Category Archives: Breast Cancer and Nutrition

Eating Greens and How It Affects Immune Health

Image source: rgbstock / johnnyberg

Eating Greens and How It Affects Immune Health

My mother always used to tell me “eat your greens, they’re good for you!” It turns out, mother was more right than she could possibly know.

Eating one’s greens may be even more crucial for immune health than we previously thought, according to recent research which has discovered that an immune cell population essential for intestinal health may be controlled by leafy greens in the diet.

The immune cells, termed innate lymphoid cells (“ILCs”), are located in the lining of the digestive tract. They were discovered in 2013 by researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Molecular Research in Australia. [1]

Let me back-track a bit. Science has, for many years, divided the immune system into two types: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity is present at birth and does not require prior exposure to protect you against pathogens. Adaptive immunity only develops when you have been exposed to a pathogen, for instance chickenpox. Once exposed to a pathogen, your immune cells are able to recognize the invader and mount a defense against it. Adaptive immunity provides the SWAT team that identifies an invading enemy and makes the specific weapons (known as antibodies) needed to destroy it. The fascinating thing about ILCs is that they are neither innate nor adaptive, they sort of straddle the two.

ILCs include cells that have been known for decades, such as natural killer (NK) cells and lymphoid tissue-inducer (LTi) cells. NK cells are key in protecting us from cancer as they recognize a huge array of tumor cells and cancer stem cells and help to eliminate them through cytotoxicity and the production of cytokines. Other ILCs are found mainly in the mucosal lining of the gut and in other mucosal-associated lymphoid tissues, where they work hard to protect us from pathogens.

The 2013 research [2] discovered that a gene called T-bet is essential for producing these all-important ILCs. Going back to the subject of eating greens, they found that the gene responds to signals in the food we eat. They discovered that T-bet is the key gene that tells precursor cells to develop into ILCs. It does this in response to signals from the food we eat and to the presence of bacteria in the gut.

Here’s how it works. Apparently proteins in green leafy and cruciferous vegetables interact with a cell surface receptor that switches on T-bet. Researchers think that the proteins in leafy greens may be part of the same signaling pathway used by T-bet to produce ILCs.

These researchers were excited about the discovery because it has been exceedingly difficult to isolate or produce ILCs. So finding out that something as simple as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables in the diet can turn on the gene responsible for making ILCs is noteworthy. Without eating greens and without T-bet, the body becomes more susceptible to bacterial infections and other diseases.

Beyond their role in immunity, ILCs are also found in adipose (fat) tissue where they regulate thermogenesis and prevent inflammation that may lead to metabolic syndrome, obesity-related asthma and insulin resistance. [3]

Interestingly, while reading all the research as I prepared to write this article, I came across any number of web articles that boldly denied that diet had any role to play in bolstering immunity – despite the vast amount of research that’s being published to the contrary. Some people live in an interesting land called DENIAL.

For more information on which foods help with immunity and fighting cancer, see my page Diet and Cancer.

References:

[1] Gene Discovery Reveals Importance of Eating Your Greens –
https://www.wehi.edu.au/news/gene-discovery-reveals-importance-eating-your-greens

[2] T-bet is essential for NKp46+ innate lymphocyte development through the Notch pathway –
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4076532/

[3] Innate lymphoid cells: A new paradigm in immunology – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6237/aaa6566

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

7 Effective Ways to Lower Cholesterol without Statins

7 Effective Ways to Lower Cholesterol without Statins

We already know that obesity is linked to breast cancer, there are several studies that have linked the two quite effectively. Now it appears that having high cholesterol levels MAY also put us at a higher risk for breast cancer.

Several studies have recently been published investigating whether there was an association between hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and breast cancer.  There have been mixed results, with one preliminary British study saying there definitely is an association, and one French study finding no association between blood lipids and breast cancer risk.

Dr Harold Burstein, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and a spokesman for the American Society of Clinical Oncology has stated “The link between cholesterol and breast cancer risk is mild, at most, and has not been a consistent finding in different studies, especially when other factors such as weight, obesity and diet are factored into the epidemiology.”

So the experts don’t agree and the studies are inconclusive but we already know that having high cholesterol levels is bad for our cardiovascular health.

Also in the breast cancer community, patients treated with aromatase inhibitors often develop hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension, all of which are recognized risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

So it only makes sense to do what we can to naturally reduce high cholesterol levels without the  use of statin drugs, which come with their own set of problems and side effects.

Following is a guest post from Kate Forsyth over at Be Healthy Today. Kate has shared 7 great tips on how to effectively lower cholesterol levels without statin drugs.

GUEST POST from KATE FORSYTH

Thanks to the onslaught of fast food and junk food we have easily available nowadays, a lot of people are battling with the bulge. This means having a high cholesterol content in the body. And that’s not good.

As we all know, having too much of something is always a bad idea. To ensure a healthy lifestyle, we always need to check the levels of everything. With regard to cholesterol levels,  one way that people ensure they’re not too high is through taking statins.

Statins, to put it simply, are cholesterol-lowering medications. How do they lower the blood cholesterol levels? They block the action of a specific chemical in the liver that is necessary for producing cholesterol. Take note that having too much cholesterol in the blood causes plaque buildup on the artery walls. This buildup will eventually cause the arteries to narrow and harden. Blood clots in these arteries will cause a heart attack or stroke. To prevent that, statins are then prescribed.

When a person takes statins, cholesterol levels are thus lowered. Because these levels decrease, this then reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In fact, some studies show that statins effectively lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease by around 25%–35%. Other studies also show that statins reduce the chances of recurrent strokes or heart attacks by around 40%.

So how exactly will you know if your blood cholesterol levels are “high”? Most of the practitioners in the medical community believe that the ratio of LDL (bad) cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol should be around 2:1. Taking a lipid profile blood test will show the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your system.

Total Cholesterol

Below 200 mg/dL Ideal
200–239 mg/dL Borderline high
240 mg/dL and up High

LDL Cholesterol

Below 70 mg/dL Ideal for people with a very high risk for heart disease
Below 100 mg/dL Ideal for people with a slight risk for heart disease
100–129 mg/dL Near ideal
130–159 mg/dL Borderline high
160–189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and up Very high

HDL Cholesterol

Below 40 mg/dL (women) Poor
Below 50 mg/dL (men) Poor
50–59 mg/dL Better
60 mg/dL and up Best

Triglycerides

Below 150 mg/dL Ideal
150–199 mg/dL Borderline high
200–499 mg/dL High
500 mg/dL and up Very high

While I’m sure statins are a godsend to many people, wouldn’t it be better to lower cholesterol levels naturally? That way there won’t be any drug dependency, and you’ll have more control over your body.

There are quite a number of ways that you can lessen those high cholesterol levels. Here are a few prime examples that actually work.

  1. Watch That Fat

Make sure to limit your intake of foods loaded with saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol. These include butter, fatty flesh (red meat), dairy products, palm oil, as well as coconut oil.

The best choices of food to load up on instead are those with omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel.

Also, opt for foods with polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids. These two will help lower LDL. Many plant-derived oils contain both. Some examples are safflower, grapeseed, olive, and peanut oils. (note by Marnie – make sure they’re organic!)

  1. Eat More Protein

For your protein content, great sources are legumes, beans, seeds, and nuts. Specific examples are red beans, pinto beans, white beans, and soybeans. They’re full of essential nutrients and help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and insulin levels.

  1. Fiber Is Your Best Friend

Foods with high fiber intake have been proven to help lower high cholesterol levels. Excellent sources of fiber include oats, barley, peas, yams, sweet potatoes, and other potatoes. You can also stock up on legumes or beans, such as peas, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. Good fruit sources are berries, passion fruit, oranges, pears, apricots, nectarines, and apples. And finally, vegetables rich in soluble fiber include carrots, Brussels sprouts, beets, okra, and eggplant.

  1. Hello, Herbs!

A number of herbs have been noted to help with cholesterol levels as well. These include rosemary, basil, and turmeric. Adding them to your food provides powerful antioxidants that are cardio-protective and can help lower cholesterol levels naturally.

  1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Regular exercise improves cholesterol. Doing moderate physical activity helps raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Regularly exercising helps you lose weight. Making sure you maintain a desirable and healthy weight can gain plenty of benefits. One of these is improving your cholesterol profile. This helps prevent getting other sorts of diseases as well, like type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, gout, and some types of cancer.

In order to stay on track, it’s a good idea to find an exercise buddy who shares the same goals as you. You can both encourage and help each other out to be healthier.

  1. Say Goodbye to Smoking

If you smoke, quitting ASAP is a good idea. Cutting this bad habit will do wonders to your HDL levels. Once you quit, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease will be half that of a regular smoker.

  1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep deprivation has been proven to increase the LDL levels. This leads to high blood pressure and overeating as well. Try to ensure you get a good solid 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Check out bedtime practices that work for you and are effective in providing you with the rest you need.

Author Bio:

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

SOURCES:

https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/health-benefits/lower-cholesterol/1468-7-tips-for-improving-your-ldl-cholesterol.html

https://draxe.com/lower-cholesterol-naturally-fast/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-to-lower-your-cholesterol-without-drugs

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20552005,00.html#dietary-fiber-0

http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Headline/statins-cholesterol-natural-drugfree/2013/11/14/id/536605/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935

 

Thanks, Kate, for the 7 great tips!

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

YouTube Videos by Dr Michael Greger, A Great Source of Nutrition Facts

Dr Michael Greger
Dr Michael Greger

YouTube Videos by Dr Michael Greger, A Great Source of Nutrition Facts

One of my favorite sources of nutrition facts and information are Dr Michael Greger’s YouTube videos.  They are full of great information on nutrition, all backed by research and common-sense thinking, and he really delves deeply into the subject he is discussing. He also explains it all so clearly and concisely, so that the average person can understand.

The particular things I really like about Dr Greger and his videos are his witty dialogue, the way he simplifies medical jargon as he’s reciting the facts of medical studies, and the fact that the videos are in a short, easy-to-digest format. I appreciate the fact that he reads so many studies on a particular subject, boils it all down for us into 3-4 minutes of information, and delivers the facts with a minimum of fuss. No messing around – I especially like that, when you don’t have much time to waste on finding out about something, it’s a real plus! Just the fact that he reads all of those research studies (he obviously has an inquiring mind), that alone would turn us mere mortals blue in the face. Oh, and he’s not pushing any products, another nice thing.

Some of my favorite YouTube videos by Dr Greger are:

Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?

Antimutagenic Activity of Green Tea vs White Tea 

Is Soy Healthy For Breast Cancer Survivors?

BRCA Breast Cancer Genes and Soy

Cancer Reversal Through Diet?

Apple Skin: Peeling Back Cancer

Is Distilled Fish Oil Toxin Free?

Each video is only 4-5 minutes long and definitely worth your time and attention. Go check out some of these – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you go to the NutritionFacts.org website, you will find a treasure trove of instructional videos over there on a huge variety of health subjects. Use the search field to find what you’re looking for. The YouTube channel is called NutritionFacts.org, so go on over to YouTube and subscribe to his channel and they will email you when new videos are released.

Searching for more information on breast cancer and nutrition? Visit my page Diet and Cancer.

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Chamomile is an Effective Cancer Fighter

http://MarnieClark.com/Chamomile-is-an-Effective-Cancer-Fighter

Chamomile is an Effective Cancer Fighter

Welcome to my first article for 2017! I’ve been taking a wee break to spend time with my lovely grandchildren but it’s time to get back to work. This article is all about the wonderful herb chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and how great it is for killing cancer cells.

Chamomile has centuries of use as a remedy for inducing sleep, fighting the effects of stress and anxiety, and calming digestion. New research indicates that drinking chamomile tea regularly can also assist with many other health issues. Interesting 2015 Greek research found that chamomile tea consumption protected against thyroid cancer. For those who drank the tea two to six times per week, these participants had a much reduced risk of thyroid cancer. For the long-time drinkers of chamomile tea, researchers stated “Thirty years of consumption significantly reduced the risk of thyroid cancer and benign thyroid diseases development by almost 80%.” [1]

Chamomile has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, anti-parasitic, anti-aging, calming, and yes, anti-cancer properties. [2]

We know that antioxidants are important for reducing cancer risk. But that part about anti-inflammation? That’s important too. Chamomile has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Since many disease processes involve inflammation, including breast cancer, this is an important thing to get under control. Prostaglandins and COX-2 enzymes (molecules closely related to the process of inflammation in the body) are higher in tumor tissue than in normal tissue. Many recent studies have confirmed that if the inflammatory process can be stopped, tumorigenesis (the process of the formation of a tumor) stops too. In Germany, chamomile has been approved by the German Commission E for the management of inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, for topical application in the treatment of skin disorders, and for inflammatory disorders. [3]

Chamomile’s Phytochemicals

Chamomile contains some very interesting phytochemicals (plant-based, all natural chemicals) including apigenin, luteolin, terpene compounds, chamazulene, alpha-bisabolol, patuletin, quercetin, myricetin, and rutin.

Apigenin has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Apigenin is a flavone, from the flavonoid family of phytochemicals. Besides chamomile, apigenin is also found in celery, celeriac, onions, grapefruit, oranges, and the herbs thyme, lemon balm and parsley. [4]

Canadian researchers reported in 2014 that apigenin inhibited the proliferation (spread) of four different types of breast cancer:
MDA-MB-231: estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, HER2 negative – also known as triple negative breast cancer, highly metastatic
MDA-MB-468: estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, HER2 negative, adenocarcinoma, metastatic
MCF-7: estrogen receptor positive, progesterone receptor positive, HER2 negative, infiltrating ductal carcinoma, metastatic
SkBr3: estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, HER2 positive, infiltrating ductal carcinoma with lung metastases

The Canadian researchers stated: “low-dose apigenin has the potential to slow or prevent breast cancer progression.” [5]

Luteolin is also a flavone. Researchers at the University of Missouri in the USA reported late in 2016 that luteolin inhibited cell migration, the spreading of cancer cells to lungs and viability of triple negative breast cancer cells. It also induced apoptosis (programmed cell death, absent in cancer cells), inhibited VEGF secretion. VEGF stands for vascular endothelial growth factor, a protein that plays a critical role in breast tumors by enhancing cell proliferation (rapid growth), invasion (spread), angiogenesis (the ability of a tumor to create new blood vessels to feed itself) and metastasis (spread to other tissues of the body). [6]

Terpene compounds are a class of phytochemicals that are components of the essential oils found in plants. Terpenes have some wonderful characteristics. They are highly antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and pain relieving phytochemicals. The most exciting aspect of terpenes, however, is that they clean off the receptor sites in cells, which helps to increase cellular communication. They have the ability to cross over the blood-brain-barrier separating the brain from the rest of the body. This means they can have direct effects on the brain. They can also erase incorrect coding information in DNA, and they help to reprogram cells with correct coding information to effect deep healing.

Chamazulene is a phytochemical found in chamomile, it has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. [7]

Alpha-bisabolol is one of the terpene compounds referred to above. Namely, it is a sesquiterpene. Italian researchers in 2016 listed five ways alpha-bisabolol worked as an effective cytotoxic (toxic to cancer cells) agent. Researchers stated that alpha-bisabolol acted “on different layers of cell regulation to elicit different concurrent death signals.” [8]

Quercetin, a flavonoid, is a strong antioxidant with anti-cancer effects. A 2013 study demonstrated that quercetin reduced proliferation, promoted apoptosis and decreased levels of survivin in MCF-7 breast cancer cells (described above). [9] See also the role of quercetin in breast cancer resistance protein, discussed below.

Myricetin, also a flavonoid, increases antioxidant levels in the body. In 2014, Indian researchers investigated its effects in a small animal trial. Rats were given a specific drug to promote breast cancer and for those who received myricetin, there was a significant protective effect. [10]
2016 research also found myricetin to have anti-cancer properties. It arrests the telomeres in the DNA of MCF-7 breast cancer cells. [11] Scientists have been investigating the use of small molecules to arrest something called the G-quadruplex structure. This has become a potential strategy for the development and design of a new class of anti-cancer therapeutics. While I’m not a scientist and I don’t understand this research sufficiently to be able to explain it to you in layman terms, I do know that telomeres play an important role in cancer and anti-aging. The article at [12] below may help to clarify matters for you.

Rutin is a flavonoid present in chamomile. In 2013, Chinese researchers investigated the role of rutin for neuroblastoma, a particularly lethal form of childhood cancer. Rutin was found to have potent anti-cancer effects on neuroblastoma cells. It induced cell cycle arrest, induced apoptosis, as well as regulating the expression of the gene related to apoptosis. [13]

Breast Cancer Resistance Protein

Doctors and researchers have been stymied in recent years by tumors that increasingly have a resistance to the chemotherapeutic drugs being used to battle the cancer. Identified in 1998, breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), is a gene found in diverse cancer cells which appear to cause multidrug resistance. BCRP appears to function as part of a self-defense mechanism for the cancer – it enhances elimination of toxic substances (ie most chemotherapy drugs) and harmful agents in the gut and through the blood-brain, placental, and possibly even blood-testis barriers. BCRP expression in cancer cells operates by recognizing and transporting out of the body numerous anti-cancer drugs including conventional chemotherapeutic and targeted drugs. BCRP is also a known stem cell marker, its presence in cancer cells usually indicates drug resistance, self-renewal, and invasiveness and, consequently, poor prognosis. [14]

I’m sharing all of this with you because chamomile, and more specifically, quercitin has been found, in a brand new 2017 study from researchers in the UK, to down-regulate the expression of BCRP, without the neurotoxicity shown by other drugs designed to modulate BCRP. [15]

Curcumin was also mentioned as a down-regulator of the BCRP gene. See my article Harvest the Power of Curcumin to Kill Breast Cancer Cells

So which form of chamomile is best? Both Roman chamomile and German chamomile contain the potent phytochemicals mentioned in this article. Whether you drink the herbal tea or use the essential oil, chamomile is bad news for cancer cells.

References:

[1] The Effect of Greek Herbal Tea Consumption on Thyroid Cancer: a Case-control Study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842380

[2] A Review of the Bioactivity and Potential Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea (Matricaria Recutita L.) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16628544

[3] Chamomile, a Novel and Selective COX-2 Inhibitor with Anti-inflammatory Activity – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2784024/

[4] Apigenin and Breast Cancers: From Chemistry to Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25738871

[5] Exposure of Breast Cancer Cells to a Subcytotoxic Dose of Apigenin Causes Growth Inhibition, Oxidative Stress, and Hypophosphorylation of Akt – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25019465

[6] Luteolin Inhibits Lung Metastasis, Cell Migration, and Viability of Triple-negative Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5207335/

[7] Rapid Evaluation and Comparison of Natural Products and Antioxidant Activity in Calendula, Feverfew, and German Chamomile Extracts – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25666499

[8] The Antineoplastic Agent A-bisabolol Promotes Cell Death by Inducing Pores in Mitochondria and Lysosomes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27278818

[9] Effects of Quercetin on the Proliferation of Breast Cancer Cells and Expression of Survivin in Vitro – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820718/

[10] Evaluation of Protective Effect of Myricetin, a Bioflavonoid in Dimethyl Benzanthracene-induced Breast Cancer in Female Wistar Rats – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4014640/

[11] Myricetin arrests human telomeric G-quadruplex structure: a new mechanistic approach as an anticancer agent – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27249025

[12] http://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/Telomeres-and-Cancer.aspx

[13] Anti-Tumor Effect of Rutin on Human Neuroblastoma Cell Lines through Inducing G2/M Cell Cycle Arrest and Promoting Apoptosis – https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2013/269165/

[14] Breast Cancer Resistance Protein (Bcrp/abcg2): its Role in Multidrug Resistance and Regulation of its Gene Expression – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777471/

[15] Phytochemical Mediated-modulation of the Expression and Transporter Function of Breast Cancer Resistance Protein at the Blood-brain Barrier: an In-vitro Study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27771282

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Yes Your Urine Might Change Color When Taking DIM

http://MarnieClark.com/yes-your-urine-might-change-color-when-taking-dimYes Your Urine Might Change Color When Taking DIM

I have long been an advocate of the supplement DIM, you will find many articles about it on this website. DIM is short for di-indolyl-methane and it is made from plant indoles, natural phytonutrients found aplenty in cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, and my favorite, broccoli. Indoles help to manage out-of-control estrogen and estriol levels in both men and women. Today I’m sharing some information about one of the possible side effects of DIM supplementation. Your urine might change color when taking DIM. It can be a surprise if you’re not expecting it, and even slightly worrisome.

While I was on the subject I took a look at all of the newest (and exciting) research on DIM and have included that information in this article as well.

About That Urine Color Change with DIM…

I have taken DIM myself on many occasions. Recently, however, I changed my DIM product to a stronger formulation and began to notice something rather odd. My urine was a dark orange, almost a bronzey red color. I was also having some weird cramping, rather like very mild menstrual cramps. I have NEVER seen my urine that color before and with that and the cramping, I began to think I had a bladder infection or a UTI. I just wasn’t feeling so good.

Gotta say, all of that worried me a bit. I almost went in for a urinalysis, but then did a quick Internet search and connected the two. DOH! These are common symptoms when taking DIM. So I stopped taking it for a day or two and the dark urine color changed back to normal and any cramping stopped. I wondered why it hadn’t happened to me before because as I say, I have taken DIM before. But then I recalled that I was taking a stronger and better formulation. I’m back on it now and though my urine is dark again, there has been no more cramping.

So Why Does Your Urine Change Color When You Take DIM?

Because DIM is doing great things for you! It can be a sign that it is assisting your liver to detox your body of excess estrogen metabolites and other environmental estrogens (known as xenoestrogens). For that reason, it’s a good idea to also take some sort of liver support while taking DIM supplements. The herb milk thistle is extremely good for this. Also drinking lots of green tea is helpful for liver support. Please also ensure you drink lots of filtered water when you’re taking DIM because your body is trying to excrete toxic substances and you need to help it flush them out of your body. Add a slice of lemon and get some vitamin C too!

There are times when a change of urine color should be checked out by your doctor – see Other Causes for Concern for Dark Urine, below.

New Research on DIM

I’m excited to share some great new research on DIM, just released. Older studies have already shown that DIM inhibits the growth of human cancer cells by interfering with multiple signaling pathways, reducing the invasion, migration, and metastasis (spread) of cancer cells, as well as promoting apoptosis (planned cell death, which cancer cells lack). It is also a potent stimulator of immune function [1].

Research published in October 2016 by Korean researchers examining the effect of DIM on mice with colitis found that DIM has anti-inflammatory properties (always a good thing for your anti-cancer arsenal). It also suppresses the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor, a growth factor associated with a tumor’s ability to create new blood vessels to feed itself, a process called angiogenesis. [2]

Chinese research published in September 2016 investigating the effects of DIM on mice undergoing total body radiation found that DIM has radioprotective properties [3]. This is great news. Apparantly DIM helps to offset the injury that occurs to hematopoiesis, our ability to create new blood cells. This is one of the reasons people can have alarming decreases in various blood cell types when undergoing radiation.

Joint USA/Chinese research reported in September 2016 (again on mice) found that DIM reduces prostate tumor growth by suppressing a gene known as PCGEM1, while promoting apoptosis. [4]

A joint USA/Indian study on animals released in August 2016 found that two derivatives from DIM (DIM-10 and DIM-14) possessed strong anti-cancer effects, and were responsible for a significant reduction in tumor size in triple negative breast cancer cells. [5] These are cells that are not affected by hormones or HER2 status. An older 2002 study also found that DIM could induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells independent of estrogen receptor status. [6]

A July 2016 Korean study indicated DIM could also be useful for gastrointestinal cancers. [7]

DIM may be beneficial for those carrying the BRCA1/2 gene mutation as well. A small Canadian research study appearing in the British Journal of Cancer in 2014 investigated the ability of DIM to upregulate BRCA1 expression. Upregulating this gene, associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, translates to a reduced cancer risk. Although a small study, the women receiving 300 mg per day (150 mg twice per day) of DIM experienced a 34 percent increase in BRCA1 expression. [8] Very encouraging!

One other interesting thing. When taking DIM, oxygen levels in tumor cells increase. This is a really great thing because oxygen is hated by cancer cells. They thrive in anaerobic conditions (meaning without oxygen) so something natural that increases cellular oxygen levels is beneficial. The study was done at the University of California at Berkeley in 2008 and it was the first to demonstrate that DIM works by decreasing the accumulation and activity a key factor involved in angiogenesis called HIF-1alpha in hypoxic cancer cells. [9]

Here’s the brand of DIM I’m taking.

This is another great brand.

This is a great milk thistle supplement.

Other Causes for Concern for Dark Urine

If your urine turns dark when taking DIM, do not be alarmed. There are times, however, when you do need to be concerned and watchful for other symptoms. If your liver is diseased, you may have symptoms such as yellowing of eyes and skin, abdominal pain, pale or red stool, itchy skin, nausea and loss of appetite. Kidney disease symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, problems sleeping, muscles cramping and twitching, and decreased urine output.

References:

[1] 3,3′-Diindolylmethane Stimulates Murine Immune Function In Vitro and In Vivo – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387240/

[2] Effect of Oral Administration of 3,3′-Diindolylmethane on Dextran Sodium Sulfate-Induced Acute Colitis in Mice – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27700072

[3] 3,3′-diindolylmethane Mitigates Total Body Irradiation-induced Hematopoietic Injury in Mice – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27609226

[4] Regulation of PCGEM1 by P54/NRB in Prostate Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5041109/

[5] Novel Diindolylmethane Derivatives Based NLC Formulations to Improve the Oral Bioavailability and Anticancer Effects in Triple Negative Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27586082

[6] Bcl-2 Family-mediated Apoptotic Effects of 3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM) in Human Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11931841

[7] Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of 3,3′-Diindolylmethane in Gastrointestinal Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4964527/

[8] BRCA1 mRNA Levels Following a 4–6-week Intervention with Oral 3,3′-diindolylmethane –
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4183839/

[9] 3,3′-Diindolylmethane Reduces Levels of HIF-1a and HIF-1 Activity in Hypoxic Cultured Human Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387239/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Benefits of Eating Raw Food vs Cooked

Image source: freedigitalphotos.net
Image source: freedigitalphotos.net

The Benefits of Eating Raw Food vs Cooked

As a breast health coach one of the things I recommend to my clients is the benefits of eating raw food vs cooked food, it’s part of my wellness recommendations for them. Let me be clear – I am not saying everyone should switch your diet to all raw (although some do and are quite happy to). In this article I hope to share with you why raw food should be considered part of a healthy regimen and in what quantity.

Malnourished?

According to health expert Philip Day, the top six causes of disease deaths in our western culture are ALL diseases of chronic malnutrition, especially cancer. Yes – malnutrition! Hard to believe in this day and age, but it’s absolutely true. Our bodies are literally starving for the nutrients they need to run properly.

The primary goal of eating a diet high in raw foods is to help your body get those easy-to-digest, high quality nutrients it so badly needs. Our bodies are naturally designed for this sort of diet. Secondly, cooked foods create a higher level of acidity in the body, while raw foods neutralize acid and help the body be more alkaline. We know that high levels of acidity are associated with increased disease.

Cooking vs Raw

The problem with cooking food is that heating it can destroy many of the natural nutrients and enzymes the food would normally contain. This is not a good thing because those enzymes assist with digestion and help in the fight against chronic disease (yes, even cancer). Foods that are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) simply don’t stand up well to cooking.

Cooked foods can also produce inflammation in the body and this is something we definitely want to avoid because cancer is an inflammatory process. So anything that creates or promotes inflammation is to be avoided wherever possible.

Some of the benefits of incorporating more raw food into the diet include less inflammation in the body, less acidity, better digestion, healthy weight promotion, good quality dietary fiber (helps elimination so less constipation), reduced food allergies, less joint pain, improved heart, liver and colon function, reduced need for vitamin supplements, more energy, clear skin, and more importantly, more cancer-fighting nutrients.

My Recommendations

One of the key parts of a breast healthy diet is one high in cancer-banishing phytonutrients that come from raw fruits and vegetables. Depending on which style of raw food diet you wish to follow, you can begin by just adding more raw fruit and vegetables into your diet every single day. There’s no need to completely make over your diet on day one. Start slowly and aim eventually for a 50/50 ratio of raw to cooked food – that’s a really great goal. Here’s a tip:  at each meal, fill a plate half way with fresh, raw, non-starchy vegetables and fruit and the other half of the plate with cooked or lightly steamed food.

For a list of the best anti-cancer fruits and vegetables to eat, check out my page Diet and Cancer. My personal feelings are that there is little need to go completely raw (unless you want to), because it’s too easy for a person to become deficient in protein and to feel deprived, unless they are following a very specific and rigorous raw food regimen. I’m finding many just don’t have the time or inclination for that.

So as to not feel too deprived I recommend people also include fish, sea vegetables, sprouted grains, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, also seeds, nuts, eggs, and small amounts of organic meat and chicken. This is definitely a matter of personal choice, however, and if you feel the need to completely avoid eating meat, that’s your right. We can agree to disagree.

You definitely want to avoid most packaged and processed foods sold in the grocery store like bread, cereals, crackers, cheese and most dairy products, condiments, highly processed oils and meats. One naturopath went a step farther and said to me “If it has a bar code, avoid it!” That’s not strictly true anymore as even fruit can have bar codes these days. But you get her meaning, right? The more natural (and preferably organic) that it is, the better.

Good Raw Food Websites

There are some wonderful websites out there that share loads of tasty and inventive raw food recipes. I recommend beginning with just one new recipe per week that you will enjoy and build up your recipe repertoire over time. Get familiar with the world’s leading raw food websites. Here are some of my favorites:

Raw Food Recipes


http://rawmazing.com/rawmazing-recipes/
http://allrecipes.com/recipes/16337/healthy-recipes/raw-food-diet/
http://www.thebestofrawfood.com/raw-food-diet-recipe-index.html
http://www.therawfoodmum.com/

Please remember the benefits of juicing too. Juicing vegetables and adding phytonutrient-rich green foods and fulvic acids to your diet gets some cancer-blasting nutrients into your body in a hurry. So if your diet has been less than optimal lately, today is a new day. Do some juicing. Eat a new raw food salad (my favorite one is at the top of the page here). Get some greens into you. Give your body what it needs. Raw vegetables and fruits RULE!

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Study Shows Curcumin Works As Well As Herceptin In Some Cases

http://MarnieClark.com/Study-Shows-Curcumin-Works-As-Well-As-Herceptin-In-Some-CasesStudy Shows Curcumin Works As Well As Herceptin In Some Cases

While doing some research for one of my newsletters about curcumin, the pigment derived from the root spice turmeric, and its good effects for breast cancer, I ran across a study on curcumin that had some great information for those with HER2 positive breast cancer.

About 15-25 percent of breast cancer patients are HER2 positive, meaning that their tumors have an overexpression of this oncoprotein which researchers have observed is associated with a poor prognosis, increased disease recurrence and metastases. One of the drugs that has been created to address this problem is trastuzumab, also called Herceptin.

There is little doubt that Herceptin is saving lives, but there’s a problem for some people.

Quite a few women have contacted me from various parts of the world where Herceptin is either not available or too expensive – Africa being the main location where this is happening. These women have been diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer and are quite concerned that Herceptin is not available for them.  Another couple of problems exist as well. The tumor cells of some women have a resistance to Herceptin. And for some, Herceptin is too hard on their heart and/or lungs. So it is for these women that I am sharing this information.

The study I read was released in 2012 and its title is “The Potential Utility of Curcumin in the Treatment of HER-2-Overexpressed Breast Cancer: An In Vitro and In Vivo Comparison Study with Herceptin” [1].

As denoted by the title, the study was both an in vitro (test tube) study and in vivo (in body – with animals) study done with various lines of breast cancer cells and on mice. I believe the results are very interesting and are certainly worth considering, especially in view of the fact that not everyone has access to the drug Herceptin, some are resistant and some are just not able to tolerate it. These people need Herceptin alternatives.

The Research

Researchers wanted to gain some insight about what worked best for tumors that overexpress the HER2 oncoprotein. So they divided up various lines of breast cancer cells (listed below) in test tubes and also test animals into 8 different groups:

1. Those who received DMSO only
2. Those who received Herceptin only
3. Those who received curcumin only
4. Those who received a combination of Herceptin and curcumin
5. Those who received Taxol only
6. Those who received a combination of Taxol and Herceptin
7. Those who received a combination of Taxol and curcumin
8. Those who received a combination of Taxol, curcumin and Herceptin

The results revealed that curcumin reduced the cell viability of several different breast cancer cell lines, including MCF-7 (ER-positive, HER-2-negative), MDA-MB-231 (ER-negative, PR-negative, HER-2-negative – also known as triple negative), BT-474 (ER-positive, HER-2-positive), and SK-BR-3-hr (ER-negative, HER-2-positive but Herceptin-resistant) cells.

Herceptin Combined with Curcumin

Researchers found that when a low dose of Herceptin was used with curcumin, there was a synergistic effect, but when a high dose of Herceptin was used, there was an antagonistic effect, meaning that the combination didn’t work as well. So for someone having high doses of Herceptin, taking curcumin would most likely not provide an advantage.

In BT-474 cells (ER-positive, HER-2 positive), curcumin effectively decreased tumor size.

Also, researchers noted that curcumin had the ability to inhibit Herceptin-resistant breast cancer cells (SK-BR-3). This is of great importance to those who are HER2 positive but who are resistant to Herceptin. Researchers stated “The ability of curcumin to downregulate EGFR and HER-2 oncoproteins and inhibit the phosphorylation of Akt and MAPK and NF-kB activation suggests that curcumin has potential in the treatment of HER-2-overexpressed and/or herceptin-resistant breast cancer.”

In the animal study, curcumin treatment effectively reduced the tumor size by 76.7%, compared with the control; however, it was not as effective as Herceptin, which achieved an 86.7% tumor reduction.

Did you get that? Curcumin alone reduced tumor size by 76.7%. Yes, Herceptin did a better job, it reduced tumor size by 86.7% but Herceptin is also pretty hard on the body and curcumin is not.

Researchers also revealed that the combination of Herceptin and curcumin showed a greater antitumor effect than curcumin alone (87.5% versus 76.7% in tumor regression).

Interestingly, researchers anticipated the study to reveal that there would be a synergistic effect when combining Herceptin with curcumin, but in the animal study, combining Herceptin and curcumin was no better than Herceptin alone.

Taxol Combined With Curcumin

In the animal study, the combination of curcumin with Taxol had an antitumor effect comparable with combining Taxol and Herceptin, which is one of the current preferred chemotherapy regimens for those with HER2 positive breast cancer. The combination of Taxol, Herceptin and curcumin was associated with the smallest tumors, but was not “statistically different” from that of the Taxol and Herceptin regimen.

I take that last paragraph to mean that combining Taxol with curcumin is just as good as combining Taxol and Herceptin. That’s huge! And combining Taxol, Herceptin and curcumin provided the best results in the animal study.

In conclusion, I believe this study is significant. In people who do not tolerate Herceptin well or are unable to get this drug due to finances or geographical location, or for those whose tumor cells are Herceptin resistant, according to this study, the combination of Taxol and curcumin is just as good as combining Taxol and Herceptin.

For dosage advice of curcumin, see my article: Harvest The Power Of Curcumin To Kill Breast Cancer Cells.

References:
1. The Potential Utility of Curcumin in the Treatment of HER-2-Overexpressed Breast Cancer: An In Vitro and In Vivo Comparison Study with Herceptin – http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/486568/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

How Beneficial Gut Bacteria Reduces Cancer Risk

Image source: Freedigitalphotos.net / OZphotography
Image source: Freedigitalphotos.net / OZphotography

How Beneficial Gut Bacteria Reduces Cancer Risk

We are now well informed that inside our digestive tract are millions of beneficial gut bacteria that help us break down the food we eat and limit the overgrowth of bad bacteria. They also protect us from infections by playing a crucial role in a healthy immune system. In this article I will share with you how beneficial gut bacteria also reduces cancer risk.

All one needs to do is take a course of antibiotics which kills off the beneficial gut bacteria to have a very good understanding of what an important role they play in our health. Supplementing with probiotics when one is taking antibiotics has long been favored by natural medicine doctors. Even a few conventional medicine doctors (if they are good ones) will advise taking probiotics to replace the good bacteria that is being killed off by antibiotic drugs.

In the past, taking probiotics has been seen primarily as something to help defend against intestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, etc. But scientists now believe that beneficial gut bacteria and probiotics play an even more important role in the prevention of other diseases, including cancer.

Did you know that 70-80% of your immune system is located within the gut? Also, the intestinal tract contains a very dense concentration of molecules that are involved in chemical detection and signaling and these molecules are able to affect cells throughout the entire body. This can be a good thing but it can also cause problems.

Intestinal bacteria produces proteins that are able to powerfully influence these chemical detector molecules. An imbalance in the ratio of good-to-bad bacteria within the gut activates these detector molecules in ways that can trigger the development of a wide range of diseases, including cancer. Fortunately, taking probiotics can reverse these disruptions to intestine-based signaling mechanisms. This, in turn, reverses the negative influence that triggers the development of chronic disease.

Some Research on Probiotics

A 2014 paper published in the World Journal of Clinical Oncology discussed a number of research studies which indicate that certain strains of beneficial bacteria have a protective effect against cancer. [1] The authors mentioned their own study wherein a probiotic bacterium known as Lactobacillus casei stimulated an immune response against a particular sort of breast tumor in mice, and delayed or avoided the growth of mammary tumors. [2]

A small animal study released in 2015 wherein Lactobacillus acidophilus was given to mice with breast tumors indicated that the mice that received this probiotic had an increased immune response and lived significantly longer than those who did not. Researchers concluded that the results of the study suggested that daily consumption of Lactobacillus acidophilus may modulate the immune response through its anti-tumor properties and enhance Th1 cytokine production. [3]

A 2014 study on rats found that long-term administration of a new strain of probiotic, Lactobacillus plantarum, combined with a prebiotic known as inulin (indigestible fiber derived from mainly root vegetables) suppressed tumor frequency, increased T-cells (part of the immune system), and reduced tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a cytokine associated with cancer promotion in certain conditions. [4]

A 2004 animal study indicated that probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum significantly decreased DNA damage associated with the development of malignant cells. [5]

8 Ways Beneficial Gut Bacteria Help To Guard Against Cancer

1. By binding to potential carcinogens (cancer causing agents) and promoting elimination by the body.

2. By suppressing bad bacteria that could convert cancer-causing molecules into carcinogens.

3. By boosting immune cells in the gut that play a role in tumor inhibition.

4. By decreasing the enzymes associated with the development of carcinogens.

5. By promoting immune cytokines which fight against early stages of cancer development.

6. By decreasing DNA damage that can trigger malignant cell development.

7. By suppressing or decreasing inflammation in the body.

8. By boosting natural antioxidant and detoxification enzymes that inhibit activation of potential dietary carcinogens.

Because today’s Western diet, stress factors, widespread antibiotic use (and other pharmaceutical drugs), treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, and other lifestyle factors (even Caesarian delivery of babies), can disrupt the balance of healthy gut bacteria, supplementation with probiotics is highly recommended. An imbalance of gut bacteria can be reversed through supplementation with good quality probiotics and by regularly eating fermented foods such as kefir, organic plain yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, pickled beets, pickled radishes, kimchi, tempeh, and kombucha.

References:

1. Modification in the Diet Can Induce Beneficial Effects Against Breast Cancer – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4127615/

2. The Administration of Milk Fermented by the Probiotic Lactobacillus Casei CRL 431 Exerts an Immunomodulatory Effect Against a Breast Tumour in a Mouse Model – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24646876/

3. Th1 Cytokine Production Induced by Lactobacillus acidophilus in BALB/c Mice Bearing Transplanted Breast Tumor – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4449865/

4. Preventive Effects of Probiotic Bacteria Lactobacillus Plantarum and Dietary Fiber in Chemically-induced Mammary Carcinogenesis – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25202079

5. Dietary Intervention with the Probiotics Lactobacillus Acidophilus 145 and Bifidobacterium Longum 913 Modulates the Potential of Human Faecal Water to Induce Damage in Ht29clone19a Cells – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15182396

 
GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

How Much Iodine To Take?

http://MarnieClark.com/How-much-iodine-to-takeHow Much Iodine To Take?

If you have been recommended to take iodine and have no idea how much iodine to take, or even the best form of iodine, you are not alone, it can be incredibly confusing. With this article I will share some knowledge with you about how and when to supplement with iodine, how much iodine to take, and why you should even consider it.

The Tendency To Hypothyroidism

With our increasingly toxic world, many people tend towards hypothyroidism, that is, insufficient production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland.

From a breast cancer perspective, hypothyroidism can occur both before and after breast cancer strikes and can be caused by several things. Sometimes it is due to the low iodine content of the average modern diet, sometimes it occurs as a direct result of having breast cancer, and sometimes it results from an excess of heavy metal contamination in a person’s environment. Chlorinated water in particular is toxic to the thyroid gland. There are a few other factors as well, but because of the fact that the thyroid gland is an important regulator for a good portion of the endocrine system, it is vitally important to know when and how to properly supplement with iodine.

Classic signs of hypothyroidism include reduced energy levels, weight gain, low metabolism, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and even a little depression. I know – I just described nearly every single woman after breast cancer treatments end!

It’s no wonder that people feel this way when the thyroid isn’t functioning well. An iodine deficiency slows down all of the systems of the body. It has been said that every 17 minutes all of the blood in the body passes through the thyroid gland and if there is an insufficient quantity of iodine to pass along to the cells that need it, there will be repercussions, make no mistake.

Iodine is a good tissue healer, a natural antiseptic and detoxifier, it elevates blood pH, helps the body absorb minerals and vitamins, and assists a broad range of illnesses, breast cancer being just one of them.

Iodine and the P53 Gene

Iodine is critical for a gene known as P53, which is fondly referred to as the “Guardian of the Genetic Code”, it’s that important. Without iodine and selenium, the P53 gene is unable to function properly, and it is critically needed by cancer patients to help eliminate abnormal cells from the body. [1]

Food Sources of Iodine

There are some decent food sources of iodine, but the trouble is that getting a therapeutic dose from food is often difficult to achieve.

These foods include a good amount of iodine:

  • Sea vegetables such as kelp, hiziki, arame, kombu, and wakame (however, you would need to satisfy yourself that the ocean the sea vegetables came from was not polluted with heavy metals, otherwise sea vegetables are not a safe source of iodine)
  • organic yogurt
  • organic cranberries
  • organic strawberries
  • organic goat’s cheese
  • organic navy beans
  • organic kale
  • organic broccoli
  • organic cabbage
  • organic Brussels sprouts
  • organic potatoes
  • organic turnips
  • organic kohlrabi

Yes, I just used the word “organic” that many times because organic produce has way MORE iodine in it than conventionally grown produce and none of the associated pesticides.

Checking the Thyroid

1. Get your thyroid hormone levels checked at your local doctor’s office through a simple blood test. If found to have insufficient levels – or even bordering on low – by all means, supplement.

2. A decent self test is to paint some Lugol’s iodine onto the skin (especially the neck area as the thyroid gland is located at the front of the throat) and allow it to penetrate. Generally speaking, the body will absorb it in an hour or less if you are deficient in iodine. This isn’t always the case, however, so getting blood levels tested is always a preferable method.

Different Types of Iodine

If you are going to supplement you will run across a few different options, but the two main types are something called Lugol’s iodine or nascent iodine. Some natural health experts believe Lugol’s iodine to be quite safe and effective for iodine supplementation, while others vastly prefer nascent iodine. It’s a hotly debated topic so to help you choose, here’s a little more about each one.

Lugol’s Iodine

Lugol’s is not a brand name, rather it is a type of iodine solution in which iodine is combined with potassium (potassium iodide). It is named after the 19th century French physician who developed it, Jean Guillaume Auguste Lugol. It is available in a variety of dilutions, but normally 2 percent or 5 percent. Lugol’s can be a little harder on the stomach and rather bitter to the taste, so the preferable route of applying it is transdermally, through the skin. Here’s the one I recommend.

One maker of Lugol’s advises:

Lugol’s 5% – Each vertical drop equals about 6.25 mg of iodine/potassium iodide
Lugol’s 2% – Each vertical drop equals about 2.5 mg of iodine/potassium iodide

The Difference Between Vertical and Horizontal Drops

There are two different ways to administer a dosage, vertical and horizontal drops.

Vertical – hold the dropper vertical (straight up and down) and squeeze the rubber top. Each vertical drop of 5% Lugol’s is equal to 6.25 mg of iodine, less than half that amount for the 2%.

Horizontal – with the dropper held horizontally (side to side – like the horizon), you’ll get twice as much per drop, or 12.5 mg of iodine (5%)

Nascent Iodine

Where Lugol’s iodine combines iodine with potassium, nascent iodine has a slightly different configuration, atomically speaking. Without wanting to sound like a chemistry class, the nascent iodine molecule has the diatomic bond broken, with each atom keeping one of the two electrons that made up the covalent bond, and that gives it a high electromagnetic charge. Many iodine gurus believe this makes the nascent variety more absorbable and more effective as a supplement.

Nascent iodine is a 2 percent solution, meaning 2 percent iodine to a base of 98 percent grain alcohol or vegetable glycerine. Nascent iodine is much more palatable and not as hard on the stomach as the Lugol’s so it can be more easily taken orally.

The Difference Between Grain Alcohol and Vegetable Glycerin

When taking nascent iodine with an alcohol base, know that the alcohol is simply ethanol, also known as grain alcohol. Yes, it is the same alcohol used to make alcoholic beverages, so it is an intoxicant. This form may not be appropriate for everyone, particularly children, recovering alcoholics or those fighting cancer. Another factor is that alcohol is often made with GMO corn. See my article We Must Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms.

Nascent iodine made from vegetable glycerine is probably a much safer supplement although you have to be wary here too. Some glycerine is derived from animals, some of it comes from GMO soy. If you can find it made with certified organic or Kosher-certified vegetable glycerine, so much the better. This type of vegetable glycerine is much safer and gentler as a preservative and will not present you with any of the problems associated with alcohol or GMO products. It is better absorbed, does not upset blood sugar levels like alcohol can, is easier on the delicate tissues of the body and is not toxic to the liver. Here’s the one I recommend.

Therapeutic Dosage of Iodine

According to Dr Mark Sircus, one of the world leaders on iodine supplementation, 2% nascent iodine contains around 400 micrograms (mcg) per drop so 10 drops would equal 4 mg of iodine. 100 drops would equal 40 mg. He says it’s safe to take much higher dosages than that suggested on the bottles. The sicker the person, the more iodine they need.

Dr Sircus states “One hundred drops a day is a strong dose, but when treating life threatening diseases it would not be unheard of to use upward of 200 drops a day in divided doses. It is very important to remember though that one should not shoot straight up to these dosage levels. One should start at low dosages and monitor for detox reactions, which will be less if sodium bicarbonate and other substances are used in conjunction.”

You can take it internally and you can take it trans-dermally (through the skin).

For hypothyroid conditions, I recommend using:
25-50 mg per day until condition stabilizes (check with blood test), thereafter 12 mg for maintenance dose

For breast or prostate cancer, up to 300 mg per day is considered by Dr Sircus to be a therapeutic dose, but that dosage is also hotly debated in natural health circles. If you are going to use a high dose, start at low dosages and work up to this dosage, and don’t take it all at once. Divided doses are best. Dr David Brownstein uses 200-300 mg per day for those with breast cancer and prostate cancer or for those who have metastases.

At high dosages, just please be aware of any unusual symptoms such as sweating, oily skin, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, feeling jittery, and bulging eyes as these symptoms can indicate you are taking too much iodine.

Iodine is best taken on an empty stomach 30 minutes before a meal, or at least one hour after meals, other medications and/or supplements. Taking it in early evening is not recommended because it can raise energy levels and keep you awake at night. So the best times to take it are 30 minutes before breakfast, 30 minutes before lunch and/or around 3:30 in the afternoon, no later than that.

Don’t Forget the Selenium

Selenium is also necessary for a properly functioning thyroid and it’s another mineral of which we have all too little in our diet. Selenium is required for the conversion of the thyroid hormone T3 (triiodothyronine, an inactive hormone) to T4 (thyroxine, the active thyroid hormone). For more information on this interplay, see my article Why Iodine and Selenium Are Useful for Breast Cancer

Warning:
If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, make sure you are under a health professional’s care and advice before supplementing with iodine.

References:

1. Enzyme’s Cancer-promoting Activities Linked To Inactivation Of ‘Genome Guardian’ – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071015215101.htm

http://www.naturalnews.com/033875_iodone_deficiency.html

Christiane Northrup – Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (Revised Edition)

Dr Mark Sircus – Iodine – Bringing Back The Universal Medicine (e-book)

Charles Walters – Minerals for the Genetic Code (e-book)
GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

We MUST Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms

http://MarnieClark.com/we-must-avoid-genetically-modified-organisms-gmosWe MUST Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms 

In the battle against breast cancer, we absolutely must avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs). With this article I will share with you some basic information about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the best ways for you to avoid them, and some ways to help you be more proactive with regard to GMOs.

You would have to be a hermit living in a cave not to be aware of the fact that our food has changed drastically. In any given household you can find at least one thing in the food pantry that previous generations would not have considered to even be food.

Between food additives, contamination by toxic chemicals, and major corporations creating so-called food in a lab using ingredients never intended by nature, our food now contributes to anything but good health.

Due mainly to proactive souls on the Internet and social media, there is a ground-swell of people who are educating themselves about food quality and excellent nutrition. Shoppers the world over are now spending record amounts on organic food and that’s a really good thing.

What Are Genetically Modified Foods?

Genetically modified organisms are created in a laboratory by taking the genes/genetic information from one plant or organism and forcing it into another mainly for purposes of stronger crops, resistance to insects, and weeds. This process is quite distinct and different from the time-honored tradition of cross breeding which farmers have used for centuries to produce better crops.

In order to fully understand GMOs, I will need to provide you with a brief discussion of herbicides and pesticides because they typically work in unison.

Pesticides & Herbicides

GMO crops, pesticides and herbicides are almost always used together and the problem with this is that it creates a potentially disastrous situation for biological functions in all walks of life.

Pesticides are combinations of toxic chemicals which are sprayed onto plants as they grow to attract, kill and/or render useless the insects which would normally feed on that crop. The crops tolerant to pesticides have the genes of particular bacteria forced into the plant and this turns them into bug killers. When an insect attempts to eat the GMO plant, the toxic genes contained in the plant create holes in the insect’s stomach, which eventually kills it. Many of the chemicals utilized are listed as carcinogens by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Herbicides are toxic chemicals used to kill unwanted plants like weeds. The crops tolerant to herbicides, the most popular of which is Roundup Ready, are engineered with genes from bacteria, pieces of virus and other things that aren’t naturally found in plant crops. This is done so that they are able to tolerate large amounts of herbicide that would ordinarily kill it. This is supposed to make weeding easier because farmers are then able to spray their entire field with herbicide to kill the weeds but not the crops. Over 80 percent of the world’s GMO crops are engineered for tolerance to herbicides. The most used herbicide worldwide, glyphosate, was recently upgraded to Group 2B carcinogen status by the WHO.

The Health Ramifications of GMOs Are Grim

Any idea what’s happening to humans eating pesticide and herbicide tolerant crops? Altered gut bacteria, leaky gut syndrome, lowered immune function, auto-immune diseases, allergies, altered genes, and many other problems including increased incidence of cancer.

To further complicate matters for our health, glyphosate was patented originally to be used as a mineral chelator (chelate means to grab and bond to) so what happens is that when this chemical is sprayed onto crops, not only does it poison the soil and the crop, it also blocks our ability to utilize vital, plant-based minerals like magnesium, manganese, selenium, and calcium. We now know that mineral deficiencies have been linked to many cancers and a whole host of other diseases.

The problems don’t end there. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, “Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.”

Environmental Concerns

GMO crops and the herbicides associated with them also harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine life, and natural organisms found in the earth. Again quoting the Institute for Responsible Technology, “… GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds.”

GMO crops have created yet another problem – they are directly responsible for the emergence of weeds and insects that are adjusting to these chemicals and becoming resistant to them so that even more toxic poisons are being required to kill them. It is known that between 1996 and 2008, US farmers had to spray an extra 383,000,000 pounds of herbicide on GMO crops because of the “super weeds” that were emerging.

To contend with this problem, chemicals such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic (aka 2,4-D) are being used, which is one of the ingredients in Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used during the Vietnam War. And we all know what happened to soldiers and civilians who came into contact with Agent Orange – they had a hugely increased risk for cancers such as soft tissue sarcoma, prostate cancer, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and many other forms of cancer and weird diseases.

Our government agencies are not protecting us, so – ONCE AGAIN – it’s up to us to be proactive and protect ourselves.

We absolutely must avoid GMOs if we are to heal from cancer and stay healthy. We do this buy NOT purchasing them, by refusing them. Let your pocketbook do the talking because money talks, we all know this.

The 8 Crops That Are Most Often GMO

There are currently eight genetically modified crops on the market in the USA and other parts of the world and they are:

1. Corn
2. Soybeans
3. Canola (aka Rapeseed)
4. Alfalfa
5. Beets
6. Papaya
7. Squash
8. Potatoes

The scuttlebutt is that apples will be GMO at some point in 2016. Please avoid canola altogether and only purchase the other 7 organically grown.

How To Shop for Safe Foods

1. Choose organic produce whenever you possibly can. In the USA, organic certification by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) means that the farm and its produce is free from prohibited chemicals, it must undergo periodic inspections, and it adheres to specific requirements for the produce grown, the environment around the farm, and other health practices.

2. The Institute for Responsible Technology has a useful non-GMO shopping guide available.

3. Download an app for your smart phone for use when you are shopping. The Buycott app uses the camera in your phone to allow you to scan barcodes and provides you with quick information about whether or not the item is GMO! How brilliant is that?

4. If you are in the USA, join the Institute for Responsible Technology’s Non-GMO Tipping Point Network.  According to Jeffrey Smith of the IRT, “We need about 5% of US shoppers – 15 million people or 5.6 million households – to choose healthier non-GMO brands in order to generate a non-GMO tipping point. It’s just a matter of reaching enough people. That’s what our educational tools and talking points are designed to do.”

Produce Buying Guide

One last bit of information for you. Thanks to the Environmental Working Group, we have the 2015 list of the 50 fruits and vegetables tested by the USDA that do have pesticide residue, and they are listed from the most residue to the least. If you must buy conventionally grown produce, concentrate on the items at the bottom of the list. The first dozen or so (termed the “dirty dozen”) really must be organically grown if you are to avoid certain chemical exposure.

1. Apples
(contains highest level of pesticide)
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Nectarines
5. Grapes
6. Celery
7. Spinach
8. Bell Peppers
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Sugar Snap Peas (imported)
12. Potatoes
13. Hot Peppers
14. Blueberries (domestic)
15. Lettuce
16. Kale/Collard Greens
17. Cherries
18. Plums
19. Pears
20. Green Beans
21. Raspberries
22. Winter Squash
23. Tangerines
24. Blueberries (imported)
25. Carrots
26. Summer Squash
27. Broccoli
28. Snap Peas (domestic)
29. Green Onions
30. Bananas
31. Oranges
32. Tomatoes
33. Watermelon
34. Honeydew Melon
35. Mushrooms
36. Sweet Potatoes
37. Cauliflower
38. Cantaloupe
39. Grapefruit
40. Eggplant
41. Kiwi
42. Papayas
43. Mangos
44. Asparagus
45. Onions
46. Sweet Peas (frozen)
47. Cabbage
48. Pineapples
49. Sweet Corn (buy organic)
50. Avocados
(lowest level of pesticide)

References:
http://www.nongmoproject.org/
http://responsibletechnology.org/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/
http://responsibletechnology.org/over-half-of-the- european-unions-28-countries-representing-two-thirds-of-the-population-want-nothing-to-do-with-gmos/
http://responsibletechnology.org/irtnew/docs/mm_onepage.pdf

http://www.naturalhealth365.com/DARK-Act-gmo-breast-cancer-1534.html

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24678255

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25883837

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases IV: cancer and related pathologies – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283490944_Glyphosate_pathways_to_modern_diseases_IV_cancer_and_related_pathologies

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Breast Cancer Stem Cells – Stopping Them In Their Tracks

Image Source: Rgbstock.com / StariSob Image Source: Rgbstock.com / StariSob

Breast Cancer Stem Cells – Stopping Them In Their Tracks

A growing area of cancer research, breast cancer stem cells were first identified in 2003 by scientists at the University of Michigan (UM) in the United States. With this article I will do my best to explain breast cancer stem cells, and offer some guidance about natural therapies that help to create healthy stem cells.

Healthy Stem Cells vs Breast Cancer Stem Cells

Think of healthy stem cells as “mother cells” that have the potential to become any type of cell in the body. One of the chief characteristics of stem cells is that they have the ability to self-renew or multiply while maintaining their potential to develop into other types of cells like blood cells or heart cells or bone cells. When the DNA of healthy stem cells becomes impaired or damaged, that’s when they can become cancer stem cells.

Conventional cancer theory states that any cell in the body may undergo changes in their DNA sequences and become a  rogue cancer cell. Researchers at the Ludwig Center at Stanford, however, postulate that “our normal stem cells are the only cells that reproduce themselves and are therefore around long enough to accumulate all the necessary changes to produce cancer.” 1

According to UM researchers, breast cancer stem cells (hereinafter “BCSCs”) are identified by a cell surface glycoprotein marker named CD44, which is responsible for cell to cell communication, cell adhesion and migration. Also on BCSCs are very low or no levels of a surface marker named CD24, another glycoprotein on the cell surface of most B lymphocytes, a white blood cell and part of the immune system. UM researchers discovered that just a few BCSCs were required for the growth and spread of breast cancer and that unless the BCSCs could be destroyed, tumors were likely to recur and spread to other parts of the body (called metastasis). 2

Although BCSCs comprise only a small population within a tumor, they are resistant to conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy because BCSCs do not renew themselves through normal cell division as other cancer cells do. In fact, these therapies are known to stimulate BCSCs and make them grow faster. 3, 4

Let me repeat that. Chemotherapy and radiation do not kill BCSCs. Any cancer therapy that ignores BCSCs in favor of killing non-tumor causing daughter cells in order to shrink a tumor will not result in destroying the root of the cancer.

My friend Elyn Jacobs, a cancer strategist in New York City, advises: “Don’t be misled into thinking that tumor reduction guarantees that you are making progress with respect to overcoming the disease, as you may not be. Shrinking a tumor by killing the less damaging cancer cells (the non-stem cells) with chemo and/or radiation may NOT improve long term survival and may increase the likelihood that these cancer stem cells will metastasize, allowing them to regenerate tumors elsewhere in the body. So although you may get an 80% reduction in tumor bulk, you are not targeting the most dangerous of the cells.” 5

The BRCA1 link

For those who have a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, this part may be of interest. As we know, the BRCA1 (or breast cancer 1) gene is a tumor suppressor gene, mutations in which are strongly linked to breast and ovarian cancers.

UM Cancer Center scientists have discovered that the BRCA1 gene regulates self-renewal of BCSCs. When the gene is mutated, BCSCs multiply abnormally.

So the task becomes clear – we must take in the nutrients that help our stem cells and genes be as healthy as they can be. By doing this, we not only combat any BCSCs currently circulating in the body, we are also actively creating healthy cells and genes that have no damaged DNA.

Natural Therapies To Combat Breast Cancer Stem Cells

Glyconutrients.
The exterior of most healthy cells are covered densely with things that appear to be tiny little trees, called glycoforms or glycans. These glycoforms prevent viruses, bacteria and other enemies from entering the cell by blocking the entrance to the cell’s surface. The glycoforms of healthy cells are also responsible for assisting in cell-to-cell communication, indeed they play an intimate role in nearly every single human physiological process. Glycoforms can also hold onto an enemy cell for safekeeping until an immune cell comes to destroy it (kind of like a holding cell at the police department!). The objective is to create healthy glycans/glycoforms so that our cells are able to communicate effectively, and this helps in a myriad of ways, including the formation of healthy stem cells and immune cells. In order to create healthy glycans/glycoforms we need to be consuming at least 8 simple sugars, known as monosaccharides, from our diet and the problem is we are only consuming two – glucose and galactose. The other 6 sugars are missing because of things like fertilizers, pesticides, GMOs, harvesting fruit and vegetables too early – before they are completely ripe – thus most of the all-important simple sugars are either missing or extremely depleted. We absolutely must supplement with glyconutrients in order to build healthy cells that do the jobs they were meant to do.

Foods/Herbs that Help.
Cruciferous vegetables (and especially broccoli sprouts) contain particular phytochemicals such as sulfurophane which work in a myriad of ways to block the formation of BCSCs. 6
Curcumin – literally hundreds of studies have been done on curcumin and its ability to kill cancer cells, but it also targets BCSCs and improves the sensitivity of certain chemotherapy drugs in estrogen receptor positive (ER+), progesterone receptor positive (PR+) and estrogen receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer cell lines. 7 One study also indicated that curcumin inhibited the migration of BCSCs, an important factor for metastasis. 8 Get it by using loads of turmeric in your cooking, by all means, but the best way is to supplement with it. Make sure that your supplement has been optimized for bioavailability by the addition of piperine (it improves absorption). This is a good one.
Ginseng – a chemical component called ginsenoside F2 derived from ginseng has been tested for its efficacy against BCSCs. Research found that ginsenoside F2 suppressed BCSC proliferation (rapid growth) and increased apoptosis (planned cell death). 4, 9
Raspberries (both red and black), and more specifically ellagic acid and ellagitannins, help our immune system find BCSCs by removing the protein that hides them from our immune system. While it may be tempting to take ellagic acid via a supplement, you must eat the berries because they contain the all-important ellagitannin complex within them. Raspberries also have many anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties and are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, they help reduce inflammation and encourage apoptosis. 10
Fermented soy products including soy sauce, miso, natto and tempeh have research indicating they help to reduce cancer symptoms, reduce chemotherapy side effects, decrease chemotherapy resistance, increase survival rates and improve cancer stem cell differentiation, suggesting reduced aggressiveness of cancer. 11

This by no means an exhaustive list, but the items listed above are definitely among the best things that are known to help create healthy stem cells rather than BCSCs.

Please do avoid all sugar, processed food (if it has a bar code, check it out!), preservatives, conventionally grown produce (always buy organic), chemically laden body products and cleaning products, drinking from plastic bottles and drinking tap water.

For more information about some more healing foods, check out my page Diet and Cancer.

Research:

1. The Stem Cell Theory of Cancer – https://med.stanford.edu/ludwigcenter/overview/theory.html

2. http://www.mcancer.org/research/stem-cells/breast

3. Targeting Breast Cancer Stem Cells: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1574789110000517

4. Breast Cancer Stem Cells: A Novel Therapeutic Target –http://www.clinical-breast-cancer.com/article/S1526-8209%2812%2900221-2/pdf

5. Cancer Stem Cells and Progression of Disease – What You Need to Know Now – http://elynjacobs.com/2015/07/08/cancer-stem-cells-and-progression-of-disease-what-you-need-to-know-now/

6. Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4432495/

7. Curcumin Improves the Tumoricidal Effect of Mitomycin C by Suppressing ABCG2 Expression in Stem Cell-Like Breast Cancer Cells –http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549178/#pone.0136694.ref009

8. Curcumin Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cell Migration By Amplifying the E-cadherin/ß-catenin Negative Feedback Loop – http://www.stemcellres.com/content/5/5/116

9. Ginsenoside F2 Induces Apoptosis Accompanied By Protective Autophagy In Breast Cancer Stem Cells – http://www.cancerletters.info/article/S0304-3835(12)00100-0/abstract

10. The Truth About Ellagic Acid and Red Raspberries – http://jonbarron.org/article/truth-about-ellagic-acid-and-red-raspberries#.VKHrV14AGA

11. Managing Immunity In Resistant Cancer Patients Correlates To Survival: Results and Discussion of a Pilot Study – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25961344

The Trophoblast and the Origins of Cancer – By Dr Nicholas Gonzalez

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

How Saffron Helps Breast Cancer Patients

Image Source: morgueFile / OldGrey SeaWolf
Image Source: morgueFile / OldGrey SeaWolf
How Saffron Helps Breast Cancer Patients

Over the course of this week, I have run across three different articles about saffron, one of which was a newsletter written by naturopath Dr Jacob Schor. When such things happen, I never feel like it’s a coincidence, I sit up and pay attention. This little plant has some quite wonderful healing qualities I would like to share with the breast cancer community.

Saffron (Crocus sativus) has been used traditionally as a highly-valued spice, expensive due to the fact that one crocus flower yields but a tiny amount of saffron via its stigma, three brightly colored, fuzzy, hair like extensions that are fairly labor intensive to harvest. It is considered to be the most expensive spice in the world.

We are discovering that saffron is much more than a spice, however, it is the subject of many recent research studies which are touting its ability to ease depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease, and even cancer. In addition, a recent study published in September 2015 indicated that saffron also exhibited a range of other useful actions for such things as coronary artery disease, hypertension, stomach disorders, dysmenorrhea, learning and memory impairment, and it has anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-atherosclerotic, antigenotoxic and cytotoxic activities. 1

Interestingly, researchers are using not only the stigmas of the crocus but also the flower petals.  Some of the bioactive constituents of saffron include molecules called safranal, crocetin, crocine, and satiereal.

The reason I’m sharing this information in this website, however, is that I believe saffron could have some beneficial things to offer the breast cancer patient.

The 3 Best Reasons to Take Saffron For Breast Cancer

1.  Better Than Anti-Depressants – Many women taking Tamoxifen suffer from depression, it is one of the known side effects of this hormone blocking medication. As if having breast cancer weren’t depressing enough! Many oncologists then prescribe anti-depressant drugs in the form of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) for their patients taking Tamoxifen to help relieve the depression. However, some studies indicate that certain anti-depressants can interfere with a particular enzyme (CYP2D6) produced by the liver, rendering Tamoxifen ineffective. Human clinical trials have been carried out which indicate saffron is extremely beneficial for the treatment of depression. 2, 3  2005 research comparing saffron to fluoxetine (Prozac) found that a 30 mg capsule of C. sativus was just as good as 20 mg of Prozac in relieving mild to moderate depression. 4

Anti-depressants tend to have a wide range of problematic side effects including sexual dysfunction, nausea, headaches, weight gain, agitation, nervousness, and even suicide. According to Dr Schor, “These same antidepressants may reduce bone growth. Though not proven, slowing bone growth, aside from contributing to osteoporosis, may have another problem as it is generally believed that this could favor growth of cancer metastases in the bone. We would prefer bones to be growing fast and staying strong.”

2.  Weight Loss – We know that obesity is one of the risk factors for breast cancer. In addition, after going through the gamut of treatments for breast cancer, many also have a tendency to gain weight, and this is a problem particularly with hormone driven breast cancer because adipose tissue (fat cells) create estrogen. Saffron contains a phytochemical called satiereal, which in a clinical trial was able to help decrease food cravings, overeating, and between-meal snacking for a group of mildly overweight, female volunteers. They lost an average of 2 pounds after 8 weeks, no special diet was employed. 5

3. Anti-Cancer Effects – This is the exciting bit (I saved the best for the last!). Several key phytochemicals within saffron block the development, growth and spread of cancer in 5 big ways:

    1.  Prevention of Carcinogenesis – The first step in the development of cancer, caused by some sort of a trigger (for instance, an environmental toxin) that starts a malignancy. Saffron has been shown to help prevent carcinogenesis in at least two different studies. 6, 7
    2. Prevention of DNA Damage – Phytochemicals within saffron have been shown to prevent DNA damage caused by radiation, free radicals and inflammation. 8
    3. Slowing and Reversal of Cancer Growth – Once a cell becomes malignant, it then reproduces rapidly and without normal controls and this is how a tumor develops. Saffron has the ability to both slow and reverse cancer growth and induce apoptosis (planned cell death, lacking in cancer cells). 8, 9  2007 research on estrogen and progesterone receptor positive (ER+, PR+) breast cancer cells in vitro indicated saffron inhibited cell proliferation. 10
    4. Blocking Metastasis – If a cancer cell manages to survive despite attempts to stop its uncontrolled growth, it may go on to produce special molecules that help it to degrade the protein matrix between healthy cells and this allows it to invade healthy tissue, called metastasis. A 2011 study indicated crocetin inhibits the invasiveness of triple negative breast cancer cells by downregulating the production of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase, involved with the degradation of the aforementioned protein matrix between healthy cells. 11
      A very small clinical trial reported in September 2015 discussed thirteen patients with liver metastases. They were divided into two groups, both received standard chemotherapy treatment. Patients in one group received 50 mg of saffron in a capsule twice per day during chemotherapy while the second group received a placebo. Of the thirteen patients who started, only seven patients finished the study. Two of the four patients who took saffron showed a partial and complete response. No response was seen in the placebo group. 12  Although not a convincing study due to its small size, it would certainly be worth trying saffron if one had liver metastases. It couldn’t hurt!
    5. Blocking Angiogenesis – Another way by which growing tumors are able to thrive is by means of creating new blood vessels to fuel their rapid growth, called angiogenesis. Saffron extracts reduce levels of a vital signaling molecule called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and this effectively reduces the formation of new blood vessels. A 2014 study showed that a combination of saffron and a low frequency electro magnetic field were able to significantly decrease the expression of VEGF in ER+, PR+ breast cancer cells in vitro. 13

Four Ways To Get Saffron Into Your Body

1.  Ingest it – Just cook with it. Although this is the easiest method, it is also more difficult to get a therapeutic dose.

2.  Dr Schor recommends making your own saffron tincture:

“In order to make a month’s supply of saffron tincture purchase 1 gram of saffron. Put the saffron in a one-ounce dropper bottle. This takes patience.  I find a funnel and chop stick (used to jam the threads) aid the process. Add one tablespoon of boiling water. The funnel helps here as well.  Let the saffron steep in the water for several hours. Now add one tablespoon of distilled alcohol –  brandy, whiskey, gin, Everclear, vodka (it’s your choice). You should let the mixture sit for a few days, but I rarely bother.  The 30 mg/day dose of saffron used in the research studies on depression equals slightly more than 18 drops of this extract per day. There is no known toxicity to saffron that we know of so one can certainly take more than this.”

3.  Dr Mark Davis, a naturopath in Portland, Oregon has patients make a cup of saffron tea daily with about 10 strands of saffron in it.

4.  Take Optimized Saffron, available from a reputable source and not terribly expensive.

References:

1.   The Effects of Crocus Sativus (Saffron) and its Constituents on Nervous System: a Review –  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4599112/

2. Saffron (Crocus Sativus L.) And Major Depressive Disorder: a Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24299602

3.  Crocin, the Main Active Saffron Constituent, as an Adjunctive Treatment in Major Depressive Disorder: a Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Pilot Clinical Trial – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25484177

4. Hydro-alcoholic Extract of Crocus Sativus L. Versus Fluoxetine in the Treatment of Mild to Moderate Depression: a Double-blind, Randomized Pilot Trial – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15707766

5.  Satiereal, a Crocus Sativus L Extract, Reduces Snacking and Increases Satiety in a Randomized Placebo-controlled Study of Mildly Overweight, Healthy Women – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20579522

6. Membrane Associated Antitumor Effects of Crocine-, Ginsenoside- and Cannabinoid Derivates – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10810367

7. Saffron Reduction of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene-induced Hamster Buccal Pouch Carcinogenesis – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23621267

8. The Anticancer Effect of Saffron in Two P53 Isogenic Colorectal Cancer Cell Lines – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3488489/

9.  Crocetin Inhibits Pancreatic Cancer Cell Proliferation and Tumor Progression in a Xenograft Mouse Model – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19208826

10  Inhibition of Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation by Style Constituents of Different Crocus Species – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17352254

11 Crocetin Inhibits Invasiveness of MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells via Downregulation of Matrix Metalloproteinases – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20803418

12.  Effect of Saffron on Liver Metastases in Patients Suffering from Cancers with Liver Metastases: a Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4599117/

13. The Synergic Effects of Crocus Sativus L. and Low Frequency Electromagnetic Field on VEGFR2 Gene Expression in Human Breast Cancer Cells – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4009095/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Cinnamon, Coumarins and Breast Cancer

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / Gualberto107
Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / Gualberto107

Cinnamon, Coumarins and Breast Cancer

I have recently been asked by a few people whether or not cinnamon promotes cancer or caused problems for those with breast cancer.  I had never heard of that, in fact, in my studies I have found quite the opposite – that cinnamon has anti-cancer properties.

The people asking me had apparently been reading something on the Internet which indicated there was a problem with cinnamon.  “Time to go into research mode”, I thought.

First of all, there are a few different kinds of cinnamon:

Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum)
Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Indonesian cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmanni)
Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi)
Mexican cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)

Most of the articles I discovered in my Google search had one thing in common – the problem with cinnamon appeared to be associated with the levels of a plant chemical known as coumarin.  Coumarin (benzo-a-pyrone) is a natural substance found in many plants. It is the natural chemical upon which Coumadin, a well-known drug used for its anti-coagulant properties, was based back in 1858.

I discovered three things:

1. Coumarin has the potential to damage the liver in high doses.
2. Not all of the above-listed types of cinnamon contain high levels of coumarin.
3. There existed plenty of research stating cinnamon does have anti-cancer properties.

The Coumarin/Cinnamon Studies

There were plenty of studies about coumarin, and I could not possibly list them all here. Here are but a few that discussed the coumarin levels in cinnamon.

A 2013 study indicated that Cinnamomum verum bark contained only traces of coumarin, whereas barks from three other cassia species, especially C. loureiroi and C. burmannii, contained substantial amounts of coumarin. 1

A 2012 study from the Czech Republic analyzed 60 cinnamon samples and discovered high levels of coumarins in C. aromaticum, but C. zeylanicum was coumarin free. 2

Oddly, one 2010 research study indicated that levels of coumarins varied widely, even within the same tree. 3

Other than the disparities in those studies mentioned above, most of the studies I found agreed that of the cinnamon species, Ceylon cinnamon (C. zeylanicum) had the least amount of coumarins, while Cassia cinnamon tended to contain higher levels of coumarins. And it’s the Cassia cinnamon that is most commonly sold in the grocery stores, at least in America, Australia and Great Britain.

And of course there were a couple of studies that discussed the toxicity of coumarin on the livers of rodents.  But interestingly, most of the more recent studies I located indicated that coumarins had protective effects.  One 2011 study indicated coumarins played an important role for the protection of liver toxicity in rats. 4

Coumarins as Anti-Cancer Agents

Here’s where it gets really interesting. I did find some studies discussing how coumarins were being researched for their anti-cancer properties.

In one 2015 study, 27 coumarin derivatives were synthesized and found to be toxic to estrogen/progesterone receptor positive breast cancer cells (among a few other cancer cell lines). 5

I also found four separate studies which indicated coumarins were effective against lung cancer cells, the most interesting of which indicated coumarins inhibited lung carcinoma cell growth by inducing cell cycle arrest. 6

One 2007 study indicated one particular form of coumarin induced apoptosis (programmed cell death, something absent from cancer cells) in human lung adenocarcinoma cells. 7

Cinnamon And Estrogen

To confound matters further, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website contains this warning: “Do not take cinnamon if you have hormone-sensitive cancer (cinnamon was found to have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities).”  The article did not indicate which research study it was relying upon for that information, however, at the bottom of the page, I was able to locate just one study that showed Cassia cinnamon exerted anti-estrogenic effects.

So Is Cinnamon Safe? Is It Helpful For Breast Cancer?

Let’s look at the situation carefully.  Here is what we do know:

  • Cinnamon contains several carotenoids and proanthocyanidins, phytochemicals that have cancer preventing benefits
  • Cinnamon is a stupendously powerful antioxidant (and we know antioxidants help fight cancer)
  • Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, a natural anti-inflammatory chemical (and we know that cancer is an inflammatory process)
  • Cinnamon helps to lower blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance (and we know that insulin resistance and high blood sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, both of which are linked to breast cancer)
  • Studies on cinnamic acid, another phytochemical within cinnamon, indicate it has potent anti-cancer effects. It fights cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and is anti-tumoral. 10
  • An extract of C. zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) has been shown to inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is crucial to the process of angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels to feed a tumor. 11
  • A phytochemical known as 2-Hydroxycinnamaldehyde, derived from C. aromaticum (Cassia cinnamon), showed promise in inhibiting epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which plays a pivotal role in the spread (metastasis) of breast cancer cells. 12

So I would say, yes, cinnamon definitely shows great promise for breast cancer. But because of the coumarins within some varieties of cinnamon you need to be cautious about which type you have. If you aren’t sure which kind you have, you should be cautious about how often you have it.

My best advice:

1. Only buy Ceylon cinnamon (C. zeylanicum) as it appears to have the lowest amounts of coumarins;
2. Don’t eat cinnamon every single day but do use it in your cooking – remember that moderation is always the best idea;
3. Don’t take Cassia cinnamon if you are on blood-thinners;
4. Don’t mix Cassia cinnamon with pharmaceutical drugs, this does appear to cause problems for the liver.

Research:

1. Cassia Cinnamon As A Source Of Coumarin In Cinnamon-Flavored Food And Food Supplements In The United States – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23627682

2. Assessment of coumarin levels in ground cinnamon available in the Czech retail market — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3385612/

3. Quantification of Flavoring Constituents in Cinnamon: High Variation of Coumarin in Cassia Bark from the German Retail Market and in Authentic Samples from Indonesia – http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf102112p?tokenDomain=presspac&tokenAccess=presspac&forwardService=showFullText&journalCode=jafcau

4. Protective effects of coumarin and coumarin derivatives against carbon tetrachloride-induced acute hepatotoxicity in rats — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20207117

5. Structure-activity relationship studies of 4-methylcoumarin derivatives as anticancer agents – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26017566

6. Apoptosis and cell cycle disturbances induced by coumarin and 7-hydroxycoumarin on human lung carcinoma cell lines – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169500203004537

7. 7,8-Dihydroxy-4-methylcoumarin induces apoptosis of human lung adenocarcinoma cells by ROS-independent mitochondrial pathway through partial inhibition of ERK/MAPK signaling – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014579307004541

8. Screening of estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities from medicinal plants – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21783839

9. Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21480806

10. Anticancer Agents Derived from Natural Cinnamic Acids – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25634446

11. Novel angiogenesis inhibitory activity in cinnamon extract blocks VEGFR2 kinase and downstream signaling – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3105590/

12. 2-Hydroxycinnamaldehyde inhibits the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer cells – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23283523

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Does Curcumin Have An Estrogenic Effect?

http://MarnieClark.com/ Does-Curcumin-Have-An-Estrogenic-EffectDoes Curcumin Have An Estrogenic Effect?

This week I received a very helpful and enlightening newsletter from Dr Jacob Schor, Naturopath, titled Does Curcumin Have An Estrogenic Effect? and I wanted to share it with you.

Dr Schor is also on the Board of Directors for the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is based in Denver, Colorado.  He is often quoted on this website because of his excellent research skills, quality information and helpful insights for the breast cancer community.

Dr Schor has very kindly allowed me to copy the contents of his newsletter for you to read:

Does Curcumin Have An Estrogenic Effect?
By Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
www.DenverNaturopathic.com
September 27, 2015

Over the last month or so, several patients have contacted me in great concern because they had read online that curcumin (the turmeric extract) has estrogenic effect and is thus contraindicated in any estrogen sensitive cancer, in particular, breast cancer.  Thus I am obligated to consider and answer this question in great detail.  For those of you who simply want the bottom line: many things you read online are not true. This is one of them.  Curcumin is still strongly indicated for use in all types of breast cancer.

This concern appears to have been started by an inaccurate statement on WebMD: “Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, which might act like the hormone estrogen. In theory, turmeric might make hormone-sensitive conditions worse. However, some research shows that turmeric reduces the effects of estrogen in some hormone-sensitive cancer cells. Therefore, turmeric might have beneficial effects on hormone-sensitive conditions.   Until more is known, use cautiously if you have a condition that might be made worse by exposure to hormones 1.

This statement in various versions has been copied and pasted onto a growing number of other websites.

The WebMD article did not cite a source for this idea.  In a situation in which one makes a statement that runs contrary to general consensus, it is typically expected to be justified with a reference.

Our assumption is that WebMD’s statement is based on a 2010 paper by Bachmeier et al as it is the only study that we’ve found to suggest the idea that curcumin is at all estrogenic:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20798532

Bachmeier et al examined the impact of curcumin, along with quercetin and the enterolactones (derived from flax) on the expression of the  genes in breast cancer cells that are normally strongly stimulated by estrogen.  “Gene regulation induced by these compounds was low for genes strongly induced by E2 and similar to the latter for genes only weakly regulated by the classic estrogen. Of interest with regard to the treatment of menopausal symptoms, the survival factor…” 2

Bachmeier found that curcumin has a very weak estrogen-like effect on these genes. The authors of the paper were not worried about breast cancer stimulation, rather they were wondering if these compounds might decrease hot flashes.

We should note that the same authors have published other papers on curcumin and breast cancer, all focused on its potential benefit in treating this type of cancer.  They do not seem the least bit concerned about an estrogenic effect, nor do they appear to be the least concerned about their findings.  Here are a few other titles from these same researchers:

2008 “Curcumin downregulates the inflammatory cytokines CXCL1 and -2 in breast cancer cells via NfkappaB.” 3

2007 “The chemopreventive polyphenol Curcumin prevents hematogenous breast cancer metastases in immunodeficient mice.” 4

2010 “Curcumin, either as an isolated chemoprevention substance or in combination with chemotherapeutic agents as supportive measure reducing pharmaceutical resistance of tumor cells to certain chemotherapeutics” 5

My colleague Lise Alschuler, author of “The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing”, when asked about this commented that the concern was based only on “… in vitro indirect data – so [it is] bogus. Every plant would have some phytoestrogenic properties in a petri dish and this one was weak.”

I also contacted Bharat Aggarwal who directs the MD Anderson’s research laboratory, which has done much of the published research on curcumin, to ask if this idea was possibly true.  His response: “…there is no evidence for this.”

To paraphrase another colleague, Paul Reilly ND, FABNO, ‘Almost all flavonoid molecules have some mildly estrogenic effect.  In the case of curcumin this effect is quite weak and is far outweighed by its other anti-cancer actions. These estrogenic effects themselves, though mild can be considered anti-estrogenic in that they compete for the ER binding sites on cells, like a very weak form of tamoxifen.’

So where does that leave us?  There seems to be no evidence to support the idea that patients should be concerned about estrogenic effects from curcumin.

This should serve as a lesson to all of us, that, as we move forward through this journey of living with cancer, science and medicine,  we take careful steps; we need to be cautious regarding what we read and believe to be fact.  The idea that curcumin should be avoided appears to have no credible evidence to support it.  Yet as a result, many patients may be hesitant to use something that could have potential benefit in their lives.

References:

1.  http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-Curcumin%20%28TURMERIC%29.aspx?activeIngredientId=662&activeIngredientName=Curcumin%20%28TURMERIC%29

2. Bachmeier BE1, Mirisola V, Romeo F, Generoso L, Esposito A, Dell’eva R, Blengio F, Killian PH, Albini A, Pfeffer U. Reference profile correlation reveals estrogen-like trancriptional activity of Curcumin. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2010;26(3):471-82.

3. Bachmeier BE1, Mohrenz IV, Mirisola V, Schleicher E, Romeo F, Höhneke C, Jochum M, Nerlich AG, Pfeffer U. Curcumin downregulates the inflammatory cytokines CXCL1 and -2 inbreast cancer cells via NFkappaB. Carcinogenesis. 2008 Apr;29(4):779-89. Epub 2007 Nov 13.

4. Bachmeier B1, Nerlich AG, Iancu CM, Cilli M, Schleicher E, Vené R, Dell’Eva R, Jochum M, Albini A, Pfeffer U. The chemopreventive polyphenol Curcumin prevents hematogenous breast cancer metastases in immunodeficient mice. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2007;19(1-4):137-52.

5. Bachmeier BE1, Killian P, Pfeffer U, Nerlich AG. Novel aspects for the application of Curcumin in chemoprevention of various cancers Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2010 Jan 1;2:697-717.

Thank you Dr Schor for setting the matter straight for us in the breast cancer community and for going to all of the trouble to make phone calls and delve into the research.  We thoroughly appreciate your time and attention.

For more information on how curcumin is beneficial for breast cancer, dosages and specific supplements see my article Harvest The Power Of Curcumin To Kill Breast Cancer Cells.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Healthy Strategies to Avoid Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / Tuomas Lehtinen
Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / Tuomas Lehtinen

Healthy Strategies to Avoid Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome

As a follow up to my article Sugar, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes and Breast Cancer Risk, today I am providing you with some healthy strategies to avoid these conditions.  Be prepared, this is going to be one long post but full of great information on how to avoid insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, both of which are risk factors for breast cancer.

If you have read my article (link above) you will know that having diabetes gives you an increased risk of breast cancer. Conversely, having breast cancer puts you at a higher risk for diabetes.  It is clear that blood sugar problems are creating many other health problems for us. By incorporating positive lifestyle changes, however, you can dramatically reduce your risk of getting the diseases associated with metabolic syndrome, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer.

Most of the strategies in this list revolve around attaining and keeping a healthy weight. If you will recall from last week’s article, one of the tell-tale risk factors for metabolic syndrome is having a waist circumference of over 35 inches (88.9 cm).  An overabundance of belly fat (having an “apple” shape) is not something you should be accepting and living with and I apologize if that sounds harsh, but it really is THAT important. So without further ado, here are the things you can do to help yourself.

Get Your Insulin Levels Tested

Go to your doctor and get your insulin levels tested.  I recommend doing this at the very outset of your “get healthy” program, because then you will know exactly what you are dealing with.  Get your doctor to do a fasting glucose test where you fast for 10-12 hours prior to having a small amount of blood drawn. This is a very effective way to see what is happening in your body with regard to insulin.

Eat A Healthy Diet

Simply by reducing your calorie/kilojoule intake is a good start toward your weight loss goals.  More specifically I recommend:

Detox Your Body From Sugar.  The first thing necessary for you to lose the belly fat will be that you will need to educate yourself on exactly how many foods contain added sugars.  Things which at first glance look like they should be good for you, such as boxed cereals, fruit juices, crackers, yogurt, canned soups, sliced bread, even energy bars.  The average diet in England, America and Australia contains about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day and it can be higher than that in less developed countries where American food has been introduced.  Our consumption of sugar has risen 28 percent since 1983!  No wonder we are in trouble.  So how much sugar is it safe to consume? About 4-7 tsp per day, max.  The first three days will be the worst for sugar cravings but once you get past that, it becomes easier and easier to avoid sugar.

Become A Label Reader. Pay attention to words in the ingredients list like sugar – well that one is obvious but the rest may not be – glucose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, galactose, lactose, malt syrup, cane juice, dehydrated cane juice, cane juice solids, cane juice crystals, dextrin, maltodextrin, barley malt, beet sugar, caramel, buttered syrup, carob syrup, date sugar, diatase, diatastic malt, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, dehydrated fruit juice, fruit juice crystals, golden syrup, turbinado, sorghum syrup, refiner’s syrup and ethyl maltol.  If the product has any of these in it, avoid those products like the plague, they are all sugar in disguise.  We need to stop eating these things and the only way we stop it is with our pocketbooks.  It’s simple – we quit buying these products for any reason and they stop producing them due to lack of interest.

Foods To Exclude.  Reducing your consumption of sugar and other carbohydrates is the absolute best way to lose belly fat, reduce weight and decrease insulin resistance problems, even better than cutting fat from your diet.  Carbs come from many different places, some of which are rather surprising. This is by no means an exhaustive list:

All of the forms of sugar listed above
Alcohol
Breads, tortillas, baked goods, pasta, pizza, rice
Crackers, chips, pretzels
Cereals
Fried Foods
Fruit – Yes, fruit – although in one respect fruit is healthy for you due to the phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber, if you are trying to lose weight, you must reduce your consumption of fruit because it is high in fructose. If you are struggling with insulin resistance, keep your daily fructose intake to less than 15 grams or less.  A small amount of fruit is okay – for instance 10 sweet cherries is about 4 grams of fructose.  An apple is 9.5 grams, 1 cup of blueberries is 7.4. Get yourself a handy chart (Dr Mercola has one, see reference below) and keep an eye on it for fructose content.

Foods To Include. These are the foods that will help you stay healthy. Make sure to include plenty of these:
All vegetables except corn or potatoes (sweet potatoes are better)
Fresh juices made from mostly vegetables
Fish, especially deep sea fish
Grass Fed Organic Meat
Organic Poultry
Eggs
Nuts, Seeds
Healthy Fats & Oils (like olive, coconut, butter)
Organic Cheese
Small amount of Legumes (yes they are carbs but read below)

It may sound as though that does not leave you with much but that is just not true. Is it going to be easy?  No.  But you will have a wide variety of food still to enjoy and you can eat plenty of them, as many as you like.  Along with decreasing inflammation in the body, eating this way provides you with energy, ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and dietary fiber. It may take more forethought and food preparation but it is well worth the effort and your life may depend upon it.

Loads of Healthy Eating Tips

Eat small, frequent meals to keep blood sugar in a more healthy range. Eating large meals can flood the bloodstream with glucose and insulin. Experiment with this until you find what helps you you feel your best, but generally eating six small meals is much better for your metabolism than three large meals.

Beans/Legumes are carbohydrates but they are one of the better choices because of their fiber content and because the carbs in legumes are more slowly digested and will not spike your blood sugars quite so high.

Foods high in magnesium help to decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, so be sure to include lots of leafy green vegetables like lettuce, kale and spinach as well as almonds, cashews and other nuts, avocados, beans, soybeans, and halibut.

Instead of a sandwich, roll up your meat and cheese in a big lettuce leaf.

Instead of pasta, learn to use a spiralizer and create pasta-like strands from your veggies – the raw food websites will show you how it’s done (see below for some good raw food website recommendations).  You can create some really delicious meals with raw food and they are full of plenty of natural vitamins and living enzymes.  Try a new raw food recipe or two every week.

Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day. It helps to increase your metabolism, it helps you flush out toxins and keeps you feeling a little more full for a longer period of time.  Sugar cravings often occur when a person is dehydrated, so drinking plenty of filtered water just makes sense.

Specific Foods That Make A Difference

Carrots And Other Orange, Yellow & Red Veggies – A Japanese study done with over 1,000 people who were followed over a ten year period indicated that for those whose diet included plenty of carotenoids (naturally occurring pigments in brightly colored vegetables like carrots and other yellow, orange and red veggies) eating this way was associated with a much decreased risk of developing metabolic syndrome 1.

Cinnamon – Research shows that cinnamon helps to transport glucose into the cells, thus reducing blood sugar levels.  One study in particular indicated that simply drinking cinnamon tea after a meal helped to lower blood glucose levels. 2   Ordinary cinnamon, exactly like the one you can get at your local supermarket, is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to help control blood sugar levels.  You can add it to green juices, take it in a tea, sprinkle it on foods or take it in capsules.

Cayenne pepper – Contains capsaicin, a phytochemical known to have anti-inflammatory and insulin lowering properties.  A study on women with gestational diabetes mellitus revealed that ingestion of capsaicin improved hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia 3.  Capsaicin is also known to help boost metabolism, improve blood circulation, and is even associated with decreasing blood pressure.  One 2015 study indicated that eating African bird’s eye chili (peri peri) also resulted in decreased insulin concentrations on overweight individuals. 4  Cayenne pepper is available either fresh or dried (ground spice), and in capsule form.  You can make cayenne pepper tea by mixing about one quarter to one half teaspoon of cayenne pepper steeped in a cup of hot water. You can add it to your food, stir it into fresh juices or tea.  Just be careful – use too much and it can give you a stomach ache so you may need to play around with the quantity you use. Also if you are on blood thinning medications, do not use cayenne pepper.

Green tea – Did you know that green tea can helps you lose belly fat?  It contains a phytochemical known as catechin which boosts metabolism. One study demonstrated that people drinking green tea and doing strength training had significant increases in resting metabolic rate, lean body mass and muscle strength, and significant decreases in body fat, triglycerides, and waist circumference as compared to those who did not drink the green tea but partook in the same exercise. 5 Green tea is also full of antioxidants which have been proven to be beneficial for metabolic syndrome.

Increase Physical Activity

If you tend to be sedentary please know that you are putting yourself at a much higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome.  By increasing your level of exercise, you are not only boosting your metabolism, you are also increasing your immune system and decreasing stress levels.  Try to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on at least five days of the week. Try to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time – standing up or engaging in a little vigorous activity (running in place or going for a 1-2 minute walk) has more benefits than you can imagine.

Find something you like to do that keeps you moving.  Get some exercise DVDs that are geared toward gentle movement such as yoga. Try Pilates.  Get out and walk every day for 30 minutes. Ride a bicycle.  Go hiking with a friend.  If you don’t have a dog, borrow your neighbor’s dog (with their permission of course) and take it for a walk.  Try a rebounder (mini trampoline – great for the lymphatic system). Take a dance class.  But find something you like to do and become more active.  It will be one of the best things you ever do for yourself, I promise.

Stop Smoking

Smoking cigarettes actually increases insulin resistance and worsens the health consequences of metabolic syndrome. Please do find a way to stop and if you need help, get help. See a therapist who does hypnosis, see your doctor for a nicotine patch, but please stop smoking.

Supplements That Make A Difference

Chromium – a mineral required by the body to metabolize sugars and fats. In its absence, cells can become insensitive to insulin but with it, insulin becomes much more efficient at converting glucose to energy for the cells.  It most likely will not help you if your pancreas has ceased to manufacture insulin and it doesn’t appear to improve the efficiency of injected insulin but one study done with patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus demonstrated that the patients who took chromium enjoyed significantly reduced fasting glucose concentrations 6. The recommended dosage is 200 mcg of chromium per day.

Coenzyme Q10 – In addition to being protective for the heart and blood vessels, a brand new study indicates that 100 mg of CoQ10 supplementation for people with metabolic syndrome resulted in a significant reduction in serum insulin levels7.  CoQ10 also slows degeneration of brain and nerve cells and is associated with anti-aging.  Recommended dosage: 100 mg per day

Alpha Lipoic Acid – One Italian study examined postmenopausal women at high risk of developing breast cancer due to family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or personal history of ductal hyperplasia.  The women were asked to follow a low calorie diet and were given alpha lipoic acid combined with inositol (part of the B complex group of vitamins) and followed for 6 months.  It was discovered that compared to the placebo group, those taking the combination of alpha lipoic acid and inositol had lower triglycerides, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced blood insulin levels, increased HDL (the good) cholesterol, and less belly fat 8.  Recommended dosage: 500 mg alpha lipoic acid, 300 mg to 2000 mg inositol per day.

Pycnogenol (maritime pine bark extract) – A study reported in 2013 involving 64 people aged 45-55 years, all of whom had the five risk factors for metabolic syndrome, were given 150 mg daily of pycnogenol while another group of 66 people with the same risk profiles were used as controls.  Compared to the control group, those taking pycnogenol showed decreased waist circumference, lower triglycerides, lower blood pressure, decreased fasting glucose and plasma free radicals, and increased HDL cholesterol levels 9. Recommended Dosage: 150 mg daily

Vitamin D3 – We have long been told that people who are obese have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.  But a 2015 Spanish study found that people with low levels of vitamin D may have a  higher risk for type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, regardless of whether they were obese or thin 10.  Find out what your vitamin D levels are and if you are found to be low, supplementing with 5,000 iu of vitamin D3 daily just makes good sense.

Mind/Body Strategies

It is really important to take care of your stress levels in positive ways because when you are stressed, your body releases cortisol.  Some health gurus refer to cortisol as the “death” hormone because of its bad influence on the systems of the body.  Cortisol also encourages your body to store excess fat in the lower abdomen!

To handle stress more effectively than resorting to sugar, alcohol, tobacco, or television, try calming breathing exercises and meditation.  Meditation is easy to do, completely free and comes without side effects other than feelings of calm, peace, and serenity.  If you have tried meditation in the past and found it too difficult, or found your mind straying, you might like to try my how-to-meditate course.

Research shows that when you are stressed you are more likely to eat or drink or smoke something that is harmful to your health.  Meditation helps to calm your nervous system and helps you to get to sleep and to also get a deeper quality of REM sleep.  Did you know that missing just one night of sleep can induce insulin resistance?  11

Meditation does take a bit of practice but so does anything worth learning.  It only takes about three weeks to change a bad habit (like resorting to alcohol to manage stress) into a good one (like meditation).

Essential Oils That May Make A Difference

Essential oils may also be of assistance with easing the problems associated with metabolic syndrome.  At the very least, essential oils help relieve the stress that may raise blood glucose levels.  But recent research – so far done only on animals – shows that certain plant compounds in essential oils may also have an effect on lowering blood sugar.

Fennel essential oil – contains a compound known as trans-anethole and animal studies indicate trans anethole was found to be beneficial in cases of hyperglycemia by regulating key enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. 12

Cinnamon bark essential oil – research done on mice with type II diabetes indicated cinnamon oil significantly decreased fasting blood glucose concentration. Also serum triglycerides were reduced, while HDL cholesterol levels were significantly increased and glucose tolerance was improved. 13

I would not recommend using essential oils on their own to combat metabolic syndrome but in combination with all of the strategies listed above, the research indicates essential oils could be beneficial.  I would only use them externally on the soles of the feet, as the feet have large pores and the oils can be easily absorbed there.

I suspect there are a good many more essential oils than what I have listed here, and as I locate them and find the research, I will add to this section.

References:

1. High serum carotenoids associated with lower risk for the metabolic syndrome and its components among Japanese subjects: Mikkabi cohort study – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26365147

2.  Effect of Cinnamon Tea on Postprandial Glucose Concentration – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4516848/

3.  Capsaicin-containing chili improved postprandial hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and fasting lipid disorders in women with gestational diabetes mellitus and lowered the incidence of large-for-gestational-age newborns – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25771490

4.  The metabolic effects of a commercially available chicken peri-peri (African bird’s eye chilli) meal in overweight individuals – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26360825

5.  The Effects of Green Tea Consumption and Resistance Training on Body Composition and Resting Metabolic Rate in Overweight or Obese Women – http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2012.0062

6.  Beneficial effects of oral chromium picolinate supplementation on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized clinical study – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26302914

7.  The effects of coenzyme Q10 administration on glucose homeostasis parameters, lipid profiles, biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with metabolic syndrome – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26385228

8.  Combination of inositol and alpha lipoic acid in metabolic syndrome-affected women: a randomized placebo-controlled trial – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3765513/

9.  Pycnogenol® supplementation improves health risk factors in subjects with metabolic syndrome – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23359520

10. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and adipose tissue vitamin D receptor gene expression: relationship with obesity and type 2 diabetes – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25706239

11. One sleepless night can induce insulin resistance in healthy people –
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100505091632.htm

12. Trans-anethole, a terpenoid ameliorates hyperglycemia by regulating key enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25708856

13. Antidiabetic effects of cinnamon oil in diabetic KK-Ay mice – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20561948

Cut Down On Carbs to Reduce Body Fat – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/08/cut-down-on-carbs-to-reduce-body-fat.aspx

Low Carbohydrate Recipes:
http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/low+carb
http://www.atkins.com/recipes
http://authoritynutrition.com/101-healthy-low-carb-recipes/

Raw Food Recipes:
http://ohsheglows.com/categories/recipes-2/
http://rawfoodrecipes.com/
https://therawfoodkitchen.com.au/raw-food-recipes/
http://www.rawguru.com/raw-food-recipes/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.