JUNE 16, 2011

PJ Harrigan’s 100 mile ride

pj harrigan and familyScottsdale resident PJ Harrigan spent his Sunday riding 100 miles around Lake Tahoe in America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride. He rode up the hills and through the snow (that’s right, snow in June!) all in the name of a cause that hits painfully close to home.

Harrigan has been a part of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT) for years. He has been active on the cycle team and fundraised for TNT … well, because it was a great cause and a great experience. This year, his ride became personal.

In April, Harrigan’s wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. As he watched first hand what cancer does to a family, his fundraising and training efforts took on a new meaning. Many drugs developed by LLS funded researchers are used to treat breast cancer.

Over the span of four months, Harrigan raised more than $40,000 for cancer research! One way he did this was by auctioning off the chance to shave his head (and the head of his teenage son) in support for Amy’s chemo related hair loss. A friend donated $1,200 for the honor.

About TNT: TNT is the world's largest endurance sport training program and the largest fundraising campaign of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. TNT offers half and full marathons, triathlons, 100-mile (century) bike ride and hikes – along with the tools to help participants meet their goals. The training program is designed to gradually increase skill and fitness levels for all persons - from beginner to expert - by providing professional coaching and clinics on things such as nutrition, fitness and equipment. In return for the notable training program, participants commit to fundraising in support of the ongoing work of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Including funding research to find cures for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease and myeloma, and to provide education and patient services for patients and their families.


A mild natural tranquilizer

doctor daveMost of the pathogens that threaten humans are inhibited or killed off by the acids and alcohols in wine. Because of this, wine was considered to be a safer drink than much of the available water up until the 18th century.

Wine is a mild natural tranquilizer, serving to reduce anxiety and tension. As part of a normal diet, wine provides the body with energy, with substances that aid digestion, and with small amounts of minerals and vitamins. It can also stimulate the appetite. In addition, wine serves to restore nutritional balance, relieve tension, sedate and act as a mild euphoric agent to the convalescent and especially the aged.

Political suppression
Although wine may be the oldest remedy and prophylactic still in use, there was an entire generation of medical professionals, especially in America, that obtained their medical education during the historical period known as Prohibition. Medical texts for nearly twenty-five years were purged and censored of any mention of alcohol, including wine, for any application other than external. This medical generation became educators to the following one, perpetuating medical ignorance of the potential health benefits of wine.

In the 1970s, the National Institute of Health excluded and suppressed evidence from the Framingham Heart Study that showed moderate drinkers had 50 per cent fewer deaths from coronary disease than non-drinkers.

French paradox
Only when the television news magazine "60 Minutes" reported in November, 1991, the phenomenon that has come to be known as the French Paradox did popular thinking of wine as medicine rather than toxin begin to return. Typically, the diet of people in Southern France includes a very high proportion of cheese, butter, eggs, organ meats, and other fatty and cholesterol-laden foods. This diet would seem to promote heart disease, but the rate there was discovered to be much lower than in America; herein lies the paradox.

Regularity and moderation
Regular moderate wine drinking was discovered to be the one consistency. Studies in England and Denmark found the occurrence of coronary disease to be much higher in heavy or binge drinkers and (surprise!) even higher in abstainers. It is very important to note that Europeans generally drink wine and water with their meals, while Americans drink milk, iced tea, soft drinks, or coffee.

Anti-cancer and coronary benefits
Moderate consumption of red wine on a regular basis may be a preventative against coronary disease and some forms of cancer. The chemical components thought to be responsible are catechins, also known as flavanoids and related to tannins . Catechins are believed to function as anti-oxidants, preventing molecules known as "free- radicals" from doing cellular damage. One particular form of flavinoid, called oligomeric procyanidin, recently proved to prevent hardening of the arteries.

There are also compounds in grapes and wine (especially red wine, grape juice, dark beers and tea, but absent in white wine, light beers and spirits) called resveratrol and quercetin. Clinical and statistical evidence and laboratory studies have shown these may boost the immune system, block cancer formation, and possibly protect against heart disease and even prolong life.

One recent study, published in the 2004 year-end edition of the American Journal of Physiology, indicates that resveratrol also inhibits formation of a protein that produces a condition called cardio fibrosis, which reduces the heart's pumping efficiency when it is needed most, at times of stress. More evidence suggests that wine dilates the small blood vessels and helps to prevent angina and clotting. The alcohol in wine additionally helps balance cholesterol towards the good type.

Research is ongoing and it is a mistake for anyone to radically change their consumption pattern based on preliminary data. A study of obese mice showed that doses of resveratrol prolonged their lifespans, but for a human to duplicate this prescription using wine, he would to drink over 250 gallons per day! Wine might even preserve cognitive function in the elderly. Several European studies have shown the prophylactic effects of regular light to moderate alcohol consumption may include the prevention or postponement of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other forms of dementia. 

Could wine be the original brain food?

Digestive prophylaxis
A study published in January, 2003, in the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that moderate, regular consumption of wine or beer decreases the risk of peptic ulcers and may help to rid the body of the bacteria suspected of causing them. Interestingly, both over- consumption, especially of beer, and any regular consumption of spirits at all, even at a low level, seemed to increase the ulcer risks.

The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a 14-year study of over 100,000 women, aged 25 to 42, from 14 states. The Nurses Health Study required participants to complete a questionnaire every two years, detailing lifestyle choices and diagnoses of any medical conditions. 

The subjects were categorized into three levels of alcohol consumption. After factoring in such variables as family histories of diabetes and smoking habits, the study found that women who drank regularly and moderately (one or two drinks per day, a total of 15 to 30 grams of alcohol) had a 58% lower likelihood of developing diabetes. Both those levels that drank more or that drank less had a 20% lower risk than either abstainers or former drinkers. When preferences for types of alcohol were compared, those who chose beer and wine shared similar levels of risk, but those in who drank spirits and consumed more than 30 grams per day had a 150 percent higher risk to develop diabetes than even non-drinkers.

Other medical studies point to multiple benefits of regular moderate wine drinking that may include lowered risks of stroke, colorectal tumors, skin and other types of cancers, senile dementia, and even the common cold, as well as reduce the effects of scarring from radiation treatments.

Summary/bottom line
Over 400 studies worldwide, many of them long-term and in large populations, have concluded that most healthy people who drink wine regularly and moderately live longer. The single group exception, whose members should not consume any alcohol, is pre-menopausal women with a family history of breast cancer.

The official recommendation in the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Fourth Edition, published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is "Advice for today: if you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, with meals, and when consumption does not put you or others at risk." This is a rather weak and passive permission, rather than the ringing endorsement moderate wine consumption deserves, according to the vast majority of medical and scientific evidence. It is, however, a progressive leap from the 1990 Guidelines, which said, "wine has no net health benefit", which is the contemporary scientific equivalent of saying "the earth is flat."

Wine should not be given to people with inflammations of the digestive tract, peptic ulcers, liver disease, pancreatitis, prostate disorders, epilepsy, or alcoholism. As previously mentioned, pre-menopausal women with a family history of breast cancer should abstain from drinking any alcohol, including wine.

About 5 percent of asthma sufferers may react to sulfites. The use of either aspirin or acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) either before of after alcohol consumption can seriously damage the lining of the stomach and should be avoided. The combination of acetaminophen and ethanol causes liver damage, so the former should never be used to treat hangover symptoms.

Contact Dr. Dave or read more at www.wisequacks.org.