that we should be careful with supplements - even of natural origin

After decades of administering folic acid to pregnant women, a paper published by Canadian authors (Cancer Research, Feb 2011) raises new doubts as to how safe the compound is. The fact is that folic acid is given to women to prevent neural tube birth defects, and for long, it was considered intrinsically safe because it is present in the human body (liver, kidney). Since 1998, food manufacturers are even asked to add folic acid to white flour, pasta, and cornmeal products.

The new experimental data indicate that rats who ate a folic acid supplemented diet had a two-fold increase in rates of mammary tumors  The same hike in incidence was reported for rats whose mothers were given folic acid during pregnancy. The concerns about folic acid are not new. Some studies have already pointed out that folic acid causes an increase in brain tumors, while decreasing other types of cancers (colon, leukemia).

I will wait to see if these new data will be duplicated, or otherwise confirmed, by other researchers. It is also important to better understand what the differences are in folic acid metabolism in humans and rats. Meanwhile, the medical community will, most probably, react to this publication  by showing more restraint in administering folic acid to women. My approach is that unless it is established, by the analysis, that the person has a folic acid deficiency, he/she should not take folic acid supplements, or, as a matter of fact, any other supplements.By the same logic, it is not a good idea to routinely fortify food with folic acid, actually putting the unsuspecting public on folic acid supplementation.

    Bad news: no labeling required for Neotame, an artificial sweetener

You might think that the FDA and other federal and state agencies in charge require manufacturers to properly label their products. In fact, I consider it to be one of our basic rights, as citizens of the free country, to know what our bodies are exposed to, willingly or unwillingly. Well, not so fast! 

Neotame is an artificial sweetener made by Nutrasweet that is several thousand times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). So, it is economical to use such a compound because lesser quantities are needed to attain the same "sweetening" effect in foodstuff. So, the idea is good, it makes sense from the economic point of view, and it might also be based on sound science.

The only problem is that we, as consumers, would like to know what the structure of this artifical sweetener is, and, most importantly, in which products it has been, or will be, used. Chemically, Neotame is an alkylated version of aspartame, a dipeptide that has been around for quite some time, and has long been a subject of controversy. At the time, due to relentless efforts of consumer advocacy and protection groups, the labeling for aspartame has been introduced by the FDA. It would have been logical to also make labeling for Neotame mandatory. But guess what? It is not a requirement! Even more, it has been allowed for use, without labeling, even in USDA Certified Organic food items!

Another dimension of the same problem is that the manufacturers of cattle feed can use the same sweetener as an economical substitute for molasses. It's called Sweetos, and it can mask unpleasant tastes of animal food. (Why on Earth would someone feed animals with food whose taste needs to be masked with artificial sweetener?) So, next time you are ordering a steak, it might have a certain amount of Neotame in it. The scientists claim that the compound is structurally modified in such a way that it does not produce phenylalanine, so it should be safe for those who suffer from phenylketonuria (an inability to convert phenylalanine into tyrosine, causing the accumulation of the former in the human body).

So what is the solution? If the FDA does not inform us what exactly we are exposed to, then I expect more people to stop using processed food, including organic ones, and try using the services of local farmers whom they trust. Well, it will be quite a change in our lifestyle. Why don't we just put more pressure on the FDA and ask them to do their job? It is quite possible that Neotame is relatively safe, but we would like to know if that particular steak, or any other food item, contains an artificial sweetener! If we then decide to consume it, then it is our informed decision, and we can't blame any third parties for its consequences, if there are any.

    Dukan diet coming to the United States

The Dukan diet has been popular in France for years. It was created by Dr. Pierre Dukan and consists of high-protein and low-fat meals. Dukan's book has already been translated into 14 languages! Some professionals consider it to be just another hype that will come and go. The main concerns are as follows: (1) it is not new; it is just a modified version of the Atkins diet; (2) it is too restrictive on fruits;  and (3) there is no sound science to back it up. Its proliferation, impressive sales, and attendant with it, the societal consequences have forced the dieticians in Europe to take a stand. And their is apparently not so much excitement among professionals working in the field.  The British Dietetic Association called it one of the five worst diets of 2011!  The French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Work Health Safety considers the Dukan diet to be one of 15 imbalanced and potentially risky diets.

Over the years, I have seen many "new" diets, initially making some waves, then disappearing to make space for the next "discovery." The problem is that all these attempts to come up with a new diet are just variations  - a little bit more, a little bit less - of the same. What is needed isn't an incremental development, but a quantum leap forward, when the diet is designed based on truly new approaches and principles. There are some ideas how it can be done so that the human society can switch to the new paradigm of food consumption. The consequences can be highly beneficial to the human society with the life expectancy increasing by a substantial margin. The only limiting factor is money - as always.

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.