A Commonly Prescribed Medication Is Causing Breast Growth In Boys

A Commonly Prescribed Medication Is Causing Breast Growth In Boys

Why this news story is relevant to you and what you need to know to be your own health advocate.

As a pharmacist, I am very aware of the adverse effects, risks, and warnings that come along with pharmaceutical therapy. There are limitations to that knowledge, however. Some risks and effects of pharmaceuticals are either not transparently disclosed by drug manufacturers, or not yet discovered as the cause of a problem.

A recent news headline about damages caused by one of the Top 200 Drugs (the 200 most prescribed drugs in the United States) has served as a reminder that when consumers do not have the information about risk and adverse effects of their treatment, they are vulnerable to serious harm. As a result, I am using this headline as an example of the consequences of not having the full available information in order to make choices about your health. I will go over risks that are disclosed about the drug in question, as well as outlining how to get the information you need to be your own health advocate in general.

News headlines lit up October 8th with reports of corporate giant Johnson & Johnson being ordered to pay $8 billion in punitive damages to 26-year-old Nicholas Murray. Johnson & Johnson has a subsidiary (Janssen Pharmaceuticals) that manufactures the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. Back in 2003, Nicholas (at the age of 9) was prescribed Risperdal after being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a consequence of taking the drug, Nicholas developed a condition called gynecomastia (the growth of female breast tissue in a male). News Story Below:

Johnson & Johnson News article on Risperdal

Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal Maker Hit With $8B Verdict

Breast development in boys from Risperdal is most likely caused by the drug increasing prolactin levels. Prolactin is a pituitary hormone that is present in low levels in both men and women. It affects the reproductive system, immune system, and fluid regulation. When a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, prolactin goes up to stimulate milk production. When prolactin goes too high in a male, he can develop breasts. He may also experience erectile dysfunction and loss of body and facial hair. In some cases, gynecomastia can only be treated by surgical removal.

Mayo Clinic Laboratories Endocrinology Catalog: Prolactin, Serum

Gynecomastia is not the only consequence of taking Risperdal; however, it is a very visible and undeniable adverse effect. There are other, more subtle and harder to directly correlate effects.

Below is a screenshot of some of the adverse reactions of Risperdal taken from the prescribing information:

Here are definitions of the some of the technical terms on that list:

  • Parkinsonism: Symptoms of Parkinson disease (such as slow movements and tremors) that are caused by another condition (in this case, antipsychotics)
  • Akathisia: A feeling of muscle quivering, restlessness, and inability to sit still, sometimes a side effect of antipsychotic or antidepressant medication
  • Dystonia: A disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive motions or abnormal postures. The movements may be painful and some individuals with dystonia may have a tremor or other neurologic features.

The following is a screenshot of Warnings and Precautions from the prescribing information of Risperdal.

Here is a link to the full prescribing information of Risperdal from the manufacturer’s website. This is the information supplied to doctors and pharmacists. Package Insert on Risperdal

There are many known and dangerous side effects of Risperdal. The main issue Johnson & Johnson is getting called out for is the failure to accurately disclose the risk involved, especially in children. There is also the allegation that Johnson & Johnson marketed the use of the drug in children in ways that are not FDA approved.

This judgment for 8 billion dollars in damages is eye-opening. It is a message that disregard for the public safety for profit will not be tolerated. This judgment opens the door for thousands of other pending lawsuits against Risperdal to also be awarded punitive damages and a wakeup call to Americans to question our healthcare system.

Unfortunately, severe side effects are not isolated to Risperdal. Most prescription medications have their tradeoffs. The following is a table of drugs that can cause gynecomastia taken from an endocrinology journal.

Gynecomastia: Clinical Evaluation and Management

When it comes to medical treatment, most consumers are not trained health experts. The medical system speaks a complex language.  Many of the conditions are Latin (and Greek) words, so even simple terms sound very concerning. For example, I’ve had many patients say that they were diagnosed with tonsillitis and were worried and felt pressure to take treatment based upon this diagnosis. I explain to them that although it sounds scary, it is just a combination of the word tonsil and the Latin (from Greek) suffix -itis which means inflammation. They went to the doctor because their throat hurt so learning that their tonsils were inflamed was not actually a surprising revelation. If you don’t have any background in Latin or Greek, tonsillitis sounds quite ominous.

So how do people navigate the complex and somewhat esoteric system which is conventional medicine? Often individuals trust their doctor to make these decisions for them since a doctor is trained to interpret medical data and knows the language. I implore you to look at the data I shared above on Risperdal. Seeing those warnings and adverse effects, is that really a decision you would want someone else to make for you or your child? I certainly wouldn’t, regardless of how competent they may be.

The solution to this dilemma is to arm yourself with education. Make sure you read any information provided with a medication you are about to take. Don’t throw that paperwork in the trash. The information with a prescription is there for a reason – a legal reason.

You can also gain access to the full prescribing information of any prescription drug. This information is referred to as the “Package Insert” (PI). There is also a Patient Package Insert, which contains less information, but the regular PI intended for the doctor has it all. Drug companies are legally mandated to provide information on the studied use of their drugs and also risks associated with them but are not necessarily required to provide this to individual patients. The intention is that the prescriber reads the PI and then has the information to make treatment decisions and share it with the patient. You can have access to the same information as the doctors have. Most PIs are available from the following link. Click the link, type the drug name into the search bar and click the entry that applies to the specific form of the medication you are searching for. DailyMed Drug Search

For more information on PIs, read this link: U.S. Pharmacist: The Package Insert

However, before you even get to the pharmacy or opt to do any treatment you should ASK QUESTIONS. It is your legal right and obligation to receive Informed Consent from your doctor. The Oxford Dictionary defines Informed Consent as “permission granted in the knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.”

Below is a link description of Informed Consent from the American Medical Association. Read this information to make sure you can get the information you need from your doctors. It is your LEGAL RIGHT.

American Medical Association Informed Consent

Even if your doctor is amazing, they may not have knowledge of alternative therapies that are outside of their expertise. This is where you need to be your own health advocate and do some research on alternative treatment options to surgery or prescriptions. Holistic doctors and Naturopaths can be great resources to consult as they take a different viewpoint on healthcare.

I see many patients who have taken medications and had serious reactions to them. If this describes you, you can and SHOULD help yourself and others by reporting any reaction to the FDA MedWatch program. Reporting to this program can help with information gathering to make others aware of potential risks and may play a role in future warnings or even drugs being pulled from the market.

FDA MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program

Medications have effects that extend beyond what’s intended for the treatment of a given condition.

When possible (when it’s not an emergency) it is good to look at other, simpler solutions first such as diet, exercise, and natural supplements. Many conditions, even severe, can be alleviated in a risk-free manner. With autism as an example, I have good results with patients in applying principles of the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD). The foundation of this diet is healing the gut with the use of bone broth. GAPS Diet

Although it is tragic to hear about the damages individuals have suffered from Risperdal, the good news is that these headlines are bringing awareness about concerns with medications and healthcare at large. I recommend you use the resources I have provided so you have the data you need to make more informed choices. The problems of living are great, but there are solutions to explore that are safe options. It is time to be your own advocate and get the information you deserve.

Dr. Amanda Childress, PharmD
Holistic Pharmacist



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Hormones and Food Cravings

Hormones and Food Cravings

Do you ever feel like you can’t get enough snacks in the day or that you’re never full?

Did you know that your hormones can be the culprit? Learn how to control hormonal cravings below.

Many of us think of hormones as substances in the body that are uncontrolled. The definition of “hormone” in the book, Lick the Sugar Habit, by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D. is as follows: “a chemical produced by a gland and secreted into the blood that affects the function of distant cells or organs.” Our endocrine system is largely responsible for our hormone production. Did you know that endocrine glands and their hormones do not only target reproduction, growth, and development, but also help to regulate metabolism and digestion, electrolyte balance, blood pressure, body temperature, and elimination?

So how does food impact hormones and what can I do to help regulate my body?

The easiest place to start is to eliminate white sugar and refined foods that spike blood glucose and insulin. In the book, Life Without Bread by Christian Allen Ph.D. and Wolfgang Lutz MD, it is emphasized that “carbohydrate consumption has a direct effect on hormonal balance.” We have been taught the following falsehoods, 1) to eat many small meals or snacks during the day and 2) that it does not matter what type of calories you eat. The truth is that when we follow those two rules, we are eating increased carbohydrates and sugar, and decreased healthy fat and protein. Carbohydrates bring about a much larger production of insulin. Insulin’s job is to transport glucose to be used immediately as energy, or to store it as fat for later use. When we do not continuously snack, and our insulin levels are low, our body has the opportunity to use a different hormone, glucagon to metabolize fat. But, if we keep snacking, we do not allow our body to switch to fat metabolism. This yo-yo effect on our blood glucose keeps us addicted to all varieties of sugar and especially processed refined snacks.

If you find that you constantly feel hungry and experience intense food cravings, this may be why! To reduce food cravings, start with the first meal of the day, breakfast! Be sure to increase your healthy fats and proteins, and reduce or eliminate processed foods and refined sugars.

Healthy living and proper nutrition are essential for overall health and well-being. If you haven’t started on your journey to overall health, call and schedule your new patient evaluation today!

Yours in health and happiness,
Kristen Clore

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Your Hormonal Health

Your Hormonal Health

It is extremely common these days for women of all ages to suffer from hormonal imbalance. More and more we see women ages 25-35 with pre-menopausal symptoms; while this is common it is not normal. Considering the toxicity of our environment, it isn’t hard to understand why young women are experiencing hot flashes, weight gain, infertility, heavy periods, painful periods, fatigue, and PMS.

Here are three possible causes of hormonal imbalance in women that may be contributing to your symptoms:

1.  GMO’s—Genetically Modified Organism’s

  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. Male rats and mice fed GM soy had changed testicles, including altered young sperm cells in the mice. By the third generation, most hamsters fed GM soy were unable to reproduce.
  • The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility.
  • Resolution: Within weeks of following non-GMO diets, patients at the Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor (NHCAA) report improvements in digestion, energy, and overall vitality.

2. Environmental Toxins

  • Chemicals and metals all share a reputation of mimicking or disrupting hormones; these findings have been tied to certain types of cancers and are known to cause harm to unborn fetuses.
  • When a cell’s exterior gets ‘gummed up’ with toxins, it can no longer give and receive messages. As a result, women end up with premenopausal symptoms, infertility issues, and endocrine disruption.
  • Resolution: At the NHCAA we identify the source of toxicity, educate the patient on how to reduce their exposure, and use supplementation to support the body so the toxin can be flushed from the system.

3. Refined Foods and Sugar

  • Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance – some hormones become underactive and others become overactive. Sugar can ruin the sex life of both men and women by turning off the gene that controls the sex hormones.
  • Sugar suppresses the immune system. The average American consumes between 300-500 grams of carbohydrates per day, all of which convert to sugar in the body. The average person’s immune system thrives between 75-100 grams of carbohydrates per day.
  • Resolution: Diet is a huge part of helping patients regain their health. At the NHCAA we use nutritional supplementation to help support the immune system while educating the patient about how to eat healthier, more nutritious food.

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Are you at high risk for Breast Cancer?

Are you at high risk for Breast Cancer?

Signs you may be at high risk for Breast Cancer

In order to determine what the most appropriate intervention strategy for you to employ, we often recommend testing. Early detection and correction of risk factors can be one of your biggest allies in reducing your risk. If any of the following apply to you, you may be at high risk:

55Excess Iron

How to test: Have your serum ferritin level drawn
Common in women after they stop menstruating, elevated iron levels can be indicative of a heightened cancer risk. Excess iron in the body works as a powerful oxidant, increasing free radicals thereby raising your risk. If you are a post-menopausal woman or have been diagnosed with breast cancer you will certainly benefit from having your Ferritin level drawn. Ferritin is the iron transport protein and should not be above 80 ng/ml. If it is elevated you can simply donate your blood to reduce high ferritin levels and cancer risk.

Estrogen Imbalance

How to test: Get your estrogen ratios checked  
Researchers have found that the body metabolizes estrogen into several different metabolites that can impact cancer development. One metabolite, 2-hydroxy-estrone, tends to inhibit cancer, whereas another 16-a-hydroxy-estrone can actually stimulate tumor development.A woman’s “bio-mechanical individuality” and liver metabolism determines which of these metabolites predominates. Studies have shown that measuring the ratio of these two metabolites provides an important indication of risk for future development of estrogen-sensitive cancers, including breast cancer.

Low Glutathione Levels

How to test: Get a Glutathione level test
Glutathione is the key protective molecule of your immune system. It is the cell’s most important antioxidant and is needed in detoxification. Research now demonstrates the correlation between a decrease in this molecule and increased risk of disease including cancer. Therefore, ensuring you have optimal glutathione levels can reduce your risk.

Elevated Breast Inflammation

How to test: Get a breast thermography
A breast thermography is a diagnostic tool that uses in to detect the potential for cancer. By identifying areas of high inflammation, you can address the underlying cause of the inflammation before cancer has a chance to develop.

Insufficient Iodine

How to test: Iodine Loading Test
Get sufficient Iodine – other than the thyroid, the highest concentration of iodine is found in women’s breast tissue. When the level of iodine is low, the risk of acquiring breast cancer is greater. Actually, it is estimated that 95% of the world’s population is iodine deficient. You can see what your iodine levels are with Iodine testing. Iodine testing is simple. It is a 24-hour urine test.

You can also do an iodine patch test on the inside of your arm with tincture of iodine. Check to see how long it takes for your body to absorb it. If the patch is gone in 24 hours you are iodine deficient. The body’s deficiency is proportionate – the faster the iodine is absorbed by your body, the more deficient you are.

You can increase your iodine level by eating iodine-rich foods like seafood, kelp, seaweed, dulse, Himalayan sea salt or taking iodine supplementation (make sure your supplement contains iodine and iodide). However, there’s significant controversy over the appropriate dosage, so you do need to use caution here and look at your personal medical history and other factors. If any questions, please talk to us.

What else can you do to REDUCE your risk?

The steps we recommend taking to reduce your risk of Breast Cancer are also those of reducing your risk for many other diseases. In an effort to help you live a healthier life, we invite you to take note of which areas of your life need a little extra attention. Even small changes can lead to healthy habits, and can dramatically impact your future health.

In part I, of our Breast Cancer series we addressed how important your diet is in reducing your risk. Your diet can nourish your body, aid in detoxification, and support the following breast cancer prevention strategies:

Maintain a healthy balance of Estrogen

Estrogen is produced in fat tissue, which is the primary non-ovarian site for production. Consequently, women with excess weight have higher levels of estrogen which are associated with a greater risk for breast cancer. It is imperative that you maintain a healthy body weight if your goal is reducing your risk.We recommend and believe in reducing your weight and balancing your hormones, by adopting a nutritious diet and engaging in regular, physical activity to help prevent breast cancer.

Apply this advice today by structuring your week, so you log 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. If you have a hard time getting a solid 30 minutes, try breaking up your workouts to two shorter 15 minute bouts. When it comes to weight loss and exercise, weight training can have the greatest impact on your metabolic rate. In other words, when you build muscle, you’ll burn more fat calories throughout the day (even when you aren’t exercising). Over time, building muscle can have a big impact not only on losing weight but maintaining it.

Optimize your Vitamin D

Optimizing your Vitamin D will radically reduce your cancer risk. Levels that are over 50 ng/ml are satisfactory, but levels 70-100 ng/ml are ideal. Vitamin D is produced in the skin, as a response to sunlight and many factors come into play when it comes to producing it efficiently. In the Chicago-land area, and other temperate regions supplementation may be especially helpful in the winter months. We advise getting your Vitamin D levels checked at least once a year to ensure they are supportive of good health.

Get Proper Sleep  

Proper sleep relies on getting enough sleep and sleeping between certain hours. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the ideal hours for sleep are between 10 pm and 6 am. Modern research has confirmed the value of this recommendation as certain hormone fluctuations occur throughout the day and night. If you engage in the appropriate activities during those times, you’re ‘riding the wave’ so to speak, and are able to get the optimal levels. Working against your biology by staying awake when you should be ideally sleeping or vice versa, interferes with these hormonal fluctuations.

Lisa D’ Eramo
Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner

Who should take iodine for thyroid function?

Who should take iodine for thyroid function?

One of the most common nutritional deficiencies is iodine. Every cell in the body needs iodine. And, iodine is necessary for thyroid function and the production of thyroid hormones.

So, it is no surprise that the thyroid is the most common organ that we find that needs support in our office. But should you take iodine for thyroid function?

When we find an organ weak with Nutrition Response Testing we are finding an organ under stress. This is very different from medical doctors find with blood work, ultrasounds, and other diagnostic tools that they use. Medical Doctors are often looking for disease or pathology. We are looking for optimum function. An organ can appear normal to a medical doctor; but, still test weak with Nutrition Response Testing. This is an important difference. We can fix problems before they become a “diagnosis.”

The thyroid is easily affected by toxins in our environment (chlorine, bromine, and fluorine are especially problematic). So, supporting the body with detoxification is frequently part of a nutritional program for the thyroid.

Some common thyroid symptoms we see in our office are:

  • headaches (especially in the morning),
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • weight gain or loss
  • neck and shoulder pain
  • hair loss
  • low libido
  • irritable bowel symptoms
  • neck swelling
  • heart palpitations or racing
  • poor circulation and feeling cold

Some foods that are good sources of iodine are kelp, seafood, seaweed, and pastured egg yolks. Iodine supplementation is often needed to restore good mineral balance in the body. Ask your practitioner to test you for an iodine supplement on your next visit.

If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms come and see what the difference could be for you. Symptoms often occur before any blood work would show abnormal thyroid function. Let us help you to be your best!

Yours in health, Kerry

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Harmonizing Hormones with 6 Simple Steps

Harmonizing Hormones with 6 Simple Steps

How do you know you are having problems with your hormones?

In our office, we see a wide variety of complaints that are related to balancing hormones. Patients tell us about their fatigue, headaches, cycle irregularities, weight gain, depression, and anxiety.

All of these hormone imbalance symptoms can be related to hormone balance.

Balancing hormones can be like walking a tightrope. One slight wobble and off the rope you go!

But, in our office balancing hormones is easy because we support the organ that is under stress.  

The thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, pituitary, hypothalamus, uterus, and pancreas are all hormonal organs.

By giving the organ what it needs to function properly, hormonal balance returns. In fact, you can learn how to balance hormones with food.

Here are six simple things you can do to help create hormonal harmony including balancing hormones with food.

  1.  Eat good fats. Fats are necessary for hormone production. Eating the right fats helps with metabolism and the function of many organs in the body (hormonal organs, brain, and heart). Good fats are coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, fish and fish oils, nut oils, sesame oil, avocado and avocado oil, palm oil and organic grass-fed/pasture-raised meats.
  2. Use Celtic sea salt. The minerals in sea salt help with fluid balance, adrenal, and heart function and balancing blood pressure. Sea salt is also good for the immune system and for preventing muscle cramps. Note: this is real, natural salt, not refined, iodized table salt.
  3. Decrease your use of plastic. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical utilized in the production of plastics. Many plastic containers contain BPA; food and drink packaging, water bottles, baby bottles, canned foods, some dental sealants, and composites. BPA has hormone-like properties, and it is an endocrine disruptor.  Many health problems, including breast and prostate cancer and infertility, can be associated with BPAs. Avoid microwaving in plastic containers and store food in glassware whenever possible.
  4. Avoid soy. Soy disrupts hormone function and has the potential to cause infertility and promote breast cancer. It interferes with digestion. Soy can also cause deficiencies in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Find more information at Weston A. Price Foundation.
  5. Eat organic foods for hormonal balance. Especially organic produce whenever possible to limit exposure to pesticides and other toxins which can create endocrine and hormone imbalances.
  6. Eat your veggies! Especially cruciferous vegetables that can help with liver function and detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables include kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and more.kale.jpg

These are just some of the simple keys to getting your hormones more in balance. If you feel like you are walking a tightrope and your moods and health are on a ‘hormonal’ roller coaster ride, come into the office and see us. We can help you get your body back in balance and improve your mood and your overall health.

Check your adrenals by ordering the Osumex Adrenal Function Urine Test today. This will give you a good idea if your hormones are out of whack. You can do this test in the privacy of your own home.

Call 734-302-7575 and we will ship it out to you or order it online at MindBody. You can pick it up in the office the next time you are in as well.

You do not have to be a patient here at The NHCAA to purchase this product.

Yours in health, Kerry

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