Fish oil can lower triglycerides

The Baltimore Sun

I cannot take statin-type drugs. Is there a natural way to get triglycerides down?

Triglycerides have just been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks (Journal of the American Medical Association, July 18). Fish oil is a natural way to lower this risk factor for heart disease.

I have been fascinated with letters from people reporting that Lipitor weakened their muscles. I believe Lipitor triggered my ALS. Until last month, my doctors wouldn't listen to me, but then a report from the World Health Organization showed a link. Please warn others.

The article authored by WHO researchers was published in Drug Safety (June). It points out that an unexpectedly high number of people developed Lou Gehrig's disease while on a statin-type cholesterol-lowering drug. Lou Gehrig's disease is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. There is no cure for this degenerative disease of muscles and nerves.

The connection between ALS and statins is controversial. The Food and Drug Administration is not convinced there is a link.

The WHO report advises doctors to discontinue statin therapy if patients develop "serious neuromuscular disease such as the ALS-like syndrome." People who believe they have experienced such an effect may report it to us at We will forward such cases to researchers and the FDA for further review.

I had a bout with folliculitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the hair follicles. My dermatologist prescribed an antibiotic ointment that was messy and hard to use.

I decided that if Listerine killed germs in my mouth, it might kill the germs on my skin. I tried it, and the condition cleared up so dramatically that I use only Listerine when it recurs.

Folliculitis is usually caused by infection with bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. That's why an antibiotic lotion or ointment, often clindamycin, is the treatment of choice. Listerine is certainly a novel way of treating this condition. We're delighted it has worked so well for you. It is sure to be less expensive than the topical antibiotic.

I have been diagnosed with the onset of macular degeneration. The eye doctor said there is no cure. Are there any vitamins or other nutritional supplements that might slow the process down?

Research has shown that several nutritional factors can slow the development of macular degeneration. A study in 2001 called AREDS demonstrated that vitamins C and E, together with beta carotene and the minerals zinc and copper, could slow vision loss (Archives of Ophthalmology, October 2001).

A Dutch study in 2005 confirmed that these nutrients can be helpful in preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research shows that people who eat more fish are less susceptible to AMD, presumably because of the omega-3 fats in fish. This past spring, scientists published evidence that vitamin D can also reduce the risk of AMD (Archives of Ophthalmology, May 2007).

The most recent research shows that a diet rich in refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour is not good for the eyes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2007). People who ate such "high-glycemic index" diets were almost 50 percent more likely to develop advanced macular degeneration.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:

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