Biden’s family got ‘interest-free,’ ‘forgivable’ loan from China, new evidence reveals

Just the News. com | Oct. 18, 2022

President Joe Biden has made waves this fall with his plan to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars of student loans, shifting the burden to taxpayers. Five years earlier, his family cashed in on a zero-interest, forgivable loan of its own from an energy company in communist China, according to evidence in the possession of the FBI.

The loan arrangement, confirmed in documents obtained by Just the News and also new information released by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), shows the Chinese energy firm CEFC Beijing International Energy Company Limited understood the transaction would benefit Joe Biden’s family (referred to as “BD family” in the emails), but it also was creating heartburn with its own compliance/risk management officers.

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Large Social Security Increase for Inflation Could Lead to More Inflation

Schiff Gold | Oct. 17, 2022

Social Security recipients will be getting a big raise in 2023. That’s good news if you’re receiving benefits from the program, but not so great if you’re hoping inflation will abate any time soon.

The Social Security Administration recently announced an 8.7% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for next year. That goes on top of a substantial 5.9% COLA for 2022. The 2023 increase is the largest in 40 years.

The COLA will translate to an additional $140 per month for the average Social Security recipient.

The last time Social Security recipients got a bigger raise was in 1981 when the COLA was 11.2%.

The increase will add about $100 billion of spending per year. The Social Security Board of Trustees said the trust fund can pay full benefits through 2035. After that, the board projects the program will be able to pay 80% of benefits.

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Why Is the GOP Refusing to Look Into Fauci & the Origins of COVID-19?

This story which was released by the Epoch Times a year ago is as relevant today as it was a year ago. The evidence is there. The evidence is crystal clear that Fauci funded the work leading to SARS-CoV-2.

A team of just two reporters at the Epoch Times uncovered a complete timeline of events.

The reporter noted: if the Epoch Times can uncover all of this, imagine what Congress could find with its large staff and discovery powers.

Maybe someday they will take a look.

If you are not already supporting the Epoch Times, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Antidepressants Rarely Outperform Sugar Pills

antidepressants outperform placebo

  • The serotonin hypothesis posits that low serotonin levels in your brain are responsible for symptoms of depression. However, there’s little to no evidence for this. A number of studies have debunked the serotonin hypothesis, which is the basis upon which drug makers market SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Lexapro and Zoloft

  • According to recent research, “The main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of there being an association between serotonin and depression, and no support for the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations”

  • The primary effect of SSRIs is to superimpose an abnormal drug state over your symptoms, much like recreational drugs and alcohol would. The small benefits seen in some drug trials are due to emotional numbing

  • This numbing effect comes at a steep price, as it also prevents you from experiencing emotional highs and does little to counteract the loss of energy, interest and motivation that are so characteristic of depression

  • Researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently published the most comprehensive analysis of antidepressant clinical trial data submitted to the FDA, including unpublished trials. The evidence showed antidepressants outperformed placebo in only 15% of patients, and almost exclusively in those with the most severe depression

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As of 2018, 13.2% — approximately 1 in 8 — of American adults over the age of 18 were on antidepressant medication, with more than twice as many women taking them (17.7%) than men (8.4%).1 Curiously, though, only 7.2% had actually been diagnosed with a major depressive episode — a statistical discrepancy that hints at massive antidepressant overprescribing. As noted by Newsweek:2

“Although there is widespread agreement that SSRIs [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] help some people with severe depression, these patients are a small minority of people who take the drugs.”

While those statistics are already staggering, depression rates have further risen since then, thanks to COVID lockdowns and the unprecedented fearmongering that has been a hallmark of this pandemic. As reported in “What Does the Best Evidence Say About Antidepressants?” 22.4% of American adults reported symptoms of depression in June 2022, compared to 7.1% in 2017.

The fact that antidepressants are still being used to this extent is a testament to how effectively the drug industry manipulates doctors and patients alike with less than truthful propaganda, as independent studies have repeatedly shown these drugs work no better than placebo.

As Irving Kirsch — associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School and a long-time critic of antidepressants — told Newsweek:3

“People do get better on the drug — but in the vast majority of cases it’s not because of what’s in the drug. There are other treatments that are at least equally effective, and that don’t carry the risks.”

Indeed, a number of studies have solidly debunked the serotonin hypothesis, which is the basis upon which drug makers market SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Lexapro and Zoloft.

In short, the idea is that low serotonin levels in your brain is responsible for symptoms of depression. The problem is, there’s little to no evidence for this. In fact, low serotonin is associated with long-term antidepressant use, which is basically the converse effect you’d expect if the serotonin theory was true. As reported in a systematic review published in Molecular Psychiatry July 20, 2022:4

“The serotonin hypothesis of depression is still influential. We aimed to synthesize and evaluate evidence on whether depression is associated with lowered serotonin concentration or activity in a systematic umbrella review of the principal relevant areas of research …

17 studies were included: 12 systematic reviews and meta-analyses, 1 collaborative meta-analysis, 1 meta-analysis of large cohort studies, 1 systematic review and narrative synthesis, 1 genetic association study and 1 umbrella review …

Two meta-analyses of overlapping studies examining the serotonin metabolite, 5-HIAA, showed no association with depression … One meta-analysis of cohort studies of plasma serotonin showed no relationship with depression, and evidence that lowered serotonin concentration was associated with antidepressant use …

One meta-analysis of tryptophan depletion studies found no effect in most healthy volunteers, but weak evidence of an effect in those with a family history of depression. Another systematic review and a sample of ten subsequent studies found no effect in volunteers.

No systematic review of tryptophan depletion studies has been performed since 2007. The two largest and highest quality studies of the SERT gene, one genetic association study and one collaborative meta-analysis, revealed no evidence of an association with depression, or of an interaction between genotype, stress and depression.

The main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of there being an association between serotonin and depression, and no support for the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations. Some evidence was consistent with the possibility that long-term antidepressant use reduces serotonin concentration.”

An interesting backstory to this serotonin paper is that one of its coauthors, Mark Horowitz, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University College London, was on the antidepressant Lexapro for 15 years. His incentive to dive deeper into the truth behind antidepressants emerged when he tried to wean off the drug and found he couldn’t.

Panic attacks, insomnia and debilitating depression actually forced him to move back with his parents. All of these symptoms were far worse than what he suffered before taking the drug, and many others find themselves in the same situation — they can’t quit the drug because of the side effects. In essence, the addictive nature of these drugs ensures you’ll be a lifelong cash cow for the drug maker.

“Ever since beginning his calamitous effort to get off SSRIs, Horowitz has devoted himself to disproving the claims used to justify their widespread use, and lobbying lawmakers to take a second look,” Newsweek writes.5 “He now describes himself as no more neurotic than anyone in a Woody Allen movie and believes he should never have been prescribed SSRIs in the first place.”

But if the serotonin hypothesis is false, what is it that makes antidepressants appear to be working? In short, it’s the placebo effect. As reported by Newsweek:6

“The pharmaceutical industry used [the serotonin hypothesis] … to market the drugs to consumers for many years … As a result, according to the study’s authors, between 85 and 90% of the public believe that low serotonin levels cause depression.

After reviewing data from previous studies involving hundreds of thousands of individuals, Horowitz and his colleagues concluded that there is little to no evidence that this is true. ‘The drug companies convinced us that if you’re sad, you should go to your doctor and seek treatment,’ Horowitz told Newsweek.

‘They’ve made us all believe that normal aspects of the human condition are a medical illness called major depressive disorder — that normal reactions to difficult situations are a chemical brain problem that needs a medical solution. They convinced people these are very ‘mild’ drugs that are very easy to stop. None of this is true’ …

Horowitz and the paper’s other co-authors … call for a fundamental reassessment of how mental illness is treated. ‘We have a mistaken view of what psychiatric drugs are doing,’ says Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, professor of Critical and Social Psychiatry at University College London.

She is also Horowitz’s boss and the lead author of the serotonin paper. ‘This idea that they work by targeting the underlying biological mechanisms that produce the symptoms of mental disorders is actually not supported by evidence for any type of mental disorder, whether that’s depression or schizophrenia or whatever,’ she told Newsweek.

Instead, she argues, the drugs change ‘normal brain states’ and ‘normal mental states and processes’ in ways not that much different than recreational drugs like alcohol.”

As explained by Moncrieff, the primary effect of SSRI’s is to “superimpose an abnormal drug state” over your symptoms, much like recreational drugs and alcohol would. She also stresses that the small benefits seen in some drug trials are due to emotional numbing.

This numbing effect comes at a steep price, however, as it also prevents you from experiencing emotional highs, and does little to counteract the loss of energy, interest and motivation that are so characteristic of depression. Moncrieff continues:7

“It’s not helpful to think of depression as a brain disease. I think that we should be thinking of it as an emotional reaction to life circumstances and life events. And indeed, there is very strong evidence that people who suffer from adverse life events are much more likely to get depressed.”

Adverse life events tend to be stressful, and stress is strongly linked to depression. People with depression typically report experiencing a stressful episode, such as the death of a loved one, a job loss or onset of a chronic disease, shortly before the onset of their depression.

The question is how to treat it. While many psychiatrists believe stress can cause changes in the brain that can be reversed by antidepressants, others, like Moncrieff, Horowitz and Kirsch, believe psychotherapy that centers on strengthening coping skills and emotional resiliency is a far better — and safer — option.

In 2022, another team, which included researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also came out with the most comprehensive analysis of antidepressant clinical trial data ever published.

“Antidepressants outperform placebo in only 15% of patients, and almost exclusively in those with the most severe depression.”

This paper,8 published in The BMJ, included all antidepressant clinical trial data submitted to the FDA between 1979 and 2016, including unpublished trials. In all, 232 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials involving 73,388 patients diagnosed with depression were analyzed.

Here, the evidence showed antidepressants outperformed placebo in only 15% of patients, and almost exclusively in those with the most severe depression. In short, the reason many believe they’re getting a benefit from these drugs is because of the placebo effect and nothing else.

This supports previous research, which found the placebo effect accounts for anywhere between 30%9 and 67%10 of the antidepressant treatment effect, and that placebo is just as effective as antidepressants in those with mild to moderate depression.11

As you might expect, such a strong placebo effect is a problem for drug makers who need to prove their drug works better than a sugar pill. To get around this problem, they devise studies that capitalize on the placebo effect while hiding that fact. As reported by Newsweek:12

“The FDA study provides a glimpse of the true power of the SSRI placebo effect and the efforts of the pharmaceutical industry to use these effects to bolster the data on their own drugs. To win approval for a new drug, FDA requires drug makers to submit the results from ‘two well-designed clinical trials’ that demonstrate the drug itself is more potent than the placebo effect …

But the rules place no limit on how many clinical trials a drug company can conduct to get those two positive results. And though negative trial results must be registered with the FDA, there is no requirement that drug companies publish them.

As a result, the failure rate of trials of antidepressants is far higher than most people understand, says Dr. Erick Turner, a former FDA clinical reviewer, who is now a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Oregon Health and Science University …

By 2015, Dr. Turner had left the agency for academia. He conducted a review of the publication status of 74 studies involving 12 antidepressant agents with 12,564 patients and found that the drugs beat the placebo in only 51% of the studies in the FDA files — an outcome that was not reflected in the published medical literature at the time.

Of 33 studies that had negative or questionable results, 22 were never published and 11 were published in a way that falsely conveyed a positive outcome … Even though half of the trial had failed, 94% of the published trials reported positive trial results.”

Importantly, SSRIs, even when they do work for someone, should not be used for years on end. As noted in a recent PLOS ONE paper:13

“The real-world effect of using antidepressant medications does not continue to improve patients’ HRQoL [health-related quality of life] over time. Future studies should not only focus on the short-term effect of pharmacotherapy, it should rather investigate the long-term impact of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on these patients’ HRQoL.”

Dr. Michael Thase, professor of psychiatry at UPenn’s Perelman School of Medicine, agrees. While he believes antidepressants can be helpful by interrupting the damaging release of glutamate in the brain, he also believes the drugs should not be used for more than six to nine months. Beyond that, you need to have another treatment plan in place.14

This could go a long way toward avoiding the withdrawal symptoms that afflict 56% of those trying to wean off SSRIs.15 Since 2004, the average duration patients stay on SSRIs has doubled,16 and avoiding withdrawal symptoms appears to be a huge part of this trend. Doctors and patients also often misconstrue withdrawal symptoms for a relapse of depression.

Limiting their duration of use will also minimize other risks to your health, as antidepressants come with a long list of potential side effects, including:17 18

  • Self-harm, suicide and violence against others. Many mass shooters have been on antidepressants

  • Increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,19 even after adjusting for risk factors such as body mass index20

  • Thickening of the greater carotid intima-media (the lining of the main arteries in your neck that feed blood to your brain),21 which could contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke. This is true both for SSRIs and antidepressants that affect other brain chemicals. Users of tricyclic antidepressants have a 36% increased risk of heart attack22

  • An increased risk of dementia; as the dose increases, so does the risk for dementia23

  • Depletion of various nutrients. In the case of tricyclic antidepressants this includes coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B12, which are needed for proper mitochondrial function. SSRIs have been linked to iodine and folate depletion24

If you’re at all interested in following science-based recommendations, you’d place antidepressants at the very bottom of your list of treatment candidates. Far more effective treatments for depression include:

  • Exercise — A number of studies have shown exercise outperforms drug treatment. Exercise helps create new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm, and boosts serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which helps buffer the effects of stress.

    Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity, but even gentle forms of exercise can be effective. Yoga, for example, has received particular attention in a number of studies. One study found 90-minute yoga sessions three times a week reduced symptoms of major depression by at least 50%.25

  • Nutritional intervention — Keeping inflammation in check is an important part of any effective treatment plan. If you’re gluten sensitive, you will need to remove all gluten from your diet. A food sensitivity test can help ascertain this. Reducing lectins may also be a good idea.

    As a general guideline, eating a whole food diet as described in my optimal nutrition plan can go a long way toward lowering your inflammation level. A cornerstone of a healthy diet is limiting sugar of all kinds, ideally to no more than 25 grams a day.

    In one study,26 men consuming more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23% more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years than those whose sugar consumption was less than 40 grams per day. Certain nutritional deficiencies are also notorious contributors to depression, especially:

    • Marine-based omega-3 fats — Omega-3 fats have been shown to improve major depressive disorder,27 so make sure you’re getting enough omega-3s in your diet, either from wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies, or a high-quality supplement. I recommend getting an omega-3 index test to make sure you’re getting enough. Ideally, you want your omega-3 index to be 8% or higher.

    • B vitamins (including B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12) — Low dietary folate can raise your risk by as much as 300%.28 29 One of the most recent studies30 31 showing the importance of vitamin deficiencies in depression involved suicidal teens. Most turned out to be deficient in cerebral folate and all of them showed improvement after treatment with folinic acid.

    • Magnesium — Magnesium supplements led to improvements in mild-to-moderate depression in adults, with beneficial effects occurring within two weeks of treatment.32

  • Vitamin D — Studies have shown vitamin D deficiency can predispose you to depression and that depression can respond favorably to optimizing your vitamin D stores, ideally by getting sensible sun exposure.33 34 In one study,35 people with a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had an 85% increased risk of depression compared to those with a level greater than 30 ng/mL.

    A double-blind randomized trial36 published in 2008 concluded that supplementing with high doses of vitamin D “seems to ameliorate [depression] symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship.” Other research37 also claims that low vitamin D levels appear to be associated with suicide attempts. For optimal health, make sure your vitamin D level is between 60 and 80 ng/mL year-round. Ideally, get a vitamin D test at least twice a year to monitor your level.

  • Light therapy — Light therapy alone and placebo were both more effective than Prozac for the treatment of moderate to severe depression in an eight-week study.38 Spending time outdoors in broad daylight is the least expensive and likely most effective option.

  • Probiotics — Keeping your gut microbiome healthy also has a significant effect on your moods, emotions and brain.

  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) — EFT is a form of psychological acupressure that has been shown to be quite effective for depression and anxiety.39 40 41 42 For serious or complex issues, seek out a qualified health care professional who is trained in EFT to guide you through the process.

    That said, for most of you with depression symptoms, this is a technique you can learn to do effectively on your own. In the video below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman shows you how. Additional videos for a variety of specific depression symptoms can be found on Schiffman’s YouTube channel.

Additional strategies that can help improve your mental health include the following:43

  • Minimize electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure — In 2016, Martin Pall, Ph.D., published a review44 in the Journal of Neuroanatomy showing how microwave radiation from cellphones, Wi-Fi routers and computers and tablets not in airplane mode is clearly associated with many neuropsychiatric disorders.

    These electromagnetic fields (EMFs) increase intracellular calcium and trigger the production of extremely damaging free radicals by acting on your voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs), and the tissue with the highest density of VGCCs is your brain. Once these VGCCs are stimulated they also cause the release of neurotransmitters and neuroendocrine hormones, which contribute to anxiety and depression.

    So, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technology. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body unless it’s in airplane mode, and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom.

  • Clean up your sleep hygiene — Make sure you’re getting enough high quality sleep, as sleep is essential for optimal mood and mental health. The inability to fall asleep and stay asleep can be due to elevated cortisol levels, so if you have trouble sleeping, you may want to get your saliva cortisol level tested with an Adrenal Stress Index test.

    Adaptogens, herbal products that help lower cortisol and adjust your body to stress, can be helpful if your cortisol is running high. There are also other excellent herbs and amino acids that help you to fall asleep and stay asleep. For more tips and guidelines, see “Sleep — Why You Need It and 50 Ways to Improve It.”

  • Optimize your gut health — A number of studies have confirmed gastrointestinal inflammation can play a critical role in the development of depression.45 Optimizing your gut microbiome will also help regulate a number of neurotransmitters and mood-related hormones, including GABA and corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety and depression-related behavior.46

    To nourish your gut microbiome, be sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and traditionally fermented foods such as fermented vegetables, lassi, kefir and natto. If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is recommended. Also remember to severely limit sugars and grains, to rebalance your gut flora.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — CBT has been used successfully to treat depression.47 48 This therapy assumes mood is related to the pattern of thought. CBT attempts to change mood and reverse depression by directing your thought patterns.

  • Make sure your cholesterol levels aren’t too low for optimal mental health — You may also want to check your cholesterol to make sure it’s not too low. Low cholesterol is linked to dramatically increased rates of suicide, as well as aggression toward others.49

    This increased expression of violence toward self and others may be due to the fact that low membrane cholesterol decreases the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, which are approximately 30% cholesterol by weight.

    Lower serum cholesterol concentrations therefore may contribute to decreasing brain serotonin, which not only contributes to suicidal-associated depression, but prevents the suppression of aggressive behavior and violence toward self and others.

  • Ecotherapy — Studies have confirmed the therapeutic effects of spending time in nature. Ecotherapy has been shown to lower stress, improve mood and significantly reduce symptoms of depression.50 Outdoor activities could be just about anything, from walking a nature trail to gardening, or simply taking your exercise outdoors.

  • Breathing exercises — Breath work also has enormous psychological benefits and can quickly reduce anxiety by increasing the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in your body. To learn more, see “Top Breathing Techniques for Better Health.”

  • Helpful supplements — A number of herbs and supplements can also be used in lieu of drugs to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, such as:

    • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) — This medicinal plant has a long historical use for depression, and is thought to work similarly to antidepressants, raising brain chemicals associated with mood such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.51

    • S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe) — SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.

    • 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) — 5-HTP is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. Evidence suggests 5-HTP outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression,52 which is more than can be said about antidepressants.

    • XingPiJieYu — This Chinese herb, available from doctors of traditional Chinese medicine, has been found to reduce the effects of “chronic and unpredictable stress,” thereby lowering your risk of depression.53

If you’re currently on an antidepressant and want to get off it, ideally, you’ll want to have the cooperation of your prescribing physician. It would also be wise to do some homework on how to best proceed.

Dr. Peter Breggin’s book, “Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families,”54 and/or “The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and Addiction”55 by Dr. Joseph Glenmullen can be helpful.

You can also turn to an organization with a referral list of doctors who practice more biologically or naturally, such as the American College for Advancement in Medicine at www.ACAM.org. A holistic psychiatrist will have a number of treatment options in their tool box that conventional doctors do not, and will typically be familiar with nutritional supplementation.

Once you have the cooperation of your prescribing physician, start lowering the dosage of the medication you’re taking. There are protocols for gradually reducing the dose that your doctor should be well aware of. At the same time, it may be wise to add in a multivitamin and/or other nutritional supplements or herbs. Again, your best bet would be to work with a holistic psychiatrist who is well-versed in the use of nutritional support.

If you have a friend or family member who struggles with depression, perhaps one of the most helpful things you can do is to help guide them toward healthier eating and lifestyle habits, as making changes can be particularly difficult when you’re feeling blue — or worse, suicidal.

Encourage them to unplug and meet you outside for walks. We should not underestimate the power of human connection, and the power of connection with nature. Both, I believe, are essential for mental health and emotional stability.

If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide and reside in the U.S., please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988, or call 911, or simply go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

You cannot make long-term plans for lifestyle changes when you are in the middle of a crisis. U.K. and Irish helpline numbers can be found on TherapyRoute.com. For other countries, do an online search for “suicide hotline” and the name of your country.

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Colonoscopies Fail to Reduce Colorectal-Related Deaths

colonoscopies carry significant risks

  • A landmark study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found the “benefits” of colonoscopies are not as great as they’re made out to be

  • After 10 years, those who were invited to get colonoscopies had an 18% lower risk of colorectal cancer than the unscreened group

  • There was no statistically significant reduction in the risk of death from colorectal cancer in the group invited to screening compared to those who were not screened

  • Colonoscopy may, in practice, reduce colorectal cancer risk similarly to other less expensive, and less invasive, screenings, including fecal testing

  • Colonoscopies can cause serious adverse events, including death, bleeding after removal of a precancerous polyp and perforation

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends adults between the ages of 45 and 75 be screened for colorectal cancer every 10 years.1 As a result, about 15 million colonoscopies are performed every year in the U.S.2 The procedure, which involves extensive preparation and comes with considerable risks — include the risk of death — is touted as a key way to prevent colorectal cancer deaths.

However, as noted in a landmark study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, “Although colonoscopy is widely used as a screening test to detect colorectal cancer, its effect on the risks of colorectal cancer and related death is unclear.”3 The researchers set out to determine if the benefits of colonoscopies are as great as they’re made out to be — and found that they’re far from it.

Even study author Dr. Michael Bretthauer, a gastroenterologist with the University of Oslo in Norway, stated, “[W]e may have oversold the message for the last 10 years or so, and we have to wind it back a little.”

The Northern-European Initiative on Colon Cancer (NordICC) study — a randomized trial involving 84,585 adults between 55 and 64 years of age — assigned participants in a 1-to-2 ratio to receive an invitation to undergo a colonoscopy or to receive no invitation or screening. None of the participants had gotten a colonoscopy previously.

After 10 years, those who were invited to get colonoscopies had an 18% lower risk of colorectal cancer than the unscreened group.4 However, there was no statistically significant reduction in the risk of death from colorectal cancer in the group invited to screening. The researchers intend to follow the participants for another five years to see if anything changes, but according to the study:5

“The risk of death from colorectal cancer was 0.28% in the invited group and 0.31% in the usual-care group … The number needed to invite to undergo screening to prevent one case of colorectal cancer was 455 … The risk of death from any cause was 11.03% in the invited group and 11.04% in the usual-care group.”

There were some limitations to the study, including a low uptake rate for those invited to get a colonoscopy. Only 42% of those invited to do the procedure actually did so. When the researchers analyzed the results based only on those who received colonoscopies, the procedure reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 31% and reduced the risk of dying from colorectal cancer by 50%.6

Still, speaking with STAT News, Dr. Samir Gupta, a gastroenterologist who was not involved with the study, noted, “This is a landmark study. It’s the first randomized trial showing outcomes of exposing people to colonoscopy screening versus no colonoscopy. And I think we were all expecting colonoscopy to do better. Maybe colonoscopy isn’t as good as we always thought it is.”7

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2022 there will be 106,180 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed and 44,850 new cases of rectal cancer.8 The two types are grouped together — collectively known as colorectal cancer — since they have many of the same characteristics.

The rate of people being diagnosed with either colon or rectal cancers has gone down since the 1980s. The American Cancer Society (ACS) attributes this to changes in lifestyle as well as more people getting screened.9 The death rate from colorectal cancer has also decreased over several decades — a decline that ACS again attributes to screening, as well as colorectal cancer treatments.

“One reason is that colorectal polyps are now being found more often by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers,” ACS notes.10 However, the featured study makes it clear that colonoscopies’ benefits may have been overstated. Bretthauer told STAT News:11

“It’s not the magic bullet we thought it was. I think we may have oversold colonoscopy. If you look at what the gastroenterology societies say, and I’m one myself so these are my people, we talked about 70, 80, or even 90% reduction in colon cancer if everyone went for colonoscopy. That’s not what these data show.”

Bretthauer suggested colonoscopy may, in practice, reduce colorectal cancer risk by 20% or 30%, which is close to reductions offered by other less expensive, and less invasive, screenings, including fecal testing. Bretthauer told STAT News:12

“That raises an important point for policymakers … Colonoscopy is more expensive, more time-intensive, and more unpleasant in preparation for patients. Many European countries balked at putting public health dollars towards a large, expensive program, he said, when the fecal testing was cheaper, easier, and had greater uptake in certain studies.

‘Now, the European approach makes much more sense. It’s not only cheaper, but maybe equally effective.’”

In 2019, the BMJ published clinical practice guidelines13 for colorectal cancer screening using a stool test — known as the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) — a single colonoscopy or a single sigmoidoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy but less extensive and less invasive. During a colonoscopy, your entire large intestine is examined, while a sigmoidoscopy only checks the lower part of your colon.

The practice guidelines recommend physicians use a tool to estimate an individual’s potential risk for developing colorectal cancer in the next 15 years. The team recommends that only those who have a risk of 3% or greater should undergo screening tests, choosing from one of four screening options.

This included a FIT done every year or a FIT done every two years depending on risk factors. Patients may also choose a single sigmoidoscopy or, the weakest recommendation from the team, a single colonoscopy.

However, the team determined that the risks associated with colorectal cancer screening outweighed the benefits in many cases. For instance, the risk of death from a colonoscopy from one source was 1 in 16,318 procedures evaluated.14

In the same analysis, the researchers also found 82 suffered serious complications. Another analysis found a death rate of 3 per 100,000 colonoscopies, along with serious adverse events in 44 per 10,000, “with a number needed to harm of 225.”15

For any medical procedure, the benefits must outweigh the risks to the patient. But depending on your risk factors, it’s possible that colonoscopy could cause more harm than good. Aside from the risk of death, additional concerning risks include perforation and bleeding after removal of a precancerous polyp.

A systematic review and meta-analysis found the risk of perforation after colonoscopy was about 6 per 10,000 while the risk of bleeding was about 24 per 10,000 procedures.16 However, the risks can vary significantly depending on where the procedure is performed.

The risk of perforation at Baylor University Medical Center, according to one study, was 0.57 per 1,000 procedures or 1 in 1750 colonoscopies.17 In a report published in Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, it’s explained:18

“The frequency of complications is dependent on the skill of physicians doing the procedure, on safeguards that are in place within the laboratory where the procedure is carried out, and whether colonoscopy is done for screening or for diagnostic or therapeutic indications.

Major complications include adverse sedation or anesthetic events including aspiration pneumonia, post-polypectomy bleeding, diverticulitis, intraperitoneal hemorrhage, and colonic perforation.”

Another risk factor that varies from clinic to clinic has to do with how well the equipment is sterilized. David Lewis, Ph.D., and I discuss this in the short video above. One issue is the inability to thoroughly clean the inside of the scope.

One common issue is that, during the examination, the physician may be unable to see through the scope and is unsuccessful in the attempt to flush it using the air/water channel as it is clogged with human tissue from a past exam. The scope must be retracted and another one used. Since endoscopes have sensitive equipment attached, they cannot be heat sterilized.

Unfortunately, manufacturers have not been made to produce a scope with the ability to be heat sterilized. As Lewis points out in the video, “We can put a Rover on Mars, surely we can build a flexible endoscope that we can put in an autoclave.” These expensive tools are not disposable but require sterilization between each patient.

Lewis reports that up to 80% of hospitals are sterilizing the flexible endoscopes with glutaraldehyde (Cidex). On testing, he finds this has complicated the process as it does not dissolve tissue in the endoscope but rather preserves it.

When sharp biopsy tools are run through the tube, patient material from past testing is scraped off and potentially carried into your body. This is why it’s important to find a clinic or hospital that uses peracetic acid to thoroughly sterilize the equipment by dissolving proteins found in the flexible endoscopes. Before scheduling any endoscopic examination call to ask how the equipment is sterilized between patients.

Aside from skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the U.S., as well as the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths.19 It’s wise to take steps to reduce your risk, and lifestyle changes can be quite effective. In fact, lifestyle factors, including dietary choices, play a major role in the occurrence and progression of colorectal cancer,20 with only an estimated 20% of cases caused by genetic factors with the remainder due to environmental factors.

Up to 70% of colorectal cancer (CRC) cases are believed to be related to diet, leading researchers with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine to state:21

“As such, bioactive food components offer exciting possibilities for chemoprevention due to their potential to target many factors associated with the development and progression of CRC. Furthermore, the ability of bioactive food components to elicit tumoricidal effects without displaying the high toxicity exhibited by standard pharmacological interventions may translate to improved quality of life and survival in patients with cancer.”

For instance, emodin, which is found in Chinese rhubarb as well as in aloe vera, giant knotweed, the herb Polygonum multiflorum (tuber fleeceflower) and Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed), may help prevent colorectal disease due to impressive therapeutic effects, including anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties.22

Fermented foods are also gaining recognition as an important dietary anticancer adjunct. The beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods have been shown particularly effective for suppressing colon cancer. For example, butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid created when microbes ferment dietary fiber in your gut, has been shown to induce programmed cell death of colon cancer cells.23

Other strategies to help prevent colorectal cancer include eating more fiber, optimizing vitamin D, avoiding processed meat, maintaining a normal weight and controlling belly fat. In a larger sense, researchers have demonstrated that cancer is likely a metabolic disease controlled in part by dysfunctional mitochondria.

You can optimize your mitochondrial health through cyclical nutritional ketosis, calorie restriction, meal timing, exercise and normalizing your iron level. All of these lifestyle factors play a role in keeping your body healthy and disease-free.

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