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.  

 

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