FRIEND OR FOE? POLIO AND CANCER

bacteria-426997_1920        NEW HOPE FOR GLIOBLASTOMA

Welcome back everyone to another #WELLNESS WEDNESDAY. This week I want to revisit a subject I covered a year ago. And, that subject was an aggressive and quite common brain cancer known as Glioblastoma. I was prompted to write about that particular cancer as a close friend of mine had been diagnosed with the disease. We all hoped for the best, of course, but my friend recently lost his battle with this cancer. So, I am back to discuss glioblastoma once again – and to shed light on yet another new treatment that just may help those with the disease to significantly increase their chances for survival.

To begin, most tumors in the brain are glioblastomas. These are a type of astrocytoma, a cancer that forms from star-shaped cells in the brain called astrocytes. Men are more likely to have them than women – and as with most cancers, our chances for developing this type of tumor increase as we age.

In last year’s blog we began with news about a ground-breaking study in which patients with glioblastoma not only underwent the typical treatments of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy – but, they received an ordinary tetanus-diphtheria shot as well. Now, this particular strategy is known as a dendritic-cell vaccine, which teams the tetanus shot with the patient’s own blood cells to super-charge the body’s immune system. The results were quite positive and the treatment continues to be researched and used in clinical studies in the United States.

Today, however, we have preliminary results from yet another study on the treatment of glioblastoma. And, this one involves the polio virus. For nearly two decades, Dr. Mattias Gromeier at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center has been researching the use of polio to treat cancer.

You see, the standard polio virus uses a receptor molecule present on brain cells to “unlock” them. The polio the enters the cell and replicates – or copies itself – over and over until the cell dies and all that’s left is the polio. BUT, in Dr. Gromeier’s model the polio is modified. It can enter a healthy brain cell, but it can’t replicate itself, so it can’t hurt the healthy cell.

Now, a cancerous brain cell has a different makeup than a healthy brain cell. So, this is how it works. The polio can enter the cancer cell in the same way it enters a healthy cell. But once it does, the polio CAN replicate itself in the cancer cell. Indeed, the polio will copy itself over and over again until it destroys the cancer cell completely. This is what the polio virus does. It destroys cells. But, this modified polio virus CANNOT replicate in a healthy cell – it can only target and replicate itself in a cancer cell, ultimately killing the cancer and shrinking the tumor.

The good news is that this treatment has had some wonderful success in glioblastoma patients. The bad news is that many more clinical trials are required before use of the polio virus will become available on a larger scale for more patients.

But, it’s a beginning! And, it promises new hope for those whose longevity is often limited to one or two years after their initial diagnosis of glioblastoma.

I’m sorry my friend isn’t here to benefit from this exciting new research. But, I know he’s with me in spirit in the hope that many others will benefit.

Once again, this blog is for you Bob. I miss you – but, more importantly I admire you for your strength, courage and kindness – none of which ever waivered throughout your ordeal. You always fought The Good Fight.

Thanks for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

 

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THE SKINNY ON STRAWBERRIES – 6 HEALTHY REASONS TO EAT THEM NOW

strawberry-1227555_1920      THE STRAWBERRY – DELICIOUS,       NUTRITIOUS & POWER-PACKED

Welcome back to WHAT’S ON THE #MENU MONDAY everyone. It’s May — and here in Southern California that means we’re gearing up for the 33rd Annual Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, California. From May 21 through May 22, an entire weekend will be devoted to strawberries – and everything strawberry – from strawberry pies and cakes, to strawberry shakes and crepes, to strawberry salads, strawberry nachos, strawberry torts and bowls of fried strawberries and strawberry ice cream to top it all off!

Now, the strawberry is one of the most popular fruits in the world. It’s beautiful to look at, it’s juicy and sweet and it tastes great in just about any recipe. But, did you know that the strawberry also is one of the most nutritious foods we can eat? Indeed, it is! And, here are SIX BIG BENEFITS we gain from including this gorgeous fruit in our diet every day:

  1. CANCER PROTECTION: Strawberries contain antioxidants. They are packed with phenols, specifically anthocyanin, which gives the berry its rich red color. When foods packed with anthocyanin are consumed the body’s levels of uric acid increase, which in turn serves as an antioxidant agent. Phenols also fight inflammation and inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase – or COX for short. In addition, one fifth of each cup of strawberries is 21% manganese – a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals and oxidative stress and reduces cellular inflammation. This combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents is known to help prevent us from many forms of cancer. Now let’s add the strawberry’s high concentration of Vitamin C and Ellagic acid both of which help prevent the development of cancer cells and inhibit their growth. Finally, with the folate, flavonoids and kaempferol also found in a strawberry, we have a defense against cancer that is not only effective but delicious as well.
  2. HEALTHY EYES: The Vitamin C in a strawberry also does wonders for our eyes. It protects the eye from harmful UV rays and increases the strength of the lens, the cornea and the retina of the eye. And, with a whopping 136% of the RDA of Vitamin C in one cup of strawberries, this fruit also can help prevent the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
  3. STRONG BONES: The manganese in strawberries is not only a powerful antioxidant, but an essential nutrient for protecting our bones. It helps build our bones and maintains proper bone structure. In addition, the potassium, Vitamin K and magnesium found in the berry keep our bones strong and resilient to fractures.
  4. WEIGHT LOSS: Strawberries contain over 13% of our RDA of dietary fiber in every cup. And, fiber is critical to our overall digestive health as it helps us maintain regularity. The Ellagic acid and anthocyanins in the berry slow our digestive process and make us feel full so we’re less likely to over-eat. Our blood sugar is stabilized, our metabolism increases and our body fat decreases. And, with only 43 calories per cup, strawberries are a delicious and nutritious way to maintain a healthy weight.
  5. HEART PROTECTION: The flavonoids and phytonutrients in a strawberry are very effective in reducing cholesterol. The phenolic agents also help reduce our cholesterol and improve the function of our blood vessels. And, the potassium found in the strawberry helps prevent stroke and heart attack – all of which make this fruit a favorite of heart-health conscious patients and doctors alike.
  6. BEAUTY TREATMENT: From soaps, to lotions, to hair products the strawberry has definitely found its way into the world of beauty and cosmetics. And, with good reason. The Vitamin C content of the berry supports the regeneration of skin cells and the elasticity of the skin. Scars, lines and wrinkles all can be improved by consuming strawberries on a daily basis. And this potent Vitamin C improves the look and texture of our skin leaving it with a healthy glow. Moreover, strawberries are great for our smile. The acids help remove stains from our teeth and the manganese not only makes our bones stronger but our teeth as well.

So, enjoy the strawberries this summer. They’re a wonderful source of vitamins, nutrients and fiber. They provide our bodies with great health benefits. They taste great! And, they can make us feel and look more beautiful every day 🙂

Thanks again for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

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“OUT, DAMNED SPOT!” ARE YOU CANCER OR ARE YOU NOT?

shutterstock_351625199THE BEAUTY AND NECESSITY OF A FULL    BODY CHECK

With apologies to The Bard, William Shakespeare, I’m happy to welcome you back. It’s time for another #Wellness Wednesday and today we’re going to discuss the most common cancer in the world – Skin Cancer. More specifically, we’re going to discuss the most important procedure you can undergo to prevent this disease or at least, to catch it in its earliest stage. And this, of course, is the Full Body Check.

As many of you know, I have a history of skin cancer. And, I have a history of breast cancer.  So, this is a double whammy for me because one who has had one skin cancer is more likely to develop another. And, women who have had breast cancer also have a greater risk for developing melanoma. As a result, the Full Body Check is one test I take very seriously. In fact, because of my increased risk, I have it twice a year instead of the typically recommended schedule of once a year.

Now, there are three basic types of skin cancer which include basel cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and melanoma. The former is the least dangerous and the latter is the most dangerous. But, most skin cancers begin as obvious anomalies on our skin. The good news about this is that many potentially dangerous skin cancers can be spotted by the individual her or himself.

But, here’s the thing. We can’t personally inspect our entire body. Most of us can’t see every inch of our scalp or back or inside our ears. Not only that, but skin cancer can develop anywhere on the skin – even in places where the sun has never shined.  This is why we all need a professional to give us the once over at least once a year. And, this is what you should expect when you do so.

First, realize that during your Full Body Check your full body will be checked 🙂  Accordingly, pick a dermatologist with whom you’re comfortable. If you’re a female, you might be more comfortable with a female doctor. If you’re a male, you may want a male doctor.

Once in the examination room, you may be asked to remove all your clothes and put on a gown. If you’re not really comfortable with this, it’s usually fine to leave your skivvies on and then remove each piece at the appropriate time for inspection. But remember, this exam is all in a day’s work for these professionals. They have performed these body checks hundreds, if not thousands, of times. And, one naked rear end is just like any other. So, don’t let unnecessary embarrassment or anxiety get in the way of a potentially life-saving procedure.

A procedure, by the way, that includes an examination of every inch of your body from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. The inside of your mouth. The base of every hair follicle. On your cheeks and between your cheeks. Your torso, back, arms, legs, chest and groin. Every digit on your hands and feet – and every nail on your fingers and toes. For many individuals, this exam may only take about twenty minutes. But, for those of us who share a greater risk for skin cancer, the exam may be longer.

Now, I had my six-month Body Check just last week. And, during the visit my wonderful Derm, Dr. Judy, noticed a “spot” on the top of my head hidden under my hair. After a quick examination, it appeared to be a keloid, which is harmless scar tissue that sometimes develops over time. But, because keloids have a tendency to keep growing, Dr. Judy “froze” the spot with a blast of liquid nitrogen. This stops the tissue from growing until it forms a scab and eventually falls off.  Painless and simple.

Then she noticed a “spot” high under my left breast – in a place that has rarely seen the light of day. Now, I have three flat dark moles in that area. And I’ve had them, well, forever. But, moles are specific tissues that can change over time and become cancerous. As a result, they must be monitored regularly.

In my case, the smallest of the three seemed the same to the naked eye. But, when Dr. Judy put on her “special” glasses, she noticed the edge of this mole appeared to have changed color. And, any change in a mole needs immediate attention.

Accordingly, right there in the exam room I received a local anesthetic – a few quick pricks with a small needle – and then Dr. Judy used her “special” razor blade and scraped the edge of the mole to send to the lab for a biopsy. A very painless procedure. We put some ointment on the spot and covered it with a band aid. Now, I wait a week or so for the results. If it isn’t cancer, great! But, even if it is cancer we’ve caught it early so it can be removed and treated with complete success. And, that’s the key. Cancer at this point will just involve a simple office visit, another local anesthetic, a slightly deeper cut, a few stitches to close the wound and continued observation. For, while we may not be able to prevent every cancer, we do have the means to insure early detection. And, this is the beauty of a Full Body Check!

Since moles are particularly suspect when it comes to skin cancer, let’s end this discussion with a few Take-Away Tips that you can use at home. Called the ABCD and Es of Moles, this is what you want to look for when examining a mole on your body:

A. ASYMMETRY – One half looks different from the other half.

B. BORDER – An irregular border, poorly defined.

C. COLOR – A variation in color from one part of the mole to another.

D. DIAMETER – Melanomas typically are 6 millimeters or greater, but smaller moles must be monitored as well.

E. EVOLVING – Moles or lesions that change over time and look different from the rest.

Remember, all human skin is susceptible to cancer. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is. And, cancer can develop anywhere we have skin whether the area has been exposed to the damaging rays of the sun or not.

So, if you notice a new lump or bump that doesn’t go away, see your dermatologist. If you have a lesion or wound that doesn’t heal, see your dermatologist. If you have a “spot” that appears flaky or rough or red, see your dermatologist. If you have an area of skin that constantly itches, see your dermatologist. And, if you have a mole that changes in appearance, see your dermatologist. And, even if you don’t notice any of these things, make sure you see your dermatologist once a year anyway! That Full Body Check just may save your life 🙂

Thanks again for joining me everyone. I hope you find this helpful in some small way. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

Time for Review:

The Single Source Cancer Course, Volume 1, Part 3: Up Close and Personal, Chapter 20 “Skin Cancer.”                                                                                                                                                       The Single Source Cancer Course, Volume 1, Part 5: Screening and Detection, Chapter 29 “Skin Cancer.”

 

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NUTS TO YOU! SEVEN GREAT ONES TO BOOST YOUR GOOD HEALTH

walnut-570416_1280                GO AHEAD – GO NUTS!                                   IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Welcome Everyone to another What’s on the #Menu Monday. Today we’re going to discuss Nuts – why you shouldn’t be afraid of them AND which ones are best for your Health!

To begin, nuts often get a bad rap. Many people stay away from them and fail to include them in their diet because nuts have the unfortunate reputation of being loaded with fat and calories.

But, the truth is that most of the fat found in nuts is the monounsaturated fat – and this is the really good kind that benefits our heart, reduces cholesterol, lowers our risk for stroke and supplies us with loads of antioxidants, which boost our immune system and protect us from a variety of diseases and illnesses.

Now, there are calories in fat. We just can’t get away from that. Indeed, all fats – whether they’re considered good fats or bad fats — contain 9 calories per gram. But, choosing foods with monounsaturated fats – like good-for-you nuts – and monitoring your portion intake — will do much more to help your health rather than hurt your waistline. We just need to know which nuts are the best for us and what health benefits they provide. Because, different nuts provide different benefits.

For example, almonds contain more calcium than any other nut. And, pine nuts have more vitamin K than their counterparts. So, let’s try to put any prejudice we might have aside for the moment and see if we can give the old nut another chance. At least, let’s consider the following “handful” of nuts – because these are among the healthiest on the planet. 🙂

SEVEN OF THE HEALTHIEST NUTS YOU CAN EAT:

  1. MACADAMIA NUT: Of course, this particular nut leads the list. First, it is one of the most delicious of nuts with its crunchy texture and its rich, buttery flavor. It’s also a very filling nut because it contains more monounsaturated fat than any other nut. Now, this can be a double-edged sword. Yes, the fat is the good kind. But, each macadamia nut contains a lot of this fat and about 200 calories per ounce. So, it’s wise to only eat a small portion of these nuts at a time. Remember, we want to increase our health rather than our weight. So, common sense and moderation is advised here. But, it’s good to know that just a small portion of this nut provides potassium, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B. It’s also a great source of fiber and the high fat content can help lower the bad LDL cholesterol levels protecting us from clogged arteries and stroke. And, of course, the antioxidants will help protect us from disease and illness, including some cancers such as breast cancer.
  2. PINE NUT: Here we have another really tasty nut – and again, one that is very high in fat and, therefore, calories. While the macadamia nut weighs in at about 200 calories per ounce, the pine nut weighs in at about 191 calories per ounce. So, once again, we need to indulge with caution and the proper portion control. But, once we have the quantity in check, as already mentioned this nut packs more vitamin K than any other nut. This means it’s great for strengthening and maintaining healthy arteries and bones. It also contains vitamin E, protein and fiber. And the magnesium and potassium found in the pine nut help keep our hearts healthy and protect us from high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Of course, don’t forget the antioxidants, which go hand in hand with monounsaturated fat.
  3. PISTACHIO: Now, unlike the macadamia and the pine nut, the pistachio is low in monounsaturated fat and low in calories containing only about 3 calories each. As a result, the pistachio is actually known as the “skinny nut” with about 160 calories an ounce. Not only is it a tasty and filling nut, it contains thiamin, potassium and vitamin B. The monounsaturated fat content helps reduce our bad LDL cholesterol levels and provides antioxidants for our immune system. What’s more, the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers Conference found that eating pistachios daily may help decrease our risk for cancer, including lung cancer.
  4. ALMOND: Okay, now who doesn’t like almonds? Another delicious, crunchy nut that makes a perfect snack any time of day. An almond contains slightly less monounsaturated fat than the macadamia or pine nut and, therefore, slightly less calories at about 162 per ounce. This is a nutrient-dense nut that’s packed with fiber and protein, which helps to keep us feeling full between meals. It also provides high amounts of zinc and potassium AND more calcium than any other nut, which is great for our bones and teeth. Moreover, the folic acid and vitamin E in an almond helps reduce cholesterol levels and promote a healthy heart.
  5. WALNUT: I love this particular nut. It’s so versatile. I use it when cooking and in salads all the time. Now, the walnut has a bit more “good” fat so one ounce contains about 180 calories. But, the walnut also contains more antioxidants than any other type of nut. This means, of course, that this nut can help improve our immune system and, in turn, reduce stress and help protect against certain illnesses and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. The folate and zinc in a walnut also increase the brain’s ability to produce the “feel good” chemical serotonin, which helps boost our mood and brain function. And, the plant sterols and omega-3 fats help lower our cholesterol levels.
  6. PECAN: Similar to the walnut, the pecan is loaded with antioxidants and plant sterols – both of which help to improve immune system functioning, lower cholesterol levels and protect arteries from arteriosclerosis. Each pecan also is a good source of vitamin E, which also helps protect against heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and again, certain cancers. A pecan also is packed with vitamin B3, which helps our bodies turn food into energy. So, it’s a great snack to eat when we’re feeling tired as it helps renew our physical energy and mental clarity. It’s a bit higher in fat at about 195 calories per ounce. But remember, more fat equals more antioxidants.
  7. CASHEW: Now, this nut may surprise you because it actually contains less fat than almost any other nut. It contains about 157 calories per ounce, but more importantly it’s a wonderful source of iron. In fact, cashews contain twice as much iron as ground beef, which is really good news if you’re a vegetarian. This nut also provides vitamin E, vitamin B, calcium and folic acid. And, the magnesium in a cashew is great for providing us with energy and protecting our bones.

And, there we have it. In a nutshell. The low-down on nuts and why they can be so good for our health. They can be a wonderful source of antioxidants. They can provide us with many nutritional properties, including fiber for our digestion, protein for strong bones and tissues, and a variety of minerals and vitamins that aid everything from physical energy and stamina to mental clarity and brain power.

What’s more – a packet of nuts is portable. Nuts are easy to carry and require no cooking, heating or refrigeration. You can easily eat them on the go with very little muss or fuss. Just try to select those nuts that offer great food value — and try to stay away from those that are roasted or salted. Because, these two processes will alter the nutritional quality of any nut.

I hope that sheds light on this particular subject. And, I hope this clears up the rather dubious – and mostly undeserved — reputation of the often misunderstood nut. Thanks again for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

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THE POOP SCOOP – COLON CANCER TESTS YOU CAN DO AT HOME

loo-566736_1920DIY KITS TO DETECT COLON CANCER

Hello everyone and welcome once again to #Wellness Wednesday. Gosh, I’ve had so many people ask me recently about the new Do It Yourself Colon Cancer Tests, I thought we’d devote today to just that subject.

To begin, colon cancer – or colorectal cancer – is the third most common cancer among men and women the world over. The bad news is that it’s unfortunately the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States following lung cancer. The good news is that the new rates of colon cancer diagnoses and deaths among adults aged fifty or older in this country are decreasing. AND, with proper screening colon cancer is nearly 100 percent preventable. Now, that’s not just good news, that’s great news!

So, let’s review. First, the major risk factors for colon cancer include:

  1. Family history of the disease;
  2. Older age;
  3. Tobacco use;
  4. Alcohol misuse;
  5. Physical inactivity;
  6. Obesity;
  7. Dietary factors, and;
  8. Medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Lynch syndrome and Familial adenomatous polyposis.

Second, the most common screening procedures for colon cancer are the:

  1. Sigmoidoscopy;
  2. Colonoscopy, and;
  3. Fecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT.

Fairly new on the market, however, we now have some tests for this cancer that we can conduct in the privacy of our own home. And, these tests are similar to the standard Fecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT that is normally performed in your physician’s office.

Simply, this is how the FOBT works. A small stool sample is sent to a lab for analysis to detect blood in the stool. This is important because colon cancer typically begins as a harmless polyp that degenerates into a cancer. A polyp is tissue that grows on the inner surface of the colon or rectum. Polyps can be flat or raised. And, through the normal process of digestion, when our stool passes through the colon, it can “bruise” these polyps causing a small amount of blood to be released from the tissue. This blood typically is not visible to the naked eye – it is “hidden blood.” This is what occult means – “hidden.” And, this is what the FOBT can detect —  blood, which may mean precancerous polyps or cancerous tissue exist in our colon.

Okay – so there are two DIY Colon Cancer Tests which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They both are designed to detect blood in the stool and this is how they work.

  1. The first is known as the guaiac or g-FOBT. This test uses a chemical to detect heme – a component of the blood protein hemoglobin. This test, however, can also detect heme in some foods such as red meat. So, certain foods have to be avoided before conducting this test.
  2. The second is known as the Fecal Immunochemical Test or FIT. It also is known as the i-FOBT. This test uses antibodies or immunochemicals to detect human hemoglobin specifically. As a result, one’s diet does not have to be restricted before use.

For both types of tests, the rules are basically the same. A small stool sample is collected by the individual at home and then the sample is sent to a lab or to one’s physician for testing.

One of the better known DIY Tests is called Cologuard. This is similar to the FIT in that this test detects hidden amounts of blood in the stool with an immunochemical. It also, however, detects nine DNA biomarkers in three genes that have been found in colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps or adenomas.

The upside to these DIY Kits is that they require no preparation like that required for a colonoscopy, they’re reasonably inexpensive and they can be performed in the privacy of your home. The downside is that they may give a false-positive result by identifying non-cancerous conditions that produce trace amounts of blood like hemorrhoids, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Also, if the result is positive, the individual will need to undergo a regular colonoscopy for verification. And, if the FOBT is the only colon cancer screening procedure one undergoes, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends yearly testing.

That said, these tests are still a great step forward in the prevention of colon cancer. Quite simply, if something is easy to do, one is far more likely to do it. And, we are all about cancer prevention – it’s so much easier than cancer treatment.

And, for those who are really into DIY projects, a more advanced test may soon be available – one that actually allows the individual to insert her or his stool sample into a solution-filled canister that will provide results in one to three minutes for self-examination! Just poop, scoop and remain astute. No lab involved!

Remember, prevention is the key to all things cancer. And, if we can’t completely prevent cancer, we need to do everything we possibly can to detect it early. And, these DIY tests will help us accomplish that goal. As I always say, “Don’t be Reactive – be Proactive!

Once again, thanks for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in Good Health and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

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