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Estrogen, BH4, the heart, and the FDA.

The Townsend Letter's April issue had a column about women's health [Tori Hudson, "Essential Concepts and Updates in HRT, Breast Cancer, and Osteoporosis"] in which it was mentioned that estrogen seemed helpful for the heart in younger women but harmful for the heart in older women. One reason for this statistical observation was presented at the 2005 American Heart Association's Second International Conference on Women, Heart Disease and Stroke. Drs. Richard White and Scott A. Barman, both pharmacologists from the Medical College of Georgia, found that estrogen targets nitric oxide synthase 1, one of three versions of the enzyme that makes the vasodilator nitric oxide. This explains estrogen's ability to dilate blood vessels and open up blood flow in healthy people. However, they also found that if the creation of nitric oxide is blocked, estrogen constricts blood vessels. Older people are more likely to be deficient in BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin) and L-arginine, which are needed for the formation of nitric oxide in the lining of blood vessels. Hence, older women are more likely to experience a loss of circulation to the heart, brain, and other organs when they are placed on estrogen. Unfortunately, it isn't just older women who are in danger when placed on estrogen. Estrogen depletes folic acid. Folic acid is required to create BH4. Thus all people exposed to excessive estrogen are in danger of compromised circulation.

What can be done nutritionally to mitigate this problem? 5MTHF, a form of folic acid, was shown to increase BH4 bioavailability when given intravenously. 5MTHF pills are available in many online vitamin stores. BH4, a natural substance, is currently not on our vitamin shelves. Besides protecting our circulation, BH4 is an essential cofactor for the creation of tyrosine, L-dopa, and serotonin in our bodies. This would make it a good candidate for marketing to the public. However, perhaps this isn't a viable natural product because our FDA could simply declare BH4 to be a drug and take it off the natural-products market. Then the FDA could also remove 5MTHF from our vitamin shelves because its efficacy lowers the profitability of the BH4 drug.

I'm not being paranoid. Given the current mindset of the FDA, declaring many promising natural products to be drugs isn't such a far-fetched possibility. The FDA recently declared pyradoxamine, a form of vitamin B6, to be a drug. Currently, the FDA is considering a petition to remove another form of B6, called P5P, from all vitamin products currently being offered to the public. Safety isn't the reason for the P5P removal petition. A drug company simply wants to sell P5P as part of a drug it is developing. It argues that having P5P freely available to the public would lower the profitability of its drug. Why does this company even think our FDA would consider such a petition? If drug companies have this much sway with our FDA, no vitamin company will ever want to develop and market natural substances like BH4, 5MTHF, and P5P. Why invest money in a natural product when it can be simply taken away and given to a drug company merely upon request? If the FDA pulls P5P off the store shelves, the precedent will be yet another devastating blow to innovation in the natural products industry.

If you think that the FDA should not take P5P off the natural supplements market in order to give it to a drug company, then I urge you to sign the petition at the American Association for Health Freedom website, http://aahf.nonprofitsoapbox.com.

Please visit our website, www.townsendletter.com.
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Title Annotation:Letter to the editor
Author:Hattemer, Polly
Publication:Townsend Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Words:595
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