CALMERme - Cancer Advocacy through Lifestyle Medicine, Empowerment and Research


I've launched a new website called CALMERme - an acronym for 'personalized cancer advocacy through lifestyle medicine, empowerment and research.'

It just got started but we have great plans for the future. I hope you'll take a look.

The goal is to support cancer patients through their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery by empowering them to incorporate lifestyle medicine approaches to help reduce treatment side effects, make the body inhospitable to cancer (for prevention and to prevent recurrence), and make the body AND mind and spirit healthy again.

I'll be putting some of the blog posts here too.

Would love to hear your comments.
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Red cabbage or Pink cabbage

We harvested our first red cabbage this week!  Look what a pretty cabbage it is.  But it's definitely a pink cabbage, not a red cabbage.  Who ever named them red cabbages?  Pretty, pretty pink! Or is it purple? or Magenta? Or Fuchsia? Or violet? or.....



I made a coleslaw, of course - as we eat a lot of coleslaw in this household.



Along with the "pink" cabbage there are:

  • spring onions/scallions
  • sugar snap peas
  • raisins
  • carrots
and a dijon mustard  fat free dressing.

It was delicious as well as colorful!



Today  I used the coleslaw in coleslaw tacos, topped with hemp seeds.  


So what color was the last "red" cabbage you ate? Red? Pink? Purple?

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, and the red/pink color shows its full of anthocyanins, which are anti-oxidants and also anti-inflammatory. Cabbage also has anti-cancer activity, but it's consuming a variety of vegetables that has the most health benefits....as shown in this video:




So don't forget to eat a rainbow a day
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Zippy Beans and Rice

After my spice classes a couple of weeks ago, I've had lots of pots of spice mixtures to use in my foods. Each night I open their lids, take a smell and decide which I think will go best with what I am cooking.


I found a great combination - using Panch Phoron with a beans and rice dish.  Panch Phoron is an indian spice mix, made from 5 different seeds (Phanch meaning 5, and phora meaning seeds).  Here is the recipe:

Panch Phoron
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds.

The key ingredient is black cumin seeds which I absolutely love. I use them everyday.



The blend is used with the seeds whole and you traditionally heat the seeds first so they release their fragrance either in a dry pan or with a little oil, as the start of a dish.  The mix is typically used with lentil dishes and to flavor vegetables and potatoes but I find it very versatile.

In my dish I had black beans, green garbanzo, brown rice, fire roasted corn, edamame, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes...and I can't remember what else.


The spice mix gave a real zip of flavor, turning a bland dish into exciting flavors dancing on the tongue.

But the spices do more than just add flavor, they also have phytonutrients and volatile oils that have healing effects on the body.

Black cumin - Nigella Sativa - which isn't cumin - is known as a "cure-all".  One of its key benefits is in strengthening the immune system.  In one study, people having black cumin oil showed a 30% increase in natural killer cells. Studies also show potential for helping prevent and/or treat the following:

  • age related immune issues
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • colitis
  • dermatitis
  • eczema
  • high blood pressure
  • MS
Mustard seed is consider advantageous against cancer, as the mustard plant is a cruciferous vegetable, and also helps with heart disease and cholesterol problems.
Cumin seeds may be important for fighting diabetes, in fighting the formation of advance glycation end products, which play a role in diabetes complications.
Fennugreek again is associated with defeating diabetes. More than 100 studies show that fenugreek can balance daily blood sugar levels, lower A1c levels, increase the enzymes that help regulate blood sugar and activate insulin signaling in cells.
Fennel seed is helpful in calming cramps so useful with menstrual pain,  and colic.  It is also a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.


All the more reason to make up some spice blends and use them every day. Try and think about adding at least one spice to every meal.  Your taste buds will appreciate it, as will your health.
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Health benefits of Chai Tea

Chai tea has many wonderful healing spices in it.  However frequently when you buy it, it includes dairy products and refined sugar.  Instead you can make your own and tailor it to your own tastes.  My own taste is that I don't like tea, so I make mine without green or black tea.  But there is still plenty of flavor in it as I include 7 different spices in my recipe - plus orange peel.

(Sorry - I forgot about photographing it and nearly drank it all!)


The spices have powerful healing capacities, not just by being antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, but also because they can switch off the Cancer Master Switch in the cells, namely the nuclear factor kappa beta (NFkB).

The spices in this recipe which have this activity are:

  • black peppercorns
  • cardomom
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • anise
  • nutmeg
  • and ginger

When free radicals, infections, or agents that damage DNA (eg carcinogens, toxins, etc) enter the body, they are all capable of activating NFkB which is a molecule inside the cell. On activation, NFkB increases inflammation and inhibits cancer cell death.  While pharmaceutical companies are busy looking for drugs to turn off NFkB, we need look no further than spices as many of them have this NFkB switching off capacity.

And Chai tea is an easy way to get 7 spices all in one drink.

Here is a recipe that originally came from Jeanne Wallace
Chai Tea

4 cups water
1 teaspoon cardamom pods – green
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves or 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon cinnamon chips
1 teaspoon dried orange peel or 4 teaspoons orange zest
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon nutmeg chips or 2 whole nutmegs
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1 tablespoon dried ginger pieces
½ vanilla bean, chopped fine or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teabags or 4 tablespoons green or black tea leaves (TEA is optional!)
Coconut nectar or other unrefined sweetener to taste (optional)
Non dairy milk

Make the spice mix: bring water to boil, add spices but NOT tea, if using.  Reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes or longer for a spicier flavor.  Remove from the heat. Add tea and steep for 3 minutes.  Strain into a pitcher or container.  Keeps refrigerated for up to 10 days.
To make one cup of chai, combine ½ cup of non dairy milk with ½ cup of the spice mixture.  Heat and add sweetner to your taste.  Can be served iced in the summer.



Let me know how you tailor it to your particular taste.
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Food as Medicine - Pomegranates - Prostate Cancer - Part 2

Following on from Monday's blog post about pomegranates, today we will look at the effects of pomegranates on prostate cancer.  It's exciting stuff, especially as the last 5 years have seen a great increase in research showing how pomegranates can fight the disease.


Initial animal studies in Germany and the US showed that pomegranate extracts can stop prostate cancer cells from growing and then killed the cells, and also prevented prostate cancer from growing and spreading.

Following on from this, researchers in UCLA gave 8 oz of pomegranate juice a day to men with prostate cancer who had been treated with either radiation or surgery, but still had rising PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels - a biomarker of tumor growth. The study lasted 2 years.

Before treatment, the average PSA doubling time was 15 months.  (Doubling time is how long it takes to for say a PSA of 2 to get to a PSA of 4).  After treatment, the doubling time was 54 months - considerably slower.  85% of patients given the juice responded.

Other tests showed a 12% decrease in growth of cancer cells, a 17% increase in death of cancer cells.

The results suggest that drinking pomegranate juice may be a non-toxic option in slowing prostate carcinogenesis and preventing it.  However, these studies are only preliminary and not large scale (upto Phase II).  We'll have to wait for further studies to see if drinking pomegranate juice alters the course of prostate cancer overall so that men live longer or better.  Phase III trials are currently in progress and some are recruiting.


Further studies are now also being conducted looking at the effect of pomegranate on other types of cancer, including breast, colon, lung, skin, leukemia and more.

References:

Pomegranate Ellagitanins, Heber D. In Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, 2nd Edition 2011.  

Specific pomegranate juice components as potential inhibitors of prostate cancer metastasis. Wang L. Ho J, Glackin C, Martins-Green M. Transl Oncol. 2012; 5(5): 344-55


For further references, check PubMed - searching for pomegranate and prostate cancer or pomegranate and cancer
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Food as medicine - Pomegranates - Part 1

Pomegranates are still in season but they are coming to an end.  Buy them while you can, as they are such a wonderful health food.

Their many benefits are too extensive for one blog post, so I'll cover them in a few.


The whole plant seems to practically burst with disease-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols - from the seed, pulp, skin, root, flower and even the bark of the tree.  In fact, pomegranate seed extracts and juice have two to three times the anti-oxidant activity of red wine and green tea.

And while lots of foods have high levels of polyphenols, what makes pomegranates such superstars is that they are a top source of several varieties of polyphenols, namely flavenoids, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, punicic acid and many others.  Hundreds of scientific studies confirm these polyphenols can prevent and treat a variety of diseases, including heart disease, cancer and stroke.  This ties in to the pomegranate being known as "a pharmacy unto itself" in Ayurvedic medicine.


There are several ways to get your pomegranate!

  • You can find fresh whole pomegranates from October - February, and use the seeds - arils
  • You can purchase the seeds frozen throughout the year
  • You can drink pomegranate juice 
  • You can buy dried seeds which are called ANARDANA - they can be used dried or soaked in water before use to plump them up
  • You can buy  pomegranate "spice" which is ground up dried seeds, again called ground anardana
  • You can buy pomegranate molasses

Anardana is used a lot in India - both whole and ground in curries, chutneys and as fillings for savory snacks such as pakoras and in flatbreads like parathas.


Pomegranate molasses is popular in the Middle East.  It is made by crushing the seeds into juice and cooking it until it reaches an almost black, thick molasses-like texture.  The molasses have a berry like taste with a citrus tang.  I discovered pomegranate molasses about 9 years ago and love it. If you haven't tried it before, make this your new food of the week. I frequently use it to make a salad dressing, or drizzle it on a savory or sweet dish. I also use it instead of sugar in baking - but it is thick so you have to chose recipes carefully!

Walnut and pomegranate roulade drizzled with pomegranate molasses
(sugar free, gluten free, no added oil)

I sprinkle pomegranate seeds on my oat muesli every morning....in fact, I'm getting worried about my supply running dry as its now February and the season is coming to a close. I guess I'll be using frozen pomegranate seeds instead.

A couple of quick snippets:
DENTAL 

  • researchers found that rinsing the mouth with pomegranate extract reduced bacteria-causing dental plaque 84% MORE than commercial mouthwash
  • researchers in Thailand treated gum disease (periodontal disease) with pomegranate extract and found it decreased gum erosion and plaque
  • a pomegranate formula was found to clear up denture stomatitis, a fungal infection in people wearing dentures.


I'll tell you about other specific health benefits in the next few posts, including pomegranates effects on

  • atheroschlerosis, 
  • diabetes 
  • prostate cancer
  • aging
In the meantime, try to think of ways you can add pomegranate to your diet EVERY day.....on cereal/oatmeal for breakfast, sprinkled on a salad for lunch, drizzled on a whole grain meal for dinner ...

What is your favorite pomegranate dish?

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Imagine a hug

Give yourself permission to just take a couple of minutes with this blog post.


Sit down comfortably and take some deep breaths.

Breathe in for 4............1...........2...........3.............4

And breathe out for 4 ...............1.............2............3...............4

Take the time to do this for a few breaths...........

Now picture yourself receiving hug from your loved one.  Imagine their arms around you.....the hug lasts more than a second so give yourself time to imagine this as a real hug would be from your loved one.  Your bodies close, arms around each other, ....that feeling of safety and love.....



Next picture yourself being hugged by one of your parents.  Imagine how that feels.  How long does it last?  Are they long hugs?  Think about the different emotions that come to mind.  How your body fits that of your parent.  All those years of knowing each other....


What about the hug from a little child....maybe your child, or grandchild, or your friends little kids.....maybe you are bending down so they can reach around your neck...or you have lifted them up......how their head goes on your shoulder...those sweet little arms trying to encircle you.


And what about a hug with a dear friend. How does that feel.  Picture that in your mind now.


Or hugging your favorite pet, be it a dog, cat, bird.......



Just think about how those hugs feel.  Each hug we imagined, felt different from the previous one.  The person makes a difference, even in our imagination.

I hope by taking a couple of minutes, you can see that just imaging receiving a hug can be pretty powerful.  Emotional and physiological changes occur. A hug can make us feel loved, supported, safe, touched - just when it is in our heads.

So hug imagery is something to remember.  I have many clients and friends who, because of going through chemotherapy, have been told not to hug anyone for fear of getting an infection from someone.  People miss these hugs.  But they don't have to.  They can use hug-imagery instead.  Next time you meet someone who can't hug, both close your eyes and imagine that hug.  It will still mean something to that person - and you -  and they will feel they have been hugged.

And if you can't be there to give someone a hug, send them this blog post and help them to imagine the hug you are sending them. Maybe they live far away, maybe they just need your hug today.  Suggest they take one minute and imagine a hug.  It can do wonders!

And as you finish reading this, close your eyes and imagine me giving you a big hug, right now.

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Shining Light

We spent Christmas and New Year in Mexico a couple of years ago, in San Miguel de Allende.  We had a wonderful time there with family.  While we were there, we bought some colorful stars as decorations.  We just put them up at home this year for the first time.  They bring such brightness and joy to the room.


So today, I want to spread some shining light and send brightness and joy to all those who aren't doing well this Christmas season, especially to:

  • all the families and friends affected by the CT deaths
  • my family and friends who are in hospital at the moment - Uncle Dave and Diane - and their loved ones trying to support them
  • our friends overcoming or going through illness
  • our friends in anguish and sadness
  • and to all those that need our love and support right now


When I drove home last night, the moon was a crescent shaped smile. I couldn't stop looking at it - a shining smile to light the world.


Spread some light today. We could all do with some.
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Getting the most benefit from your cruciferous vegetables

The cruciferous family of vegetables are unique among vegetables because of their glucosinolate content.  Glucosinolates give cruciferous vegetables their characteristic spicy or bitter tastes.


When the plant cell walls of the cruciferous vegetables are broken by blending, chopping, or chewing, an enzyme called myrosinase converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) - which are the compounds in cruciferous vegetables with potent anti-cancer and other healing effects.  Such effects include anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, detoxification, preventions of DNA damage, promotion of programmed cell death, anti-etrogenic activity, etc.


What this means is that cruciferous vegetables must be chopped, crushed or chewed well for maximum benefit so that the myrosinase enzyme can cause the chemical reaction. The myrosinase enzyme is physically separated from the glucosinolates in the intact vegetables, but when the plant cell walls are broken, the chemical reaction can occur and ITCs can be formed.  The more you chop or chew, the better.


However, these enzymes heat sensitive.  This doesn't mean that we should only eat cruciferous vegetables raw, but that when we are cooking these vegetables, we should chop them up in advance, and leave them for 5 - 10 minutes before cooking them, to allow the enzymes to act before they are destroyed by the heat.

So when you cook with cruciferous vegetables, chop them well, and then leave them for at least 5 minutes - go and set the table or something - and only then, start cooking them, so the enzyme has time to work before being denatured by the heat.


Cruciferous vegetables include:

  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • chinese cabbage
  • collard greens
  • cress
  • daikon radish
  • horseradish
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard greens
  • radish
  • rutabaga
  • homegrown sprouts
  • turnip
  • watercress

Remember: When eating raw - chew well to release the myrosinase.  When cooking, chop, wait, then cook.

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Critical Factors in Cancer Care - Chemo-sensitivity Testing

If chemotherapy is being considered as a treatment, it is desirable to know which of the chemotherapy drugs will have a high probability of being effective against YOUR particular cancer, before any toxic agents are administered to your body.  It is equally important to know if your particular cancer cells exhibit extreme drug resistance (EDR) to specific chemotherapy drugs.

Part of Sample report from Diatech for a patient with CLL

At present, most cancer chemotherapies are prescribed by medical oncologists, according to fixed schedules.  These standard protocols and schedules are developed following lengthy and expensive Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. After so much time and money has been dedicated to this research, many patients and physicians believe that the recommended protocols are the best treatment. Regrettably, average treatments provide average outcomes, with the majority of patients failing to show improvement from these protocols.

Cancer is an individual disease, as unique as the person fighting it.


However, there is another option.  There are several companies that perform chemo-sensitivity and resistance tests on specimens of your cancer to determine the optimal chemotherapy drugs for YOU.  Chemo-sensitivity testing provides custom-tailored assay-directed therapy based on YOUR own tumor response in the laboratory. This eliminates much of the guess work prior to you undergoing the potentially toxic side effects of chemotherapy that could prove to be of little use to YOU.


Part of Sample report from Diatech for a patient with Pancreatic cancer

At the time of biopsy or surgery, a sample of tumor tissue (or blood sample in the case of non-solid tumors) is sent to a laboratory and they test a number of chemotherapy drugs on the sample, including combinations of drugs.  If your oncologist wants to suggest a drug, that is fine and they will include it.

Typically in 3 - 5 days, you will get results of which drugs your cancer cells show most sensitivity to, and which drugs they show resistance to. This kind of testing can be useful at the time of initial therapy, and in the case of severe drug hypersensitivity, failed therapy, recurrent disease and metastatic disease, by providing assistance in selecting optimal chemotherapy regimens.

Today chemosensitivity testing has progressed to the point where it is 85 - 90% effective.
So why isn't chemo-sensitivity testing used routinely?  How come it is so rarely mentioned?  One reason relates to an older methodology to test sensitivity that was used in the 80's where tumor cells were cloned. This method did not yield useful results and was unreliable.  As a result of several influential editorials and articles in the 80's, all such testing was shunned because of this one unreliable technique.  This method subsequently disappeared but seems to have tarnished the very idea of sensitivity testing, despite the current methods using totally different techniques.  Physicians and oncologists are not aware of the current reliable methods and when they hear about sensitivity testing, assume it is the old unreliable methods.

If you want to know more, read Ralph Moss' book "Customized Cancer Treatment" which is all about chemo-sensitivity testing - and better yet - buy a copy for your oncologist!


Labs performing the test in the US:

The best known of these are Rational, Weisenthal and DiaTech.  Currently, most insurance companies will not cover the cost of this testing. Check out the websites for published research and more information.
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Quince spice balls

With my vast quantity of quince sauce (see yesterday's post!), I thought I'd make some yummy quince balls today, with autumnal spices.


Here's the recipe.  Instead of quince, you can use any pureed fruit, such as apple sauce, or pumpkin puree or pear puree...but when you have a tree full of quince, you use quince puree!

Quince spice balls
Ingredients: - makes 20 balls

8 dates, pitted
3/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened fruit puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Add the pitted dates to a processor and process for a minute or two.  Add the walnuts and process again.  Add the fruit and spices and mix again.  Finally add the coconut and mix thoroughly. At this stage you could also add one of the following optional extras, stirring in by hand, rather than processing. I didn't - and just used the above ingredients.

Optional extras:
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 goji berries

Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the mixture into approximately 20 balls. If it is too sticky, add some more nuts or coconut. If it's too crumbly, add a little more puree.

The balls can be rolled in additional coconut or crushed walnuts.

Place in the refrigerator until chilled and a little firmer.  They will keep for a week, chilled.


The spicy flavors are what make these balls.  Spices are powerful foods and too often neglected in cooking.  When using spices, a combination tends to work better than an individual spice.



The health benefits of cinnamon include:

  • 1/2 teaspoon a day can lower LDL cholesterol
  • cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin production in the body
  • it has anti-fungal properties
  • it has anti-clotting effects on the blood
  • cinnamon added to food is a natural food preservative
  • just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory
  • cinnamon is a natural remedy for headaches and migraines


The health benefits of cloves include:

  • cloves contain eugenol which has been seen to be effective in dentistry as a mild anesthetic as well as an anti-bacterial agent
  • eugenol is also anti-inflammatory and a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet
  • cloves are an excellent source of manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, and very high levels of anti-oxidants


The health benefits of nutmeg include:
  • can have a blood pressure lowering effect
  • can soothe an upset stomach and stop diarrhea
  • can be stimulating to the brain and improve mental function
Culinary spices are also important with cancer as they can inhibit the "master switch" for cancer genes. They do this by blocking a signaling molecule called NF-kappa beta. NF-kB makes cancer cells resistant to treatment or prompts them to behave in a more aggressive manner, so using spices to turn off this molecule can be powerful in cancer treatment.  

Pharmaceutical companies are in the process of developing drugs that are effective NFkB inhibitors, but nature has supplied us with spices that do the same thing.  So look in your spice cupboard and spice up your life.

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National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the fourth most common malignancy among men worldwide, with an estimated 400,000 new cases diagnosed annually, accounting for 3.9% of all new cancers.



This summer I read a great book about prostate cancer that I'd like to recommend to you. The title is quite unexpected. It is:

Invasion of the prostate snatchers: An essential guide to managing prostate cancer for patients and their families, by Mark Scholz MD and Ralph Blum.


The book discusses the latest thinking on prostate cancer management, from two perspectives, a doctor and a patient.  Ralph Blum writes in an entertaining style about his twenty year journey with prostate cancer and his decisions along the way, while Dr Mark Scholz presents new scientific advances, with a focus on non invasive approaches.

Chapters alternate between the two authors - with comments at the end by the other.  It's a nice style and makes for easy reading.  It provides a lot of information for patients and families to help them make decisions on what approach to take.  I highly recommend it.


Prostate Cancer Incidence Rates by State, 2008



Epidemiologic evidence strongly suggests that dietary factors play a major role in prostate cancer progression and mortality, with protective effects associated with consumption of fruit (esp. tomatoes),  and increased risk linked to dairy. My recommendation for prostate cancer patients, or those at risk, is to avoid milk and dairy consumption (actually, this is my recommendation for everyone!) .    The evidence is mounting.  Major studies suggesting a link between milk and prostate cancer have appeared in medical journals since the 70's.

In international and interregional correlational studies, dairy product consumption has been consistently associated with prostate cancer mortality.


Researchers are looking at not only whether milk increases cancer risk, but also how.  There are several possible mechanisms: that milk with its high calcium levels adversely affect vitamin D metabolism; that dairy consumption leads to an increase in concentration of insulin like growth factor (IGF-1) which promotes cell cancer growth; and that most dairy products contain substantial amounts of fat and no fiber which is a combination that leads to increased testosterone concentration and activity which can have a cell replicating effect on prostate tissue. .

For further information on the research regarding prostate cancer and dairy, see the summaries supplied by Dr Neal Barnard of PCRM.

References
1. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Ajani U, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci E. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Presentation, American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, April 2000.
2. Cohen P. Serum insulin-like growth factor-I levels and prostate cancer risk—interpreting the evidence. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998;90:876-879.
3. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL. What causes prostate cancer? A brief summary of the epidemiology. Sem Canc Biol. 1998a;8:263-73. 
4. Giovannucci E. Dietary influences of 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D in relation to prostate cancer: a hypothesis. Cancer Causes and Control. 1998b;9:567-82. 
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Reducing nausea associated with chemotherapy

I had a call from a friend this weekend who was looking for some ideas that may help his friend who is suffering from severe nausea associated with chemotherapy.


Sadly, nausea is an all too common side effect of chemotherapy. There are medications available that may help and you should be sure to talk to your doctor about how to prevent nausea and/or vomiting and treat it.   Here are some general tips on how and what to eat that you might also want to consider:

  1. One of best things that can help with nausea is ginger. I wrote a blog post a while ago about the health benefits of ginger and included a few recipes that you can try - especially the ginger glycerite recipe.  But eating ginger anyway you can may help reduce nausea, from ginger cookies, to ginger tea to tinctures to..... Try different things and see which works best.  You can also get ginger capsules to take twice a day.
  2. Other herbs that might help are catnip, peppermint, chamomile and red raspberry.  You can try these as teas - and why not combine a few.  I often add a few different flavored tea bags to a big jug of cool water and get the combined benefit all at once.  Try ginger, peppermint and chamomile - I bet they'd go nicely together.  Use iced, cool, room temperature or warm water - not hot.
  3. Try drinking 1/3 cup of warm water with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp honey.
  4. Pumpkin seeds and squash seeds help nausea.  Just plain, raw seeds.
  5. Eat mainly starches like rice, crackers, dry toast, oatmeal, etc.  The food should be low fat and bland.  Cooking should not create lots of smells as this can make the nausea worse.  Don't get too concerned about balanced nutrition at this time, the goal is to get rid of the nausea and eat something.
  6. Eat cold or room temperature foods. Hot foods create more odors which is often a big cause of nausea.
  7. Eat and drink slowly.
  8. It often helps to put some dry toast or crackers at your bedside at night and eat a little of this before you get out of bed in the morning.
  9. Eat small amounts, frequently.
  10. Drink plenty of fluids during the day, but not during meals.
  11. Try drinking through a straw.
  12. Fruit popsicles are often easily eaten and enjoyed.
  13. Don't try cooking or eating one of your favorite foods. The body may come to associate it with nausea and you'll no longer enjoy it.
  14. If you need to rest after eating, make sure you keep your head higher than you feet.

It's a matter of trying different things and seeing what helps most for you.  And don't forget to tell your doctor that you have been experiencing these side effects as he may have other options and ideas.  

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Nature's Medicine

If you read my "everything is tickety-boo" post on Sunday, you will have noticed that one of the items on my list was "spending time in nature".

It sounds pretty insignificant, but there has actually been quite a bit of research going on regarding the health benefits of spending time in nature.


In Japan, "Shinrin-yoku" (defined as wood air bathing or forest bathing) has been receiving increased attention in recent years for its ability to provide relaxation and reduce stress.  Trees, sunshine, grass, and wildlife all too frequently take a backseat in city or urban life, but spending even small amounts of time in a natural setting can help ease mental fatigue, lower levels of pain from cancer, improve immune function, and lower average blood sugar in patients in type 2 diabetes.

Think back to the last time you were surrounded by nature - maybe a hike when you noticed the vibrant fresh green of a new leaf, or an insect, or the color of the bark of a tree, or saw a rabbit hop past.  These moments of discovery and fascination are spontaneous and effortless kinds of attention, not like the attention we have to use at work or during most of our day.  As we follow our curiosity from the leaf to a flower to a butterfly, we relax in an exploration of nature which gives our attention driven brain a break.

Photo by Nicholas_T
Sounds in nature are also important, for example the calming sound of water that acts to balance the body's hormones, as too as smells.  Airborne chemicals emitted by plants - phytoncides - are seen to enhance NK (natural killer) cell activity ( part of the immune system).

Photo by VinothChandar

Here are just a couple of research studies that have shown the health benefits of taking time in nature, but there are many more:

1. Weinstein BJ (Jun 2010) Spending Time in Nature Makes People Feel More Alive, Study Shows. Retrieved September 26th, 2010, from University of Rochester: http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3639

2. Li Q (2010) A day trip to a forest park increases human natural killer activity and the expression of anti-cancer proteins in male subjects. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents;24(2):157-65.


3. Li Q (2008) Visiting a forest, but not a city, increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol;21(1):117-127.

Photo by VinothChandar
So consider giving yourself a break, and find some time this week to be in nature. Let that effortless attention and fascination take over.  And if you aren't up for that - try bringing some nature indoors to you - open the windows, look at the trees, listen to the sound of a waterfall on your computer, put a nature screensaver on your computer screen, watch a nature DVD....
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New Tickety-boo health coaching website launched

I launched my new tickety-boo health coaching website this week! Yeah!


I hope you'll take a moment to go and check it out.  It tells you what's involved with cancer coaching and health coaching; the benefits of cancer coaching; what types of programs I offer; ideas on how to keep laughing when times get tough;


inspiration for family and friends; how I got into cancer coaching; lots of resources; and my blog also posts there, plus other stuff that I hope you'll find interesting.

I'm excited and working at the moment to find a good location to run some group classes in Sonoma.

I'd love your feedback...feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts on my new site.  Thanks for taking the time to take a look.
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Cleaning for a reason

I just came across a great resource: Cleaning for a reason.  They are a non profit organization that serves the entire United States and Canada. They partner with maid services to offer professional house cleanings free of charge to help women undergoing treatment for cancer.

To date, they have helped more than 9,000 women with cleaning their homes with more than $1 million worth in donated cleanings.

The service offers cleaning of your house once a month for four months during treatment.  To sign up, you need to register on the website and then have your doctor fax them to say you are in treatment for cancer.  It's as easy as that.

Here's a (old) youtube of Oprah talking about the service in 2009 (thus the numbers are different from that quoted here)
 

What a wonderful service for those who are struggling through cancer and its treatment.

They are always looking for new cleaning services to volunteer their time, and also for donations to support their work.
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Health benefits of ginger

I am a big ginger root fan.  I just love the taste of it - warming and a little spicy.  I could add it to most things - sweet or savory - and frequently do.

It has many health benefits, as well as tasting yummy.  Here are some highlights:

Photo by FotoosVanRobin

  • Anti-inflammatory - ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps reduce both pain and inflammation. In a study published in the Journal of Pain, arthritic patients were given small amounts of ginger daily for three months. The majority of patients had significant improvement in pain, swelling and morning stiffness by eating ginger daily.  In another study, ginger was found to be superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Tylenol or Advil because NSAIDS only work on one pathway in the body.  Ginger, on the other hand, blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds prostaglandins and leukotrienes and also has anti-oxidant effects (greater than Vit E) that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the body within the joints. 
  • Digestion - ginger balances COX-1 - an enzyme responsible for the gastric mucosal integrity, and is an antispasmodic. Thus is very effective for gastrointestinal disturbances, alleviating nausea, travel sickness, indigestion, IBS, loss of appetite, heartburn, bloating, ulcers etc.   I remember my sister always used to have ginger biscuits in the car when her boys were younger and whenever they felt a little car sick, they had a ginger biscuit and felt better. Similarly, my mother-in-law always used to eat a chocolate covered piece of ginger after dinner every night to help her digestion.  
Photo by Huffiz

..... and more.  The range and severity of conditions that ginger can help is stunning - and the research continues.


Here are a couple of ways to use ginger:
Ginger Tea:  Peel a 1 inch cube of ginger (the easiest way to peel it is to use a spoon, rather than a knife).  Slice it thinly or grate it.  Boil in 1 and 1/2 cups of water for about 10 minutes.  Add lemon/lime and/or stevia/honey, as desired.  Pour into a cup, relax and enjoy. More beneficial than ginger tea bags.

Ginger soak for aching muscles: Grate 4 teaspoons of ginger and seal it in a cotton/muslin bag.  Place the bag under running bathwater and then soak in the bath so as long as you want!

Ginger Glycerite: 1/4lb fresh ginger.  Chop the ginger roughly and place it in a food processor.  Add 1 cup food grade vegetable glycerin and process until the ginger is nearly incorporated into the liquid. Place mixture in a pint canning jar, mark with the day's date and leave on the counter for two weeks, shaking the jar every other day or so.  After two weeks, strain the mixture through muslin or cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the ginger.  The glycerite will now keep for 6 months.   Mix the glycerite with water, sparkling water, tea, or use as desired.

Grate or chop and use in soups, smoothies, salad dressings, marinades, yoghurts, and just about anything else!

What's your favorite ginger recipe?  How will you get your next healthy dose of ginger?
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Harvard's Meat and Mortality Study

Last week, the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-up Study  (22 year study of 37,698 men) and the Harvard Nurses' Health Study (28 year study of 83,644 women) concluded that meat consumption is associated with living a significantly shorter life, through increased cancer mortality, increased heart disease mortality and increased overall mortality.

Photo by www.WATTAgNet.com

A combined 23,926 deaths were documented in the two studies, of which, 5,910 were from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 were from cancer.  Regular consumption of red meat, particularly processed red meat, was associated with increased mortality risk.  One daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 13% increased risk of mortality, and one daily service of processed meat (i.e. one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk.

Replacing one serving of total red meat with one serving of a healthy protein source was associated with the following lower mortality risks: 7% for fish, 14% for poultry, 19% for nuts, 10% for legumes, 10% for low-fat dairy products, and 14% for whole grains.

Photo by steffenz

For more on this study, check out Dr Michael Greger's video and Dr Fuhrman's blog post, which also brings up the environmental issues related to eating meat, from Dean Ornish's commentary on the study.
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Green Tea Benefits

After yesterday's post about hibiscus tea being higher in anti-oxidants than green tea, you may be left thinking you should make a switch from green to hibiscus tea....but before you throw out that green stuff, let's look at some of the other benefits, above and beyond anti-oxidant activity, that green tea has to offer.


Although coming in second place to hibiscus tea, green tea does still have a very high antioxidant value (see yesterday's table) and is also a detoxifier by activating enzymes in the liver that eliminate toxins from the body.

It is rich in polyphenols including catechins and particularly EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate-3).  EGCG is one of the most powerful nutritional molecules against the formation of new blood vessels by cancerous cells (angiogenesis) needed for tumour growth and metastases.   Green tea also facilitates the death of cancer cells (apoptosis) and has been seen to enhance the effects of radiotherapy on cancer cells.


Pretty impressive stuff heh?  And so many good clinical studies on it's effects.

Japanese green tea - called Matcha - has even higher levels of EGCG than chinese green tea, as matcha is ground up tea leaves rather than just steeping the leaves in water.



EGCG is not present in black tea as it is destroyed during the fermentation process required to make it.  However, decaffeinated green tea still contains all the good polyphenols that caffeinated green tea does, so its preferable to go with decaf.

After two or three cups of green tea a day, EGCG is plentiful in the blood and spreads throughout the body by means of our small capillary vessels.  These surround and feed every cell in the body.  EGCG settles on the surface of cells and blocks the "switches" or receptors on the cells, whose function it is to set off a signal that allows the penetration of neighboring tissue by foreign cells, such as cancer cells.  Once the receptors are blocked by EGCG, they no longer respond to the signal that cancer cells send to invade tissue and to make the new vessels needed for tumor growth.

Studies have shown green tea to substantially slow the growth of leukemia, and breast, prostate, kidney, skin and oral cancer.

It has been found that green tea has even greater effect when combined with other molecules commonly found in Asian diets, such as soy.


So hibiscus tea or green tea?  I don't see any reason to choose just one - why not just drink both?  Both have benefits and both taste very different from each other, so if you are in the mood for something fruity, try the hibiscus, otherwise, go green.

And don't limit yourself to just drinking your EGCG - you can add it to yoghurts, smoothies, ice cream, cakes, desserts - especially if you use the powdered Matcha.  Even Nestle have come out with a green tea KitKat bar in Japan!

How will you get your green tea?
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What's in a name?

"Tickety-boo Health Coaching".

You may be wondering what 'tickety-boo health coaching' means....what is this blog is all about?   Well, allow me to elaborate.

Tickety-boo is a British word - now also commonly used in Canada.  It means things is going along just fine.....things are all tickety-boo. I think it has a nice ring to it and a sense of fun and ease.  It's a happy little word that makes you want to smile.  It doesn't mean everything is perfect, just that you have found a way to enjoy the positives in life.

So what about the "Health coaching" part? What is that all about? Health coaching is a way of guiding others to find the motivation to make changes that will improve their health.  The relationship between a health coach and their client is a supportive partnership where we can discuss topics such as:what is troubling most about a certain health condition; what would the person most want to change; what support do they have; what obstacles are there, etc, etc.  Health coaching focuses on the special issues and concerns unique to the individual person that are preventing them from leading a healthier life.

The simple goal of Tickety-boo health coaching therefore is to help you feel tickety-boo!


In my area of health coaching, I specialize in helping people with cancer and helping people improve their lifestyle to prevent cancer.  This includes diet (e.g. what should you eat during chemo or radiation therapy), what foods help with side effects of cancer and therapy, what exercise is good, ways of relaxing, guided imagery, biofeedback, spirituality, etc etc.

As my blog progresses, I'll tell you more about how we can work together and how tickety-boo health coaching can help you.  I'll be coaching people one on one and also running a variety of educational community programs.  I will also implement an e-coaching program too, for people who don't live local to me in Northern California.  All this to come soon.

But for now, take two minutes and watch this little video to help you understand just what feeling tickety-boo is all about. I bet you'll be singing along by the end of it!   It features Danny Kaye singing a song entitled "Everything is tickety-goo" from a movie called "Merry Andrew". 

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