• Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

    Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

    A new study from the Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ont. showed that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s. Specifically the risk for Alzheimer’s was a combination of high saturated fats in the diet in combination with too much sugar. The third triggering factor was the normal aging process that also … [Read More...]

  • HPV Testing For Cervical Cancer

    HPV Testing For Cervical Cancer

    HPV testing for cervical cancer is more sensitive than the traditional Pap test. For years physicians recommended the traditional Pap test once a year to prevent cancer of the cervix. But a few years ago a new cervical cancer screening test, namely the HPV test made the news. It stems from the observation that … [Read More...]

  • Phage Therapy Against Superbugs

    Phage Therapy Against Superbugs

    Introduction Phage therapy against superbugs is the latest concept in treating infections. Antibiotic resistance has developed into a huge clinical problem. Every year in the US about 2 million people have infections from antibiotic resistant bacteria, and 23,000 people die as result of it. Certainly, there is a … [Read More...]

  • Modified Poliovirus Effective Against Brain Cancer

    Modified Poliovirus Effective Against Brain Cancer

    A clinical trial found modified poliovirus effective against brain cancer. 61 patients with glioblastoma, the most deadly brain cancer there is, have been enrolled in this trial since 2012. Glioblastoma treatment with genetically modified poliovirus Dr. Gromeier, one of the lead cancer researchers at Duke … [Read More...]

  • Frequent Flying Can Increase Cancer Rates

    Frequent Flying Can Increase Cancer Rates

    A review article from June 25, 2018 discusses that frequent flying can increase cancer rates. A study showed that cancer of the breast, cervix, skin, thyroid and uterus are about twice as common in female stewardesses than in women at large. Also, gastrointestinal system cancers including cancer of the colon, … [Read More...]

  • Less Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Patients

    Less Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Patients

    A new clinical trial suggests that less chemotherapy for breast cancer patients is necessary than what is the custom today. 70% of the common form of breast cancer, which is estrogen positive, but HER2 negative (more info below) has received treatment with surgery and subsequent chemotherapy. However, there was … [Read More...]

    Aug
    18
    2018

    Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

    A new study from the Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ont. showed that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s. Specifically the risk for Alzheimer’s was a combination of high saturated fats in the diet in combination with too much sugar.

    The third triggering factor was the normal aging process that also contributed to the development of Alzheimer’s.

    The study showing that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s

    Master student Bradley Baranowski and PhD student Kirsten Bott conducted the experiments under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Rebecca MacPherson. The experimental group consisted of middle-aged mice that were observed for 13 weeks. They received a high-fat/high-sugar diet. The control group received a normal diet.

    The experimental group with the high fat/high sugar diet was aging prematurely. They also showed elevated inflammatory markers, elevated insulin levels and cellular stress. Dr. Rebecca mentioned that the middle-aged mice would be comparable to humans aged 40 to 60. “[We’re] trying to see what the initiating signals are that can lead to progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” MacPherson said.

    Lifestyle choices matter

    “People often view Alzheimer’s disease as a genetic disease when in fact, genetic mutations leading to Alzheimer’s accounts for less than five per cent of cases,” Baranowski said in the press release. “This study highlights that our lifestyle choices matter and can potentially put us at risk of developing or progressing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

    Other studies that support the concept that lifestyles matter

    Over the years many other researchers have analyzed what factors contribute to getting Alzheimer’s. It probably is a combination of several factors.

    Age

    Age is one of the major risk factors. Most Alzheimer’s patients are above the age of 65. Above 65 the risk doubles every 5 years. By the time we are 85 our risk is 1/3 to get it.

    Family history

    If you have a parent, brother or sister who came down with Alzheimer’s, you have a higher risk of getting it.

    Environmental factors

    Often environmental factors like eating too much sugar or too much saturated fat are confused with family history factors. Nutritional habits in a family can be like a tradition. It may appear as if this is a family history of Alzheimer’s when in reality poor eating habits were passed on from generation to generation. A lot more research is necessary in this area.

    History of Head injury

    A history of a closed head injury carries with it a higher risk of Alzheimer’s later in life. We need to use seat belts in cars and helmets when bicycling. Avoid risky sports activities where you would sustain a traumatic brain injury.

    Heart disease

    There is a link between heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s. When brain arteries get clogged, the brain deposits more beta-amyloid protein as plaques. This is a sign of early Alzheimer’s disease.

    Older Latinos and older African Americans

    Older Latinos have a 1 ½-times higher risk than older whites to get Alzheimer’s and dementia. On the other hand older African-Americans are 2-times more likely than older whites to come down with Alzheimer’s. The reason for this is not entirely clear. But a big factor likely is the cardiovascular risk that is higher in Latinos and African Americans. This translates into a higher risk for Alzheimer’s.

    Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

    There are more publications that point out that Alzheimer’s disease is largely preventable by cutting out those factors that contribute to its development.

    Here is a list of steps to follow in order to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

    1. First of all treat diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity aggressively. This eliminates cardiovascular risk factors, which keeps the brain vessels open.
    2. Furthermore quit smoking. By preserving the cardiovascular system the brain stabilizes.
    3. Another important factor is physical activity: exercise daily! This maintains cardiopulmonary fitness. It also keeps your brain vessels open.
    4. Also, take care of your diet: eat balanced meals and avoid junk food. A Mediterranean diet or the MIND diet are examples of diets that help prevent Alzheimer’s. Note that these are low sugar and low saturated fat diets. This fits the initial observation that you read in the beginning of this blog. Mice on a high fat/high sugar diet showed premature aging and developed Alzheimer’s. Knowing this, it is good to do the opposite: cut out excessive saturated fats and sugar. Sugar increase LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which leads to hardening of arteries.
    5. Mental stimulation is another important factor for preventing Alzheimer’s. With lifelong bilingualism there was a delay of about 4.5 years in onset of dementia. The ACTIVE study is in the link above. It showed that mental stimulation could indeed delay the onset of Alzheimer’s over a 10-year period. 
    Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

    Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

    Conclusion

    Above all, I cannot emphasize enough how important a healthy diet is for a healthy mind. The combination of an overabundance of saturated fats and refined sugar was found to be the cause of premature aging in mice. But likewise, we know from human trials that this also causes premature aging in humans and higher incidence of Alzheimer’s. As a result, it is logical to recommend a lower intake of saturated fat and to reduce sugar intake. It will prevent hardening of the arteries and slow down the development of Alzheimer’s.

    But there are many other recommendations to avoid getting Alzheimer’s: quit smoking. Stay physically active by exercising daily. Use a Mediterranean diet or the MIND diet to prevent Alzheimer’s. Clinical trials with these diets have shown them to be effective. Treat diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity aggressively as this will stabilize your metabolism. As a result it also prevents Alzheimer’s. Finally, stimulate your brain every day by doing various activities. This forms new synaptic connections inside your brain and postpones Alzheimer’s from setting in as you age.

    Aug
    11
    2018

    HPV Testing For Cervical Cancer

    HPV testing for cervical cancer is more sensitive than the traditional Pap test. For years physicians recommended the traditional Pap test once a year to prevent cancer of the cervix. But a few years ago a new cervical cancer screening test, namely the HPV test made the news. It stems from the observation that cancer of the cervix develops in 99.7% of women who test positive for the HPV virus. There are many types of HPV, here we are interested in the few subtypes that produce cancer (carcinogenic HPV virus).

    Transmission of the HPV virus between men and women

    The human papilloma virus transmits from males to females through bisexual contact. The problem starts when he develops HPV lesions on his penis. Without him wearing a condom, the contact with her cervix during sex can transmit HPV to her cervix. Both partners are not aware of the transmission of that virus, as it does not cause any symptoms. HPV invades the superficial skin layer of the cervix in the woman. In the man HPV will invade the skin of the glans of the penis. After certain incubation time it causes transformation into cervical cancer in the woman. Strangely enough it does not cause cancer in the male. However, in both sexes HPV virus is in the mucous membranes and can contaminate the other sex’s genital.

    A recent study comes from UBC Vancouver, British Columbia, which compared the Pap test with HPV testing.

    Details of the Vancouver study on HPV testing for cervical cancer

    On July 3, 2018 this study appeared in the medical journal JAMA.

    19,009 women were part of this randomized clinical trial. With HPV testing only 2.3 cases per 1000 women of early cervical cancers were present four years later. Using the traditional Pap test this figure was 5.5 cases per 1000 women after 4 years. 224 clinicians participated in this study. Women were recruited for this study from January 2008 to May 2012. Follow-up took place till Dec. 2016. The participating women in this study were 25 to 65 years of age.

    In 2017 in the US there were still 12,820 women in the United States who got cancer of the cervix. Approximately 4210 are dying from this disease every year. Many women do not like to take the Pap test or the HPV testing. There are compliance problems with either one of these tests.

    Significance of this trial regarding HPV testing for cervical cancer

    The newer HPV testing was superior to the regular Pap test. The HPV test was more sensitive and resulted in much lower cancer rates after 4 years of follow-up. Every woman would have an HPV test every 4 years. In this case we likely would see cervical cancer go to the bottom of cancers that kill women. The reason for that is that HPV testing and colposcopy pick up cancers much earlier. This leads to a more effective treatment of cervical cancer. After 4 years much less cancer of the cervix was found when the researchers tested again using HPV testing.

    Implications of HPV testing for cervical cancer

    In third world countries

    Many 3rd world countries do only the HPV testing. At the time when this decision was made, it was unknown that they had actually chosen the better method to test for cancer of the cervix. Now this trial reassures all the health care providers in 3rd world countries that they should continue with the program, and they only have to do the test every 4 years, not every 2 years, which makes it even more cost effective.

    Implications for the US

    In the US so far the recommendation was to do both the regular Pap test and the HPV test simultaneously. This trial, however, says that this is not necessary. It would be better to use the more sensitive HPV test and abandon the more expensive and less sensitive PAP test. In 2012 a taskforce recommended to do the Pap smear in women age 21 to 65 every 3 years. The taskforce further recommended to women age 30 to 65 that they screen with a combo of cytology and HPV testing every 5 years. The lead investigator, Dr. Ogilvie said: “Offering women HPV [testing] for cervical cancer screening detects more precancerous lesions earlier, and also a negative HPV test offers more assurance that women will not develop precancerous conditions in the next four years,” she said. “This can mean that women may need less frequent screening but have more accurate results.”

    What other doctors are saying about HPV testing for cervical cancer

    Comments by Dr. Kathleen Schmeler

    Dr. Kathleen Schmeler said that the study was “well-designed” and provided a much-needed comparison of Pap versus HPV testing. She is a gynecologic oncologist and at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She was part of the new research. Dr. Schmeler added: “The bottom line is that this could really potentially simplify how we screen women and have it be more effective and not quite as complicated and burdensome — and opens the door for doing just HPV testing, which is actually what’s currently recommended by the World Health Organization for countries that don’t have Pap testing capabilities,”

    Comments by Dr. Stewart Massad

    Dr. L. Stewart Massad Jr. is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the division of gynecologic oncology at Washington University School of Medicine. He wrote an editorial to the study in the JAMA. He wrote: “What will replace the Pap test? In 2012, the American Cancer Society endorsed co-testing with cervical cytology testing and HPV testing at 5-year intervals as the preferred strategy for screening women 30 to 65 years of age because this approach combines the sensitivity of HPV testing with the familiarity of traditional Pap testing,” He then went on to say: “However, the addition of cervical cytology testing adds little to the accuracy of HPV testing while increasing cost and false-positive results. In 2018, organizations that develop cancer screening guidelines are wrestling with whether to recommend replacing co-testing with primary HPV testing as the optimal screening strategy.”

    Future dilemma

    In view of all those comments the regulatory agents will have to come up with solutions for what is in the best interest of women for testing for cervical cancer.

    HPV Testing For Cervical Cancer

    HPV Testing For Cervical Cancer

    Conclusion

    A large randomized clinical trial in Vancouver, BC, Canada has compared screening methods for cancer of the cervix in women. Half of the subjects underwent screening by the newer HPV tests that checks for the presence of HPV virus. The other half received conventional screening by the Pap test (a cytological screening test.) The result was that the HPV test was more sensitive and resulted in less early cancer tests 4 years down the road. With the conventional Pap test there were more than double the amount of abnormal cells present 4 years down the road, which makes the Pap test less safe compared to the HPV test.

    It appears from this trial that the Pap test is no longer a choice, except for colposcopy procedures that take care of early cervical cancers. But for screening in general HPV testing every 4 years is all what every women needs for her protection.

    Related topics:

    1. Cancer rates increased in women.
    2. Catch cancer early.
    3. HPV testing was described in this blog in 2013: Low cost cervical cancer screening.
    Aug
    04
    2018

    Phage Therapy Against Superbugs

    Introduction

    Phage therapy against superbugs is the latest concept in treating infections. Antibiotic resistance has developed into a huge clinical problem. Every year in the US about 2 million people have infections from antibiotic resistant bacteria, and 23,000 people die as result of it. Certainly, there is a desperate need to find alternative treatment options to treat antibiotic resistant infections. One such option is to use phages, a specific form of viruses to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria. Here is a scientific overview regarding the use of phages for the treatment of antibiotic resistant infections.

    History of phages

    The observation of phages attacking bacteria goes back more than 100 years. The French Canadian microbiologist, Félix Hubert d’Herelle (1873–1949) described in 1917 what bacteriophages are. He also coined the term of “phage therapy” for the treatment of bacteria with phages. Dr. d’Herelle recognized phages to be virus-like organisms that attacked bacteria and could kill them. When Fleming detected antibiotics, phage research came to a halt. Drug companies invented more and more antibiotics, as it was easier to kill bacteria this way. But now with emerging resistances of bacteria to antibiotics, there is a sudden revival of the 100-year old research on phages. The problem is that there has not been much clinical experience with phage therapy against super bugs until lately. In 1923 Dr. d’Herelle co-founded the Eliava Institute in what is now Tbilisi, Georgia. This institute has the world’s most comprehensive database on phage therapy in man.

    Two clinical examples of phage therapy against super bugs

    Chronic prostatitis due to superbug

    Pranav Johri, a Canadian of Indian descent was suffering of a chronic prostate infection. Physicians had used five different antibiotics, but all to no avail. His doctor told him that he had a chronic prostatitis problem for which there was no cure. But Pranav saw another specialist who determined that Pranav had a prostatitis due to a superbug, which was resistant against all the common antibiotics. Pranav traveled to the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi, Georgia. He paid 6000.00 CAD and had three treatments. After the first treatment his temperature became normal for the first time in months, and his chronic pain subsided. He and his wife were so excited that they felt like celebrating. They did sightseeing, went out to restaurants and enjoyed their travels, all things he was unable to do for months. Pranav had finally received a cure with phage therapy to his chronic prostate infection.

    Enteric infection due to superbug

    Tom Patterson who had visited Egypt in 2015 together with his wife fell ill on the last night of his holiday. Eventually he went into a hospital in his hometown, San Diego. The doctors told him that he would likely die. He had acquired a multi-antibiotic resistant infection. He was slipping in and out of consciousness. His wife, Steffanie Strathdee, an infectious disease epidemiologist, remembered having heard about phage therapy during a virology class during her training in Toronto. Tom received two separate phage cocktails that two separate research teams in the US had prepared for his condition. He received the first dosage into his abdomen.

    Intravenous phage therapy

    The second administration was intravenously. There are only a handful of patients who had received treatment with phage therapy in the US; he is probably the first one who received phage therapy intravenously. A few days later he woke up. He had to relearn basic life skills like swallowing and speaking. But he made a full recovery from a serious disease with multi-antibiotic resistant bacteria. The University of California San Diego School of Medicine had helped Tom to recover from his illness. They announced at the end of June 2018 that they would be opening the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics in San Diego.

    Modern phage technology

    Basically phages are viruses that specialize in killing bacteria. They exist in nature wherever bacteria grow and help that they do not over-proliferate.  But they can be useful in fighting difficult to treat bacterial infections as well, like pseudomonas ear infections, Clostridium difficile gut infections or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in skin wounds. In the former Soviet Union and in the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi, Georgia, extensive phage research has accumulated valuable data over decades. In the West physician relied on the power of antibiotics, and phages were left on the back-burner of the research lab.

    Genetic engineering of phages and toxins produced by phages

    Combining phage research and genetic engineering research we are entering a new era of manufacturing biological compounds that can kill bacteria similar to antibiotics. Here is a review article of this new exciting field. I only include this link to show that researchers are now getting a handle on phages. They can be genetically modified to specifically attack one kind of bacterium. The DNA of the phage can be isolated and injected into bacteria. I do not expect you to understand all of what is discussed in this link.

    Phage Therapy Against Superbugs

    Phage Therapy Against Superbugs

    Conclusion

    As a result phages are more and more in use to treat difficult chronic infections where bacteria have become resistant to multiple antibiotics. It requires a team of experts who are familiar with phage cocktails. The cocktail is a careful combination of various phages that will fight the antibiotic resistant infection.The composition of it has to be according to the bacteria present in the patient’s bacterial flora. As shown with two clinical examples very sick patients can recover relatively quickly from their chronic infections. After this breakthrough more and more centers for phage therapy will open and this should help reduce the death rate from antibiotic-resistant infections.

    Jul
    27
    2018

    Modified Poliovirus Effective Against Brain Cancer

    A clinical trial found modified poliovirus effective against brain cancer. 61 patients with glioblastoma, the most deadly brain cancer there is, have been enrolled in this trial since 2012.

    Glioblastoma treatment with genetically modified poliovirus

    Dr. Gromeier, one of the lead cancer researchers at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina has done animal experiments. Unlike poliovirus, he found that genetically modified poliovirus was harmless for the central nervous system and yet he found modified poliovirus effective against brain cancer. This genetically modified poliovirus was attacking glioblastoma cells in cell cultures and in human brains. Dr. Annick Desjardins, a co-author of the study explained that the researchers had to take a piece of RNA away from the poliovirus and replace it with a neutral piece of RNA. This way it is still attracted to the numerous poliovirus receptors, which are expressed on many human cancers. The genetic sequence that allows poliovirus to reproduce in normal cells was taken out with the genetic modification. An inert RNA piece from the rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold was replacing this.

    Effect of the genetically modified poliovirus

    This way the modified poliovirus is no longer destroying nervous tissue. But the virus can still multiply in the glioblastoma cells, release toxins and kill these cancer cells.

    Dr. Bryan Choi is a fellow in the Cellular Immunotherapy Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. He also works at the Department of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School. Although he was not part of this study he stated that this study was a giant step forward. “Perhaps the most promising aspect is the ability for this genetically modified virus to not only directly kill brain cancer cells, but to release tumor antigens,” Choi said. Antigens are toxic substances that stimulate the immune system to mount an immune response against the cancer. This immunotherapeutic effect is an important aspect of this new treatment modality.

    Some human statistics of the pilot study showing modified poliovirus effective against brain cancer

    Here are the highlights.

    1. 21% of the poliovirus patients are still alive three years after treatment; this compares to just 4% of the control patients who only received chemotherapy.
    2. The average survival time for the 61 patients who have received the genetically modified poliovirus therapy was 12.5 months. This compares with 11.3 months for a control group of matched patients. These had received standard treatment (chemotherapy).
    3. Some patients were much better responders than others. A 20-year old man a 60-year-old man survived 69 months (nearly 6 years). They are still alive today. This was unthinkable of in the past for patients with glioblastoma.

    Repeat modified poliovirus therapy for glioblastoma recurrence

    Dr. Darell D. Bigner, a co-author of the study, a professor of pathology and emeritus director observed the following. Some patients experienced initial reduction of the glioblastoma, and when the cancer came back they received repeat modified poliovirus treatments. To the surprise of the investigators the tumors shrank again and again. This was never the case with conventional chemotherapy. Once a glioblastoma is chemotherapy-resistant, chemotherapy will not work again.

    Experience with modified poliovirus therapy

    1. In this trial treatment for glioblastoma started with implanting a catheter right into the center of the glioblastoma. An infusion of the engineered poliovirus followed, a process that could take up to 6.5 hours. Removal of the catheter was next.
    2. In the beginning researchers used higher doses of the genetically engineered poliovirus. Some people developed severe inflammation causing seizures, which needed treatment. Confusion and language difficulties were also side effects. Others developed pronounced nausea. The researchers decided to lower the dosage of the genetically engineered poliovirus, and the patients still had good clinical results.
    3. “We are presently enrolling in a phase 2 trial combining the genetically modified poliovirus with one dose of chemotherapy,” Desjardins said. “We are also enrolling in a trial for pediatric brain tumor patients.” In addition studies using genetically engineered poliovirus against breast cancer and against skin cancer are also in the planning stage.
    4. There are other new approaches where there the doctor injects the photosensitizer indocyanine into breast cancer tissue. Next the doctor points a laser beam near the infrared frequency of light to the cancer area. You find details about this procedure here.
    Modified Poliovirus Effective Against Brain Cancer

    Modified Poliovirus Effective Against Brain Cancer

    Conclusion

    A new approach to treating glioblastoma, one of the deadliest brain cancers, has shown promising results. A genetically engineered poliovirus is no longer making the person sick with polio, but instead destroys glioblastoma cells and prolongs patients’ lives. Some patients lived up to 6 years while controls lived less than one year. The effect of this new treatment occurs from the release of toxins within the glioblastoma cancer. This leads to cancer cell death and the release of these toxins. The immune system receives stimulation to recognize and destroy the remaining glioblastoma cells. At this point the basic steps of this new therapy are in place.

    Future direction of research

    But the same method will one day likely be in use for other cancers. There are plans for new clinical trials to examine this further. The researchers also want to test cure rates of a combination of chemotherapy and genetically engineered poliovirus therapy. This will answer the question whether the combination treatment will be better than genetically engineered poliovirus therapy alone.

    Jul
    21
    2018

    Frequent Flying Can Increase Cancer Rates

    A review article from June 25, 2018 discusses that frequent flying can increase cancer rates. A study showed that cancer of the breast, cervix, skin, thyroid and uterus are about twice as common in female stewardesses than in women at large. Also, gastrointestinal system cancers including cancer of the colon, stomach, esophagus, liver and pancreatic cancers are more common. This observation was true in both male and female flying personnel who engage in frequent flying. This publication comes from a scientific paper published on June 26, 2018.

    Study of flight attendants

    Patients from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) served as a control for flight attendants. This control group consisted of 2729 patients; they were of a similar socioeconomic status as the flight attendants. In contrast there were 5366 flight attendants with much higher cancer rates than normally expected. Specifically breast cancer had a 1.51-fold higher frequency than the control group. Melanoma had a frequency of 2.27-fold in comparison to controls, and non-melanoma cancers had a cancer rate of 4.09-fold when compared to controls. Non-melanoma cancer cases include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.

    Cancer rates in pilots

    In a meta-analysis of various studies it became obvious that pilots had 20% more prostate cancer than a non-pilot control group. However their mortality was not higher than controls.

    In an interesting study spanning over 60 years Icelandic airline pilots underwent an analysis for cancer development.

    83 cancers were registered. The general population (non-pilots) served as controls.  There was an increase of 2.42-fold for all cancers compared to controls. Prostate cancer was higher in these pilots by 2.57-fold. Malignant melanoma had a 9.88-fold increase in pilots in comparison to controls. The basal cell carcinomas in these pilots were 3.61-fold more common than the rates in the controls. With regard to basal cell carcinomas of the trunk there were 6.65-fold more of them in comparison to controls.

    The difference between the pilots and the general population was likely due to the higher exposure to cosmic radiation. This is what the authors concluded.

    How does cancer develop?

    There are several ways cancer can develop. One of the known cancer causations is ionizing radiation. We know a lot about this from the atom bombs of WWII in Japan. There were many more thyroid cancers in children than were normal following the dropping of the atom bombs.

    But diagnostic CT scans and X-rays are not without risk of cancer development either. There is a lag period of 10 to 20 years and even longer. But after this time the higher cancer rate becomes measurable. A person who had a CT scan done as a diagnostic test in childhood will still have a 25% higher cancer rate 15 years later. This is how powerful radiation of the DNA of our cells is despite inherent repair mechanisms that fight back to keep things normal.

    Single cancers versus multiple cancers

    It is interesting that female stewardesses and male pilots came down with a mix of various cancers. There were skin cancers, breast cancers, cancers of the prostate and many gastrointestinal cancers. The numbers were not big enough to show statistical significance for leukemia also being a likely cause of cancer from cosmic radiation.

    If cosmic radiation was going through the body randomly hitting various DNA strands in all cell types, which could explain why a random number of cancers develop in those cells that got the highest exposure. The ones who got above average cancer were stewardesses and pilots who were longest on their jobs. A variety of cancers would develop from various tissues. This is exactly what the studies have shown.

    There are frequent flyers like business travelers and vacation seeking retirees who will also be at a higher risk of developing cancer. The more they fly, the higher the risk.

    Other causes of cancer

    Cosmic radiation is only one cause of cancer. There are many other causes of cancer. If you smoke heavily or abuse alcohol this can cause genetic mutations of cells that can develop into cancer. There is a pathway to cancer, which consists of initiation, promotion and progression. After those initial hurdles the cancer cell will multiply and start metastasizing into other areas of the body.

    Carcinogens can damage the DNA of cells. In the case of pollution carcinogens enter the body through the air. But consuming processed meat and red meat has a proven link to cancer development as well, namely colon cancer.

    Diverse factors all can cause cancer

    Chronic inflammation from chronic infections is also carcinogenic. Chronic gastritis is caused by H. pylori. After years of infection with this pathogen stomach cancer can develop. Hepatitis viruses that are chronically present in liver cells can be the cause of liver cancer. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the cause for the development of cancer of the cervix. The majority of cancer is caused from the environment or by poor life styles. Only 5 to 10% of cancers are inherited.

    Tumor suppressor genes are important in terms of resisting the development of cancer. The TP53 gene produces a protein that interferes with the multiplication of cancer cells. Cancer cells in turn can produce a protein that interferes with TP53 function. The end result is that it will interfere with the body’s immune system to produce killer T cells. This way the cancer has the upper hand. There are some herbs that have shown anti-cancer effects, such as curcumin. http://www.askdrray.com/curcumin-and-cancer/. As I explain in this blog, there are absorption problems with curcumin presently. It is not yet primetime for curcumin, but it could be once the absorption problems are overcome. Nevertheless the research surrounding curcumin is interesting.

    Frequent Flying Can Increase Cancer Rates

    Frequent Flying Can Increase Cancer Rates

    Conclusion

    Several interesting studies have shown that stewardesses, pilots and frequent airplane travellers have a higher risk of developing cancer. Research groups have been careful to control these studies for lifestyle factors and other causes of cancer. Exposure to cosmic radiation is the common culprit that is behind this cancer causation. There was a multitude of cancers rather than one single type of cancer in pilots and stewardesses. This makes it more plausible that it is indeed cosmic radiation that caused the cancer increase. But cancer development is complex, and I have summarized this briefly here. It is important to be aware of all the possible causes of cancer. This allows you to minimize your exposure to carcinogens. We all get exposure to carcinogens from pollution. In addition we get exposure to cosmic radiation according to how much time we spend flying to holiday destinations or on business trips. Be safe and be informed!

    Jul
    14
    2018

    Less Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Patients

    A new clinical trial suggests that less chemotherapy for breast cancer patients is necessary than what is the custom today.

    70% of the common form of breast cancer, which is estrogen positive, but HER2 negative (more info below) has received treatment with surgery and subsequent chemotherapy. However, there was no scientific basis for this and this is what this large clinical trial was all about. The trial is discussed under this link. It has its origin in a medical research paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Estrogen positive, HER-2 negative breast cancer

    The majority of breast cancers belong into this category. They have no signs of metastases and the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test has a score between 0 and 10. A woman with breast cancer like this does not need to undergo chemotherapy, because her long-term survival will not be any better on chemotherapy, and she can save all of the complications of chemotherapy.

    The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score

    With this relatively new test 21 genes are tested in breast tissue from biopsies and surgical specimens. Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, who was not part of the study explained: “What that test does is look at 21 different genes to see if each is turned on or off and then if it is over-expressed or not. So we have two yes-no answers for each gene. It looks at all 21 of those answers and gives that cancer a recurrent score between 0 and 100.” This number based on genetic cancer markers determines how likely the breast cancer is to reoccur in the next 10 years.

    Relevance of genetic score test

    A low score of between 0 and 10 on this test is indicative of good long-term survival. These patients will not need any chemotherapy. A medium score of 11 to 25 also has good survival as in this trial. However, scores of over 25 have an association with poor outcomes, when the patient receives only hormone therapy. In these cases the researchers say chemotherapy is also necessary in addition to hormone therapy.

    Clinical trial regarding whether or not chemotherapy is necessary in the intermediate risk breast cancer patient

    10,273 women were part of this trial between April 7, 2006, and October 6, 2010. 6,711 had test scores between 11 and 25, which placed them in the intermediate risk. Half of them received hormone therapy and chemotherapy. The other half received hormone therapy only. After an average of 9 years 83.3% of those on hormone therapy alone did not develop a recurrence of breast cancer. They also did not develop a second cancer. For the other group on both hormone and chemotherapy the rate was 84.3%. The difference between the two was not statistically significant. This established that the intermediate risk breast cancer patient does NOT require chemotherapy.

    Results of clinical trial a surprise

    This was a big surprise. Oncologists always included chemotherapy in the routine treatment schedule for these patients. But the trial clearly showed that hormone therapy alone was good enough! This allows thousands of breast cancer patients to avoid the devastating side effects of chemotherapy. Why would a woman undergo unnecessary chemotherapy, loose her hair, vomit and get stomach upsets? She may also suffer osteoporosis and undergo bone marrow suppression, which makes her more prone to serious infections.

    Premenopausal women and those younger than 50 

    There is a group of women where breast cancer is more aggressive. Research followed this subgroup of women (premenopausal women and women below the age of 50) separately in the trial. More deaths occurred in the group that received hormone therapy alone. But death rates were much lower with a combination of hormone therapy and chemotherapy. If the score in these women was 16 or higher these women should receive the regular treatment consisting of surgery and hormonal measure). But they should also receive chemotherapy at the same time to reduce complications from their breast cancers. It has been known for many years that breast cancer in this particular patient group has a more aggressive growing habit. This trial showed that survival was a lot better in the group that did receive chemotherapy as well.

    Surface markers of breast cancer

    1. BRCA1 and BRCA 2

    BRCA1 and BRCA 2 are rare mutations in some women who get early breast cancer, often on both breasts and often ovarian cancer as well. These are women who benefit from bilateral mastectomies, even when there is no cancer present yet.

    2. HER2

    HER2 is a protein that is expressed on the cell surface of some breast cancers. It leads to faster cell proliferation. Only about 30% of all breast cancers are HER2 positive. They respond to Herceptin and other medications listed in this link. In the past the prognosis for HER2 breast cancer was poor, now with better medication against this condition it has one of the more favorable outcomes.

    3. ER and PR surface receptors

    Estrogen receptor (ER) positive cancer cells will lead to faster tumor growth, when the patient receives estrogen. It also grows faster under the influence of estrogen or progesterone. About 65% of all breast cancers are hormone receptor positive (ER or PR). They will respond to drugs like Tamoxifen and others.(See this link)

    Less Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Patients

    Less Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Patients

    Conclusion

    Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is rapidly changing. A clinical trial from the New England Journal of Medicine with over 10,000 women with breast cancer showed the following:

    It is safe to treat women with an intermediate risk of breast cancer with surgery of the primary cancer and follow this up with hormone therapy. In the past these women were undergoing chemotherapy in addition, which has not shown better survival rates. On the other hand, premenopausal women or women below the age of 50 should receive treatment with chemotherapy to improve their long-term survival. Other factors to consider are the hormone receptors (ER and PR) and the HER2 marker. The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test has added a completely new dimension to breast cancer treatment as the New England Journal of Medicine article has shown. Overall breast cancer treatment has improved, which is good news for women.

    Jul
    07
    2018

    Asthma In Adults

    On April 6, 2018 CNN published an article about asthma in adults. It was called “Developing Severe Asthma in Adulthood”.

    Asthma in adults occurs with a frequency of about 2.3 per 1000 people per year. This publication also noted that women suffer from this condition more often than men. For both sexes the occurrence of asthma in adults peaks at 35 years of age.

    Symptoms of asthma

    The triggering factors for asthma can be infections, allergies, or the condition can come on spontaneously. Coughing is one of the main symptoms. You may be breathless when walking stairs. You may feel weak or tired when exercising. After exercise you may be wheezing or coughing. If you measure your breathing capacity with a peak flow meter, the values are lower than normal. Cold air or irritants like cigarette smoke may trigger coughing or wheezing. In industrial workers the trigger for asthma can be noxious fumes.

    Diagnosis of asthma

    Spirometry

    Your doctor likely will order a test, called spirometry. You are breathing into a tube with a connection to a spirometer. A technician will instruct you to breathe out to the max (maximal exhalation). Next you will have to breathe in as quickly as you can. These breathing activities translate into a breathing curve on the read-out of the spirometer. With asthma there is a certain degree of restriction of airflow due to spasms in the smaller bronchial tubes, called bronchioles. This will be obvious from the breathing pattern of the spirometry read-out.

    Methacholine challenge test

    When the spirometry test is normal or near normal, a Methacholine challenge test can be another diagnostic tool. If this produces an asthma attack, it is clear that the person does indeed have asthma.

    Measuring nitric oxide in your breath

    Our bodies normally produce nitric oxide, and a small amount of it appears in your breath. But if there is a large amount of it present in your breath, it indicates chronic inflammation in your airways, which can be one of the causes of asthma.

    Other tests to rule out other related diseases

    Your doctor may want to order sinus x-rays to rule out sinusitis or a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia. If he suspects allergies a referral to an allergist sill be next. The specialist will do skin prick tests to see what you are reacting to.

    Differential diagnosis of asthma and other diseases

    When the physician is thinking about an asthma diagnosis, it will be necessary to exclude other diseases first. It is important to exclude a bronchial or lung infection as well as the presence of emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Clots in the pulmonary vasculature (pulmonary emboli) have to be ruled out. When there is a history of gastroesophageal reflux, tests should exclude that there is aspirated gastric contents into the lung. Another condition that could bring on wheezing is chronic congestive heart failure, where the heart fails to pump enough blood, and shortness of breath is a consequence. Tests are available to exclude all of these conditions.

    Treatment of asthma in adults

    Anti-inflammatory medication

    As all patients with asthma have inflammation in the airways, it is important to use corticosteroid inhalers that will control this. These inhalers will control the swelling and mucous production in the lining of the bronchial tubes. With the daily use of these inhalers the airflow improves, the airways become less sensitive and the patient experiences fewer asthma episodes.

    Bronchodilators

    Bronchodilators are inhalers that will relax the muscle bands around the bronchial tubes. This allows the patient to breather easier. The mucous flows more freely and can be coughed up easier. There are short-acting and long-acting forms of bronchodilators. Your physician will instruct you which one to use.

    Asthma In Adults

    Asthma In Adults

    Conclusion

    Adult onset asthma is separate from asthma of childhood. Often the triggers are allergies or irritants, including industrial irritants. With a proper diagnosis and treatment adult asthmatics have a normal life expectancy. It is important to control the inflammation of the airways with anti-inflammatory corticosteroid inhalers. For acute asthma attacks a bronchodilator must be used right away to ensure normal airflow is restored. The patient learns how to modify the asthma therapy. As a result there are very few occasions where the patient would need treatment in a hospital. Most patients can treat an asthma attack quickly and they respond very well to the treatment. As a result adult asthmatics can lead active lives and have no physical limitations.

    Jun
    30
    2018

    Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

    A recent article has pointed out that there are 5 dangers that can lurk in beach sand. There are invisible bacteria that can pose a problem. But there are also parasites, fungi and parasitic roundworms. Here is a review of these common dangers.

    Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: hookworms

    In February 2018 a Canadian couple from Windsor/Ont. came back from a beach holiday in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. They brought with them parasites in their feet from walking barefoot on infested beaches in the Caribbean. This parasite is known to lay larvae into the sand that can survive there for several days. When beach goers walk barefoot the condition is right for the larvae to attach to the bare feet and puncture the skin. The full-grown hookworm can then develop and produce the symptoms described in the link (rash, itching, pain). The larvae of it are called “larvae migrans”, or in plain English the disease has the name “creeping eruption“. The best medicine for this condition is the anti-parasitic medication Ivermectin, the “wonder drug” from Japan. Originally developed in Japan, Ivermectin is available in the US, but not in Canada.

    Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: Gut bacteria

    A California study found that several gut bacteria were present in California beaches. Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Aeromonas, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, human viruses (adenovirus, enterovirus, norovirus, and hepatitis A virus), amoeba, and protozoa were all cultured from beach sand. However, it is difficult to prove that any one of these pathogens would have caused any gastrointestinal upset. Just picking up one of these bugs on your skin does not mean you will come down with that particular infection. It makes sense though to wash your hands or take a shower after your beach walk. But the study noticed that there was a difference in the infection rate. There were those who only had casual contact with beach sand. Others were digging into sand or buried themselves in sand. The latter group was more likely to come down with gastrointestinal infections shortly after their beach outing.

    Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: superbug MRSA

    According to the California study cited above there were 2.7% of beach sand samples on California’s beaches that contained MRSA bugs. These are the cause of flesh-eating disease. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. When there is a cut in the skin, this antibiotic resistant bug can pose a big problem. On the other hand, it is not known whether the mere existence of MRSA on the skin actually poses a danger. Researchers do not know at the present time whether or not this will cause flesh-eating disease. But they recommend that after a beach visit it is a good idea to take a shower, as this will cleanse the skin to a large extent of any pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

    Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: fungi

    The types of fungi that can hide in the beach sand belong to the group of dermatophytes. Common fungal skin infections are caused by the dermatophytes, Trichophyton rubrum, which is a very common dermatophyte, is the culprit that causes nail fungus, ringworm; jog itch and athlete’s foot. Other fungi around beaches are Aspergillus and Candida that affect mostly people with a weak immune system. Aspergillus may be responsible for lung infections and Candida for yeast infections.

    Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: roundworms

    Roundworms become a problem on beaches where dogs are allowed. The main problem is Toxocara canis, a parasitic roundworm. The roundworm normally lives in the gut of dogs. But dog feces from roundworm-infested dogs contain lots of eggs, which can get into soil along with the dog feces. People can inadvertently swallow contaminated sand. An Australian study found roundworm-infested samples among 266 random beach samples. They found that there were not as many positive samples when there were only adult dogs allowed on beaches. In contrast, they found a lot more positive roundworm samples in beaches were puppies were allowed.

    Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

    Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

    Conclusion

    We associate pristine beaches with nature, health and relaxation. Knowing of these scientific studies we would do well to not let our guards down. Think about the ocean water: is it safe or could it be the cause of contamination of the beach sand? Then think about the beach itself. Is it a busy beach with lots of people that may contribute to contamination of the beach sand? Are dogs allowed or not? There may be dogs that defecate and deposit eggs of roundworms. Or there may be larvae from the creeping eruption, a parasitic disease. Other dangers can lurk in the sand: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that is an antibiotic resistant bacterium that can cause flesh-eating disease. Other bacteria may be buried in the sand that can cause various gastrointestinal upsets.

    Being more careful around beaches

    Having these thoughts in mind may help you to be more careful about the beach and shower off after you leave the beach. It is also not a bad idea to wear sandals on the beach to prevent direct contact of your skin with the beach sand. It is also obvious that the beach towel on which you lay on the sand is no longer “clean”. Wash it after your beach outing, or choose the option to relax on a cot. Wherever you travel this summer, have a safe journey!

    Jun
    23
    2018

    Low-Dose Laser Activated Stem Cell Therapy

    Low-dose laser activated stem cell therapy is a treatment solution for those with degenerative joint disease. Degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis typically affects the major joints like the knees or the hips. Low-dose laser can activate stem cells. In doing so this therapy can also offer a solution for those with chronic back pain due to degenerative changes in the discs or facet joints.

    Osteoarthritis in the spine

    Last year my family doctor diagnosed osteoarthritic changes in the discs and facet joints of my lower back. I visited Dr. Weber in Germany and he treated me with low-dose laser activated stem cell therapy in November 2017. A prior blog explained the details of this treatment.

    New symptoms of back pain in the thoracic spine

    During the spring and summer of 2018 I noted that there was some residual back pain in my dorsal spine (also known as thoracic spine). This was just above the previously treated back pain, which had been fine since November 2017. My family doctor arranged for an MRI scan of the thoracic spine confirming moderately severe degenerative changes in the discs and facet joints of the lower thoracic spine. This was not really a surprise because of a family history of these kinds of degenerative problems on my mother’s side. I thought that I should go back to Dr. Weber in Germany. He had given me relief from my back pain in the lumbar spine with low-dose laser activated stem cell therapy.

    Additional left knee pain

    I also had developed pain in my left knee, which got worse from kneeling or walking on uneven ground. There was definitive grinding in my left knee when my physician palpated the knee joint while moving the lower leg. My right knee did not have any pain, and there was no grinding in it.

    First day of my treatment in May 2018

    I will not explain in detail the process of the treatments. You can read about it in my prior blog.

    However, I will describe the overall treatment schedule.

    1. General assessment by Dr. Weber

    Before any treatment Dr. Weber went over the history of my thoracic spine pain and the pain in my left knee. He projected the result of the MRI scan of my thoracic spine onto a large TV screen. I could see the degenerative changes of many discs and facet joints on both sides in the lower 6 levels of my thoracic spine.

    2. Liposuction to remove fat as a mesenchymal cell source

    The treatment started with anesthetizing the area where the physician intended to harvest fat from my right lower buttock area. Next the fat went into a cell separator to separate stem cells and fat. The fat is not necessary for the procedure, only the stem cells.

    3. Venipuncture to harvest blood for PRP

    Blood was drawn from one of my arm veins for preparing PRP (platelet rich plasma). This fraction of the blood is necessary to activate the stem cells from either fat cells or bone marrow.

    4. Left knee and lower thoracic spine injections

    Dr. Weber used an intraarticular needle to inject a mixture of the fat derived (mesenchymal) stem cells and PRP. After the injection into my left knee, the physician removed the syringe but left the needle in place.

    Through the needle the doctor inserted very fine sterile glass fibers for intraarticular laser treatment. This consisted of five laser colors using low-dose laser beams. The colors were yellow, blue, green, infrared and red. The significance of the various colors and how deep they penetrate into tissues was discussed under this blog.

    Stem cell therapy of lower thoracic spine

    Stem cell therapy of lower thoracic spine

    Thoracic spine injection

    Next Dr. Weber determined first the depth of the lower thoracic spine. An ultrasound machine showed him that he could not exceed 18 mm in length when injecting needles into my back. This would ensure that he did not puncture my lungs. Dr. Weber explained to me that some people had a 2- or 4-inch subcutaneous fat layer. Dr. Weber used 12 interstitial injection needles to inject 6 levels of my lower thoracic spine (6 on each side). This step is depicted in the image on the left, where my wife took a photo of the low-dose laser treatment after the insertion of the 12 interstitial needles . This was stimulating the injected mesenchymal stem cells.

    At the end of the first day I received an infrared light treatment over my thoracic spine for 20 minutes, followed by a treatment in a light therapy bed for 20 minutes. These latter treatments were necessary in addition to the laser treatments to stimulate the stem cell activity further.

    Second day of my treatment in May 2018

    The second day was only a half-day treatment. Dr. Weber had kept half of the fat-derived stem cells and of the PRP preparation in the fridge overnight.

    Another injection of a mixture of fat-derived mesenchymal stem cells and PRP into my left knee followed, as well as an injection along the lower thoracic spine. Essentially, this was a repetition of the treatments of the previous day for both my left knee and the lower thoracic spine. Dr. Weber explained that there is merit in doing it this way. He said it would increase the success rate of the low-dose laser activated stem cell therapy.

    The reasons behind low-dose laser activated stem cell therapy

    A group of dentists have shown that mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow, dental pulp, periodontal ligament or adipose tissue showed stimulation by low-dose laser therapy.

    Detailed research from Japan has shown that low-dose laser therapy releases various growth factors from mesenchymal stem cells, from osteoblast cells and other cells including skin cells. This can promote wound healing and helps stem cells to build up cartilage in joints.

    Bone marrow stem cell stimulation

    The stimulation of bone marrow by low dose laser therapy also releases bone marrow derived stem cells into the blood. This way these stem cells can contribute to the healing process in joints. Dr. Weber used this method to stimulate release of bone marrow-derived stem cells into my system. He punctured my pelvic bone with an interstitial needle. Subsequently he introduced glass fibers through the interstitial needle into the bone marrow space. Five colors of laser, namely yellow, blue, green, infrared and red were used to stimulate the stem cells of my bone marrow. Dr. Weber explained that low-dose laser activated bone marrow stem cells can easily leave the bone marrow and travel via the circulatory system. This is how they reach the area where they are needed.

    History of stem cell therapy

    Dr. Michael Weber published a book entitled “Medical low-level-laser therapy, foundations and clinical applications”, 2nd edition, June 2015. On page 541 he explains the beginning of stem cell research by Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch in Toronto/Ont in 1961. He explained further how activation of mesenchymal stem cells by low-dose laser light improved cell viability and cell growth. Barboza et al. also researched these topics.

    How do I feel about low-dose laser activated stem cell therapy?

    Within only 1 ½ weeks I noticed that my thoracic spine pain disappeared. My left knee pain disappeared within 2 weeks. I am aware that there is a consolidation phase of possibly 3 to 6 months which is necessary to build up the full amount of cartilage. But it is the relief of pain that I was hoping for. Rather than treating my osteoarthritis with pain pills and wait until a total knee replacement, I have now a second chance to regain full mobility without pain. Now I feel more confident about aging without the “usual aches and pains” and staying free from disease.

    Low-Dose Laser Activated Stem Cell Therapy

    Low-Dose Laser Activated Stem Cell Therapy

    Conclusion

    I described how Dr. Weber treated my mid back and left knee with mesenchymal stem cells. These were activated by platelet rich plasma (PRP) and low-dose laser therapy. Stem cells from fatty tissue are called mesenchymal stem cells. They are useful for building up lost hyaline cartilage, the coating of bone in joints. With degenerative arthritis, also called osteoarthritis, this layer is getting thinner, sometimes to the point where bone rubs on bone. But stem cell treatment with mesenchymal stem cells can rebuild hyaline cartilage. This is part of regenerative medicine where the body’s own stem cells can help to cure disease.

    My family has a strong history of osteoarthritis. But fortunately I seem to respond to regenerative medicine using low-dose laser activated stem cell therapy.

    Jun
    16
    2018

    Writing A Medical Book

    In my 40’s when I was practicing medicine, I was dreaming about writing a medical book. This was in the mid 1980’s and I was busy seeing 30 to 40 patients a day. I would never have found the time to write a medical book at that time. I thought, perhaps I could show how patients could stay younger for longer by adopting the right life style in order to stay well. Fast forward 3 decades, and the medical book writing began. But instead of one book the project turned into 4 books. There were too many topics to cover to fit them all in one book.

    Prior to writing a medical book

    First of all, in 2002 I published a large website. Its structure is like a book on the Internet: Net Health Book . It contains descriptions of the major diseases, mental and physical, and their current treatment modalities. I still maintain this work. Furthermore, I started another website in 2003, a weekly blog, called “Ask Dr. Ray” . This is a compilation of interesting research. Some medical research papers can get too scientific. For this reason I translated it into easier language. The topics tend to be anti-aging topics. This blog comes out Saturdays.

    Retirement hobby

    When I retired in 2010 I revamped my websites. In the process the web developer suggested I should add to Net Health Book a blog (nethealthbook.com/news) where I review current health news that I find interesting. This is a weekly blog, which I publish on Wednesdays. All of this is still going on, and it gave me lots of opportunities to write and publish on a smaller scale. In addition, I finally started publishing books.

    A Survivor’s Guide To Successful Aging

    My first book came out with Amazon in 2014. I had joined the A4M (American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine) in the early 2000’s. The lectures at their conferences were very open-minded and pointed out details of what one could do to delay aging and avoid premature deaths. My own experience with changing our diet in 2001, starting bioidentical hormone replacement and changing my lifestyle became topics that were part of this book. I dedicated this book “to those who are willing to work on prevention in order to achieve a longer life without disabilities”. This is still the basis of prolonging your life.

    Lifestyles can be deleterious

    I start out in this book describing the obesity wave and how this changes the metabolism (metabolic syndrome). I used statistics from the Framingham Heart Study to show the detrimental effects of various lifestyles on mortality. Subsequent chapters deal with food, exercise, stress and missing hormones as life-shortening factors. There is a separate chapter on vitamins and supplements. They as a group can create 5.1% longer telomeres, which translated into 9.8 years of longer life expectancy (see also a study by Dr. Xu  in the book). Subsequently it describes how a change of your lifestyle can have a positive impact. Changing your eating habits and exercise activity will make a tremendous positive difference on the long term.

    Successful Aging in the Kitchen

    The book ends with an appendix, written by my wife: “Successful Aging in the Kitchen”. You are presented with recipes for 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners. In addition she has provided 7 healthy desserts for you. Bon Appétit!

    Healing Gone Wrong, Healing Done Right

    In another book, which got appeared in 2016 I gave a few examples of how famous people were failed by medicine. It started already in the past: Ludwig van Beethoven’s physicians did harm instead of healing their patient. However, this is happening now as well: physicians mismanaged the health care of Elvis Presley, Churchill, Michael Jackson and JF Kennedy. The physicians treated symptoms, but they never properly attended to the causes of the ailments of their patients. The end result was premature death in all of them. Churchill who had good genetics made it to age 90, but during his last 15 years he suffered of severe disabilities.

    Treatment of symptoms will fail, treatment of causes succeed

    These examples of famous people’s health problems resemble to what happens to today’s patients in various office settings. Their symptoms are mostly being treated, but their causes often not. Simply treating symptoms will not work on the long term. It did not work in the past, and it does not work now.

    Other chapters in this book

    Other chapters in this book deal with preventing disease, keeping a healthy brain and keeping a healthy heart. Next I discuss why food matters, followed by the health of limbs and joints. Subsequently I am discussing how to keep toxins out. The next chapter deals with how to reduce the impact of cancer. It is always important to diagnose cancer as early as possible as removal by surgery has the highest success rate at an early cancer stage. The next chapter is entitled: “Stable hormones key to health”. If any of your hormones are missing (particularly around the age of menopause and/or andropause) it is time for nature identical hormone replacement. The next chapter gives you general thoughts on anti-aging. This is followed by “supplements yes, but do not overdo it”.

    Alternative treatment for ADHD

    A final chapter gives you an example of an alternative treatment for ADHD, where the idea of not just treating symptomatically, but treating causes is included. References and an index are also provided for the book.

    Prostate Cancer Unmasked

    Furthermore, I did not intend to write this book. But in early 2016 my PSA (prostate specific antigen) level jumped from 3 to 8.6. For years it had been in the 1.5 areas, then slowly increased to 3. But 8.6 was too high for comfort! I had an MRI scan done, which showed one lesion in my left prostate, which was suspicious for prostate cancer. I was referred to a urologist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre, one of the top clinics in Canada. But I had already researched the literature and came across research by Dr. Gary Onik from Ft. Lauderdale who warned me about the pitfalls of “standard therapy”.

    The conservative urologist in Vancouver

    The urologist in Vancouver told me that without a positive biopsy he cannot accept that the shadow on my MRI scan would be prostate cancer. And the only way they do a prostate biopsy was by random trans-rectal biopsies. He also wanted to include me in a random clinical trial where they would compare active intervention with active surveillance. I politely declined the trans-rectal prostate biopsy and the inclusion into a trial.

    Assessment by Dr. Onik

    I booked a flight to see Dr. Onik in Ft. Lauderdale. His method is well researched and orchestrated.

    Initial assessment

    He assesses you with a rectal ultrasound and he sees the prostate on a TV screen. He said right away that I had three separate lesions, one in the left as shown on the MRI scan and two in the right lobe, which was missed by the MRI scan. False negative lesions are common on MRI scans, which can become a source of cancer recurrence.

    3-dimensional prostate biopsy

    The following day he booked me for a 3-dimensional prostate biopsy via the perineal approach. The perineum is easy to sterilize, so there is no risk of septicemia. A metal grid with holes for biopsy needles was used to get 96 biopsies of my enlarged prostate. For a normal size prostate, Dr. Onik said about 60 biopsy needles are normal. You don’t feel anything, because you are asleep.

    Cryoablation prostate surgery

    Next was the cryoablation surgery of the 3 prostate cancer lesions. This happened one month after the biopsy. I was seen at the hospital in Ft. Lauderdale. The same grid from the biopsy was used to relocate exactly where the cancer lesions were. The pathologist had confirmed them as Gleason 6 and 7 prostate cancers. This was treated with Argon sounds and frozen twice. I felt nothing, because I was under a general anesthetic. But Dr. Onik told me that everything went very well. Some cancer was too close to the neurovascular bundle, so he used the NanoKnife, an invention where nano-size holes get blasted into cancer cells, but it leaves normal tissue intact.

    I needed to do self-catheterization for about one month to empty my bladder, as there was a lot of swelling from the prostate hypertrophy and the surgery. But eventually my normal water works returned.

    Follow-up blood work

    My follow-up PSA blood work 3 months after the surgery was down to 1.0. Prior to the surgery the Oncoblot test was positive for prostate cancer. A repeat Oncoblot test 3 months after the surgery was now negative for prostate cancer. I realize that not every physician accepts this new cancer-screening test, but I felt a lot better to know that all the cancer markers were now gone.

    9 cancer treatments reviewed

    In my book I described a total of 9 prostate cancer treatments and their 10-year survival statistics. None of the other treatment methods were as good as Dr. Onik’s statistics. I believe it is linked to the precision of the 3-dimensional biopsy and the surgery being done through the same grid. If you do not perform the surgery this way, you miss cancer lesions and this becomes the source of failure 10 years down the road. My book details all these alternative treatments. It also has a section on lifestyle modifying factors. I needed to write this book as a service to any man who suddenly is faced with a possible diagnosis of prostate cancer.

    Unmasking prostate cancer

    Like me he needs to unmask the cancer. Is it really there? How far advanced is it? Which way to safely biopsy it (definitely NOT through the rectum for fear of blood poisoning=septicemia)? What is the best method to remove it? I came to the conclusion that Dr. Onik’s method was best for me. But with the information in this book you can decide what is best for you.

    Medical Questions Answered

    Finally I wrote my 4th book. From more than 4400 medical questions that I have answered on the site Quora.com I selected the most popular questions for this book. The editorial board of Quora said that I own the publishing rights for my answers. The questions were rephrased without changing the meaning. I selected more than 120 questions under 44 different headings.

    Here are some of the areas that are covered: Acne, the best home remedies. Aging: can it be reversed? What is the limit for a human? Alcohol: how does it affect your body? Alzheimer’s disease: which foods promote brain health? Arthritis: what can you do about osteoarthritis? Back pain: what can I do about it? Cancer: why can cancer still not be cured? There are as well 15 other answers about cancer. Depression: will my depression ever go away? Diabetes: will a 600-calorie diet help diabetes control?

    Further topics discussed

    Diet: I want to get rid of sugar in my diet. How can I do this long-term? Other answers about diet are included. Exercise: How useful is cardiovascular exercise? Gut disease: Is “gluten free” food healthy? Heart disease: What can I do to clean out my arteries and reduce my risk for heart disease? Hormones: Is estrogen present in the male body? Life Expectancy: What is the theoretical life expectancy of humans? Lifestyle Habits: Can good habits change your life completely? Pain: Pain relief for a headache or other pain: Aleve, Advil or Tylenol? Pregnancy: Best age for a successful pregnancy? Prostate Cancer: How dangerous is prostate cancer? Does it kill you? Schizophrenia: What complementary approach may help a patient with schizophrenia? Sleep: What happens when you go to bed late every night? And many other answers under this topic.

    And the book finishes with these topics

    Sugar: will I be OK living without sugar? Vaccinations: Is there a connection between vaccinations and autism? Vitamins and supplements: Are taking vitamins and supplements healthy or are they harmful? Weight loss: I am working out every day, but I am not loosing weight. What should I do? There are many more answers under this topic. Younger for longer: What are three things I can do every day to stay younger for longer?

    These are only a few selections of all of the topics dealt with in this book.

    Writing A Medical Book

    Writing A Medical Book

    Conclusion

    I have reviewed briefly why I published the books mentioned above. My prostate cancer book developed out of the necessity that I had to deal with my newly diagnosed prostate cancer in 2016. I felt that the review process I went through would be good for those men who have to face a similar situation. The anti-aging book comes from my interest in anti-aging medicine. “Healing Gone Wrong, Healing Done Right” developed from the observation that physicians in the past and often even now tend to only treat symptoms. But if a cause can be found, this should be treated, as this often leads to a permanent cure.

    Treating symptoms only will not improve the patient’s condition

    Treating symptoms only will not improve the patient’s condition. “Medical Questions Answered” is a collection of medical topics where I answered various medical questions. It was a way for me to cover a vast array of medical topics. Some of the topics are dealt with in depth (acne for instance); others are very short. I have also two medical blogs that come out on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I hope that some of that medical information will be useful to you.