Category Archives: Keeping Abreast of the News

Our Voices Are Being Heard!

Image Source: rgbstock.com / lusi
Image Source: rgbstock.com / lusi

Our Voices Are Being Heard!

One of the things I always recommend people do is vote with their money.  If you are against a certain product or manufacturer, don’t buy it, don’t support them.  They will soon get the message when sales start to slump.

This also translates to health care.  While doing research on some ingredients within three different breast health formulations for which I have recently been writing product reviews, I came across something really interesting.  It is apparent that our voices are being heard by the medical establishment!

Most of my research is done on pubmed.gov, the US website that is a service of the US National Library of Medicine.  Pubmed.gov has over 24 million citations for biomedical literature, and that’s where I discovered that we – as breast cancer patients and survivors – are being listened to.

Use Of Complementary Approaches Is Common

One study I was reading about the effects of flaxseed began with the words “Use of complementary approaches is common among breast cancer survivors.” 1

A 2013 study done on the medicinal mushroom ganoderma lucidum stated “Breast cancer metastasis is one of the major reasons for the high morbidity and mortality of breast cancer patients. In spite of surgical interventions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy, some patients are considering alternative therapies with herbal/natural products.”  2

I’m so glad they noticed!  Actually in America alone, upwards of $35 billion is being spent on alternative therapies and complementary medicine.  Per year.

We Don’t Want Side Effects!

One study investigating indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its effects on the aromatase enzyme (the chief enzyme responsible for activation of estrogen) really got me chuckling.  The researchers said “Natural products as aromatase inhibitors have received growing interest in recent years because of their potential in the inhibition of aromatase with lower side effect, and the possibility to the translation from their uses as chemotherapeutic agents to future clinical uses in breast cancer chemoprevention.” More on chemoprevention below.

As a breast cancer coach, the complaint I hear most often is about the side effects of the hormone blocking drugs being prescribed for people after chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatments end.  We are being told that we “need” these drugs, that our lives depend on us taking these drugs, but the side effects can be horrific – doesn’t quality of life count for anything?  So I was delighted to read that researchers are aware of this and are actively looking for natural products that will have the same or similar effect.  Good for them (and about bloody time)!

We Don’t Want Toxicity!

Another research study investigating the effects of eugenol, a phytochemical found in clove essential oil, stated “Breast cancer is a major health problem that threatens the lives of millions of women worldwide each year. Most of the chemotherapeutic agents that are currently used to treat this complex disease are highly toxic with long-term side effects. Therefore, novel generation of anti-cancer drugs with higher efficiency and specificity are urgently needed.” 4

Highly toxic indeed.  Mother Nature has provided us with everything we need to maintain our health.  The only thing that has been lacking is the scientific proof that they work, and the studies are flowing in, thick and fast.  Researchers (mainly outside the USA, sadly) are discovering every day that what we had relied upon for centuries for our wellness really does work.  It is exciting for me every time I come across some bit of research that indicates something coming from nature has potent anti-cancer activity and can be useful for our health regimes.

An Ounce Of Chemoprevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

A Polish study investigating the effects of curcumin as a possible cancer prevention agent stated “Breast cancer is the most common malignant cancer among women, both in Poland and worldwide. Due to the constantly increasing number of breast cancer cases, it is vital to develop effective activities in primary and secondary prevention. One of the promising methods of best value, connecting both types of cancer prevention, appears to be chemoprevention.” 5

Don’t confuse chemoprevention with chemotherapy. The goal of chemoprevention is to avoid breast cancer altogether, whereas chemotherapy is the use of some fairly toxic drugs to kill a cancer in progress.  Chemoprevention can be possible not only with drugs, but with certain very particular natural supplements.  In fact, I will go out on a limb and say the natural supplements and healthy lifestyle work better than the drugs do.

More Effective Modality Needs To be Promptly Established

I saved the best quote for last.  My favorite remark in a research study was made in this new study just released this month (Feb 2015).  Researchers were exploring the benefits of the medicinal mushroom Phellinus linteus and remarked “Although several therapeutic options are currently available for patients with various cancers, the outcomes are often disappointing and a more effective modality needs to be promptly established.” 6   

Understatement of the year.

Research:
1.  A pilot study comparing the effect of flaxseed, aromatase inhibitor, and the combination on breast tumor biomarkers     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24669750
2.  The mushroom Ganoderma lucidum suppresses breast-to-lung cancer metastasis through the inhibition of pro-invasive genes     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718855
3.  Inhibition of testosterone aromatization by the indole-3-carbinol derivative CTet in CYP19A1-overexpressing MCF-7 breast cancer cells     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25612679
4.  Eugenol triggers apoptosis in breast cancer cells through E2F1/survivin down-regulation     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24330704
5.  Curcumin in chemoprevention of breast cancer    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24864107
6.  Potent Anticancer Effects of Bioactive Mushroom Extracts (Phellinus linteus) on a Variety of Human Cancer Cells    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245057/

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.  

Health Insurance Companies Now Dictate Your Cancer Care, To Your Detriment

Image Source: morgueFile / I Melenchon
Image Source: morgueFile / I Melenchon

 

 

 

Health Insurance Companies Now Dictate Your Cancer Care, To Your Detriment

I was disappointed (but not particularly surprised) to read a May 27, 2014 Wall Street Journal article yesterday, Insurers Push To Rein In Spending on Cancer Care.

For those of you who haven’t read it, please read that article.  It is ultra clear that certain insurance companies may not have your best health interests in mind, nor might your oncologist.

The fact I found most disgusting is that there are insurance companies in the USA offering oncologists $350.00 per month PER CANCER PATIENT if the oncologist puts that patient on the insurance company’s recommended regimen for the purpose of cost control and keeping expenses down.

Not too surprising, as some chemotherapy drugs can run over $100,000 per patient per year.

But think about that – if an oncologist has 250 patients, and only 100 of them are on the insurance company’s “recommended regimen”, that equates to $35,000 per month to the oncologist, or $420,000 per year.  What oncologist is going to pass that up?

What this means to you as a cancer patient is that the insurance company doesn’t care about you.  At all.  Which probably comes as no surprise.  Insurance companies just want to keep down costs associated with cancer treatments, and if your oncologist is one of those who gets paid $350.00 per month to put you on the routine recommended treatment regime dictated by the insurance company, you will be afforded less individualized care by that oncologist.

Still think your oncologist is working with your best interests at heart?

Your particular health situation might require more expensive chemo drugs than what the insurance company wants to pay for.  For instance, some of the newer drugs such as Kadcyla (aka TDM1), approved by the FDA in February 2013, is a new targeted therapy for women with HER2-positive secondary breast cancer.  It combines a chemotherapy drug (emtansine) with Herceptin. The treatment is delivered directly to the cancer cells, so the body’s healthy cells are not affected, which means that many of the usual side effects associated with chemotherapy, including nausea, hair loss, and vomiting, are avoided.  But the cost of it in the USA is $9,800 per month.

Do you think you’ll be offered this drug if your insurance company is one of those committed only to the bottom line and not the patient?

Mainstream medicine is BROKEN, people.  The patient takes it on the chin again.  Our standard of care, especially for cancer patients, is not only deplorable but unaffordable.  Big pharma and the insurance companies are running the cancer show, that much is perfectly obvious.

All the more reason why we as human beings would be better off putting our health insurance dollars into some kind of self-managed health care fund from the moment we’re born (like a college fund) and seeking the treatment providers who actually make a difference to us.  For cancer patients, in my opinion, that would be naturopaths, oncology naturopaths and integrative oncologists like Brian Lawenda (and, of course, cancer coaches!).

How to fight back?  Become self-empowered activists for your own health.  Ask your insurance company if it is one of those paying oncologists for recommending their treatment protocol.  Ask your oncologist.  If they are doing this, go find someone else who isn’t.  Better yet, find yourself a good integrative oncologist.  We vote best with our money.  If you need help locating someone, contact me.

The health care industry is so screwed up, who knows when it will (if ever) be sorted out and fixed.  As usual, it’s up to US to be informed and to make the health choices we need to make to get well.

References:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/insurer-to-reward-cancer-doctors-for-adhering-to-regimens-1401220033

http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2013/02/22/a-triumph-in-breast-cancer-and-another-expensive-drug/

http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/about/brian-lawenda/

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. 

Need A New Breast? Sure, Let Me Just Print One For You!

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Stuart Miles

Creating Body Parts With 3D Printers

Last week I was listening to a news report about 3D printers and how scientists are working towards creating body parts using a new science called biofabrication.  A scientist was holding up a model of a woman’s breast and they were describing how this new science worked.  

This is the next frontier – 3D printing, a very exciting technology with so much potential.  For breast cancer patients, the hope is that within the next 3 years, science will be able to create a new breast from a patient’s own cells.

No More “Flap” Surgeries Or Silicone Implants

Imagine this,  no more rearranging the muscles from our bodies – muscles that we need and want – to rebuild our breasts, and no more silicone implants!  Personally – speaking as a bodyworker – I feel that when they use muscles to rebuild a breast, it creates all sorts of imbalances in the body, I know that has certainly been the case for me.  Using this new biofabrication technology, your new breast will be made using your own cells!

How The Process Works

As far as I understand it, rather than using rearranged muscles or a silicone implant, an MRI or a laser scan of the patient’s healthy breast would be used to design what is called a breast scaffold.  You can see what the scaffold might look like in this article from the Brisbane Times.

The tissue is created by using modified printer cartridges and cells extracted from the patient, either from biopsies or stem cells.  Then the tissue is grown using already existing techniques – it is cultured in a growth medium and allowed to multiply.  Once the required amount of cells have grown, they are collected and formed into the desired shape and loaded into a cartridge to create what is called BioInk.  The BioInk is loaded into a bioprinter along with a cartridge of hydrogel, which is a water-based matrix used as scaffolding for creating layers of cells.  The printer prints a layer of the hydrogel, followed by a layer of BioInk cells, and so on. The layered calls naturally fuse together to create a scaffold.

Check out this quick YouTube video created by UMC Utrecht (one of the universities mentioned below) that shows how the process can be used to create osteochondral material in bone.  This will give you a better idea of how it works.

Just think – some of your healthy cells could be harvested, grown in a dish, the scaffold created, and in one single operation, your surgeon would implant the scaffold into your body, and *voila* you have a new breast.  From what I understand, in 2-3 years, the original scaffold will have degraded and disappeared.

Fascinating!

This technology is already moving along at a rapid pace – I read about a 2-year-old child in the USA who was born without a trachea and received one built with her own stem cells, this occurred last year (see link to story below). 

University Courses

An international masters degree in biofabrication is already going to be jointly offered by the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Wollongong, the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands and the University of Würzburg in Germany, the first of its kind.  Australian students would spend 12 months at one of the European universities and European students would spend 12 months at one of the Australian universities. 

Ethical Concerns

Of course, there are ethical concerns that this kind of technology will allow us to “play God” as never before, which makes a lot of people very uncomfortable.  There has already been an exposé on 60 Minutes about guns that have been created using 3D printers.  That one really made me nervous.  It will need to be well-regulated, no doubt.  But the applications for biofabrication are seemingly endless – new breasts, new bones, organ transplants.  18 people in the USA die every day while waiting in vain for transplants.  We could save some lives in a big way.  And get new breasts, with our own cells.  🙂

References

Brisbane Times article: 3D Printing Pushes Medical Boundaries

UK Telegraph: The Next Step: 3D Printing The Human Body

CNN: Toddler Gets New Windpipe From Her Own Stem Cells

CNN: The Next Frontier in 3-D Printing: Human Organs

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

Your Man Reminder – Fun Breast Self Examination App

New Breast Self Examination Reminder App from Rethink Breast Cancer – Your Man Reminder

I have seen some really useful apps for smart phones recently, but one in particular called “Your Man Reminder” from Rethink Breast Cancer piqued my interest (for obvious reasons).  It features some very nice looking young men reminding you to do your monthly breast self examination.  I’m not exactly convinced that he shows enough thoroughness with regard to the physical checking, but it is a good reminder to do it. 

Check out the video they made (just might want to ignore the umm… interesting dancing at the end!):

Rethink Breast Cancer is a Canadian based  advocacy group started in 2011. 

From the Rethink Breast Cancer website: “Rethink is the first-ever, Canadian breast cancer charity to bring bold, relevant awareness to the under-40 crowd; foster a new generation of young and influential breast cancer supporters; infuse sass and style into the cause; and, most importantly, respond to the unique needs of young (or youngish) women going through it.  No pink ribbons required.”

I love that, especially the last bit.  The app is available for free on iTunes and Android.

The Rethink Breast Cancer website has some great information about healthy food, prevention tips, some inspirational posts by young survivors of breast cancer, and they have fundraising events and ways to get involved.  It looks like a good resource, they are doing good work over there.  Here’s a link to their blog: http://blog.rethinkbreastcancer.com/

As you may know, I’m all about prevention and welcome young women to my site and to my free newsletters and e-books to empower themselves with information on how to prevent breast cancer, and/or prevent recurrences.  If you are interested in receiving that information, you can sign up for them on the right-hand side of this page, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

The Latest On Breast Cancer Stem Cells

 

Photo courtesy of Photokanok / freedigitalphotos.net
Photo courtesy of Photokanok / freedigitalphotos.net

The Latest On Breast Cancer Stem Cells

So what are breast cancer stem cells?

They are a specific group of stem cells, which are undifferentiated biological cells capable of creating more cells of the same type, ad infinitum, and from which certain other kinds of cells arise by differentiation.

Breast cancer stem cells were first discovered in 2003 by scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. UM scientists found that just a few breast cancer stem cells were responsible for the growth and spread of breast cancer.  They also found that unless the cancer stem cells could be destroyed, a tumor would be more likely to return and spread malignant cells to other parts of the body, a process called metastasis.

Conventional Therapies For Advanced Breast Cancer Targets The Wrong Cells

Because cancer stem cells are resistant to traditional chemotherapy and radiation, new treatments are needed that can be targeted directly at these stem cells, thus the ongoing research.  UM scientists believe that conventional therapies for advanced breast cancer have limited effectiveness because they are targeting the wrong cells. These therapies were designed to shrink cancers by killing all the rapidly growing cells in a tumor.  The scientists at UM believe that therapies could be more effective and cause fewer side effects if they were aimed specifically at cancer stem cells.  Here is a short 36-second video with Dr Max Wicha from UM explaining a little about breast cancer stem cells.  There are other, longer videos available on You Tube to view should you wish to know more.

In this study: Cancer Stem Cell Markers Are Enriched In Normal Tissue Adjacent To Triple Negative Breast Cancer And Inversely Correlated With DNA Repair Deficiency, published in September 2013, researchers discovered that women with triple-negative breast cancer have more stem cells present in their normal breast tissue than women with other types of cancer.  The scientists felt that “the presence of stem cells may be an important predictive marker for the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer.”  They stated further studies are needed to determine a causal relationship between stem cells and the breast cancer incidence.

Additionally, the study that I linked to above noted that a small percentage of women with triple-negative breast cancer also had faulty DNA-repair pathways, and put that figure at about one in 9 of women with TNBC.

So What Do We Do With This Information?

First of all, don’t worry about it.  I have only written about this because a few of my readers have asked about breast cancer stem cells. 

If you follow the advice I give in my Diet and Cancer page, you will be well-protected.  Specifically, see my entries about breast cancer stem cells in “broccoli” and “turmeric”.  Keep a strong immune system (for more advice about that see my page 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System), keep your stress levels down (Yes, take that vacation!  You need it!) and follow my advice in my newsletters and e-books.  If you are doing all these things, you are miles ahead.

References:

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

http://breast-cancer-research.com/content/15/5/R77

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Alert – Breast Cancer In Younger Women On The Rise

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and imagerymajestic
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and imagerymajestic

Breast Cancer In Younger Women

A new and troubling study published February 27, 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association authored by Dr Rebecca Johnson, herself a breast cancer survivor, indicates that the rates of advanced breast cancer among young women has risen slightly.  Here is an abstract of the study.

The authors reviewed a U.S. government database of cancer cases from 1976 to 2009 and they discovered that among women aged 25-39, in whom breast cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, indicating advanced disease, has increased from between 1-2 cases per 100,000 women to about 3 cases per 100,000 during that time span.

This is not good news because the tumors of younger women tend to be more aggressive than those of older women and the fact that they are being found after they have already spread to other parts of the body makes it even more difficult to effect a cure.

Population Increase Not The Whole Reason

Although breast cancer is still more uncommon in women younger than age 40, the study indicated that in the mid 1970’s, there were around 250 advanced cases diagnosed in women younger than age 40.  By 2009, however, the number had risen to more than 800.  During this time period, the number of women of that age range rose nationwide from about 22 million to about 30 million, an increase that might explain part of the study trend “but definitely not all of it,” Dr Johnson said, who is a medical director of a teen and young adult cancer program at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  Dr Johnson also stated “The change might be due to some sort of modifiable risk factor, like a lifestyle change” or exposure to some sort of cancer-linked substance, she said.

I’m not reporting this to scare anyone (because I don’t believe scaring you is a good way to get you to make necessary changes), but to inform and empower you to be more proactive with your health.  For mothers and daughters alike (and also men because they can get breast cancer too), it’s important to know the risk factors for breast cancer.

Free Report Covers Cancer Risk Factors, Offers Solutions

I have spent the past 20 years or so compiling information on breast cancer risk factors – delving into research, talking to doctors and natural therapists, and I have compiled what I learned into my report “24 Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk” which normally you would need to sign up for my free newsletters to receive.  And you can still do that.  But to show you how serious I am about getting the word out to younger women that they can decrease their risk of cancer by being very proactive, you can also download my report today by clicking this link:  24 Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk

Know How To Perform A Breast Self Exam

First and foremost, know your body.  Learn how to check your breasts – click here for the 5 Steps of a Breast Self Exam from breastcancer.org, a wonderfully informational site.  Don’t delay getting yourself to a doctor if you suspect anything unusual may be happening in your body.  Read my report, “24 Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk” and do your utmost to keep the risk factors at a minimum.  You owe this to not only yourself, but to your unborn children.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (FB.com/MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

 

17 Year Old Brittany Wenger & Why We Need More Like Her

Brittany Wenger
Brittany Wenger

Diverted this afternoon by an online article about this bright young mind, I decided to introduce you to her.  Her name is Brittany Wenger from Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  She’s only 17, but she recently won Google’s Science Fair Grand Prize for her breast cancer diagnosis app.

The Breast Cancer Diagnosis App

Brittany wrote a computer program, called a “neural network” which she designed to mimic the human brain.  In her words for her summary of the project: “Artificial neural networks detect patterns too complex to be recognized by humans and can be applied to breast mass malignancy classification when evaluating Fine Needle Aspirates (FNAs).  This project teaches the cloud how to diagnose breast cancer by implementing a custom-crafted neural network that consumes FNA data collected by the University of Wisconsin to answer the question – is a mass malignant or benign?”.

The problem with the FNA is that it’s often one of the least precise diagnosis tools.  It’s quite easy for the needle to miss the mass or tumor and thus the cancer cells the technician is trying to detect. Often, if FNA results are not clear, the patient has to undergo a second biopsy with a larger needle or even much more invasive surgery.  Brittany’s plan was to boost the less-invasive test’s success rates.

If Brittany’s information about her app is correct, her program will be able to quickly and correctly identify 99% of malignant tumors and improve breast cancer diagnosis results.  That’s pretty darned exciting.

You can read her project summary here (and make sure you see the video on the “Step 1” page.  Brilliant.

What is an Artificial Neural Network?

Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) are programs built to model the brain’s neural syntax structure.  They have the ability to learn, to understand the meaning of complicated data, and can be used to detect patterns too complex for a human or another computer program to notice.

Young people like Brittany give me hope for the future.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Johns Hopkins Advocates Integrated Cancer Care

 

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and hisks
Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and hisks

Johns Hopkins Advocates Integrated Cancer Care

For those who were not able to attend the webinar put on by Johns Hopkins Medicine on December 17th, following please find my notes and ramblings from that webinar.  I hope you find them useful.

The webinar was titled Integrative Medicine: How Acupuncture, The Mind/Body Connection, Holistic Eating and Chinese Medicine and Other Modalities Can Help Survivors During and After Treatment.  Which is kind of a long-winded title, but they wanted to tell you exactly what they’d be covering and that title does the trick

Webinar Overview

The webinar was presented by Dr Linda Lee and Mr Jeff Gould and it ran for about an hour.  Dr Lee spoke about how the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine Center viewed integrative medicine as being the best of scientific medicine with a broader understanding of the nature of illness, that integrative medicine enhanced conventional medicine rather than replacing it.  They preferred the term “integrative” rather than “alternative” or “complementary” because alternative seeks an “alternate” approach to conventional medicine, it connotes a turning away, while the term complementary was too broad.

The Johns Hopkins website further defines integrative medicine: “Integrative medicine encompasses a broad range of therapeutic approaches to achieve optimal health and wellness for those who are ill or those who are concerned about disease prevention. It is a powerful resource for those seeking to participate actively in their healthcare.”

A Holistic Diet for Cancer Patients

Dr Lee spoke first and discussed holistic eating quite simply – she quoted author Michael Pollan, whose advice was to “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  I loved that – it says so much so succintly!

Dr Lee warned us against eating highly processed foods and too many food additives.  She said we should try not to eat too much meat, especially beef, and that we should strive for a balanced approach in our food choices.  Volumes could be written (and have been) about the best nutrition for cancer patients – for more definitive information, see my page Diet and Cancer.

Dr Lee addressed the concerns of those going through chemotherapy, she had some good advice for what to eat when you don’t feel like eating, for those taste bud issues and digestive problems.  She advised using a blender or food processor (I would say JUICER) and put your food into that.

She had no real recommendations about WHAT to put in the blender – other than you wouldn’t put a spaghetti dinner in there, for instance.  She just said it’s easier to process liquid foods like smoothies and shakes.  She recommended having multiple small meals, rather than 3 bigger meals per day.  Dr Lee recommended the book One Bite At A Time – Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends by Rebecca Katz, which I’ve added to my Recommended Reading list.

I’ll go a little farther than these recommendations and direct you to my article Do You Know The Benefits of Juicers For Cancer Patients.

Dietary Myths in Cancer

Dr Lee discussed some of the dietary myths she had encountered from her patients – we’ll start with the myth, then Dr Lee’s refutal:

  1. Avoid sugar because it feeds cancer – this one surprised me because I do advocate avoiding sugar if you have active cancer in your body.  Dr Lee disagreed, saying a moderate amount of sugar is okay, it won’t cause your cancer to get bigger.  So, I’ve softened my stance on this a little bit and found a good article for you that discusses moderation.
  2. Eat whatever foods you want and as much of them as you like – eating as much as you like of something isn’t advisable if you’re undergoing chemotherapy and having digestive issues, smaller meals are better.
  3. Eat fried foods because they will give you more calories if you’ve lost weight during cancer treatment – Dr Lee advised fried foods are NOT a good idea because they increase nausea.
  4. Being overweight is better than being underweight – Not true for breast cancer, Dr Lee says.  Fat cells create estrogen and if you had/have estrogen receptor positive tumor(s) being overweight can actually cause more problems for you.

Vitamin Supplements

Dr Lee advised caution when taking vitamins – because adverse affects are not always known and they may have interactions with some of the drugs you are on.  She did not have anything against taking vitamins, she merely advised caution, suggesting a person see an herbalist or dietician for guidance (I’d say see a trained naturopath) and always let your oncologist know what you are doing.  Dr Lee suggested referring to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website.

Mind/Body Approach

My favorite part of the webinar was the discussion of how using mind/body medicine can help cancer patients.  Dr Lee went out on a limb and said that STRESS CAN AFFECT CANCER GROWTH.  I’ve been saying this for years and I was so glad to hear someone from the medical world acknowledge and affirm this.

Dr Lee advised that chronic emotional stress can have a negative impact on cancer, and she discussed how the hormones released during stressful periods affect inflammation, cellular immune response and other key factors and that getting stress treated was really important.  She advocated the use of one or more of the following therapies (all of which I also recommend on this site and in my newsletters):

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • tai chi
  • massage
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • guided imagery
  • hypnotherapy
  • support groups
  • journaling
  • exercise

I found a good article for you from the Mayo Clinic which discusses exactly how stress hormones wreak havoc on our body.

Mr Jeff Gould On The Chinese Medicine Approach

The second part of the webinar was handed over to Jeff Gould, a Chinese medicine practitioner at the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine Center.  Mr Gould discussed many aspects of Chinese medicine, I will highlight the most interesting points he made:

    • Chinese medicine is what he termed individualized medicine. He might see 10 patients with breast cancer, but each patient may get a different treatment protocol based on the symptoms they present with on that day.
    • Chinese medicine is very holistic – practitioners don’t just treat physical symptoms (such as cancer), but also the emotional and spiritual aspects of a person.  He said one of his patients, in an effort to describe what they felt like after an acupuncture treatment, called it “a lightness of being”.  I thought that was a very good description.
    • Mr Gould called Chinese medicine a highly effective adjunct to Western medicine, it has been utilized quite effectively for over 3,000 years.
    • Mr Gould mentioned that the Chinese also use diet as a therapy – that Chinese medicine looks at the energetics of food vs the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  They use food to promote health AND also to treat illness.  I was quite interested to find out that certain restaurants in China will have doctors who will greet you at the door, take a look at your vital signs (which are quite different to Western medicine – they are more likely to look at your tongue and take your pulses than to check your blood pressure, etc.) and then recommend certain things on the menu to assist with your current signs/symptoms.
    • When using Chinese herbs, your herbalist will tailor make a formula for you based on your unique constellation of symptoms and these are modified each week as symptoms change.
    • Mr Gould specifically mentioned chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, saying that the best time to treat that is BEFORE symptoms begin – he said it’s much easier to keep it from happening than to treat it after it has already happened.
    • We were reminded that herbs are drugs and as such, can have side effects and interactions with other drugs.  He also warned to use a trained herbalist when using herbs for any illness.
    • Mr Gould also did not recommend using Chinese medicine alone to treat cancer, but as an adjunct.

All in all, I thought it a very good webinar, well presented, and with good, concise information.  If you have any specific questions, please contact me.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

New Research Shows Resveratrol Benefits Breast Cancer

http://MarnieClark.com/New-Research-Shows-Resveratrol-Benefits-Breast-Cancer
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and xedos4

New Research Shows Resveratrol Benefits Breast Cancer

I’ve had my eye on resveratrol for quite some time because all kinds of health claims were being made about it, but as far as breast cancer is concerned, I was unable to find any definitive studies that showed it had the ability to help in the fight against breast cancer.  Until today.

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that is produced by some plants (most notably grapes) to protect the plant against environmental stresses.

New Spanish Study

A new study has been published on 17 November 2012 in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition Journal titled Cytotoxic Effect of Natural trans-Resveratrol Obtained from Elicited Vitis vinifera Cell Cultures on Three Cancer Cell Lines by Fernandez-Perez F, Belchi-Navarro S, Almagro L, Bru R, Pedreno MA and Gomez-Ros LV at the Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Murcia, Campus Universitario de Espinardo, Murcia, Spain.

The researchers tested grapevine cell cultures on two human acute lymphocytic and monocytic leukemia cell lines, and one human breast cancer cell line and found that the effect of natural trans-Resveratrol (“trans-R”) “on cell proliferation is not only dose- and time-dependent but also cell type-dependent, as seen by the different degrees of susceptibility of the leukemia and breast cancer cell lines tested.”

The researchers found that treatment with low levels of trans-R concentration decreased cell proliferation by blocking certain cell cycles, rather than by inducing cell death, while high concentrations of trans-R decreased cell proliferation as a result of apoptosis (planned cell death) which is induced in all the cell lines.

Consult Your Naturopath for Proper Dosages

As a lay person, I cannot advise you as to the correct dosage for you but your naturopath can read through the study (and here is a link to it) and decipher the proper dosages.

I have been holding off recommending resveratrol on my Diet and Cancer page until a good study had been published, but I added it today.

References:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11130-012-0327-8/fulltext.html#Sec11

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23161277

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Johns Hopkins Holding Integrative Health Webinar for Cancer Patients Dec 17th

Johns Hopkins Holding Integrative Health Webinar for Cancer Patients Dec 17th
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Sura Nualpradid

I’m loving the new way of attending seminars – live, online, via webinars you can register for and sit through in your pajamas if you want to!

I’ve just received an email from Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine notifying of a special webinar they are holding on December 17th and I wanted to make sure you knew about it.  It should be a great one, here are the details:

Title: How Acupuncture, The Mind/Body Connection, Holistic Eating, Chinese Medicine, and Other Modalities Can Help Cancer Survivors During and After Treatment

Cost:  Free

Register online:  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Time:  7:00pm (1 hour) Eastern Standard Time

Speakers:

Linda Lee, MD – Director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center

Jeff Gould, LAc, DiplAc, DiplCh – Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

I will be attending this webinar and taking notes, so if you miss it, you can rest assured that I will tell you all about it.  It should be great information.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

New Class of Breast Cancer Drugs: PARP Inhibitors

New Class of Breast Cancer Drugs PARP Inhibitors
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and jscreationzs

I’ve been reading a lot lately about a new class of drugs called PARP inhibitors, particularly from the City of Hope, one of the cancer centers I like to follow because they are doing such interesting research on treatments for cancer, both pharmaceutical and natural.

PARP Inhibitors – What They Are

Here is the whole skinny (well, at least what I was able to find and make sense of) on PARP Inhibitors.

PARP stands for “poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase”.  PARP is an enzyme that researchers say is over-expressed in a variety of cancers, and its expression has been associated with overall prognosis in cancer, especially breast cancer.

PARP is important for repairing single-strand breaks in DNA, termed “nicks”.  If the nicks in the DNA are not repaired, then when the cells divide and replicate themselves the new cells can cause double-strand breaks to form.

Drugs which inhibit PARP1 cause multiple double-strand breaks to form.  The reason that this is a good thing is because in tumors with BRCA1, BRCA2 or PALB2 mutations, the double-strand breaks cannot be efficiently repaired and that leads to the death of those cells.  Research is showing that cancer cells that are low in oxygen (which is the case in fast growing tumors) are sensitive to PARP inhibitors.

I wondered what that meant for normal cells – how they would be affected.  The research shows, however, that normal cells (which don’t duplicate their DNA as often as cancer cells) still have repair mechanisms operating and that allows them to survive the PARP inhibition.

PARP Inhibitors and Chemotherapy

Research is showing that by adding a PARP inhibitor to chemotherapy, the chances that the cancer cells will become resistant to the chemotherapy decrease. When cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy, the chemotherapy is no longer able to fight the cancer cells.  By lowering the chances of resistance, a PARP inhibitor may increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

City of Hope Research

In September 2012, The City of Hope released an article titled Triple Negative Breast Cancer Treatment Gets a Boost.  The article explains a little about PARP inhibitors and states “Scientists think the drugs may work especially well in cancers with BRCA mutations or triple negative breast cancers”.  Triple negative breast cancer accounts for only 14-20% of breast cancers and is not driven by hormones like the bulk of breast tumors are.

Dr George Somlo, a researcher at the City of Hope in Duarte, CA, felt that this new class of drugs showed a lot of promise “because the drugs seem to be a little easier on healthy tissue, which helps reduce side effects, and they may make chemotherapy more effective“.

Good news!

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PARP_inhibitor

http://www.cityofhope.org/about/publications/eHope/2012-vol-11-num-8-september-19/Pages/triple-negative-breast-cancer-treatment-gets-a-boost.aspx

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/25

http://ww5.komen.org/Content.aspx?id=19327354168

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Stand Up To Cancer Donations Creating Dream Teams: PI3K Studies

Stand Up To Cancer Donations Creating Dream Teams PI3K StudiesI’ve been checking out an interesting website today that I thought you should know about – it is www.pi3k.org.

Remember the “Stand Up To Cancer” telethon?  It’s a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and they raise money for cancer research.  Apparently several “Dream Teams” have been formed with the funds from this telethon and these Dream Teams are comprised of very talented scientists and clinicians who are collaborating.

Who is PI3K.Org?

PI3K.org is comprised of the best minds from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vall D’Hebron Institute of Oncology, and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.  Some great minds collaborating indeed!

Here’s a video explaining where the money goes when you donate to Stand Up To Cancer.

The mission of PI3K.org is to “take scientific and clinical observations and rapidly apply them to cutting edge clinical trials for patients diagnosed with breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.  Our Dream Team is composed of researchers and clinical investigators that have pioneered the discovery of the PI3K pathway and have proven its significance in women’s cancers.”

So What Is PI3K?

Having never heard of the PI3K Pathway before today, I had to go into research mode. Here’s a good explanation of the PI3K Pathway offered by PI3k.org.

Wikipedia also has this to offer: “Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI 3-kinases or PI3Ks) are a family of enzymes involved in cellular functions such as cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, motility, survival and intracellular trafficking, which in turn are involved in cancer.”

Researchers have discovered that with many breast cancer patients, problems occur in the PI3K pathway, resulting in disregulation of cell functions which can contribute to the development of many different types of cancers, including breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.

If you want ALL the gory details about cell signalling and how PI3K plays its part, click here.  If not, suffice to say that researchers are very actively involved in developing new drugs and therapies which target the PI3K pathway, which is abnormal in about 20-30% of patients with advanced breast cancer.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Kim Cameron of Side FX Donates Song Proceeds To Breast Cancer Research

Kim Cameron of Side FX Donates Song Proceeds To Breast Cancer Research
Photo courtesy of KimCameronMusic.com

Kim Cameron of Side FX Donates Song Proceeds To Breast Cancer Research

Today I wanted to just mention that I was recently contacted by the PR guy for Kim Cameron and her band, Side FX, to tell me that they wished to donate the proceeds of one of their singles to breast cancer research.  I confess to never having heard of Side FX, but I have now.

They are doing extremely well, apparently one of their videos already has around 300,000 views after just over a week, so congratulations to them.

I believe that Kim Cameron has recently lost a family member to cancer and has decided to donate all of the proceeds from the song “The Man I Used To Know” to breast cancer research, which is commendable. 

If you’d like to support that band (and breast cancer research in the process), here is a link to their song:

The Man I Used To Know

Personal Appeal to Kim Cameron

I would like to make a personal appeal to Kim Cameron at this stage.  Rather than donating the money to breast cancer research, I would challenge her to donate those funds to an organization that is actively working to end the breast cancer epidemic, Breast Cancer Action.  It’s not that I think “breast cancer research” isn’t doing what they should be.  But Breast Cancer Action is not dependent on pharmaceutical companies or any corporations for funding, making them much more independent and able to effect real change at a grass roots level in the breast cancer epidemic.

Breast Cancer Action has been working since 1990 to put patients first, to create a healthier, less toxic environment, and to eliminate the social inequities that exist.  Their “Think Before You Pink” campaign has been extraordinarily successful in raising public awareness of the pinkwashing problem and other empty gestures that do little to change the breast cancer epidemic. 

BCA’s current campaign “It’s An Epidemic, Stupid!” (the name was sparked by Bill Clinton’s slogan “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”) was begun because BCA feels that now is the critical moment.  After more than 30 years of “awareness” campaigns and billions spent on pink ribbon products, we are still losing 40,000 women per year to breast cancer and more needs to be done by each of us, our politicians and our government.

Kim, if you read this, congratulations on your decision to help breast cancer research.  Now take it one step further and donate to a cause that is actually doing something about it.  Thanks for listening and keep up the good work.

Migraines, Breast Cancer Risk, and a Great Recipe

migraines, breast cancer risk, and a great recipe
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Ambro

More Migraines, Fewer Tumors?

A 2010 research study made its way onto my desk today that I thought was worth sharing.

Published in January 2010 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and titled Migraine History and Breast Cancer Risk Among Postmenopausal Women, the study found that postmenopausal women who have been treated for migraines have a 26% – 33% lower risk of breast cancer than other women.

The researchers made the point that estrogen plays a role in both migraines and some breast cancers.  60% of women with migraines reported having more headaches around the time of menstruation, when estrogen levels change.  Many women reported having few migraines when they were pregnant, particularly around mid-pregnancy when estrogen levels stabilized.

Knowing you’d want to know more, I did some further research.

How Estrogen Plays a Role In Migraines

Estrogen has several important actions in the central nervous system that may account for its association with migraine headaches.  When estrogen levels decline, serotonin levels also fall due to a decline in production coupled with an increased rate of elimination. Serotonin is a nerve transmitter (primarily created in your gastrointestinal tract) and is thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.

When serotonin declines, that triggers another hormone known as calcitonin (made in the thyroid gland, it helps to regulate calcium levels) to be released, and along with a few other substances that are released, this causes cranial blood vessels to dilate (expand) and sensitizes particular parts of the trigeminal nerve, which is the largest of the cranial nerves and is responsible for sensation in the face and certain motor functions such as biting, chewing, and swallowing.

I had a massage teacher who always said that headaches were nothing more than a cerebrovascular event – “cerebro” meaning brain and “vascular” meaning blood vessels – it’s when the blood vessels in your brain dilate, causing that pain and throbbing and sometimes impaired vision that migraine sufferers describe.

My very own husband suffers from migraines sometimes and a few years ago I finally found something that absolutely stops a migraine in its tracks – at least it does for him.  Several others who have tried this recipe have also reported success, so I knew I had to share it with you!

Stopping A Migraine Quickly

Supplies:

  • A large glass bowl of cold water
  • Tray full of ice cubes
  • Essential oils of peppermint, ginger, marjoram (make sure they’re therapeutic grade)
  • Washcloth

To the bowl of water, add the tray of ice cubes and two drops each of the three oils.  Mix it up a little but not too much – the oil will float on the water and that’s okay.  Dip in the washcloth and then place onto the forehead of the migraine sufferer.  They will express shock initially because of the icy-ness of the compress, but should within 2-3 minutes gain great relief.  Keep soaking the cloth in the icy mixture and reapplying to the forehead (making sure the oils don’t get into their eyes, that will create a whole different kind of pain!) until the headache is gone.  Wishing you success with this recipe!

If you need to know where to get therapeutic grade essential oils, just contact me.

Source articles:

http://www.uptodate.com/contents/estrogen-associated-migraine

http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/28/6/1005.abstract?sid=217c62b5-cef1-4211-9352-5e9d568e9f12

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.

British Medical Journal Article: Preventing Overdiagnosis International Conference

sb10063567ai-001On May 29, 2012 the esteemed British Medical Journal published an article titled “Preventing Overdiagnosis: How To Stop Harming The Healthy“.

The opening paragraph of the article reads: Evidence is mounting that medicine is harming healthy people through ever earlier detection and ever wider definition of disease.

I wanted to share this with you because it’s my observation that a lot of women are going through a lot of disfiguring surgeries and treatments for things that may or may not turn into a problem later on.

Overdosed, Over-Treated, Over-Diagnosed

The BMJ article tells us that there is mounting evidence that too many people are being overdosed, over-treated and over-diagnosed. The article goes on to identify the phenomenon of over-medicalization, saying healthy people are increasingly harmed by a barrage of unnecessary tests, procedures and drugs.

The article was timed to promote a new international conference called Preventing Overdiagnosis, that will aim to better assess the problem and begin working on solutions.  Not a moment too soon, I say.

Research Claims Over Half of Breast Cancers Would Amount To Nothing If Left Untreated

What concerns me the most is that academics from Australia and Canada have claimed that up to 54% of breast cancers detected in women in their 50s by breast cancer screening would never have manifested clinically.  See this article published July 10, 2009 in the BMJ: Overdiagnosis in publicly organised mammography screening programmes: systematic review of incidence trends.

I don’t know about you, but if I were one of those 54%, I’d be pissed.  Especially considering the long-term effects of some of the treatments.

Action You Can Take

So what can we do about this?  The International Conference is set to take place on 10-12 September 2013, exactly one year from now.  Here’s a link to their website.  You can submit papers, sign up for updates and find out about attending the conference (to be held at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Hanover, New Hampshire).  You can also email any concerns to info@preventingoverdiagnosis.net.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.