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Tag Archives: heart disease

Drug Recommendations: Why Statins (And Other Drugs) Do and Don’t Work

Photo credit: ourhealthcaresucks.com

As part of, “Drug Recommendations: What’s Wrong With This Picture?” I am discussing why statins work and why they can cause more harm (side effects that most healthcare professionals do not recognize) then good.

Do not lose sight of the big picture. This scenario is not just true of statins. I am using statins as an example due to their popularity.  Most long term use of pharmaceutical drugs (prescribed or over the counter medications) can have multiple ‘UN common” heath risks that should not be shrugged off lightly by any healthcare professional; especially those who are doing the recommending. Please work with your doctor to find the right treatment(s) for you.

It is important, DO NOT disregard any symptom that occurs after starting any medicine, here’s why.

Statins work by INHIBITING the liver’s ability of an enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase a rate-controlling enzyme that produces cholesterol ) to produce cholesterol. The new injectable drugs on the market (Praluent or Repatha) will work to inhibit PCSK9. PCSK9 is another enzyme involved in different metabolic pathways that may cause a different set of side effects than statins; so be on the lookout. Both, BLOCK the liver’s normal function of making cholesterol.  Simple enough. Cholesterol is high, pop a pill that prevents the production of cholesterol and lower it.

Sounds simple and logical. But is it smart? Is it smart to try to stop a natural body process or to support it by reinforcing biological weaknesses that need help to improve function?

Cholesterol has body benefits. Cholesterol helps hormone balance, nerve signals, cells and cell membranes ward off oxidation and maintain electrolyte balance and it is involved in many other important activities  that contribute to good health.

When you take a statin that inhibits cholesterol there is a “domino effect” that has consequences on not just cholesterol and the liver but every cholesterol related task (enzyme reactions, sex hormones) and organs including your brain, body cells and muscles that work in conjunction with cholesterol.

This domino effect is the reason why so many people experience what are known as “uncommon” statin drug complaints such as muscle weakness and pain, memory loss, erectile dysfunction and much more. The biologic and medical rationale are detailed in the essay “How Statins Really Work Explains Why They Don’t Really Work,” written by Stephanie Seneff from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, https://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/why_statins_dont_really_work.html.

While statins can and do lower cholesterol, they do so by diverting from its normal working pathway in the liver to the muscles. The muscles are now burdened with doing the liver’s job.

Interestingly statins have been linked to diabetes and the reason maybe because of how it effects the liver, muscles and the resulting handling of fructose, hmmmm.

The heart is unscathed using lactate as a fuel and LDL is lowered.  We THINK we attained our goal of lowered heart disease risk but blood fructose levels are higher which is a risk factor for nerves, diabetes cardiovascular disease… Therefore exchanging one “focus” risk (LDL) for another less known risk (fructose).

More Statin Troubles:

  • LDL cholesterol acts as a bubble that delivers not only cholesterol but fat soluble antioxidants, vitamins (i.e. vitamin D affecting sex hormones including testosterone potentially contributing to erectile dysfunction) and minerals that are not as available to nourish cells.
  • HMG coenzyme A reductase is important for heart health and adequate amounts of cellular CoQ10 (an enzyme responsible for cell growth and maintenance, it functions as an antioxidant too). Statins work to inactivate HMG depleting CoQ10 leading to increased oxidation, muscle pain and memory loss, www.spacedoc.com/articles/statin-associated-memory-loss; see references 36-40.
  • Cells work to maintain fluid balance. Statins can cause changes in the cells sodium-potassium (Na+-K+) pump activity because potassium is more prone to leak from the cell.
  • Glial cells in the nervous system are also negatively affected by statins.

These are just a few possible reasons for statin associated symptoms. With or without a research study that are or are not recognized by a doctor, these are real symptoms that do exist. You are not crazy, I list some statin symptoms in another blog, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/?s=statins, but you can find extensive statin side effect lists everywhere.

Are you interested in boosting liver function and supporting natural body processes?  Next week I’ll discuss statin alternatives that you can discuss with your doctor but there are natural alternatives to taking most pharmaceutical drugs.

 

 

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Wake Up and Smell the LDL Coffee: Size Matters

image by www.longevitytesting.com 

As far back as ten years ago, please correct me if it has been longer, research has supported the notion that Total LDL cholesterol was an inferior measure of heart disease risk.

Excuse me for being a little annoyed and confused. I do not understand. Why today, in 2016,  are there so many people, especially health experts, still not seeing the whole cholesterol picture? There is no excuse. A healthcare provider should use and educate patients on the most up to date practical information for their patients. My advice surround yourself with well rounded clinicians not just those who are reputable or have graduated from an ivy league school.

These are just 4 doctors who have been on the cholesterol forefront for many years:

  1. Ronald M. Krauss, MD
  2. Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD http://www.ravnskov.nu/
  3. Thomas Dayspring MD,FACP http://www.thefatemperor.com/blog/2014/11/12/ldl-its-not-the-bad-cholesterol-thats-simplistic-foolery
  4. David Perlmutter,MD, FACN, ABIHM and is a Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition http://www.drperlmutter.com/ldl-friend/

WHY LDL CHOLESTEROL SIZE MATTERS

In general, cholesterol and LDL cholesterol both have a negative connotation and are associated with heart disease. More precisely, cholesterol is a natural substance your body produces as part of  cell membranes and sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, progesterone), as a precursor to vitamin D and as an antioxidant for the brain. LDL, like HDL, is a  protein “package” that carries cholesterol throughout the body supporting these body systems. In fact low LDL has been linked to cancer, http://www.anh-usa.org/ldl-cholesterol-may-protect-us-against-cancer/, as well as an increase risk of brain illness such as stroke and dementia, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25320101.

The general, total LDL number is not very informative, it is the specific size that matters. LDL packages come in four different sizes, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35058896/ns/health-heart_health/t/bad-cholesterol-its-not-what-you-think/#.VpqkCBUrLIU:

Dr. Ron Krauss explains, “a big, fluffy form known as large LDL, and three increasingly dense forms medium, small, and very small LDL. A diet high in saturated fat mainly boosts the numbers of large-LDL particles, while a low-fat diet high in carbohydrates propagates the smaller forms” and increases triglycerides (fat in the blood associated with increased heart disease risk). The smaller the LDL size the greater the health  risk.

Krauss found two significant predictors as patterns to heart disease:

  1. A combination of high levels of smaller and medium LDL (size matters; a dreaded diabetes-linked syndrome or pattern B) with low HDL
  2. Low HDL levels

High total LDL (not taking size into account) levels were a risk for men but not as significant.

Genetics, lifestyle and environment influence the size of the LDL package. While it is true that what you eat can affect both cholesterol and LDL, if you eat more cholesterol the body compensates and produces less. It handles saturated fat differently than expected as well.

Dr. Krauss discovered that “a diet high in saturated fat from dairy (cheese, butter) products or beef can make total LDL rise but the increase is the low risk larger more buoyant size LDL (pattern A) not the unhealthy smaller LDL. Following nutritional guidelines and reducing saturated fat while increasing carbohydrates in a diet can shift a person’s LDL profile from safe to dangerous,” http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/5/1025.full.

Be progressive. Test the pattern or size of your LDL cholesterol, http://www.bostonheartdiagnostics.com/patients_assessing_risk.php, www.longevitytesting.com When it comes to LDL and HDL cholesterol size matters  if you are specifically measuring risk for cancer, brain and heart health.

 

 
 

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Top Five “Fat” Superfoods: Cocoa

The next food on my list earned its spot for three main reasons. It has been found to improve mood, memory and medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Superfood # 4 is Cocoa!

Cocoa contributes to a calming feeling because of its effect on serotonin but is also contains Phenylethylamine (a body chemical or neurotransmitter) and theobromine (an alkaloid, http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/theobromine.php) which can produce a stimulating euphoric effect, and is considered a mood enhancer.

The ability of cocoa to boost memory was tested in a small clinical trial where 90 older individuals consumed 48 mg, 520 mg  994 mg of cocoa flavanols (CF) for 8 weeks.  Cognitive function was assessed at baseline and after 8 wk and it was found to “reduce some measures of age-related cognitive dysfunction, possibly through an improvement in insulin sensitivity”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25733639.

Metabolic and heart health are also improved with cocoa consumption. Research has shown bacteria in the gut ferments both the antioxidants and the fiber in cocoa to produce anti-inflammatory compounds that improve blood vessel function, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-is-dark-chocolate-good-for-you-thank-your-microbes/, in addition to the heart benefits of lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, raising HDL, improving  type 2 diabetes and insulin sensitivity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23870648.

Not many realize just how power packed cocoa is yet findings from Cornell University has shown cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea. It also contains magnesium, iron, chromium, vitamin C, zinc and other micronutrients.

Taste is an added bonus making chocolate that is higher in cocoa (85% or higher) and is minimally processed is sinful and healthy making it perfect addition to the list!

Why is the percentage of cocoa important?  Because the higher the percentage of cacao, the lesser amounts of other unhealthy ingredients such as sugar and milk solids. The goal is to get as close to 100% cocoa as possible and avoid Dutch processing (cocoa that is treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity). You will notice with lower amounts of unhealthy ingredients, healthy chocolate contains more cocoa, more fiber and more fat.

Fat absolutely does not detract from the health value of chocolate. The type of fat found in cocoa butter is unlikely to clog arteries.  Most of that fat in cocoa butter contains the same monounsaturated fat as olive oil, oleic acid (known for supporting good heart-healthy) and stearic (a saturated fat)  that has a neutral effect on cholesterol.

There are many brands of chocolate on the market. Selecting one that tastes good and fits the “healthy’ criteria mentioned above. Try these, it’s a good place to start:

  1. >90% Cocoa Lindt
  2. Vivani 85% Cocoa
  3. Endangered Species 88% Cocoa (one serving is 17 g of carbs so only do <1/3 of a bar)

It is important to keep in mind that just because chocolate is dark does not mean it is healthy. Read the labels on any product you purchase. Focus on the ingredients section to know what it is you are exactly eating.

Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is the perfect “guiltless” pleasure. So if you love chocolate, eat it! There is absolutely no reason not to indulge.

 

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Cruising Down Memory Lane With The 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise

Image result for cruise

In honor of the 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise 2015, http://www.lowcarbcruiseinfo.com/, hosted by my friend and colleague Jimmy Moore. I thought I would repost an interview we did awhile back and share a great conversation that discusses the health benefits of The Atkins Diet from my perspective as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator and the book I co-authored, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” (https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/what-is-metabolic-overdrive/https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/insulins-immense-role-in-metabolic-overdrive-mo/, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/hormonal-havoc-harnesses-metabolic-overdrive-part1/https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/hormonal-havoc-harnesses-metabolic-overdrive-part-2/,https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/the-thyroid-tie-in-to-metabolic-overdrive/https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/the-cortisol-connection-to-metabolic-overdrive-mo/). We discuss:

  • how you can identify reasons behind stubborn fat that just refuses to come off
  • why exercise may not be a good idea if you are experiencing metabolic overdrive
  • social and emotional interference with your diet
  • practical and creative solutions to help you stick with your nutrition plan
  • supplement solutions and much much more…

It is with great regret that I have only been able to attend one of the cruises but the memories are like yesterday. I met people who I will be friends with for life!

So here is my interview with Jimmy, http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/410/valorie-berkowitz-ep-251/!

I hope you have the opportunity to listen as this interview really hits on many aspects of weight loss and health regardless of diet preference and it may help spark a fire to that will help fix whatever obstacles are getting in the way of getting to your goal(s).

 

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The King of Ketosis

Dr. Atkins

 

Ketosis simply means burning fat. When your body burns fat it helps correct metabolic health and weight issues. If you are not healthy or cannot seem to lose weight, Make a change in your way of eating.

At a minimum, Dr. Atkins should be known as the “King of Ketosis”. It’s been awhile since I worked with Dr. Atkins and embarked on my own high fat, low carb journey. Back then, although we cited Keckwick and Pawan and a few others, we had NO “current” research. We barely even understood what happened biochemically in the body but we did know that our patients reaped the benefits much before the sea of results with today’s “current” research and monumental low carb following.

We understood the power of ketosis (controlling carbohydrates) and the health benefits of fat. Because eating real food and avoiding the push for commercially prepared low-fat products tainted with trans fat and high fructose corn syrup was and is healthier. We witnessed health and weight improvements. We did not need to wait for research when right in front of our eyes was this nutritional blessing of ketosis that helped improve quality of life and we would not bury our heads in the sand of denial no matter who said otherwise. It is hard to imagine what would have happened if Dr. Atkins retaliated in fear or lost his endurance to the wolves that hunted him. There were so many attacks.

I was a registered dietitian (RD), a vegetarian at the time eating low-fat foods, but Dr. Atkins hired me anyway. He was extremely bright. I think he knew what he was doing when he hired “the enemy”. He used to call registered dietitians “airheads” because he was so frustrated at the medical establishment trying to denounce what he was doing and label him a “quack”. When I reminded him I was a RD, he smiled ( a charismatic smile ) and said “not all of them”.

I, on the other hand, had no idea what I was about to experience and even explain how this job would become my life. However there were four main reasons  I switched from being a vegetarian to an Atkins for lifer!

  1. As a vegetarian, it was difficult to make creative eating suggestions for my flesh-eating clients.
  2. I was about ten pounds overweight and I wanted to experience the excitement my clients felt and, of course, the fast weight loss results.
  3. I saw patients clinical labs and they all improved: cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and all the rest, including the clients reported benefits:
  • improved energy
  • stable moods
  • mental focus
  • less gas/ bloating
  • better sleep
  • less acne flare ups and episodes
  • less appetite

oh, there were so many…

  1. As I dug through the published data and paced the shopping aisles of the grocery store. I realized this “Atkins” diet was healthier than anything I had recommended during my whole nutrition career. I realized I was brain washed by the establishment. Fast forward, while I completed the nutritional analysis of the menus in my book, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” (http://www.amazon.com/The-Stubborn-Fat-Fix-Metabolic/dp/159486828X), the less carbs the more nutrient dens the meal. As carbs were placed back into meals, not too many of course, it diluted what I call the “nutrient bang for the calorie buck”.

We did not have sexy marketing lingo like “nutritional” ketosis.  Although it is a great descriptor as being in ketosis  equates to eating nutrient dense meals. Today we may just take for granted what seems to be the obvious.

Cristi Vlad does a great job at explaining ketosis, http://cristivlad.com/ketosis-special-metabolic-state/. He describes his own weight and fat loss but the advantage of lowering carbs goes beyond what you see on the outside.

The true magic of ketosis is buried deep within at the hormonal level and hormones influence our lives (men, women and children) much more than we know.

If you want to read up on the research, Ellen Davis has a no holds barred  website, http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/ketogenic-diet-benefits.html on almost everything you may want to know about a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet and how it contributes to slowing the aging process and healing:

  • any blood sugar disorder, including diabetes, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • parkinson’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • epilepsy
  • autism
  • fatty liver
  • stomach issues like reflux, ulcers, gas bloating

and the list goes on.

Don’t be afraid of ketosis or living low carb.  Jimmy Moore, http://www.livinlavidalowcarb.com/, has been living low carb, writing books, doing podcasts, hosting cruises and even has a list of practitioners who can help you, http://lowcarbdoctors.blogspot.com/. Burning fat to supply body energy (ketosis) is not only an optimal way of eating, it is prudent for quality of life and longevity.

 

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Low Fat Better Than Low Carb, Say “It Ain’t So”!

 

When your friends, family, colleagues, healthcare professionals, the media and everyone you know are claiming low carb diets are dangerous, not effective or boring. Stand up and just say “It Ain’t So!”

I am soooooo tired of hearing and reading about how calories, not carbohydrate management, is the best way to lose weight or that meat eaters are more likely to die than those who abstain from eating meat, blah, blah, blah, blah.

When researchers do not keep their studies objective, crazy things happen. For example, unhealthy meats that contain known cancer causing ingredients (such as nitrites) are put in the same group as other meats; the media reports “all meats are unhealthy”. The reality is that nothing new was proven, we know nitrates and nitrates can cause cancer.  The responsible message should be “avoid meats that contain cancer causing ingredients”.

We have seen the headlines touting the real answer to weight loss,  “calories matter more than the distribution of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.” However, this is not always the case. When research on low carb diets (less than 50 grams is actually low enough to ignite fat burning) are actually performed, they trump low-calorie diets for weight loss, lowering heart disease and managing blood sugar every time. I have the same experience in practice.

Eating low carb is a healthy, delicious and nutritious option. Well at least that is why I started eating low carb…at least that was only after being ready to keep an open mind and I opened my eyes and ears to the truth. Only then could I free myself from believing the hype of big business, corrupt opinion leaders, less than objective researchers and unsuspecting healthcare professionals who still only see one side of the fence.

These studies were published 6 years ago but the results continue to be re-produced.

http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.co…-7075-2-31.pdf
http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.co…-7075-3-24.pdf
http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.co…3-7075-5-9.pdf

Results from research conducted by Darlene Dreon suggests that low-fat diets for some people with a specific genetic predisposition can increase risk factors for heart disease. Do you know any doctors that warn people of the potential risks of low-fat diets as found in Dreon’s study?

Yet, for some reason this information escapes media attention. There are doctors and nutritionists who practice low carb diet health care. Medical doctors use low carbohydrate diets to help patients manage diabetes without the blood sugar high’s and low’s that medication can cause. This is also true for metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, stomach complaints and many other medical conditions.

The truth is that carbohydrate is the nutrient that has the most effect on internal eating cues and satiety switches? Excess carbohydrates more than any other nutrient triggers a hormonal cascade that starts with insulin. Insulin is a fat storing hormone and one that lowers blood sugar which in turn flips the “I’m hungry switch” to on.

It’s a good feeling to be able to help people who are following low carb diets. I tell it like it is from my heart and soul, from the very roots of my nutrition and medical education and experience. But most importantly, I feel comfortable thinking outside the box to help others find the path that works for them; whether it is for better health and nutrition, more self-confidence in their choices, positive social and emotional support. I can make a difference and I am making a difference. You can make a difference too, stay true to yourself and “Don’t Believe the Hype”.

When you hear crazy outrageous claims that make you concerned about your low carb eating regimen, know “It Ain’t So”.

 

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It Is About “Time”: Fat Facts and The Cover Up

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What do steak, eggs, coconut, dark meat, chicken and turkey with the skin on have in common? They are all high in healthy saturated fat and are safe foods to eat.

Bryan Walsh’s report made the cover of Time magazine, “Eat Butter.” His article describes a 43 year “human experiment” using the consumer as guinea pigs to test lowering dietary fat and reducing heart disease risk starting back in 1977; when a senate committee urged Americans to “eat less high-fat red meat, eggs and dairy; eat more carbohydrates and increase fruit and vegetable consumption”.

What happened?

  • Heart disease is still the number one cause of death
  • Obesity now effects 33% of the US  population
  • Type 2 diabetes escalated by 166%

I do not have any statistical analysis but there are many more health conditions caused by excess carbohydrate intake that are on the rise, like metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome etc…

Why did this cover-up happen?

  • The establishment refused to publish controversial research.
  • Unethical researchers cherry picked the data used for analysis
  •  Puppeteers were good at disseminating the low-fat dogma put forth by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

The research supporting the safety and efficacy of fat and saturated fat exists. In his article, Walsh interviews researchers who explain:

  • “Americans were told to cut back on fat to lose weight and prevent heart disease. There’s an overwhelmingly strong case to be made for the opposite.” –Dr. David Ludwig, Boston Children’s Hospital

 

  • “The argument against fat was completely flawed. We’ve traded one disease for another.” –Dr. Robert Lustig, University of California, San Francisco

 

  • “Willett (Walter Willett, Harvard) found that when high saturated fat foods were replaced with carbohydrates, there was no reduction in heart disease.”
  • “Simple carbs like bread and corn may not look like sugar on your plate, but in your body that’s what they’re converted to when digested.”
  • “Studies (by Eric Westman, Duke University) found that replacing carbohydrates with fat could help manage and even reverse diabetes.”

Mind you this TIME article is not late breaking news. I have blogged on the “BIG FAT” topic before:

  1. Seeking Saturated Fat, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/?s=saturated+fat
  2. Follow The Nutrition Guidelines Or Follow Your Heart, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/follow-the-nutrition-guidelines-or-follow-your-heart/
  1. When It Comes To Saturated Fat Use Your Noggin’, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/when-it-comes-to-saturated-fat-use-your-noggin/
  2. Carbohydrates Are Worse Than Saturated Fat, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/carbohydrates-are-worse-than-saturated-fat/
  3. Andrew Weil: Saturated Fat Is Not Associated With an Increased Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke or Vascular Disease,  https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/andrew-weilsaturated-fat-is-not-associated-with-an-increased-risk-of-heart-disease-stroke-or-vascular-disease/
  4. Eat saturated Fat For Good Health, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/eat-saturated-fat-for-good-health/
  5. Fat Functions To Promote Good Health, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/fat-functions-to-promote-good-health/
  6. Have We Created Our Own Heath Crisis? High Fat Must Have Foods For Good Health, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/have-we-created-our-own-health-crises-high-fat-must-have-foods-for-good-health/
  7. The Low Fat Nutrient Less Diet Cannot Nourish The Body,  https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/the-low-fat-nutrient-less-diet-cannot-fully-nourish-the-body/
  8. Eat Foods With Fat (5): Balance Foods With Fat, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2187&action=edit

So now what?

It is hard to break bad habits and we have been brain washed for a while into believing low-fat foods are healthy. But now it is time, no more cover ups, to open our eyes to the truth about food, fat, carbohydrates, what we eat and how it affects health.

If you want to undo the damage caused by 40 years of eating low-fat refined and processed foods avoid carbs. Eat real meat, natural fats and veggies to let the healing process begin.

 

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