Saturday, 28 April 2007

Tips To Prevent Diabetic Foot Complications

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In recognition of Foot Health Awareness Month, LifeMasters encourages diabetics to prevent foot complications by following a few simple steps to maintain healthy feet.

As you know, diabetics are more prone to foot complications. These complications include fungal infections, calluses, ulcers, foot deformities, and gangrene -- which may include infection and may in some cases, lead to amputation.

The underlying diabetic cause for these complications is the nerve damage, also called neuropathy and a decrease of blood flow to the foot. Neuropathy causes loss of feeling in the feet, decreasing feeling, affecting balance and leading to a foot injury. Diabetes also causes damage to blood vessels in all parts of the body, including the legs and feet, and can lead to poor circulation. Courtesy of LifeMasters, they are offering some tips protect your diabetic feet:

Control your blood sugar levels! Maintaining normal or near-normal blood sugar levels can reduce blood vessel and nerve damage that often lead to diabetic foot complications. If a wound or foot ulcer does occur, blood sugar control reduces the risk of an amputation. (For fair and balanced review: see Yesterdays Blog)

Wash your feet daily. This goes without say. Who wants dirty feet around? If you are grossed out by feet - pay somebody to do it for you. Get a pedicure or visit a podiatrist.

Check your feet daily for skin breaks, sores, cuts, bruises, and changes to the toenails (ingrown, coloring, etc.). If you cannot see under your feet, trick a loved one into doing it for you. Promise them you'll be their best friend and I'm sure they'll take you up on it. Who doesn't love a person with Happy Feet?

Have an annual foot check with your doctor or podiatrist. Your doctor will examine your feet, and probably perform a monofilament test (a single strand plastic thread stroked on your feet) to see if you are developing nerve damage.

Wear appropriate shoes: Make sure to wear shoes that fit well, and are not too tight. Tight shoes can cause pressure ulcers to develop. Avoid going barefoot, even in your own home, as it may increase your risk of injury to the foot. Wear clean cotton socks and change them daily. I guess this last step requires you to shop. And is that really such a bad thing?

Sweating with the Oldies

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A new US study shows resistance training not only helps build muscle in older people, but may also ward off type 2 diabetes. After a 3 month resistance training program, a group of men and women in their early 60s showed significant improvements in glucose tolerance. The program consisted of working out three times a week.

The research confirms that glucose tolerance improved by 25% to 30% in the 12 week program without any weight loss. People lose their ability to metabolize sugar effectively as they age, even if they are otherwise healthy. Weight gain that often accompanies ageing worsens glucose tolerance and compounds diabetes risk. One in five Americans over 60 years has type 2 diabetes.

With consideration of this study - that number might reduce substantially as the sexagenarian gym membership's increase. There's plenty of room at my gym. Come one, come all!

This Little Piggy Left the Market

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A study published in 1991, comparing the efficacy of human synthetic insulin to porcine insulin states "there is no reason to treat all insulin-requiring diabetic subjects with human insulin except those who have developed insulin allergy".

In light of this study - how was rDNA synthetic human insulin able to monopolize the US market?

The absence of highly purified porcine insulin in the US is probably (my guess) because it's cheaper to manufacture. The saturation of the US market with rDNA synthetic human insulin seems to be treating the masses with a specialized need existing in only a few individuals. But the top line of this marketing campaign must have had a good effect on the bottom-line, too. Sales reps convinced doctors to switch their patients because it was going to become nearly impossible to continue getting animal derived insulin. The insurance companies (the guys picking up the tab) must've loved this option, too. Why wouldn't they? It's better - right?

I'm going to do a self-analysis of the stuff, based on my IAA, IA and C-peptide levels. I've been on human synthetic insulin since 1985. I've never been on highly purified porcine insulin. The IAA is my insulin autoantibodies -- the antibody attacking my islets. My IA is the insulin antibody attacking the injected insulin and my c-peptide will tell me how much insulin my body is making. After 12 weeks on the highly purified porcine insulin - I'm going to do my labs again. I'm curious to see if these levels move, at all. If my c-peptide levels rise, that's a GOOD indicator what's best for Allie Beatty.

So is the best choice for me the best choice for all? Probably not. But at least I can see for myself - even if it costs me a pretty penny to get my hands on highly purified porcine insulin. Nobody said being an experimentalist was cheap. However, never exploring my options would deeply discount the value of experience.

The cost of type 2 complications

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We eat, we sleep, we live, we die; all the while the world keeps turning. Barring the influence of an alien wearing a red cape and giant S on his chest, the world will continue to spin in the same direction and at the same speed. But, what motivates it to keep turning? Scientists have their answer for that question, but the rest of us know that it's money that make the world go 'round. Unfortunate, isn't it? If there is a bright side, it is that the fear of losing money has catalyzed a movement toward educating the public about the cost of diabetes, with particular focus being placed on complications.

A new study (titled State of Diabetes Complications in America) shows that the annual health care costs for a person with complications from type 2 diabetes are about three times higher than people without diabetes. Synthesizing data from two large national studies that examine the issue of diabetes-related complications, the results demonstrated a clear need to educate the public further about the disease.

Taken right from the results of the study, the average cost of treating diabetes complications breaks down like this:

~ Heart Attack: $14,150 per person

~ Chronic Kidney Disease: $9,002

~ Congestive Heart Failure: $7,982

~ Stroke: $7,806

~ Coronary Heart Disease: $6,062

~ Foot Problems: $4,687

~ Eye Damage: $1,785

Of course, these complications do not include the cost of treating the diabetes itself. The point of mentioning all of this is that it is a strangely fortunate/unfortunate that the world is so consumed by greed. Because this new study highlights how much it costs to treat diabetes complications, health care companies and the U.S. government are FINALLY starting to see the importance of treating type 2 diabetes BEFORE complications even begin. I just find it absurd that it took a loss of money -- and not a loss of quality of life, or life itself -- to get them to finally stand up and take notice.

Fitness for Sale: Don't Buy It!!

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I don't really spend all that much time watching TV, but even in the limited amount of time that I do, I always happen upon the so-called latest and greatest diet and exercise fad. Last night I just so happened to see an advert for yet another ab rolling type machine, with this one claiming to help you lose your abdominal fat in, like, eight seconds. TV is not the only media outlet to blame, however. Just as guilty, if not even more so, is the internet -- also known as the place where faulty claims run amok and unsupported data is pretty much the norm.

Yes, I'm well aware of the fact that this is an internet-based platform, too. You take the good, you take the bad (you take them both and then you have the facts of life -- and here it is I claim to not watch much TV), that's pretty much how internet research goes. At any rate, the point I am finally arriving at is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of products on the market, claiming to be able to make you lose weight. Mind you, I didn't even say "help you" lose weight. These products make it seem as though all it takes is swallowing a pill will give you a body like a triathlete.

Sorry, but it just doesn't work that way.

I could spend the next couple of hours highlighting examples, but I will restrict my exemplification to one: Starch Blockers. More or less, starch blockers are supposed to be able to prevent the body from converting starch into sugar. Consequently, insulin levels should go relatively unchanged and calories from these starches will, ahem, go out with the trash, so to speak.

But, studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that starch blockers just plain don't work. There was not any difference found in plasma glucose and insulin response in users, nor was there any evidence shown that suggested any kind of reduced calorie absorption.

Back in the 80's, starch blockers were taken off the market by the FDA, but their resurgence as of late is due to widespread, and somewhat unpreventable, internet sales.

My suggestion is to avoid products such as starch blockers like the plague. If you want to lose weight, the tried and true method of healthy eating and regular exercise are still the best methods around.

UCSD researchers find answers in the genome

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Because this applies to TheDiabetesBlog just as much as it does to TheCardioBlog, I'm posting it here, too...

Twin studies have been going on for decades, mostly for the purpose of providing researchers with biological results that are free of influence from environmental factors. But in the post-genomic era, scientists can look much further, and with much more accuracy, when searching genes for specific traits. Taking advantage of advanced technology, researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have identified certain genes that make a person predisposed to heart disease and diabetes.

With regard to the former, the researchers found, for example, three genes that are related to the development of systemic inflammation. Again, this is just one example as far as cardiovascular problems go. With respect to the latter, diabetes, factors linked to kidney disease and/or elevated blood glucose levels were also discovered in specific genes.

Being that twins are not exactly common, the researchers are looking for new twin participants for future study. So, if you happen to be a twin and would like to participate, call 858-552-8585. Or, if you'd prefer to just read about it, you can check out the upcoming May 1st issue of Circulation.

Edmonton Protocol on Hold

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The Edmonton Protocol has been temporarily put on hold due to fears the human form of mad cow disease might infect patients.

The source of an enzyme used in transplants was reported to derive from cow brains. Transplants of these treated islets have been put on hold until a source for this enzyme can be found that doesn't use cow brains. Dr. James Shapiro, the surgeon who developed the Edmontol Protocol said, "we just decided to put the program on hold". Shapiro and his team transplant healthy islet cells into the pancreas of people with Type 1 diabetes. The healthy cells allow recipients to again begin producing insulin crucial to the body's ability to regulate sugar digestion.

The National Institutes of Health was creating a similar program in the United States when it discovered that one of the biomedical compounds that Shapiro's team has been using depends on cow brains. Roche Applied Sciences was selling the team an enzyme that allows doctors to extract healthy islet cells. But Roche was buying the bacteria that secretes the enzyme from a third company, which grew the bacteria using fat from cow brains. Roche spokeswoman Michele Beaubien said from Montreal that the enzyme is sold for research purposes only.

The more I learn these days about medicine and how it is applied to diabetes - the more I feel as though everything is for research purposes only. Don't you? As Yogi Berra said, "it ain't over till it's over". A big thanks to Dave of No Sugar Tonight for bringing this story to my attention.

Driver's Education for Insulin

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Like a student driver -- the function of proinsulin (c-peptide) is as critically important as driver's education. The research was done, but because the information highway was just picking up speed (at the time back in '88) dissemination of such research was difficult, at best. Never fear - I found a good study to start things rolling.

Proinsulin (c-peptide) is made along with insulin in a 1 to 1 ratio from the beta cells. After a dose of proinsulin was administered - it took 5 to 10 minutes longer to lower a patient's blood sugar in comparison to insulin, alone. The rise of blood sugar following the lowest point was much slower, as well. In lay terms this means that insulin, coupled with proinsulin (c-peptide), results in a more controlled reaction. Kind of like the teenager with his permit to drive and Dad riding shotgun. The permit gives the kid the right to drive the car, but Dad is telling the kid when to accelerate and when to slow down. Insulin and proinsulin are quite similar in nature except we're talking about a life threatening hormone without the parental guidance.

The antilipolytic effect of proinsulin (tapping fat cells for energy and ANTI means this is stopped) was significantly stronger in comparison to insulin alone. Human proinsulin has a stronger effect on prevention of fat burning for energy in the absence of insulin (ketoacidosis). This seems logical because if you metabolize the glucose in your blood for energy - you will have little (if any) residual glucose to store as fat. Type 2 diabetics have a plethora of c-peptide in their body upon diagnosis but their blood sugar is also high. Looks like insulin and proinsulin reduces the risk of ketoacidosis and regulates fat metabolism.

Why did they decide to manufacture human synthetic insulin without it again? A personal experience pumping piggy proinsulin for 2 days now and I've seen definite control in my blood sugar fluctuations - less than 20 mg/dL in any testing window. It feels like the newly introduced highly purified porcine proinsulin came with a built-in continuous glucose monitor (i.e., C-peptide). More to come...

The food industry's tricky solution to the ban on trans fat

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I know that I blog often about the dangers to your cardiovascular health from trans fat, but it's because I feel that it's important to stay current with the tricksters. They think they can fool us, but we're hip to their sneaky ways. We are the educated public, and we're not gonna' take it anymore!!

Who's with me?!!

If you haven't fallen in line, and are wondering just what the hell I'm talking about when I talk about trickery, it has to do with the methods that many food manufacturers are using to get around the trans fat ban. Case in point: the FDA allows food manufactures to list their products as containing Zero Trans Fat if they contain less than half of a gram. Therefore, these foods can contain .49 grams of trans fat Per Serving (which is also important to remember -- we are talking about serving size here, too) and still be listed as having Zero Trans Fat. This means that if you eat more than the serving size, you are now consuming trans fat -- even in the eyes of the FDA.

A key thing to look for to find out if something truly contains Zero Trans Fat is Partially Hydrogenated Oil. If it does, that means that it DOES contain trans fat, despite its claim stating otherwise. Again, the whole serving size/FDA approval nonsense comes into play. One example of this is I Can't Believe It's Not Butter; the label clearly says: "No Trans Fat." But, upon closer examination of the ingredients -- BINGO! Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils. See what I mean? They're pretty tricky.

Considering that about 40 percent of all foods found in your grocery store contain trans fat, and when you also take into account that just about every fast food restaurant fries their foods with partially hydrogenated oils, it is obviously quite difficult to avoid eating trans fats -- even if you are making a concerted effort not to. My advice is to scrutinize labels, avoid fried food entirely, and research products beyond their "Zero Trans Fats" claim.

Aspirin overlooked for heart health

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A few weeks ago I posted something on TheDiabetesBlog related to the use of aspirin. Researchers found it to be insufficient in helping blood flow in people with diabetes. For people who do not have diabetes, however, aspirin is a known combatant against heart attack and stroke -- yet only 41 percent of Americans over the age of 40 regularly take it.

Researchers involved in the study, which will be published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, were admittedly surprised to find that such a low percentage of aspirin users. Stephen Wesimana, PhD, one of the lead researchers in the study, stated "We expected to see greater than 70% utilization rates."

Aspirin should not be taken by everyone, particularly by people who are allergic or are at high risk of serious bleeding. It can also sometimes cause gastro problems in some people, something to discuss with your doctor before beginning a regular regimen of aspirin use. Speaking of doctors, the study to which I have been referring also revealed a link between discussions with physicians about aspirin use and its actual use. Falling somewhere in the ballpark of 88 percent, this many Americans who take aspirin did so after chatting with their doctor about it.

A plan that does not bear fruit

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Study Conclusion: Having home-grown fruits and vegetables available for kids makes them more apt to eat healthy.

I start with the conclusion of the study because I'm not so sure that I agree with everything that comes before it. You see, this recent study, conducted at St. Louis University's Obesity Prevention Center, found what is pretty much stated above. After interviewing approximately 1,600 parents of pre-school aged children who reside in rural southeast Missouri, they found that kids who were given homegrown fruits and veggies were more likely to consume the recommended five to thirteen servings per day.

With childhood obesity rates on the rise, dangers of heart disease are becoming something of concern for our children as well as our adult population. Naturally, this whole growing-and-eating healthy vegetables and fruits push is a step in the right direction to combat the issue. What's my problem with it, then? Availability.

It is expensive to eat healthy. It is also expensive to grow healthy food. I'm by no means a green thumb, but I know that to grow crops, you at the very least need some land! Kids living in poor communities most likely live in apartments, not houses. Consequently, they do not have deeded access to any area in which to grow fruits and vegetables.

I hate to come across as negative with all this, but I just don't think it is as easy as the report makes it seem. True, kids can plant gardens in school -- but that's assuming that they are going to school. True, kids who eat fresh vegetables will be more inclined to reach for this healthy snack instead of a Twinkie and a bottle of soda -- but the twinkie and soda only costs about two bucks and can be bought today, whereas growing fresh vegetables and fruit can cost quite a bit of money upfront and will not be ready to eat until months after being planted. And true, kids from homes with fresh gardens are more likely to see their parents eating healthy fruits and vegetables -- but that's also assuming that their parents are home and are not instead working two or three part-time jobs, just to make rent and provide as best as they can for their kids. Quite frankly, they don't have time to sit around and watch flowers grow.

I don't mean to turn this into a social commentary, but I feel that addressing the obesity problem and the rising rates of cardiovascular disease is not something that should be assigned arbitrarily, but should be done through initiatives and methods that can be applied universally. Planting fresh fruits and vegetables in a garden may be a viable solution for .001 percent of the population (and a good one at that for those people), but it does little to help the remainder of the people at risk.

Blood pressure pills taken after stroke may reduce brain damage

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A very unfortunate effect of stroke is brain damage. Whereas strokes occurring in certain parts of the brain may lead to motor neglect, strokes that occur in other portions can sometimes result in a loss of cognitive function. In efforts to reduce a patient's chances of post-stroke brain damage, researchers from the University of Georgia have put forth some interesting information regarding the use of blood pressure medication for this very purpose.

If given within twenty-four hours of the stroke, researchers say, common blood pressure medication may help reduce brain damage in patients. Studying the results of rats who had induced strokes and were subsequently treated with blood pressure lowering medication, the researchers found a significant reduction in the amount of brain damage when compared against stroke induced rats who were not given blood pressure medication.

This study comes off the heels of a separate study on the efficacy of using blood pressure meds to reduce the severity of brain damage in stroke victims, one that was also conducted by at the University of Georgia. Researchers are hopeful that this information will be used to revolutionize emergency stroke care.

Studies of twins reveals genetic disposition to disease

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Twin studies have been going on for decades, mostly for the purpose of providing researchers with biological results that are free of influence from environmental factors. But in the post-genomic era, scientists can look much further, and with much more accuracy, when searching genes for specific traits. Taking advantage of advanced technology, researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have identified certain genes that make a person predisposed to heart disease and diabetes.

With regard to the former, the researchers found, for example, three genes that are related to the development of systemic inflammation. Again, this is just one example as far as cardiovascular problems go. With respect to the latter, diabetes, factors linked to kidney disease and/or elevated blood glucose levels were also discovered in specific genes.

Being that twins are not exactly common, the researchers are looking for new twin participants for future study. So, if you happen to be a twin and would like to participate, call 858-552-8585. Or, if you'd prefer to just read about it, you can check out the upcoming May 1st issue of Circulation.

More shrewd tactics by food makers

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See? I told you they were tricky!!!

Food manufactures are doing all that they can to get around the whole trans fat ban. This much was explained in greater detail in a post I wrote a few days ago, pointing to serving size trickery and other tactics to appeal to the health conscious consumer.

But, buyer beware; there is something else that you should be on the lookout for when it comes to the type of fat you are consuming. It's called interesterified oil, and it's an unhealthy fat that has sneaked its way into the likes of Peperidge Farm cookies and Little Debbie cakes.

Ineresterified oil have been shown to raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, while also having a negative effect on blood glucose levels. A recent study at Brandeis University revealed much of this information. As for whether or not ineresterified fats are worse for you than trans fat, that seems to still be unknown. Either way, the stuff isn't exactly healthy, so you would do well to steer clear of any foods that contain it.

Found: Four genes that spread breast cancer to lungs

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A new study of mice implanted with human breast cancer cells shows the spread of the disease to the lungs -- a common metastasis site -- is caused by the abnormal activation of four specific genes working together.

The study, published in the journal Nature, indicates that shutting off the genes one by one can slow the growth and spread of this cancer. But turning off all four at one time almost completely stops the process. In mice anyway.

These genes are no strangers to researchers who have known for some time about their existence and functions. They just know more about them now.

The four genes work together at every step of the metastatic process to allow a breast tumor to develop blood vessels, let tumor cells enter the vessel walls and lungs, and permit them to pass out of the lung vessels and resume growth. New analysis shows that blocking these genes significantly reduces the tangle of blood vessels, making it harder for cancer cells to escape.

Researchers, who say the four genes are among 18 they associate with breast cancer metastasis, report that one implication of this study is clear: combined use of drug therapy may be more effective at inhibiting the activity of multiple gene targets.

Breast cancer website reads: Show Us Your Chemo Style

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If you've ever visited the website My Breast Cancer Network, part of the Health Central conglomerate of health and medical information, you know the appeal of this site is its insightful navigation menu, comprised of three helpful locators -- Find, Manage, and Connect.

With a click on the Find button, you can search answers to questions, check symptoms, and locate resources. Choose Manage and you can take action, achieve goals, and resolve problems. If you wish to get advice, find support, and share your experiences, take a simple tour through the Connect community.

My Breast Cancer Network currently invites all viewers to connect with one another through a new feature: Show Us Your Chemo Style. You can simply visit this portion of the site and view photos submitted by others. Or you can submit a photo and caption of yourself, a friend, a family member. My Breast Cancer Network says it like this:

What does it mean to be confident during and after chemotherapy? Are you proud to be bald and beautiful? Does a wig, scarf or hat make sense for you and your style? We'd also love to see your new hair, as it grows back in. Share your favorite photos!

I did it -- go take a look -- and you can too.

Is targeting stem cells the way to cure cancer?

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Some scientists think that the reason cancer recurs is because we haven't gotten to the root of the disease. What they mean by the root is -- the cancer stem cells.

Stem cells can reproduce and make exact copies of themselves and can live longer than ordinary cells. Embryonic stem cells can have the potential to become many different types of cells, whereas adult stem cells are generally limited to becoming into the cell types of a specific organ.

The researchers gave the analogy of a dandelion that is growing in your backyard. You can cut the weed but if you don't kill the root the dandelion will grow back. It seems that our treatments today for cancer can kill the ordinary cancer cells but can leave the stem cells behind to grow into new tumors and spread.

So how do we kill the cancer stem cells? Well, they don't know yet. But it is promising research that I look forward to hearing more about in the future.

Black raspberries slowing growth of skin cancer

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UVB radiation is thought to be the most dangerous light in the solar spectrum. Scientists think that UVB light causes most of the non-melanoma skin cancers.

When you're exposed to UVB radiation for a period of time, it inflames the skin and causes sunburn. Squamous cell carcinoma is diagnosed in about 250,000 people each year in the United States. The cancer can arise from the inflammation of the skin by possible DNA damage.

Even though the scientist's discovery was only so far seen in mice, the researchers at the Ohio State University Medical Center say that a topical compound made of black raspberries significantly slows the growth of Squamous cell skin cancer.

The scientists think that the cancer fighting effects are a result of powerful antioxidants called anthacyanins that give the fruit its rich, dark color. The researchers said "In our experiments, the black raspberry treatment significantly reduced inflammatory damage and reduced tumor growth and spread".

In the future the researchers hope to have a topical treatment for humans that will alleviate pain and also protect against sun damage.

What cancer has taught me

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What some special young women have learned throughout their breast cancer journey.

What cancer has taught me:

  • To see beauty in what before I would have thought to be ugly.
  • That there are total strangers that can lift your spirits.
  • Who my true friends are.
  • To forgive.
  • To bring a sweater everywhere I go.
  • Not to feel guilty about day-time naps.
  • How to swallow five pills at a time.
  • To ask every nurse, clerical person, lab tech, scan tech I encounter what their name is.
  • To give more hugs and always tell the ones I love ..that I do love them..every time we speak.
  • How to poop and throw up at the same time.
  • To look at my kids more (when they are not looking).
  • To realize that you can live with cancer.
  • Meds are my friends.
  • Hair grows really slowly.
  • Some drugs make you fat.
  • Life is really not fair, and bad things happen to really good people.
  • To be more comfortable challenging authority, asking more questions and speaking my mind.
  • That my husband absolutely adores me.
  • To be more selfish and take time out for me.
  • To go out and do the things that make me happy.
  • Not to take life or people for granted.
  • To see the little things in life that I never saw before.
  • To love even more than before.
  • Time is very valuable.
  • Where to find a good wig in New York.
  • That I'm not that afraid of needles.
  • That I really am a 'glass half full' person.
  • That I'm stronger than I ever expected.
  • How nice it is to sit on the porch on a warm day.
  • That being bald ain't so bad.
  • That I can cope with more than I ever thought possible.
  • That it is okay to need other people, okay to be vulnerable and okay to ask for help.

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Thought for the Day: Shielding astronauts from cancer

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Those venturing into space face a very serious occupational hazard -- cancer. The disease can be caused by radiation from the cosmic rays and solar flares astronauts encounter when they travel beyond the Earth's protective magnetic layer or magnetosphere.

British scientists are working on rectifying this problem by creating a Star Trek-style deflector shield to protect astronauts from radiation.

Think about this:

Scientists wish to mimic the magnetic field that protects the Earth with shields deployed around spacecraft and on the surfaces of planets to deflect harmful energetic particles.

Details, presented at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Preston, UK, include the following:
  • The idea has been linked to the deflector shields that protect the USS Enterprise and other spacecraft on Star Trek. The shields, like on the TV show, could be switched on and off.
  • In order to make the shield, scientists must generate a magnetic field and then fill it with ionized gas, or plasma. As energetic particles interact with the plasma, energy is sapped away from them, causing them to slow down.
  • Protective shelters would not work on long-duration space journeys due to the drip of energized particles, thought to be as harmful as large solar storms.
"The nice thing is that magnet technology is really quite evolved here on Earth," says Dr. Mike Hapgood, from the Didcot-based research centre. The question is can you take it into space?"

A team from Rutherford-Appleton plans to build an artificial magnetosphere in the laboratory. They would eventually like to fly a test satellite which would test the technology in space.

Roger Ebert back to work after cancer surgery

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Movie critic Roger Ebert expects to be back to work at his annual festival for overlooked movies this week. It will be his first public appearance since having cancer surgery last summer -- and while some say his appearance may attract the gossip papers, Ebert says, "So what?"

Ebert, 64, will be seen at the ninth annual Overlooked Film Festival, beginning today at the University of Urbana-Champaign, wearing a gauze bandage around his neck. And his mouth will be seen to droop, he says.

This is all because of Ebert's tracheostomy -- it opens an airway through an incision in his windpipe, rendering him speechless -- that resulted from his June 16 surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his salivary gland and a subsequent July 1 surgery to repair a burst blood vessel close to the same site.

On Tuesday, Ebert shared that his cancer began in his salivary gland but then spread to his lower right jaw. As a result, part of his mandible was removed and two surgeries were necessary to reconstruct the area. Both surgeries were unsuccessful, however, and led to unanticipated bleeding.

"The doctors now plan an approach that does not involve the risk of unplanned bleeding," Ebert, a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, says. "If all goes well, my speech will be restored."

This cancer survivor, who says we spend too much time hiding illness and is proud to be back in the spotlight, has also co-hosted the Ebert & Roeper television show with fellow Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper since 2000. Film critics and filmmakers have been filling in for Ebert during his recovery.

KFC -- Not so finger lickin' good

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Kentucky Fried Chicken will be displaying warnings on its fried or baked potatoes saying that they can contain a suspected cancer causing chemical, acrylamide.

KFC settled a state lawsuit in California and will also have to pay $341,000 in penalties and funding for Proposition 65 enforcement, which is a voter-passed measure that requires businesses to post warnings about dangerous chemicals contained in food. Acrylamide is created when chemicals in food react to high heat.

I'm not surprised that french fries from a fast food restaurant are dangerous. What shocked me though is that the warning also states "It (acrylamide) is created in fried and baked potatoes made by all restaurants, by other companies, and even when you bake or fry potatoes at home".

Drug for metastatic prostate cancer ready for approval

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The FDA was given the okay by their panel of advisors to approve the drug Provenge, an immunotherapy that stimulates the immune system to help fight cancer cells.

The drug is designed for patients with metastatic prostate cancer who stop responding to hormonal therapy. The drug triggers the immune system to recognize a particular protein that is found on about 95 percent of all prostate cancer cells. When the immune system identifies the protein, it attacks the cancer cells.

The drug has shown in two previous trials that it increases survival in patients that have prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Cancer questions

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If you have just been diagnosed or are ready to go through treatments it is important that you understand your disease and the therapies recommended. A great website, has a list of questions that you should bring along to your next appointment.

Remember -- Knowledge is power!

10 Cancer Questions for Your Medical Oncologist About Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy, or Immunotherapy

  1. Why are you recommending this treatment for me? Why is it preferable to others?
  2. What does this treatment do, exactly? How well does it usually work?
  3. What are the risks and side effects of this treatment?
  4. How long will I need this treatment?
  5. Where will I go to get this treatment?
  6. What should I expect from the treatment itself? How long will it take?
  7. Should I bring a friend or family member with me to treatment?
  8. After treatment, will I need time to recover? Will I be able to drive myself home? Will I need to miss work?
  9. Should I make any changes to my diet or lifestyle during or after treatment?
  10. How can I reach you if I have concerns or further questions?

10 Cancer Questions for Your Surgeon or Surgical Oncologist

  1. Why are you recommending this surgery for me? Why is this treatment preferable to others?
  2. What will this surgery accomplish, exactly? How well does it usually work?
  3. What are the risks of this operation?
  4. How should I prepare for this surgery?
  5. What will happen during the procedure?
  6. How long will I need to stay in the hospital?
  7. What will my recovery be like?
  8. What complications should I look for?
  9. When can I go back to work?
  10. How can I reach you if I have concerns or further questions?

10 Cancer Questions to Ask the Radiation Oncologist

  1. Why are you recommending this treatment for me? Why is it preferable to others?
  2. What does this radiation therapy do, exactly? How well does it usually work?
  3. What are the risks and side effects of radiation therapy?
  4. How many weeks will I need this treatment?
  5. Where will I go to get this treatment?
  6. What should I expect from the treatment itself? What will happen? How long will it last?
  7. Should I bring a friend or family member with me to treatment?
  8. After treatment, will I need time to recover? Will I need to miss work?
  9. Should I make any changes to my diet or lifestyle during or after treatment?
  10. How can I reach you if I have concerns or further questions?

Thought for the Day: Chinese herbs to the rescue

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I've always heard the use of herbs and supplements and alternative therapies can be a potentially dangerous pursuit when combined with cancer treatment. But this may not be entirely true.

Think about this:

Using Chinese herbs alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy may help protect a breast cancer patient's bone marrow and immune system. It may also improve the overall quality of life for women, say researchers at the Chinese Cochrane Centre in Chengdu, China.

It is well known that women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer experience significant short term side effects such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, inflammation of the gut lining, decreased numbers of red and white blood cells, and decreased numbers of blood platelets. Those is search of some relief may wish to give Chinese medicinal herbs a try.

Researchers say there is conventional evidence indicating that these medicines are safe and effective. Still, "further trials are needed before the effects of traditional Chinese medicines for people with breast cancer can be evaluated with any real confidence," says one professor involved in this area of study.

Breast cancer, hormone link even stronger

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Back in the news: the link between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer. This time, the connection is seemingly more conclusive than before, when some argued that many factors influence the risk of breast cancer, that HRT could not do the job all on its own.

Now, two separate studies offer up powerful evidence that HRT is linked to tumor growth. Case in point: when use of the therapy drops, so do incidences of breast cancer.

New figures in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest there have been 16,000 fewer cases of breast cancer nationwide since mid-2002, when women stopped taking their hormone pills following the federal Women's Health Initiative announcement connecting the therapy with increased risk of breast cancer, stroke, and heart attack.

Many did not want to believe HRT was to blame for so many breast cancer diagnoses. And maybe it's not the actual cause of the disease, but the fuel for tumors trying to grow.

These new findings do not appear to be a statistical fluke, says one doctor. Numbers have been computed and re-computed, and the message is clear: HRT is strongly implicated as the guilty party. There is just no other culprit, says a statistician at the National Cancer Institute.

Wyeth, maker of Premarin and Prempro -- two forms of hormone therapy -- continues to caution women against drawing any conclusions about HRT and breast cancer. There still may be broader explanation for the decline in cases, say their spokespeople.

American Cancer Society launches mass cancer study

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A half a million volunteers are being sought out by the American Cancer Society (ACS) that are willing to let researchers watch them for twenty years to see if they develop cancer.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. The idea behind this large study is to compare it to other big studies in Europe and Asia, who are searching for environmental and lifestyle factors that cause cancer.

The group will recruit men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer. The volunteers will give blood to be tested and answer questionnaires at various times over the next twenty years.

Eugenia Calle, managing director of analytic epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, said in a statement "This type of study involves hundreds of thousands of people, with diverse backgrounds, followed for many years, with collection of biological specimens and assessments of dietary, lifestyle and environmental exposures".

Thought for the Day: Meet Miss Melanoma

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She's cute and spunky and full of life. She's Miss Melanoma, and her mission is simple: to raise awareness about skin cancer. Her slogan -- Attitude is everything. You're living with melanoma, not dying from it -- sums up this survivor girl, also known as Lori Lee, whose main goal is to get a Surgeon General's warning in every tanning bed salon window.

Think about this:

Miss Melanoma has a website. It's a spot for readers to learn, explore, RANT, even curse at cancer. "We won't censor your thoughts," she writes. "And we promise someone here will get exactly what you're saying."

The site features news, articles, artwork, shopping, and Miss Melanoma's personal blog, which is simply captivating. And quite shocking too.

Miss Melanoma, who learned in 2005 that a mole on her right foot was the absolute worst form of skin cancer, has endured the amputation of part of this same foot and aggressive treatment for a disease that began spreading up her leg and into her lymph nodes. And now, right now, Lori Lee is awaiting news from her surgeon about whether or not a likely cancerous lymph node deep in her pelvis can be surgically removed.

"Is it weird what a relief it is to be fighting cancer again?" she blogs. "It's something only a cancer survivor can understand, I think. You just don't know until you've been there. It's the new abnormal, people. Sitting around waiting for it to return when every doc you see tells you it's most likely coming back will drive you up the walls. Knowing that it's here and it's really just one lymph node and that we can treat it, that's a relief. I know. I can't explain it."

I urge you to think some more about Miss Melanoma, visit her website, her blog, and even send her your warm wishes as she continues living -- not dying -- from cancer.

New drug may help brain cancer patients

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New hope may be an injection away for patients living with glioma, a terminal brain cancer that comes with a life expectancy of about 25 weeks post-diagnosis.

A new vaccine called Vitaspen is made by using tissue extracted from each person's cancerous tumor. The tissue is used as a unique footprint for the vaccine that targets destructive tumor tissue while sparing healthy tissue in the same region.

Vitaspen is only in the first stage of clinical human trials, but researchers are pleased with the promise of the new drug -- particularly the benefits trial participants are gaining form the treatment. They have reported no adverse side effects, and the drug has increased the overall survival rate.

Results of stage one trials will determine if the drug warrants stage two testing.

Constant support

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The one constant thing that gives people fighting cancer hope is the continued support of friends and family. Phone calls, emails, a surprise or planned visit at the door that has a big hug on the other side, a held hand over coffee or tea, or sitting patiently by their side as they go in for treatments. When that support falls by the wayside, it makes the determination to fight this disease or any other less worth the effort. In my humble opinion as someone fighting cancer, we sometimes fight harder to overcome disease for others more than ourselves. Because it is in their caring and the will in their eyes that gives us a much brighter hope than we find in ourselves. It is the lack of support or caring that sets off an internal depression that makes it ten times harder to find the will to fight. People seem to find it easier to hug a tree than a human. Try to imagine if you will sitting in a house alone and thinking about a disease that can run rampant through your body. It is hard to imagine and something that we do not want to think about. Yet many many people face that struggle every day of their lives.

So if you haven't reached out to someone you know, a neighbor, a friend, someone in your church or where you work, or even a family member that is struggling with cancer or any other disease, then find it in your heart to do so. It will make a difference. And if you have reached out to someone once or even twice, know that once is not enough and twice is not enough. No matter how much you think you are being a nuisance, that constant reminder of love and support is 95 percent of your friend's battle. The old saying "You never know who your true friends are until you go through a crisis and see who stands by our side" is very very true. So go stand by someone's side today, tomorrow, and for many days to come to offer support and encourage strength until their fight is successful. Even a phone call goes a long long way.

For those of you who stay in touch with me by phone and emails and that come knocking on my door in this time of need, I thank you very much for giving me the strength and will to survive.
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Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation gets help from Tastykakes

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Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation is all about the fight against childhood cancer. Tasty Baking Company is joining forces with Alex's Foundation by creating a new product called Alex's Lemon Krimpets. The Krimpets can be purchased anywhere Tastykakes are sold. The baking company will donate $.50 from every box sold to the foundation.

Alex Scott was four years old when she opened up her first lemonade stand to help raise money for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Sadly, Alex passed away in 2004 at the age of eight. But her legacy still lives on.

For more information about Alex's foundation you can go to You can also visit to purchase some yummy Alex Lemon Krimpets and help the fight against childhood cancer.

Cancer and the workplace

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Did you know that at least 200,000 people die every year from cancers related to where they work? The main reasons are from inhaling asbestos fibers and second hand smoke. This was reported today by the World Health Organization (WHO).

About 125 million people are exposed to asbestos at work, leading to at least 90,000 deaths per year. Benzene, an organic compound used in rubbers, dyes and pesticides, causes thousands to die of leukemia each year. Those subjected to second hand smoke have twice the risk of developing lung cancer than those that work in a smoke free environment.

This means that we could be preventing so many cancer deaths if the industries would tighten safety standards for their employees.

Thought for the Day: Share your story, loud and clear

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The way I see it, there are two threads common to the journeys of many cancer patients and survivors -- the desire to hear stories of others walking in similar shoes and the desire to be heard.

These threads have definitely woven themselves throughout my own cancer experience. When first diagnosed, I searched long and hard for personal stories of women struggling with and conquering breast cancer. Once I was well on my road to recovery, I wanted others to hear my story, in hopes it would resonate with those looking for the same comfort I once craved.

Won't you consider sharing your story too? It might just help you. It will surely help others.

Think about this:

On the Discovery Health website, an offer awaits you.

"We would love to hear your story," reads a portion of the site. "So would the many others who share your relationship to Cancer."

If you are at least 18 years of age and have a few minutes to spare, simply call 888-890-6339 and follow the instructions to record your voice. When all stories are ready to be published in podcast format, an online notice will be posted.

Listed on the website is this important note:

Considering the nature of this application, it is impossible for us to review or confirm the validity of information submitted. We do not vouch for or warrant the , and are not responsible for the contents of any message. The entries express the views of the individual calling, not necessarily the views of our website or any entity associated with this initiative. Any user who feels that a posted podcast is objectionable is encouraged to contact us immediately by email. We have the ability to remove objectionable recordings and we will make every effort to do so, within a reasonable time frame, if we determine that removal is necessary. This is a manual process, however, so please realize that we may not be able to remove or edit particular entries immediately.

You agree, through your use of this recording service, that you are at least 18 years of age and will not use this recording to post any material or links to material which is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise violative of any law. You agree not to submit by telephone any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you.

Although this website does not and cannot review the messages recorded and is not responsible for the content of any of these entries, we at this website reserve the right to delete any recording for any or no reason whatsoever. You remain solely responsible for the content of your recording, and you agree to indemnify and hold harmless this website, and their agents with respect to any claim based upon transmission of your recording(s).

We at this website also reserve the right to reveal your identity (or whatever information we know about you) in the event of a complaint or legal action arising from any message recorded by you.

Please note that advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, and solicitations are inappropriate on this initiative.

American Cancer Society files smoking lawsuit

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The American Cancer Society (ACS) of Ohio has filed a lawsuit challenging the state's workplace smoking ban. The ban exempts some military veterans' halls and other private clubs -- and the ASC says this is not OK.

The exemption waters down the law and exposes people to secondhand smoke, say ACS spokeswoman Wendy Simpkins.

The smoking ban was approved by 58 percent of voters in November, took effect in December, and will result in fining beginning the first week in May. The law prohibits smoking in most public places, such as restaurants, bars, and office and excludes tobacco shops, designated hotel rooms, and enclosed areas of nursing homes. Halls and clubs can be excluded from the law only if there are no employees.

Jay Carey, spokesman for the state Health Department, says public health officials have the authority to set rules for enforcement. They ultimately decided that VFW halls and other private clubs were exempt if they had only members as employees. For the exemption to apply, such clubs also must be nonprofit and in a freestanding building. No nonmembers or children under age 18 can be present.

The ACS argues that the state rules are confusing and make the law unworkable.