Monday, 30 November 2015

Ovarian Cancer Prevention Awareness

Several months ago I wrote an article for another site on ovarian cancer prevention, but it went unpublished (fortunately I still got paid) because all the more time-sensitive pieces cam first. So eat your vegetables and drink your coffee, don't depend on the hope offered by charities (mediaeval churches?) *if* you give them your money :-) (I am referring to the origins of Lutheranism)

Consumption of cruciferous vegetables may be one way to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. A review of 8 studies found that on average, regular intake of cruciferous vegetables reduced risk of ovarian cancer by 11%. In particular, broccoli was associated with a 22% lower risk of ovarian cancer, while cabbage, including as coleslaw, was not associated with any benefit. This is likely due to the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, which can be converted to isothiocyanates that inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis of ovarian cancer cells.

In addition to this, a study of just over 2000 women was conducted to assess the effects of caffeinated drinks on ovarian cancer risk. While coffee, soft drinks and black tea were not found to have any positive effects; women who drank at least one cup a day had a 54% decreased risk of ovarian cancer. This association remained constant when both borderline and invasive cancers were examined separately, and when Asian participants were excluded from the analysis. However, an examination of the women on the Nurses’ Health Study found that intake of more than one cup of black tea daily was associated with an over 30% reduced risk of ovarian cancer.

Olive oil consumption may also be protective against this disease. An Italian study of over 1000 ovarian cancer patients and over 2400 controls shows that olive oil intake in the highest quintile resulted in a 32% reduced risk compared to the lowest quintile. As fried olive oil can be a cause of oxidative stress due to the instability of unsaturated fats, using olive oil in something like a salad dressing is best.

Interestingly, a 2009 review of seven studies found that soy intake was also linked with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer. However, the type of soy products eaten was likely to make a difference, for example fermented vs non-fermented or processed vs whole food. Women with the highest intakes of soy had a 48% reduced risk of ovarian cancer, a 30% reduced risk of endometrial cancer and a 39% lower risk of all endocrine related cancers. This  may be due to the inhibitory and cytotoxic effects of the soy isoflavones genistein and genistin on ovarian cancer cells. In fact, a case study of a woman with chemo-resistant ovarian cancer explains that once she began self-directed treatment with the fermented soy beverage Haelan-951, she experienced a prolonged stabilisation of her disease and an improvement in her levels of the serum tumour marker known as CA-125. I hear that Dr Jacob gives this to her patients too! (Farrah said during one stay over there that she was "getting stronger every day", so haters please leave, I will defend her).

Finally, it has been suspected that dairy products may affect the growth of tumours. A study of 22,788 people with lactose intolerance found that their risk of ovarian cancer was 39% lower, while their breast and lung cancer risks were 21% and 45% lower respectively. However, their siblings and parents, who did not have lactose intolerance, had similar risks of these cancers to the general population. Therefore, the protection against these diseases is more likely related to their diets than any genetic risk factors. This could partially be because of milk being a highly insulinotropic food, as IGF-1 in high levels has been shown to encourage the growth of cancers as well as the development of other diseases. This is also one reason why I am a supporter of the Paleo diet regardless of how many haters call it a "fad"; I don't want your "good sense", I would rather have health. Overall, ovarian cancer is a preventable disease, and the research supporting this statement must have more attention drawn to it.
(( As it was recently White Ribbon Day, I send my love to all survivors of domestic violence. I also wish to take my protection into my own hands when I can afford to learn self-defence, and hereby declare that my body is sovereign territory; any invasion including rape or forced "medicine" is an unacceptable act of war. ))

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Yes, Diabetic Neuropathy is Actually Treatable

Neuropathy essentially means nerve damage, and is a common but unfortunately often disabling complication of diabetes. Caused by unabsorbed sugars creating tissue damage, neuropathy results in losses of sensory and motor function, debilitating pain and sometimes foot ulcers which can require amputation. While conventional treatment is limited to education on foot and nail hygiene, early detection of potential ulcers and strong painkillers such as opioids and anti-epileptics, there are nutritional supplements that are actually capable of reversing nerve damage and not just dealing with symptoms.

One of these actual treatments for diabetic neuropathy is acetyl-l-carnitine (ACL). One study, on 333 patients, involved injections of either 1000mg of ACL or a placebo for 10 days, and then being prescribed either 2000mg of ACL or a placebo for another 355 days. After the 12 months were up, the treated patients showed significant improvements in nerve conduction velocity and amplitude, as well as a 39% reduction in pain severity! The greatest average changes in nerve conduction velocity were in the sensory sural nerve at +7 metres/second, the sensory ulnar nerve at +2.9m/second, and the motor peroneal nerve at +2.7m/second. The greatest improvement in amplitude was in the motor peroneal nerve, at +2.2mV. This should be common knowledge, considering that the study was published in 2002.

Another promising treatment may be vitamin B12 injections. These were compared to the drug nortriptyline in 50 patients, and it was found that the vitamin was more effective than the drug! Pain scores dropped 3.66 points on the Visual Analogue Scale as opposed to 0.84 points; paraesthesia dropped by 2.98 units instead of 1.06; and tingling scores fell by 3.48 instead of 1.02 points! As nerve conduction did not improve, perhaps vitamin B12 and ACL could complement each other very well. Sure, you're using two interventions, but they could substitute multiple pharmaceutical prescriptions.

On top of these, a 2003 review titled Botanicals and Dietary Supplements in Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy examined the evidence behind evening primrose oil, alpha-lipoic acid and capsaicin in the treatment of neuropathy. Capsaicin is more of a symptomatic treatment, relieving pain but not healing nerve damage, but it is safe unlike opioids and anti-epileptics. Evening primrose oil, however, was found to increase arm muscle strength by 4.9 points instead of a deterioration of 7.4 points; while arm and leg sensation improved by 6.9 and 15 points as opposed to a deterioration of 7.3 and 8.4 points respectively. Median conduction velocity improved by 1.4-2.4 points instead of decreasing by around 2 points. The most significant improvement was an increase in leg tendon reflex function by 17.7 points! Alpha-lipoic acid is valued for its antioxidant abilities, capable of regenerating vitamins C and E, and can also improve energy metabolism. The research evaluated described reductions in pain and disability scores and improvement in sensory and nerve conduction velocities,  with the sural sensory NCV improving by 3-3.8m/second. 
So diabetic neuropathy is treatable in more ways than just dealing with the symptoms, you just have to know where to look.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

An Interesting Theory on Depression

Lately I have been researching the evidence behind inflammation as a cause of depression, because  most people I saw in the student clinic this semester have been affected by depression and anxiety. So yesterday I found an article describing a new theory that not only reaffirms the inflammation as a causative factor, but also acknowledges the contributions of high stress in early life.

The authors state that "social threat" and high levels of adversity increase inflammation through the stress response, which then can initiate symptoms of depression such as low mood, inability to find pleasure and social withdrawal. While this is necessary when faced with acute physical stress (my teachers love to mention the example of a sabre-tooth tiger), any threat regardless of how imagined or non-physical it is can activate this same response.

Why did this jump out at me? Well it's because the mainstream media and many alternative sources just love to paint the illusion of an ever-worsening world. Whether it is to increase sales or to achieve social control through learned helplessness (probably both), I usually have to deliberately look for positive news that few journalists seem to care about. So was I surprised when I read this new theory? Am I surprised that mental health is an ever-increasing problem in this culture of pessimism? No! So maybe, besides increasing intake of anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, and nutrients such as essential fatty acids, helping to make a positive difference in the world and surrounding yourself with positive people could aid mental health. Especially if you already have a mental illness, you don't owe pessimists anything; just because many of them call themselves reeeeealiiiistiiiic doesn't mean you have to have anything to do with them in order to get taken seriously. They're health hazards, just like smokers. I deleted a couple of not-so-friends off of Facebook for this type of behaviour and I'm not sorry. Often I would rather be cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or building a Rajasthani girl's school from the ground up than listen to this variety of people. My health comes first. I also support Camfed, which is doing some amazing work in Africa to help girls get the education and careers they deserve (much better than a typical alternative of early marriage and seven children).
I shouldn't feel like I am rebelling against the dominant culture by supporting them, but I do.
It is time to change the conversation about mental health, which is currently all about pharmaceutical drugs, to one of not only diet but also our mainstream society and media.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Coconut Oil For Hair

Summer is nearly here in Australia, which means more swimming more often, but especially if you go to or own a swimming pool, this means more damage to hair. So what do I do to protect my hair from public pool chlorine? I use coconut oil, which can also be used as a dandruff treatment.

Coconut oil is one of several oils recommended for hair by Ayurvedic medicine, but it is more specifically indicated for people with a Pitta dominance. Hair of Pitta-dominant people tends to be fair or red, oily, silky and/or prone to hair loss and early greying, which seems to be very common in the West. In fact, there are many anecdotal reports that describe coconut oil use as able to reverse hair loss and greying. So maybe the fat-phobic West can learn something from a culture that often associates hair with strength and beauty.

More recently, a study in The Journal of Cosmetic Science has shown that out of coconut, mineral and sunflower oils, only coconut oil had the ability to reduce protein loss in hair as a pre- and post-wash treatment. The reason behind this is that coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which can penetrate the hair shaft and therefore protect hair proteins because it is a shorter, straight chained fatty acid. Mineral oil was too large, while sunflower oil was too bulky because of its double bonds, which are present in all unsaturated fats. Fatty acids are chains of carbon, and saturated fats, like lauric acid, are those with all spare carbon bonds being occupied by hydrogen atoms, and so are straight. If not all carbon bonds are occupied, the carbons will compensate by creating double bonds with each other, which bends the fatty acids. Another reason behind coconut oil's superiority may be that it is a more polarised molecule than mineral oil (one end has a more positive charge, the other end more negative), which may aid penetration. Coconut oil's penetration ability has also been found to reduce damage during combing by reducing the swelling that can damage hair, particularly if you are combing wet hair. On top of this, the lauric acid in coconut oil can also decrease levels of DHT, the much more potent form of testosterone that is implicated in "male", or hormonal, hair loss. DHT is also associated with acne, and yes, even women can suffer from hair loss or acne caused by DHT. The oil's antioxidant properties may be behind the claims of increased hair colour. Therefore, coconut oil may also benefit hair among other things if it is included in the diet, such as by using it as a replacement for other cooking oils. As coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is stable and will not oxidise like olive oil, peanut oil etc. will, which removes the threat of oxidative damage.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Coffee Isn't Bad Either

Like red meat, which I discussed in a previous post, coffee is yet another substance that has unfairly gained a bad reputation in many circles, often from concerns over adrenal issues and old wives' tales about coffee stunting growth. This is unfair because multiple studies have shown that coffee carries many health benefits; however, the quality of the coffee influences whether the findings are positive or negative because poor quality coffee can contain mould toxins.

One of these health benefits is an overall reduced risk of dying. A meta-analysis (often deemed the highest quality of evidence) involving a grand total of 997, 464 participants across the studies analysed found that four cups of coffee daily reduced the all-cause mortality rate by 16%! Three cups per day reduced the cardiovascular disease mortality rates by an average of 21%. This means that out of 100 people who would have all died in a given year, 16 get to live at least another year.

Coffee may also be protective against certain types of cancers. For example, a study in the journal Gastroenterology found that increasing coffee consumption by 2 cups per day can reduce the risk of liver cancer by 43%. A meta-analysis once again showed that regular coffee intake may cut the risk of liver cancer, this time by 50%, with men enjoying a 62% risk reduction. This may be because of coffee's influence on liver detoxification, with its diuretic effect possibly helping to flush out toxins and their metabolites. It is not just liver cancer either: other research has found that four or more cups of coffee daily can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 59%, and five can cut breast cancer risk by 29% overall, but by 59% for oestrogen receptor negative types. This seems like a lot of coffee, but one of my friends once drank about ten cups every day, and cup size does not seem to be specified.

On top of this, research from the University of Illinois has shown that caffeine may block the brain-based inflammation implicated in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. It can inhibit an enzyme known as caspase-1, which triggers production of interleukin-1beta, a pro-inflammatory chemical. Caffeine's ability to block adenosine receptors is associated with cognitive improvement and protection against Alzheimer's disease. Would Alice Still be Alice? I don't know, that movie is far too depressing for my tastes. Additionally, drinking at least two cups of coffee daily can cut your risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%, but tea, soft drinks and fruit juice have no effect on cirrhosis mortality rates. For best results in any of these benefits, do not drink coffee with an excess of milk and sugar. All of the studies discussed here can be accessed on GreenMedInfo.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Well Done Isn't Well Done

No gold star for you :-p

In many cases, it is not the food you are eating, but how it is cooked that has an effect on your risk of certain diseases and the rate of aging. For example, eating ocean fish reduces the risk of heart attacks, but only eating fried fish increases risk of heart disease. This is because heating food to temperatures of over 300 degrees Fahrenheit causes cell damaging chemical changes. Some of the chemicals formed are glycotoxins.....the AGEs that I discussed in a previous post on wheat. Because of these among others, a study from 2012 showed that men who consumed 1-2 servings of pan-fried meat weekly increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 35%. Men who ate over 2-3 servings weekly increased their risk by 40%. In other research, women who ate "well done" hamburgers increased breast cancer risk by 50% compared to women who preferred rare or medium hamburgers. Additionally, women who ate well done hamburgers, steak and bacon on a very regular basis had a 462% increased risk of breast cancer in the Women's Health Study!

Studies that show an association between glycation and disease are not all there is. A six week study on diabetic patients involved splitting them into two groups: one consuming food cooked at high temperatures, and the other on the same diet cooked at lower temperatures. The high temperature group saw their levels of glycated LDL "cholesterol" increase by 32%, but the low temperature group both lost weight and reduced their glycated LDL by 33%! While eating the same foods!
Another study on mice eating diets high in methylgloxyl (an AGE) found that AGEs contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance and eventually diabetes. The fat that these mice gained then produced more pro-inflammatory chemicals that made their problems even worse.

So what can we do about this? Chemicals such as indole-3-carbinol and chlorophyllin are known to prevent AGE induced DNA damage; cooking with moisture e.g steaming or stir frying; or marinating foods in lemon juice, olive oil, mustard or garlic can also reduce AGE formation. So as always, there is hope.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Live on Fiverr!

I am now on Fiverr for editing of Health Science assignments and professional articles on natural health! My gig for ghostwriting natural health articles and books will be up soon :-)

I am really looking forward to earning more than just enough to get me out of the pocket money-zone, being my own boss is what is best for me.....and probably the vast majority of people! According to Self Determination Theory, the three universal needs are Autonomy, Competency and Relatedness. A teacher I had in my first year of university was really into it, and then I found that it is not the only area of psychology that acknowledges the fact that we all need to be in control over our lives. Actually when another first year subject went through the major psychological schools of thought, they seemed to be on one evolutionary line towards Self Determination Theory. Sure working for someone else is better than nothing, but it is less secure and autonomous.

My username is AlexandraSpring so my URL is:

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Anncredible: What's the Truth? Does "Everything Cause Cancer"?...

Anncredible: What's the Truth? Does "Everything Cause Cancer"?...: With cancer rates increasing exponentially each year, and current cancer rates of 1 in 3, the World Health Organization has declared that t...  

Finally! A rational response to cancer prevention research! I know it was posted two months before the WHO's bacon-unfriendly announcement, but I am getting sick and tired of all the "everything causes cancer so let's eat trash and use poison" nonsense.  I love this woman! Welcome to "the dark side" (well really the light side) Ann, and congratulations on your new job!

My added take on it is, because of the importance of mental and emotional health, if you never partake in any naughtiness is the resulting stress/lack of enjoyment more damaging than transient exposure to something harmful?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Summer Time is Aloe Vera Time

In Australia, summer is coming up and feels like it is already here even in "spring", which means spending more time in a swimming pool, at the beach etc. than other times of the year. Unfortunately this also carries the threat of increased skin aging, but fortunately there are solutions, one of them being aloe vera gel......not used on the skin, but taken internally.

In a study in the Annals of Dermatology, volume 21, thirty women over the age of 45 took either 1.2 or 3.6 grams of aloe vera gel for 90 days, using their appearance on day 1 as the control. After the 90 days, wrinkles and skin elasticity was significantly improved, and collagen production increased. Collagen is a key protein in the skin's connective tissue, hence collagen injections to erase wrinkles. There was also a decrease in an enzyme known as matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), which increases in aging skin and is activated by UV light, damaging collagen and causing yet additional wrinkles.
Aloe vera has also been studied for its wound healing and immune boosting  properties, which give some idea of why it has antiaging benefits. In fact, it may also speed healing of surgical wounds, and could possibly improve wound healing in diabetics. Superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant, could be present in aloe vera gel too. This is important in the fight against skin aging because ultraviolet light's aging effects work by generating oxygen-based pro-oxidative chemicals. These create a nasty chain reaction resulting in degraded collagen, inflammation, increased MMP, cell damage and cell death.
The researchers found that there was no real difference between the effects of aloe vera at 1.2 or 3.6 grams, so you don't need too much to get a therapeutic benefit, but anything containing aloe vera gel is so refreshing during summer anyway! Just remember, if you are taking aloe gel straight from a plant, only use the clear inner gel, as the yellow sap is a laxative.