Silent Killers: Five Life-Threatening Diseases

Which life-threatening diseases have no symptoms?

What do high blood pressure, human papilloma virus (HPV), pancreatic cancer, diabetes, and sleep apnea have in common?

They’re all potentially life-threatening diseases or conditions that usually have no initial symptoms. And while treatments are available, none are recognized as a cure. However, lifestyle improvements can go a long way toward prevention.

Find out more as Life Extension’s Michael A. Smith, M.D., interviews Christine Horner, M.D., the award-winning author of Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner's Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer and Radiant Health, Ageless BeautyDownload this Live Foreverish podcast episode for FREE!

Ignorance isn’t bliss

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your health, according to nationally known surgeon, author, and professional speaker Christine Horner, M.D.

“Most people don’t go to their doctor unless they’re having symptoms,” Dr. Horner told Life Extension’s Michael A. Smith, M.D. “There’s a real reason why you want to go in for your regular check-up at least once a year, because some of the things that are the top killers of Americans start out with absolutely no symptoms.”

When asked about the importance of diet and lifestyle in prevention, Dr. Horner couldn’t be more adamant. “Tragically, I didn’t have a single nutrition course in medical school,” she lamented. “This is why I stopped being a surgeon and went into teaching people how to avoid the knife. Most of these things are completely preventable.”

The Big Five

What is HPV?

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection, with roughly 80 million currently infected Americans. Of the many strains of the virus, only a few are considered a significant health risk. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is linked with a majority of cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile, and oropharyngeal (back of the throat) cancers.1

The good news is that many individuals who acquire HPV infections clear them on their own. The key is a healthy immune system supported by a good diet, regular physical activity, stress management, and sound sleep. On the other hand, poor lifestyle choices may be associated with diminished immune strength, which could decrease the body’s ability to clear the viral infection.

Exciting research conducted by Judith A. Smith at the University of Texas Health Science Center suggests that a compound known as AHCC®, which is found in shitake mushrooms, may eradicate the virus if supplemented for longer than six months.2 Its action may be the result of improved immune function.3 In 2015, Dr. Smith began a phase 2 randomized clinical trial to test AHCC efficacy in HPV treatment, and the results of the trial should be released in the near future.

“The silent killer”

How many people have undiagnosed high blood pressure?

Nearly 50% of all U.S. adults have hypertension as determined by the latest guidelines that classify high blood pressure as 130 over 80 mmHg or higher.4 According to Dr. Horner, half of this group doesn’t know they have the condition.

Hypertension is well-known to be diet and lifestyle-related. Processed foods, high amounts of salt, sugar and alcohol, smoking, not exercising, and unmanaged stress are all factors in the development of the condition.

“How important is magnesium in blood pressure?” Dr. Smith inquired.

There are many nutrients that are depleted in the food we consume today, and magnesium is just one of them, Dr. Horner replied. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) also support healthy blood pressure levels.

“There are core foundational building blocks of just being a healthy human,” Dr. Smith observed. “And if we get more of those basic building blocks, a lot of these things that we’re talking about can be completely prevented.”

The diabetes epidemic

A quarter of the population over the age of 65 has diabetes and nearly one in four adults living with the disease don’t know that they have it.5 Once again, the disease is related to lifestyle, particularly to being overweight. As with hypertension, vitamin D is also important, but many people are unaware that they are deficient. Testing for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D can help guide appropriate supplementation with the vitamin.

What is a healthy vitamin D level?

A recent meta-analysis showed that serum vitamin D levels of 50 to 60 ng/mL were associated with a significant reduction in diabetes risk.6 Levels of 50 to 80 ng/mL may be optimal.

Is sleep apnea a man’s problem?

Sleep apnea, which is characterized by frequent episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep, is indeed more prevalent in men, but is also present in a significant number of women. People who experience daytime sleepiness, which is a common complaint, may not suspect that they have sleep apnea.

Unfortunately, the condition is more than an annoyance. Sleep apnea has been linked with cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, and increased accidents.7

Obesity, heavy evening meals, and sleeping pills can contribute to sleep apnea. The only way to determine with certainty if one has the condition is to be evaluated at a sleep lab.

Pancreatic cancer: silent and deadly

It used to be thought that nothing could be done to prevent cancer of the pancreas, which is usually diagnosed during late stages because of the absence of early symptoms. We now know, as with the other Big Five that have been discussed, that pancreatic cancer is associated with some of the same poor lifestyle factors: smoking, being overweight, poor diet, and excessive alcohol consumption.8

These often-silent diseases and conditions, while seemingly diverse, may all have their roots in an unhealthy lifestyle. Don’t dismiss the cumulative value of not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet that is high in fruit and vegetables and low in processed food and sugar, engaging in regular physical activity, learning to manage stress, and getting a good night’s sleep.

If you’re interested in obtaining more information about preventing these five diseases and more, visit the Life Extension Disease Prevention and Treatment Protocols page.

References
  1. “Cancers Associated with Human Papillomavirus (HPV).” Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 22 August 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/cancers.htm
  2. “An Unexpected Threat to HPV.” Texas Medical Center News, 3 December 2014, http://www.tmc.edu/news/2014/12/unexpected-threat-hpv/
  3. Terakawa N et al. Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(5):643-51.
  4. “More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, AHA says.” American Heart Association, Inc., 2018, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/05/01/more-than-100-million-americans-have-high-blood-pressure-aha-says
  5. “New CDC report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 July 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html
  6. Ekmekcioglu C et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Jan 28;14(2).
  7. Lin CM et al. Sleep Med Rev. 2008;12(6):481-496.
  8. Ilic M and Ilic I. World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Nov 28;22(44):9694-9705.

Is Hydration the Cure for What Ails You? Interview with Author of "Quench" Science of Hydration

Optimum Hydration Levels

Water: Fountain of Youth

We’ve heard a lot about optimal nutrition, but what about optimal hydration? Could something as simple as better hydration help with everyday conditions like fatigue and serious ones like diabetes and dementia?

Find out in this recap of the Live Foreverish Podcast as Michael A. Smith, MD, interviews Dana Cohen, MD, author of Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration.


Chronic dehydration and chronic illness

“I’m a functional medicine doctor,” Dr. Cohen stated. “I practice integrative medicine. I try to keep people off medications using nutrition, lifestyle and diet. I think hydration is one of the missing links. We all suffer from chronic, low-grade dehydration, day-in and day-out.”

According to Dr. Cohen, insufficient hydration may be associated with fatigue,1 “brain fog,”2,3 constipation,4 colon cancer,5 bladder cancer,6 inflammatory bowel disease,7 type 2 diabetes7 and many other disorders.8 Water’s presence in cartilage and skin suggests that dehydration might also be a factor in joint discomfort and skin dryness.

Unhealthy food, certain medications, artificially heated and air-conditioned environments, and more share a lot of the blame.

Dehydration and rehydration

According to Dr. Cohen, optimal hydration is not as simple as drinking more water.

“We know that water exists as liquid, ice and vapor,” Dr. Cohen explained. Research suggests the existence of a fourth phase of water that is referred to as a gel or “structured water.” It’s in that phase that water is in our cells, and it’s also the type of water that’s found in plants.”9-11

The gist of her book, she revealed, is “eating your water.”

In other words, she believes smoothies made from plant foods are going to sustain us longer than just drinking a glass of water.

Dr. Cohen recommends consuming more greens and making sure that electrolyte mineral intake is sufficient. Chia seeds are ideal because they surround themselves with a gel when soaked in water. These can be added to water or smoothies. Capsules containing oligonol®, which is derived from lychee fruit and green tea,12 and AHCC® from mushroom are also healthy additions to support stress response and immune function.13-15

Proper hydration levels are essential

Not only is proper hydration essential for those who exercise, but exercise boosts hydration. By improving circulation and the delivery of water to the cells, movement improves hydration. Thus, a regular exercise regimen aids in attaining optimized hydration levels.

When asked how she might respond to skeptics who question the prevalence of low-grade, chronic dehydration, Dr. Cohen expressed frustration.

“I have pretty sick patients that come in to see me,” she replied. “Doing nothing else but hydrating them better and getting them to eat better—getting them to eat more hydrating food—changes their lives.”

“I don’t get what the controversy is.”

Like what Dr. Cohen has to say? Listen to the Live Foreverish podcast with Life Extension’s Dr. Michael Smith and his guest Dana Cohen, MD, as they discuss hydration, by visiting LiveFOREVERish.com.

If you like what you hear, please take a moment to download the episode for FREE and give Live Foreverish a 5-star rating on iTunes!

References
  1. Barley OR et al. Front Physiol. 2018 Nov 2;9:1562.
  2. Szinnai G et al. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Jul;289(1):R275-80.
  3. Shirreffs SM et al. Br J Nutr. 2004 Jun;91(6):951-8.
  4. Arnaud MJ. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec;57 Suppl 2:S88-95.
  5. Shannon J et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1996 Jul;5(7):495-502.
  6. Michaud DS et al. N Engl J Med. 1999 May 6;340(18):1390-7.
  7. Lang F et al. Kidney Blood Press Res. 2017;42(3):483-94.
  8. El-Sharkawy AM et al. Nutr Rev. 2015; 73 (Suppl 2): 97-109.
  9. Maestro LM et al. Int J Nanotechnol. 2016;13(8-9);667-77.
  10. Perakis F et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Aug 1;114(31):8193-98.
  11. Pollack GH. Jpn J Physiol. 2001 Dec;51(6):649-60.
  12. Lee JB et al. Nutr Res. Pract. 2010 Jun;4(3):203-207.
  13. Takanari J et al. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2018 Jan-Dec;23:2156587218756511.
  14. Terakawa N et al. Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(5):643-51.
  15. Yin Z et al. Human Immunol. 2010 Dec;71(12):1187-90.

What are Advanced Glycation End Products? The A.G.E.less Diet with Helen Vlassara, M.D.

The AGEless Diet


We’ve known about AGEs in foods for nearly a century, but their potential for harm has only recently been brought to light. What took us so long? Life Extension’s Michael A. Smith, M.D., and A.G.E. researcher Helen Vlassara, M.D., talk about AGEs, their discovery, and what it means.

AGEs and aging

“AGEs are extremely common compounds that form inside our bodies as well as that of animals and in food,” explained Helen Vlassara, M.D. “Whenever proteins and fats come together with sugars, the chemical process by which they form is called glycation. We’ve given them this acronym of AGEs, which stands for advanced glycation end products, for both scientific as well as practical reasons, mainly because they were found to be elevated in persons of advanced age. Basically, AGEs are modified proteins or fats that are no longer normal, and when they are in excess in the body, they can be harmful. We have shown that AGEs underlie diabetes and its complications (vascular and kidney disease), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, bone disease, and skin aging.”1-6

Dr. Vlassara is the former Director of the Diabetes and Aging Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She has devoted over thirty years to studying the effects of advanced glycation end products and is coauthor of A.G.E.less Diet and The A.G.E. Food Guide: A Quick Reference to Food and the AGEs They Contain. Her work has been recognized by the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute on Aging.

What took us so long?


When proteins attach to sugars in foods, the result is a familiar browning effect that enhances food color, taste, and aroma. The set of chemical reactions involved in browning was first identified by the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard in 1912 and is still referred to as the Maillard reaction.7 8 “I’m very proud to have been part of this discovery as a young scientist,” Dr. Vlassara enthused. “This test alone has virtually changed the outlook, the lives of countless people with diabetes around the globe.”

Nothing was known concerning their potential for harm until 1968, when researchers observed an increase in the glycation of hemoglobin (a red blood cell protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body’s tissues) in diabetics who, as we all know, have elevated blood sugar. This led to the development of the hemoglobin A1c test. This test measures the percentage of glycated hemoglobin, which is a reflection of long-term glucose control.

“It took another 10-15 years of basic science to prove that the AGEs that are in our food are identical to those found in the body,” Dr. Vlassara stated. “This lag in timing has to do with the traditional way science works.”

Despite the slow pace of scientific investigation, Dr. Vlassara expressed confidence that mainstream medicine will begin taking AGEs seriously.

What makes AGEs so detrimental?

“AGEs have uncanny abilities to harm the body,” Dr. Vlassara remarked. “First and foremost, they are oxidants. That is, by generating unstable molecules that we call free radicals, they can consume our own antioxidants and suppress our native defenses. In fact, they’re a key cause for the chronic inflammation that we all hear about.”9,10

Inflammation underlies chronic diseases that are epidemic in Western societies: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, arthritis, and cancer, in addition to accelerated aging.11 While the cause of chronic inflammation is multifactorial and complex, what is happening, according to Dr. Vlassara, is a gradual breakdown in the body’s antioxidant defense systems that normally maintain the healthy function of our hormones (especially insulin) while keeping a tight leash on inflammation. Food AGEs are a contributor to this imbalance.12

The good news is that, by adopting the AGEless diet which helps lower the entry of toxic AGEs into the body, we can help protect ourselves without having to cut out flavorful foods.13

Ageless Diet Plan

It’s not only what we eat, but how it’s cooked

The amount of heat and water used in cooking is important. AGEs form during a loss of water by heat.14 The same process happens in the body as well, but more slowly.

“Imagine food on the stove in the kitchen,” Dr. Vlassara suggested. “By turning up the heat dial, the water loss happens extremely rapidly and that accelerates and amplifies the amount of AGEs that are formed. By frequently consuming those foods that are prepared with dry heat, we can easily consume enough AGEs to turn us from healthy to unhealthy individuals, just as smoking does.”

In summary, Dr. Vlassara recommends that people:

  1. Learn what foods contain lower amounts of AGEs.
  2. Prepare foods using lower heat and more water.
  3. Add AGE retardants to food, such as lemon or tomato juice, or vinegar.
“The AGEless story is an entirely fascinating story,” Dr. Vlassara observed. “We are confident that, once the word gets out, it will find the support in the people that need it most.”

Like what Dr. Vlassara has to say? Listen to the Live Foreverish podcast with Life Extension’s Dr. Michael Smith and his guest Helen Vlassara, M.D., as they discuss the AGEs, by visiting LiveFOREVERish.com.


If you like what you hear, please take a moment to give Live Foreverish a 5-star rating on iTunes!

To find out more about Dr. Vlassara's books, visit www.squareonepublishers.com

References

  1. Vlassara H et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Dec 15;89(24):12043-7.
  2. Bucala R et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Jul 15;90(14):6434-8.
  3. Makita Z et al. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1996;11 Suppl 5:31-3.
  4. Bucala R et al. Am J Kidney Dis. 1995 Dec;26(6):875-88.56.
  5. Vitek MP et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 May 24;91(11):4766-70.
  6. Nakamura Y et al. Am J Pathol. 1993 Dec;143(6):1649-56.
  7. Fournet M et al. Aging Dis. 2018 Oct;9(5):880-900.
  8. Gebel E. Diabetes Care. 2012 Dec;35(12):2429-31.
  9. Yan LJ. J Diabetes Res. 2014;2014:137919.
  10. Vlassara H et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Nov 26;99(24):15596-601.
  11. Fougere B et al. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Sep 1;72(9):1218-25.
  12. Cai W et al. Proc Nat Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Sep 25;109(39):15888-93.
  13. Vlassara H et al. Diabetologia. 2016 Oct;59(10):2181-92.
  14. Prasad K, Tiwari S. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(6):937-43.

Does a normal thyroid test always mean a normal thyroid?

The Thyroid: Conductor of the Hormonal Symphony

Does a normal thyroid test always mean a normal thyroid?

That’s the question Life Extension’s Michael A. Smith, M.D., posed to Pamela Wartian Smith, M.D., M.P.H, M.S., who is the Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine and the founder of The Fellowship in Anti-Aging, Regenerative, and Functional Medicine, in this episode of Live Foreverish.

Thyroid Health

Is your thyroid “normal?”

A 45-year-old woman with bowel issues and dry skin is feeling fatigued and run down. She visits her primary care physician who correctly orders tests of the patient’s thyroid function, all of which come back normal. The patient is then prescribed an antidepressant.

Thyroid Levels

What’s wrong with this picture?

“There’s a difference between optimal function and levels, and normal function,” Pamela Wartian Smith, M.D., responded. “What we like people to have is optimal function so they feel great every day. And before someone is put on a medicine for depression, we always do full thyroid studies and we want to have optimal levels. Full thyroid studies would be a TSH, a T3, free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. And by optimal function, I mean that the TSH, which is the thyroid stimulating hormone, should be somewhere between the lowest limit of normal and 2 µIU/mL. Normal at the lab may be up to 5.5 µIU/mL. But with anything above 2 µIU/mL, the patient will have symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function).”

Dr. Smith added that borderline thyroid function test results are often associated with low iodine levels, because iodine is necessary for thyroid function.1 “We do an iodine test first, which is a urine test, to make sure they have enough iodine,” she noted. “If they don’t, we give them iodine, then repeat the thyroid function studies later. If they have normal iodine, then we look at prescribing them both T3 and T4 in most cases.”

Low Thyroid Levels

Another scenario

Another scenario is the patient who has low thyroid function and is being treated with T3 and T4 thyroid hormones but doesn’t respond well.

Some individuals have normal thyroid hormone levels, yet transport of thyroid hormones into the cells may be poor.2 Poor thyroid transport is sometimes reflected in high blood levels of reverse T3, another form of thyroid hormone that is also normally taken up by cells. Problems with the cells’ power plants known as mitochondria may be responsible for these transport issues.3 Treating conditions associated with mitochondrial dysfunction could be helpful. High reverse T3 can also be caused by infection,4 and possibly by over-supplementation with T4. If the infection is treated, and/or the dose of T4 is lowered and T3 is added, reverse T3 will usually come down.

Thyroid Treatment

Is treatment with T4 alone an issue?

“It certainly is,” Smith replied, noting that the medical literature has revealed that most subjects who needed thyroid hormone were found to do better if they were given both T3 and T4 rather than T4 alone.5-8

Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid and Westhroid are desiccated thyroid extracts that provide T3 and T4 in naturally occurring ratios that are somewhat variable,9 but these medications aren’t right for everyone. Thyroid hormones can be compounded to allow for individualized adjustments to the ratio of T4 to T3.10 This is quite different than the “one size fits all approach” still prevalent in conventional medicine.

Getting back to the 45-year-old woman for whom low thyroid hormones are suspected but, instead, receives a diagnosis of depression, Dr. Smith recommended that she visit an endocrinologist or a primary care physician who has an up-to-date approach to thyroid hormones.

When asked, in summary, what she would like people to know about thyroid disorders, Dr. Smith unhesitatingly asserted that “Thyroid is the most important hormone because it regulates everything in the body.”

She added that estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, pregnenolone, melatonin, and insulin may additionally need to be assessed.

“It takes many things to make the thyroid work well,” Dr. Smith observed. “The thyroid is what I lovingly call ‘the conductor of the hormonal symphony.’”

Like what Dr. Smith has to say? Listen to the Live Foreverish podcast with Life Extension’s Dr. Michael Smith and his guest Pamela Wartian Smith, M.D., M.P.H, M.S., as they discuss the thyroid, by visiting LiveFOREVERish.com.

If you like what you hear, please take a moment to give Live Foreverish a 5-star rating on iTunes!

References

  1. Zimmermann MB. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015 Apr;3(4):286-95.
  2. Koulouri O et al. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Dec; 27(6): 745–762.
  3. Holtorf K. J Restor Med. 2014 April 1;3(1):53-68.
  4. Kim RB et al. PLoS One. 2018 Aug 20;13(8):e0202422.
  5. Hennemann G et al. Thyroid. 2004 Apr;14(4):271-5.
  6. Bunevicius R et al. Endocrine. 2002 Jul;18(2):129-33.
  7. Solter D et al. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2012 Feb;120(2):121-3.
  8. Nygaard B et al. Eur J Endocrinol. 2009 Dec;161(6):895-902.
  9. Rees-Jones RW, Larsen PR. Metabolism. 1977 Nov;26(11):1213-8.
  10. Paoletti J. Int J Pharm Compd. 2008 Nov-Dec;12(6):488-97.

Role of Precious Metals in Health and Medicine

Precious Metals in Medicine

Precious metals are naturally lustrous elements that have a high economic value. Gold, silver, and platinum are the best-known precious metals and are used in jewelry and objets d’art. Historically, gold and silver were also used as currency.

Unlike such trace elements as zinc, copper, iodine, and others, there is no recognized need in human nutrition for precious metals.

Yet these elements have a therapeutic value under certain circumstances.

History of Precious Metals in Medicine

Metals have a history of use in ancient Indian (Ayurvedic), Chinese, and Egyptian medicine. In Ayurveda, crushed gold is prepared with herbs and other materials to address such conditions as infertility, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, muscle wasting, and more. Silver preparations were believed to increase stamina and strength, reduce heartburn or fever, and act as a disinfectant by helping to kill bacteria. Silver solutions have antimicrobial properties and can be applied topically to treat some temporary skin infections.1

“A new era of metal-based drugs started in the 1960s, heralded by the discovery of potent platinum-based complexes, commencing with cisplatin, which are effective anticancer chemotherapeutic drugs,” C. I. Yeo and colleagues observed in a recent review titled “Gold-Based Medicine: A Paradigm Shift in Anti-Cancer Therapy?2

Platinum-containing chemotherapy has been used to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer, as well as testicular, ovarian, and other cancers. It’s been noted that the use of chemotherapies alone has likely reached a plateau in regard to effectiveness and combining the drugs with newer targeted treatments could increase patient survival.3

Precious Metal: Gold

What is Gold’s Role in Medicine?

“Research into gold-based drugs for a range of human diseases has seen a revival in recent years,” note G. Faa and colleagues in a 2018 review. “Au(I) and Au(III) compounds have been reintroduced in clinical practice for targeting the cellular components involved in the onset and progression of viral and parasitic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer.”4

The target of gold compounds in cancer does not appear to be the cells’ DNA, as in the case of platinum compounds, but the mitochondria within the cells.5 Other mechanisms include cell cycle arrest, and more.2

Toxicological risk assessment of gold nanoparticle exposure concluded that “taking low human exposure into account, elemental gold via the oral route is not considered to pose a health concern to humans in general.”6

Precious Metal: Silver

What Is the Role of Silver in Medicine?

Silver has been used in wound healing for centuries and was likely to be the most important antimicrobial treatment prior to the antibiotic era.7 Silver is currently a component of topical dressings used in the prevention or treatment of bacterial infection and as a treatment for such conditions as plantar warts.8 Silver nanoparticles have shown antibacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori,the organism that causes stomach ulcers.9

The use of silver in antimicrobial therapy has declined over time due to the identification of a few silver-resistant strains. However, indiscriminate antibiotic use has led to the evolution of multi-drug-resistant “superbugs,” which has resulted in a resurgence of silver nanoparticles as the subject of antimicrobial research.10 In a 2018 review, A. C. Burdusel and colleagues report that “silver nanoparticles proved to have genuine features and impressive potential for the development of novel antimicrobial agents, drug-delivery formulations, detection and diagnosis platforms, biomaterial and medical device coatings, tissue restoration and regeneration materials, complex healthcare condition strategies, and performance-enhanced therapeutic alternatives.”11

Therapeutic applications of silver compounds such as silver nanoparticles should not be conflated with “colloidal silver.” Some alternative health practitioners have advocated for the use of colloidal silver preparations for various conditions, but there is no sound scientific evidence supporting their use.

Precious Metal: Platinum

What is the Role of Platinum in Medicine?

It has been observed that “one simple metal complex revolutionized the treatment of cancer in the latter half of the 20th century.”12

The platinum compound known as cisplatin was used as early as 1845 when it was known as Peyrone’s chloride. Its antitumor properties were accidently discovered in the 1960s when bacteria exposed to platinum-based complexes failed to undergo cell division. For many years, platinum therapies have been considered the “gold” standard of cancer treatment. As noted, the success of currently available chemotherapies, including those based on platinum, has likely plateaued, and newer therapies may be more promising.

Precious metals are highly valued in jewelry and art, but their greatest value is in their benefit to human lives. The contribution of these metals to the well-being of humanity indeed renders them deserving of the appellation “precious.”

References
  1. Lansdown AB et al. Curr Probl Dermatol. 2006;33:17-34.
  2. Yeo CI et al. Molecules. 2018 Jun 11;23(6)1410.
  3. Baxevanos P et al. Ann Transl Med. 2018 Apr;6(8):139.
  4. Faa G et al. Curr Med Chem. 2018;25(1):75-84.
  5. Maia PI et al. Future Med Chem. 2014 Sep;6(13):1515-36.
  6. Hadrup N et al. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2015 Jul;72(2):216-21.
  7. Barras F et al. Antibiotics (Basel). 2018 Aug 22;7(3).

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