Monday, April 30, 2012

Regular Fish Consumption Lowers Alzheimer’s Disease Risk


Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that people who eat baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis may be improving their brain health and lowering their risk of developing Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease. The results, released at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America established a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure and Alzheimer's risk.

The study determined that eating baked or broiled fish once per week led to better preservation of gray matter volume on MRI scans in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Health-minded people may be able to dramatically lower the risk of developing this most feared memory-robbing illness.

Regular Fish Consumption Preserves Brain Volume and Cognitive Function
Dr. Cyrus Raji, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and his team developed a cohort of 260 cognitively normal individuals. Information on fish consumption was gathered using the National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire. 163 participants consumed fish on a weekly basis, and the majority ate fish one to four times per week.

Each subject was examined using a 3-D volumetric MRI scan of the brain to measure gray matter volume. The test was used to model the relationship between weekly fish consumption at baseline and brain structure after a period of ten years. Data was then analyzed to determine if gray matter volume preservation associated with fish consumption reduced the risk for Alzheimer's disease. The study controlled for age, gender, education, race, obesity, physical activity, and the presence or absence of apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4), a gene that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Eating Fatty Fish Once Per Week Preserves Cognitive Function
The findings showed that consumption of baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis was positively associated with gray matter volumes in several areas of the brain. Higher grey matter brain volume correlates with increased cognitive function and is commonly used to determine progression of degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Maintaining grey matter volume over a five-year period lowers risk of Alzheimer’s disease by five-fold.

Dr. Raji concluded “Consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain's gray matter by making them larger and healthier… this simple lifestyle choice increases the brain's resistance to Alzheimer's disease and lowers risk for the disorder.” Eating fatty fish at least once per week (preferably at several meals) improves working memory and allows people to focus on tasks that commit information to short-term memory, improving cognitive function and lowering the risk from Alzheimer’s disease.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Natural Medicine Approach to Treating Mesothelioma


When mesothelioma patients are diagnosed with cancer, they typically are interested in trying any therapy that can potentially extend their prognosis. Even those who are pursuing traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy often look for additional treatments to increase their success rate.

This enthusiastic approach has led many mesothelioma patients to discover natural medicine. Sometimes viewed as “hippy” or “quack” treatments by the medical community, natural therapies have actually played a considerable role in several mesothelioma survivors’ treatment plans.

Most natural therapies are actually based in research and science, just like traditional therapies.

Dietitians spend years studying the body’s specific nutritional needs and learning how to create a plan that delivers cancer-fighting nutrients in the proper quantities. Acupuncturists learn which pressure points in the body cause specific responses in the nerve cells or the brain. Massage therapists manipulate specific muscles that help flush toxins from the body. 

Although patients need to use their best judgment when selecting natural therapies (specifically when presented with any treatment that claims to cure their illness), they can generally enter into these therapies assured that their bodies can reap the benefits. Unlike pharmaceuticals, natural medicines and alternative therapies have few negative side effects, and patients can easily implement them into their regimen after clearing them with their oncologist. 

Natural Medicines for Mesothelioma
For centuries, natural substances such as herbs and vitamins have been used as medicine. Mesothelioma patients may turn to natural medicines that are designed specially to have the most impact on their cancer.

Homeopathy is one of the most common natural medicine-based therapies for mesothelioma patients. This treatment uses heavily diluted natural solutions to trigger the body’s own natural healing processes. Some of the homeopathic solutions that a mesothelioma patient may be prescribed include:

·         Arnica (for cough)
·         Magnesia Muriatica (for poor sleep caused by cancer anxiety)
·         Lachesis (for dyspnea and difficulty breathing)
·         Phosphorus (for appetite loss)

A licensed homeopath can help you understand how these medicines can help impact your symptoms. They can also prescribe additional medications that are more relevant to a specific mesothelioma diagnosis. 

Additionally, basic vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin K and beta-carotene may also be prescribed as natural medicines to stimulate the body’s ability to rid the cancer. Many of these supplements are used to boost a cancer patient’s immune system, which in turn makes it more adept at stopping the mesothelioma cells as they develop. 

Nutritionists can also help mesothelioma patients learn how to increase the levels of these vitamins in their body without taking any supplements simply by making dietary adjustments designed to maximize nutrient intake. 

Alternative Therapies for Mesothelioma
Naturopathy often combines natural medicine with other natural therapies. Cancer patients seeing a naturopath may be recommended to try nutritional counseling (including juicing or detoxification), acupuncture, water therapy and sound wave therapy – among other treatments. 

When selecting alternative therapies for a natural treatment plan, naturopaths determine which treatments can best balance the patient’s physical, mental and emotional state. Their ultimate goal is not simply to cure mesothelioma – instead, they work to foster whole-body health in the individual. 

Guest Author Bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Prostate Cancer Risk Linked to a Diet High in Red and Processed Meats


Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and second most common cause of cancer related death in men in the United States. Nearly one in five men will develop the disease during their lifetime. While known risk factors for prostate cancer include age, family history and ethnicity, new research demonstrates that increased consumption of ground beef or processed meat is positively associated with aggressive prostate cancer, according to a study published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers found a strong correlation between well cooked, grilled or barbequed red meat and processed meats and the development of prostate cancer. Health-minded individuals will want to severely limit and review cooking methods for red and processed meat consumption to limit this prostate cancer risk factor.

Well Cooked Red and Processed Meats Dramatically Increase Prostate Cancer Incidence
The result of a study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), offers solid evidence of a link between aggressive prostate cancer and meat consumption. Scientists found prostate cancer growth is driven largely by consumption of grilled or barbecued red meat, especially when it is well-done. Senior study author, Dr. John Witte set out to explain the result of prior studies and establish a scientific basis for increased prostate cancer risk with red and processed meat consumption.

Researchers used a cohort of 470 men with aggressive prostate cancer and contrasted against 512 matched controls that did not have prostate cancer. All the men completed questionnaires that enabled the researchers to assess not only their meat intake for the previous 12 months, but also the type of meat and how it had been prepared. Researchers placed special emphasis on the "doneness level", ranging from rare to well-done.

Cooking Method Increases Heterocyclic Amines in Cooked Meats
The study authors used pre-established levels of carcinogens from the National Cancer Institute's CHARRED database which contains the mutagen content for each type of meat by cooking method and doneness. Compiling the data obtained from the participants allowed the researchers to determine the consumption levels of chemicals that have the potential to transform into cancer-causing compounds including heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The study established the following conclusions:

“Higher consumption of any ground beef or processed meats was positively linked with aggressive prostate cancer, with ground beef showing the strongest association.”
“The main driver of this link was intake of grilled or barbecued meat, with more well-done meat tied to a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.”
“Men who ate high levels of well or very well cooked ground beef had twice the odds of developing aggressive prostate cancer compared to men who ate none.”

Dr. Witte and his team were able to make a conclusive link between well cooked and processed meats and incidence of prostate cancer. Of particular importance was the degree of cooking and use of high heat cooking methods that add carcinogens to the surface of the meat. Most health-conscious people avoid regular meat consumption. This study provides further evidence that limiting or eliminating meat from the diet and utilizing proper cooking practices for all types of food can help prevent prostate cancer and many chronic illnesses.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lower Body Weight as we Age Linked to Increased Alzheimer’s Disease Risk


Many lifestyle factors are associated with the development of the memory-robbing form of dementia known as Alzheimer’s disease. Smoking, diet, lack of exercise and poor B-vitamin status all contribute to the sixth most prevalent cause of death each year in the US. Past studies have shown that excess weight in mid-life increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Evidence published in the journal Neurology finds that low body weight (as measured by Body Mass Index or BMI) is a strong predictor for those at risk of developing this most devastating form of dementia. Proper weight management at all stages of life is critical to lower the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Underweight during Advancing Years Associated with Increased Alzheimer’s Disease Risk
Natural health followers have long known that excess abdominal fat and obesity are critical factors that promote an unhealthy cascade of metabolic reactions that lead to cognitive decline and eventually, Alzheimer’s disease. The result of a new study explains the delicate relationship between body weight and dementia risk, as advancing years and a lower BMI are show to significantly increase risk for future development and progression of the disease.

Researchers examined 506 people with advanced brain imaging techniques and analyses of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to look for biomarkers associated with Alzheimer's disease. Many biochemical markers are known to be present years before the first symptoms begin. The group was comprised of people with no memory problems, people with mild cognitive impairment, or mild memory problems, and people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Study Finds Direct Link between Low BMI and Amyloid Brain Plaque Formation
After testing body weight and reviewing the results of CSF and brain imaging tests, scientists found that in people with no memory or thinking problems and in people with mild cognitive impairment, those who had the Alzheimer's biomarkers were also more likely to have a lower BMI than those who did not have the biomarkers. Dr. Jeffrey Burns, the study leader noted, “85 percent of the people with mild cognitive impairment who had a BMI below 25 had signs of the beta-amyloid plaques in their brains that are a hallmark of the disease, compared to 48 percent of those with mild cognitive impairment who were overweight.” 

Researchers conducting the study determined that low body weight and advanced age may result in damage to an area of the brain called the hypothalamus that plays a role in regulating energy metabolism and food intake. Dr. Burns concluded “These results suggest Alzheimer's disease brain changes are associated with systemic metabolic changes in the very earliest phases of the disease.” The information provided by this study underscore the importance of maintain a healthy body weight (for most people measured with a BMI range of 20 to 25) throughout life and advancing years to lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Arginine Suppresses Systemic Inflammation to Help Fight Cancer


A diagnosis of cancer, especially the most prevalent form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma can be devastating, with a dismal prognosis for this particularly fast moving form of the disease. Many cancer lines develop and progress due to a decline in immune function, allowing single cancer cells to form groups that eventually break apart and metastasize to different organs in the body. T-cells (composed of white blood cell neutrophils) are responsible for destroying aberrant tumor cells before they have the opportunity to develop.

Immune response declines as we age, in large part due to excess sugar consumption, systemic inflammation and poor cellular oxygenation. Researchers publishing in the journal Clinical Cancer Research have found that natural arginine supplementation may reactivate cancer-fighting T-cells in glioblastoma patients, allowing reactivation of the immune system to fight cancer progression.

Arginine Supports Health Immune System Response to Fight Brain Cancer
White blood cell components known as neutrophils are an ancient and nonspecific type of immune cell that neutralizes invading bacteria and viruses. Neutrophils respond to inflammation throughout the body and effectively provide a powerful immune response to knock out the pathogen. In response to overweight and obesity from poor diet and lifestyle choices, a low-level state of inflammation develops and persists for months and years.

Neutrophils become desensitized to the persistent systemic inflammation and become less responsive to disease-causing agents. Cancer cells thrive in an inflamed cellular environment and if left unchecked, lead to the destruction of healthy tissue and tumor formation. Neutrophils stop the immune response by secreting an enzyme called arginase. After they secrete arginase, commonly they die and are excreted by the body. Researchers have found that patients with glioblastoma do not exhibit the normal neutrophil-mediated immune response and cancer cells grow and spread unabated.

Arginine Supplementation Boosts Immune System Response Help Prevent Chronic Disease
Scientists from the University of Colorado Cancer Center found T-cells are critically dependent on arginine for activation and function. They were able to determine immune system response is not dependent on an increase in arginase, but rather the resulting lack of arginine that suppresses the immune system. The researchers concluded group “that persistent arginase production from neutrophils suppresses the immune system and keeps cancers from becoming immune targets.”

Arginine is a well researched natural compound largely associated with lowering blood pressure and cardiovascular health. The result of past research demonstrates that arginine is a precursor to the production of friendly nitric oxide and supports blood vessel relaxation to effectively lower out of range blood pressure readings in at-risk individuals. Cancer prevention can now be added to the list of chronic conditions that benefit from regular arginine supplementation (experts recommend 500 to 1,000 mg per day in healthy adults, based on body weight).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Milk Thistle Compound Can Stop Lung Cancer by Inhibiting Gene Expression


Lung cancer is a devastating disease with a traditionally poor survival rate less than ten percent after five years from diagnosis. There are a number of well documented triggers that cause tissue damage that eventually results in DNA damage, allowing lung cancer cells to develop and spread.

Researchers from the University of Colorado publishing in the journal Molecular Carcinogenesis found that treatment with silibinin, a major component of milk thistle effectively treated wound development in lung cancer cells that halted the disease and prevented metastasis. Long known for its rejuvenating effects on the liver, milk thistle is now emerging as a viable therapy to help prevent and reverse the damage caused by years of cellular breakdown in lung tissue and halt the spread of this deadly disease.

Milk Thistle Halts the Inflammatory Chain Known to Promote Lung Cancer Progression
Although milk thistle use has been documented for nearly 2,000 years, very little solid science exists to validate the beneficial effects on human health. Cells communicate with one another through a complex series of signals to achieve an end result, normally the creation of a protein or completion of an enzymatic reaction. When this chain is broken as a result of poor diet or lifestyle choices that affect metabolic homeostasis, diseases such as cancer are allowed to develop and manifest in tissues throughout the body.

Big Pharma frequently looks to break these chain reactions in an unnatural way to halt metabolic processes in the body, commonly with undesired or potentially deadly consequences.  COX2 and iNOS are two enzymes that are involved in a chain of actions that elicit an inflammatory response to wounds and infectious processes. If you were to cut yourself, inflammation at the local site is a desired response that will aid healing. Unfortunately, systemic inflammation caused by excess body weight and poor dietary choices is a serious problem underlying many chronic diseases including lung cancer.

Milk Thistle Compound Inhibits Genetic Expression to Help Prevent Lung Cancer
Both COX2 and iNOS aid tumor growth when they remain in circulation as a response to chronic inflammation. Two transcription factors known as STAT1 and STAT3 allow the blueprint of DNA to bind with proteins that continue the signal cascade, eventually leading to the production of harmful COX2 and iNOS. Researchers found that when chain is broken, tumor growth is halted and metastatic growth stops. They found that a derivative of milk thistle called silibinin was able to inhibit the upstream signals that lead to the expression of COX2 and iNOS to help prevent lung cancer.

Lead study authors concluded “What we showed is that STAT1 and STAT3 may be promising therapeutic targets in the treatment of lung cancer… and that naturally-derived products like silibinin may be as effective as today's best treatments.” Milk thistle represents another natural compound that provides a powerful effect to prevent and treat chronic diseases. Alternative health experts recommend supplementing with 250 mg of a standardized milk thistle extract each day to fight the threat of lung cancer.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Green Tea Boosts Weight Loss and Improves Cardiovascular Health


Green tea (and its less refined cousin, white tea) has been a part of the ancient Chinese tradition for countless generations, in large part due to its rich endowment of bioactive catechins. Many studies over the past decade have shown that green tea is a powerful tool to improve metabolism in a way that is supportive of weight loss.

Scientists publishing in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry demonstrate that it activates genes associated with fat burning while also helping to reduce absorption of fat from the digestive tract. Further evidence on the gene-altering activity of green tea is reported in the International Journal of Cardiology, as polyphenols from the drink lower free radical damage to help maintain telomere length in heart cells. Drinking several cups of green tea each day may hold the key to effective weight management and cardiac health.

Green Tea Supplementation Assists Weight Loss by Reducing Abdominal Fat Stores
Researchers from the Departments of Chemical Biology and Pharmacology and Toxicology at Rutgers University in New Jersey examined the effect of green tea supplementation on obese mice, known to exhibit similar metabolic characteristics to humans. The animals were broken into two groups and both were fed a traditional high fat/Western style diet. One group received water supplemented with the green tea bioactive catechin EGCG, while the second group acted as a non-supplemented control.

The study determined that EGCG supplementation significantly reduced body weight gain associated with increased fecal lipids and decreased blood glucose levels compared to those of the control group. Scientists further found that fatty liver incidence, associated liver damage and liver triglyceride levels were also decreased by the EGCG treatment. Treated animals also experienced improved insulin response as well as lowered C-reactive protein (CRP) and interlukin-6 (IL-6) levels, both strong indicators of systemic inflammation and immune response.

EGCG is a Powerful Antioxidant Shown to Increase Heart Muscle Lifespan
The study authors concluded “Our results demonstrate that the high fat/Western diet produces more severe symptoms of metabolic syndrome and that the EGCG treatment can alleviate these symptoms and body fat accumulation. The beneficial effects of EGCG are associated with decreased lipid absorption and reduced levels of inflammatory cytokines.” Green tea helps our cellular engines (mitochondria) to better metabolize calories more efficiently, providing a significant weight management tool.

Additionally, supporting research documents the effect of green tea catechins on extending the lifespan of heart muscle cells. Scientists found that EGCG supplementation exerted a potent antioxidant effect that lowered free radical damage to preserve telomere length and reduce heart cell death. Nutrition experts recommend two to four cups of fresh brewed green tea daily or an organically compounded and standardized EGCG supplement (300 to 500 mg daily) to assist weight management goals and improve cardiovascular health.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nuts Improve High Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure to Fight Metabolic Syndrome


Metabolic syndrome is a well studied and documented group of biomarkers and physical observations that are known to preclude many chronic and potentially life-threatening diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Researchers reporting in the Journal of Proteome Research have uncovered a critical link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin in the bodies of patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS) who are at high risk for heart disease.

Serotonin is a chemical signaling compound found in the brain that helps transmit nerve signals and can decrease feelings of hunger, boosting spirits and helping people feel happier. The findings indicate that just one ounce of nuts eaten daily is enough to produce the health-promoting benefits.

Nut Consumption Increases Serotonin Levels to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome Symptoms
The explosion of the obesity epidemic around the world is leading to an exponential rise in metabolic syndrome symptoms including excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and lipid abnormalities. As a result, cases of Type II diabetes and heart disease are increasing in record numbers. Metabolic syndrome is largely the result of excessive abdominal fat stores that result from a diet filled with high calorie processed and fried foods. As fat storage cells (adipose tissue) begin to increase in number and swell beyond capacity, they prompt the release of a torrent of chemical messengers that promote systemic inflammation and disease.

Researchers from the Biomarkers & NutriMetabolomics Research Group of the University of Barcelona in Spain studied the biochemical effects of nut consumption on metabolic syndrome and human health. They put 22 patients with diagnosed metabolic syndrome on a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks and compared them to another group of 20 patients who were told to avoid nuts. The scientists analyzed the full spectrum of compounds excreted in the patients' urine and found evidence of several healthful changes.

Nuts are Packed with Monounsaturated Fats and Antioxidants to Prevent Chronic Disease
Lead study author, Dr. Cristina AndrĂ©s-Lacueva commented “Dietary changes may help patients shed the excess weight and become healthier… the regular consumption of nuts, which are jam-packed with healthful nutrients, such as healthy fats (unsaturated fatty acids) and antioxidants (polyphenols) have been recommended to fight the metabolic abnormalities associated with MetS.” Researchers determined for the first time that nut consumption boosted serotonin levels to promote satiety and happiness.

Nutrition scientists now understand that the fats provided with regular nut consumption correlate closely to improved human health. In the past, nuts have been branded with a high-fat stigma and avoided by many health-minded people. Fortunately we now have solid evidence to show nuts are a super food that can help prevent chronic disease including MetS. The study authors concluded that one ounce of nuts eaten daily “reduced levels of substances in the body associated with inflammation and other cardiovascular risk factors in patients with metabolic syndrome.” Grab a handful of tasty nuts to help ward off metabolic syndrome and chronic illness.