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Archive for the ‘Integrative Medicine blog’ Category

Are Too Many Older People Screened for Cancer?

(HealthDay News) -- Many older Americans get screened for colon, breast, prostate and cervical cancer even though guidelines recommend against routinely screening the elderly, a new study finds.

As the population of the United States continues to age, balancing good health care with costs will be a continuing battle, experts say. "In an era of escalating health care utilization and expenditures in the United States, identifying areas for cost containment while concurrently improving quality of care in our health care system is increasingly paramount," said lead researcher Keith Bellizzi, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

"Perhaps this area of health care warrants further attention," Bellizzi added.

Currently, nearly 37 million people in the United States are 65 and older, and that number will probably double by 2030. Historically, older adults have been excluded from cancer clinical trials, so what is known about the effectiveness of screening in seniors is limited, he said.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against routine screening for breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer at age 75 and beyond, and advises against cervical cancer testing after 65, according to the study. Read more...

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Men More Likely to Skip Cancer Screenings: Study

(HealthDay News) -- Men are less willing than women to be screened for cancer, even though men have higher cancer death rates, a new study shows.

Researchers conducted a telephone survey of nearly 1,150 adults in New York City, Baltimore, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, who answered questions from the Cancer Screening Questionnaire. Most of the participants were aged 30 to 59, and 35 percent of them were men.

"This study examined beliefs and attitudes held by men and women about cancer screening. Our aim was to gain insight for improving existing cancer health promotion practices," study corresponding author Jenna Davis, of the department of health outcomes and behavior at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., said in a center news release.

"Our findings indicate that there is a need for better health and cancer screening promotion among men," she said.

The researchers suggested several reasons why men are less willing than women to undergo cancer screening: most cancer awareness campaigns in the media are for women's breast cancer; there is a lack of government-sponsored men's cancer awareness campaigns; and studies indicate that women see their primary care doctor more often than men. Read more...

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Researchers Perfect the View of Heart Disease

(HealthDay News) -- Radiologists have developed a way to gain better insight into signs of heart disease by using cardiac CT scans that detect narrowed arteries and low blood flow.

CT scans use X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the body's internal anatomy. The scans can detect blockages in coronary arteries, but it's hard to tell if they're actually preventing blood from flowing to the heart.

In a new study, published Sept. 15 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital explained how to gain more detailed pictures of what is going on inside the body, potentially giving doctors more information about the best treatment.

The research, based on tests in 34 cardiac patients, "is among the first demonstrations of the use of cardiac CT to detect both coronary artery stenosis and resulting myocardial ischemia simultaneously in a single examination," Dr. Ricardo C. Cury, a cardiac imaging specialist at the hospital's Heart Center and the study's principal investigator, explained in a hospital news release. Read more...

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Ovarian cancer screenings are essentially useless

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (ACS) Cancer has found that current ovarian cancer screening technologies do virtually nothing to decrease the overall death rate from the disease. Laura Havrilesky, MD, MHSc, and her team from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, discovered that in many cases, ovarian cancer progresses so fast that screenings are unable to detect a problem until it is too late.

"If we assume ovarian cancers grow and spread at different rates, the best screening strategy available will only reduce the number of women dying from this cancer by 11 percent," Havrilesky is quoted as saying. "This is partially because the slower growing cancers are more likely to be caught by a screening test."

So the team has concluded that the best way to deal with ovarian cancer is to try harder to prevent it, and develop better methods of treating it. Because there is really one no way to determine the nature of ovarian cancer from patient to patient, there is also no single conventional method that effectively recognizes each unique type and its eventual progression rate. Read more...

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Hopes Dashed That Vitamin D Reduces Cancer Risk

(HealthDay News) -- New research appears to dash hopes that people who consume more vitamin D might be at less risk of developing several less-common types of cancer.

Researchers found no link between higher blood levels of vitamin D and lower rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma or cancers of the endometrium, esophagus, stomach, kidney, ovary and pancreas.

Vitamin D is obtained by the body through exposure to sunlight, certain foods such as oily fish, fortified foods and nutritional supplements.

Authors of a new study analyzed blood samples drawn from more than 12,000 men and women in 10 studies. The previous studies followed the patients for as long as 33 years, allowing researchers to determine if they developed cancer.

"We did not see lower cancer risk in persons with high vitamin D blood concentrations compared to normal concentrations for any of these cancers," said study co-investigator Dr. Demetrius Albanes of the U.S. National Cancer Institute in an institute news release. "And, at the other end of the vitamin D spectrum, we did not see higher cancer risk for participants with low levels."

However, the researchers did find that people with high levels of vitamin D were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. It's not clear if there's a cause-and-effect relationship, and the study authors called for more research to assess the possible association. Read more...

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Who Should Get a CT Scan to Screen for Lung Cancer?

(HealthDay News) -- Annual low-dose CT scans cut the death rate from lung cancer by 20 percent in heavy smokers and formerly heavy smokers, compared to those who get annual chest X-rays, according to the results of a major National Cancer Institute study released on Wednesday.

Experts are calling the findings a major advance in efforts to combat lung cancer deaths. By catching the cancer early, the tumors can be removed surgically -- hopefully before they've spread and become very difficult to cure.

"This is a momentous time in the history of public health research," said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. "The NLST [National Lung Screening Trial] is the best-designed and best-performed lung cancer screening study in history."

Yet the findings raise as many questions as they answer, said Dr. Harold Sox, a professor emeritus of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School who wrote an accompanying editorial to the study published in the June 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Read more...

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Cholesterol Measurements May Be Made Easier

(HealthDay News) -- Methods to gauge blood cholesterol to determine vascular disease risk can be simplified, researchers in England say.

Their method measures levels of either total or high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good" cholesterol) in the blood or apolipoproteins (proteins that help transport cholesterol), without the need to have patients fast and without regard to another form of blood fat called triglycerides.

"Expert opinion is divided" on which combination of measurements is ideal in gauging cardiovascular risk, explained John Danesh, of the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration Coordinating Centre at the University of Cambridge, and colleagues.

In order to examine the association between major blood fats and apolipoproteins and coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke, the researchers analyzed data on more than 300,000 people without initial vascular disease who took part in 68 long-term studies.

During the follow-up periods of the studies, there were almost 8,900 nonfatal heart attacks, more than 3,900 coronary heart disease deaths, over 2,500 ischemic strokes, 513 hemorrhagic strokes and more than 2,500 unclassified strokes, the study authors noted.

The analysis of the data yielded a number of findings. Read more...

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Kids of Deployed Soldiers Vulnerable to Stress

(HealthDay News) -- About one-third of children of deployed U.S. Army soldiers are at high risk for psychosocial problems, mainly due to high levels of stress experienced by the parent who is still at home, a new study shows.

The research included the spouses (mainly wives) of 101 deployed Army personnel. Participants completed a series of questionnaires and provided information about their children, aged 5 to 12.

The researchers concluded that 32 percent of the children were at high risk for psychosocial problems. This doesn't mean they had psychological problems, but that they were more vulnerable to developing such disorders. That rate is 2.5 times higher than among children in the general population.

The study also found that children of parents with high stress levels were about seven times more likely to be at high risk for psychosocial problems. Psychosocial problems were less likely among children whose parents received support from military organizations and among children of college-educated parents. Read more...

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Treatment of Depression More Than Triples in the US Over the

Treatment of Depression More Than Triples in the US Over the Last 10 Years

Among people receiving treatment for depression in the US, the percentage of those on antidepressant medication has risen dramatically, while fewer are opting for time on the couch in psychotherapy.

The number of Americans treated for depression soared from 1.7 million to 6.3 million between 1987 and 1997, and the proportion of those receiving antidepressants doubled.

The researchers attributed the sharp increases to the emergence of aggressively marketed new drugs like Prozac, the rise in managed care and an easing of the stigma attached to the disease.

The study found that the share of patients who used antidepressant medication climbed from 37% to nearly 75%. At the same time, the proportion who received psychotherapy declined from 71% to 60%.

The publicizing of newer antidepressants that have fewer side effects - such as Prozac, which was introduced in late 1987 - has helped make patients more willing to seek treatment, the researchers said. This publicity has included pharmaceutical industry efforts to market the drugs directly to consumers and public-awareness campaigns about depression. Read more...

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Exposing the fraud and mythology of conventional cancer treatments

Treating cancer is BIG business in America -- in fact, it's a $200 billion a year business. Yet 98 percent of conventional cancer treatments not only FAIL miserably, but are also almost guaranteed to make cancer patients sicker.

What's worse: The powers are suppressing natural cancer cures that could help tens of thousands of people get well and live cancer free with little or no dependence on drugs, surgery and chemotherapy.

The treatment of cancer in the U.S. is one of the most bald-faced cover-ups in medical history. Enough is enough! You deserve to know the truth about the criminality of oncologists and about the dangers of chemotherapy, conventional cancer treatments and the cancer "business."

Chemotherapy kills more than cancer
Want proof? Did you know that 9 out of 10 oncologists would refuse chemotherapy if they had cancer? That's up to 91% -- a huge percentage that clearly shines a light on the truth: chemotherapy kills. Conventional oncologists are not only allowing this to happen, but they're also bullying many patients into chemotherapy and surgery right after their diagnoses. Read more...

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Prevent heart disease with quality multivitamins

Taking quality multivitamins is a great way to supplement one's diet with high doses of nutrients that are often lacking in modern-day food. And a new study out of Sweden has found that women who take multivitamins help to reduce their overall risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

For ten years, Dr. Susanne Rautiainen and her colleagues from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm monitored 31,671 women with no history of heart disease and 2,262 women with heart disease to observe their progression in overall health. Roughly 60 percent of women from both groups took some kind of dietary supplement.

At the completion of the study, 3.4 percent of the women who had no heart disease to begin with, but who did not take any dietary supplements, ended up having heart attacks. In contrast, only 2.6 percent of women from the same group who did take a multivitamin had heart attacks. Statistically, the multivitamin group exhibited a 27 percent less chance of having a heart attack. Read more...

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Chocolate compounds fight high cholesterol

Chocolate has received a lot of attention for being a treasure trove of nutritional goodness. Polyphenols in cacao beans are linked to promoting heart, brain, and liver health, which has sparked renewed interest in chocolate as a medicinal food. And a new study adds to the growing list of benefits, showing that chocolate polyphenols also help to lower bad cholesterol.

Published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, the study tested the effects of polyphenol-rich chocolate in a group of 12 volunteers with type-2 diabetes. After 16 weeks, the researchers from Hull University in the U.K. discovered that the polyphenols helped lower participants' bad cholesterol levels while raising good cholesterol levels.

"Chocolate with a high cocoa content should be included in the diet of individuals with type-2 diabetes as part of a sensible, balanced approach to diet and lifestyle," said professor Steve Akin, author of the study. Read more...

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Wikipedia Accurate on Cancer Facts, But Hard to Read: Study

(HealthDay News) -- The facts about cancer found on the website Wikipedia are about as accurate as the information on the disease found on the patient-oriented section of the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query (PDQ), a comprehensive peer-reviewed cancer database, according to a new study.

Although experts from Thomas Jefferson University were hard-pressed to find errors on Wikipedia, they did find the content on the site was harder to read and included links to more dense information than the simplified, shorter explanations found on PDQ.

"There are a vast number of websites where patients can obtain cancer information," study leader Dr. Yaacov Lawrence, adjunct assistant professor of radiation oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and director of the Center for Translational Research in Radiation Oncology at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, said in a university news release. Read more...

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Healthy Living Can Cut Chances of Developing Diabetes

(HealthDay News) -- Living a healthy lifestyle can cut your risk of diabetes by as much as 80 percent, researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health report.

It has been clear that diet, exercise, smoking and drinking have an impact on whether one is likely to develop type 2 diabetes, but how each individual factor affects the risk had been unclear.

"The lifestyle factors we looked at were physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, alcohol consumption and smoking," said lead researcher Jarad Reis, a researcher from the U.S. Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

"For each one of those, there was a significant reduction in risk for developing diabetes," he said. "Having a normal weight by itself reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 60 to 70 percent."

For example, eating a healthy diet reduced the risk by about 15 percent, while not smoking lowered the risk by about 20 percent, he said.

The more healthy lifestyle factors one has, the lower the risk for developing diabetes, Reis noted. Overall, risk reduction can reach 80 percent, he said. Read more...

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Fear of Dying During Heart Attack May Make Matters Worse

(HealthDay News) -- People who become very afraid of dying in the moments during and days after a heart attack also seem to have more inflammation, an indicator that they may, in the long run, do worse than patients who are less fearful, a small British study suggests.

The finding, published online June 1 in the European Heart Journal, "reminds us of the connection between the mind and the body," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"This trial shows us that when patients are so fearful, there's an increase in inflammation and decrease in heartbeat variability, which could lead to poor outcomes. So we must address not only the body issues but the mind issues as well," she said.

Added Dr. Robert Gramling, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York: "This and the vast literature related to emotions and mind/body interactions are confirmatory that understanding people's emotional response does interplay with the biologic mechanisms. Read more...

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Cancer Patients’ Secondary Symptoms Need Attention: Study

(HealthDay News) -- Many cancer patients with pain or depression also experience physical symptoms, such as fatigue, dry mouth and nausea, that can cause disability, a new study shows.

Doctors need to recognize and treat these symptoms in order to improve quality of life for cancer patients, said Dr. Kurt Kroenke, of the Richard Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indiana University, and Regenstrief Institute Inc. in Indianapolis, and colleagues.

They analyzed data from 405 cancer patients who had either pain or depression and found that all the patients had at least one of 22 physical symptoms examined in the study. More than half of patients reported 15 of the 22 symptoms.

The most common symptoms were fatigue (97.5 percent), difficulty sleeping (about 79 percent), pain in limbs or joints (78 percent), back pain (nearly 75 percent) and memory problems (72 percent).

The patients also reported an average of almost 17 disability days in the previous four weeks, including 5.7 days in bed and 11.2 days where they reduced their activity by 50 percent or more. Read more...

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Coffee, Sex, Smog Can All Trigger Heart Attack, Study Finds

(HealthDay News) -- A major analysis of data on potential triggers for heart attacks finds that many of the substances and activities Americans indulge in every day -- coffee, alcohol, sex, even breathing -- can all help spur an attack.

Because so many people are exposed to dirty air, air pollution while stuck in traffic topped the list of potential heart attack triggers, with the researchers pegging 7.4 percent of heart attacks to roadway smog.

But coffee was also linked to 5 percent of attacks, booze to another 5 percent, and pot smoking to just under 1 percent, the European researchers found.

Among everyday activities, exerting yourself physically was linked to 6.2 percent of heart attacks, indulging in a heavy meal was estimated to trigger 2.7 percent, and sex was linked to 2.2 percent.

The researchers stressed that the risk for heart attack from any one of these factors to a particular person at any given time is extremely small. But spread out over the population, they can add up.

For example, air pollution is a minor trigger for heart attacks, but since so many people are exposed to smog, it triggers many more heart attacks than other more potent triggers, such as alcohol and cocaine. Read more...

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Reverse Heart Disease without Meds

Each day the media presents horrific news of death and destruction caused by war, terrorism, and other violence. It virtually ignores a silent but much more deadly enemy . . . heart disease.

More than 1.5 million people will have a heart attack this year, with 1 million deaths resulting from heart attacks (or a death every 30 seconds). When it comes to combating heart disease, most information sources promote drugs and surgery as the only viable defenses. We need to keep in mind that angioplasty and bypass surgery have some significant adverse outcomes, including heart attacks, stroke and death. Most people treated with such interventions continue to suffer from, and eventually die from, heart disease. The average person is not aware that there are safer, more effective options available. Read more...



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Vitamin D deficiency unquestionably linked to bone fractures

Recent research from Scotland reinforces the longstanding medical opinion that vitamin D deficiency leads to a significantly increased risk of bone fractures.

Among people with hip fractures referred to the Scottish fracture liaison service, 98 percent test positive for serious deficiencies in vitamin D. Supplementation with the vitamin, on the other hand, significantly reduces the risk of repeat fractures.

"Taking a supplement can make a difference quite quickly," said Stephen Gallacher, head of the liaison service. "Bone density can increase by 20 percent in a few months with enough vitamin D."

"We have found we can reduce fractures by something like 30 to 50 percent. It is our belief that we can significantly reduce the risk of fractures in the population by giving people anti-osteoporosis therapy and vitamin D supplements."Read more...

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Poor Diet May Make COPD Worse, Study Finds

(HealthDay News) -- Certain vitamin deficiencies may lead to decreased lung function in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, says a new study.

For the study, 20 COPD patients (13 women, seven men) completed a questionnaire to assess their dietary intake of vitamins A, C, D, E and selenium, all of which contain cell-protecting antioxidants. A diet low in antioxidants -- as compared to national dietary intake requirements -- was common among the patients.

The percentages of deficiencies were: 25 percent (selenium), 45 percent (vitamin C), 90 percent (vitamin E), 55 percent (vitamin A), and 70 percent (vitamin D).

The researchers then measured the maximum amount of air the patients could exhale with force. All the patients with a selenium-deficient diet had decreased lung function. Among patients deficient in vitamins C, A, and D, only men had decreased lung function. Read more...

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Meditation May Help Women Cope With Hot Flashes

(HealthDay News) -- An easy-to-learn meditation technique can help ease the hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia of menopause, a new study says.

The University of Massachusetts research showed that mindfulness training, based on a Buddhist meditation concept, reduced the distress associated with hot flashes and improved physical, psychosocial and sexual functioning.

"The findings are important because hormone replacement therapy, used to treat menopause symptoms in the past, has been associated with health risks," said study author James Carmody, an associate professor of medicine in the division of preventive and behavioral medicine.

About 40 percent of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes and night sweats, which undermine their quality of life, the researchers noted. But since hormone replacement therapy has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer and stroke, Carmody observed that "not only are women looking for alternative treatments, it is an NIH (National Institutes of Health) priority to find behavioral treatments Read more...

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Diet, Exercise Better Than Vitamins in Promoting Health

Harvard men's health watch is telling everyone how dangerous vitamin supplements are. Unfortunately they are not kidding!

Please know that although we have our references to try to refute these statements, your patient's families will be hearing this stuff.

While it was once hoped that supplements of folic acid could help reduce colon cancer, new research has shown that taking more than the minimum daily requirement would be harmful. Simon says other studies underscore the downside to dietary supplements, which are unregulated in the United States. "The most striking example is beta carotene, which we used to be very hopeful about, but actually increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Vitamin E increases the risk of second head-neck cancers in people who have been successfully treated for a first malignancy. Read more...

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Cocaine-Related Heart Damage May Be ‘Silent’

(HealthDay News) -- Heart damage caused by heavy cocaine use can occur without producing any symptoms, according to a new study.

Researchers assessed the heart health of 30 long-term cocaine users, average age 37, who entered a drug rehabilitation program 48 hours after they last used cocaine. They had been using cocaine for an average of 12 years and consumed about 5.5 grams of cocaine per day.

Snorting was the most common way of using cocaine, but 10 said they injected intravenously and two said they smoked it (crack cocaine).

More than half of the those addicted to cocaine also used other substances -- such as heroin and alcohol -- and one in five was infected with either hepatitis C or HIV.

Heart function was normal in all the daily cocaine users, but 12 had localized abnormalities, 83 percent had structural damage, and 47 percent had swelling (edema) in the lower left ventricle. Edema was associated with greater cocaine consumption. Read more...

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Meat industry lying about E. coli contamination

The meat industry has been misusing data to make it appear that E. coli contamination of meat is decreasing, said Barbara Kowalcyk of the Center for Foodborne Illness, Research and Prevention.

Executives from the American Meat Institute (AMI) have claimed success in the beef industry's efforts to reduce contamination with the dangerous E. coli strain O157:H7. According to the AMI, inspection data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service show a 45 percent drop in E. coli prevalence between 2000 and 2008.

Yet Kowalcyk calls this is a misuse of data never intended for "year-to-year comparisons."

"USDA's E. coli ... testing program is strictly regulatory and was not statistically designed to estimate the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in raw ground beef," she said.

Although a 45 percent drop is in fact found in the data, Kowalcyk notes that different facilities were tested and different testing methods used each year. She called the AMI's conclusion as valid as comparing a person who weighed 300 pounds in 2000 to a different person weighing 150 pounds in 2008, then concluding that the average weight of the U.S. population had dropped 50 percent. Read more...

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Birch bark nutrient prevents obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol

Researchers from the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences (SIBC) in China have identified a powerful compound in birch bark called betulin that helps lower cholesterol and prevent both diabetes and obesity. And betulin works particularly better than the statin drug lovastatin at lowering cholesterol, except without the harmful side effects.

Dr. Bao-Liang Song and his colleagues from SIBC tested the effects of betulin and found that it specifically targets the genes responsible for making harmful blood fats like triglycerides by effectively lowering their activity and protecting against disease. And since the compound is "abundant in birch bark," it has the potential to revolutionize the way blood fat levels are managed.

Concerning cholesterol levels, betulin was shown to lower lipid levels more effectively than lovastatin. And insulin-wise, betulin helps keep artery walls free and clear of build-ups and blockages, also known as atherosclerosis. Read more...

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