Thursday, 22 March 2007

John Edwards wife Elizabeth has recurrence of breast cancer

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I just finished watching the press conference held by John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards. Elizabeth stated that she had some tests earlier in the week that confirmed her breast cancer has metastasized to the bone.

John and Elizabeth said they will continue on with their campaign -- they seemed to have a very positive attitude. They are happy that the cancer is confined to the bone and has not spread to other organs in her body.

Being a breast cancer survivor, I know women who have been diagnosed with advanced disease. Many are living fulfilling lives even though they must always be on some form of treatment. At this day and age advanced breast cancer cannot be cured but can be successfully treated. There are many therapies available for Elizabeth.

I applaud her courage -- Elizabeth said "she wants to live next week the same way she lived last week." Its easy to crawl up in a ball, getting a Stage IV diagnosis is hard to take. Her husband said that no matter where he is or what he is doing he will be there for Elizabeth whenever she needs him.

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Soy improves metabolic syndrome

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Until recently, little evidence existed regarding the effects of soy consumption on the metabolic syndrome in humans. Researchers evaluated the effects of soy consumption on metabolic symdrome and found it improved glycemic control and lipid profiles in postmenopausal women.

The study evaluated the plasma lipids, lipoproteins, insulin resistance, and glycemic control in 42 postmenopausal women with the metabolic syndrome. Participants were randomly assigned to consume a control diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, DASH), a soy-protein diet, or a soy-nut diet, each for 8 weeks. Red meat in the DASH period was replaced by soy-protein in the soy-protein period and by soy-nut in the soy-nut period.

The soy-nut regimen decreased the insulin resistance score significantly compared with the soy-protein or control diets. Consumption of soy-nut also reduced fasting blood sugar significantly than did the soy-protein or control diet. The soy-nut regimen decreased LDL cholesterol more than did the soy-protein period and the control diet. Soy-nut consumption significantly reduced serum C-peptide concentrations compared with control diet but consumption of soy-protein did not.

Consumption of the soy-nut leg of the experiment significantly reduced C-peptide concentrations because it was evident that the diabetic women were not creating as much insulin to counter the sugar rise in their blood. C-peptide is ONLY present when your body is producing insulin. So can one logically deduce that naturally occurring insulin causes insulin resistance? Uh oh. Sounds like we've got a pickle of a situation happening here.

Tai Chi for Diabetes

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Tai Chi for Diabetes is easy to learn, effective and safe. It is designed to prevent and improve control of diabetes. The program will help to improve muscle strength, increase heart and lung activity, as well as improve balance and harmonize mind and body.

Gentle exercise helps people with diabetes by improving the control of blood glucose level. Tai chi is a gentle exercise with strong emphasis on mental relaxation, it is reasonable to assume tai chi can help to control diabetes by improving cellular uptake and glucose metabolism. Tai chi can also help mitigate the effects of stress, which is shown to make the control of diabetes worse. Tai chi reduces stress and improves relaxation.

The major problems of diabetes are complications such as hypertension, heart disease, visual impairment and vascular problem. Diabetes causes peripheral neuropathy, a condition that the nerves of feet are damaged thus affects balance and walking. Tai chi has been proven to be effective in improving balance and mobility.

The immense power of the mind has not been fully estimated. As one of the most effective mind-body exercise, Tai Chi teaches the student to be mindful of the intrinsic energy from which he or she can perceive greater self-control and empowerment. The mental training in Tai Chi will enhance clarity of the mind, improve relaxation and uplift mood.

The Tai Chi for Diabetes DVD costs $25. It includes 90 minutes of a general introduction of Tai Chi and diabetes, warm up and cooling down exercises, Qigong for Diabetes, 11 basic movements and 8 advanced movements. Viewers can learn different part at their own pace using the easy-to-learn and step-by-step instructions. If you prefer a less expensive option, you can order the Tai Chi for Diabetes Handbook for $10 or you can subscribe to the newsletter for free. Your budget, your decision.

Below I've included some feedback from people who have firsthand knowledge of Tai Chi for Diabetes. Here's what they have to say:

"I use your video a lot to perfect my technique, to check accuracy of movements, listen to instructions and recall various Tai Chi principles." Jana Solovka, Vic. Australia

"I have been practicing Tai Chi for over 20 years, and I have found no one that compares with Dr Lam - your presentation and expertise are what make the difference." Ted Stark, OR, USA

"The other day I was at the library and saw your video on the shelf... I was impressed with your presentation and the ease of following along. It is clearly one of the best Tai Chi instructional videos I have seen." Allan J. Glazer, DPM USA

Treating Honey Urine with Ancient Wisdom

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For thousands of years, Ayurveda has used meshashringi as a treatment for adult-onset diabetes, a condition once described as "honey urine". Meshashringi is a climbing plant that grows in the tropical forests of India and could be just the thing to combat high blood sugar.

Thousands of years ago, type 2 diabetes was treated with meshashringi. The plant's sugar-destroying property was released when a person chewed on one or two leaves. Meshashringi was said to "paralyse" a person's tongue to sweet and bitter tastes. This taste-blocking reaction lasted for several hours. Meshashringi blocked sugar in the digestive system, resulting in a decrease in blood sugar. This is known as a hypoglycemic effect. This action has been studied since the late 1930s.

Recent studies have shown that meshashringi helped control blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release from the beta cells. Meshashringi enhanced natural insulin production, which was evidenced by an increase in levels of C-peptide. C-peptide is the connecting peptide that is found along the amino acid chains in natural insulin (insulin produced in the islets). When insulin is cleaved apart, the connecting peptide disengages and floats off to preserve and protect the body's cells from microvascular damage resulting in diabetic complications like blindness, kidney disease, and neuropathy.

Another study found that 400 mg a day of meshashringi produced similar results for non insulin-dependent diabetics. Fasting blood glucose, A1c and glycosylated plasma protein were significantly reduced compared to baseline values after 18-20 months of treatment. By the end of the treatment period, cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and free fatty acid levels were also significantly reduced. It is possible that the blood sugar lowering effects of meshashringi are mediated through their cortisol inhibiting potency. Clinical trials have recorded the benefits of meshashringi in diabetic patients where 400 mg a day reduced insulini requirements by about 50% in insulin-dependent diabetics.

Hello? Did that study say I might be able to cut my daily insulin requirements in HALF? Where on Earth (besides the Saharan terrain of Africa and the jungles of India) can I find this green Goddess? Somebody clear the fog in my head - does India even have jungles? I'm not a Globe-trotter (not yet, anyway). Irrational fear of turbulance.

Pesticides may up risk of diabetes in pregnancy

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In Diabetes Care this month, researchers report that exposure to agricultural pesticides in the first-trimester increases a woman's risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.

Researchers assessed the risk of developing gestational diabetes following pesticide exposures among over 11,200 wives of farmers enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study. Within 25 years of entering the study, 4.5% of women who became pregnant reported having gestational diabetes. Overall, 57% of women reported having mixed or applied pesticides at some time in their life, and the proportion was similar for those with and without gestational diabetes mellitus. Women who mixed or applied pesticides or repaired pesticide-related equipment during the first trimester of pregnancy had a more than twofold increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. There was no increased gestational diabetes risk among women with residential exposures to pesticides or indirect exposures during the first trimester.

With the rate of diabetes diagnosis rising, whether it is type 1, type 2 or gestational - understanding the potential effects of environmental exposure on glucose levels is critical to comprehensively addressing the core problem. The jury is still out on deciphering what environmental offense should be sentenced for the crime.

Beware of food fads

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Each year the American Diabetic Association sponsors an informational campaign to promote healthy eating by providing practical nutrition guidance that focuses on the importance of developing sound eating and exercise habits. The theme for this year is 100 percent "Fad Free." The campaign features learning how to identify a food fad which is a food or diet fad that claims unreasonable or exaggerated benefits. If a diet or product advertises eating only specific foods, nutrient supplements or combinations of foods that may cure disease or offer quick weight loss, it is a fad. Diet fads come and go.

A balanced diet and physical activity are essential to a healthy lifestyle over the long term of your life. Develop an eating plan for the lifelong health. Choose foods sensibly by looking at the big picture because a single food or meal will not make or break a healthy diet. Find your balance between food and physical activity. Exercise does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial.

Where Do You Shop?

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Scarborough Research, the leading local market research firm for identifying consumer and retail behaviors in the United States, took the liberty of compiling a list of the top local markets selling diabetic medications in the last 12 months. A dubious distinction it may be, these locations burn like a flame for the moths of diabetes product resellers.

Knoxville, TN, Memphis, TN, and Columbus, OH round out the top 3 local markets for diabetes medication purchasers. The Scarborough analysis also finds that Walgreens is the number one national drug store brand among diabetes medication purchasers. More than 3.1 million, or 18%, of these consumers purchased prescription drugs at Walgreens during the past year. CVS (17%), Wal-Mart (16%), Rite Aid (8%), and Eckerd Drug (4%) complete the top national drug store brands among diabetes medication purchasers.

In Charleston, Wal-Mart is the top store among diabetes medication purchasers, as over one-quarter (27%) of these consumers purchased prescription drugs there during the past year. Rite-Aid (20%), CVS (14%), Fruth Pharmacy (8%), and Kroger (5%) are other leading stores among diabetes medication purchasers.

A Socially Responsible Super Hero to Fight Childhood Obesity

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Unless public health takes urgent measures, the Institute of Medicine warned in a report one in five children in the United States will be obese by the year 2010.

In response to this alarming message, Just Different Specialty Tea Company now offers Captain Teao's organic Tea for Kids - a calorie and caffeine free kid-friendly beverage. The tea is a refreshing drink that provides a healthy beverage option in the fight against childhood obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It is made with organic rooibos and is available in several flavors, such as: Very Vanilla, Orangie Orange, Lip Licking Lemon, Mango Madness and Peachy Keen Peach.

Captain Teao is the first character of his kind. He is a fictional, fun loving superhero who's on a mission to help kids fight the effects of childhood obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. While on his mission Captain Teao invented Tea for Kids as a great tasting, healthy and refreshing alternative to high calorie sodas and fruit juices. Unlike sodas and juices -- Tea for Kids contains no sugar or caffeine and is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Cheers to Captain Teao for brewing such a socially responsible message. Here here!

Workers exposed to some chemicals may increase stomach cancer risk

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An article recently published in the International Journal of Cancer says that airborne exposure to some occupational carcinogens appears to increase the risk of noncardia gastric cancer among men.

Noncardia gastric cancer refers to cancer that is in the middle or lower part of the stomach. Researchers from Sweden recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate potential occupational airborne exposures that may be associated with the risk of developing noncardia gastric cancer. This study included over 256,000 men with 200 different jobs.

Conclusions:

  • Workers exposed to cement dust has a 50 percent increased rate of noncardia gastric cancer
  • Workers exposed to quartz dust had a 30 percent increased rate of noncardia gastric cancer
  • Workers exposed to diesel exhaust has a 40 percent rate of noncardia gastric cancer
  • Exposure to asbestos, asphalt fumes, concrete dust, epoxy resins, isocyanates, metal fumes, mineral fibers, organic solvents, or wood dust did not appear to increase the risk of noncardia gastric cancers.

Men exposed to these airborne carcinogens may wish to speak with their physician regarding potential screening measures for noncardia gastric cancer.

Breast cancer surgery better at high-volume hospitals

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The American Journal of Public Health published a study that states women with early-stage breast cancer have a better survival if they undergo surgery at a hospital that performs large numbers of breast cancer surgeries.

To explore the link between hospital volume and breast cancer survival, researchers conducted a study among more than 11,000 Medicare beneficiaries who underwent surgery for Stage I or Stage II breast cancer. These surgeries were performed at 457 different hospitals in the United States.

Hospital volume of the number of breast cancer surgeries was defined as:

  • low volume -- zero to nineteen cases per year
  • medium volume -- twenty to thirty nine cases per year
  • high volume -- forty or more cases per year

Study participants were followed for roughly five years after surgery:

  • Compared to women treated at a low-volume hospital, women treated at a high-volume hospital were 17 percent less likely to die of any cause and 20 percent less likely to die of breast cancer.
  • Surgery at the high-volume hospital was linked with better survival among women with lymph-node negative cancer as well as among women with lymph node positive disease.

It appears that the treatment at a hospital that performs a greater number of breast cancer surgeries appears to result in better survival among women undergoing surgery for breast cancer.

Thought for the Day: It all seems so wrong

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Business is business. Maybe it's about making a difference in the world of consumers but mostly, it's about making money. I get that -- and if I owned my own company and offered some sort of product, surely my goal would be to reap a financial reward. And if I wanted to increase my reward, I guess I would consider new markets, new advertising, and new techniques for hauling in loads of cash.

So I see what's going on with the new Camel No. 9 cigarettes, in their hot-pink fuscia and minty-teal green packages with the slogan Light and Luscious. I understand this brand is targeting female smokers with enticing wording that Camel maker R.J. Reynolds executives say is meant to suggest dressed to the nines, putting on your best. I even get that it's a pretty savvy strategy. But somehow, it all seems so wrong.

In a world where more women die of lung cancer than breast cancer -- by a large margin -- how can anyone, even business people whose sights are set on profits, feel OK with the decision to encourage women to smoke?

Think about these passages that just recently published in a New York Times article:

Wall Street analysts praise the introduction of Camel No. 9, in regular and menthol flavors, as a further step by the R. J. Reynolds, a unit of Reynolds American, toward a new marketing strategy. The goal is to refocus on the biggest, most popular -- and most profitable -- brands, which include Kool as well as Camel.

"What we're about is giving adult smokers a choice," says one executive, "with products we believe are more appealing than existing products." The introduction of Camel No. 9 is part of plans to "focus on products that are 'wow,' " she added, "that add fun and excitement to the category."

Fun and excitement? Believe me, there's nothing fun and exciting about cancer. Now if I could only package that truth and market it to the world. I suspect I'd be a rich woman -- and I don't mean financially.

Electromagnetic fields not culprit in Australia cancer cluster

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An independent report revealed recently that women employed at the Toowong site of ABC's former Brisbane studios in Australia were six times more likely to develop breast cancer than other women.

The site has been vacated. And the hunt is on -- for the cause of this unusually high rate of the disease.

No luck yet -- but new findings, while not definitive on what has caused this cluster, do indicate exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) is not a factor -- because the low frequency fields at the site were typical of other workplaces and residences, without any such cancer cluster.

Further testing will take place in an attempt to solve this on-going mystery, chronicled in the posts that follow.

ABC journalists walk out over cancer cluster concerns

Breast cancer cluster closes ABC studios in Australia
Connecting the clues in Australia cancer cluster

Healthy living, Canyon Ranch style

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In April, I'm headed to Canyon Ranch, the world's most renowned health and wellness destination. In addition to day spas and residential communities in various U.S. cities, there are two resort locations -- one in Tucson, Arizona and one in Lenox, Massachusetts. This is the one I will visit.

My several-day stay at Canyon Ranch comes with a bit of a breast cancer twist, and I'll tell you all about it in a future post.

But right now, I want to offer up a few healthy living tips offered by the professionals at these luxurious getaways. Featured on the company's website, these tips might just get you motivated in a healthful direction.

Breathe

Proper, natural breathing can improve relaxation. When breathing deeply, imagine the new supply of oxygen flowing through your body. Remember to exhale slowly. This can help relax your body further. Breathing should never feel forced or unnatural.

Just Ducky

If you're looking for a quick lunchtime workout that leaves you office-ready or a convenient exercise routine that allows you to be good to go at a moment's notice, jump into the nearest swimming pool. Carolyn Collman, M.S., exercise physiologist and aquatic therapist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, says you can get in the swim without getting soaked. "Water exercises are the perfect solution for a high-efficiency, no-hassle workout for almost everyone. An older adult new to exercise or a sedentary person can benefit from it as much as an Olympic athlete and everyone in between," she says.

Fat-Free Isn't Sugar-Free


Many foods marketed as fat-free and low-fat are loaded with sugar. Learn to read food labels to determine whether the fat-free choice is really a healthy choice. Many products are replacing partially hydrogenated oils with sugar to compensate for lost flavor. The average person consumes twenty teaspoons of added sugar a day - that's 156 pounds a year!

You Are How Much You Eat


A recent study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has confirmed what Canyon Ranch has espoused for years: portion size directly impacts your weight. Using scales, measuring cups and spoons is a useful way of learning what a proper portion looks like. You can also use these common objects to help you visualize healthy portion sizes:
  • Palm of your hand or deck of cards for a portion of lean meat, chicken, or fish
  • One-inch cube (dice) for the portion of cheese
  • D-cell battery for a portion of dried fruit or salad dressing
  • Tennis ball for rice or potatoes
  • Large marshmallow for salad dressing
  • Ping-pong ball for the serving of nuts or nut butter
There's more where these came from. Go see for yourself. Or stop back here -- I promise to share more.
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Smoking responsible for most laryngeal cancers

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According to an article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, smoking is responsible for the majority of laryngeal cancer in Central Europe.

The majority of head and neck cancers are cancers of the larynx, or voice box. Central Europe has some of the highest incidence rates of laryngeal cancer in the world. Researchers are continuing to evaluate potential links between smoking and other environmental variables and the risk of laryngeal cancer.

Researchers from Europe recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate the potential role of both tobacco and alcohol in the development of this disease.

The study found:

  • Approximately 87 percent of laryngeal cancer is attributed to the use of tobacco
  • 75 percent of laryngeal cancer is attributed to current tobacco use
  • 12 percent is due to past tobacco use
  • Nearly 40 percent of laryngeal cancers are attributed to the interaction between alcohol and tobacco
  • Stopping smoking for five years or longer protected individuals against the development of laryngeal cancer
  • Alcohol use alone was not significantly associated with an increased risk of developing laryngeal cancer

The authors of the study states "Preventive efforts to encourage current smokers to quit are likely to be the most effective way to reduce the incidence of laryngeal cancer in this region"

Smoking away the years

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According to the American Cancer Society, smoking damages most organs in the human body and is linked to at least 10 different cancers. Smoking accounts for nearly 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Yet one in four Americans still lights up. So how many days are you taking away from the longevity of your life every time you light up.

According to studies on smokers, if you smoke 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 10 years you lose 2 years of your life. If you smoke 2 packs in 10 years time you lose 4 years. If you have smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years you lose 4 years off of your life and if you smoke 2 packs a day in 20 years you lose 9 years off of your life.

You are just as much at risk if you are breathing second hand smoke. Make the commitment today to quit smoking and live longer or help someone you love give up the habit that strips away years of their lives.

Within Our Grasp, Or Slipping Away?

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Within Our Grasp, Or Slipping Away? Assuring a New Era of Scientific and Medical Progress is a twenty one page report written by Johns Hopkins University and seven other institutions.

These institutions petitioned Congress not to let biomedical research funding stagnate. The scientists say that funding for cancer, Alzheimer's disease and spinal cord injury research is not keeping up with the times.

The scientists argued years of stagnant budgets for the National Institute of Health interrupted promising research and drove young investigators into other careers.

"Warning bells should be sounding loudly in Congress and among the public, " said Edward Miller, Hopkins dean and CEO. "The world's premier biomedical research engine is at risk"

Currently, eight of ten research grant applications are going unfunded, according to the report and principal investigators are spending more time raising funds instead of conducting research.

Vitamin C may lower the risk of mouth cancer

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Increased intake of vitamin C from the diet, but not from supplements may slash the risk of mouth cancer by 48 percent, says an epidemiological study.

The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, used data on supplement use and diet for 42,340 men in the Health Professional Follow-Up Study. During the course of the study, 207 oral pre-malignant lesions were documented.

Vitamin C from dietary sources was significantly associated with a reduced risk of mouth cancer, but no association with the vitamin from supplements was found.

Vitamin C is needed to form collagen, a tissue that helps to hold cells together. It's essential for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels. It helps the body absorb iron and calcium, aids in wound healing and contributes to brain function.

You can find high levels of vitamin C in red berries, kiwi, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and juices made from guava, grapefruit and orange.

Recipe for Healthy Living: Spinach and fruit salad

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Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color provide more nutrients and vitamins than any other food. Spinach carotenoid combats cancer. Here is a healthy spinach salad good enough for any lunch main course.

Vicki's Spinach Salad with Fruit.
Fresh baby spinach leaves
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 celery stalk thinly sliced
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup chopped fresh apple
1/2 cup chopped fresh pear
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 hard boiled eggs sliced
6 strips crispy cooked bacon crumbled

Vicki's Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives

Toss all of the salad ingredients except the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the ingredients for the salad dressing and drizzle over the salad and lightly toss again. Top with the sliced hard boiled eggs.
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Colorectal cancer and liver metastasis

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Patients who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver are usually treated with resection of the colorectal cancer, followed by chemotherapy and then have another surgery to resect the disease from the liver.

The Society of Surgical Oncology's 60Th Annual Cancer Symposium in Washington, D.C. presented information that this might not be the best approach or strategy for some patients.

Patients with minor liver involvement, resection of the colorectal cancer and the liver cancer can be surgically removed at the same time, involving one surgical procedure, safely.

Dr. Bryan M Clary, from Duke University Medical Center, says "These days, there is a more liberal definition of what is resectable. If all clinically evident disease can be removed, while leaving that person with enough liver tissue that it can function, that in general is the standard definition of resectable for healthy patients."

Dr. Clary estimates that about half of patients with colorectal and liver tumors may be good candidates for simultaneous surgery. however, he cautions, a multidisciplinary center is required that includes medical and surgical oncologists skilled in colorectal surgery, as well as surgeons specialized in liver surgery.

The ABC's of vitamins

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As a breast cancer survivor, being done with treatments, I wanted to start taking vitamins, eat better and try and protect my body from other kinds of cancer. I found out that taking vitamin supplements was not a good idea when going through chemotherapy as it can react with the drugs and potentially interrupt their action.

After treatments were over I asked my oncologist if I should take this or that supplement that I read about for cancer. He explained to me that there was no scientific proof that taking all these vitamins would protect me. He did suggest a daily vitamin and that would be all I needed.

At this time I'm actually taking Flintstones Chewable tablets! At 36 years old this might sound odd but all you have to do is read the back of the label and see so many important vitamins listed. Its not just for kids, and I do enjoy the fun shapes -- who am I going to get today --Wilma, Fred? exciting stuff.

Seriously though, I have been reading a lot lately about how supplements are not doing the trick and the only way to really get these important nutrients and vitamins is to eat the real thing.

So here are some vitamins we are familiar with, what they do and how you can get the good sources and high levels in the food we find at the supermarket:

  • Vitamin A -- prevents eye problems, promotes a healthy immune system, is essential for the growth and development of cells, and keeps skin healthy. Good sources of vitamin A are milk, eggs, liver, fortified cereals, darkly colored orange or green veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and kale. Orange fruits such as cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, papayas, and mangos.
  • Vitamin C -- needed to form collagen, a tissue that helps to hold cells together. Its essential for healthy bones, teeth, gums and blood vessels. It helps the body absorb iron and calcium, aid in would healing, and contributes to brain function. You'll find high levels of vitamin C in red berries, kiwi, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and juices made from guava, grapefruit and orange.
  • Vitamin D -- strengthens bones because it helps the body absorb bone-building calcium. This vitamin is unique, your body manufactures it when you get sunlight on your skin. You can also get vitamin D from egg yolks, fish oils, and fortified foods like milk.
  • Vitamin E -- an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage. It is also important for the health of red blood cells. Vitamin E is found in many foods, such as vegetable oils, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Avocados, wheat germ and whole grains are also good sources.
  • Vitamin B12 -- Helps to make red blood cells, and is important for nerve cell function. It is naturally found in fish, red meat, poultry, milk, cheese and eggs. Its also added to some breakfast cereals.
  • Vitamin B6 -- Important for normal brain function. Its also helps the body break down proteins and make red blood cells. A wide variety of foods contain vitamin B6, including potatoes, bananas, beans, seeds, nuts, red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, spinach, and fortified cereals.

I'm going to fill my day with as much greens, veggies and fruits, knowing that the vitamins and nutrients are coming from the real source. I will still take my Flintstones too, in case I miss any important vitamins since the jury is still out on how helpful supplements really are.

Mesothelioma in the news

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I read two articles that I wanted to share about mesothelioma. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer that develops in the tissue that covers the lungs and lines the interior of the chest. It is often caused by chronic exposure to asbestos.

Patients with this disease have a decreased quality of life due to symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, pain, fatigue, and the inability to eat. One of the scariest parts about this disease is that it can be resistant to most therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

A press release from Alfacell Corporation says that the addition of a drug called Onconase (ranpirnase) to Adriamycin improves survival over Adriamycin alone in patients that have operable mesothelioma. Onconase targets cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. It is taken into the cancerous cell where it kills the cell through various processes. Onconase is not yet proved by the FDA in the United States.

A clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the addition of Onconase to Adriamycin compared to Adriamycin alone. The trial included a total of 143 patients. At one year 47 percent of patients treated with Onconase/Adriamycin were alive compared to 36 percent of patients treated with Adriamycin alone.

The researchers feel that the drug improves outcomes when given with Adriamycin. This trial was a Phase IIIb trial which means it could be up for FDA approval in the near future.

The second article that I read was recently published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. According to the article treatment with Alimta (pemetrixed) with or without Platinol (cisplatin) provides benefit with malignant mesothelioma who have received prior treatment therapies.

This research was focused on recurrent mesothelioma. Optimal treatment strategies that will improve long-term outcomes for patients with recurrent mesothelioma continue to be evaluated. A Phase III trial was conducted to evaluate treatment including Alimta or Alimta/cisplatin. The trial included 187 patients.

Anticancer responses were achieved in 32.5 percent of patients treated with Alimta/cisplatin compared with 5.5 percent for patients treated with Alimta alone.

The researchers conclude that this is a challenging disease. I bring this information in hopes that anyone diagnosed with is disease can have some information to bring to their physicians to discuss further.

Thought for the Day: Headed for melanoma

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Oh no. I think I 'm headed for melanoma. At the very least, I seem to have a very high risk for developing the disease, thanks to my once-stubborn pursuit of a silly tan.

Think about this:

A review of seven different studies concludes that using a tanning bed under the age of 35 -- I'm so guilty -- can increase the risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Even those who have ever used indoor tanning were 15 percent more likely to develop the disease.

We're talking the deadliest form of skin cancer here. So deadly some experts are recommending strong measures to restrict the use of tanning beds by young people. Adults should be discouraged from tanning, some say, but access should be limited for those under the age of 18.

New Jersey already has regulations in place -- those under 14 are banned from tanning salons and anyone between 14 and 18 must have parental consent.


If I could turn back time, I would listen to my grandma. She told me the sun -- and tanning beds too -- were no good. But I was young. And I didn't care.

Now I'm older. And I care. But it may be too late. It seems this could be one lesson I learn the hard way.

Son of Denver Nuggets coach battles cancer

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Boise State basketball player Coby Karl, son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, had surgery 13 months ago to remove his thyroid after he was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma, a form of treatable cancer. And while Karl received chemotherapy to kill off any lingering cancer cells, he must undergo cancer surgery once again.

Karl, who plans to play in the NABC All-Star game in Atlanta on March 31, will return to Boise on April 2 for surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes.

The lymph node cancer was identified in January, but Karl, 23, kept his condition private until his team lost to New Mexico State in the Western Athletic Conference tournament semifinals. This ended the Broncos' season. And now begins Karl's second go-round with cancer.

You may remember Karl as one of last year's NBA draft hopefuls. He worked out for three teams, including his dad's team, but eventually withdrew his name from the draft and returned to Boise State for his senior year.

Prostate cancer survivor debuts film about his disease

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One man. One cancer diagnosis. One feature-length film. About how 17,000 men gain membership every month in a group this one man calls, The Men's Club.

The man is Rocky Galgano. He is 58 years old. He is a retired police officer. And he happens to be a member of the very club he features in his film -- a club full of men living with prostate cancer.

Galgano created his documentary as a companion to all the densely-written books and resources he found filled to the brim with medical jargon about a disease that will strike 218,890 and kill 27,050 men this year alone.

Men are reluctant to talk about prostate cancer or get tested for the disease, says Galgano. And yet this form of cancer can be cured if caught early. So Galgano stepped to the plate and started talking. He talks about his personal experience, and he talks about different types of treatment. He has nine different doctors talk. He has cancer survivors talk. And he says he wants as many people as possible to see this film.

Galgano is working on distribution and says he's close to a deal with Amazon.com. He also plans to market the not-yet-rated film to urologists across the country, and he will soon sell his masterpiece -- a trailer can be seen here -- on his website for $19.95.
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Thought for the Day: Young women get breast cancer

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OK, we all know young women get breast cancer. But the way some talk about the pair -- young women and the deadly disease -- it would seem finding a young one living with this type of cancer is like locating that needle in a haystack. Many a young woman -- like me -- have heard doctors and nurses and technicians and family and friends remark, "you are too young for the disease," and then dismiss cancer suspicions as needless worry.

The median age for women diagnosed with breast cancer is 65. But think about this fact, published in the Spring/Summer edition of Beyond: Live & Thrive After Breast Cancer.

More than 240,000 women in the United States age 40 and under are living with breast cancer. Each year in this country, more than 14,000 women 40 years old and younger are diagnosed with breast cancer, says Boston oncologist Ann Partridge, M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

That's a lot of young women. That's a lot of breast cancer. And yet, mammograms still are not recommended for women under the age of 40.
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Sweet victory for NC State coach Kay Yow

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Ever since Kay Yow returned from a 16-game leave of absence for cancer treatment, her North Carolina State women's basketball team has won 12 of their last 14 games. And now the Wolfpack is headed for the Sweet 16 -- after beating Baylor in overtime -- where the fourth-seeded team will play Connecticut on March 24 in Fresno.

This will be the first trip to the NCAA tournament in 16 years for Hall of Fame coach Yow who is battling breast cancer for the third time. First diagnosed with the disease in 1987, Yow had a recurrence during the 2004-05 season. And now this season too.

Yow, still enduring treatment and still working hard on the court, credits her team for their sweet victory.

"I know they want to win for me in that sense," she says. "I really am grateful and appreciate the fact that they do, but I think they're a real team. I think they can play with that kind of spirit every time they go out."

To read previous posts about coach Kay Yow, click here.

Think skin cancer's nothing serious? You're dead wrong

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This comment just arrived in response to yesterday's post Headed for melanoma, and it's just too raw and powerful to leave buried in the comment section of the site.

So here it is, word for word -- a chilling and empowering message from a 37-year-old mom of two living with a disease that is downright deadly.

I have melanoma. I was diagnosed last August and have had 6 surgeries in 6 months.

I have lost 4 members in my melanoma support group. I go to Jaime's funeral tomorrow afternoon. She was 29 years old. Heather was 37 when she died on March 2, 2007. The midwife noticed a suspicious mole on her leg during the birth of her 4th child. She died 23 months later. Jan was a mother of 5 ages 9 to 19, she passed away on February 8, 2007. Ceri was only 20 years old when melanoma claimed her life on January 14, 2007.

I always thought skin cancer had to be HUGE, ugly, and hard to ignore. I didn't know it could be small, have no symptoms, and KILL you.

Melanoma incidence is increasing faster than any other cancer. According to statistics found on the American Cancer Society's website (www.cancer.org), the prognosis for someone diagnosed with melanoma is worse, stage for stage, than someone with breast cancer.

Getting more than 3 blistering sunburns during childhood doubles your risk. Sunbed use increases ones risk. Having fair skin and light eyes also puts you at a higher than average risk, but having dark skin does not make you immune. Bob Marley died from Melanoma in 1981.

Everyone at higher risk should get screened by a dermatologist every year. And all of us should be checking our own skin each month.

Melanoma is a virulent and aggressive cancer. It begins in the melanocytes, or the pigment in the skin. It presents itself as a change in an existing mole or skin pigment, or in the formation of a new one. It is easily treated in its most early stages. Once it spreads, though, it is often fatal.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for melanoma. Melanoma is one of the cancers that won't respond to conventional chemotherapy. There have been no significant advances in the medical treatment or survival rate in the last 30 years.

More awareness is needed. Most think "it's only skin cancer" and consider it nothing serious. But I can tell you with absolute certainty, they are DEAD wrong.
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John Edwards holds press conference about wife's health

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Democratic presidential candidate and former North Carolina senator John Edwards missed an Iowa campaign event on Tuesday so he could be with his wife as she prepared for a medical appointment the following morning.

Elizabeth Edwards, diagnosed with breast cancer just before the 2004 election, when her husband ran for vice president, has survived chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation and has written a book -- Saving Graces -- about her entire journey.

Edwards' campaign crew has insisted Wednesday's appointment was a routine follow-up to a medical visit his wife had the day before and that Elizabeth Edwards, 57, has been living cancer-free.

Today at noon, Edwards will hold a press conference about his wife's health and how it may -- or may not -- affect his candidacy.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Survivor Spotlight: Alese Coco is fighting 2 win

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Alese was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease when she was seventeen years old. This was back in November of 2001 and Alese has been fighting this disease on and off since that time.

After her initial treatment of the standard chemotherapy regimen for Hodgkin's, Alese had her first recurrence after only four months. Alese then received a stem cell transplant in December of 2002 and she was cancer free for two years. On November 18, 2004 it was found that Alese had another recurrence of Hodgkin's.

I have been reading Alese's journal on her blog called Alese Coco Fight 2 Win. She is a courageous young women. You can read her story here, it is very inspirational.

It has been a scary weekend since Alese's family were told that they might have to start making 'end of life' decisions. Alese was having many complications from her disease that it was threatening to take her life. Thankfully, it seems things are looking better this morning. Check out her journal and if you like leave an encouraging message!

Video Game Fitness Craze

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Who would've thought that the same company who gave rise to Super Mario Brothers would transform a generation into virtual athletes? And I know what you're thinking - don't even try to turn this video gaming habit into a banner health campaign. Hold the phone, sister. Read on and you'll see what Nintendo has done.

The calorie-carnage begins with a wireless remote -- like a piece of sporting equipment. In fact this wireless piece is your symbolic tennis racket, baseball bat or golf club. Players use the momentum of their body movements to engage a sensor placed on top of the television. The freebie games that come with Nintendo Wii are: tennis, golf, baseball, and even boxing. Of course the games to choose from are as far as the imagination can stretch. You can even pay to download the good old games like Super Mario Brothers and other hits from back in the day. The gaming actively involves movement of the biceps, shoulders, core and even the legs. All of this, of course, happens in the comfort and privacy of home, which means users of any age or skill level can hit the virtual court, diamond or links anytime.

In a study of 25 kids 8 to 12 years old, researcher Lorraine Lanningham-Foster at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, found that kids playing active video games (Sony's EyeToy and Konami's Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2) expended roughly double the energy of kids playing sedentary video games.

Wii has attracted a devoted following, including 26-year-old Mickey DeLorenzo, of South Philadelphia. The multimedia developer quickly attained cultural hero status by blogging the results of his 30-minute-a-day Wii exercise regimen. DeLorenzo, who lost 9 pounds between Dec. 3 and Jan. 15 just by playing Wii games.

If you're still curious what the game looks like in action take a moment to watch a crafty commercial Nintendo put together. The theme of the commercial is: Wii would like to play. Enjoy!

A Clue to the Rise in Type 1 Diabetes

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Thousands of pre-school age children are being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as new figures show a dramatic rise over the past 20 years.

Between 1985 and 2004, the study conducted by Bristol University, has seen an increase in cases of type 1 diabetes in children under the age of 5 five times the previous average. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the body fails to produce insulin or makes only a little. One of the theories leading to the rise in type 1 diabetes is due to infants being exposed to exorbitantly clean households. The researchers found that incidence in all children under 15 had doubled. But the incidence of type 1 diabetes in children under the age of five went from .2 cases per 1,000 to 1 case per thousand.

The hypothesis offered by Prof Bingley leads to a very good argument. He said, "the increase is too steep to be put down to genetic factors, so it must be due to changes in our environment. This could mean that we are being exposed to something new or that we have reduced exposure to something that was previously controlling our immune responses". Much like the denouement in a game of CLUE: perhaps it was Mr. Clean, with the mop, in the kitchen!

This Keynote Sounds Great!

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On March 13, 2007, former President Bill Clinton joined global leaders to discuss ways to break the curve of the diabetes pandemic. The Global Changing Diabetes Leadership Forum held in New York City was hosted by Novo Nordisk and supported by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Yes, when people of this magnitude get together - you know it's serious business!

The forum convened the Masters of the Healthcare Universe to discuss ways to make diabetes a global health priority and ultimately, improve the way the disease is treated. The attendees were policymakers, patient organizations and healthcare professionals. It is estimated that 1 in 3 American children born in 2000 and beyond will develop type 2 diabetes. Worldwide, an estimated 246 million people have diabetes, and the number is expected to grow to 380 million within the next 20 years. A resolution today could prevent this harrowing disaster of tomorrow.

The Global Changing Diabetes Leadership Forum hopes to redefine healthcare around the needs of people with diabetes. Novo Nordisk has recognized that there is not a single answer to the diabetes pandemic. They seek to identify multiple actions to combat diabetes - from prevention to the treatment of serious complications. Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and CEO of Novo Nordisk says, . "Only by placing the person with diabetes at the center of care and changing how healthcare systems around the world approach the disease can this silent killer be defeated."

Novo Nordisk anticipates hosting a 2-day forum with this goal in mind. The forum will entail influential figures from around the world, participating in a series of workshops and dialogues designed to evoke a provocative debate about how to chart a course for changing diabetes management globally. For further details on the UN Resolution, please visit the unite for diabetes site.

Disrobing the Culprit of Vitamin D3 Deficiency

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Could it be that social evolution has made vitamin D deficiency a necessary evil? Studies have shown favorable effects on insulin secretion and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients who received vitamin D3 supplementation.

The study evaluated 10 females with type 2 diabetes. The patients enrolled in the study treated their diabetes with oral medications. The study was conducted in March, when levels of vitamin D are lowest due to lack of sunlight. A group of 17 females with normal glucose tolerance served as a control group. The diabetic patients were treated for a month with vitamin D3. After the month, the patient's receiving vitamin D3 had increased their insulin secretion levels significantly by 34.3%. The results showed a decrease of 21.4% in insulin resistance after one month of vitamin D3 supplementation.

Back in the day, our ancestors would have full body exposure to the sun throughout the year. Nowadays, that number has been reduced to a mere 5% with only our face and hands acting as a welcome mat for the sun. A major source of vitamin D is its production in our skin as a result of UV exposure from sunlight. Lest we not take Mother Nature's generosity for granted. Everybody looks good with a little color. It'll look even better when your A1c drops as your sun-kissed glow picks up. If all else fails - you can always run off to a nudist colony where social reservations and clothing are optional!

Diabetes and Relationships

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Thanks to dLife, a whole page of insightful advice is available to help decrypt the otherwise ambiguous code of making it work when it comes to diabetes and relationships.

Combining diabetes with a romantic partnership can be a delicate balance. Living with it is one thing, but what about if you are the partner of a person with diabetes? It seems to take superhuman strength to survive the disease alone. Thanks to the good folks at dLife-- you can read more about diabetes and making it a healthy part of your relationship.

Questions that plague couples faced with diabetes are intuitively answered by relationship experts. For example:

How can a couple overcome the communication quagmire when one of you has it and both of you live with it?

A priceless perspective is offered by Amy Tenderich (a type 1 diabetic journalist) as she ponders what life may be like for our partners and loved ones.

Or learn about the secrets of living and loving with diabetes.

Last but not least, read an excerpt from the dLife bookshelf about diabetes and intimacy.

With so much to offer, and so much to give - hopefully you will gain something from dLife on Diabetes and Relationships. In turn, perhaps you will have more to share with your loved ones to mitigate the affects diabetes imposes on loved ones.

Still unknown but not so significant

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The doctor who read my mammogram and ultrasound results today is the same doctor who detected in my recent MRI something of unknown significance. Today, the unknown remains. But the significance is not so significant.

This doctor saw an unusual pattern of tissue in my right breast when she viewed my Friday MRI results, some sort of enhancement she didn't see in the left breast or on the MRI I had a year ago. But today's mammogram looked good and today's ultrasound did too. So I guess if three different imaging tests don't turn up anything truly suspicious and there doesn't appear to be anything to biopsy, then all is well. For now.

All that must be determined now is when I will report back for more screening to chart the state of the dense breast tissue that keeps me on my toes.

Another bullet dodged. Another day in the life of a worried breast cancer girl.
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Writing can promote healing after cancer

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When you are diagnosed with cancer you may experience an array of different emotions --fear, anxiety, depression, anger, worry and many others. Some cancer patients or survivors may feel alone or unable to talk to friends or family members about how they are really feeling.

Research has suggested that writing can help with the healing process after cancer. Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) is hosting a networking meeting for women affected by breast cancer called Healing with words: Writing the Breast Cancer Experience.

Alysa Cummings, MLS, CPT, of Pink Ribbon Poetry, will explain how women affected by breast cancer can use writing to heal. Attendees will hear a presentation by members of Pink Ribbon Poetry. Following the presentation, attendees can choose to share in a poetry therapy group and learn about online resources for writing their stories.

The networking meeting will be held on April 26, 2007, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Cherry Hill Library in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. A light dinner and refreshments will be available after the networking event. To register for this free event, visit LBBC's website or call the office at 610-645-4567.

It does not matter what kind of cancer you have been diagnosed with, this therapy can work for anyone, you can take advantage of writing in a journal in your own home. It can help heal your mind on so many levels. Try it out. You will be pleasantly surprised at the release it can give you.