Thursday, 12 April 2007

Kick it up a notch!!

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In a landmark study on the effects of cinnamon pre-diabetic subjects, researchers from The Ohio Research Group discovered that regularly using this spice (it is a spice, right? I mean, I keep it with my spices. I have no idea, I'm a guy) significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and systolic blood pressure.

Specifically, the researchers found a cinnamon extract known as Cinnulin-PF to be the most effective in doses of 500mg per day. Perhaps the most impressive part of the study (also the part that makes it different from other diabetes related studie on cinnamon), which was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN), was that the positive effects Cinnulin had on blood sugar, blood pressure and overall body composition occurred without changes in diet or exercise.

So, the next time you order your drink or choice, or even want to add some flavor to a whole grain cereal, be sure to reach for this blood sugar and heart healthy additive.

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Lack of insurance may increase risk of cardiovascular disease

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California and a few other states may be onto something with their push for universal health care coverage. Frankly, in a country as wealthy as our own, it's almost embarrassing that some citizens must sometimes forgo medical procedures and routine physical exams solely because they cannot afford to pay for it.

I'm not just venting here, either. Research into this very topic has revealed an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In the April issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center published information related to the "insurance deterrent" (as I like to call it), a pervasive problem facing the U.S.

The fear of mounting medical bills oftentimes causes some uninsured people to opt against going in for something as standard as a routine physical. The result: Blood pressure could be high, diabetes could be an issue, cholesterol levels may also be through the roof -- but, that person doesn't have a clue that these risk factors are in play.

The study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine highlights the statistically significant relationship between a lack of health insurance and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. You can read it, and get pissed off about it, here:

Partners of cancer survivors may be suffering in silence

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Partners of cancer survivors may be at risk for depression and are susceptible to the same stresses as cancer survivors themselves, says a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study showed that similar numbers of partners and survivors show signs of clinical depression, but partners were less likely to receive mental health treatment. Previous research has found that partners of cancer patients can experience as much anxiety, distress and depression as the patients themselves.

Michelle M. Bishop, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor and the study's lead author says "We need to acknowledge that cancer occurs in the context of a family that is profoundly affected by the experience, and that needs intervention for their own well-being".

Irreconcilable Differences - I'm Divorcing the ADA

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The Wall Street Journal posted an interesting story about a man who needed a drug to treat his ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. He could not get the funding for a large scale trial to approve the drug. I empathize, completely! See that picture of the Hulk? That's me. I'm angry. You won't like me when I'm angry.

As a type 1 diabetic, my concern for improving the lives of people affected by diabetes involves preventing and reversing the complications associated with the disease. The American Diabetes Association states the same somewhere in their mission statement. Ok ADA, put MY money where YOUR 501(C)3 is!!

When I called the American Diabetes Association and shared my excitement for the C-peptide treatment in human trials (in Sweden) reversing type 1 diabetic complications - I was floored when I heard their response.

Allie B: Can the American Diabetes Association please encourage a big pharmaceutical company to sponsor these trials here in the United States? The results in Sweden have conclusively shown reversal of complications associated with type 1 diabetes.

Mat P at the American Diabetes Association: The topic of C-peptide is very sexy in scientific forums. BUT - we don't like to tell big pharmaceutical companies what to do with their money because we don't like them to tell us what to do with ours.

Allie B (in my head): WHAT THE F%^&*)(*&^%$F do you DO as an organization to improve the lives of people affected by diabetes if you are not going to push for trials to prevent and arrest complications associated with the disease?

I'm afraid the American Diabetes Association and I do not share the same goals any longer. It was a long marriage, over 21 years - but I want a divorce. The largest diabetic organization in the United States is not willing to assist in getting a trial underway to prevent and reverse complications that could affect 2 million type 1 diabetics and between 2 and 4 million type 2 diabetics injecting insulin (without C-Peptide).

I didn't feel this way until I realized how disconnected their perception of diabetes is from the reality of the disease. What do you think?

A Knockout Cure for Diabetes

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Hold on to your seats, folks. This story is pretty controversial but fascinating enough to make an appearance on Prime Time television 2x tonight on the evening news! A treatment involving the annihilation of the immune system, followed by a period of rebuilding the immune system is being tested in Brazil as a cure for type 1 diabetes.

The patients involved were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and between the ages of 14 to 31 years old. The 15 diabetics were treated at a bone marrow center at the University of Sao Paulo. Timing is key in this method of therapy because if you wait too long - the window of opportunity where the body's ability to repair itself closes. The procedure involves stimulating the body to produce new stem cells and harvesting them from the patient's blood. Next comes several days of high-dose chemotherapy, which shuts down the patient's immune system. This also stops destruction of the few remaining insulin-producing cells in the body. This requires hospitalization and potent drugs to fend off infection. The harvested stem cells, when injected back into the body, build a new healthier immune system that does not attack the insulin-producing cells. Patients were hospitalized for about three weeks. Many had side effects including nausea, vomiting and hair loss.

For the record (and the Freedom of Information Act) the study was partly funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Genzyme Corp. and a maker of blood sugar monitoring products.

Hotlines are Open -- Call NOW!

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"Cure. Care. Commitment. These are the words we live by at the American Diabetes Association."

Blah, blah, blah......Those are the words you will hear when you call the ADA hotline and tell them their indifference and apathetic resolve to push for C-peptide trials is atrocious. (If you choose to do so, of course -- details to follow.)

After I blogged yesterday about the ADA colossal let-down -- I neglected to tell you how we can lend guidance to the ADA mission. It is apparent they do not know how to make good use of their 501(c)3 for the sake of cure, care and commitment to diabetes. No worries, ADA - millions of diabetics are here to help you understand our needs.

Contact the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES and tell them:

ALLIE BEATTY of The Diabetes Blog told us that you were NOT going to encourage your big pharmaceutical sponsors to start clinical trials for C-peptide. We need this to prevent and reverse complications from the disease...

From there the floor is yours to proceed. Their hours of operation are Monday - Friday, 8:30 AM - 8 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Please call and tell them you want C-peptide. When labs began making insulin they didn't make it with C-peptide. You want it! You deserve it! But most importantly -- you need it!

Thought for the Day: Breast cancer rates down in 2007

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It didn't register right away. But not long after I finished doing some research yesterday on breast cancer screening tools did I realize the statistics on breast cancer incidence have changed for 2007. Not only did they change -- they're moving in exactly the right direction.

Think about this:

The American Cancer Society reports that 178,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2007. This number was 212,920 in 2006. Deaths by breast cancer -- there were 40,970 in 2006 -- will number 40,910 this year.

Just as it had become second nature for me to rattle off 200,000 as the general number of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year, I must learn a new number. I love it.

FDA needs more time with Wyeth kidney cancer drug

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will take an additional three months to review Wyeth's kidney cancer drug Torisel -- the first of five new medications the company plans to introduce this year.

The FDA needs more time to investigate data on tumor growth in patients taking Torisel. If all goes well, the drug will be one of only three to effectively hold off incurable kidney cancer. The other two drugs are Pfizer's Sutent and Bayer AG's Nexavar.

Robert Ruffolo, president of Wyeth Research, says he is encouraged by the review process so far. And he is optimistic about launching the product in late 2007.

Studies show Torisel, which will cost patients about $30,000 per year, prolonged survival by 50 percent in those faring poorly with kidney cancer. The sickest kidney-cancer patients were essentially kept alive for 10.9 months, compared with 7.3 months with interferon drugs. Torisel also postponed tumor growth for 5.5 months. This is 77 percent longer than with interferon.

Sutent and Nexavar, both on the market since last year, also slow tumor growth. All three kidney-cancer medicines are of the variety that block the growth of cancer cells -- different from standard chemotherapy which kills tumors and harms nearby tissues too.

Wyeth is relatively new to the oncology market. And soon, the company hopes to launch three more cancer drugs. One, called CMC-544, treats non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Another, SKI-606, is for chronic myelogenous leukemia. And the third, HKI-272, is for breast cancer.

About 51,000 Americans will be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year.

Life, absolutes, and frogs

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Life has no guarantees. No one ever promises we'll sail easily through life, fall into the lap of a loving family, find the love of our lives, land a good and stable job, and have the perfect number of children, houses, cars, and toys.

That brings me to health. No guarantees here either. No one ever predicted I would get cancer. But I did. And while maybe it's a blessing I had no advance warning, the future would certainly be much more clear if it came with absolutes. It sure would be nice -- even now, 36 years into my life -- to hear the words: you will absolutely never get cancer -- again.

As soon as Joey hopped in the car after school today, he looked at his little brother and announced, "If you have two frogs and one more comes along, then you have three."

Joey is in kindergarten, and he is learning math -- specifically, he's learning to add. That's it. Adding, and nothing more. I know this because I followed his frog announcement with, "What if you have two frogs and you take one away?"

"That won't happen," Joey declared.

"Why?" I asked.

"It just won't," he assured me.

For Joey, life has absolutes. He is absolutely certain there is nothing more to the frog equation than what he knows on this very day. Fortunately for him, the mechanics of math -- and of life -- will unfold slowly. And it won't be a shock when he learns frogs can actually be taken away. I just hope he isn't blindsided by all the other unpredictabilities that await him. I guess that's why he has parents -- to prepare him for the uncertain events of the world.

Joey loves math. I'm glad. Because in the craziness of life, he can fall back on the comfort of numbers -- where there actually are a few absolutes. After all, if you have two frogs and one more comes along, then you have three. There's no way around that one.
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Fred Thompson announces he is in remission from lymphoma

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Fred Thompson, actor and former United States Senator from Tennessee, made the announcement today that he was diagnosed with lymphoma a few years ago and now is in remission.

Thompson added to that announcement that he was considering running in the 2008 Presidential Election. He stated today on Fox News, "I have had no illness from it, or even any symptoms. I am in remission, and it is very treatable with drugs if treatment is needed in the future -- and with no debilitating side effects".

You can find Thompson playing a district attorney Arthur Branch on the NBC drama Law and Order.

Thought for the Day: Cancer goes on. So does life.

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Cancer goes on. So does life. Just ask Mary Ann O'Rourke, author of a beautiful essay about her two sons, a baseball game, a redecorating project, and a little thing called breast cancer.

The essay, titled My cancer, and me, go on, will warm your heart.

Think about this:

About boys:

On a misty June morning I tell the boys.

"Guys, I have some bad news," I say, as we walk down Valley Road.

They stop, wait for me to catch up.

"I have breast cancer," I say.

Jack flashes me a steely look. He's the mathematician, the calculating one who likes order. Things aren't adding up.

"It's OK, though." I say. "I have good doctors taking care of me. I'll have to get sick to get better, but I'll be fine after that."

With lowered heads, the boys hold a polite and deferential silence. We continue our walk.

"Jack, you wanna build a fort?" Joe asks.

"No, Joe," Jack replies. "We're playing baseball, remember?"

About baseball:

Sunny and 70 degrees, a gentle breeze is blowing in from Lake Michigan as we settle into our bleacher seats. My husband, Leo, passes down two Cokes, a beer and a Wrigley Field visor to protect me from the sun.

The Cubs lead in the ninth inning when Milwaukee's left fielder cranks one over our heads onto Sheffield Avenue to bring in the winning run for the Brewers. Jack and Joe lean over the railing and watch Sammy Sosa shake his head in disgust.

The beer tastes bitter. I had started chemotherapy a week earlier.

About redecorating:

I'm drawn to a loose seam of wallpaper in the corner of the room. I peel off a long, satisfying swath. I move from panel to panel, stripping all that comes easy. I feel the wall, scrape with my fingernails, yank hard and viscously, over and over.

I'm learning the sad truth about wallpaper. The battle is not so much with the paper, as it is with the glue underneath. Even with DIF, the paste comes off slowly, in tiny wads of goo. I scrape feverishly, angrily at one stubborn patch. As I gouge the wall, the razor pops out of my hand, flips upside down and slices my right wrist.

About breast cancer:

It's been 31⁄2 years since my diagnosis.

On a frigid February morning, with a cup of coffee in one hand, I climb the ladder to Joe's bunk bed.

"C'mon honey," I nudge. "We gotta work on those spelling words."

I place a soft pillow behind my moppy morning hair.

Joe slowly comes to life.

"PROCEED," he mumbles. "P-R-O-C-E-E-D."

As he rattles off words, I sip my coffee and bask in the warmth of his room.

Frost outside the window sparkles in the morning sun. A pirate ship poster wilts from the vapors of Joe's fish tank. My carefully planned navy-amber-white color scheme clashes with his Civil War map and his Kansas City Chiefs pennant.

The gouge in the wall warms my heart, and I reach under the blanket to squeeze Joe's toes.

Erbitux fails in pancreatic cancer trials

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ImClone Systems Inc.'s drug Erbitux has failed to help pancreatic cancer patients live longer. It's also failed to grow ImClone's market -- not surprising since it's the company's only drug.

Imclone, partnering with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., wanted to see Erbitux -- already cleared for use with colon, head, and neck cancers -- extend the lives of patients with cancer marked by a spread to the pancreas.

No one is giving up just yet, and Imclone plans additional tests on Erbitux's use in pancreatic cancer. A study using a combination of Erbitux and Avastin and chemotherapy is up next.

"There are reasons to think Erbitux works in pancreatic cancer, but the current results are not as dramatic as we hoped," said Alex Denner, lead for an executive committee that manages ImClone. "We remain committed to evaluating Erbitux in pancreatic cancer."

If approved, Erbitux will compete with Tarceva, sold by Roche Holding AG, Genentech Inc., and OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. as a treatment for pancreatic and lung cancers.

About 37,170 new cases of pancreatic cancer are expected to occur in 2007 in the United States. And 33,370 people will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers, and there is no screening option that works at catching the disease in its early stages.

Only about 5 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer are still alive five years after being diagnosed.

Daily dose of red meat spikes breast cancer risk

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Red meat makes headlines -- again -- due to new research indicating it increases a woman's chances of developing breast cancer. I've heard this before. Maybe that's because it's becoming pretty conclusive.

Findings are most significant for post-menopausal women because these are the women with the highest rates of consumption -- about one portion of red meat per day. This daily doses puts them at a 56 percent greater risk than women who eat no red meat.

Researchers at the University of Leeds followed the eating habits and health of more than 35,000 women over the past seven years to gather their data, published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Country singer Toby Keith announces charity golf event

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Toby Keith has been touched by childhood cancer. One of his original band mates lost his daughter Allison in August of 2003 to a form of kidney cancer called Wilm's tumor.

The country singer is sponsoring the fourth annual charity golf tournament that will once again benefit the families of children fighting cancer. The event will begin with an auction and party in downtown Oklahoma City on April 27, and continue with the golf tournament the following morning.

The proceeds will benefit Ally's house, which Keith helped establish in memory of his friend's daughter. The charity helps pay for medical bills, prescriptions, housing, transportation, toys, food, clothing and other expenses for families that have children with cancer.

Some of the items to be auctioned off are:

  • Trip to see Keith in concert in Las Vegas
  • Memorabilia from Garth Brooks, Sammy Hagar and Bob Seger
  • Sports memorabilia autographed by Tiger Woods and baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle

Toby Keith comments about Ally's House -- "This is a special charity to me. I saw firsthand how a child's cancer diagnosis can devastate a family. Please join me in supporting these kids through Ally's House."

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Healthy eating tips from the Mayo Clinic

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I realize that I post often about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating, but until there is a cure for diabetes (and by cure I mean a real, honest-to-goodness cure and not some snake oil you can buy online from some dude in Guam) it is truly the best defense that people with diabetes have -- save for insulin (which, as all type 1s, 2s, and "3s" know, is not a cure, either). That all being said, I came across some quick tips on the Mayo Clinic Health Letter that offer up ways to help yourself eat less.

Apparently, there is research to back-up the fact that people eat less food when it is being eaten from a smaller plate. And with smaller forks and spoons (or "Sporks" if you're at KFC -- which you probably shouldn't be in the first place if you're trying to eat healthy, but...). The opposite of this effect also takes place when people eat from bigger bowls and plates; more food is consumed.

Lesson #1 Summary: Small plate/utensils, smaller caloric intake. Large plate/utensils, larger waistlines.

The Newsletter also suggested getting rid of high-calorie leftovers. That sliver of leftover birthday cake, the two slices of pizza from Domino's, the piece of apple pie from Easter -- either get rid of them, or store them in opaque containers. If you see them, you will eat them. It's really as simple as that. So, in place of those sweets, have healthier, ready-to-eat options like nuts and Jello in plain site.

Lesson #2 Summary: You are what you eat, and you eat what you see.

The final tip in the newsletter is to buy small packages of food and, if possible, serve or order in small quantities. If you buy the Super-Jumbo-Massive-Gargantuan size bag of food, guess what? You'll probably end up eating a Super-Jumbo-Massive-Gargantuan amount of food. The easy solution is to purchase foods that come in smaller containers, which will automatically cause you to eat less and therefore consume less calories. Also, another trick is to serve the appropriate portions of a certain food and then put the leftovers away immediately. Don't leave them on the table, don't leave them on the counter, and definitely don't leave them on your plate. Back in the fridge they go -- out of sight, out of mind.

Lesson #3 Summary: Buying in bulk may sometimes result in, well, bulk.

Hats off to the folks at the Mayo Clinic for this one, because these are three ways to lose weight without going on a diet and/or performing even a minute of exercise. It doesn't get much easier than that!!

Restless Leg Syndrome

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RLS, better known as Restless Leg Syndrome, is a neurological disorder that causes people to have a strong urge to move their legs. Though it seems like just about every kid on the planet suffers from this disorder, it's typically a problem faced by older adults. And, researchers from the University of Montreal's Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Canada may have discovered that RLS may increase a person's chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

To study a small number of people with untreated RLS in a sleep laboratory, researchers kept them overnight, allowing the researchers to monitor periodic leg movement and blood pressure changes in the test subjects. The study revealed that systolic blood pressure rates during these frequent leg movements rose by an average of 20 points, with diastolic blood pressure also rising by an average of 11 points.

Because drastic blood pressure surges during sleep have been associated with a higher rate of stroke in the elderly, the researchers made the RLS connection. However, there is still a great deal more investigation into this RLS/blood pressure link that needs to be completed at this time. Also, the researchers themselves suggest that their findings be interpreted with caution since the study was limited by its small sample size.

Universally Remote Pancreatic Cells

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The scientists at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine discovered that it is possible to regenerate damaged cells of the pancreas. Although the cells that revealed this discovery are not the beta cells of the pancreas, researchers believe that this research could find new ways to replenish the organs ability to produce insulin in diabetics.

The pancreas is made up of two compartments with different functions: the islet compartment of insulin-producing beta cells and the much larger exocrine compartment composed of duct cells and acinar cells that make and deliver enzymes to the intestine for digestion. Diabetes is caused by the failure of the beta cells to make insulin, whereas pancreatic cancer usually originates from the exocrine compartment. Under certain conditions in tissue culture, acinar cells can synthesize insulin as well as amylase, a digestion enzyme.

Evidence from this research is pointing to the beta cell itself as the most promising source for generating new beta cells. The focus of research is now shifting toward the direct stimulation of islet cell growth in live animals. In contrast, once acinar cells are removed from the organism and placed into culture, they may have greater potential to change into other cell types, including beta cells. As a result, Stoffers' animal model and technical approach is currently being used by other groups in the United States, Europe, and China to determine conditions under which acinar cells can take on the features of duct cells and beta cells.

Treating Lows -- Slow and Steady Saves Your Brain

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Treatment with insulin revolutionized the life of individuals with diabetes. However, because insulin acts to lower blood glucose levels, it can cause hypoglycemia (low levels of glucose in the blood), which, if prolonged, can lead to brain injury and coma.

Extremely prolonged hypoglycemia can cause the death of neurons and irreversible brain damage. In a study appearing in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco found that in mice, hypoglycemic neuronal death is triggered when the mice are treated with a large amount of glucose and not by the hypoglycemia itself.

Researchers showed that although hypoglycemia induced some neuronal death, the rapid infusion of glucose into hypoglycemic mice triggered more extensive neuronal death. The extent of neuronal death correlated with the production of superoxide by a molecule known as NADPH oxidase. As the amount of glucose infused to treat hypoglycemia increased -- the amount of superoxide produced and the extent of neuronal death was increased. This suggests that it might be best to treat individuals in hypoglycemic coma by gradually increasing their blood glucose levels rather than by restoring glucose levels rapidly. When it comes to recuperating from low sugars -- slow and steady, right Mr. Turtle?

Hot cocoa may be a healtheir choice than tea

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You're concerned about your heart health. You make dietary decisions based on these concerns. Knowing that tea has beneficial effects on blood pressure, you've tried to down a cup or two each day. But, how much do we actually like tea? Sure, it's tasty enough, especially some of the funky flavored kinds, but let's face it, a nice cup of hot cocoa tastes a hell of a lot better.

Surprisingly enough, that same cup of cocoa may actually be better for you, too.

German scientists just released findings showing that patients who drank cocoa for two weeks had a marked reduction in their blood pressure -- comparable to the reduction typically seen in people taking prescription blood pressure medication.

Tea and cocoa contain polyphenols, which is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. But, it seems as though the type of polyphenols contained on cocoa -- known as procyanids -- are more active than the polyphenols found in tea.

Of course, this doesn't mean that it's time to start dipping entire bars of dark chocolate into hot cocoa and devouring each bite. Chocolate still contains quite a bit of fat, sugar and carbohydrates, so consumption should be kept to a minimum. Nevertheless, it's good to know that it doesn't hurt (but instead actually helps!) to indulge in some chocolate every now and again (especially dipped in hot chocolate -- something I just thought of doing and will be sure to try in the very near future).

Thought for the Day: Clear out the clutter

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Spring is here. Time to clean the house. And time to give the 'ol body a once-over too.

According to Chinese medicine, spring is the best time of the year to cleanse the body. So if you're feeling lethargic, sluggish, and just plain weighed down, consider these invigorating tips from Penelope Sach's book Detox: Regaining your health and vitality.

Think about this:
  • Cut back on white flour products, sweets, and alcohol.
  • Drink one glass of water every hour to flush out excess sugar in your system.
  • Up your intake of herbal teas.
  • Add natural detoxifying agents to your diet, such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fish, and eggs.

Gay, bisexual men lobby for HPV vaccine

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It's not yet clear if the drug Gardasil, the vaccine intended to prevent the human papillomavirus (HPV) in females, is effective for men. But some men are signing up for the chance to take the drug.

Gay and bisexual men in San Francisco are asking their doctors for the vaccine with hopes it will prevent anal and penile cancer, also caused by HPV.

"The prevalence of anal cancer among gay and bisexual men is very high," says Jason Riggs, spokesman for the STOP AIDS Project. "So that's why some people are looking at this as a possible preventive cure for anal cancer and HPV that causes anal cancer."

Anal cancer occurs among gay and bisexual men at a rate 35 times higher than that of the general population. And it occurs more in those infected with HIV.

Write for hope and help find the cure

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Tom Keilty of San Dimas, California lost his wife Ruth to breast cancer in 2005, 12 years after she was first diagnosed with the disease. From the very first day cancer entered their lives until the very last day of Ruth's life, the Keilty family received hundreds of hand-written notes for Ruth, filled with encouragement and support.

The notes are still arriving, this time for Keilty and his three children. The notes help strengthen this family's faith and help them grieve. The Keiltys are grateful for the trail of mail that has come their way -- and they ask others to consider writing their own their own notes of hope.

It's simple.

Just drop by a local retailer and pick up a special edition PaperMate Pink Ribbon Pen and Pink Pearl City of Hope Eraser. For each item sold through December 31, 2008, PaperMate will make a donation -- up to $200,000 -- to City of Hope for breast cancer research, education, and treatment.

Then sit down and Write for Hope in honor of someone battling breast cancer. Not only will you warm someone's heart, you will also earn the chance to win a $500 donation made in your honor to City of Hope Cancer Center.

Click here to enter.

Treatment for hot flashes after breast cancer

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Hot flashes can be a lingering side effect for many breast cancer survivors. The hot flashes occur when changes in hormone levels interfere with the body's ability to regulate its temperature.

Hot flashes can affect younger women treated with chemotherapy (which can shut down their ovaries), and also is one of the main side effects of the commonly prescribed hormone therapies, such as tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor such as Arimidex.

Hormone replacement therapy can be used to control hot flashes, but breast cancer survivors are recommended not use them because of concerns the hormones may increase the risk of their breast cancer returning.

An article published in the Annals of Oncology reported on a German study that was conducted to compare Effexor and clonidine therapy. Effexor is an antidepressant and clonidine is a drug used to treat high blood pressure.

The researchers concluded that Effexor significantly reduces the frequency of hot flashes compared with Catapres (clonidine) among patients with breast cancer who suffer from at least two hot flashes a day.

There are other anti-depressive agents that also reduce the amount of hot flashes throughout the day. Talk to your doctor to see if any of these drugs can give you some relief.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Diabetes and Pot

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A new study found smoked marijuana to be safe and effective at treating peripheral neuropathy, which causes great suffering among diabetics. Diabetic nerve disease, or "peripheral neuropathy," is the most common complication of diabetes, affecting up to 62% of Americans with diabetes.

This type of pain is caused by damage to the nerves and can make patients feel like their feet and hands are on fire, or being stabbed with a knife. This type of pain responds poorly to conventional pain medications -- even addictive, dangerous narcotics. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, a majority of patients had a greater than 30% reduction in pain after smoking marijuana. For many, that level of relief means having a significantly improved quality of life and for some it actually permits return to careers cut short by debilitating symptoms of neuropathy.

Our government spends a lot of money campaigning the "War on Drugs" to convince us that marijuana is an addictive and dangerous drug. When the US Government assumes the responsibility to make my mind up for me - sometimes I fear the decision is made from a capitalist perspective and not entirely with my best interest in mind. There is nothing fair about taking away someone's ability to decide for himself. Everything about federal medical policy should be reconsidered, based on science, common sense, and simple human decency.


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You hear it from your doctors. You hear it from your friends and relatives. You hear it on TV. You hear it, well, all the time: Aspirin can help prevent future heart attacks.

You hear it for good reason, because it does.

That is, unless you are a person with diabetes. Researchers from the Sianai Hospital of Baltimore recently demonstrated that the standard dose of aspirin may not provide adequate protection against future heart attack. Studying 120 aspirin treated patients -- 30 of which had diabetes -- with stable coronary artery disease, the researchers discovered that diabetic patients showed a greater proclivity to aspirin resistance than non-diabetic patients.

This does not mean that aspirin cannot help people with diabetes in preventing future heart attacks, rather it merely points out that physicians should refrain from, as one researcher put it, "the one-size-fits-all approach to aspirin therapy."

Higher or Lower - How do you Like it?

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The Rule when it comes to managing diabetes is maintaining a blood sugar between 80 and 120 mg/dL by all means necessary. This does not take into consideration that some people might function better with a higher blood sugar. For all intents and purposes this is for safety reasons. Clocking in at no higher than 120 mg/dL is evidenced to delay the onset of long-term diabetic complications.

However, in my blog about Jeff the Trucker, in order for Jeff to be considered safe to drive -- the Federal Standards said that he must maintain blood sugars between 140 and 200. Whereas conventional medicine says the safest range for blood sugars is between 80 and 120. If Federal Standards say that you can function better with a higher sugar - why is it that we are encouraged to keep them lower? I understand this from a clinical perspective this is to delay the onset of complications. But in reality - the complications result from the fluctuations in blood sugar level and not so much the level at which it is sustained.

So herein lies my question for all diabetics out there - do you feel better or worse when your blood sugar is 80 compared to a blood sugar of 130? Compare being high and being low - what are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

I'll start - I prefer my blood sugar to be higher (<120 mg/dL) rather than lower (<80 mg/dL). When I am higher I know I am never on the verge of being disoriented, uncoordinated, or likely to lose my ability to think clearly. Having a higher blood sugar allows me to continue on without worrying if I'm too close to having a reaction. My weakness of being high is the inconvenience of needing water - ice, cold water. Now how do you all feel about your highs and your lows? It's okay. I know it's frustrating as H-E-double hockey sticks to test, treat, and repeat - only to find that your numbers aren't always perfect. Tell me about it. No, really -- please, do!!

None the wiser - Meet SmartCell

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Thanks to nano-technology and five brilliant scholars - a once a day injection to automatically detect blood sugar and release insulin to keep it in range is on the horizon.

SmartInsulin contains nano-sized particles that release insulin in proportion to blood glucose levels. These particles slowly break down and release insulin into the blood stream, regulating the blood sugar. Once the blood sugar is at normal levels, the particles close back up. This substantially reduces the likelihood of hypos - one of the greatest concerns for diabetics. SmartInsulin will minimize insulin dosages, decrease pain due to relentless blood sugar monitoring, dramatically improve blood sugar control, and will reduce diabetic complications.

The team of 5 students, called SmartCells, won the grand prize in an Entrepreneurship Competition for its work on the monitoring device. SmartCells team member Todd Zion invented the technology as part of his Ph.D. research in chemical engineering at MIT. Zion had an additional incentive for researching this disease. "Type 1 runs in my family. There's a genetic predisposition for it," Zion said. "I also have family members who have Type 2 diabetes. It hits home a little bit closer when someone you know has the disease."

As of April 1, 2007 SmartCells, Inc. received notice that it has been awarded $394,363 in first-year funding for a multi-year Phase 1 SBIR grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant was awarded to support development and testing of multimeric aptamers for use in SmartCells' glucose-regulated insulin formulations. Multi-wha? Can someone explain to me what a multimeric aptamers is?

Trouble in Paradise

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Resisting the urge to throw in a 'Jamaican me crazy' anywhere in this post, I'm instead going to move forward with the hard facts.

1) Studies show that nearly 19 percent of adolescents living in Jamaica are considered obese, and;

2) Those same studies show that one in five of these youths was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Research shows that type 2 diabetes is on the rise in the adolescent population in Jamaica, a disease once seen almost exclusively in middle-aged and elderly adults living on the Caribbean island. This points further to the growing obesity problem that exists worldwide.

The findings from this study will be presented at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists' 16th Annual Meeting and Clinical Congress, scheduled to be held in Seattle on April 11-15. Dr. Rulloch-Reid, along with colleagues from The University of the West Indies and the Kingston Public Hospital, will be presenting on this matter.

Stem Cell Research Bill - Government through Guilt

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The JDRF Government Relations would like to encourage all diabetics to take action and let your Senators know that you want them to support the Senate Bill 5 (S.5) - the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. Of course, if you do not support this bill you are in no way expected to do any of the following - but for the sake of enlightenment, I invite you to read on.

This bill is similar to H.R. 3, which passed the U.S. House in January and H.R. 810, which passed both the House and the Senate last year. This legislation will allow federally funded researchers to use additional stem cell lines for their research.

If you wish to take action, and let your Senators know that you support this important bill--you can personalize a letter that will be faxed to your Senators offices on your behalf by following one simple step:

Visit the Take Action page. Review the letter supplied and enter your personal story in the paragraph provided.

So here's my personal story - and why I'm disappointed that any politician appointed for the welfare of the citizens that elected him or her would disrupt the promise stem cell research could offer diseases like diabetes:

My name is Allison Beatty and I am a juvenile diabetic. I was diagnosed in July, 1985. As a type 1 diabetic for over 21 years (and of legal voting age for 11 years) I am disappointed that officials governing the use of my tax dollars have impeded the most promising avenue of research to remedy a National problem like diabetes.

The incentive of those who oppose stem cell research is strictly religious and I am insulted that my quality of life on Earth today is compromised by the FAITH in where they will end UP in the afterlife.

Please do not allow the religious forum to dictate the scientific relevance of one of he most promising answers to address life-threatening illness. I trust your decision as a politician will best serve the needs of those living on Earth today, and not on your destination in the afterlife.

Although they are not currently targeting my Senator(s) for this campaign - that's my personal story, and I'm sticking to it. I hope the politicians who oppose stem cell research can see past their personal crusade to save their soul and start acting on saving lives!

New test confirms the danger of trans fats

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The dangers of trans fat have been known for quite some time now. Entire cities have banned this type of fat from being used in restaurants, while many more cities are on the precipice of enacting similar legislation. The stuff is bad for you, let's just say it. How bad? Well, trans fat has the dubious distinction of being the only fat that lowers good (HDL) cholesterol and raises bad (LDL) cholesterol, thereby greatly increasing one's risk of coronary heart disease.

Like I said, we've known for a while that trans fats are bad. Well, we thought we knew, anyway. Prior studies relied on self-reporting by test subjects when it came to determining how much or how little trans fat they consumed. As a result, the accuracy of the results were always somewhat in question, as people sometimes think they do something more or less than they actually do. But, a new study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health has found a new method of measuring trans fat intake.

Because humans cannot synthesize trans fatty acids, they find their way into red blood cells. Utilizing their knowledge of this physiological fact, the researchers noted that the amount of trans fat in red blood cells is a biomarker of trans fat intake. The researchers then examined blood samples collected from 1989 and 1990 from almost thirty-three thousand participants from an unrelated study. The researches discovered that a higher level of trans fatty acids in red blood cells was associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, even when such variables as age, smoking, and other risk factors were taken into account. Specifically, the risk among women (all of the test participants were women) in the top quartile of trans fat levels was triple that of the lowest quartile.

This study will appear in the April 10, 2007 print issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Ibuprofen reduces blood-thinning effects of aspirin

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The first randomized trial evidence revealing the dangers of taking ibuprofen and aspirin together was recently released by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The research suggests that the ibuprofen inhibits the blood thinning properties of aspirin, leaving patients at a reported nine-times higher risk of heart attack. The cardiovascular health of 18,523 patients who are over 50 years old and had osteoarthritis (which is why they were likely taking the ibuprofen) was reviewed by the researchers involved with this study.

The researchers concluded that doctors should seriously reconsider ever giving patients, who are at risk of cardiovascular problems, ibuprofen to deal with pain.

Thought for the Day: Three signs of ovarian cancer

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Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect. There are no great screening tests to pick up on its presence in the body, and by the time symptoms appear, the disease has often progressed into an advanced stage. But a ray of light has recently emerged in the study of ovarian cancer -- and it could help in the prevention and early detection of this deadly disease.

Think about this, from the April 2007 issue of Woman's Day magazine:

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine have identified a simple checklist of six symptoms associated with an increased risk of the disease and three of them -- if they occur at least 12 times per month and are present for less than one year -- were present 57 percent of the time in a study of women with early-stage disease.

And the three symptoms are: abdominal and pelvic pain, bloating and difficulty eating, and feeling full quickly.

If you experience these problems, especially if they are frequent or new, contact your doctor because identifying ovarian cancer quickly is key. In its early stages, the cure rate is 90 percent. But for advanced cancer, it's only 20 percent.
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Drescher's Cancer Schmancer non-profit launches in June

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Cancer Schmancer is what actress and cancer survivor Fran Drescher titled her 2003 novel. Now, thanks to this spunky gal, there's a whole Cancer Schmancer movement taking place, a movement that will culminate this June with the launch of a non-profit organization with the name of -- you guessed it -- Cancer Schmancer.

Drescher says Cancer Schmancer is all about the politics of cancer education and funding, screening tests, early detection, the removal of carcinogens from women's products, and the often-dismissed truth that young women do get cancer.

Drescher, who for two years fought with doctors who persisted she was too young for uterine cancer -- she wasn't -- says her organization will raise awareness and change health policy to better promote diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of womens' cancers.

Nuggets coach Karl misses Lakers game to care for son

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Denver Nuggets coach George Karl missed his team's match-up against the Lakers Tuesday night so he could spend some quality time with his son, Coby, who had surgery for the removal of cancerous lymph nodes on Monday.

Coby Karl, 23, spent seven hours in surgery. It was his second surgery in 13 months -- he had his thyroid removed last year after he was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer called papillary carcinoma. Chemotherapy followed the first surgery to kill off any remaining cancer cells.

All reports indicate both Karls are doing fine and Coach Karl, who has been surviving prostate cancer since 2005, was back to his coaching duties last night. His team took on the Sacramento Kings -- and won.

Coby Karl is taking it easy for now. He just recently finished his final season with Boise State University where he led the Broncos with 14.8 points per game. He's still a great athlete, but right now, his health comes first.

"He's a young kid, he's a promising basketball player," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "The most important thing is his health."

A song for women

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My husband heard this song yesterday on the radio and I wanted to share the lyrics. You can listen to Craig Morgan here singing Tough.

She's in the kitchen at the crack of dawn
Bacon's on, coffee's strong
Kids running wild, taking off their clothes
If shes a nervous wreck, well it never shows
Takes one to football and one to dance
Hits the Y for aerobics class
Drops by the bank, stops at the store
Has on a smile when I walk through the door
The last to go to bed, she'll be the first one up
And I thought I was tough

She's strong, pushes on, can't slow her down
She can take anything life dishes out
There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

We sat there five years ago
The doctors let us know
She'd have to fight to live, I broke down and cried
She held me and said it's gonna be alright
She wore that wig to church
Pink ribbon pinned there on her shirt
No room for fear, full of faith
Hands held high singing Amazing Grace
Never once complained, refusing to give up
And I thought I was tough

She's strong, pushes on, can't slow her down
She can take anything life dishes out
There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

She's a gentle word, the sweetest kiss
A velvet touch against my skin
I've seen her cry, I've seen her break
But in my eyes, she'll always be strong

There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

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Avon Foundation launches Our Heroes website

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Visit Our Heroes website to contribute to the fight against breast cancer and domestic violence.

On the website you can create your own Avon Breast Cancer Crusade Tribute Fund or a Speak Against Domestic Violence Tribute Fund.

The Our Heroes website explains why a Tribute Fund is a great idea:

  • It is an easy way to honor someone dear to you and at the same time contributes to a great cause.
  • It allows you to tell your story about the Honoree and why you are supporting this cause.
  • It allows you to raise awareness of the importance of fighting against breast cancer or domestic violence.

Go to the Our Heroes website to learn how you can get your own Tribute Fund started!

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Thought for the Day: Drug-dispensing teeth a real possibility

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I never would have predicted it -- that a tooth could become a tool for dispensing medication. But the refinement of such a creation is actually in the works and before long, you may be asking not for a gold or decorative tooth but for one capable of doling out your drugs in the exact doses and at the right times.

Think about this:

Researchers from Europe and Israel are working right now on a tiny dispensing system called IntelliDrug. Their goal is to create parts small enough they can fit into a false tooth placed in the back of the mouth. The device will release a specific amount of medication at certain intervals so patients receive the proper dosage right on schedule.

This invention, crafted by an Israeli dentist, could pick up the slack for people who forget to take medicine and could save lives for those whose lives depend on scheduled drug therapy. It could also allow for better absorption of medication into the body.

The IntelliDrug device will deliver medicine directly into the bloodstream through the lining of the cheek around the mouth. Saliva, meanwhile, mixes with the drug and carries it throughout they body in a manner more efficient than just swallowing a pill every few hours.

While researchers hope to one day turn their device into a replacement tooth, the apparatus -- consisting of a stainless steel housing, a pump, custom valves, a microprocessor, batteries, and a reservoir for the drug pill -- currently comes in the form of a block the size of two teeth. It is strapped to the the side of teeth and hugs the inside of the cheek. The unit can be removed, and a technician can refill the drug reservoir, clean the unit, and change batteries when necessary.

Clinical trials on pigs are ongoing. Human testing is expected to begin by the end of the year.

Four health tips busted -- or are they?

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Here's my problem with health-related advice and wisdom -- it's always changing. And I'm never sure if I'm buying into the right practice. Should I eat low-fat foods, for example, or should I stick with moderate amounts of regular food? Is red meat a good source of protein and other goodies or a direct path to breast cancer recurrence? Will sunscreen save my life or cause malignant lesions to develop on my fair skin?

I honestly don't know what to think about these questions -- or the handful of new ones that just came to my attention.

There's the one about eggs. Some say they cause a rise in cholesterol. But now I learn that when eaten in moderation -- about two per day -- eggs do not contain enough cholesterol to do any damage.

Then there's the carbs. It's true that cutting down on them can lead to weight loss. But it's also true that moderate consumption does not contribute to weight gain.

How about drinking eight glass of water a day? Maybe yes. Maybe no, according to experts who say we get water from sources other than diet alone and while we do need to replace water lost through breathing, urination, and sweating each day, our lost fluids do not total 64 ounces. And it seems we can drink too much water. This can lead to an imbalance of sodium and a condition called hyponatremia.

Vitamin supplements? Eat a good amount of fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, protein, and the right amount of calories and you don't need a multivitamin. But most of us don't eat right. So we probably need one.

OK. Now breathe. Take it all in. Filter it. Use it. Abandon it. As for me -- I'm going with the tactic mentioned above several times -- moderation. Seems to me this approach is the key to both health and happiness.

Cancer cases predicted to double by 2030

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Cancer cases are expected to more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, says the director of the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer.

This upward climb will occur primarily in poor countries due to an increase in population growth, longer life expectancy, more smoking, and a lack of health care in low and medium-resource countries.

"What's going to happen between now and 2030 is that the population is going to increase from about 6.5 billion to 8 billion in 2030," Dr. Peter Boyle reports. "So even if the risks remain constant at each five-year age group, because we've got more people around, we're going to have more cases of cancer.

It's the unfortunate successes for developed countries over the past 40 years, such as the export of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, that have doomed poorer countries, says Boyle.

Consider this definition of doom: By the year 2030, there will be 27 million cases of cancer, 17 million deaths caused by the disease, and 75 million people living with cancer.

Breast cancer risk assessment tool

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Do you want to know your risk for developing invasive breast cancer? If so, you can use an online interactive tool for measuring your five year risk and also your lifetime risk of developing the disease.

There are seven questions to answer to calculate your risk. It should not be used by women who already have had a breast cancer diagnosis. This tool has been used successfully in clinics for women with a strong family history of breast cancer.

Keep in mind that other factors also affect the risk of developing breast cancer that are not accounted for by the online tool. Women who do not get mammograms will have a lower chance of having their breast cancer detected.

Thought for the Day: Banning junk food ads

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If eating junk food and watching television lead to obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and a road marked by diminished health and increased illness, then kids living in Britain are about to get a whole lot healthier.

Think about this:

According to the March 19, 2007 issue of TIME magazine, British broadcasting regulator Ofcom will phase out all commercials on children's programming that promote junk food containing high fat, sugar, and salt.

The ban will begin at the end of the year.
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