Tag Archives: cancer

Long term aspirin use sharply reduces incidence of digestive cancers – Study

Personally, I try to take as few drugs as possible and as small a dosage that I can. My action is rational in that I don’t like to introduce foreign substances into my system. Additionally, I also feel uncomfortable about foreign substances in my system. So, I take a minimum of drugs, especially considering the fact that I will be 78 years old at the end of January. One of the few exception is aspirin. I take one regular aspirin (326 mg) every morning to help reduce the pain from arthritis in both of my hands. So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are further benefits to aspirin.
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The long-term use of aspirin has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of digestive cancers, new research presented at the 25th UEG (United European Gastroenterology) Week has found.

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The dark side of blue light – Harvard

Elsewhere in the blog I have written repeatedly about the how valuable it is to get a good night’s sleep. For a full rundown, please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?

In the meantime, here is an excellent study from Harvard Medical School on our vulnerability to our evening illumination.

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Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs, harmful to your health.

Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Continue reading

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Do You Contribute To Discovering The CURE For Breast Cancer?

While a little off the beaten path, this post has some useful information on donating to fight breast cancer.

Tony

All About Healthy Choices

Passionately Pink JPGcropped400The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (later known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure) has become the largest and most well known breast cancer organization in the United States: It was started by Susan G Komen’s sister (Nancy Goodman Brinker) in 1982.

We want to believe that tragedies like Susan’s story of breast cancer develop into massive organizations (ex.Susan G. Komen for the Cure) based on honest altruistic intentions to offer real hope to OTHERS suffering from this dreaded disease.

What do the facts reveal about Nancy Brinker’s financial gains as Founder and CEO and the success her organization has achieved winning the “war” against beast cancer?

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“In early 2012, the Komen organization announced it was pulling its grants for breast-cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, drawing an immediate backlash from Komen supporters and abortion rights advocates. Within days, Nancy Brinker, the group’s founder and CEO, reversed…

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40% Of Cancers Diagnosed In U.S. Related To Obesity, CDC Says

As if we needed another reason to pay attention to our weight as well as what (and how much) we eat. Here is the CDC with some hard facts.

Tony

Our Better Health

Add cancer to the many good reasons to strive for a healthy weight

The rates of 12 obesity-related  cancers rose by 7 per cent from 2005 to 2014, an increase that is threatening to reverse progress in reducing the rate of cancer in the United States, U.S. health officials say.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 630,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with a cancer linked with being overweight or obese in 2014.

Obesity-related cancers accounted for about 40 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014. Although the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses has fallen since the 1990s,  rates of obesity-related cancers have been rising.

“Today’s report shows in some cancers we’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said on a conference call with reporters.

According to the International Agency for…

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Dairy – Good or Bad? – MNT

I started drinking soymilk some years ago after reading some scare stories about cow milk consumption. I don’t even remember the reasons now, but I do look forward to my quarts of soymilk that I buy from Costco. Since starting I can’t put my finger on any negative health effects.

This extensive Medical News Today rundown by Hannah Nichols gives a lot of useful detail on the subject.

What do government health guidelines say? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food MyPlate guidelines, to get all the nutrients you need from your diet, healthy food and beverage choices should be made from all five food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy.

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The dairy food group consists of all fluid milk products and many foods that are made from milk. The USDA recommend that food choices from the dairy group should retain their calcium content and be low-fat or fat-free. Fat in milk, yogurt, and cheese that is not low-fat or fat-free will count toward your limit of calories from saturated fats.

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More bad news about extra belly fat – Study

Scientists have found that carrying fat around your middle could be as good an indicator of cancer risk as body mass index (BMI), according to research (link is external)* published in the British Journal of Cancer today (Wednesday).

“However you measure it being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing certain cancers.”Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK It shows that adding about 4.3 inches to the waistline increased the risk of obesity related cancers by 13 per cent.
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For bowel cancer, adding around 3.15 inches to the hips is linked to an increased risk of 15 per cent.

Carrying excess body fat can change the levels of sex hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone, can cause levels of insulin to rise, and lead to inflammation, all of which are factors that have been associated with increased cancer risk. Continue reading

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Beware of blue light at night – Harvard

Sleep, like walking, is one of the critical elements of good health very commonly not appreciated by the man on the street. I have a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep with a ton of information on it.

Here is some valuable info from the Harvard Health Letter on getting a good night’s sleep.

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Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (My emphasis)

But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

Daily rhythms influenced by light

Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.

The health risks of nighttime light

Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.

A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.

Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

The power of the blues

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.

Less-blue light

If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.

The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent lightbulbs.

What you can do

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.When I work on my computer late at night, I always wear a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. You can buy them on Amazon for under $20. I have no problems getting to sleep.

    Tony

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When screening for disease, risk is as important to consider as benefits – study

Physicians and patients like to believe that early detection of cancer extends life, and quality of life. If a cancer is present, you want to know early, right? Maybe not.

An analysis of cancer screenings by a University of Virginia statistician and a researcher at the National Cancer Institute indicates that early diagnosis of a cancer does not necessarily result in a longer life than without an early diagnosis. And screenings – such as mammograms for breast cancer and prostate-specific antigen tests for prostate cancer – come with built-in risks, such as results mistakenly indicating the presence of cancer (false positives), as well as missed diagnoses (false negatives). Patients may undergo harsh treatments that diminish quality of life while not necessarily extending it.

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Yet the benefits of early diagnosis through screening often are touted over the risks.

“It is difficult to estimate the effect of over-diagnosis, but the risk of over-diagnosis is a factor that should be considered,” said Karen Kafadar, a UVA statistics professor and co-author of a study being presented Sunday at a session of the 2017 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “How many diagnosed cases would never have materialized in a person’s lifetime, and gone successfully untreated? Treatments sometimes can cause harm, and can shorten life or reduce quality of life.”

Kafadar is not advocating against screening, but her findings show that frequent screening comes with its own risks. As a metric for evaluation, reduction in mortality is considered the standard. So if a disease results in 10 deaths per 100,000 people in a year, and screening reduces the deaths to six per 100,000 people, then there seems to be an impressive 40 percent reduction in mortality.

However, a more meaningful metric, Kafadar said, may be: “How much longer can a person whose case was screen-detected be expected to live, versus a case that was diagnosed only after clinical symptoms appeared?” This issue becomes harder to discern – how long a patient survives after a diagnosis versus how long the patient might have lived anyway. Some cancer cases might never become apparent during a person’s lifetime without screening, but with screening might be treated unnecessarily, such as for a possibly non-aggressive cancer. And some aggressive forms of disease may shorten life even when caught early through screening.

Kafadar and her collaborator, National Cancer Institute statistician Philip Prorok, gathered long-term data from several study sources, including health insurance plans and the National Cancer Institute’s recently completed long-term randomized control trial on prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer, to consider several factors affecting the value of screening – over-diagnosis, lead time on a diagnosis and other statistical distortions – to look at not just how many people die, but also life extension.

“People die anyway of various causes,” Kafadar said, “but most individuals likely are more interested in, ‘How much longer will I live?’ Unfortunately, screening tests are not always accurate, but we like to believe they are.”

Because the paper considers together the factors that affect statistical understanding of the effectiveness of screening, rather than looking at each of these factors in isolation as previous studies have done, it offers a new statistical methodology for teasing out the relative effects of cancer screening’s benefits and risks.

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Gluten-free diet may increase risk of arsenic, mercury exposure

I’m sure you have encountered friends and acquaintances who are going ‘gluten-free.’ I have observed, I don’t think imagined, a certain smugness about the announcement. Like they have elevated themselves above the masses. Well, It turns out maybe not.

People who eat a gluten-free diet may be at risk for increased exposure to arsenic and mercury – toxic metals that can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological effects, according to a report in the journal Epidemiology.

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Gluten-free diets have become popular in the U.S., although less than 1 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease – an out-of-control immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, but others often say they prefer eating gluten-free because it reduces inflammation – a claim that has not been scientifically proven. In 2015, one-quarter of Americans reported eating gluten-free, a 67 percent increase from 2013.

Gluten-free products often contain rice flour as a substitute for wheat. Rice is known to bioaccumulate certain toxic metals, including arsenic and mercury from fertilizers, soil, or water, but little is known about the health effects of diets high in rice content. (my emphasis)

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Guys – Get that check up

I started writing this blog for guys nearly seven years ago. The idea was that women did a great job of keeping track of their health; men, not so much. Over the course of writing it, I have found that more than half of my readers are women who are paying attention to their  health, so the focus shifted from guys to simply good health and living past 100. But, according to this little infographic, guys still don’t do a very good job. With 34% of men over age 20 overweight or obese, guys need to wake up.

I hope this little Men’s Health 101 from Texas A&M University Health Science Center gives you a wake up call.

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Tony

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Study shows Vitamin E and Selenium don’t cut colon cancer risk

As one of the former big proponents of Vitamin E, I was disappointed to learn that it does not have all of the healthy impacts I had heard. I just ran across this information that came out a few days ago.

Eight years ago, results from a landmark cancer prevention trial run by SWOG, a National Cancer Institute supported organization, showed that a daily dose of vitamin E and selenium did not prevent prostate cancer. In fact, the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) showed that vitamin E supplementation increased the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men.

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Nuts and avocados are natural sources of Vitamin E

Now, a SWOG review of ancillary SELECT results definitively shows that these two antioxidants also don’t prevent colorectal adenomas – polyps that are the premalignant precursors to most colorectal cancers. Results are published in Cancer Prevention Research.

“The message to the public is this: Vitamin E and selenium will not prevent colorectal adenomas, which are surrogates for colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Peter Lance, lead author of the journal article and deputy director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center. “We have no evidence that these supplements work to prevent cancer.”

Despite the billions spent in the United States each year on vitamin supplements, there is scant evidence they prevent cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, which funds SWOG through its National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) and NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), results from nine randomized trials did not provide evidence that antioxidant supplements are beneficial in primary cancer prevention. An in-depth review conducted for the United States Preventive Services Task Force likewise found no clear evidence of benefit. Continue reading

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Chemical Exposure Linked to Lower Vitamin D Levels – Study

Vitamin D has been called the rock star of vitamins. For an idea about all the good things our bodies get from vitamin D, check out these posts: How good is Vitamin D for you? Infographic, Vitamin D and your body – Harvard.

Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may reduce levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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The study is the first to find an association between EDC exposure and vitamin D levels in a large group of U.S. adults. EDCs are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that can cause adverse health effects by interfering with hormones in the body. The Society’s Scientific Statement on EDCs examined more than 1,300 studies that found links between chemical exposure and health problems, including infertility, obesity, diabetes, neurological problems and hormone-related cancers. Continue reading

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What happens when a smoker quits?

This is the yang post to yesterday’s yin which was all about the negative effects that smoking has on your body. Today the focus is on the positive. Look at all the good things that happen when a smoker quits. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.

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Tony

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Music eases some cancer patients’ symptoms

I first encountered the idea of music therapy in 1977 when I was living in London. I heard a music therapist interviewed on the radio. Remember, this was 1977, before the internet. I was on a one year posting and had no TV or phone. As a music lover seemingly since birth, the idea of using music to treat people blew my mind. I actually looked up the man and visited him in his home outside of London. We had some great conversations and he pointed me to some books for further reading on the subject.

While I still listen to music religiously, I hadn’t thought much about music therapy  until I ran across this study from Drexel University.

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A systematic review published by the Cochrane Library found that there is significant evidence that music interventions help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, pain and fatigue in cancer patients, while also boosting their quality of life. Continue reading

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Alcohol Causes 7 Kinds of Cancer, Study Concludes

I thought it only fair to send this as my previous post mentioned alcohol (in small amounts) as a treat.

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Tony

Our Better Health

Alcohol researcher Jennie Connor says the link is a causal one and that no alcohol is considered safe and risk does go up as you drink.

Alcohol is a direct cause of seven forms of cancer. Tough words to swallow, but those are the conclusions of researchers from New Zealand, who say they found that no matter how much you drink, alcohol will increase your risk of cancer.

“There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others,” the authors write in the latest issue of the journal Addiction.

Those seven cancer sites are:

  • liver
  • colon
  • rectum
  • female breast
  • larynx, (the throat organ commonly called the voice box)
  • orolarynx (the middle part of the pharynx) behind the mouth
  • esophagus (commonly the “food pipe”)

The researchers from the University of Otago reviewed previous studies and meta-analyses, analyzing all the major studies done over the…

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Chronic diseases and us – Infographic

I ran across this infographic in my meanderings and thought it had a lot of interesting if depressing information, like the increase in diabetes in the last few decades. On the positive side, “Many chronic diseases have a root in lifestyle decisions, from obesity to smoking. And, many of these conditions can be treated or even prevented by changing behavior.”

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Tony

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