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Friday, December 17, 2010

New Cancer Mentality: Dr. Carlo Maley on Evolutionary Dynamics of Cancer

New Cancer Mentality Interview 2 with Evolutionary Biologist Dr. Carlo Maley. Dr. Maley is currently at the Helen Diller Center at the University of California San Francisco leading a center looking at the role of evolution on cancer. He gives excellent insight into many concepts most cancer patients should know and gives his opinions on what needs to be done in the future to control this deadly disease.

New Cancer Mentality Interview 2 With Carlo Maley from David Farzam on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Cancer Mentality: Rafe Furst on Cancer Prevention and Cure

A big thanks to Rafe Furst once again for sharing his expert insight on what we need to do to prevent cancer and potentially find a cure for cancer in the future.

New Cancer Mentality Interview One with Rafe Furst from David Farzam on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why We Haven't Cured Cancer

I’m going to try to give everyone a brief overview as to why researchers have been unable to cure cancer for the last twenty years and I would love anyone who has additional feedback to comment. Let's get right into it. DNA is our genetic material found in every single human being. DNA consists of 4 nucleotides(A,T,C,G). Many nucleotides can form a gene and this gene can make a protein. These proteins are critical for our survival and play many important functions. In DNA the A nucleotides pair up with the T’s and the C’s pair up with the G’s. It should be stated that many of our nucleotides don’t form proteins and we still don't have a good grasp on what these nucleotides actually do. Most researchers believe these nucleotides play a role in structure. Cancer results when random mutations form in our DNA everytime we replicate our cells. For example, a T nucleotide will mistakenly base pair with a C instead of an A. One big potential problem with this inaccurate basepairing is that we no longer form the proteins that need to be made from that specific gene. Also, we could potentially form abnormal proteins that can lead to cancer forming. Clever scientists decided that it was time to sequence all the genes in cancer cells they isolated from the tumors of cancer patients and compare these with normal cells in the same area. These scientists eventually noticed similar patterns of mutations occurring in various types of cancer in different patients. As a result, these doctors attempted to inhibit these genes that were accumulating mutations shown in many patients with similar forms of cancer by using drugs. Unfortunately, our bodies are constantly changing and new mutations are always forming so eventually resistance forms against the drugs given to block these genes. Now, the next question most of you probably are asking is “why don’t we find the form of resistance and target a drug to stop this”? The overwhelming problem is that it is very hard to specifically find what mutations are causing the resistance and there are many mechanisms of resistance possible to the drugs used to treat cancer. Furthermore, while one drug might block a long sequence of one gene, all it may take is a single nucleotide mutation to cause the cells to become resistant to the drug given. By the way, these drugs(herceptin, gleevec) are pretty expensive(averaging around 60000 dollars a year). Most of the time these drugs are combined with chemotherapy to give an enhanced affect to try to kill the malignant cells and they tend to add about an extra two months to lifespan on average for some individuals. Bottom line, even a small tumor contains tens of billions of cancer cells which are constantly evolving. It is impossible for us to try to target one specific gene or try to identify one protein that could be the sole cause of cancer occurring. We can not predict the evolution that is constantly taking place in our bodies. Instead we need to focus on the simpler models of cancer and try to solve the problem on a larger scale. All cancerous cells require normal cell machinery to function. Also, all cancerous cells need to be able to proliferate and be invasive(cross the basement membrane and enter new sites of the body) in order to cause damage. Researcher needs to focus more on the mechanisms that are found in the normal machinery that are allowing all cancerous cells to do their job. If we can inhibit proteins needed for invasiveness and stop replication of cancerous cells we will be able to solve the problems of cancer. On that note, I have come to the realization that being healthy both on a physical, dietary, and mental level is of key importance. It has been shown in many studies that microtumors are unable to develop into large scale tumors unless our environment triggers this effect. Also, it has been shown that eating right and being less stressed(practicing breathing exercises, meditating) can actually change expression of genes in a positive manner and can help fight cancer. If you need evidence for this, just look at the fact that most Japanese men do not develop cancer in their own countries; however, when they migrate to America and start eating a western diet cancer rates skyrocket. Also, although i’m very new to this field of research, after reading many books I feel every cancer patient should realize that they have a choice. Cancer patients should always get a second opinion and not resort to the first form of treatment justified by their doctors. Many times surgery is not the answer and active surveillance can be used instead. Also, a cancer patients outlook on life and belief that they will win this fight is of utmost importance. With that said I will continue to find information about many questions people might have(Can biopsies spread cancer? Which foods are good for fighting certain types of cancer?). I will also continue to highlight relevant research and find out any new forms of conventional treatment proven to be helpful. For more information on why cancer is so difficult to cure, check out this excellent talk by Carlo Maley in which he gives an in depth look at all the mechanisms involved in causing cancerous lesions to form and what we want to do in the future to look at tumor evolution.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sugar's impact on Cancer

Cancer cells are rich in insulin receptors on their surfaces. As a result, it is key for people to maintain a diet low in simple sugars if cancer is present. It's good for all of us to cut down on the amount of sugar we consume; however, it is of utmost importance for all cancer patients. It has been shown that cancer cells are unable to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, or proteins. Sugar is the fuel source of cancer cells. If you are diagnosed with cancer, going to the doctor and thinking he will cure you is not enough. The more I look into current research, the more I learn about the importance of certain factors you, the patient, can control. Also, cancer cells have been shown to thrive in acidic conditions. Drinking alkaline water while eating different vegetables to make your body more basic can help in the fight against cancer. I recently have read about a doctor(Nick Gonzalez) treating multiple types of cancer using nutrition as the main source for fighting. He gives his patients supplements and enzymes as well as detoxifies the patients bodies with many different methods. All of this is without the toxic effects of chemotherapy. Furthermore, he prescribes a diet to each patient after blood testing and taking hair samples. Afterwards, he tells his cancer patients to eat certain foods based on overactivity of their sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous systems. I hope to share more about him soon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunlight vs. Vitamin D

[Reposted from my blog entry on Emergent Fool]

You may have heard there is an epidemic of low vitamin D levels in the U.S.  An estimated 60% of Americans are at a level that has been correlated with increased risk of nearly all chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and depression.  My personal belief is that the epidemiology is horribly flawed.  But perhaps not in the way you might think….

As most people know by now, we humans photosynthesize vitamin D in our skin when it is exposed to direct sunlight.  How fast depends on our ethnicity and amount of exposure.  Since I’m light skinned and get a lot of sun in my normal life, it came as a huge surprise when some routine bloodwork I had done about 9 months ago indicated I was “dangerously low.”

My doctor immediately prescribed large doses of vitamin D supplement, but I was convinced that the result was spurious.  Perhaps it was due to an abnormal period of low sun exposure.  After all, I’d been traveling quite a bit and thus not outside much.  Plus, maybe the jet lag was disrupting my metabolism in some way that impacted vitamin D levels?

I vowed to get my 20 minutes of sunscreen-free, noontime exposure per day.  (Morning and late afternoon sun is useless for vitamin D production, and sunscreen blocks the UVB rays which initiate it).  In addition I intended to eat more oily fish (like sardines) as they contain vitamin D.   Though most experts agree it’s almost impossible to get what we need from food alone, I know that such foods are good for me in other ways.   My plan was to get checked in three months and I was confident that I could raise my vitamin D levels back into health range without supplements.

After three months my test came back… unchanged!  This was very alarming.  The medically acceptable range is between 30 and 74, but I was coming in at 15.  These numbers refer to the freely available levels of 25-hydroxy D in your bloodstream.

A brief aside about vitamin D: it’s not really one substance.  There are many different biomolecules that are involved in a complex cycle that initiates when the sunlight hits your skin.  It’s just a few of the many byproducts of this cycle that we call “vitamin D”.  25-hydroxy D is the one we typically measure, but to focus on this one substance seems unwise given how complex the cycle is.  Personally, I’ve come to think of vitamin D not as a noun but as a verb, as in the “vitamin D process” (with kudos to Danny Hillis for coining this metaphor with the verb “cancering”).

Before I resigned to taking the supplements, I did some googling and stumbled across this video which alerted me to a possibly key factor I was ignorant about: soap.  Turns out that if you wash with soap within 48 hours of sun exposure, you are not getting the full benefit.  That’s because you are washing off the D3 that the sun photosynthesizes when it hits your skin.  And it takes 48 hours to fully absorb into your bloodstream, where it is a critical element in the vitamin D process.  So I switched to the recommended “soap only where the sun don’t shine” strategy.  Three weeks later I got a home testing kit and my count almost doubled to 28.  A month after that, I was within range at 34.

Now, it should be noted that these 25-hydroxy tests (whether performed at home or by your doctor) are notoriously poor indicators of pathology.  Even still, I was advised that with a count of 15 it was very unlikely that I was maximally healthy, even though I hadn’t shown any symptoms yet.  Had my low D state continued, the prognosis is that it was a matter of time before symptoms started appearing.  There is another test which measures functional vitamin D efficiency at the cellular level, and which is supposedly a better indicator.  But that I didn’t know about this test until I consulted with Dr. Myles Spar who is an MD with an integrative/holistic practice.  On that test I scored “above 50th percentile” in vitamin D health.  This was around the time of my second home test, where I scored barely within range at 34.  Thus, according to the more accurate test, I am currently fine, but according to the test that is universally used, I am still in danger and almost all MDs would recommend supplements for me.

For the most part, I’m against supplements, but when presented with possibly serious consequences, it’s seductively easy to justify popping the pills “just in case” they help.  After all, the epidemiology shows very strong correlation between absence of the chemical and presence of disease.  There are two problems with this logic, though.  Almost all bioactive substances become toxic at some dosage.  In the case of vitamin D supplements, they can become toxic even at normally prescribed dosages.

But ignoring the toxicity, there is a bigger problem: taking vitamin D supplements has NOT been shown to reduce mortality.  While supplements reduce melanoma incidence, so does sun exposure.  According to the data, the sunlight effect is so powerful that even sunburns may reduce your chances of dying of skin cancer.  Also, vitamin D supplements don’t appear to prevent autoimmune disease, whereas sunlight does.  Finally, obesity is doubly-linked with depression, which is correlated with lack of sunlight.

What does all this mean?

Here is a partial list of lessons I’ve learned about how complex systems theory applies to me as an individual:
  • It’s appropriate to use blood level indicators to diagnose potential disorders, but it’s rarely beneficial — and quite often harmful — to treat such indicators directly with drugs.  I would rather understand the etiology and treat the pathology, not the symptoms.
  • For every manufactured drug there are natural remedies which have been used for thousands of years without the high level of toxicity.  Many of these are at least as good as the drugs even when focusing narrowly on changing blood level indicators.
  • I don’t want to take any substance chronically, whether it’s manufactured or natural.  The only exception would be if an organ stopped functioning properly and its biochemical output could not be manufactured naturally, e.g. if my thyroid was damaged beyond repair.
  • Most of my body’s systems are homeostatic, meaning when they are pushed “out of whack” temporarily by outside influences, they move back to their previous state once the influence is taken away.
  • In homeostatic systems there emerge one or more “set points” (aka chaotic attractors).  If pushed far enough away from one set point, the body naturally gravitates to a different one.
  • The result being that it is often harder to achieve systemic changes than it is to maintain them.  This may be why it is harder for an obese person to lose weight than to maintain a healthy weight.
  • A valid use of drug therapy is for acute conditions, to bring the body back into a healthy homeostatic set point (or stabilize the body while other interventions do so).
Combining these lessons with my own experience and the epidemiology, the vitamin D story is not so mystifying (to me at least):
  • Why did my vitamin D levels drop suddenly and not bounce back once I resumed my normal lifestyle?
  • Why did my vitamin D level double in a short period of time without taking supplements?
  • Is there really an epidemic of low vitamin D?
  • To what extent is this related to sunshine?
  • How does the epidemiology relate to changes in lifestyle trends?
I’ll leave you with a final thought, and I’d be curious what you think.  Could there be an epidemiological tipping point?  One that either already happened, or that may be seen in the future?  How would we look for such an effect in the data?   How would we tell if it’s a true effect, or just something that we sought to discover and then used faulty statistical reasoning to “prove”?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Diet and Cancer Risk- Importance of Realizing the Impact of Food put into our Bodies

Diets high in fat have been linked to increased risk of various cancers, particularly breast, colon, prostate, and possibly pancreas, ovary, and endometrium (USDHHS, 1988; National Research Council, 1989). Although it is hard to put a numerical value on diet contributing to cancer risk, it has been estimated that 35 percent of cancer deaths may be related to dietary factors (Doll and Peto, 1981) while at the same time most cancers are considered entirely preventable by most leading experts.  We need to realize that the food we eat on a daily basis has an important affect on our survival and well being in the future. We don’t need to stop eating the fatty foods we love completely, but we do need to stop this mindset in America that the only option is eating foods high in fat and sugar content. Unfortunately, eating plant foods is much more expensive than eating meat and foods high in sugar. At McDonald's, I can get a McDouble for one dollar but getting a small salad costs up to 4. However, it’s absolutely necessary for us to change our mentality regarding diet. In this excellent video by Michael Pollen which you can find on the bottom of this blog, he highlights the importance of maintainging a green diet and consuming less calories. In the next paragraph I discuss some of the interesting parts of the video but I highly recommend everyone to watch it.
First off, 1/3 of all fossil fuels come from producing the food we eat and the highest source of production of these fossil fuels comes from the meat industry. Not only that, according to Pollen and most leading researchers, with the rate of obesity in the American diet, children born in the year 2000 will be amongst the first generation that lives less than their parents due to the amount of people developing preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cancer. So, after all this bad news, what can we do to bring about a change. Pollen gives his input which I think is absolutely valid. We need to start shopping local farmers market, eating less food, taking in more plants in our diet, and focusing on quality versus the quantity of food. Also, an excellent way to make cheaper food is to plant a garden. This can provide people with an inexpensive way to produce vegetables right from their house or apartment while helping the ecosystem at the same time. High fat diets have been shown to damage the systems of our body necessary to fight off the hundreds of mutations that form on a daily basis. If these mutations aren't fixed they eventually lead to the formation of cancerous tumors.  As a result, eating high fat diets full of sugar from an early age have been correlated to much higher risks of developing cancer in the future. 
I hope you have learned something substantial and will make a change on your diet to allow for a better chance of avoiding disease in the future.  For some, this may involve baby steps at first, but eventually, with hard work, you will get to the point of feeling healthy and being happier with your conscious eating habits. In America, by fighting the system, you can bring about change. Let's start a new revolution in the way we eat and allow ourselves to reach our full potential.

PopTech 2009: Michael Pollan from PopTech on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's that time again: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

[This paragraph used to be in the middle of the blog, but I moved it to the top to communicate that I am sensitive to the fact that many people are personally affected by breast cancer.  Also, many hard-working people volunteer their time to cancer groups and I don't want the point of this blog to take away from their good hearts.]  OK, now I take a step back to reiterate that I have nothing against breast cancer.  I mean, my mission is to prevent all cancers in everyone.  I know there are a lot of families in this country that have been affected by breast cancer.  I am sensitive to that fact.  One of my grandmas has had colon cancer, and the other one (much to my sadness) just passed away this week due to health complications.  I understand the emotional pain and stress that comes with a family member in ill-health.  Additionally, it is becoming more evident that cancer (can) be prevented but the problem is that people aren’t told how to do it!  This is what irritates me.  Women who survive longer than 5 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer are called “survivors”, BUT what goes unmentioned is that many of them die soon after.  Too many women die either before 5 years or soon after 5 years.  The rates of death are going down but not by enough (less than 2% last I checked) when the cure is right in front of our face.  That’s not enough progress, that’s just raising the wrong kind of awareness, the awareness based on a half truth is more harmful than ignorance.

The pink ribbon has come to symbolize hope. Just like making progress on ANYTHING in life, we need to ask the tough questions. What are we hoping for?

It’s time for my annual plea to the American people (and those reading in other countries too).  October has been tagged “breast cancer awareness month.”  For years I have been frustrated with this and I’ll tell you why.  Is there a woman (or man) in this country that hasn’t heard of breast cancer?  What are you making people aware of by spending tens of millions of dollars each year by promoting the names of cancer organizations (for instance Susan G Komen)?
Pretty much every woman in this country has it beat into her head from a young age to start getting a screening for breast cancer when she comes of age.  So what does a foundation who has raised over $1 billion dollars in the last 2 decades have to show for that amount of money?  Not enough for a billion dollars in my opinion.  Take for instance this whole situation of the NFL players wearing pink towels, shoes, sweat bands, pink gloves and hats.  I think it’s actually sponsored by the American Cancer Society (not SGK) but that doesn’t change my point.  The NFL is not a charity; that promo cost A LOT of money.  I mean tens of millions of dollars in all likelihood when you take into account all the gear, activation of the sponsorship, licensing fees and what’s the tangible benefit?

There has been an increased sexual feel towards breast cancer awareness ads in the last few years. It's something to think about when considering: what are you truly hoping for?

Hence, my annual October statement.  I think this month should be renamed “Cancer Prevention Month.”  If we spent the same money (as they do on breast cancer) informing people that we can prevent more incidents of (all) cancer by eating more fruits and vegetables, less fried, refined foods and meat, then we could achieve better results.  I am amazed how many people contact me and say how the information on this blog about eating healthier and making better decisions is brand new to them.  I’m so glad that I can humbly make a contribution, but I am a small fish compared to a billion dollars.  That means that the majority of America is not “aware” of how to eat healthy in a way that prevents cancer and other diseases.  But for a billion dollars I bet they could be!  Isn’t that encouraging?
So instead of spending my time and money donating them to a breast cancer campaign with modest (at best) results, I put them towards raising the awareness on better health over all.  Before you get mad at me for voicing my views, consider this:  The Susan G Komen foundation partnered with KFC last year.  Umm, fried foods and meats are some of the leading factors in developing cancer.  It was a travesty that the SGK foundation partnered with a fast food chain who contributes to the ill-health of the nation.  What’s next, SGK partners with Krispy Kreme and gets 50 cents for every dozen doughnuts sold??  You gotta admit, that’s pretty bad.  In case you were considering arguing that KFC now has grilled chicken, check this out.
I understand.  The survivors are instantly part of a huge sorority.  Everyone always likes to be part of a group.  Additionally, being able to grieve and share the pain of traumatic experiences with others who have gone through it too is a POWERFUL healing experience.  So please, don’t think that I am knocking that at all.  But please be logical for one question right now:  Isn’t the only way to stop the deaths by breast cancer to stop the deaths all cancers?  So here’s my belief:  We need to raise the awareness that all cancers are the problem and acknowledge there is no cure for cancer (gene mutation).  The ONLY cure is enabling our bodies to begin the healing process to rid our body of these foreign (cancer) cells.  The ONLY way to do that is through health and nutrition education.  The body doesn’t selectively heal, it heals everything at once!  It’s important to study certain cancers but it’s more important to promote the fact that the body will heal itself if we feed it correctly.

If people cared about heart disease as much as breast cancer, then we could cure them both at the same time. Curing heart disease in the body is the same cure for breast cancer. They would both disappear simultaneously!

Heart disease is the #1 killer in this country.  It takes the lives of 616,000 people each year.  This is about 9 times as many deaths as related to breast cancer at the mid 60,000 death mark.  However, breast cancer is more feared than pretty much any other major risk of death in women.  Maybe it’s because these “awareness campaigns” do a good job of raising fear, BUT not solutions.  How about this for awareness?  Black women are almost 50% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.  No, cancer isn’t racist.  My theory is that it relates to vitamin D. People with dark skin have to spend more time in the sun to stimulate the same amount of vitamin D production as their lighter skinned counterparts.  It’s not fair that an “awareness” campaign lets something like this go under the radar as they spend an amazing amount of money on other marketing initiatives.
Let’s start to put our money, time and commitment into causes that actively advance an awareness that cancers (for the most part) can be prevented by a healthier lifestyle.  Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t inform you that cancer can start from an early age.  I have seen published information that cancer cells can mutate from healthy cells early in life (before a child understands diet and health).  For instance leukemia usually hits kids and there is no way that the kid can be blamed for that.  Additionally, if the parents don’t understand health and nutrition, how can they impart that on their kids?  So it’s not fair to blame any one person or group.  It has been a multi-generation problem of misinformation fed to our population about health and nutrition that leads to disease.  News flash:  It will be a multi-generation challenge of informing the population about proper health and nutrition that encourages life-long health.  So let’s start now!  Instead of donating money to big, money machine organizations that do little to promote the overall health of the population, donate a minute or two to me and help with my mission…
If you agree with any or all of the points I made here today, please share this post with others by clicking the share button down below.  That’s how you spread awareness!  Also, I don’t ask you to pay me to read the ideas here, but simply subscribe to the blog, share it with others and learn about our sponsors to support them. 

Russ Marchewka is a fellow health advocate promoting the "mostly vegan" lifestyle to prevent illness and disease.  He writes The Body Blog currently at and plays professional beach volleyball in the summer.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Can Angiogenesis be the Answer? Great Must Watch Ted Talk discussing a New Way of Treating Cancer

Ample amounts of research are taking place right now looking at the role of angiogenesis on cancer. According to top researchers, almost 70 diseases are caused by abnormal angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the formation of blood vessels and is critical for cancer cells to be able to move throughout the body and grow. In this excellent TED talk, Dr. William Li discusses his belief that certain foods have anti-angiogenic  properties that can help us keep cancer away from an early age before it becomes too late. Furthermore, he shows that cocktails of anti-angiogenic drugs can actually help stop tumors from growing and can physically cause existing tumors to disappear. I like this approach because it is a very straightforward method to solving cancer and it can be applied to everyone. For example, even third world countries can focus on growing crops that can help their people sustain a better quality of life. Personally, I think people like numerical and specific measurements when deciding what actions they will take. That’s why, I believe the index showing anti-angiogenic properties will be an excellent tool to helping people in the fight against cancer. While many people may think that this index is very similar to the idea of counting calories while eating; I would beg to differ. I believe people will be much more inclined to follow a system that embodies a guide to foods that have been specifically shown to fight certain cancers. If researchers can show what specific foods can help target specific cancers, I believe people will change their mentality and begin eating a healthier and more balanced diet. The link for the Ted Talk is right below. Please check it out and learn something new. Must Watch Ted Talk for anyone interested in Cancer

Thursday, October 14, 2010

“What Would You Do”? The Ethics behind the Final Months of a Cancer patient's life

The world, I would hope, is built upon the notion of love and kindness. We are taught to be unselfish and do what’s right in times of need. Therefore, when someone we love is diagnosed with cancer, we do whatever is necessary to attempt to give them the best medical care possible. Whether it be blood tests, screening, surgery, chemotherapy, clinical trials of drugs, we do whatever we can in order to take away any guilty feeling we may contain at our core. With that said I would like to state a fact: Approximately Twenty-five per cent of all Medicare spending is for the five per cent of patients who are in their final year of life. Most of that money goes for care in their last couple of months which is of little apparent benefit.  Therefore, as can be seen, insurance companies spend tons of money at the end stages of a cancer patients’ life, while at the same time causing a huge financial burden on the families as well as the insurance companies who have to deal with these costs. Don’t get me wrong, when your mom, dad, or loved one is obviously suffering, you need to fight for their life just like they would for you. However, when someone we love is already suffering immensely, do we really want to put them through more forms of treatment without inconclusive evidence that the treatment is affective?  Maybe it’s time for us to adapt a health care system in which we listen to what the cancer patient wants at the end of their life, rather than focusing on the family who feels guilty making any wishes against prolonging the life of their loved ones. Maybe, instead of focusing our efforts on risky experimental procedures focused we should put more effort ensuring that patients are comfortable and happy at the end of their lives.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stages of Cancer

I think it’s critical for people to have an understanding of the stages in cancer development. There are Five Stages of Cancer. We always hear from others that a loved one is in Stage 1 or Stage 4 of Cancer and we don’t really understand what they mean. As a result, I’m going to use this post to give a quick overview. Stage 0 Cancer refers to the very beginning of cancer, actually it’s sometimes referred to as a pre cancerous lesion. The five year survival rate for Stage 0 Cancer is 100%. Stage 1 cancer refers to actual cancer cells being present in a localized region of the body. The tumor is usually defined as smaller than 2 cm. For stage 2 cancer, the cancer tumor is usually still under 2 cm in size but has spread throughout the body to another region which leads to cancer. Stage 3 involves the cancer spreading as well as it being between 2 to 5 cm in size and Stage 4 cancer refers to a tumor that has spread to other organs in the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. Basically, The severity of the cancer correlates with the stage number, with Stage 4 being the worst type of cancer possible.  Cancer tends to move throughout the body in the blood, tissue, or lymph nodes as highlighted in the case of breast cancer. It becomes much more difficult to treat cancer once it has spread to many regions of the body(referred to as metastasis). This is why screening can be very helpful because detecting cancer earlier can allow doctors to remove it before metastasis occurs. I’m going to end off here for now with the hope that everyone is exercising, eating right, and trying to live a green lifestyle on daily basis. Also, if anyone would like to post on the blog or help contribute in any way, please don’t hesitate to email me or call me directly.    

Monday, October 4, 2010

Prevention- The Ultimate Goal

Many facts related to cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment have yet to become completely understood. However, research has continually proven that prevention from an early age is the key to solving the complexities with many diseases including cancer and heart disease. People need to start taking a preventative approach on a daily basis and think about what they are consuming and doing to their bodies. I might go to McDonald's today, eat a few cheeseburgers, with a large order of fries and a 44 oz soda and feel good tomorrow; however, the affect on the body will still linger because the bodies mechanisms for fighting off high blood sugar and fat have to work extra hard to help you fight off the high fat meal you just ate. Now, I'm not saying that going to McDonald's is completely bad; but, moderation should be the key feature of society. The same can be said for smoking. If you smoke 2 packs a day for 40 years on a constant basis, eventually the bodies repair mechanisms won't be able to fight off the infections taking place and you are prone to disease and a low quality of life. With this in mind, I will constantly be putting up new posts giving tips on foods to eat relating to certain forms of cancer and different forms of exercise that can help fight off infection. Also, I want to take a deeper look at the role of people's attitude in daily life on cancer. I've heard of many people changing their attitude and then having their tumor size shrink significantly. Has anyone else heard about this or has a story to share?
To conclude, its time to change our approach. With scanty amounts of funding going to research institutions studying prevention, its time to put in more money educating people on what they can do right now in order to minimize their chances of getting cancer or other forms of disease.

A good link on the importance of diet and exercise on cancer

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Great TED talk by Cancer Doctor

Just watched this inspiring Ted talk by cancer doctor David Agus. I highly recommend everyone to take a look at and view their excellent video resources on many topics of study. In this video, oncologist David Agus goes over the importance of being screened and identifying cancer at an early stage before it has metastasized(spread throughout the body). Agus also goes over the outdated technology that has continued to be present when treating cancer and states the hardships facing researchers trying to figure out how to treat cancer due to its heterogeneity. I agree with Agus's approach on looking more into cancer itself as a disease rather than continuing to be narrow minded trying to find a specific drug cure. Also, Agus states the shocking discovery that CHEMOTHERAPY HAS NOT BEEN SHOWN TO TARGET CANCER CELLS. Therefore, we are basically giving people radiation that kills both cancerous and normal cells with the hope that more cancerous cells will be killed.  I also concur with Agus in that more research should go towards finding pathways specific to certain kinds of cancers in order to stop growth of the cancer. I'm very glad Agus and Danny Hillis will be studying proteomics with the grant they received and hopefully they can help find the way to control cancer through the use of technology. Ted Video- David Agus Cancer Doctor

My mentality on Drugs

Drugs are at the cornerstone of all thinking in today's modern world. Pharmaceutical companies spend on the order of billions per year attempting to find drugs to cure any ailment. Don't get me wrong, DRUGS ARE IMPORTANT! Last year, I suffered from a horrible bacterial infection. I know that without the antibiotics I took I may have gotten worse or even died. The beauty of society today is that we have been able to calibrate many drugs to be sufficient for the most common physical pain to society. However, I do believe it is time for doctors to take a more holistic approach on the matter. It's time for doctors to stop giving drug after drug to help people with their ailments. For example, if my shoulder is in immense pain, I go see the doctor. Two days later, after taking the drugs he perscribed to help my shoulder, my stomach begins to hurt and he gives another drug to help my stomach and the cycle continues. It's time for doctors to stop thinking about the incentives that come with giving drugs and instead alter their mentality and begin trying other approaches to helping people. Maybe all it takes is to give people certain types of foods or to do certain types of activities in order to see a fundamental change in well being. With this in mind, I believe it is time for a new revolution to take place, testing different perturbations in an attempt to figure out what can help people the most in their war on cancer. The drug based approach hasn't been making much headway for the past 30 years anyway and we have devoted trillions to making this happen to no avail. With that in mind I'm going to continue researching what other holistic doctors are thinking and to constantly preach the importance on prevention when it comes to cancer.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why is Cancer So Hard to Cure?

Cancer, unfortunately, is heterogeneous, simply meaning it can be controlled by many cells and has the potential to spread to many regions of the body. As we get older more and more mutations begin to occur and our repair systems begin to break down. Now, for some terminology I'd like to share with everyone. In our bodies, we have oncogenes which are normal genes that have been mutated into cancerous genes, as well as tumor suppressors which, as shown through the name, are physically genes that protect a the body from forming more oncogenes. I'm going to leave off here for now, at a very basic level and hope to give you more  insight in the near future.

What is Cancer, Really?

The way I would define cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in our body. See, our bodies run with a system of checks and balances in which we have many systems of repair controlling our bodies just in case anything goes wrong. With over a trillion cells in each human, errors and mutations are going to take place no matter what. However, at a younger age we are better able to fight these off because our repair systems are strong. However, as we get older these repair systems start to break down and without the proper care(i.e. eating right, exercising, staying out of the sun for long periods) we are unable to stop these mutations from accumulating and eventually these lead to a cancer tumor which can eventually metastasize and move to different areas of the body making it much harder to cure.

Miracle Cure for Cancer?

Just watched an amazing documentary called "Burzynski" which highlights a miracle drug made up of angioplastons that could possibly be the future in cancer research. The drug contains high dosages of phenyl acetate and can be manufactured on a large scale. The angioplastons have already treated countless patients with localized tumors who were told to get their affairs in order because they were going to die. However, Burzynski has been unable to get funding for his work due to legal issues and other matters. It's sad that with the continued use of outdated methods of treatment such as chemotherapy and surgery, we aren't giving this man the recognition and opportunity to chase after his goal in finding the cure. You can check out Burzynski website and learn more about seeing this extraordinary documentary at

Let's do this

Extremely excited to start sharing research about cancer to others. Cancer is slowly turning into the number one killer of people around the world and consumes about 2 percent of GDP around the world representing around 200 billion dollars annually. I hope to show through this forum that there are other options out there and it is time for a fundamental change in our understanding of this horrible disease.