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'Uncomfortable in my skin'
By Lori Heller
Monday, May 2, 2005
"You've got to get an MRI," the doctor said.
"Of what?" she asked.
Maria Rokicki, of Hempfield Township, said she "just about dropped the
phone" last summer when she heard her physician's recommendation. She had
been feeling awful for about five years, with swelling fingers, sweating
spells and growing feet, but she never suspected that something might be
wrong inside her skull.
The problem, doctors found, lay in her pituitary gland, a pea-sized organ at
the base of the brain. Sometimes called the "master gland," the pituitary
releases hormones that affect body parts including the kidneys, skin,
reproductive organs and even the brain itself.
Rokicki, 44, was heading for her younger son's kindergarten orientation when
she learned that a walnut-sized tumor on her pituitary was elevating her
growth hormone levels and wrecking her body. The tumor had created a
condition called acromegaly -- a form of gigantism -- that she would have to
live with for the rest of her life.
Acromegaly is an uncommon condition that strikes most often in middle age.
About three people per million are diagnosed each year, according to the
Pituitary Network Association, a nonprofit advocacy group that distributes
information and supports research on pituitary disorders.
Minutes after getting the news, Rokicki and her husband, Bob, drove to
Maxwell Elementary School for orientation, and she tried to grasp the extent
of her illness. Acromegaly can prove fatal if the tumor is not caught early
and organs such as the liver and heart enlarge.
"Here I am with a little one going to kindergarten, and I have this brain
tumor," Rokicki recalled.
With the support of her husband, she immediately made arrangements for
surgery, an endoscopic procedure done through the nose. They told their
sons, Joseph and Jonathan, only that she was having nose surgery.
Dr. Joseph Maroon, professor of neurosurgery at the University of
Pittsburgh, performed the procedure at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital on Sept.
The tumor was removed and found to be benign.
That was a relief, Rokicki said -- but not the end of the story.
She knows the tumor can grow back at any time, and that most body
disfigurement will not correct itself, even as her growth hormone levels are
brought under control. More than six months after her surgery, Rokicki finds
it hard to accept her condition.
"People think I should be jumping up and down. And I'm not," she said while
sitting in her dining room, which is filled with family antiques. "It
continues to affect my whole body."
Rokicki points to her expanded midsection, shows her enlarged hands and
feet, and speaks of thickened skin on her legs and arms. No dieting plan can
correct the changes.
"I feel uncomfortable in my skin," said Rokicki, a certified teacher who's
now a stay-at-home mom.
Cleaning the house and helping her sons with homework can be tough
sometimes, she said, because she continues to feel the fatigue associated
That fatigue, plus some gynecological changes, were the first symptoms to
surface, Rokicki said.
Maroon estimates the tumor began to affect her growth hormones at least five
Bob Rokicki said he knew something was oddly wrong with his wife's health
shortly after the birth of their second son, who will be 7 years old this
At first he blamed some of the symptoms on his wife's postpartum state, but
physical changes continued through the years.
Rokicki talked to doctors, who initially attributed her fatigue and
expanding waistline to her age and to perimenopause, a transitional period
before menopause when a woman's hormone levels may fluctuate greatly.
But family and friends in her hometown of Coraopolis continued to make
comments about her appearance -- how she was "looking different."
"When I would go home, my mother would say, 'Look at your eyes.'"
Maroon said acromegaly is often misdiagnosed.
Many health care providers "don't have the knowledge of what these people
look like," said the physician. He sees 15 to 20 cases annually at UPMC,
including patients who travel from across the country for surgery in
Patients with swollen and numb fingers, Maroon said, have been misdiagnosed
with carpal tunnel syndrome and referred to orthopedic surgeons. Those with
enlarged jaws and other facial deformities sometimes are referred to plastic
The changes caused by acromegaly "occur very insidiously and very slowly,"
Maroon said, so it would be hard for someone seeing the patient regularly to
Rokicki finally was diagnosed with the pituitary problem after she "just got
so disgusted last year" that she made an appointment with a new family
She told the doctor about her weight gain, her swollen hands and her
increasing shoe size. The physician ordered blood work, and it wasn't long
before the doctor called Rokicki asking her to have that MRI.
She fears that other women with symptoms like hers also may be misdiagnosed.
"I'm trying to tactfully tell women not to accept an initial diagnosis that
relates symptoms to their age and menopause," Rokicki said.
Living with acromegaly is still a struggle. "It's very hard for me to live
with these physical changes," she said.
And because the condition is so rare, she has been unable to find a support
group or another acromegaly patient in the area to share her frustration.
"As a husband, you do your best to tell her how nice she looks," said Bob
Rokicki, who has known his wife since they both were teenagers.
In the six months since her surgery, he said, his wife's nose has become
significantly smaller and the soft tissue around her eyes no longer is
"I think since the surgery she has taken years off her face,
appearance-wise," Bob Rokicki said.
Friends say Rokicki looks better now than she did before her 40th birthday.
"Maria is beautiful, not only because her appearance has improved as of
late, but because she continues to be a wonderful woman who gives and
loves," said one. "Looks can't change what's always been in the heart."
Lori Heller can be reached at
CherriS posted this on the
Tumour is 'devil's child'
New Delhi - An Indian girl was dragged to a witch doctor and ostracised for
carrying the "devil's child".
But it turned out to be a 15kg tumour not a foetus, it was reported on
Chhabi Shabar, 17, was ostracised from her village in eastern India and
taken to a witch doctor when her stomach started swelling up a few months
ago, the Telegraph newspaper reported.
Residents of Dhamaitikri village in West Bengal state declared the unmarried
girl must be pregnant. Her poor farmer father took her to a local doctor who
also concluded Chhabi was expecting because her abdomen kept growing and she
suffered from nausea and breathing problems.
Village elders took Chhabi to a witch doctor who proclaimed she was carrying
the "devil's child", the report said. When his prayers didn't help, the
villagers ostracised her.
Chhabi's relatives, who lived in Calcutta, took her to a gastroenterologist
in the city this week. She could barely walk and had a haemoglobin count of
4gm as compared with the normal count of 12-14 gm.
A sonography revealed that Chhabi was not pregnant, but had a tumour in the
abdominal cavity. Doctors said the huge tumour was the size of about five
"When we brought it out, her parents were stunned," said doctor Arko
Banerjee, who claimed he had never before performed an operation like this.
- Sapa-dpa (South African Press Association)
How stress affects developing brain
By Vicky Wicks, Journal Staff Writer
Hormones produced under stress can have profound effects on a child's brain.
A child who is neglected, abused or exposed to violence in the home
experiences stress, and stress triggers a chemical reaction in the brain,
activating lower brain functions and starving higher functions.
Stress, regardless of its source, causes the adrenal glands to produce
hormones, in particular, cortisol and adrenalin, Kari Scovel, a Rapid City
psychologist, said. A high cortisol level modifies the developing brain, and
although adults are affected by cortisol, "children are affected more
profoundly," Scovel said.
Two parts of the brain - the hippocampus and the amygdala - are particularly
affected by stress.
Scovel said the hippocampus is a banana-shaped part of the cortex that helps
people remember. "It's the memory bank," she said, and "provides a context
for holding memories ... like finding a snapshot in your brain."
The hippocampus is responsible for learning and memory and translates
memories into emotion. "It's easier to remember when you have strong
feelings about something," Scovel said.
In times of stress, the adrenal glands kick in and "create havoc for the
hippocampus," Scovel said, which creates havoc for a child's ability to
learn and remember.
The amygdala, the storehouse for emotion, interprets positively or
negatively charged events. "If you're angry, the amygdala responds," she
Stress activates the amygdala, which becomes stronger and creates a "fight
or flight" response. As a result, a child might become aggressive and
defiant or become inhibited or withdrawn.
Nerve cells in the brain make connections with each other and transmit
chemical signals, connecting at the synapses, where brain cells talk to one
Under stress, a person has fewer synaptic branches in the hippocampus. "Over
time and with repeated stress, the hippocampus shrinks," Scovel said. In the
developing brain, a shrunken hippocampus can result in learning
The opposite happens in the amygdala, she said. The brain of someone who
repeatedly experiences fear and trauma will have longer nerves and stronger
connections in the amygdala.
The cells become stronger because the amygdala is "overworked - exhausted -
it's like it kicks into overdrive," Scovel said.
And stronger connections in the amygdala result in anxiety, which comes on
as a slower reaction to fear and causes stress to linger. As a result, a
child experiences heightened physical responses such as sweating, increased
respiration, accelerated heartbeat, and higher blood pressure.
Over time, a child can become hypervigilant, a condition characterized by
worried thoughts that the world is dangerous and you need to watch your
The healing power of sleep
BellaOnline's Family Health Editor
The best medicine for the body is sleep. During the nightly process of
sleep, healing chemicals are released in the body, and have restorative
effects on all the organs.
Deep sleep produces the most appearance altering benefits. Even the deep
sleep from a nap has the same healing ability.
Sleep has many benefits. It improves the texture and condition of the skin.
It also helps to prevent the production of harmful stress chemicals.
Sleep increases health and creativity. It strengthens the human body and
mind. Sleep also boosts energy and brainpower.
Sleep activates the immune system which fights illness and helps to keep the
human body disease free. Sleep also slows down the aging process, and helps
us to live longer and healthier lives.
Sleep increases physical health, as well as mental and emotional health.
Sleep improves our ability to positively deal with physical, mental and
It’s important to make sleep and rest a priority in your life. Learning to
improve the quality of your sleep is one of the most important investments
in health that you can make.
Poor sleep reduces bodily and mental functions the following day. It also
causes the body to overproduce the hormone cortisol into the bloodstream.
This hormone is a reaction to stress and is very harmful to the body.
It takes many hours, and sometimes days for this cortisol to leave the
bloodstream. This can send the body into a spiral of sleeplessness.
Cortisol stimulates your body out of fear and causes anxiety. This harms the
body and organs, and can leave you unable to rest.
It helps to be aware of this hormone and reduce stress when possible. This
can reduce the production of cortisol and the health problems that can
result from it.
If you find that you do not feel well, cannot sleep and are anxious,
cortisol may be in your bloodstream. You can help yourself by eating a
healthy snack and drinking water and electrolytes. This will help to restore
your blood sugar levels and reduce the cortisol in your system.
Complete this self care by relaxing and resting your body. Listen to the
sound of your own breathing rhythms, and deep relaxation will follow. This
will help you drift off into a peaceful and healing sleep.
Danielle Barone is the author of "Healthy Skin: A natural guide to
healing the skin and developing a beautiful complexion".
Sleep and Aging
Sonia Ancoli-Israel, Ph.D., and
Cathy Alessi, M.D.
From the University of California, San
Diego, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Veterans
Administration Los Angeles Healthcare System. Send correspondence to Dr.
Ancoli-Israel, UCSD Department of Psychiatry-116A, VASDHS, 3350 La Jolla
Village Dr., San Diego, CA 92161. e-mail:
© 2005 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
Sleep problems are common in older adults,
yet these problems are rarely secondary to aging. Changes in
sleep with advanced age are probably related to a decreased
"ability" to sleep, rather than a decreased "need" for sleep, and
this decreased ability is often secondary to medical and
psychiatric illness and circadian changes. In this special
feature section on sleep and aging, this series of articles
provides a glimpse into the explosion of research on sleep
problems with aging, particularly in older adults with dementia
or psychiatric illness. The focus is on sleep and
circadian-rhythm changes with aging, depression, dementia, and
schizophrenia; and sleep-related issues in the pharmacological
and nonpharmacological management of these conditions.
Reynolds et al.1
report on findings of a double-blind, randomized,
placebo-controlled trial of sleep deprivation to accelerate
symptom-reduction in late-life depression. They tested the hypothesis
that one night of total sleep deprivation (TSD) would accelerate
the antidepressant response of paroxetine in late-life major
depression. Contrary to their study hypothesis however, the
authors found that, in fact, total sleep deprivation not only did
not accelerate the antidepressant effect, but that the two
interventions may have counteracted each other. Although the
study does have some limitations, including some baseline differences
in depression severity between groups, the possibility of inadequate
power, and the single night (rather than repeated nights) of
TSD, this study is an example of why it can be important to
report negative findings.
Three articles in this special feature deal
with patients with dementia. Sleep in dementia is so disrupted
that this area of research has burgeoned in the last 5 to 10
years. In an interesting study of endogenous circadian rhythms in
aging and Alzheimer disease (AD), Harper et al.2
compared locomotor (i.e., rest–activity) rhythms and core body
temperature among normal elderly men, men with probable AD, and
normal young men. Rest–activity rhythms were assessed by
ambulatory activity monitors. Although there were some
environmental differences between groups during the rest–activity
data-collection period, the authors found weaker circadian
rest–activity rhythms in the AD patients. Core body temperature
measurement under conditions of a constant routine in all three
groups (including the AD patients), was a unique strength of this
study. The authors found a reduction in endogenous circadian
amplitude (in core body temperature) and loss of coordination
between activity and core body temperature rhythms in both aged
groups, compared with younger participants. However, the AD
patients also had a delay in the endogenous circadian phase of
core body temperature, compared with normal young and elderly
participants. Important limitations of this study include the
small sample size, the advanced stage of disease in the AD group,
and the all-male sample. However, the findings do suggest both
age-related and disease-related changes in endogenous circadian
rhythms of patients with AD. Also, the authors are to be
commended on being able to complete such a difficult protocol as
a constant routine in a population of men with dementia. This
type of research reinforces the idea that research studies need
not exclude patients with AD just because of the dementia.
Two other dementia articles in this series
tested nonpharmacological interventions in older people with
dementia and sleep abnormalities. The first, by Fetveit and
Bjorvatn,3 describes a pilot study
using bright-light therapy in nursing home patients with dementia.
In this case series, the authors also used actigraphy to estimate
sleep/wake activity before and after 7 days of intervention.
During the bright-light treatment period, participants showed
a decrease in both average nap duration and total nap duration
during the daytime. These changes returned to baseline levels
after the intervention was discontinued. Sleep during the night,
however, did not improve. The authors suggest that the decreased
daytime sleep seen in these nursing home dementia patients was
related to acute alerting effects of bright light, rather than
circadian-rhythm changes. Significant limitations to this study
included the small sample size and lack of a true placebo (control)
group. Given that this was a pilot study, larger, well-controlled
samples may help clarify why, when other studies have shown
improvement in nighttime sleep with bright-light treatment,4,5
this study did not.
The second study of nonpharmacological
interventions on sleep in dementia involved used of passive body
heating (PBH). Mishima et al.6
studied 13 older residents in a "facility for elderly patients"
who met criteria for vascular dementia and insomnia, without
evidence of other sleep disorders. Sleep/wake was estimated by
wrist actigraphy performed continuously throughout the study
period. Also, core body temperature, melatonin, and heart rate
variability data were collected. The PBH procedure involved
immersing subjects to mid-thorax level in bath water (maintained
at 40°C) for 30 minutes, beginning 2 hours before bedtime, for 2
nights. PBH was associated with improvements in nighttime sleep,
including decreased sleep latency, increased sleep efficiency,
and decreased wake time after sleep onset. The PBH induced a
rapid elevation of core body temperature, followed by enhanced
heat loss just after the PBH, until bedtime. PBH did not affect
melatonin levels, but did induce parasympathomimetic action
(estimated by heart rate variability) during sleep time. Significant
limitations included the small sample size and lack of a true
placebo (control) group. However, the beauty of this study lies
in the easily translational nature of the intervention and the
careful attention to the physiological basis of PBH in
thermoregulatory and autonomic systems in older people with
vascular dementia. Also, this study shows that therapies used in
younger adults7 can be implemented in
older adults with dementia.
Yamashita et al.8
studied the influence of aging on improvement in subjective sleep
quality with atypical antipsychotic drugs in patients with
schizophrenia. All participants were tapered off their
conventional antipsychotics and randomly assigned to receive a
gradually increased dose of one of four atypical antipsychotic
drugs. Subjective sleep quality and psychopathology were assessed
at baseline and 8 weeks after the medication switch was
completed. In analyses, participants were grouped by age (i.e.,
older or younger than 65 years). Of note, many participants
received other psychoactive medications (e.g., 52% of the older
and 73% of the younger-age-group received hypnotic medications).
Although the authors do not report correction for multiple comparisons,
the proportion of participants reporting improved sleep quality
was higher in the older than the middle-aged group. Factors
associated with improvement in subjective sleep quality with the
switch to atypical antipsychotic drugs included increased age,
longer sleep latency, and severe daytime dysfunction at baseline.
Limitations to this study include the lack of a true placebo
(control) group or cross-over design, the relatively short
duration of the study, and the lack of objective sleep
measurement. Further research is needed, but these findings
suggest that atypical antipsychotic drugs may be particularly
beneficial in the treatment of older schizophrenic patients with
In the special article, Buckley and
Schatzberg9 review the role of
the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in sleep and
memory-consolidation in aging. Evidence suggests that increased
HPA activity contributes to insomnia and sleep fragmentation in
normal aging. Elevated evening cortisol levels (related to
corticotrophin-releasing hormone disinhibition) seen with aging
likely contribute to increased insomnia. Furthermore, decreased
slow-wave sleep may negatively affect memory-consolidation, and
increased HPA-axis activity can impair working and declarative
memory. Mineralocorticoid-receptor (MR) agonists would be expected
to maximally suppress HPA-axis activity during sleep in the
first part of the night and at the time of the nocturnal cortisol
nadir. The authors hypothesize that pharmacological interventions
(particularly MR agonists) to decrease HPA-axis activity and
normalize cortisol rhythm may improve slow-wave sleep and
memory-consolidation during sleep in normal aging and dementia.
Research is needed to test the interesting hypotheses raised in
this provocative article.
Taken together, this series of articles
demonstrates the broad range of research on sleep in healthy
older people and in those with psychiatric illness; and provides
several salient points of interest to geriatric psychiatry.
Patients with AD likely suffer from both age-related and
disease-related changes in endogenous circadian rhythm. Future
research on pharmacological interventions aimed at HPA-axis
activity and cortisol rhythm may be warranted to test for
improvements in sleep and memory-consolidation in normal aging
and dementia. Nonpharmacological interventions show promise in
the management of abnormal sleep/wake patterns in older people,
including evidence for the use of bright-light therapy in nursing
home patients with dementia and passive body heating in patients
with vascular dementia. Sleep-related issues in psychotropic
medication use are also addressed, including evidence that
atypical antipsychotics may be beneficial in older schizophrenic
patients with sleep disturbance; also demonstrated was the lack
of acceleration of antidepressant response with one night of
total sleep deprivation in late-life depression. The unavoidable
conclusion is that further research is needed to understand the
pathophysiological basis of sleep problems in older patients with
psychiatric illness and to translate these important findings to
the day-to-day management of these challenging, yet rewarding
- Reynolds CF III, Smith GS, Dew
MA, et al: Accelerating symptom-reduction in late-life depression: a
double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of sleep deprivation.
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2005; 13:353–358[Abstract/Free
- Harper DG, Volicer L, Stopa EG,
et al: Disturbance of endogenous circadian rhythm in aging and Alzheimer
disease. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2005; 13:359–368[Abstract/Free
- Fetveit A, Bjorvatn B:
Bright-light treatment reduces actigraphic-measured daytime sleep in
nursing home patients with dementia: a pilot study. Am J Geriatr
Psychiatry 2005; 13:420–423[Abstract/Free
- Ancoli-Israel S, Martin JL,
Kripke DF, et al: Effect of light treatment on sleep and circadian rhythms
in demented nursing home patients. J Am Geriatr Soc 2002; 50:282–289[CrossRef][Medline]
- Ancoli-Israel S, Gehrman P,
Martin JL, et al: Increased light exposure consolidates sleep and
strengthens circadian rhythms in severe Alzheimer's disease patients.
Behavioral Sleep Medicine 2003; 1:22–36[CrossRef][Medline]
- Mishima Y, Hozumi S, Shimizu
T, et al: Passive body heating ameliorates sleep disturbances in patients
with vascular dementia without circadian phase-shifting. Am J Geriatr
Psychiatry 2005; 13:369–376[Abstract/Free
- Dorsey CM, Teicher MH,
Cohen-Zion M, et al: Core body temperature and sleep of older female
insomniacs before and after passive body heating. Sleep 1999; 22:891–898[Medline]
- Yamashita H, Mori K, Nagao M,
et al: Influence of aging on the improvement of subjective sleep quality
by atypical antipsychotic drugs in patients with schizophrenia: comparison
of middle-aged and older adults. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2005; 13:377–384[Abstract/Free
- Buckley TM, Schatzberg AF:
Aging and the role of the HPA axis and rhythm in sleep and
memory-consolidation. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2005; 13:344–352[Abstract/Free
May 9, 2005
Eating Protein and Carbs Before Exercising May Lead to Fat-Gain and
Wasting Warns Warrior Diet author Ori Hofmekler
Pound down a good protein shake with some
banana before exercising to gain muscle lose body fat? According to
groundbreaking research, eating before exercising can be a recipe for
disaster, stimulating fat gain and leading to catabolic muscle loss — rather
than the opposite — warns cutting-edge diet guru and bestselling Warrior
Diet author Ori Hofmekler. http://www.dragondoor.com/b17.html
(PRWEB) May 9, 2005 -- Another major diet fallacy exposed: Eating protein
and carbs before exercising may lead to fat-gain and muscle wasting warns
Warrior Diet author Ori Hofmekler.
Pound down a good protein shake with some banana before exercising to gain
muscle lose body fat? According to groundbreaking research, eating before
exercising can be a recipe for disaster, stimulating fat gain and leading to
catabolic muscle loss — rather than the opposite — warns cutting-edge diet
guru and bestselling Warrior Diet author Ori Hofmekler. http://www.dragondoor.com/b17.html
“Many people assume that the human body operates like a machine and
therefore in order to work, it needs to be fueled liked a machine. Eating
before exercise seems to make sense. But does it really? “ asks Warrior Diet
author, Ori Hofmekler and provides this answer:
As you’ll soon realize, the idea that pre-exercise meals provide the muscle
with instant energy is literally wrong, often misleading and counter
In order to provide the muscle with nutrients and energy, food must be first
fully digested. During digestion food is broken down into smaller compounds,
yielding molecules of amino acids, fatty acids and glucose — which are
transferred to the body’s tissues through the circulatory system. The
digestion elimination process, that occurs in the stomach, intestines, liver
and kidneys, respectively, requires substantial amounts of energy. During
digestion, blood flow shifts from the brain and muscles to the inside organs
(responsible for digestion and elimination). That shift in the blood flow
profoundly affects the brain and muscle tissues, lowing their capacity to
perform and resist fatigue.
The question remains: “What about meals that require almost no digestion?”
such as those made from fast assimilating nutrients. (Note that fat is a
slow digested and assimilated nutrient compared to protein and carbs.)
Consuming a pre-exercise meal made from a blend of fast releasing proteins
and carbs (such as whey and sugar), looks initially quite appealing. In
theory such meals would nourish the muscle tissues with amino acids and
glucose to inhibit muscle breakdown, while providing instant energy. It all
makes sense, but even so, in real life, things often work differently than
Recent studies demonstrated that eating fast releasing foods before or
during exercise could be counter effective, to say the least. Investigators
in the school of sport and exercise science, University of Birmingham,
Edgbastion, England found that ingestion of carbs before exercise adversely
elevated plasma cortisol levels. Interestingly enough, there was a
significant reduction in post exercise cortisol when carbs were not ingested
before exercise. Furthermore, there was a faster shift from carb to fat
fueling during exercise, when a pre-exercise meal was not applied.
As for protein, what failed to reach mainstream nutrition knowledge is the
already established fact that protein rich foods raise cortisol levels if
applied incorrectly. Studies at the University of Lubeck, in Germany, found
that oral administration of fast releasing protein foods such as hydrolyzed
(pre-digested) proteins, have an even more profound cortisol elevating
effect, compared to whole protein foods.
Note that chronic elevated cortisol has been associated with muscle wasting
and fat gain (in particular abdominal fat.)
In summary, pre-exercise meals may rob the brain and muscle of energy (due
to digestion). Eliminating the digestion effect of pre-exercise meals may
only make things worse. Eating meals made from fast releasing proteins and
cabs, before exercise, can cause a profound cortisol elevating effect during
and after exercise. This may severely compromise ones ability to build
muscle and burn fat.
In conclusion, DO NOT EAT before exercise, instead eat right after exercise.
Ironically, the same meal that would be counter-effective before exercise
can be most effective and beneficial when applied after exercise.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the critical positive effects of
post-exercise recovery meals on total muscle recuperation (i.e.
replenishment of energy reserves and increased protein synthesis). Recent
studies at the University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston, TX,
revealed that applying fast releasing proteins and carbs after exercise had
substantial anabolic effect on stimulating net muscle protein synthesis,
even in cases of elevated cortisol.
Consequently, we are not preprogrammed to be fueled like machines. Our
biological machine is based on survival mechanisms that when triggered,
increase our capacity to utilize fuel, generate energy and better survive.
We trigger these mechanisms, when we follow cycles that rotate between
undereating while in an action followed by eating while in rest.
For the human body, timing affects everything. “It is when you eat that
makes what you eat matter.”
If you insist on eating before exercising then there are some crucial things
you should do to avoid sabotaging your body. Visit http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/317/
for more information or read Ori Hofmekler’s The Warrior Diet. http://www.dragondoor.com/b17.html
For information on Ori Hofmekler’s diet and exercise seminars contact him
directly at email protected from spam bots or visit www.warriordiet.com
To arrange interviews or receive review copies contact John Du Cane at
The warrior Diet is available online at www.dragondoor.com or by calling
Dragon Door Publications, Inc is the leading provider in the United States
of cutting-edge information on diet, nutrition and exercise.
John Du Cane
Dragon Door Publications
Finding Your Way Through Complicated Cushing's Syndrome
Cushing's syndrome is a rare, but complex disorder affecting many aspects
of the body. It may be caused by certain medications you are taking, or
from a tumor that alters the production of cortisol, a hormone associated
with stress. If left untreated, it can lead to a host of problems
including osteoporosis, high blood pressure and muscle loss. Finding the
cause of your Cushing's syndrome is the key to finding the proper
How does a doctor determine the source of the disease? Dr. Elena
Plummer, MD, a member of the American Association of Clinical
Endocrinologists (AACE) and the Endocrine Society outlines the potential
causes of this syndrome and what treatment options are available to help.
What is Cushing's syndrome?
Cushing's syndrome develops from excess cortisol, a steroid, that's either
ingested exogenously, from the outside, or produced endogenously, within
the body. Cushing's syndrome is an umbrella name for all the conditions
including high cortisol level and its manifestations.
It is a very rare problem. There are anywhere from 5 to 25 cases per
million per year. It is more common in females than in males and is
generally a disease of women between 20 and 45 years of age.
What is the function of cortisol in a healthy person?
There is no one main function of cortisol and researchers have found that
just about any part of the body is regulated by cortisol. It's a hormone
that regulates many activities; glucose metabolism, the immune system, the
metabolism of calcium and bone metabolism. And too much (Cushing's
syndrome) or too little (Addison's disease), is detrimental. Addison's
disease causes the opposite effects of Cushing's syndrome: blood pressure
is too low, electrolytes are abnormal, potassium is high, patients lose
weight and are very fatigued.
What controls cortisol production?
There is a small gland in the middle of the brain called the pituitary
gland that makes several stimulating hormones that go on to regulate the
production other hormones. For example, there's a hormone called
thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the pituitary that goes and tells
your thyroid how much to work. The same thing happens with the adrenal
gland. There is a hormone in the pituitary called adrenocorticotropic-stimulating
hormone (ACTH) that stimulates cortisol production in the adrenal gland.
So in a healthy person there is generally a small amount of ACTH, causing
the production of a small amount of cortisol.
If you're under a large amount of physical stress, your body produces
more cortisol to counteract this and stimulate the immune system, regulate
blood pressure and initiate bone building where needed. First, the
pituitary gland produces more ACTH, then the adrenals respond by making a lot of cortisol. When the stress is over, the high amount of cortisol
feeds back on the pituitary, and shuts off the production of the
stimulating hormone, ACTH. In fact, any time you have too much cortisol,
whether it's physiologic or not, your pituitary should shut off the
production until it is at a lower level in the body. But in Cushing's
disease, there is a problem where the body is making uncontrolled amounts
of ACTH and the adrenals keep on responding.
What causes high cortisol levels in the body?
There are two major categories of problems that cause high cortisol. The
first is when your own body produces too much cortisol. Second, when a
person is given medications that contain steroids, like cortisone,
prednisone or hydrocortisone to control inflammation caused by other
diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and some allergies, he or
she may develop the exact same syndrome that you may have if your own body
starts making too much cortisol.
About 70 to 80 percent of all Cushing's syndrome patients are actually
ACTH-dependent, which means that the excess cortisol production is caused
by the overproduction of the stimulating hormone, ACTH, in the pituitary
gland; this may be caused by a pituitary tumor.
Cushing's can also develop if your adrenals produce too much cortisol.
This is the second-most common cause of excess cortisol production. Your
adrenals may produce too much cortisol as a result of a small tumor on the
adrenal gland. In these patients, the amount of ACTH will be low, but the
cortisol will be increased.
What are the symptoms of Cushing's syndrome?
One of the main symptoms is weight gain in the abdomen. An additional
place where a patient usually gains weight is in the face, called "moon
facies," where the face gets rounded and very red. There is also a
redistribution of the fat in the back of the neck, what doctors call a
"buffalo hump," and also over the clavicles, the bones just below the
front of the neck. Also, patients often get large, wide, purple stretch
marks across the abdomen. Stretch marks are usually associated with
pregnancy or fast weight gain, but in Cushing's syndrome they're much
wider and very deeply colored.
It's also very common to have thinning of the muscles in the legs and
arms; it will be difficult for patients to get up from a chair, climb
stairs, comb hair. Other things that are also common are high blood
pressure, abnormal glucose metabolism and even diabetes.
There are some psychological and psychiatric changes that are also
possible, such as depression, anxiety, anger problems and psychosis.
How does a doctor determine the source of high cortisol levels?
The first question: "Is this patient taking any medications that have
steroids?" Any topical creams or ointments, health-food preparations,
shots that are given for joint pain or arthritis, inhalers and even nasal
preparations may contain cortisol-simulating glucocorticoids; they act
like cortisol. After that is ruled out, a 24-hour urine cortisol test can
look at the endogenous production of cortisol. We collect all the urine
over 24 hours and analyze it for cortisol levels.
There are other ways to do it, too. There are some blood tests. There
is also a new salivary test that seems promising and much easier to
perform for patients.
If we find that the patient does indeed have endogenous Cushing's
syndrome, then the next question to answer is, "Where is it coming from?"
We then concentrate on finding if the cortisol production is
ACTH-dependent. If it is ACTH-independent, the cortisol comes from the
adrenal gland. So imaging of the adrenal gland is done. If it's
ACTH-dependent, it most likely comes from the pituitary gland, but there
is also a small category of tumors that are actually located elsewhere in
the body that make hormones like ACTH. Those are usually carcinoid tumors
in the lungs, sometimes found in smokers, but there are some unusual
cancers that can also make ACTH. You try to localize the source of ACTH
with different imaging tests.
If a tumor is found to be the cause of excess cortisol, how is
Cushing's syndrome treated?
Any time a tumor is found, surgery is the first choice of treatment. Most
of the pituitary tumors that cause Cushing's are very small tumors in the
pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland behind the eyes in the middle of the
brain. Because they're so aggressive, they actually make enough hormone
for patients to be diagnosed before it becomes a large tumor. In this
case, the best treatment is surgery to remove the tumor. The procedure is
only done in highly specialized centers by highly trained neurosurgeons.
If the tumor is found in the adrenal gland, it is removed laparoscopically,
[through the use of cameras and instruments inserted into the body through
small holes in the skin] which is certainly much less invasive than
Patients who are not surgical candidates and those that do not have a
successful surgery can receive several medications that can be used to
turn off cortisol production. But these are second-line therapies because
the medications have side effects and would have to be used lifelong.
What advice do you have for people to avoid Cushing's syndrome?
Basically, anybody is susceptible to effects of excess cortisol.
Physicians generally are very cautious about prescribing certain
medications, especially for chronic use, because of the knowledge of all
the detrimental effects.
SWNM Enhances Labguard(TM)
Diagnostic Device Capabilities
TAMPA, FL -- (MARKET WIRE)
-- 05/09/2005 -- Southwestern Medical Solutions, Inc. (OTC:
SWNM) is pleased to announce that, through is working relationship with
medical company Instant Diagnostics, Inc., the Labguard™ diagnostic device
will now include a much wider array of diagnostic testing capabilities.
Diagnostic Testing Market For Labguard™
Through its ongoing working relationship
with Instant Diagnostics Inc., SWNM expects that its lineup of testing
modalities for health screenings with its proprietary Labguard™ system will
now be greatly expanded to include many of the following tests:
A-B: Acute Appendicitis, Alzheimer's Disease B: Batten Disease,
C: Childhood nephrotic syndrome, Chlamydia, Cushing's syndrome,
D-G: Diabetes, Diabetes Insipidus E: Endometrial Cancer G: Glomerular
H-I: Hyperparathyroidism I: Impaired glucose tolerance, Impotence,
K-L: Kidney Cancer, Kidney conditions, Kidney disease, Kidney failure
L: Leptospirosis, Lupus
M-N: McCune-Albright Syndrome, MODY diabetes, Multiple Myeloma
O-P: Osteomalacia P: Paget's disease of bone, Pancreatic cancer,
Pheochromocytoma, Preeclampsia, Pregnancy, Prostate Cancer,
R: Reiter's syndrome, Renal Tubular Acidosis, Rheumatic conditions
S-T: Sjogren's Syndrome, Streptococcal Infections T: Type 1 diabetes,
Type 2 diabetes, Typhoid fever
U: Urinary Incontinence, Urinary tract infections, Urinary tract
infections (child), Uterine Cancer
V: Vesicoureteral reflux
W: Wegener's granulomatosis, Weil's syndrome, Wilson's Disease.
Southwestern Medical will improve Health
SWNM's Labguard™ system will facilitate a
more effective, less invasive, and less costly solution to critical
screening and diagnostics needs. The SWNM Labguard™ system is fully
integrated and allows the medical community an opportunity to achieve the
highest level of integrity and security in health screenings. No other
product available today offers the caregiver the flexibility to choose which
diagnostic tests to conduct with such ease and competitive pricing.
Contact: Richard Powell
Southwestern Medical Solutions, Inc.
Corporate Address: 13014 N. Dale Mabry,
Tampa, FL. 33618
The statements made in this press release,
which are not historical facts, contain forward-looking statements
concerning potential developments affecting the business, prospects,
financial conditions and other aspects of the company to which this release
pertains. The actual results of the specific items described in the release,
and the company's operations generally, may differ materially from what is
projected in such forward-looking statements. Although such statements are
based upon the best judgments of management of the company as of the date of
this release, significant deviations in magnitude, timing and other factors
may result from business risks and uncertainties including, without
limitation, the company's dependence on third parties, general market and
economic conditions, technical factors, the availability of outside capital,
receipt of revenues and other factors, many of which are beyond the control
of the company. The company disclaims any obligation to update information
contained in any forward-looking statement.
Southwestern Medical Solutions, Inc.
13014 N. Dale Mabry
Tampa, FL. 33618
SOURCE: Southwestern Medical Solutions,
GPhA Says USP Monograph Shows Scientific
Support for Generic Biopharmaceuticals, USA
08 May 2005
The Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) today said that the US
Pharmacopeia's (USP) new monograph on human growth hormone validates the
science underlying generic biopharmaceuticals and shows that
biopharmaceuticals can be characterized. Approval of generic
biopharmaceuticals would yield tremendous cost savings for America's
"Although the brand industry has argued that biopharmaceuticals cannot be
adequately characterized, this monograph clearly shows that the technology
and the science exist to characterize some of these medicines. USP's action
today further supports the establishment of an abbreviated approval process
for generic biopharmaceuticals," said GPhA President and CEO Kathleen
Jaeger. "There is no reason to delay consumer access to affordable medicines
when sound science -- backed by the FDA, MIT scientists, and now USP --
supports the approval of generic biopharmaceuticals under a shortened and
less costly pathway."
At a scientific public forum held in February 2005, scientists from the Food
and Drug Administration and MIT acknowledged that the science exists to
create and characterize glycan products and other generic
biopharmaceuticals, which are generally large protein molecules derived from
living cells. Examples include insulin, human growth hormone, antibiotics,
and monoclonal antibodies. The release of USP's monograph, which addresses
product standards for somatropin, a human growth hormone, today further
bolsters support for the science.
"It is possible to permit approval and marketing of a vast array of generic
biopharmaceuticals with relatively low to modest complexity, and to expand
that system in the coming years to permit the approval of more complex
products as the sound science evolves," said Jaeger. "The USP monograph
clearly backs up this point."
GPhA is continuing to urge the FDA to immediately release its white paper
and agency guidances on biologics, which would provide timely advice to the
industry. Four years ago, FDA announced that it would be working on the
agency guidelines for insulin and human growth hormone, but the agency has
yet to release them.
GPhA also noted that there is an economic need for more affordable versions
of biopharmaceuticals. Because of their exceedingly high costs,
biopharmaceuticals will consume a greater percentage of healthcare
expenditures in the future and substantially burden health care purchasers,
including the federal government, employers and consumers.
For example, the average cost to a major U.S. employer for a one-day supply
of biopharmaceutical drugs is $45, while traditional drugs cost an average
of $1.66 per day. Today, generic medicines can cost up to 80% less than
their brand counterparts and save consumers billions of dollars each year.
Affordable biopharmaceuticals, even if they represented only a modest
savings of 10% to 20%, would create billions of dollars in savings for
consumers, the government and healthcare providers, GPhA said.
"It's time for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
America/Biotechnology Industry Organization to stop blocking consumer access
to affordable biopharmaceuticals. These delay tactics are harming the
millions of Americans who need access to affordable health care," Jaeger
GPhA represents the manufacturers and distributors of finished generic
pharmaceuticals, manufacturers and distributors of bulk active
pharmaceutical chemicals, and suppliers of other goods and services to the
generic drug industry. Generics represent 53% of the total prescriptions
dispensed in the United States, but less than 12% of all dollars spent on
prescription drugs. For further information, please contact GPhA at
703-647-2480, or visit our web site at
Pituitary Tumor Wafer
May 17, 2005
The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland located beneath the brain in an
area above the nasal passages. It sits in a tiny space in the skull,
called the sella turcica. The pituitary is the master gland of the body
because it regulates most of the other glands in the body.
The pituitary gland also produces some of the body’s important hormones.
Growth hormone is used to regulate growth during childhood.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone influences the growth of the thyroid gland and
production of thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism.
Adenocorticotrophic hormone controls the growth of the adrenal glands and
the production of steroid hormones. Melanocyte-stimulating hormone
regulates the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its
color. Prolactin is a hormone that works in conjunction with other
hormones to stimulate the growth and development of mammary glands and the
production of milk for nursing mothers. In women, luteinizing hormone and
follicle-stimulating hormone regulate ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
Most pituitary tumors are benign and are classified as adenomas. Though
they don’t spread, they can grow and press on surrounding tissue. If the
tumor compresses the area of the optic nerve, vision can be affected. The
tumor can also suppress production of pituitary hormones, or cause
overproduction of certain hormones. Tumors that cause increased production
of adenocorticotrophic hormone can cause Cushing’s disease. This condition
leads to weight gain in the face, back of the neck and area of the
collarbone, excessive growth of body hair, weakness and fatigue, easy
bruising, purple stretch marks, muscle loss, menstrual irregularities,
high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. Prolactin-producing tumors
can cause milk production and cessation of menstruation in non-pregnant
women and impotence in men. Growth hormone-producing tumors can cause
excessive growth of the face or body.
Since pituitary tumors are usually benign, incidence is not included in
cancer registries. However, researchers say they are the third most common
type of intracranial tumor. If the tumors don’t cause symptoms, patients
may not even be aware of their presence. One study estimates pituitary
tumors occur in about 16.7 percent of the population.
Treating Pituitary Tumors
Surgery is the main form of treatment for pituitary tumors. In many cases,
a surgeon can access the tumor by making an incision through the nose and
sinuses (a transsphenoidal approach). Sometimes it is necessary to make an
incision through the skull to get at the tumor. Radiation can also be used
to shrink the tumor. The treatment may be given alone or in conjunction
with surgery. Some pituitary tumors can be controlled with medications
that stop secretion of excess hormones.
Research suggests as many as 20 percent of pituitary tumors come back. And
sometimes these recurring tumors grow very quickly. Researchers at the
University of Virginia are using another treatment to try to keep
aggressive pituitary tumors from recurring. After the tumor is removed,
surgeons place pieces of a GLIADEL® wafer into the site of the pituitary
gland (the sella turcica). The wafer pieces contain the anticancer drug,
bischloroethyl-nitrosourea (BCNU, or carmustine).
Implantation of the GLIADEL wafer serves two important purposes. First,
the drug is released into the area of the tumor, hopefully killing
remaining tumor cells. Second, the medication is released over time. The
slow-release bathes the area with the anticancer drug for a longer period
In a Phase I study involving ten patients, 60 percent experienced good
control over tumor growth. Researchers say the study is too small to say
if GLIADEL is really an effective treatment for pituitary tumors.
Investigators hope to eventually do a larger trial to study the
effectiveness of the wafer for pituitary tumors. Currently, GLIADEL is
approved for treatment of certain malignant brain tumors.
For information about pituitary tumors:
American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org
Pituitary Network Association, http://www.pituitary.com
For information on GLIADEL® -
Patients with pituitary gland tumors are often
30 Apr 2005
A recent study found that tumors of the pituitary gland are more common than
many health care professionals realize, with national prevalence rates
averaging 16.7 percent.
To neurosurgeon Dr. Gail Rosseau, this isn't surprising.
Rosseau, who treats patients with a variety of neurological conditions at
Rush University Medical Center and the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and
Neuroresearch (CINN), says that pituitary tumors are often misdiagnosed
because of the confusing array of symptoms they present.
"Conditions such as osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, depression,
infertility, or growth disorders can be the result of abnormalities in the
pituitary or "master" gland at the base of the brain. Many times this
association is overlooked," Rosseau said.
"These types of tumors are generally not malignant, but they have many
different and highly variable ways of making their presence known, "she
said. "If misdiagnosed or untreated, they may progress, causing blindness,
heart disease or in the worst cases, premature death."
Because the disease is complex, Rosseau saw the need for a patient education
association in the Chicagoland area. The Greater Chicago Pituitary Education
Association was founded in late 2004 and is underwritten by a grant from The
CINN Foundation. Each quarterly meeting of the Association provides an
educational presentation from a member of the Chicago medical community
involved in the treatment of pituitary disease. The Association aims to
include physician speakers ranging from endocrinologists, to neurosurgeons,
to ear, nose and throat specialists and bridge institutional alliances.
The next meeting will take place at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, May 3 at The
Neurologic & Orthopedic Institute of Chicago, 4501 N. Winchester, ground
Many patients are concerned about treatments and surgery because of the
location and function of the pituitary. The pituitary is a small, pea-sized
gland located at the base of the brain that functions as "The Master Gland."
It releases stimulating hormones that signal the thyroid gland, adrenal
glands, ovaries and testes, directing them to produce their respective
hormones. These hormones have dramatic effects on metabolism, blood
pressure, sexuality, reproduction, and other vital body functions. In
addition, the pituitary gland produces growth hormone for normal development
of height and prolactin for milk production.
CINN psychologist Dino Kostas said pituitary tumor patients have unique
concerns, such as loss of vision, that require a different approach. He
emphasized that an educational seminar is a great way to allay patient fears
while allowing patients to ask questions of anyone on the treatment team.
"Most patients contemplating surgery have fears and concerns about the
surgery, but with our patients, we see a heightened level of anxiety about
the potential loss of vision because the pituitary gland is so close to the
optic nerve," Kostas said. "Frequently, we talk to many patients who are
also fearful that they will have decreased libido or become infertile."
Treatment depends on the type of pituitary tumor, the extent to which it has
invaded the brain, as well as the patient's age and general health.
Treatment is most effective when diagnosis is early, and it typically
involves surgery, radiosurgery, and/or drug therapy, Rosseau said.
Ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr. Steven Becker, said that he is able to calm
many anxious patients because surgical techniques have vastly improved in
the last decade and recovery times are typically one month, down from more
than two months previously. Becker has performed approximately 600 of these
"As recently as 10 years ago, surgeons would use a craniotomy, which
requires an incision under the lip and a full elevation of half the facial
tissues to access the nasal interior," he said. "Now, we use an
endoscopically assisted approach to access the pituitary gland during the
two and half hour surgery. This approach allows surgeons to go up the nasal
cavity in a minimally invasive manner," Becker said.
He stressed that surgical candidates are typically those with a past history
of sinusitis, or nasal trauma. Becker said that patients who attend the
educational forum tend to make for better patients because they ask good
questions and the forum helps lessen the anxiety they feel.
For more information about The Greater Chicago Pituitary Education
Association, call 773.250.0484.
Rush University Medical Center includes the 729-bed Presbyterian-St. Luke's
Hospital; 79-bed Johnston R. Bowman Health Center; Rush University (Rush
Medical College, College of Nursing, College of Health Sciences and the
The CINN Foundation, a non-profit organization founded three years ago by
Chicago neurosurgeon, Leonard J. Cerullo, M.D, underwrites the educational
meeting for pituitary patients. The CINN Foundation is dedicated to
improving the lives of individuals with neurologic disorders through basic
and clinical research, education and community outreach. The Foundation
supports researchers and educators focused on advancing the treatment of
patients suffering from brain tumors, stroke, spinal cord injury and back
disorders, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease.
The Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch is one of the
nation's leading organizations for the diagnosis, treatment and
rehabilitation of people with brain and spine disorders. Originally founded
in 1987, CINN is the Midwest's largest team of neurosurgeons known for their
pioneering treatments in minimally invasive techniques. Through a network of
eight hospitals spanning two states, CINN treats more patients with brain
tumors and spine disorders than any other physician group in Illinois.
The Neurologic & Orthopedic Institute of Chicago is the country's first
freestanding acute care hospital dedicated exclusively to neuroscience and
orthopedic services. It utilizes breakthrough technology and minimally
invasive techniques as well as advanced procedures for neurosurgery,
orthopedics, pain management, neuro-oncology, sports medicine, and
Contact: Mary Ann Schultz
Rush University Medical Center
Steroids: Jekyll and Hyde
By Josh Bloom, Ph.D.
McGuire will probably be remembered as much for his use of the "dietary
supplement" androstenedione (Andro) as he will for the seventy home runs he
hit in 1998. While you can debate whether one had anything to do with the
other, in my opinion one thing is clear: the use of the term "dietary
supplement" to describe the anabolic steroid he took should be
criminal, just like selling Andro itself is now. Dietary supplement. Talk
about a euphemism. This would almost be funny if these drugs weren't so
There is nothing dietary or
supplemental about Andro. Unless, that is, you believe that anything
you add to your normal diet is "supplemental." According to this generous
definition, a bowling shoe would be a dietary supplement, assuming you could
swallow it. And you would be better off with the shoe. Andro is a serious
and possibly very harmful drug, not a vitamin pill. More on this later.
The recent congressional hearings on
steroids in baseball have brought considerable attention to the problem. And
also much confusion, no doubt because most people don't have any idea what
"steroid" really means. If you say the word to a hundred people and ask for
a one-word response you will probably hear most of the following: sex,
hormones, asthma, arthritis, and, of course, muscles. So, how can one word
mean so many different things? In order to answer this you first have to
know what a steroid is.
Steroids are chemicals (either man-made or
naturally occurring) that have in common a distinctive structure that looks
In the picture, each sphere represents one
atom of carbon. Three six-membered rings of carbon atoms are fused to a
five-membered ring (five- and six-membered carbon rings are both very common
in nature). Other atoms (usually carbon and oxygen) are attached to this
scaffold in different places on the molecule. This is what differentiates
one steroid from another. But all steroids have this same basic framework.
If a molecule looks like this, it's a steroid. If it doesn't, it's not.
Thus, the definition of steroid is strictly a function of chemical
structure. And in case you're wondering, Andro fits this structure
So, are they good or bad for you? The
answer is both. Small changes in the structure of the molecule (i.e. the
number and/or position of other atoms) can make all the difference in the
world. This is why some steroids are essential while others are terrible.
For simplicity, they can be roughly grouped into four broad categories:
cholesterol, the sex hormones, anti-inflammatory (a.k.a. adrenal) steroids,
and anabolic (muscle-building) steroids.
1. Cholesterol is a steroid that
is an essential component of all animal cells. Without it there would be no
animal life. It is obtained either by diet or by biosynthesis in your liver,
with the biosynthetic route accounting for about 80% of the total
cholesterol in humans. Cholesterol is an example of a steroid that is not a
hormone. (Hormones are chemical messengers -- substances secreted from a
gland in one part of the body that trigger a response in a different
location. They may or may not be steroids. Examples of hormones that are not
steroids are insulin and adrenaline.)
2. All of the male and female sex
hormones are steroids. Although this is a very complicated subject, the
chief female hormones are estrogens and for males, testosterone (an
androgen). Chemically, the two are almost identical in structure and are
both made in the body from cholesterol.
3. Anti-inflammatory steroids are
man-made relatives of naturally occurring hormone cortisol. Cortisol (a.k.a.
hydrocortisone) and its close chemical cousin cortisone are powerful drugs
with a role in regulating a wide variety of body functions. Although these
are very potent anti-inflammatory agents (for asthma, allergy, and
arthritis), they must be used carefully because they weaken the immune
system and can cause diabetes and loss of bone minerals. This class is
sometimes also referred to as the adrenal steroids or
4. Anabolic (muscle-building) steroids
-- are what come to mind when people hear the word steroid. These are
synthetic derivatives of testosterone and have been in existence since about
1930, when scientists discovered that they built muscles in lab animals. The
same held true for humans, and by about 1950 these drugs were being used by
bodybuilders. There are now over a hundred of them in existence. Most of
these are illegal in the U.S., although some can be obtained by prescription
for a few specific conditions. But until recently you could buy Andro in
your drug or health food stores. This is just plain nuts.
These drugs are bad news. They cause heart
attacks, strokes, liver cancer, psychological problems, testicular atrophy,
and breast development in men. Their use in teenagers is alarming. They have
turned baseball into a joke, turned the Olympics into a pharmacology
contest, and killed many young professional wrestlers.
I believe this is the worst example of
unscrupulous companies using the term "dietary supplement" to escape FDA
jurisdiction that applies to other drugs. Taking advantage of a 1994 law
that weakened the FDA's authority over "supplements," companies have been
exploiting the scientific ignorance and gullibility of the American public
to sell their garbage. Banking on the fact that the terms "natural" and
"supplemental" somehow will convey safety, these companies have suckered
many medically naive people into buying them, when in fact, neither
"natural" nor "supplement" ensure anything of the sort. In fact, selling
over the counter use of anabolic steroids is probably comparable in risk to
doing the same with prednisone (a powerful anti-inflammatory steroid). At
least in the case of the prednisone, one could argue that you're treating a
condition, as opposed to building muscles for purposes of vanity or to
compete in sports.
But Andro is now banned, so everything is
OK, right? Not exactly. Go to your supermarket, and next to the vitamins
you'll find DHEA. It, like Andro, is a sex hormone (both are converted to
testosterone in the body). And the two are almost identical in structure and
function. It's like buying Andro all over again. Unbelievable. "Food
supplement"? I don't think so.
Fortunately, as one supplement after
another is found to be harmful/not useful (e.g. ephedra), I believe our laws
will change, putting an end to this farce.
(Author's note: also see the April 17
New York Times story about DHEA escaping the steroid ban.)
Dr. Bloom, who resides in Nyack, NY, is an organic chemist. He has
worked in the pharmaceutical industry for about twenty years.
• If you've been diagnosed with Cushing's, please
participate in the
Cushing's Register »
The information you provide will be used to create a register
and will be shared with the medical world. It would not be used
for other purposes without your expressed permission. Note:
This information will not be sold or shared with other
Lynne Clemens, Secretary of
CUSH Org is be the
person responsible for the creation of this register. If you
have any questions you may contact her at
You do not have to be a member of CUSH to fill out this
questionnaire, as long as you are a Cushing’s patient. We do not
believe that the world has an accurate accounting of Cushing’s
patients. The only way to authenticate accuracy is with actual
numbers. Your help will be appreciated. Thank you."
|The Cushing's Store|
| for all kinds of Cushing's Labeled clothing, coffee mugs, totebags and much more. Great for your endo or Secret Someone.|
CUSH can always use funds to help us all, by spreading the word and helping others. What can *you* do to help CUSH?
|Upcoming Conventions, Meetings and Seminars:|
June 4-7, 2005, ENDO 2005, San Diego. Mainly for physicians, but patients may attend. More info here »
11, 2005, Lake Geneva, WI, Cushie Barbecue.
More info here »
25, 2005, CUSH Meeting, Monterey CA, Fisherman's Wharf.
More info here »
July 21-24, 2005, MAGIC Foundation Convention, Chicago, OHare Marriott. For Growth Hormone patients and their families. More info here »
July 23-31, 2005, Pituitary Awareness Week, Australian Pituitary Foundation, Ph: 02 9594 5550 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
July 23, 2005, (Australia) NSW APF Patient Education Seminar,
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Ph: 02 9594 5550 Email: email@example.com
August 6-7, 2005, The Diabetes Insipidus Foundation,
Second Annual Conference, The Diabetes Insipidus Foundation, Sheraton Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland USA, Contact: 5203 New Prospect Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043 USA, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, More info here »
September 3, 2005, (Scotland) 6th National Conference,
The Pituitary Foundation, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, More info here »
September 7, 2005, (Australia) Annual Scientific Meeting, Endocrine Society of Australia,
For health professionals, Perth Convention Centre, WA, More info here »
October 8, 2005, (Australia) APF [Australian Pituitary Foundation] Annual General Meeting, Ph: 02 9594 5550, Email: email@example.com
More upcoming local meetings are listed here »
Sign up for notification of local meetings. You need not be a CUSH member to participate.
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