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Interview with Andrew Weil and Michael Carona

Aired July 18, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Dr. Andrew Weil is in the house. He speaks out on two studies causing chaos in the medical world, and leaving ordinary folks confused, and yes, scared. Straight answers to your questions. Dr. Weil weighs in and takes your calls.

But first, where is the predator who killed 5-year-old Samantha Runnion? And will he strike again? Joining us from Samantha's home town in California, the man running the investigation into this terrible crime, Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona. They're both next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with Sheriff Michael Carona in Orange County, Florida (sic) -- in Stanton, California specifically. Anything new to report, Sheriff?

SHERIFF MICHAEL CARONA, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Yes, Larry, there's been a lot that's been accomplished over the last 12 hours. I can tell you that the forensic evidence that we picked up at the crime scene here at Stanton as well as in Riverside County has been -- is being analyzed by our team of scientists and our forensic investigators. That's presented a lot of clues for us. And the media has been magnificent in getting the word out to the public. And we have over 1,000 leads that have been worked by over 400 investigators here at the scene. So piece by piece, we're putting this puzzle together and we're getting closer to solving the problem.

KING: You say a lot of tips coming in. Do any of them look fruitful?

CARONA: Yes. We have a number of tips that are very substantial, at least in our opinion. And we have investigative teams out, as we speak, working those tips.

KING: The key, of course, Sheriff, is to get him before he gets someone else. Can you be confident about that? Or is it a guessing game?

CARONA: Well, any time you do an investigation, there's a certain amount of guessing that goes into it. But I have to tell you, this individual is a sexual predator, has made a lot of mistakes. And we've capitalized on those mistakes. We have the best team out here, both from the FBI as well as local law enforcement. We're examining all the physical evidence. The public has been magnificent in giving us clues. I can tell you without getting into a lot of detail, this puzzle is coming together, it's coming together fairly quickly. And I'm confident we're going to solve it. I guarantee you this man won't give up until this thing's solved.

KING: Here's the Orange County police tip line, by the way: 714- 890-4280, 714-890-4280, with any tip you might have. Samantha's father, he does not -- the husband and wife do not live together. Spoke today in Massachusetts. Sheriff, here's a portion of what he had to say.


DEREK JACKSON, SAMANTHA RUNNION'S FATHER: I loved Samantha dearly. And I will always love her. And she's been everything to me. And I'm so unbelievably sorry that she's not with us today.


KING: Isn't this the hardest thing for a police officer emotionally, Sheriff?

CARONA: Yes, Larry, it is. I've spent time with Samantha's mother, her grandmother and her stepfather. Had to talk about her death and the fact that she was not only murdered but sexually assaulted. It's an incredibly painful thing as a police officer. It's even harder as a father to talk to another parent.

KING: Do you believe that this was this perpetrator's first kill?

CARONA: Well, Larry, I can't tell you that, because we don't have an individual that we're focusing in on. I can tell you that based upon the evidence that we have, we believe that he is a sexual predator that has done at least his sexual deviant behavior before. This may be his first taste of death, but if we don't catch him quickly, it may not be his last taste of death, which is why we're putting a full court press to bring this man to justice.

KING: Do your experts tell you that he right now could be watching this and enjoying it?

CARONA: Yes, sir. In fact, we have engaged the media, and you all have been very good about getting the word out to the public to help us to get clues to solve this. But we also want to put him on notice that we're coming after him. If he's watching this show, understand: All the law enforcement that you see around, the FBI, the Orange County sheriff's department, local law enforcement, state and national, we're all coming after you.

KING: How is the young girl, the other 5-year-old who saw him? How is she holding up?

CARONA: She's doing well, Larry. When you have this many people paying this much attention to an event that a 5-year-old was part of, it tends to scare them. We're trying to keep her away from that as much as possible, as are her parents. And she's holding up well. But it's not the type of life that a 5-year-old should be living. KING: Media attention can be good. It also can be bad in that it might bring out other predators to do other things to gain attention. Is that a fear of yours?

CARONA: We always are concerned anytime there's a lot of media attention on a particular criminal act that we're going to have copycats. Those individuals who just want to gain media attention for themselves to do something similar, which is why we haven't released a lot of data about how Samantha was murdered, where the body was found, pertinent information about the investigation, so that we can hopefully prevent a copycat occurrence.

KING: You do know, though, that it's been reported, Sheriff, that she was alive for some time, right?

CARONA: Well, we know that she was -- and yes, Larry. We know that she was alive for a period of time with her captor before he murdered her.

KING: Do forensics help police in that those who do profiling and the like, is that a help to you, if you know the consciousness of the perpetrator?

CARONA: It's a help. I want to make sure everybody understands that profiling is simply a law enforcement tool. We try to grab as many tools out of our tool box when we have an event like this. But profiling does help. It allows us to get into the mind of an individual who might commit a crime like this based upon the physical evidence that we find at the crime scene, and we've utilized the FBI's expertise in that. And they've been a magnificent help to us.

KING: Have you noticed at all, Sheriff, if parents in your area are being more careful?

CARONA: Yes, sir. The parents here around the crime scene at Stanton are being much more careful. I'm hearing through the grapevine and e-mails that have been sent to my office and just discussions out on the street that this has had a chilling effect in Southern California and parents are taking a watchful eye on their children and working with them and educating them about saying no to strangers.

KING: Anything near panic?

CARONA: No, sir. We're trying to dial back the panic. We don't want parents and/or children to overreact. We know we have a sexual predator on the loose, but if a parent is simply paying a watchful eye to their child, we don't have to lock them behind closed doors. They can get out and play on the streets. We just want to make sure there's some supervision, close by, a watchful eye right now and hopefully even in the near future. It's good for parents to interact with their kids as much as possible.

KING: Couple of other quick things, sheriff. There were reports, did this man apparently approach other people who got away? CARONA: We have a number of reports that have come in, over 1,000 tips have come into our command post here. A number of those have been about children who were approached by men in the area. We're running all that through our database. The FBI has put on line for us their rapid start program, and we're feeding all of that data in. We have no confirmations, though that any individual matches our suspect that's a credible suspect at this point in time.

KING: And finally, every expert we talked to tells us that predators rarely give up themselves. They have to be caught. Is that true?

CARONA: That's what I'm being told as well, Larry. I'm not the behavioral science expert by any means, but the experts in that field are telling me exactly the same thing.

KING: Sheriff, I thank you so much. We'll be calling on you again. You're doing a noble job. And we hope the next time it's with an arrest.

CARONA: I'd love to be able to report that to you, Larry. Thank you for everything you're doing in getting the word out.

KING: Thank you. Sheriff Mike Carona. The phone number for the tip line, 714-890-4280. 714-890-4280.

When Dr. Weil joins us in just a moment, we'll get his thoughts on this kind of case and what parents can do with children. We're going to talk about the growing controversy over hormone replacement therapy, and the controversy over how you should eat healthy. Is bad good? All that ahead. Don't go away.


JACKSON: I have been sending her packages. The times that I don't see her, I send numerous packages and wonderful letters to her, so that when I'm not with her when she was out in California that I would stay connected with her. And I will always stay connected with her. She will live in my heart, you know. When I wake up, when I wake up every day, I will think of her, and I will think of her when I go to bed at night. I will think of her all day long. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I miss you, Samantha.



KING: He's on vacation in Brattleboro, Vermont, but he agreed to appear with us tonight, for which we thank him. He's Dr. Andrew Weil, the renowned expert on integrative medicine, best-selling author of "Eating Well for Optimum Health." He's got a new hit book out. We'll talk about that in a minute and show it to you.

We will also talk about the hormone replacement concept, and eating and the like. But first, let's get to the subject at hand. Doctor, healthwise, what can adults do to ease tension in a situation like we just talked about with the sheriff, both on their own part and on their children's part?

WEIL: I mean, one is to really monitor and limit the amount of this kind of news that you allow into the house and into children's consciousness. You know, it doesn't have to be repeated endlessly and listened to over and over. Another is I think both parents and kids can do well to learn some relaxation skills that neutralize stress. The ones that I particularly like are simple breathing techniques that parents can do with kids, even just slow deep breathing, to help relieve anxiety. It's something that parents can do with kids as they're putting them to sleep. Very good technique for kids to learn.

KING: Just, in and out?

WEIL: In and out. I mean, there's more elaborate ones. In my books and on my Web site, you'll find some instructions for specific ones. But a good place to start is just deep, slow, rhythmic, quiet breathing. If, you know, a little bit of that, 30 seconds or a minute, a very good way to neutralize anxiety.

KING: So you're saying when television is covering it, don't have the kids watch it a lot?

WEIL: No. And especially, as you know, television news often repeats these disturbing images and the disturbing quotes over and over and over. You don't really need that. I mean, how many times do you need to listen to that? You know, once might be enough. So, I think it's up to parents to limit how much of that comes into the home.

KING: Seeing the father that we just showed, it was an afternoon press conference, we show it at night for people who've gotten home, does that affect a kid to see that?

WEIL: How could it not affect a kid? How could it not? My own daughter, who is 10, is here in the studio and watched that on television. And I can't imagine that didn't disturb her. I'll talk with her about it after the show.

KING: What do you make of predators and the study of them and the behavior patterns and profiling and the like? I know you're not a psychiatrist.

WEIL: I am not an expert on that. But I think clearly, you know, this is something that has probably always existed in a complex society like ours. I think, you know, we're seeing more and more of it. I wonder how much -- I mean, you alluded to this, the media attention to these people encourages other people to act out that behavior. I don't know. It's a question I have.

KING: All right. Dr. Weil's new book is "The Healthy Kitchen." He's written it with Rosie Daley of the "Oprah" show. And, you know the two of them. She's Oprah's former chef. It's been a major best- seller since it was published. He on with us with her when it first came out.

And now, if you saw "Time" and "Newsweek" this week, both stories the same. "Beyond hormone therapy, a new study raises fears about risks for millions of women." "The Truth About Hormones." That's in "Time." Hormone replacement therapy is riskier than advertised. Story in the paper today, could cause cancer. All right. Doctor, bring us up to date. Where are we with regard to this?

WEIL: All right. These risks were well known for a long time. Twenty years ago, I started warning women about hormone replacement therapy. If you have any cells with estrogen receptors and you put more estrogen into the body, you're going to stimulate those cells to proliferate and divide. Whenever you do that, you increase cancer risks.

So, the cancer risks of hormone replacement were well known. They've always been well known. The question is do the benefits of hormone replacement therapy offset those risks? And there was an assumption in the medical community that the benefits of hormone replacement in relieving menopausal symptoms, in promoting cardiovascular health, especially reducing heart attack risk in women, and increasing bone strength in women, offset those risks, which were always downplayed.

Now these new studies really make it look as if those benefits are not there. And so the risks suddenly look very stark and dangerous. Now, having said that, I also think that the way this has been played up in the press is a little misleading because this study used unnatural forms of hormones. It used horse estrogen, Premarin, which is the main one that's been prescribed, and synthetic progesterone, which is not identical to the progesterone in the body.

Women have the alternative of insisting on taking forms of these hormones that are identical to those made by the body, which are probably safer. This study also used a dose of estrogen that's higher than can now be used. We can now use lower doses. That might also mitigate the risk. So, I'm not totally opposed to hormone replacement. I think there are circumstances in which it might be appropriate for short periods of time. Women who are disabled by menopausal symptoms, for example. But I think this study really points out that when we're using therapies that are risky, we better have very good evidence for their benefits.

KING: Where, doctor, do women get the safer kind?

WEIL: You ask your doctor. If your doctor doesn't know about that safer kind, you can go to what's called a compounding pharmacy, or a compounding pharmacist who can give you information on what's called bioidentical estrogen, estradiol. There are some prescriptions forms of it, or oral micronized progesterone. These are identical to the hormones produced in the body. And you can also take lower doses than were used in the study, and that might reduce the cancer promoting risks.

KING: What is menopause and what does estrogen do for it?

WEIL: Menopause is the cessation of the menstrual cycle, which in most women happens around the age of 50. It's a very clear-cut physiological change in women. There is no corresponding change in men. At menopause, the body's own natural production of estrogen drops sharply.

Now, I think one of the problems underlying all this confusion is that menopause has become a disease in recent years. It's become a disease treatable by prescribing pharmaceutical drugs. I don't think menopause is a disease. And I think the whole medicalization of menopause, making this a treatable condition with pharmaceuticals, is very questionable.

You know, menopause is a natural phase in a woman's life cycle. And I think if women have problems associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, these can all be addressed. Those are treatable problems. It is appropriate to treat symptoms of menopause. It is not appropriate to treat menopause as a disease.

KING: Doesn't -- well, this may be a myth that men think. Doesn't menopause produce all the things you just mention? All menopause produces all of that?

WEIL: The symptoms that women experience at menopause are incredibly variable with the individual.

Some women sail through menopause with minimal discomfort. Other women are completely thrown for a loop by it. I think one of the very disreputable aspects of hormone replacement therapy is that for years the pharmaceutical companies that have made these widely prescribed hormones, in their advertising have put out a kind of subliminal message that hormone replacement is a kind of chemical fountain of youth that will enable women to remain sexually attractive, beautiful, youthful past the menopausal years.

That's total nonsense. I see as many women who have never taken hormone replacement who are beautiful and attractive in their '60s, even '70s, as women who have taken hormonal replacement. But I think many women have been sucked into using that therapy with that kind of promise, that unstated promise, that this is a chemical fountain of youth.

KING: Doctor, men -- we, you and I don't have them. What is a hot flash?

WEIL: Well, I understand that the feminists would call these power surges. It's a -- it's a period which can last for a few seconds to a few minutes of what's called vasomotor instability, where the -- there's a dilation of blood vessels in the skin that often causes flushing, a sensation of heat, sweating.

One woman friend of mine said she would always advise women if they get a hot flash to put their head in the refrigerator for a minute. There's other ways of dealing with hot flashes. One of the best, by the way, is an herbal remedy called black cohosh -- black cohosh -- it was used by Native Americans for female troubles.

It has been used for 30 years in Germany as a treatment for hot flashes. There are good studies, though small ones, in Germany, indicating its efficacy. And now, finally, there are two very well designed studies that are funded by NIH, by the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, one at Columbia University -- my colleague Dr. Fredi Kronenberg is directing that -- another at the University of Illinois, which I think will gather very good evidence for the safety and efficacy of black cohosh. Women can get that in health food stores.

KING: More on this, and we'll discuss diet, and we'll take phone calls with Dr. Andrew Weil when we come back.

By the way, Art Linkletter, who was supposed to be with us last night -- we taped a show with Art that will next week, about his 90th birthday. Sorry we didn't mention this last night, but of course we had the tragedy of a death of the child in Orange County.

And Barbara Eden, "I Dream of Jeannie," is with us tomorrow.

Right back with Dr. Weil. Later your phone calls. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dr. Andrew Weil, and we'll be taking calls. Before I ask about food and diet, doctor, what should people who have been taking hormone replacements do now?

WEIL: Well, I think they should inform themselves, first of all, about alternatives to the usual Premarin and Provera. I mentioned these bio-identical hormones that you can get.

There are ways of adjusting diet to get more plan estrogens into your diet by eating soy, for example, or flax seeds. These help mitigate menopausal symptoms. There are the herbal remedies like black cohosh.

There's other ways of adjusting lifestyle. I think it's a matter of getting more information. But it may not be a good idea for all those women out there who have been taking this stuff to continue on it. They may not need it.

KING: By the way, if you're not having problems with menopause, you don't have to take anything?

WEIL: No. You don't necessarily. Your body doesn't need it.

KING: All right. The "New York Times" Sunday magazine a couple weeks ago really stirred things up with a cover article that essentially asked what if Dr. Atkins was right? He advises avoid carbohydrates and chow down on high protein, high fat diet of steak, bacon, cream and cheese.

Now others are starting to say Atkins may be right. What does Dr. Andrew Weil say?

WEIL: Well, I say that Dr. Atkins is not right. And that article was a very curious mixture of truth and nonsense. The truth is that the carbohydrate issue is very important and has been missed by the medical profession.

Now, I think the medical profession has put all its eggs into the fat basket. We have promoted low fat, ultra-low fat diets for a long time. We've dealt with heart disease single-mindedly by trying to lower cholesterol with drugs. That may not be the problem. If I had to bet money, I would bet that the carbohydrate theory of obesity, of heart disease, is going to turn out to be the one that's going to win out, and that in fact it's the choices of the wrong kinds carbohydrates, and eating too much of those wrong carbohydrates in the American diet that's driving the epidemic of obesity in this country.

KING: But that's what Dr. Atkins says, end carbohydrates.

WEIL: But I'm not saying we should not eat carbohydrates. That's not healthy, either. There are -- just as with fats, there are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. Dr. Atkins is telling people to eat a lot of foods that are just not healthy. Any way you slice it, bacon is not a health food. And one thing that his diet and that article are going to do is give free rein to people to eat all the bacon cheeseburgers they want without the buns.

That not the way to do it. You can design a low carbohydrate diet that is also healthy. Any diet that tells people not to eat fruits and vegetables cannot be right, because one of the things that we absolutely know in medical science today is that fruits and vegetables contain a lot, a lot of protective compounds that protect against cancer, heart disease, all sorts of things.

People who follow the Atkins don't eat fruits and vegetables. They eat bacon cheeseburgers. That's not the way to do it.

So there's a nugget of truth there in Atkins and in these other people telling you to eat low carbohydrate. The trick is how do you design a low carbohydrate diet that's also healthy.

KING: What is a good carbohydrate?

WEIL: A good carbohydrate are ones that are digested slowly, that don't cause a spike in blood sugar and cause the pancreas to secrete a surge of insulin.

KING: Like?

WEIL: You know, about probably half the population -- like?

Like things like beans, whole grains or cracked grains, sweet potatoes, winter squashes. All of these things are, I think, in the category of good carbohydrates.

The problem carbohydrates are the refined ones, especially products made from flour, and it doesn't really matter whether it's whole wheat flour or white flour. It's all the breads, pastries, pizza crust, chips, crackers, snack foods, as well as all the sugary foods in our diet, especially things like sodas, sweetened fruit juices. It is, I think, these foods are what is really causing our kids to get fat today. You know, if you want to lose weight, most people are going to do better cutting down on this sort of stuff than trying to go on a low fat diet.

KING: By the way, is a baked potato okay?

WEIL: I think a baked potato is OK. A baked sweet potato is even better, and you know, there are ways of balancing carbohydrates on your plate to make things better.

So if you're going to have a waffle once in a while, which is made with flour, if you put a whole lot of blueberries on top of it, that lowers the rate at which that carbohydrate is turned into sugar.

KING: Blueberries are great.

WEIL: Blueberries are great. We should all be eating them.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and go to your phone calls. Dr. Atkins -- Dr. Atkins...

WEIL: Please.

KING: Dr. Weil's latest book -- there is -- there is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is "The Healthy Kitchen." Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley. And when we come back, we'll go to your phone calls. It's LARRY KING LIVE with Dr. Weil. Don't go away.


KING: Always a great pleasure to have him, Dr. Andrew Weil's our special guest. In the middle of a vacation, he took time out to be with us. Let's go to East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Good evening.


CALLER: I have a question for the doctor. I had a total hysterectomy about 13 years ago and I've been taking Premarin ever since then. I'm wondering if there's a difference between going through natural menopause or surgical menopause?

WEIL: Yes, there is a difference. If women go through surgical menopause, that really is an indication for taking hormones, at least for a time to help your body to adjust to the change. Again, I would tend to recommend not Premarin, this horse estrogen which is unnatural, but a natural form of estrogen which you can get. However, after being on these hormones for a period, say a year after the surgery, I think it is very appropriate to try to phase off them and see if you can do without them.

KING: There is surgical menopause?

WEIL: Well, if -- for -- let's say a woman has ovarian cysts that are a problem and a lot of fibroids on the uterus that are causing problems, that might be an indication for removing the uterus and the ovaries -- that's a total hysterectomy. And once the ovaries are out, there's no estrogen production. So there's an artificial menopause caused by the removal of the ovaries.

KING: I see. Okeechobee, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. I'm like that other lady there. I've had a hysterectomy in 1964, and I've been on Premarin ever since then. And my question was about eyesight -- I wondered if that had any effect on your eyesight or the blood vessels in your eyes that you know of. And also, if I could stop taking it? I have one ovary. Of course, I'm 75 years old. So I'm sure it's not operating.

WEIL: I think you can stop taking it. And as I say, probably for most women that have surgical menopause, they may not need hormone replacement for more than a year or so.

KING: How about the eye question?

WEIL: Well, these hormones do have effects on blood vessels and circulation, but I don't think you'll experience any eye changes if you go off of them.

KING: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi. Go ahead.

CALLER: Dr. Weil, I've got a question. I recently went on your antioxidant formula.

WEIL: Yes.

CALLER: And I would -- I'd like for you to comment on Dr. Sidney Wolf's position on the supplements.

WEIL: Yes.

CALLER: You should not take any supplement except in the context of a deficiency.

WEIL: Well, I think that's the old...

KING: Do you agree with that?

WEIL: I don't agree with that. That's the old line view of the, I'd say, the older generation of physicians who say that these are at best a waste of money and at worst harmful. My feeling is that these supplements are not substitutes for the whole foods that contain them, which are mostly fruits and vegetables. I think they should be regarded as insurance against gaps in the diet.

In some cases -- you know, one of the elements in the formula is vitamin E, a natural form of vitamin E. I think there's very good evidence that vitamin E, taken with other antioxidants, has a number of protective effects on the body. If you tried to get the amount of vitamin E that looks optimum from diet alone, you'd have to eat something like a couple of pounds of nuts a day. And that's not a good thing to do.

So I think that's a clear instance in which taking a supplement is valuable. So don't regard these as substitutes for the foods that contain them; look on them as insurance against gaps in the diet and as preventive strategies against the development of certain chronic diseases.

KING: What do you think of that new thing, what is it, GDH (ph) or GDC (ph), it's supposed to bring your youth back or DHEA...


WEIL: DHEA is probably -- you know, is a hormone. I really -- I think -- you know, I'm not that concerned about taking the vitamins and minerals as supplements. I'm very concerned about people taking hormones supplementally, unless there's very good reason to do that. If a medical test shows that you are deficient in a hormone, then I think there's a reason to take it. But a lot of people are using these things, again, in the belief that they are somehow fountains of youth, that they're going to reverse the aging process.

There is nothing out there that can reverse the aging process, and certainly not these hormones that are often both dispensed by doctors and sold over the counter.

KING: Birmingham, Alabama. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, I'm 20 years old. And I have irregular periods and I have to take progesterone shots. So I just wanted to know if I'm in the same risk as, you know, women with menopause?

KING: Good question.

WEIL: Well, this is a different case. I mean, I think for people -- for premenopausal women who have problems with the menstrual cycle, there are indications for using hormones. Sometimes this is done for the use of birth control pills, sometimes through the progesterone shots that you are taking. As long as you're doing this under the supervision of a gynecologist who is monitoring your general health, I think it's OK to do this.

KING: Chico, California, for Dr. Andrew Weil, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. This question is for Dr. Weil.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: My husband has had prostate cancer, and his oncologist is giving him female hormone shots to control that. And he has terrible hot flashes. What can we do about it?

WEIL: Well, I think he could also try using this herbal remedy that I mentioned, black cohosh.

KING: You get that at health food stores?

WEIL: Yes.

KING: By the way.

WEIL: There is a German brand of it called Remifemin that's standardized, which is the one that has mostly been studied. Another thing that he might do is try adding soy foods to his diet, both because there is a beneficial effect on prostate cancer, and also because this might also mitigate the hot flashes. Soy contains plant estrogens that are mild in their effect, but that may be helpful as well.

KING: I sat with Mayor Giuliani on a number of occasions. He'd eat soy all day long. Victim of prostate cancer. He said it's the best thing.

We'll be back with more of Dr. Andrew Weil on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Barbara Eden tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dr. Andrew Weil. Owensboro, Kentucky. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. I'm a 73-year-old male that's just been diagnosed with early stages of macular degeneration. I'd like to know if you have any encouragement for me?

WEIL: Well, there are -- I think there is very good evidence that the antioxidants are -- help slow down macular degeneration. And in particular, one of the carotenoid pigments called lutein, which is present in many vegetables. So, you can buy it...

KING: What does he have? What is that?

WEIL: He has a very -- probably the commonest cause of loss of vision in the elderly, which is a degenerative condition of the most sensitive spot on the retina for vision. It's common. It's considered a -- you know, it is related to aging. But clearly, things that people can do to prevent this when they're younger are two things. One is to protect their eyes from ultraviolet light. So you either wear sunglasses or you wear UV-coated lenses, they can be clear, when you're out in the sun. And also, you take antioxidants first by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. And I would also recommend taking an antioxidant supplement formula.

KING: All right. Now, will you explain just quickly, before we get to more calls, because you've used the term a lot, what is an antioxidant?

WEIL: These are substances that block oxidation reactions. Oxidation reactions generate very toxic elements in the body. Some of these are produced in the course of normal metabolism. Some of them are caused by interactions with toxins in the environment. The body has to protect itself from these toxic compounds and makes its own antioxidants. It gets a lot of them from diet, especially from fruits and vegetables. You supplement this by taking certain vitamins and minerals.

But, especially in today's world, we're exposed to so much toxicity of all sorts, it's air pollution, water pollution, ultraviolet light, radiation, you know, this is one way that you can help protect your body is making sure you're getting adequate intake of these compounds.

KING: If you see a product in the health food store that just says antioxidant energy or antioxidant...

WEIL: I don't think that's good enough...

KING: A multiple antioxidant.

WEIL: You need to read the label. You need to find out exactly what forms of these compounds it has, and whether you're getting the right dose. You need to do a little homework to find out, you know, how to use these.

KING: Your Web site wouldn't be bad. Callao, Missouri. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. We watch your show every night.

KING: You're smart.

CALLER: I have a question for the doctor. I was recently hospitalized for amnesia and a seizure. They prescribed me Dilantin and Plavix. One causes seizures and the other keeps you from having seizures. Anything I can do instead of taking the medicine? And also, I'm 77 and I have hot flashes really bad too. Would that be caused from the medicine?

WEIL: It might be if you hadn't had them before you started taking that. But, you know, if you've had a seizure and you're put on anti-seizure medication, you should never stop that medication suddenly. That's very dangerous to do. So if you've had a seizure, if that's documented, you probably need to have some way of controlling the seizures. That's really too complicated a thing to try to treat naturally.

KING: Morgantown, West Virginia. Hello.

CALLER: Larry, we want to know what you eat because you're looking better every year.

KING: I eat -- well, I have a bagel in the morning or a -- do we really want to know this? I have fruit and vegetables. I have a lot of cereal. I know maybe that's not good, but I like cereal. I like Cheerios and Special K and that stuff. And for dinner, I'll have fish. Occasionally, a piece of meat but rarely, and vegetables and sherbert. I don't eat any fancy desserts. And between meal snacks will be like a banana. I like sweet potatoes. I love blueberries. How am I doing, Doc?

WEIL: Good foods. That's not bad. Not bad.

KING: By the way, I'm told that you spent some time in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas and went nuts over what you saw. Obesity, right?

WEIL: Yes, I spent 10 days in the Oklahoma panhandle, Texas panhandle, parts of Kansas. And, you know, I think it's all over the country. But in that region especially, the food choices were -- you know, I was really saddened by what I saw. And the correlating obesity, especially in young people, was great. So I think, you know, I think we definitely have a problem in this country.

There is greater and greater consumption of lower and lower quality foods. It is all the fast food, junk food, fast foods in schools, vending machines for sodas in schools and bigger and bigger portions. You know, all these things are driving this epidemic of obesity. And by the way, one thing we should think about is what are going to be the health care costs when these kids get to middle age?

KING: Well put. By the way, there's a dish I like. I eat a lot of it called matzobrot (ph). You probably don't even know what it is. But I don't have it fried...

WEIL: I know it.

KING: It's matzoh, but they don't cook it in a heavy oil, and they cook it with egg whites only. Matzoh's good, isn't it?

WEIL: Matzoh is good, but it is made with white flour. So, if you're carbohydrate sensitive, that's one of these foods that you want to limit your intake of.

KING: But good for a diet, though, matzoh? I don't know why, but you feel full.

WEIL: Whatever you're doing, you're doing right, so I'm not going to tell you to change anything.

KING: OK. All right. Take away my matzobrot, you take away my life. We'll be back with our remaining moments with Dr. Andrew Weil. Don't go away.


KING: ...with Dr. Andrew Weil, one of my favorite people. Albany, New York, hello. Albany, are you there?

CALLER: Yes, I'm there.

KING: Go. What's your question?

CALLER: Hi. How are you?

KING: Hi. CALLER: Doctor, I've been following natural alternatives for years. I really believe in natural health. Last year, at 47, I went through full blown menopause. I mean, I had all the symptoms.

When I went to my doctor, he wanted to put me on hormone replacement. I did not want to do that. Now, my understanding is that the longer a woman keeps her period, the healthier and the better it is for her. So at that point I had the doctor put me on the mildest dose of birth control pills, which is what I'm doing now.

But I really don't want to do that, because I don't even like taking an aspirin. So my question to you is, is there a natural way, something I could do, to keep my period? I'm only 48 and I really don't want to go through menopause yet.

WEIL: Actually, you know, what you said is really not true, because the longer -- the later the age of menopause, as well as the earlier the age of onset of menstruation in children -- those are both correlated with increased breast cancer risks, because it means there's a longer period of time in which breast cells have been exposed to high levels of estrogen.

KING: So you don't want an early menstrual period?

WEIL: Yes, so you don't want to keep your period. Time to let your body go through menopause, if that's what it wants to do, and deal with the symptoms that come up as -- on a symptom by symptom basis.

KING: Good advice. Seminole, Florida, hello. Seminole, Florida, hello. Are you there? OK, apparently not.

New York City. Hello?

CALLER: Hi. How are you?


CALLER: I'm 27 years old and can only have children through in vitro fertilization. I've already had three rounds of in vitro fertilization, and I've read articles that the stimulation of the ovaries can cause cancer, and I've read articles that state that there's no evidence of causing cancer. So I don't really know what's true.

WEIL: Well, all I can tell you is that I think that both physically and psychologically, going through IVF is difficult. It is challenging for your body. So I think you should set a limit to how much of this you want to do. You know, it's not the easiest thing to put your body through.

KING: In other words, don't overdo it?

WEIL: Consider it carefully. You know, how long you want to keep trying this before you look at alternatives.

KING: OK. Doctor, the research into Alzheimer's, have we made any advances?

WEIL: I think really not yet, although I'll tell you one of the things that interests me, there's been a report that India has the lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world. And there has been some suggestion that this is correlated with high intake of turmeric, the yellow spice that makes curry yellow and makes American mustard yellow, and there's a very interesting animal study that came out of UCLA suggesting that turmeric has the ability to retard the development of Alzheimer's disease.

So that's one of the things I'm very interested in, is to whether taking natural substances like turmeric, antioxidants, also anti- inflammatory foods, medicines, even using an anti-inflammatory like Motrin on a regular basis, may retard the development of Alzheimer's. So I think there are areas that look promising, but I think we're still a ways from a big breakthrough.

KING: Now let's review some things quickly. Some tips on menopause?

WEIL: First of all, menopause is not a disease. It's a change in life which is natural. You should not be treating menopause. You should be dealing with whatever symptoms menopause causes.

There may -- it may be appropriate to take hormone replacement for a short period of time to deal with very severe menopausal symptoms. I would strongly recommend using the bio-identical forms of hormones such as estradiol and oral micronized progesterone, which you must -- might have to demand from your doctor rather than horse estrogen, premarin and synthetic progesterone, which I don't think are healthy.

You can also use lower doses than those that have been used in the past, and as I say, you can do this for a short period, but you should also be aware that there is a range of alternatives that you can do, everything from increasing dietary consumption of soy and flax to get more phytoestrogens into your system, to using these herbal remedies like black cohosh for hot flashes, to dealing with vaginal dryness through the use of topical lubricants, using exercise as a way of regulating mood and metabolism.

I think it's very appropriate to deal with the symptoms and to inform yourself of what else is out there besides what doctors have been promoting for so long.

KING: The always wise Dr. Weil. Let me get in one quick call. Chillicothe, Ohio. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry and Dr. Weil.

KING: Hi. Go ahead.


CALLER: I have a little different problem than the other ladies that have called. I'm 71, went through menopause -- well, it wasn't fun, but I didn't take any hormones.

KING: We only have a minute, Ma'am.

CALLER: I have osteoporosis really bad. I am on evista now.


CALLER: Is there anything any better?

WEIL: Well, you know, there are these drugs, fosamax and actonel, which really do promote increased bone formation. You might ask your doctor about using those. And so that's one possibility. If you have documented osteoporosis, definitely something you want to treat.

KING: And summing up, Dr. Weil, don't eat bacon.

WEIL: Once in a while. Everything in moderation, but it's not a health food.

KING: Doctor, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

WEIL: Good to be here again.

KING: Dr. Andrew Weil. He wrote "Eating Well for Optimum Health." His new one is "The Healthy Kitchen," written with Rosie Daly.

Always great having him with us.

When we come back, we'll tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Good promo timing. An Aaron Brown promo leading into Aaron Brown.

Tomorrow night, Barbara Eden is our special guest, "I Dream of Jeannie."

It's been a year since she lost her son. We'll talk some about that and a lot about her extraordinary career.

Speaking of extraordinary, yesterday, where they played the U.S. Open, BethPage, Long Island, New York, this man on your screen, Aaron Brown, shot 83!


KING: Nothing more to say. The floor is yours.

BROWN: That's it?

KING: That's it. BROWN: I don't get any of my main man. I don't get any of that tonight. I just...

KING: It speaks for itself. Eighty-three, where you shot 83, 13 strokes less than Tiger -- come on! More than Tiger!

BROWN: That's right. You got it.


BROWN: Thank you.

KING: You're welcome. Congratulations.




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