Health Notes 2

The controversial secret to a long life 

I’ve mentioned my great grandmother, Lucy Bell, in previous issues of Dr. Douglass’ Real Health Breakthroughs, since she serves as a base-a solid foundation-for a lot of the beliefs I hold to this day. Grandma Bell was the only doctor in Cherokee County, Georgia, and was an herbalist.

She was about five feet tall and weighed 90 pounds with her galoshes on. And now the punch line-she was an avid smoker all of her life. She dipped snuff, smoked a pipe, and enjoyed an occasional self-made cigar. She lived to be 99 years old and was never sick.

Now, maybe I’m a bit biased toward Grandma Bell’s secrets to a long life. And I know the whole pro-tobacco angle isn’t going to win me any popularity contests. But I’m not the only one who agrees with Lucy.

There’s also Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122 years old-the oldest thoroughly documented case on record. Smoking since she was 16, Jeanne cut down to three cigarettes a day when she got “older,” at about 100. At 117, she quit altogether (no doubt because the doctors were telling her she would ruin her health). Barely a year later, she resumed puffing again, because, she said, “Not smoking makes me miserable and I’m too old to be made miserable.”

She also said to her doctor: “Once you’ve lived as long as me, only then can you tell me not to smoke.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not going to argue against that.


“Way to go, champ,” USA Today, 10/18/95, page A12

Cancer and radiation-burn protection from a common spice 

Herbs aren’t the only natural wonders packing a powerful punch when it comes to flavor-and health benefits. There’s also plenty of information out there on how spices can help you with all sorts of problems.

The most recent report points to curry as a source of protection from the harmful effects of radiation.

Curry contains a substance called curcumin that is anti-angiogenic, i.e., it suppresses tumor blood vessel growth and thus the tumor dies from anemia. But it also appears to protect the skin from burns caused by radiation given in the course of cancer therapy.

“If a non-toxic, natural substance can help prevent this damage and enhance the effectiveness of our radiation, that’s a winning situation,” said Paul Okunieff, M.D., chief of radiation oncology at the Wilmot Cancer Center.

I guess this is a step forward-until the day when radiation is discontinued altogether.


“Common Spice May Protect Skin During Radiation Therapy for Cancer,” University of Rochester Medical Center (press release), 10/7/02

Man can’t live by bread alone-even if it is “whole wheat” 

I don’t care what they taught you in Sunday school, bread is not the staff of life.

“Research suggests that a diet full of starchy foods, such as white rice, white bread, and potatoes, may increase a person’s risk of pancreatic cancer, especially in people who are overweight or sedentary. Instead, round out your diet with unrefined grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread, and less starchy vegetables, such as broccoli.”

The message here is that “white is bad, brown is good.” But, as with so many things in the confused area of nutrition, it’s only a half-truth, and a half-truth can sometimes be more detrimental in the long run than a complete lie. Just because a food is brown doesn’t make it healthy.

Whether the starch is brown or white, it’s still starch and not essential to a healthy diet. I recommend a diet that is at least 60 percent animal based, i.e., dairy and animal fat and protein.


“Study suggests a possible link between high-starch diet and pancreatic cancer in overweight, sedentary women,” Dana Farber Cancer Institute (press release), 9/4/02