Dr. Ralph Moss on Hyperthermia and Cancer

flame

Hyperthermia is the process of heating the body, or tumor temperature, or both, in order to kill cancer cells. Because of the complexity of tumors and cancer cells, they can’t cool off as quickly as normal cells, so heat has a more devastating effect on their survival. I have read in the past that fevers have been shown to kill cancer cells, and cancer rates have decreased in times and areas when people have been ill because of infectious disease.  Now, scientists have developed technology which allows heat to be targeted to a tumor, and spare regular cells the intense heat.

However, Ralph Moss points out that while America innovates, it is slow to implement. Other countries, like Germany and China, are already offering hyperthermia treatment for cancer at a variety of clinics, while the U.S. only offers the therapy at a few major centers. Of course, one can create a fever artificially in a variety of ways (including sitting in a hot bath for a long time, or even getting the flu), but neither are particularly safe without supervision.

Image by Jonathan, enhanced by yours truly

Amazing News on Vitamin D and Breast Cancer

summer path

Despite what you may be thinking, this is not a Vitamin D blog, although I do just happen to read a lot of news about Vitamin D, and this is the case because Vitamin D is making the news a lot lately. A new study, which I saw little trace of in the mainstream media, suggests Vitamin D is a potent cancer preventative agent, and extends the life of cancer patients.

The study measured 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (Calcidiol) levels in 512 women (around age 50) over the course of 12 years, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the early stages. They divided women into three types of Vitamin D blood levels, “deficient” (< 50 nmol/L), “insufficient” (50 to 72 nmol/L), and “sufficient” (> 72 nmol/L). What they found after 12 years was that those women who were “deficient” had higher risk of both cancer recurrence and of death. What percentage of higher risk of cancer recurrence did those deficient in Vitamin D have? Take a guess.

Was it 10%? No

Was it 20% No

30%? No

50% Keep going

75%? Nope

85%? Still higher

94%. Yes, those who were deficient in Vitamin D had a 94% increased risk of breast cancer than those who had sufficient levels of the Vitamin.

And what was the difference in death risk? Those with deficient levels of Vitamin D had a 73% increased risk of death from breast cancer than those with high levels of Vitamin D.

The researchers admit that to get blood levels this high requires supplementation at around 4000 IU/day, depending of course, on sun exposure and other factors such as body size. Considering the RDA is only 400 IU, and the “upper daily limit” is 2000 IU, this seems quite high. The reality is that the RDA and upper daily limit are ridiculously low. 400 IU is enough Vitamin D to prevent the most obvious deficiency disease: rickets. However, we need much more Vitamin D than this to prevent other problems, and our bodies make more than 2000 IU after being in the sun for 10-15 minutes. These realities make the current RDA look ridiculously low.

If a study like this came out regarding a drug, you can be it would be hailed the miracle drug of the decade. Instead, it is just lowly Vitamin D that is working these wonders. Heck, it is available for free most of the year just by going outside…perhaps an impressive irony given the amount of money spent each year researching cancer treatments and paying for them.

Vitamin D and African-Americans

Recently I came across two interesting articles about Vitamin D deficiency in African-Americans, and the possible effects this widespread deficiency is having on the black community. Because of their dark skin, it takes blacks 2-5 times longer time in the sun to make Vitamin D than it takes white people. As a result, many African-Americans in the United States and Canada are Vitamin D deficient, especially black teens (black teens are 20 times more likely to be Vitamin D deficient than white teens). Dark skin is actually an adaptation to prolonged sun exposure, so Africans living in sub-Saharan Africa would make plenty of Vitamin D under normal conditions, but when living in northern areas, their skins have difficulty making the vitamin). Traditionally, peoples living far north, like the Inuits, have adapted by eating foods high in Vitamin D (in their traditional diets), but modern diets of people living in northern areas have very little Vitamin D.

Almost exactly two years ago, the blog Acting White posted about Vitamin D and Learning Disadvantages in Black Children. In it, the author (James Collier), argues that rampant Vitamin D deficiency among black mothers and black children is giving them a strong neuro-developmental disadvantage throughout life. As Collier points out, Vitamin D is cheap and beneficial for every race.

Another article I was reading, points out that blacks have lower cancer survival rates than whites, even at the same stage of cancer, and using the same treatment. Some researches have concluded that a Vitamin D deficiency is responsible for this disparity. In a study published in the journal of the AMA, it was found that summertime UV-B doses were inversely associated with incidences of major cancers in African-Americans, which means that the less UV-B rays a person was exposed to, the higher the rate of cancer. Again, according to the same article, a study found that blood levels of Calcidiol, equivalent to an intake of 1000 IU/day of Vitamin D, reduced the risk of colon cancer by 50%. While white Americans do not achieve this level, whites, on average, have 50 to 67% of the proper Calcidiol level. However, blacks, on average, only have 33 to 50% of the level.

Vitamin D deficiency is something that we all have to address, but it seems like African-Americans would benefit from exploring supplementation with Vitamin D, since blacks living in most of the U.S. and Canada have a disadvantage when it comes to making Vitamin D.

Bromelain Acts Against Cancer and Inflammation

A recent study reported in Cancer Letter reports that Bromelain, a mixture of enzymes found in pineapple fruits and stems, has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Pre-treating rats with Bromelain resulted in fewer tumors in rats, and a 65% decrease in tumor size. Bromelain also activated an anti-cancer gene, and blocked inflammatory responses. This squares with other research that has shown Bromelain (and other protein-digesting enzymes) to be an effective anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory substance (see this study which shows that when enzymes are given preventatively, cancer does not develop).

Bromelain is relatively inexpensive, and I take it regularly on an empty stomach before exercising, because of its anti-inflammatory activity. Most experts recommend supplementing with Bromelain and other enzymes between meals, because if taken with meals, they will digest food rather than be absorbed by the body as anti-inflammatory agents. Because enzymes are large molecules, and poorly absorbed, therapeutic dosages of enzymes tend to be rather high. The study I mentioned above used 45 mg of proteololytic (protein-digesting) enzymes per kilogram of body weight. I weigh 72 kilograms, so this means I would need 3.2 grams of proteolytic enzymes to have the effect, which is not a huge amount, but more than I currently take. I have been fascinated by therapeutic enzymes since I first read about the science behind them in high school. The “gold standard” of therapeutic enzymes is Wobenzym, and it includes Bromelain.

Black-Out Curtains: Save Sleep and Save Money Making Them

It seems like every house, apartment, or dorm I’ve lived in during these past 10 years has had some type of light right outside the bedroom window.  Right outside!?!  While they do make me feel more secure, they also make it harder for me to get quality sleep. I am not totally off-base, as studies show that sleeping in a room with some light is associated with higher levels of some cancers. In fact, just last week, Science News announced a new study has linked artificial light at night to a higher risk of prostate cancer. The studies are clear: artificial light leaking into our bedrooms at night cause health problems due to a lack of sleep. However, as I explain below, the solution need not be expensive (or involve you wearing one of those strange-looking sleep masks).

I’ve tried every solution, from taping up garbage bags to buying fancy curtains.  Yet, nothing seemed to work as well as the high-end brand black out shades my mom installed in her house.  I commented about this to her one day.  Her response was for me to go get some black out material at the fabric store.  Obviously I’ve never made curtains before, and I didn’t even know they had this “stuff”!  But for around $6 (after using the 40% off coupon in the paper), I got 2 yards of fabric.   I sewed a pocket for a tension rod and I was done.  Instant dark! Even in the day time it’s really dark in the room. It makes for a world of difference in our room.   I can’t tell you how great this material is.  You do not need to hem it.  Even if you don’t sew very well, you can make these.  As a matter of fact you don’t have to sew it either if you get a tube of liquid stitch.  Or if you’d like to take it one step further Martha Stewart has a How to Make Your Own Roman Shade tutorial here.

More on Sleep and Breast Cancer

A few weeks ago I posted on exposure to light at night and breast cancer, and now there is a related follow-up. A recent large scale study demonstrates the importance of sleep in preventing breast cancer. The study used those who slept 7 hours a night as a reference point, so they compared those who got more or less sleep to the breast cancer rates of the seven-hour-per-night sleepers. The study found that those who got only 6 hours a sleep per night had a 62% higher risk of developing breast cancer, whereas those who got an average of 9 hours per night had a 28% lower risk of coming down with the disease. So a fairly simple prescription to prevent breast cancer? Get a little more sleep.

Image of my family’s cat sleeping. Cats certainly have sleeping down to an art

Vitamin C and E Pills Don’t Prevent Cancer

According to a long-term study, Vitamin C and E supplements do not prevent cancer, at least not in the large group of doctors studied.

I haven’t taken the vitamin E supplements used in this study for awhile, because of some negative studies associated with it. Apparently, the worst form is dl-alpha tocopherol, the synthetic form, which is what the study referenced above used. 400 IU seems to be too much too. I take 200 IU occasionally, but it is the all natural form of vitamin E, with mixed tocopherols. I wonder how Vitamin C would have fared individually, without being accompanied by a high dose of Vitamin E.