Applied Trophology, Vol. 7, No. 3
(March 1963)

Avoidable Misfortunes; Cholesterol “Relationship” to Mental Acuity

Contents in this issue:

  • “Avoidable Misfortunes” (includes “Congenital Deformity,” a condensed address by Dr. Howard H. Hillemann,
  • “Cholesterol Has ‘Relationship’ to Mental Acuity.”

The following is a transcription of the March 1963 issue of Dr. Royal Lee’s Applied Trophology newsletter, originally published by Standard Process Laboratories.


Avoidable Misfortunes

Reprinted from Drug Trade News, July 18, 1959:

Finds Vitamins Can Treat Deformity

London – Chemotherapy can sometimes do more for congenital deformities than can surgery, Dr. Lyndon A. Peer told the International Congress on Plastic Surgery meeting here last fortnight.

He reported “100 percent success” in treating with vitamin B6 and folic acid 60 pregnant women, some of whom had a known genetic predisposition toward cleft palates. All the women produced normal children, he said.

The East Orange, NJ, doctor described experiments in which cleft palates could be induced in mice progeny by subjecting pregnant mice to doses of cortisone. He believes that the stresses of early stages of human pregnancy might be sufficient to cause secretion of cortisone, which could inhibit normal palatal fusion in young children.

Dr. Peer feels it might be possible through chemotherapy to reduce by half the number of babies born with cleft palates. He urged drug trials on a large-scale basis.

And here is what one of our best authorities on the biochemistry of reproduction has to say on this subject, Dr. H.H. Hillemann of Oregon State College:

Congenial Deformity

By Dr. Howard H. Hillemann, MA, PhD
Corvallis, Oregon

This is a marked condensation of an address delivered to the American College of Nutrition and to the American Nutrition Society, May 1959 Annual Convention, Pasadena, California. The address will be published in full at a later date.

In the U.S. in the first three months of 1950, 9 babies out of every 2000 born died because of malformation. In 1955–56, 285,000 babies were born with congenital defects. Ten times as many babies die from such defects as from five contagious diseases once feared. In the same period, 350,000 premature babies were born. Prematurity is incidental to malformations interfering with development. In 1955–56, fatal diseases and defects took 165,000 infants in the perinatal period. Deaths associated with birth were exceeded only by deaths by cancer, heart, and cerebral hemorrhage.

Congenital malformation accounts for about 14 percent of all infant deaths in the U.S. About 1 percent of reported births are infants with lethal or handicapping defects diagnosed at birth or shortly after. There are now 500,000 people with cerebral palsy and 300,000 people with epilepsy, and 1,500,000 people are mentally retarded. It is known that of all early human conceptuses removed from the uterus, 36 percent are abnormal. Since about 20 percent of all pregnancies terminate before the period of reportability (at 20 weeks), the figures for abnormal development must be many times greater than those given for reported fetal and neonatal deaths. If uterine pregnancy terminates before seven lunar months of gestation, whether the child is born dead or living, the term abortion is used; if born dead thereafter, it is declared a stillbirth.

There are relatively few defects and errors of metabolism due to purely genetic action. Most are due to environmental factors. Some sample defects allegedly purely genetic in man include: harelip (dominant), cleft palate (dom.), clubfoot, abnormal digits, achondroplasia (dom.), osteopsathyrosis, lower lip fistula (dom.), benign brachydactyly, polydactyly, ectrodactyly, acheiropedia, spina bifida, chondrodystrophy, Mongolism, epiloia, neurofibromatosis, retinoblastoma (dom.), and inborn errors of metabolism: phenylpyruvic oligophrenia, defective bilirubin glucuronide synthesis, congenital galactosemia, congenital agammaglobulinemia, sickle cell anemia, and Mediterranean anemia. Many genetic defects and lethals known in mice and chicks.

Some sample defects that may occur through experimental manipulation or through nutritional deficiencies and excesses include: eyes small or absent, harelip, cleft palate, coloboma, iris anomalies, transposed vessels, aortic stenosis, pulmonary stenosis, heart septal defects, accessory ears, malformed legs and arms, extra digits, fused digits, cryptorchidism, defects of kidney, lungs, diaphragm, heart muscle, ureters, esophagus, and trachea, protruding brain from skull, hydrocephalus, spina bifida, brain absent, cataract, exophthalmos, jaw defects, fused ribs, defective collarbone and scapula, hydronephrosis, hydroureter, umbilical hernia, short limbs, reduced number of digits, defects of spleen and gallbladder, hemorrhage, resorption of young, skin degeneration, clubfoot, ectopic gonads, enlarged thyroid, edema; fatty heart, liver, and kidney; gastroschisis, poor facial development, wolf-snout, bifid nose, median labial cleft (upper), bifid mandible, cranium bifidum, fetal scurvy; metastatic calcification of kidneys, placenta and precocious closure of fontanelles; cretinism, paralysis, ectocardia, scoliosis, microcytic anemia, situs inversus, deaf-mutism, and Down syndrome.

Some of the environmental factors responsible for resorption, fetal death, stillbirth, and congenital defects include: maternal infections including virus, concurrent with pregnancy; alcohol, Rh-factor, anoxia, anesthesia, oxygen toxicity, carbon dioxide, high temperature, low temperature, early post-pubertal reproduction, reproduction after age 40, post-maturity (41 or more weeks gestation), insulin, alloxan, chelating agents, goitrogenic substances, cortisone, ACTH, stress and strong emotional disturbance, electroshock, pituitary growth hormone, posterior pituitary, estrogen, radiation, X-ray, Barium 140, Cesium 137, Lanthanum 140, Radium, Ultraviolet radiation, Cosmic radiation, Strontium 90, Radio phosphorus, Zinc 65, Radioactive Fallout, urethane, nitrogen mustard, colchicine, chlorambucil, podophyllin, alazepeptine, norleucine, lipopolysaccharides, desacetylthic- and de- sacetylmethy1-colchicine, phenylmercuric acid, triethanolamine, strontium, salicylates, nicotine, heavy water, trypan blue, eserine (physostigmine), streptomycin, terramycin, tetracycline, penicillin, diethylbarbituric acid, inorganic fluorides, fluorinated uracil derivatives, 8-azagua nine, Evans Blue, lathyrus odoratus factor, sucrose, pilocarpine, pilocarpidine and isomers, reserpine, thallium nitrate, lead nitrate, boric acid, lithium chloride, ethyl carbamate, benzimidazole, benzotriazole derivatives, ricine, trypaflavine, saponine, soluseptasine, 3-acetyl-pridine, saniotic sac puncture, direct physical trauma or mechanical injury to fetal tissues , uterine limitations, tubal pregnancy, abdominal pregnancy, diseases and disorders of the uterus, lesions of the placenta, placenta previa, etc.

Some of these items are accidentally involved. Some are invoked in the experimental production of malformation in animals to study the cause and nature of defect formation. Others are used in symptomatic treatments and may lead to repercussions. Others are a symptom of the atomic age.

Secondly, and of more importance than the preceding, are the considerations relating to nutritional deficiency before, during, and after pregnancy, in fact throughout life. We must also include here specific nutrient excesses, underfeeding, overfeeding, and metabolic antagonists and analogs.

A large number and variety of malformations and defects, besides stillbirth, abortion, and resorption can occur in the unborn when the mother is suffering from a deficiency of any one, or a combination of several of the following: vitamin A, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (nicotinic acid), pantothenic acid, cobalamin (B12), folic acid (B9), pyridoxine (B6), vitamin K, C (ascorbic), D, and E, and essential fatty acids. An excess of the following vitamins (hypervitaminosis) can also produce defect: vitamin A, K, and D.

There are many vitamin antagonists and analogs that can produce specific vitamin deficiencies and their characteristic disasters for the fetus, if taken by the pregnant female.

Defects in the fetus can result from amino acid deficiency, nucleic acid antagonists, purine antimetabolites, calcium, and phosphorus deficiency, manganese deficiency, general dietary deficiency, fasting, restricted food intake. Untoward results may also accrue from fluorine.

One cannot overemphasize the importance of a whole and wholesome nutrition before and during pregnancy to make the most of the normal action of genes. In a larger sense, proper nutrition is indispensable throughout life, childhood being as important in this regard as adulthood and old age. Scientists, physicians, and dentists in the know have long since come to realize the scientific fact, that the most important single factor in the maintenance of health and recovery from illness is whole nutrition. This does not deemphasize other factors in health such as rest, fresh air, potable water, sanitation, hygiene, exercise, and freedom from excess stress.

When modern medicine shall have come to realize fully and universally the importance of these considerations, especially Nutrition as contrasted with Dietetics, we shall have come a long way in improving the welfare of man by adding the most potent modality to the current armamentarium, which now includes physiotherapy, and the wise and judicious as well as conservative use of drugs and surgery. And then no longer will a certain physician complain because the public spends a billion dollars per year on what he on his own responsibility calls “vitamin pill fads nutritional nonsense,” when at the same time he is blinded to the fact that the same public spends two and one-half billions of dollars on 30,000 drugs, designed to treat some 20,000 human ailments, most of which are still with us, and with new ones ever in the making and ever on the way. If food concentrates are fads, then by the same token, drugs must be something far worse.

In deference to D. Roger Williams, discoverer of the pantothenic acid vitamin, we should mention his emphasis on Biochemical Individuality, and his formulation of the Genetotrophic Principle, in virtue of which he advises daily vitamin supplementation as nutritional insurance for health and normalcy.

All this gives urgent point of the need for the introduction of courses in Nutrition proper, in all dental and medical schools, and for an intensive development of general nutritional education for public schools, colleges, universities, restaurants, hospitals, and the general public.


“Nature originally meant her inhabitants to eat food as she produced it, without alteration or cooking. But man knew better.”
—J. Douglas Thompson


Cholesterol Has “Relationship” to Mental Acuity

Research findings reported at the Annual Meeting indicate that the level of cholesterol in the blood has a “significant relationship to mental acuity in men beyond the age of 40 to 45.”

The findings were reported by Ralph M. Reitan, PhD, and Robert E. Shipley, MD, Indianapolis, presented an exhibit at the meeting.

Mental acuity was measured with a battery of 11 psychological tests covering a wide range of abilities, such as reasoning ability, problem-solving, reaction time, and time sense, they said.

Subjects whose cholesterol levels were lowered by 10 percent or more over a 12-month period were compared with subjects whose cholesterol levels were not lowered, they said.

“Below the age of 45 years the groups performed equally well on the psychological tests,” the researchers said. “In persons beyond 45 years of age, however, a clear difference was present. The group in whom cholesterol levels were not lowered performed significantly more poorly than did the other group upon re-testing at the end of the year.”

They concluded: “The results suggest that lowering of serum cholesterol level takes on special significance after the age of 40–45 years and leads to improved retention of alertness and mental acuity.”

Several research findings in recent years suggest that mental acuity may be related to blood cholesterol levels, according to Reitan and Shipley.

Previous research by Reitan and Dr. Ward C. Halstead at the University of Chicago Clinics demonstrated a trend toward decreasing mental acuity beginning at an average age of 45 years and progressing with age, although not true in all persons.

Investigation of the blood vessels of the brain and other organs indicates that hardening of the arteries becomes more manifest in the later decades of life, and that this may be related to the cholesterol content of the blood, the two exhibitors said.

These prior findings suggested the possible value in repeated measurements of mental acuity.

—J.A.M.A., July 7, 1962


Knowledge and Wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom far from being one
Ofttimes have no connection.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
Dwells replete in heads filled with thoughts of other men.
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own;
’Til squared and smoothed and fitted to its place
Doth but encumber whom it seems to enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he knows so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.

—William Cowper, Current Medical Digest, June 1961

Heather Wilkinson

Heather Wilkinson is the Archives Editor for Selene River Press.

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