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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:46 am 
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Stop Stress from Killing You, Part I: Identify the Stress in Your Life

(NaturalNews) What is stress? Physiologically, stress could be considered any event that triggers a marked response by the adrenal glands. In basic terms, this response is the release of cortisol. It's the body's natural reaction to any stressor. For occasional stressors, cortisol can provide a burst of benefits like increased energy, heightened reflexes and a higher threshold for pain. However, when stress is chronic, as it often is in modern society, cortisol levels can remain unnaturally high and lead to damaging effects, which include:

- Poor thyroid function

- Hypoglycemia

- Loss of lean body tissue like muscle and bone

- Higher blood pressure

- Susceptibility to illness, infection and disease

- Weight gain, particularly in the abdominal region

Eventually, if the stress is intense or chronic, the adrenal glands struggle to keep up with the many stressors your body encounters. Adrenal fatigue or burnout can result. Lack of energy, poor moods and a decreased ability to handle life's daily stresses are common signs of weak adrenal glands. The health problems caused by adrenal weakness are far reaching and can be serious because without strong adrenal health the body isn't capable of dealing with everyday problems like illness, toxins or emotional stress.

Understanding what constitutes stress is one of the most important keys in dealing with it. Otherwise, we could very well be letting untold sources of stress slip through our fingers without notice. Here are some examples of common stressors:

Emotional and psychological stress. This includes an unhappy work situation, marital friction, negative thought patterns, or death of a loved one.

Lack of sleep, relaxation and downtime. This is all too common in our society, where many people sacrifice sleep and downtime in order to get more done.

Allergies. Allergens in food or in your environment can cause stress, and stress can in turn trigger allergic reactions. This results in a vicious cycle which is sure to wear on your adrenals.

Poor eating habits and diet. A healthy, balanced diet is the foundation of overall health and especially adrenal health. Skipping meals, dieting, or cutting out macronutrients are all stressors.

Excessive exercise. Staying active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but the mantra of "exercise more" is repeated so often people tend to think more is better. This is not necessarily true. Over-exercising is just as bad as not exercising at all, if not worse.
Physical stressors. Whether it's a common cold or a sports injury, illness and physical trauma are stressors. Recurring infections, chronic pain or repeat injuries are especially stressful.

Toxin exposure. This includes substances like refined sugar, chemical food additives (such as MSG), caffeine, nicotine, airborne pollution, chemicals found in household cleaners, toxins in our water supply, and the host of other chemicals and toxins we encounter every day.

The above list is meant to be used as a resource for identifying the top sources of stress in your life. It may not be possible to avoid every single one of these stressors - in fact, you are sure to encounter many of them throughout your life. But whenever possible, making positive changes in order to reduce the number or intensity of stressors you experience can have a substantial impact on your physical and emotional health.

http://www.naturalnews.com/028359_chron ... ealth.html


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:09 am 
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Accept Some Stress

Realistically, with a diagnosis of cancer you are going to feel and face more stress. I found my capacity to handle stress was reduced. To cope with stress it pays to have a handle on what it is.

The first thing to realise is that not all stress is bad. I go to the gym and the stress I place on my muscles is beneficial to increasing strength and endurance; and as a fringe benefit relieving stress. And here is one way to cope with the effects of bad stress that build up potentially harmful chemicals in the body if they are not burned off.

Too often we have an evolutionary fight or flight reaction to stress. In physically dangerous situation this can be a benefit. In emotionally stressful situations this can be harmful. Increase in stress levels can lead to over reaction, taking things out on others and the subsequent guilt that this entails.

Soon after my initial treatment, I became a parent. There are many joys to parenting, but stress also comes with the territory. Once we entered the terrible 2's stage I found it more difficult. There was a classic escalation, the more my daughter became frustrated and entering tantrum mode the more agitated I became. The breakthrough for me was realising the escalation of reacting negatively when my daughter threw a tantrum. From there it was a matter of not giving her the attention to prolong the tantrum and then comforting her when she started to calm down.

Now I still have stressful situations and have to cope with stress, but I believe that I am getting better at it. Sometimes I cope better than other times. Having cancer is an additional stress and may reduce your capacity to cope espcially when receiving acute medical intervention.

My experience is that it takes time to adapt and that I needed to find new ways to cope with stress. My old ways, such as exercise, were helpful too :).


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:49 am 
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Stop Stress from Killing You, Part II: Seven Keys to Reducing Stress

(NaturalNews) Once you've identified the top sources of stress in your life, it's important to take action and start moving things in a positive direction. Most people are amazed at the improvement they see in their health after making just a few small but very significant changes. Here are seven simple keys for reducing the stress in your life:

Reduce Emotional and Psychological Stress

The impact of emotional stress cannot be underestimated, but this type of stress is often overlooked because it is difficult to make changes in this area. A difficult living situation, an unhappy marriage or a stressful job could be a source of major stress that is wearing down your health. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to move, get a divorce or quit your job, but it's important to look for ways to improve your situation in any case. If you're dealing with other stressors like depression, anxiety, or the loss of a loved one, you may want to seek counseling or join a support group that can offer you help.

Although it appears small on the surface, negative thought patterns have a way of chipping away at our quality of life by compounding our stress. Establishing healthy patterns of enjoying the moment, reframing, and learning to forgive can have a very positive effect on your health.

Prioritize Quality Sleep and Regular Downtime

The impact sleep can have on your life is well documented. Getting at least seven hours every night will balance your cortisol levels, improve your energy and brighten your mood. And just as important as sleep is downtime. It may take some rearranging if your schedule is packed with activities, but it's vital for your health to take time each day to relax and unwind. Taking a day off now and then and freeing yourself from a mile-long to-do list is very restorative as well. And by all means, if you can take a vacation and get away from it all, do it!

Improve Food Quality and Eating Habits

It can't be emphasized enough: food is the foundation of your health. A balanced diet of natural foods is a must. All macronutrient groups (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) should be included in balanced ratios. Avoid skipping meals or under-eating. Your body needs quality food for nourishment.

Avoid Allergens

If you have allergies, these can trigger a stress response in the body. Do your best to avoid allergens, which includes identifying food allergies so you can make better food choices. On the up side, if you deal properly with other stressors in your life, this may decrease the severity of your allergic reactions (which are, in part, a stress response of their own).

Exercise: Make It Smart and Sensible

Exercise is very healthy, but it's important not to overdo it if you're otherwise stressed. Emphasize activities like strength training, yoga, walking and swimming. Avoid overtraining or doing too much cardio, which can exhaust the adrenals.

Reduce Physical Stressors

If you get sick, injured or have to deal with chronic pain, try to get the rest and care you need so you can reduce the stress these cause on your body. Allow your body time to heal or, in the case of chronic pain, look for ways to treat the pain or the underlying cause that prevents you from living a normal, happy life.

Avoid Toxin Exposure

Most of us can't completely eliminate toxins from our lives, but we can take measures to greatly reduce the amount of toxins our bodies must deal with every day. Filter your water, use natural beauty and cleaning products, eat organic foods, avoid chemical food additives and take the time to enjoy fresh air as much as you can.

http://www.naturalnews.com/028427_chron ... style.html


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:26 pm 
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Counseling Improves Survival Rate When Breast Cancer Recurs

Breast cancer survivors facing the disease a second time are more likely to live longer if they get psychological counseling.

The new study builds on previous research into the physical benefits for cancer patients who get counseling as well as medical care.

Ohio State University researcher Barbara Andersen began with a group of more than 200 women who'd been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Patients were randomly assigned to get counseling or not. In research published two years ago, Anderson reported that the patients who got counseling were less likely to have a recurrence of the cancer years later.

Now, a follow-up study in the journal Clinical Cancer Research indicates that the women who got counseling also had a lower risk of death if the breast cancer came back.

Andersen says the counseling, "had a large component for stress reduction, teaching patients how to relax. But it also had elements to help them cope with their cancer treatments, change their health behaviors such as their diet, or exercise more frequently. And many strategies to help them just cope more effectively and have an enhanced quality of life."

Andersen says the counseling produced more than psychological benefits for the women.

"They also had reduced symptoms from chemotherapy, improved sleep, and eventually improved disease outcomes."

Counseling is labor intensive, so it may not be cheap. But compared to the cost of surgery, chemotherapy, and other medical treatments for cancer, it can be a good value.

Anderson is looking at that cost effectiveness in some of her current research. Meanwhile, American cancer patients are not routinely getting the sort of psychological counseling given the breast cancer patients in this study.

"No, and I think that's what's unfortunate," says Anderson. "Certainly with the escalating health care costs, other additional services for patients are being squeezed, if you will."

Psychologist Barbara Andersen of Ohio State University says the results of this study can not be automatically extended to patients with different cancers or other serious diseases.

But she says it does suggest the importance of psychological services in patient care, not just for mental health but perhaps for the physical health of the patient as well.

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/he ... 69679.html


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:12 pm 
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Interesting environment wards off cancer

Stress has acquired a bad image as a contributor to disease, but a little stress may be no bad thing.

Mice raised in a complex environment providing social interactions, opportunities to learn and increased physical activity are less likely to get cancer, and better at fighting it when they do, a new study suggests. A mild boost in stress hormones seems to be what keeps the cancer at bay by switching on a molecular pathway that restrains tumour growth.

Researchers from the United States and New Zealand injected mice with melanoma cells — the deadliest form of skin cancer. After six weeks, mice raised in an enriched environment — extra-large cages housing 20 individuals with running wheels and other toys — had tumours that were almost 80% smaller than those in mice raised in standard housing — five animals to a cage with no additional stimulation. Whereas all the normally housed mice developed tumours, 17% of the mice from the enriched environment developed no tumours at all. Tests in mice with colon cancer showed the same effect.

"We were very surprised by the degree of the reduction in cancer" in the mice raised under enriched housing conditions, says Matthew During, a neuroscientist at Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus and a lead author on the study, to be published in Cell tomorrow1.

Unexpected effects

Researchers studying environmental enrichment have mostly focused on its positive effects on the brain, explains behavioural neuroscientist Abdul Mohammed at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, who was not involved in the work. "This study is pushing the field to show its effects on tumour growth."

When During and his colleagues began the work in 2005, he himself had skin cancer, his mother was suffering from ovarian cancer, and a close friend had died of melanoma. "I was interested in the whole question of why the natural history of cancer differed so dramatically from one individual to the next," he recalls.

The 'enriched' mice, the researchers found, had slightly raised levels of stress hormones, but the most striking physiological change was markedly reduced levels of the hormone leptin, known to regulate appetite. Blocking leptin abolished the effects of enrichment, suggesting that the hormone was key to the pathway that led to the anti-cancer effects.

Next, the team looked for changes in the hypothalamus, a brain region that regulates the body's energy balance and links the nervous system with the endocrine system. They found that expression of a gene encoding the signaling protein BDNF increased dramatically after two weeks in mice living in enriched conditions. And simply overexpressing BDNF in the hypothalamus, the researchers found, mimicked the protective effects of enrichment, suggesting BDNF, too, was a critical regulator of the protective pathway.

Finally, the group found that the increase in BDNF was linked to the decrease in leptin levels in fat cells through the action of stress hormones. "What we've really shown here is that the brain, by switching off this pathway, is actually preventing a proliferative environment," says During.

The health challenge

To make sure that the cancer protection was not simply due to the rodents' increase in physical activity, the researchers looked for a reduction in cancer among mice housed with the addition of only a running wheel. Running on its own had no effect on tumour growth, and these mice experienced no gain in stress hormone or BDNF expression, nor a dip in leptin levels.

"This is a novel finding," says John Hall, a physiologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson who studies obesity. "And I think it's going to stimulate a lot of people to learn more about how enrichment can reduce tumour growth."

Work by Hall's group2 and others has begun to hint at leptin's role in tumour growth. Hall notes, though, that his group's study suggested that leptin had a relatively weak effect on tumour growth.

During stresses that by enriching the rodents' cage environment "it's not that you're just creating a happy place, you're challenging them". The protective effects of the stimulation that the test mice received could easily translate into human benefits, he says, and points to possible benefits of a more active lifestyle — not just physically, but also socially and cognitively.

The team is now working to determine which particular elements of the enriched environment are producing its positive effects, During says. They are also developing gene-therapy vectors for delivering BDNF to treat disease, and studying leptin more closely to determine how accurate a marker it is for cancer protection. "Could you then devise interventions, either physiologically or behaviourally," says During, "and use leptin as a readout?"

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100708/ ... 0.342.html


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:20 am 
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Aussie women 'very stressed': survey

Research commissioned by Lifeline has revealed high levels of stress in among Australians, especially women.

About 1,200 men and women were asked to rate their everyday level from "very stressed" through to "no stress" at all.

The poll showed 46 per cent of women, and 41 per cent of men, put themselves in the most stressed category.

At the other end of the scale, only 9 per cent of women and 11 per cent of men could report feeling no stress.

"Our research indicates that in just about every aspect of life women are experiencing higher levels of stress," Lifeline chief executive Dawn O'Neil said.

"Stress is a major issue for our whole community ... but often women neglect their own self care, putting themselves at the bottom of the list after work, family and friends."

Lifeline has declared July 23 Stress Down Day (www.stressdown.org.au).

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-na ... 10fjo.html


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:23 am 
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Cancer patients may benefit from telephone-based care management program

Successfully overcoming cancer is a huge victory and every cancer survivor has his own tale to tell. But in the course of defeating the ailment, another issue that may arise is providing the required care and attention. Experts suggest that cancer patients receiving care in geographically dispersed urban and rural oncology practices subjected to telephone-based care management and home-based automated symptom supposedly display better improvement in pain and depression as compared to patients acquiring usual care.

Even though pain and depression seem to be the most usual physical and psychological symptoms in cancer patients, these symptoms often remain undetected and undertreated. The Indiana Cancer Pain and Depression (INCPAD) trial was triggered in 16 community-based urban and rural geographically dispersed oncology practices, as a co-operative care approach to manage depression and pain.

The trial commenced from March 2006 through August 2008 and the follow-up ended in August 2009. In the event of the study, the scientists randomly assigned study subjects with depression, cancer-related pain, or both and were stratified by symptom type . While around 202 received the intervention, 203 were provided with general care.

The investigators remarked, “Our INCPAD trial has several important findings. First, the telecare management intervention resulted in significant improvements in both pain and depression. Second, the trial demonstrated that it is feasible to provide telephone-based centralized symptom management across multiple geographically dispersed community-based practices in both urban and rural areas by coupling human with technology-augmented patient interactions. Third, the findings did not appear to be confounded by differential rates of co-interventions or health care use.”

Kurt Kroenke, M.D., of the Richard Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indiana University, and Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis, and colleagues revealed that patients belonging to the intervention group were provided with telecare management by a nurse-physician specialist team. These patients were also given automated home-based symptom monitoring by interactive voice recording or Internet.

A nurse care manager trained in assessing symptom response and medication adherence discharged the telephonic care management and gave pain and depression-specific education. Keeping in mind the evidence-based guidelines, treatment adjustments were also made. On the onset of the trail and at the 1,3,6, and 12 months of the investigation, symptoms of pain and depression were evaluated. Amongst the total 405 study participants, 131 reported depression alone, 96 revealed pain only and 178 had both depression and pain.

After the completion of 12 months of the study, the experts observed that among 274 patients with pain, 137 patients in the intervention group had greater improvements in pain severity as determined by the Brief Pain Inventory wherein the BPI was 30 percent or greater decrease in BPI. However, satisfactory results were noted in the 137 patients from the usual-care group.

The authors conclude, “The fact that INCPAD was beneficial for the most common physical and psychological symptoms in cancer patients demonstrates that a collaborative care intervention can cover several conditions, both physical and psychological.”

In the intervention group, of the 309 patients with depression, the 154 patients supposedly registered greater improvement in depression severity as assessed by the Hopkins Symptom Checklist HSCL with 50 percent or greater decrease in HSCL than the 155 patients in the usual-care group. The authors claim differences in secondary outcomes between-group differences were not in pain or depression.

After evaluating specific and the intervention group, the investigators mention that the patients from the intervention group displayed better outcomes for several health-related quality of life domains, including mental health, vitality, anxiety, and physical symptom burden.

The study is published in the July 14 issue of JAMA.

http://www.healthjockey.com/2010/07/16/ ... t-program/


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:15 pm 
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Socially active environment can cause cancer tumors to shrink and even disappear

(NaturalNews) If you or someone you know ever receives a cancer diagnosis, especially one that is labeled "incurable" or fatal, take heart in the fact spontaneous regression (remission) has been reported in the medical literature numerous times for virtually all cancers. Spontaneous regression has been documented most often in neuroblastoma, renal cell carcinoma, lymphoma and malignant melanoma. And, as NaturalNews has previous reported, scientists have also discovered recently that some invasive breast cancers appear to simply go away on their own (http://www.naturalnews.com/024901.html). Now comes research from Ohio State University that could help explain what triggers spontaneous remissions.

The new study, published in the July 9th issues of the journal Cell found that when mice with cancer were given enriched living conditions and a boost in their social life, their tumors shrank -- and some of their cancers disappeared completely. That's powerful evidence, the scientists say, that social connections and an individual's mental state, play an important role in the way the body responds to malignancies. "Animals' interaction with the environment has a profound influence on the growth of cancer -- more than we knew was possible," Matthew During, who headed the study, said in a statement to the press.

The lab rodents were originally housed in groups of about five, given all the food they wanted and allowed to play all day. However, for the research project, mice with cancer were placed in an even better, enriched environment. They had bigger living groups with 15 to 20 other animals to interact with. They also had more space and extra toys, hiding places and running wheels.

During and his colleague, Lei Cao, found that malignant tumors in animals living in this enriched environment started to shrink. In fact, tumors decreased by an impressive 77 percent in mass and decreased in volume by 43 percent, the researchers report. Moreover, five percent of mice with cancer showed no evidence of the disease at all after just three weeks of living in their new home. That seemingly spontaneous cancer cure never happened in control animals kept in standard housing.

So what specifically is going on here that impacts cancer? Animals in a regular mice environment in the lab who exercised more didn't experience improvements in their cancer, so the scientists say more exercise isn't the total explanation. Instead, they think the complex social dimension in the new living arrangement was apparently the key.

The enriched living environment appears to have sparked more, but apparently cancer-fighting, stress in the cancer-stricken mice. The animals showed higher levels of stress hormones called glucocorticoids. What this means, the researchers said in statement to the media, is that low levels of stress, or certain kinds of stress, are probably beneficial.

"A lot of people think stress is bad, but our data show the animals aren't just happy. Antidepressants won't give you the same effect," the scientists said in the press statement. "The goal isn't to minimize stress, but to live a richer life, socially and physically. You want to be challenged."

In addition, the rodents had lower levels of a hormone produced by fat called leptin, indicative of a significant shift in metabolism. Their immune systems also appeared to be "ramped up a bit," During said.

During and his colleague pinned down an increase in a growth factor expressed in the hypothalamus called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the mice living in the improved mouse environment. Further study revealed that manipulations designed to increase BDNF levels also reduced tumor burden. If animals lacked BDNF, the benefits of an enriched environment were not apparent.

The findings could ultimately lead to advances in the way cancer and other diseases are treated -- perhaps through environmental modifications that offer mental and social stimulation. "We're really showing that you can't look at a disease like cancer in isolation," During said in the media statement. "For too long, physicians and others have stuck to what they know -- surgery, chemo, radiotherapy. Traditionally working on the area of lifestyle and the brain has been a 'soft area'. This paper really suggests if we look at people more in terms of their perceptions of disease, their social interactions and environment, we could realize a profound influence on cancer..."

http://www.naturalnews.com/029305_socialize_cancer.html


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:22 pm 
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Reverse the Aging Process Naturally, Part I

(NaturalNews) The anti-aging industry has seen incredible growth over the last 10 years. According to several reports the industry is projected to exceed 115 billion in 2010. The newest science behind anti-aging is focusing its attention on the speed of chromosome shortening and the effect of critical hormones. It is now recognized that certain lifestyle behaviors do influence the key hormones and genetic components that allow us to age with grace and beauty.

There are 75 trillion cells within the human body. The function and aging process of each of these cells dictates the function and aging process of our body. Each cell contains a nucleus with 2 chromosomal (arms) that contain your DNA. Each chromosomal arm is made up of about 100 million protein bases. At the very top of each end of the chromosome is the telomere.

The average telomere is about 15,000 bases long at conception. As we develop in the womb, the process of cellular division begins. As the cells divide the telomeres begin to shorten. During the 9 month gestation period we lose 5,000 bases. So by the time we are born we are already down to 10,000 bases. According to the most cutting edge new theory on aging your telomere length will dictate your aging process and eventual death. Once your telomeres reduce down to about 5,000 bases your DNA can no longer support life.

Based on normal cellular division, the human lifespan should be approximately 120 years. If the cell divides at an abnormally high level, however, the telomere shortening process accelerates and we essentially age faster. Several factors play a significant role in cell division and telomere shortening. This process is about 30% related to the genetic foundation we have inherited and 70% is based upon our lifestyle habits.

Lifestyle factors that increase free radicals accelerate the aging process. Free radicals caused by oxidative stress cleave bases off of the telomeres. This chemical reaction speeds up the telomere shortening process. Our modern culture is inundated with lifestyle toxins that create massive amounts of oxidative stress throughout our system. We are also highly deficient in using resources and strategies that enhance our anti-oxidant defenses that fend off the free radicals.

Insulin and growth hormone are two key hormones that are associated with the aging process. Elevated insulin levels increase cellular division and telomere shortening. Researchers have estimated that over 80% of the US population has some level of insulin resistance. When the cells are resistant to insulin our pancreas has to secrete more insulin in order to lower blood sugar. This creates chronically elevated insulin and accelerated cellular division and telomere shortening.

Growth hormone (HGH) enhances the cellular repair processes that allow us to age with grace. HGH regulates metabolism to burn fat, build muscle, and slow-down the negative effects of stress. Another important characteristic of HGH is that it enhances collagen production and repair. Healthy collagen creates softer skin, reduces wrinkles, and enhances one's complexion. Additionally, this strengthens and supports our joints as they age. Most people see their HGH levels decline with age; however, certain lifestyle modification helps to maximize HGH secretion throughout life.

http://www.naturalnews.com/029298_aging_industry.html


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:26 am 
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Stress Also Causes High Cholesterol

Those people, who are diagnosed with high cholesterol, start taking extra care about their diet and exercising routine, along with the prescribed medicines. But many a times, this does not make much change in their medical condition. A new study has revealed that cholesterol level also rises due to high stress.

This stress includes everything from driving in a hurry, to waking up till late nights and then consuming caffeine. These can boost one’s cholesterol levels to a great extent. While a person is under high stress at a particular time and place, high cortisol levels become appropriate. Cortisol is the stress hormone released in the adrenal glands.

With the change in the level of the hormone, the liver is told to pump out huge amounts of cholesterol, as possible, to survive. This is one major source of high cholesterol, found in the body. And the second source of high cholesterol is the animal products that are found in the food. Out of them, the first source produces more cholesterol.

A human body, for its own use, can produce 60% to 75% of cholesterol. The body, with cholesterol, has to build its own building blocks for estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, cell membranes and vitamin D. Therefore, low cholesterol is also dangerous, and can cause fatigue, depression, and hormonal imbalance.

http://topnews.co.uk/211282-stress-also ... holesterol

[comment - exercise and phosphatydil serine help lower cortisol and stress levels. Cortisol also has a catabolic affect on muscles]


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:21 am 
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Palliative Care Extends Life, Study Finds

In a study that sheds new light on the effects of end-of-life care, doctors have found that patients with terminal lung cancer who began receiving palliative care immediately upon diagnosis not only were happier, more mobile and in less pain as the end neared — but they also lived nearly three months longer.

The findings, published online Wednesday by The New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed what palliative care specialists had long suspected. The study also, experts said, cast doubt on the decision to strike end-of-life provisions from the health care overhaul passed last year.

“It shows that palliative care is the opposite of all that rhetoric about ‘death panels,’ ” said Dr. Diane E. Meier, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and co-author of an editorial in the journal accompanying the study. “It’s not about killing Granny; it’s about keeping Granny alive as long as possible — with the best quality of life.”

In the three-year study, 151 patients with fast-growing lung cancer at Massachusetts General, one of the nation’s top hospitals, were randomly assigned to get either oncology treatment alone or oncology treatment with palliative care — pain relief and other measures intended to improve a patient’s quality of life. They were followed until the end of 2009, by which time about 70 percent were dead.

Those getting palliative care from the start, the authors said, reported less depression and happier lives as measured on scales for pain, nausea, mobility, worry and other problems. Moreover, even though substantially fewer of them opted for aggressive chemotherapy as their illnesses worsened and many more left orders that they not be resuscitated in a crisis, they typically lived almost three months longer than the group getting standard care, who lived a median of nine months.

Doctors and patients “traditionally see palliative care as something extended to a hospitalized patient in the last week of life,” said Dr. Jennifer S. Temel, an oncologist and author of the paper. “We thought it made sense to start them at the time of diagnosis. And we were thrilled to see such a huge impact. It shows that palliative care and cancer care aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Dr. Atul Gawande, a Harvard Medical School surgeon and writer who just published a long article in The New Yorker about hospitalized patients’ suffering before death, called the study “amazing.”

“The field was crying out for a randomized trial,” he added.

Although the study could not determine why the patients lived longer, the authors and other experts had several theories: depression is known to shorten life, and patients whose pain is treated often sleep better, eat better and talk more with relatives. Also, hospitals are dangerous places for very sick people; they may get fatal blood infections, pneumonia or bedsores, or simply be overwhelmed by the powerful drugs and radiation attacking their cancer.

Saying the study was “of critical importance,” Dr. R. Sean Morrison, president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, said it was the “first concrete evidence of what a lot of us have seen in our practices — when you control pain and other symptoms, people not only feel better, they live longer.”

There is sometimes tension between medical specialties, since surgeons and oncologists often view cancer as a battle, while palliative care specialists are seen as “giving up.”

Palliative care typically begins with a long conversation about what the patient with a terminal diagnosis wants out of his remaining life. It includes the options any oncologist addresses: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and their side effects. But it also includes how much suffering a patient wishes to bear, effects on the family, and legal, insurance and religious issues. Teams focus on controlling pain, nausea, swelling, shortness of breath and other side effects; they also address patients’ worries and make sure they have help with making meals, dressing and bathing when not hospitalized.

Hospice care is intensive palliative care including home nursing, but insurers and Medicare usually cover it only if the patient abandons medical treatment and two doctors certify that death is less than six months away.

During the debate over President Obama’s 2009 health care bill, provisions to have Medicare and insurers pay for optional consultations with doctors on palliative and hospice care led to rumors, spread by talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and by the former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, that the bill empowered “death panels” that would “euthanize” elderly Americans.

Legislators eventually removed the provisions. In practice, Medicare and private insurers do pay for some palliative care, said Dr. Gail Austin Cooney, a former president of the palliative medicine academy. “But it’s piecemeal,” she said. “The billing is complicated, and for many physicians that’s enough of a deterrent to not bother.”

Dr. Cooney herself had such care along with surgery and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer in 2008.

“I decided I wanted every drop of chemotherapy they could give me, and it was very painful, dumping the drugs directly into my belly,” she said. She needed powerful painkillers, and also chose alternative-medicine options like acupuncture and “energy work” for nausea and fatigue.

“I’m rigid — I had my last chemo treatment on Christmas Eve because I wanted it on the day I was due for it,” she said. “But I couldn’t have completed the program without the psychosocial support.”

Palliative care experts now want to study patients with other cancers, heart disease, stroke, dementia and emphysema. But the National Institutes of Health is under budget pressure, and the other major source of money for medical research, the pharmaceutical industry, has little incentive to study palliative care. This trial was paid for by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and private philanthropy.

“Philanthropists tend to focus on curing cancer,” Dr. Temel said. “But we can’t ignore people who need end-of-life care.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/health/19care.html

[comment - while acknowledging all palliative care is not created equal, it can be a reality of cancer. This study suggests it may be possible to find peace near the end of life, naturally and hopefully without the over reliance on medication]


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:28 am 
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Michael Douglas: Laughs Help in Cancer Battle

(Sept. 1) -- Only days after announcing that he has throat cancer, actor Michael Douglas is making headlines again -- this time for his remarkable optimism in discussing the late-stage illness on "Late Show With David Letterman."

Of course, the star's air of assurance may have been spurred by the spotlight. But Douglas' upbeat approach also has scientific backing, with myriad studies indicating that humor and positivity can have profound psychological effects for cancer patients and their families. And that, experts think, might even boost odds of remission and long-term recovery.

"It's going to cut into the foreign promotional tour" for his new movie, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," Douglas joked of the illness, which had progressed to Stage 4 before being caught by doctors earlier this summer. "I just wanted to see how far I'd go to promote a movie."

Douglas, 65, told Letterman his odds of survival were around 80 percent. And although he just finished his first week of radiation and chemotherapy, which "knocks you out, really hard," the actor looked tanned and rested.

Humor Therapy: Scientifically Proven Stress Relief

Putting on a brave face might be easier for performers, but making an effort at humor can help alleviate the stress caused by a cancer diagnosis.

The American Cancer Society even endorses "humor therapy," which can be passive (watching funny movies) or spontaneous (an effort to use humor in daily life, for example).

Hospitals and cancer treatment centers also have special areas geared toward laughter or bring in volunteers to provide patients with comedic relief, according to the ACS.

"The session makes you feel better," Luz Rodriguez, a breast cancer patient, told The Associated Press, speaking of the humor program at Montefiore-Einstein Cancer Center in New York. "I feel healthy when I laugh."

Humor and laughter have many known physical benefits, including the reduction of stress hormones and even increased pain tolerance -- a major benefit for those undergoing grueling radiation or chemotherapy. But can jokes actually quell tumors? So far, science says no. Studies have yet to link humor or laughter with the capacity to actually treat cancer tumors, though they has been shown to bolster immunity and promote blood flow.

Still, the dearth of medical evidence isn't stopping cancer patients and survivors from publishing books, starting blogs and joining Web communities devoted to the plus sides of positivity.

"Our focus here is dragging cancer from that dark and gloomy corner of our minds it has long occupied, out into the open, where we are free [to] expose it as the lawless little ingrate that it is and to beat the s--t out of it with humor and positive energy, " reads a disclaimer at the website Cancer Is Not Funny.

And if anecdotal evidence is any testament, humor is a powerful tool in one's anti-cancer arsenal. Personal cancer humor blogs, written as joke-laden diary entries on chemo, hospital visits and medical tests, abound on the Web.

"I'm sitting in the chair at my oncology office with a needle hanging out of my port!" writes blogger Ryan Armbrust at his blog, I Made Cancer My Bitch. "Good times!"

The Downsides to Cancer Chortles

Humor can be a helpful approach in any trying situation, illness included. But when issues of life and death are salient, experts warn that jokes can also be a dangerous avoidance tactic.

And, of course, some cancer diagnoses are so shocking, or devastating, that patients can't seem to find the bright side.

At one "Comedy for Cancer" show in Brooklyn, N.Y., a female patient had to leave early because the humor was "just too much," according to a 2009 Newsweek piece.

For Douglas, however, and thousands of other devotees of humor therapy, laughter is one effective way to cope with the uncertainty of a life-and-death illness.

Asked by Letterman if doctors had caught his Stage 4 cancer soon enough to save him, Douglas couldn't offer a yes or no answer. Instead, he offered a shrug and a smile, quipping: "I sure as s--t hope so."

http://www.aolnews.com/health/article/m ... p/19616670


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:37 pm 
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Cancer sufferers helped by meditation

The Cancer Council says a new stress management program for cancer sufferers is proving successful.

Results of the eight-week program in South Australia are being published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Research had found 40 per cent of people with cancer also showed signs of depression and anxiety in the long term.

Cancer survivor Jane Megan said the program was extremely beneficial.

"I do the meditation every day and I find that it just helps me to feel better about myself, more in control," she said.

"I don't get so upset about small things that I suppose would have bugged me before."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010 ... 004573.htm


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:42 pm 
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Taking cat naps can help support breast cancer awareness

(ARA) - On average, cats sleep 13 to 16 hours a day. Many of those hours are composed of naps - 20 to 30 minutes in length - hence the term "cat nap." As a cat owner, you probably watch your feline friend curl up in a sunny spot at the edge of your bed and with a wishful sigh, contemplate joining her for a cat nap of your own.

In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help improve mood, alertness and performance. And when a person is fighting a disease such as breast cancer, connecting with your cat - especially during a restful and regenerative cat nap - provides a calming influence, according to a recent Purina Cat Chow survey.

Inspired by one cancer survivor's touching story of the role her cat played during her battle with cancer, Purina Cat Chow is doing its part to help the fight against breast cancer. For the third consecutive year, the company is donating more than $200,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and will raise awareness for breast cancer through its "Cat Nap for the Cause campaign." In addition, when a person becomes a fan of www.facebook.com/purinacatchow and registers to take a cat nap this October, another $2 donation will be made to Susan G. Komen, up to $150,000. Purina Cat Chow Indoor and Purina Cat Chow Complete also will feature pink packaging this October in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Celebrity cat lover and breast cancer awareness supporter Kate Walsh joins the campaign to raise funds and awareness.

"One of my favorite things to do is hang out with my cats Billy and Pablo ... and I'm not kidding. I know many people share the same bond with their pets," says Walsh, star of the ABC hit show "Private Practice." "As a cat lover and daughter of a courageous woman who has been a breast cancer survivor for more than 10 years, I'm thrilled to support a campaign that empowers cat lovers and breast cancer supporters to make a difference and raise funds simply by taking a cat nap this October."

The Purina Cat Chow national survey found that 84 percent of women battling breast cancer said their cat had a calming effect on them during their treatment. Cats also provided daily support to the patient, according to 76 percent of survivors surveyed.

Dr. Karen Sueda, a diplomate at the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, says that cats are perceptive to their owners needs during an illness.

"Whether pet owners are fighting a disease such as breast cancer or going through a rough period in life such as job loss or financial stress, their cats often display intuitive behaviors of knowing when they need extra love and support," says Sueda.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. The organization has invested more than $1.5 billion toward ending breast cancer, becoming the world's largest source of non-profit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.

http://www.crestonnewsadvertiser.com/ar ... /index.xml


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:45 pm 
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Susan G. Komen and Massage Envy team up for Massage for the Cure

Massage Envy is teaming up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to host the fifth-annual Massage for the Cure event.

In 1982, Nancy G. Brinkler promised her dying sister Susan G. Komen that she would do whatever it took to end breast cancer, the disease that was quickly claiming her sister’s life. Nancy has done a pretty good job – today, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people and fund research to put an end to this devastating illness that claims the lives of more than 40,000 women every year.

In the United States, a woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer and a 1 in 33 chance of dying from the illness, according to the American Cancer Society.

There is something that we can do to help fund the search for effective breast cancer treatment. In addition to its annual Race for the Cure, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is partnering with Massage Envy to help raise money for research about the deadly disease.

During the national one-day special, patrons can visit any Massage Envy location on Sept. 14 for the ultimate win-win: a $49 massage, with $15 of the total heading directly to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to fund breast cancer research, screening and treatment.

Since the first Massage for the Cure event in 2005, Massage Envy has raised more than $1.4 million for Susan G. Komen for the Cure throughout the country. This year, 620 Massage Envy locations across 42 states are expected to participate. The company will make a minimum guaranteed donation of $250,000.

"Massage Envy is extremely proud to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure once again and to continue the partnership to raise funds for breast cancer efforts in our community," said Larry Reiff, regional franchise developer for Massage Envy in Colorado.

http://www.thedailytell.com/2010/09/sus ... -the-cure/


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