Monday, April 26, 2010

It's My Grandmomma's Fault!!

This past Thursday I attended a seminar I was drawn to called "Cancer Myths and Fallacies". Being the obsessive, compulsive, bi-polar, ADD, woman I am, after seeing my best friend successfully fight Hodgkin's disease, my aunt successfully fight breast cancer, my mom die from lung cancer, my father in law die from lung cancer and my mother in-law currently fight for her life with breast cancer (all within 6 years) I have been trying to read up all I can on how to live a healthy life.

And let me tell you, IT'S NOT EASY! Our society is inundated with anything and everything that will cause you to get sick and die before your time. When thinking about doing the right thing health wise, I am at a fork in the road. The one road looks like a highway where everyone seems to be going 85 mph but it seems to be easy to get to. The other road is a back road with lots of hills and curves.

Matthew 7:13 (New International Version)
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

With the way we live our lives, my generation will be lucky to see 70 years of age. I'm one of those people who have the greatest of intentions but once I start feeling better, stop doing THE THING that caused me to feel better only to start feeling bad again...and the cycle continues.

Here are a few things I learned at the seminar that I found interesting:
  • Your DNA (genes) will only increase your potential of getting cancer by 5%  ( I was always told it had a LOT more to do with it. I mean if not, why do the doctors always ask me who in my family had it?)
  • Type C Personality has a higher chance of getting and passing away from Cancer.
  • Epigenetics have more of a say in what ailments or dis-eases you have. (Based on previous generations you can inherit benefits or disadvantage from as far back as 7 generations)
  • The gut is considered "The Second Brain" and has more neural tissues than the spinal cord. 70% of the immune system is located in the gut.
  • In the 1950s a scientist determined that if our culture would stay on it's current diet (at the time) that in 50 years we would see an epidemic in infertility in women.. (sound familiar???)
  • Our diet should be more in line with the diet of our ancestors, a "non civilized" diet...
Below are some quotes I found from some websites that have a more in depth explanation of the above bullet points:

Personality type C. and cancer:

Cancer is the leading cause of death in the more developed countries after heart disease. Does your personality type affect your chance of getting cancer? There is some research to suggest that it might although the cause and effect relationship between cancer and personality type is not as strong as it is between personality type and heart disease. Psychologists have now identified a "type C." (cancer-prone) personality which may be characterized as someone who responds to stress with depression and a sense of hopelessness. Type C personalities have a tendency to be introverted, respectful, eager to please, conforming and compliant. However, these same studies have not identified how personality may affect lifestyle choices such as are these same individuals more likely to smoke?

There has been some evidence to suggest that your personality type may have some relationship to your chance of surviving cancer. Those who respond with a "fighting spirit" or sense of denial seem to do better than the type C personalities who seem to accept their fate passively. A Stanford University (in the USA) professor named David Spiegel discovered that cancer patients who joined a support group which fostered a "fighting spirit" had a tendency to live on average, 18 months longer than those who were not in such a group.


The term epigenetic is showing up in cancer literature that describes chemical modifications to how genes function. These modifications aren't changes in the gene itself but are ‘on top of the gene' literally what the term epigenetic means.

Where it gets interesting:

Epigenetic modifications can be passed on to offspring, that is, they can be inherited. The gene stays the same but whether it is expressed can be changed in future generations. Randy Jirtle at Duke University has done some interesting things with Agouti mice. The agouti gene gives mice yellow fur, and a strong predisposition to obesity, cancer and diabetes.

The truth is that there are acquired traits that may be passed down to offspring in a manner independent of genes. This information and the understanding of epigenetics may play an important role in preventing and treating cancer in future years. The current state of the science strongly suggests that diet and nutrition can have a lasting effect on genetic expression stretching into future generations.

The Gut

A deeper understanding of this mass of neural tissue, filled with important neurotransmitters, is revealing that it does much more than merely handle digestion or inflict the occasional nervous pang. The little brain in our innards, in connection with the big one in our skulls, partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.

The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system, Gershon says.

The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. "A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut," Mayer says. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, Gershon says—is but one example.

"It was totally unexpected that the gut would regulate bone mass to the extent that one could use this regulation to cure—at least in rodents—osteoporosis," says Gerard Karsenty, lead author of the study and chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center.

Serotonin seeping from the second brain might even play some part in autism, the developmental disorder often first noticed in early childhood. Gershon has discovered that the same genes involved in synapse formation between neurons in the brain are involved in the alimentary synapse formation. "If these genes are affected in autism," he says, "it could explain why so many kids with autism have GI motor abnormalities" in addition to elevated levels of gut-produced serotonin in their blood.
Paleolithic Diet
There are races of people who are all slim, who are stronger and faster than us. They all have straight teeth and perfect eyesight. Arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, schizophrenia and cancer are absolute rarities for them. These people are the last 84 tribes of hunter-gatherers in the world. They share a secret that is over 2 million years old. Their secret is their diet- a diet that has changed little from that of the first humans 2 million years ago, and their predecessors up to 7 million years ago. Theirs is the diet that man evolved on, the diet that is coded for in our genes. It has some major differences to the diet of "civilization".
So the question becomes... Am I going overboard? Is there anyone out there who is as interested in their health and doing a lot of research, doing a 180 degree turn on their diet? Anyone else finding it completely difficult and impossible (especially with a limited income) to purchase all organic and to cut out beautiful things like BBQ, gluten, Soy and SUGAR!! Your comments and suggestions on how I can make the 180 degree turn and not turn back would be GREATLY Appreciated :)


Julie Zando-Dennis said...

My firm is conducting a "Biggest Loser" competition, with teams and a money prize. The team angle has been a greater motivator, and in the past six weeks I've lost pounds and improved my diet. Having done so, it seems hard to remember the days when potato chips were my favorite food. Breakfast is a fruit smoothie, lunch soup and salad, and a portion controlled dinner. That, and brisk walking daily, has transformed my feeling of well being and fitness. You can do it!

Nikkita said...

Thanks Julie, My thing is that once I take one chip, it spirals me out of control and back on the wrong track.

I just need to STAY AWAY!!

noel jones said...

I was listening to NPR recently, and there was a special on how rich foods are as addictive as hard drugs. It definitely takes some will power and endurance to break the addiction, but once your body gets accustomed to the healthy stuff, it will crave the rich stuff less.

My advice: Don't buy the bad food, and don't let anyone bring it in the house. Keep your kitchen stocked with the healthy stuff. That will help a lot. That way, when you get the munchies, you can fill up on good stuff!

Sandra Walters Weiss said...

I haven't posted much lately,I am quietly sitting back watching.I am very active in Health Care reform that is focused on "Women not being a pre-existing condition". It is run by the National Woman's Law Project and I have been asked to give my views on issues such as this.My life was a health care nightmare.So I applaud you for your efforts. I will be attending their conference in May in Washington DC.Addictions come in many forms,and food is one of them
There are so many issues,diabetes is on the rise,juvenile diabetes.We are the country with the largest obese children,so we need to continue to educate and any one interested the Law Project has a Facebook page.Check it out,it is of real interest to us as woman.Thank You and good luck to all!!!

David Caines said...

I'm Bi-polar severe with GAD, PTSD, and a few others thrown in, so believe me I get it. Prior to the fire I dealt with all of that stuff through decades of meditation, sadly since the fire I can't meditate any more (It's like trying to walk without legs.) so I'm back to the starting block.
I'll start here by saying that I'm not a big believer in the "Addiction" concept, scientific studies are finally being done in these fields and most, all but disprove the theory. some have gone as far as to suggest that the simple concept of addiction is dangerous to the sufferers of various disorders and may actually lessen a persons chances of successfully over coming an issue (alcohol, drugs, food ) by as much as fifty percent. With that inn mind, my advice must be to try any remedies that present themselves, and pick what works for you. Most diets, programs, etc... are designed to impact the greatest number of people possible and sadly because of that most people fall through the cracks.
For myself, I use a mixed bag of tricks from a bunch of different disciplines to try to keep something of an even keel emotionally with some success, though I will keep working on getting back to meditation as that is what worked best for me.
Also, personality "Type", is something you can change, though like the rest of life it takes effort.
On a side note, our Honda had it's clutch plate disintegrate without warning on route 78 the other day, nearly killing us. I managed to the the car safely off the road, nearly blowing the engine in the process, only to hear from American Honda Inc. That this is a perfectly acceptable outcome to them and requires no further inquiry. Though to give credit where due, the mechanic at P-burg Honda told us to call the company and have it looked into. The company sadly pretty much told us to go to hell, and not even so much as an apology for the car failing so completely and dangerously. Thus ending our 22 year relationship with Honda. We will of course never buy another Honda again. Shame as we really loved the car until it nearly killed us without warning.

David Caines said...

A quick Ps:
Our tires were picked up Tuesday and Sophia called to put us on the list. So next year I'll go down the embankment a little more and bring up more trash. Glad it all worked out really.

Nikkita said...

OMG! that's crazy! I can't believe that. I love my Honda too! I would be so upset. Were you able to get your car fixed or is it totalled?

I would understand the addiction philosophy being used as a crutch for people. Most of us are prone to making excuses for our problems and shortcomings anyway so if there is a "Dr. Approved" excuse for not stopping something we will usually run with it and not even attempt to change at that point.

I also agree that you can change your personality type. I KNOW I used to be a definite C but as I've gotten older and read more I've learned to be more aggressive and express myself when necessary. I may sometimes go overboard in expressing my feelings at times but you can be sure you will always know where I stand :)

When I was laid off I found Immense relieve in yoga! My body never felt so good and my mind at ease. I've been really thinking about getting up earlier in the mornings and doing a yoga routine... since I can't afford to take classes (nor do I have the time after work) Since I know that every thought that enters my mind is not my own (nor is it necessarily the truth) I've been better at trying to filter the crap from reality. And do a LOT of singing to purge the negative thoughts from my head. So if you ever see me around town singing and skipping that might be why :)

David Caines said...

I know, that's why we bought a Honda, but in the end it's just an $1,800.00 bill a good scare and well we'll never trust the car or Honda again.
I'm more into yoga than my better half, though theses days it's more a question of remembering to do just about anything. Positive self talk, "stop think", RET (Rational Emotive Therapy), Affirmations (I'm a big Louise Hay fan), Martial Arts, shooting (I find it meditative), prayer beads and short mantra meditation... ?Yeah, I'm horribly "New Agey" for a type "A", well ex-type "A"-sort of "Ex" anyhow.
The real kicker for me is that I'd already dealt with all of this and had strong daily practices that the fire took away. Gifts that keep on giving. But I keep fighting, and sort of do okay. And I remember that it took a long time for me to get a handle on everything in the first place, so I try not to get too angry or frustrated. Well, I have my moments. I have enough tools in my bag of tricks that I can usually find something that works if something I'd rather use is escaping my mind at the time...and I seriously try to limit my negative stress and the like.
It's a long road apparently, but worth it I think. And I prefer to know where people stand. One of the things I most like about you, Noel and most of the crowd here.

Anonymous said...

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It's the best common sense paleo book I've read. Just check out some of the results their readers are getting:

take care,