cancer


How to add 14 more years to your life ?

While many in Singapore might be disillusioned about healthy living after seeing the sudden death last week (4th January) of Jimmy Nah, the healthy-looking 40-year-old comedian/actor who does not smoke or drink alcohol and have a clean bill of health, BBC this morning reported that a study shown “Taking exercise, drinking moderately, eating sufficient fruit and vegetables and not smoking can add as much as 14 years to your life”.

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The study between 1993 and 2006 by the UK’s Public Library of Science Medicine which involved 20,000 people aged between 45 and 79, suggested that regardless of how overweight or poor they were, they found those who failed on all criteria were four times more likely to have died than those who succeeded.

Participants were known during this period to be free from cancer or any heart problems.

The participants were awarded a point for :

1. not currently smoking
2. consuming between one and 14 units of alcohol per week (the equivalent of between half a glass and seven glasses of wine)
3. eating five servings of fruit and vegetables each day and not being inactive.

They found that the risk of

A 60-year-old person + score ZERO = a 74-year-old + FULL FOUR points

The conclusion was that many people through some simple changes can increase their lifespan as well as reduce their risk of dying from heart and circulatory disease as shown from the research participants.

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ScienceDaily (Dec. 9, 2007) — A team of scientists led by Dr. Radha Maheshwari, professor of Pathology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) and Rajesh Loganathan Thangapazham, a graduate student, have shown that green tea has antitumor effect in breast cancer cells.

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Cancer is a disease caused by the increased proliferation of cells which group and form a lump called tumor. Tumors can be benign or malignant. Cells from malignant tumors break away from the original tumor and spread to other parts of the body growing and forming new tumors. They can invade, penetrate into blood and lymphatic vessels, circulate via the bloodstream and can grow in a normal organ or tissue anywhere in the body.

Unfortunately treatment options for metastasis are very limited and usually represent the end stage of the disease. Unlike malignant tumors, benign tumors do not invade and, with very rare exceptions, are not life threatening. Chemoprevention broadly implies the use of a chemical substance of either natural or synthetic origin, to prevent, hamper, arrest or reverse a disease. Phytochemicals are plant based non nutritive components with substantial medicinal properties.  

Dr. Maheshwari’s study observed that green tea can inhibit the invading capacity of these breast cancer cells and have also identified the mechanisms involved in death inducing and invasion inhibiting effects of green tea. Epidemiological studies also suggest that the risk of breast cancer is found to be less in Asian countries consuming green tea. These studies have greater clinical significance since the ability of these phytochemicals to activate anti-cancer program of tumor cells might determine the success of chemotherapy.

The recently concluded study will be published in the Journal of Cancer Biology and Therapy, December 2007, Volume 6, Issue 12. 

A study by Dr. Maheshwari that was published earlier this year in Cancer Letters showed that green tea is effective in delaying tumor incidence as well as in reducing the tumor burden. Green tea was found to inhibit growth of tumors as well as induce death of breast cancer cells.

Adapted from materials provided by Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Pomegranate Juice: Tart, Trendy, And Targeted On Prostate Cancer Cells

Researchers in California are reporting new evidence explaining pomegranate juice’s mysterious beneficial effects in fighting prostate cancer.

In a new study, Navindra Seeram and colleagues have found that the tart, trendy beverage also uses a search-and-destroy strategy to target prostate cancer cells.

In previous research, Seeram’s group found that pomegranate juice consumption had a beneficial effect for prostate cancer patients with rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. Such increases in PSA signal that the cancer is progressing, “doubling time” a key indicator of prognosis. Men whose PSA levels double in a short period are more likely to die from their cancer.

Pomegranate juice increased doubling times by almost fourfold.

In the new study, they researchers discovered evidence in laboratory experiments that pomegranate works in a “seek and destroy” fashion. On consumption, ellagitannins (ET), antioxidants abundant in pomegranate juice, break down to metabolites known as urolithins. The researchers showed that the urolithins concentrate at high levels in prostate tissue after being given orally and by injection to mice with prostate cancer. They also showed that urolithins inhibited the growth of human prostate cancer cells in cell culture.

“The chemopreventive potential of pomegranate ellagitannins and localization of their bioactive metabolites in mouse prostate tissue suggest that pomegranate may play a role in prostate cancer treatment and chemoprevention,” the researchers state, recommending further clinical studies with pomegranate and prostate cancer patients.

This research, “Pomegranate Ellagitannin-Derived Metabolites Inhibit Prostate Cancer Growth and Localize to the Mouse Prostate Gland,” is scheduled for publication in the Sept. 19 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Note: This story by Science Daily has been adapted from material provided by American Chemical Society.

 

Are you killing your pets with your smoke ?

Pets are getting all kinds of cancers, no thanks to the smokers who passed the secondhand smoke to the hapless animals. 

Just a sidetrack – I am glad that there is no smoking in confined public places in Singapore. The most recently are the pubs. Secondhand smoke is attributed in the west with killing thousands of adult nonsmokers annually. No matter what is the figure in Singapore, kudos to our government for taking tough but well-appreciated progressive ban in public places. Since July this year, I can walk into any pub to have a nice cold beer and songs with business associates and friends and go home without smelling like a walking piece of shit.

But what about the private confined areas like the individual homes? While many smoking adults might not expose the secondhand smoke to their spouse or children, what about those irresponsible habitual smokers living with pets? 

Secondhand smoke kills cats fast

“Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds,” said Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service veterinarian. 

Cats that lived with smokers for five or more years had an even higher incidence of squamous cell carcinoma, simply known as mouth cancer.

Cats are twice as likely to have malignant lymphoma cancer compared to cats living in a non-smoking home. It is a type of cancer that occurs in the lymph nodes and is fatal to three out of four cats within 12 months of developing the cancer. 

MacAllister disclosed that one reason cats are so susceptible to secondhand smoke is because cats constantly lick themselves while grooming. By licking their fur, they expose the mucous membrane of their mouth to the cancer-causing carcinogens that accumulate on their fur.

What about dogs? 

MacAllister also pointed out that “a recent study conducted at Colorado State University shows that there is a higher incidence of nasal tumors in dogs living in a home with secondhand smoke compared to dogs living in a smoke free environment,”

She said. “The increased incidence was specifically found among the long nosed breed of dogs. Shorter or medium nosed dogs showed higher rates for lung cancer.” 

MacAllister said the longer nosed breeds of dogs have a great surface area in their noses that is exposed to the carcinogens. This also provides more area in which the carcinogens can accumulate. The carcinogens tend to build up on the mucous membranes of long nosed dogs so not as much reaches the lungs.

Unfortunately, dogs affected with nasal cancer normally do not survive more than one year

The reason short and medium nose dogs have a higher occurrence of lung cancer is because their shorter nasal passages aren’t as effective at accumulating the inhaled secondhand smoke carcinogens,” she said. “This results in more carcinogens reaching the lungs.”

What about birds? 

Pet birds also are victims of secondhand smoke. A bird’s respiratory system is hypersensitive to any type of pollutant in the air.

MacAllister said the most serious consequences of secondhand smoke exposure in birds are pneumonia or lung cancer. Other health risks include eye, skin, heart and fertility problems. 

Killing them at home without smoking  

Secondhand smoke is not the only danger faced by pets that live in smoke filled environments. Poisoning is another risk they face.

 “Curious pets can eat cigarettes and other tobacco products if the products aren’t stored properly,” MacAllister said. “When ingested, this can cause nicotine poisoning, which can be fatal.” 

It is important both for the health of pets and others living in the household, that the smoker has a designated area in which to smoke that is physically separated from the home. In addition, always keep cigarettes, cigarette butts and other tobacco products put away.

A better choice that could enhance your chances of enjoying a healthier lifestyle with your family and pets would be to stop smoking altogether,” MacAllister said. 

Health benefits of peppermint

Candy and ice cream come to mind. But peppermint is also an age-old herbal medicine that has been used to treat a wide range of abdominal woes, from flatulence to stomach cancer to gallbladder disease.

But does it really work? Peppermint has fared a bit better than many herbal medicines in clinical trials. Several studies have shown that peppermint oil seems to be fairly effective at relieving irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a collection of symptoms that includes abdominal cramping and pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. In 2007, Italian investigators reported that 75% of the patients in their study who took peppermint oil capsules for four weeks had a major reduction in their IBS symptoms, compared with just 38% of those who took a placebo pill.

There are also findings — admittedly from studies of iffy quality — that topical application of peppermint oil helps relieve tension headaches and that a combination of peppermint and caraway oils can help with recurrent indigestion.

The oil that’s extracted from the peppermint plant contains lots of compounds. Menthol is the most abundant and pharmacologically important.

Menthol is an ingredient in many conventional over-the-counter products, including cough lozenges and muscle pain ointments like Bengay. Menthol creates that familiar cooling sensation by stimulating nerves that sense cold (your mouth has some of these nerves, which is the reason products containing menthol “taste” cool); it also inhibits those that react to painful stimuli. The effect doesn’t last long, but sometimes a brief reprieve or distraction from a cough or a muscle ache does wonders.

One explanation for how peppermint oil might help IBS sufferers is that the oil — and perhaps especially the menthol — blocks calcium channels, which has the effect of relaxing the “smooth” muscles in the walls of the intestine.

Peppermint oil also relaxes the sphincter that keeps the contents of the stomach from backing up into your esophagus. That’s why people troubled by heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux) are advised to avoid peppermint. It’s also the reason peppermint oil is often sold these days in enteric-coated capsules designed to bypass the stomach and dissolve in the small intestine.

People do occasionally have bad reactions to menthol and peppermint. In 2007, Swedish doctors reported the case of a 44-year-old man who got a runny nose every time he brushed his teeth. Allergy tests showed he was allergic to the menthol in his toothpaste. Several years ago, Israeli doctors reported the case of a woman whose mouth and throat were chemically burned by the large amount of peppermint oil she took to treat a cold.

~~ extracted from Havard Medical School newsletter ~~

Delicious sources of antioxidants for healthy summer eating

Forget the hype about single antioxidants, like vitamin E or beta carotene. They’ve never lived up to the promise that they can halt heart disease, cure cancer, eradicate eye disease, or prevent Alzheimer’s.

But that doesn’t mean antioxidants aren’t important to your health. The notion that antioxidants are good for you comes from studies showing that people who eat foods rich in a variety of antioxidants have better long-term health. Trials of single supplements, usually taken in pill form, have yielded disappointing results.

Antioxidants stabilize harmful by-products of the body’s energy-making machinery. These by-products, known as free radicals, can damage DNA, make LDL (“bad”) cholesterol even worse, and wreak havoc elsewhere in the body.

It’s possible that single antioxidants haven’t panned out because it takes a network of antioxidants — like those that exist in foods — to neutralize free radicals. If that’s the case, then it would be helpful to know the antioxidant content of various foods.

An international team of researchers did just that for more than a thousand foods that Americans commonly eat. Topping the list for antioxidant content were blackberries, walnuts, strawberries, artichokes, cranberries, coffee, raspberries, pecans, blueberries, and ground cloves (see “Antioxidant-rich foods”).

Antioxidant-rich foods

Here are the three dozen foods with the highest per-serving content of antioxidants.

Product

Antioxidants (mmol/serving)

Blackberries

5.746

Walnuts

3.721

Strawberries

3.584

Artichokes, prepared

3.559

Cranberries

3.125

Coffee

2.959

Raspberries

2.870

Pecans

2.741

Blueberries

2.680

Cloves, ground

2.637

Grape juice

2.557

Chocolate, baking, unsweetened

2.516

Cranberry juice

2.474

Cherries, sour

2.205

Wine, red

2.199

Power Bar, chocolate flavor

1.875

Pineapple juice

1.859

Guava nectar

1.858

Juice drinks, 10% juice, blueberry or strawberry flavor, vitamin C enriched

1.821

Cranapple juice

1.790

Prunes

1.715

Chocolate, dark, sugar-free

1.675

Cabbage, red, cooked

1.614

Orange juice

1.510

Apple juice, with added vitamin C

1.462

Mango nectar

1.281

Pineapples

1.276

Oranges

1.261

Bran Flakes breakfast cereal

1.244

Plums, black

1.205

Pinto beans, dried

1.137

Canned chili with meat and beans

1.049

Canned chili with meat, no beans

1.045

Spinach, frozen

1.040

Whole Grain Total breakfast cereal

1.024

Chocolate, sugar-free

1.001

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2006

Cooking appears to increase the antioxidant potential of most foods, with the exception of grains such as rice, pasta, and corn grits, which show lower levels after cooking.

The researchers were careful not to claim that eating foods at the top of the list will keep you healthy. Instead, they believe that rating the antioxidant potential of different foods could help test whether antioxidants really do prevent disease. In the meantime, the list toppers are healthy foods, so don’t hesitate to dig in.

For more information on antioxidant-rich foods, order our Special Health Report, The Benefits and Risks of Vitamins and Minerals, at www.health.harvard.edu/VM.

Red Wine Protects The Prostate – Harvard Men’s Health Watch

Researchers have found that men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week are only 52% as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine, reports the June 2007 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch. In addition, red wine appears particularly protective against advanced or aggressive cancers.

Researchers in Seattle collected information about many factors that might influence the risk of prostate cancer in men between ages 40 and 64, including alcohol consumption. At first the results for alcohol consumption seemed similar to the findings of many earlier studies: There was no relationship between overall consumption and risk.

But the scientists went one step further by evaluating each type of alcoholic beverage independently. Here the news was surprising—wine drinking was linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. And when white wine was compared with red, red had the most benefit. Even low amounts seemed to help, and for every additional glass of red wine per week, the relative risk declined by 6%.

Why red wine? Doctors don’t know. But much of the speculation focuses on chemicals—including various flavonoids and resveratrol—missing from other alcoholic beverages. These components have antioxidant properties, and some appear to counterbalance androgens, the male hormones that stimulate the prostate.

Many doctors are reluctant to recommend drinking alcohol for health, fearing that their patients might assume that if a little alcohol is good, a lot might be better. The Harvard Men’s Health Watch notes that men who enjoy alcohol and can drink in moderation and responsibly may benefit from a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cardiac death.

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