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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.