Tests To Help With Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions

When you’ve just received a diagnosis of breast cancer, you are faced with many different treatment options. Your mind is in a whirl with fear, confusion, and disbelief. While none of these feelings help decision making, there are some tests that can help: Oncotype DX and Mammaprint. 

These tests are genomic tests that analyze the activity of specific genes in the breast tumor. They can help you determine if your risk of breast cancer coming back is high or low, which can help you in making a decision about whether to have chemotherapy, radiation, or other therapies to reduce risk after surgery.

There are two main types of tests – Oncotype DX and Mammaprint.

Oncotype Dx has two tests for breast cancer – one for Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – Oncotype DX DCIS and one for invasive breast cancer – Oncotype DX.  Mammaprint has one test for invasive breast cancer. Let’s look at these in greater detail.

What are genomic tests?

Genomic tests look at specific genes in your individual tumor and try to determine what is driving its growth. This is different from genetic tests which look at your inherited risk or predisposition for cancer. Genomic tests provide information that can help tailor your treatment plan to you as an individual. They are a type of personalized medicine. This is really important, because not all breast cancers are the same and, in fact, some breast cancers might have more in common with a prostate cancer than they do with another type of breast cancer. One size treatment definitely does not fit all.

Oncotype DX DCIS

Image showing the incidence of DCIS from blog on CALMERme.comThis test is only for people diagnosed with DCIS or, as it is often called, “stage zero” breast cancer. In addition to general information such as tumor size, margins, and grade, Oncotype DX DCIS helps determine the likelihood of DCIS recurring or invasive breast cancer occurring within the next 10 years.

It examines a sample of the tumor tissue that has already been removed during the lumpectomy for DCIS. By looking at the expression of 21 different genes in the tumor, it provides a DCIS score of between 0-100. The lower the score, the lower the risk of recurrence. Two scores are given, one to determine the risk of recurrence of DCIS and another for the risk of occurrence of an invasive breast cancer.

Knowing the DCIS score can help you decide whether to have radiation treatment  following the lumpectomy. If your risk of recurrence is low, then maybe you can spare yourself further treatment and the possible side effects that go with it.

To be eligible for Oncotype DX DCIS, you need to have recently been diagnosed with DCIS and had lumpectomy surgery. The decision should be made in discussion with your doctor/oncologist.

In the US, insurance might cover the cost of this test; the testing company will help you determine if this is the case and provide information to your insurers, as necessary. In the UK, these tests can be conducted under the NHS or privately.

Many oncologists are now familiar with these tests for invasive breast cancer; sadly, the Oncotype DX DCIS test does not appear to be known by all oncologists, so it’s good for you to be proactive and start the discussion. Here is a link to the validation work done on the test that you can forward to your oncologist, and further links are given at the bottom of this post:

Clinical validation of oncotype DX DCIS

I definitely think it is worth having a discussion with your oncologist, sharing the references as necessary, and if you don’t get anywhere with the oncologist, talk to your family doctor or surgeon.

Oncotype DX and Mammaprint

Both Oncotype DX and Mammaprint are genomic tests suitable for early stage invasive breast cancer. They both predict the benefit of chemotherapy or other types of treatment, as well as the likelihood of 10 year recurrence.

They are similar tests but have some differences, as outlined below:

Comparison of oncotype DX and mammaprint for invasive breast cancer

Looking at this table can help determine if you are eligible for either of these tests.

As with Oncotype DX DCIS, some insurance companies in the US will pay for these tests whereas some don’t include them in coverage. Both testing companies offer financial assistance or guidance, so it’s worth calling them to discuss if you are interested and want to check coverage. In the UK, these tests can be conducted under the NHS or privately.

These tests are important because some of the cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, can have many side effects and are hard to get through. If there is little to no benefit in these treatments for you as an individual, then these genomic tests give you the confidence to not have a treatment that has greater potential for risk than for benefit.

Obviously the decision of further treatment is based on more than just these results. It involves detailed discussion with your oncologist, but also personal consideration of what you want and how you feel. Remember, you can take your time over treatment decisions. You might feel rushed, but take adequate time until you feel comfortable that you are making the right personal decision. These tests can go a long way in giving you confidence in your decision, but it is still a personal choice that needs to be right for you as an individual based on your mind and spirit, as well as your body.

Here are links to each of these three tests for more information

Patient information on Oncotype DX DCIS

Oncologist information on Oncotype DX DCIS

Patient information on Oncotype DX

Oncologist information on Oncotype DX

Patient information on Mammaprint

Oncologist information on Mammaprint

Let me know if you’ve had any of these tests and how they helped you.

Ruth BaillieRuth Baillie is originally from the UK and now lives most of the year in Northern California. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in Personalized Nutrition (distinction), and another in Health Psychology. She is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Certified Professional Cancer Coach, and Cancer Guide, and has undertaken considerable post-graduate studies in integrative naturopathic oncology. She is the author of “Choices in mind-body medicine for cancer patients in Sonoma County, California” and her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Spring Opportunities of Joy for Breast Cancer Survivors

Winter may have been especially long, cold and dark for many; but as winter turned a corner on March 20, 2017, spring caused a shift in sunlight, brightening the corners of darkness. As breast cancer survivors’ know, not all changes bring light into the darkness. Life feels permanently changed when those words resounded in your ears, “I am sorry you have breast cancer.” What do you know about the word, permanently? Maybe it is that all things are truly impermanent (not permanent). Like the four seasons, we realize the idea of impermanence as one season rolls into the next, ever changing. The concept of impermanence becomes a useful tool for living our lives vibrantly. Increasingly important, using ALL of our tools to keep us moving forward and staying positive. As Bell Ruth Naparstek explained in one of her affirmations in many of her healing CDs, “More and more I know I will be well, not out of the fear of death or disability. I will be well out of the joy of living.”

Spring is a time when many things begin anew again. Grass appears greener than usual, blossoms on trees dance in the sunlight and bunnies are being born. Birds even seem to border on the obnoxious side late at night and early morning hours. The birds are so happy to be alive and so happy to create what comes natural that they do not attempt to restrain their song. You too, can be like the birds. Letting the cancer be like a winter season in your life, and chose to move into spring with the light, and the birds.

It is March 20, 2017 and you are still here. What do you want to plant? What to do you want to create? All of us reading this today are still here. All of us are going to die, yes, but what are we going to do with this day to make it a song from our heart? What if we feel tired? What if we feel weak? What is it that we can do to make today a day of spring-filled blessings? The choice is ours. We are not the same person before those words, “I am sorry you have breast cancer.” We are different now. Think about when Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was hit upside the head with window, her life changed. She went on an unplanned journey that had many perils. When she returned to Kansas, no one or nothing had changed. However, Dorothy was different. She had been on the journey while everyone else stayed in their own comfort zone. Cancer changes us because it throws us out of our comfort zone and into the battle with the wicked witch of the west. We begin to see the path is up to us, not the Wizard, to survive the ordeals. We must get the witches broom. The season of spring gives us many opportunities to sweep out things not working, pack up things that are no longer useful and create new and bright happy changes in our life.

Make that affirmation, “More and more I know I will be well, not out of the fear of death or disability. I will be well out of the joy of living.” Regardless of your situation, stage, grade, or prognosis, create some joy in each day. Whether it is the ecstasy of the softness of ice cream in your mouth or a cool washcloth against your hot skin, push yourself to move toward joy just as a flower pushes out of the dormant cold frozen dirt toward the warmth and light of the newly arrived sunlight. Life is simple. It is what it is. You get to create joy and you can do that. Cancer did not steal that ability.

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

Can Green Tea Help Prevent Cancer?

Tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of [heart disease], stroke,” and premature death in general, with each additional cup of green tea a day associated with a 4% lower mortality risk. So, maybe, “drinking several cups of tea daily can keep the doctor away”—as well as the mortician. But, what about cancer?

“There is growing evidence from laboratory, [population], and human intervention[al] studies that tea can exert beneficial disease-preventive effects,” and further, may actually “slow cancer progression.” Let’s review some of that evidence.

Not only do those who drink a lot of tea appear to live years longer than those who drink less; drinking lots of tea may delay the onset of cancer. Now, these are in Japanese tea cups, which only contain half a cup; so, the highest category here is greater than or equal to five full cups of tea, not ten. The women that did get cancer appeared to get it seven years later if they had been drinking lots of tea compared to those who consumed less, whereas men had a three-year delay, the difference male versus female due, potentially, to their smoking habits.

Green tea may be able to interfere with each of the stages of cancer formation: the initiation of the first cancer cell, promotion into a tumor, and then, the subsequent progression and spread. Cancer is often initiated when a free radical oxidizes our DNA, causing a mutation. But within 40 minutes of drinking green tea, you can get a nice “spike” in the antioxidant power of your bloodstream. “This increase…, in turn, [may] lower oxidative damage to DNA and so decrease [the] risk of cancer.”

Furthermore, in terms of “genoprotective effects”—protecting our genes—”pre-existing oxidation-induced DNA damage was…lower” after drinking green tea, suggesting that it can boost DNA repair as well. But, we didn’t know for sure, until now.

There’s a DNA-repair enzyme in our body called OGG1, and within one hour of drinking a single cup of green tea, we can boost its activity—though after a week of tea drinking, we can boost it even higher. So, “regular intake of green tea [may have] additional benefits in the prevention and/or repair of DNA damage.” Tea is so DNA-protective, it can be used for sperm storage for fresh samples until they can be properly refrigerated.

And so anti-inflammatory, it can be used for pain control as a mouthwash after wisdom tooth surgery. And, in terms of controlling cancer growth, at a dose of green tea compounds that would make it into someone’s organs after drinking six cups of tea, it can cause cancer cells to commit suicide—apoptosis (programmed cell death)—while leaving normal cells alone.

There’s lots of chemo agents that can kill cancer through brute force. But, that can make normal cells vulnerable too. So, “green tea appears to be potentially an ideal agent” for cancer prevention: “little or no adverse side effects,” efficacious for multiple cancers “at achievable dose levels,” and can be taken orally.

We have a sense of how it works: by stopping cancer cells from growing and causing them to off themselves. It’s cheap and has a history of safe, acceptable use. But this was all based on in vitro studies in a test tube. It needs to be evaluated in human trials: give people with cancer green tea to see if it helps—which we’ll explore, next.

Doctor’s Note

Sorry about the cliffhanger! I just wanted to offer a good backgrounder on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Stay tuned for Can Green Tea Help Treat Cancer?

You don’t have to wait for info on prostate cancer, though. See my recent videos: Preventing Prostate Cancer with Green Tea and Treating Prostate Cancer with Green Tea.

I also have a few older videos:

That wisdom tooth thing is so interesting. It can also just be used as an anticavity mouth rinse (see What’s the Best Mouthwash?).

Is Caffeinated Tea Dehydrating? Watch the video!

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

Yoga Online Class For Cancer Patients

online yoga classes for cancerWelcome to Yoga & Healing cyber yoga class room! These are interactive classes that are offered via the platform of Fuze (which is like Skype). All you need is a computer/iPad with a camera, internet connection, your mat, blankets and a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and an online sense of adventure!

Our instructors are able to watch you via the mobile device camera, offer guidance and support throughout the class just like you would have in a normal class situation. The great thing about these classes is that you can join in from anywhere. These are small group classes and spaces are limited. Bookings are required.

Yoga Online Course (live)

  • Thursday 6:00 am – 7:00 am Australian Time and Wednesday 2:00 – 3:00 pm.
  • Next 6 week course commences 9th March 2017 (cost $105)

Yoga is simply a state of being with our body in all that we do. The focus of these classes are about deeply re-connecting with one-self and enjoying a gentle movements and exercises in a way that truly supports and cares for the whole body. All our yoga classes offer an opportunity to deepen the quality of one’s presence and gentleness in all that one does, says and thinks.

Instructor: Donna Gianniotis. 6 week courses. Cost $105. For more information and bookings: Donna 0408 783187 or donna@yogaandhealing.com.au

To enjoy a free recording of our Body Awareness Meditation please click here.

Recording of the audio’s of these classes are also available for those who miss a class or for individual purchase of $20 per class.

Here is what people are saying about our online classes

I have never done yoga online before, but having been a face to face student of Donna’s I was excited to give it a try. The classes are wonderful! The connection is nurturing and deep. You really feel it in the stillness. So grateful for the convenience and connection these online classes offer! ~ Fiona Plascott

“It really is wonderful to enjoy all the benefits of a regular yoga class from my own lounge room floor. It’s also made classes accessible to me in a way they aren’t usually because of childcare & work commitments. Donna is able to provide all the guidance & support I need through this brilliant technical approach – & I love it!” ~ Gen Doyle

“Yoga Online is great for convenience – it removes that huge barrier of having to “get to the class (through the Sydney traffic!)”. The key to working online is both being live online and also having an instructor who is not only experienced but who has a high level of awareness so that the many geographically distributed class attendees can each feel their separate needs are being attended to and that the instructions are not simply robotically delivered like a canned YouTube recording. This is where Donna differentiates from other online classes –being live and online with Donna in these class sessions is really the way of the future for this form of well-being.” NG

Private yoga online sessions

Our practitioners also offer private online sessions of yoga. For bookings and appointments contact us. Cost for private sessions is $80. For bookings Contact Us →

What you need for online yoga classes

  • A computer or mobile device with a camera
  • Mat, blankets, warm clothing (for winter)
  • Comfortable clothing
  • A quiet place where you won’t be disturbed
  • Set up your computer/mobile device so that the camera is facing your mat
  • Download Fuze (free application). This is the platform that we will be using
  • An online sense of adventure!

Donna GianniotisAbout: Donna Gianniotis has been teaching yoga full time for over 14 years within Sydney and practised as an Esoteric Healing Practitioner since 2010. With a diagnosis of breast cancer at the age of 33, she started to question that there must be more to health and well-being than diet, exercise, meditation and yoga.

Prevent Breast Cancer With These 5 Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Healthy Lifestyle Choices To Prevent CancerNecessary Lifestyle Choices for Optimum Health
An anti-cancer lifestyle will include a variety of exercise, organic foods, clean pure water and air. There are a few easy steps to keep the body safe and healthy. It is important to cultivate an awareness of what feels and taste right going into your body. It is equally important to stop and take notice of bad choices. Ask yourself “Is this good or bad for me? “Will it make me feel better or worse?” We all want to feel alive and vital.

1. Exercise – Yoga
Practicing Restorative Yoga For Breast Cancer Recovery has shown through studies to encourage and improve sleep and to enhance overall quality of life. (Reuters Health) – About one third of breast cancer survivors experience fatigue that affects their quality of life. A new study found that doing yoga might help restore some lost vitality. (bit.ly/sSZeZZ)

There are some simple suggestions to start exploring a change in vitality:

2. Cancer Prevention Foods – Vegetarian/Vegan Diet
It is suggested to eat a plant base diet of fruits and vegetables: make your diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables that are full of micronutrients and bioflavonoids which are duly noted to help prevent breast cancer or other cancers. Five or more servings per day is recommended by the American Cancer Institute. Red and blue berries hold a significant amount of necessary cell builders and anti-cancinogens that are a necessity on our tables.

Here are some simple choices to select from to start improving your health:

3. Water Therapy – Alkaline Water
Alkaline water (referred to as ionized water) can neutralize or decrease the acidity of the body’s pH caused by stress, modern diet, and air pollution. We suggest trying this water and feeling the possible positive effects.

Find a water store and get alkaline water by the gallon (it usually stays charged with negative ions for up to 48hours)
Purchase if possible a home alkaline water system that filters pollutants as well as charging the water with negative ions and anti oxidants

  • Benefit from the many ways to use alkaline water like necessary hydration for the body’s cells

4. Manage Stress – Learn to breathe
Deep breathing is vital in that it encourages the release of body toxins, rebuild healthy tissue which consequently increases overall energy. This true oxygen exchange stimulates digestion, assimilation and elimination. A very important function of breathing fully and slowly is that the body’s natural relaxation response is prompted. This relaxation response results in decreased tension, anxiety and fatigue.

A great place to start is with our single down-loadable breathing exercises or you could do the following.

5. Laugh Often – Emotional Balancing
It has been shown that even when manipulated to smile people in truth feel happier and joyful. Laughter can stop depression right in its tracks and boosts our immunity.

We suggest the following to bring on happiness.

  • Have a daily joke sent to your e-mail
  • Watch funny YouTube videos
  • Listen to the comedy channel on the radio
  • Download comedians from iTunes
Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us atinfo@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Restorative Yoga

There is so Much to Recovery

breast-cancer-recoveryAs I am sitting by the fireplace in the midst of the Catskill region and reflecting on what to write for this breast cancer blog, I am reminded of my yogic learning. In yoga we try not to think that which we do not want. This is a blog for any recovery.

Recovery requires us look at more than the physical body
If I only focus on the disease, then my recovery is limited. Recovery requires us look at more than the physical body. Recovery cannot occur unless we are willing to look at the complexity of our being. We need to heal our physical body but that also includes our emotional, mental and spiritual being. Doctors and treatments do not heal us; they facilitate our process of healing. They are very necessary. They give us the strength and physical ability to enable the healing that comes from within us.

Our body when balanced has the power to heal
Working in hospitals as a student, I could not understand when doctors would say; “I can not do anything for this patient, she does not have the will to live.” We as patients must become partners with the doctors in the healing process. Our body when balanced has the power to heal according to yoga. Therefore yogis do exercises and breath work to enable the body to balance.

When the body has dis-ease, it is out of balance. With the wonderful work of science, doctors now have the ability to attack most dis-eases, and to give us the strength to begin the healing process. These blogs are here to assist us in this healing process.

The word yoga means to “yoke our individual self with the universal self.” We believe that eventually all of us will join our creator. To do so, we need to purify this physical, mental and emotional body. Our soul is universal, we are universal, but having a human experience. It is everyone’s destiny to return to the source. It matters not what you call the source, God, Allah, Krishna, there is only ONE but we all take different paths. When we are on the path towards our goals, we feel more balanced.

Our spiritual body is also required in the healing process
All beings on this planet rely on life force. This life force we call praana, others may call it chi or adamantine particles. Praana is the essence of life. It is the essence of creation coming from the Heart Core of our Supreme Creator. Therefore, our spiritual body is also required in the healing process.

How much praana we are able to absorb is dependent on our physical, mental and emotional vessel? I like to compare it with the electricity in our homes. It is always there to give us 120 volt. The refrigerator takes all of the voltage; whereas the transistor radio can only take 12 volts. Similarly our body utilizes praana according to the state of our being. The goal is to be able to absorb more and more praana. More life force in the physical body will affect the mental and emotional body. Similarly the emotional body affects the physical. When we are happy or in love, we have an abundant amount of energy. When we are sad and depressed our energy is low. When our mind creates tension, the flow of praana is obstructed within the physical vessel. So we must constantly try to increase the praana within us, through any method available, either physical, mental or emotional.

For any healing to occur we need to increase our intake of praana
Praana is life force that will aid all healing processes. The easiest way to increase praana is through the breath. Yoga states that by the regular practice of praanayaam or breathing exercises we can maintain a higher standard of health, vigor and vitality. For any healing to occur we need to increase our intake of praana.

For this blog post I would like YOU to start taking long deep breaths
Let the exhalation be as long as the inhalation, break the breath between both for a short while. We call this rhythmical breathing. This can be done at any time of the day, and as many times as possible. Practice daily, and slowly the body will get accustomed to taking in more oxygen.

When life becomes overwhelming and tense, take a deep breath and allow the exhalation to be twice as long as the inhalation, and the body will quiet down immediately. Put this tool in the back pocket and draw it out whenever necessary. Life gives us much tension.

With Love and Respect
Ma Mokshapriya

MokshaPriya Breast Cancer Authority Blog ContributorMokshapriya is ordained as Swami Ma Mokshapriya Shakti Saraswati and has taught yoga, meditation and philosophy for over 40 years. She currently teaches and gives guidance in Queens NY at the Yogashakti Yoga Center. She is the co-founder of the Yoga Teachers Training Institute and has trained over 250 yoga teachers in Long Island and New York. Mokshapriya has a Ph.D.in Education by researching and writing a “Comprehensive Eclectic Yoga Program: A Strategy for Self-Improvement” Curriculum for College. She is very direct, but approachable. You may contact her at info@teachyoga.org or www.teachyoga.org.

4 Reasons Vegan Is Best For Combating Breast Cancer

Naturalist: Corissa Macklin-Rice

Naturalist: Corissa Macklin-Rice

A cancer prevention diet is one that is high in fiber, low in fat (especially animal fat), and includes generous portions of fruits and vegetables. It also minimizes or excludes alcohol. The best diets are pure vegetarian diets.

4 Reasons Vegan Is Best For Combating Breast Cancer:

  1. If you can remove carcinogenicity from the would-be cancer sufferers and thereby the link between environmental and dietary exposures of a multitude of toxins, organic plant based diet would be the obvious “cure”.
  2. Controlled clinical trials to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that our bodies can benefit from the phytonutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables in the prevention of cancer.
  3. Women believe prevention as doing nothing but waiting for the detection of the disease. the real preventative measures available to women to combat breast cancer, and all cancers for that matter, are available from trusted “authoritative” sources that prove plant based diets prevent cancer.
  4. Vegan diet has been promoted as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

Nutrition Journal evidence based research says an anticancer diet would have:

• adequate, but not excessive calories,

• 10 or more servings of vegetables a day, including cruciferous and allium vegetables; vegetable juice could meet part of this goal,

• 4 or more servings of fruits a day,

• high in fiber,

• no refined sugar,

• no refined flour,

• low in total fat, but containing necessary essential fatty acids,

• no red meat,

• a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fats and would include DHA,

• flax seed as a source of phytoestrogens,

• supplemented with ~200 μg/day selenium,

• supplemented with 1,000 μg/day methylcobalamin (B-12),

• very rich in folic acid (from dark green vegetables),

• adequate sunshine to get vitamin D, or use 1,000 IU/day supplement,

• very rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables, including α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, vitamin C (from foods), vitamin E (from foods),

• very rich in chlorophyll,

• supplemented with beneficial probiotics,

• supplemented with oral enzymes

Nutrition research has found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables protects against cancer. (The greatest message is that this same diet protects against almost all other diseases, too, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.) There are many mechanisms by which fruits and vegetables are protective, and an enormous body of research supports the recommendation for people to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Featured photo: Daily Mail

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us atinfo@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Quickest & Easiest Way To Decrease Depression Symptoms For Breast Cancer Patients

exercise-for-depression-cancer-treatment-protocolWe’ve known for decades that even a single bout of exercise can elevate our mood, but could it be enough to be used as a treatment for major depression?

We’ve known that physical activity has been associated with decreased symptoms of depression. For example, if you look at a cross-section of 8,000 people across the country, those that exercised regularly were less likely to have a major depression diagnosis. That’s just a snapshot in time, though. In that study, the researcher openly acknowledges this may be a case of reverse causation. Maybe exercise didn’t cut down on depression, maybe depression cut down on exercise. The reason depression may be associated with low physical activity is that people may feel too lousy to get out of bed. What we’ve needed was an interventional study where you take people who are already depressed and randomize them into an exercise intervention.

That is what researchers from Duke University Medical Center did. They randomized men and women over age 50 with major depression to two groups: one who did an aerobic exercise program for four months and another that took an antidepressant drug called Zoloft. In my video Exercise vs. Drugs for Depression you can see a graph of their changes. Before exercise, their Hamilton Depression scores were up around 18 (anything over seven is considered depressed). Within four months, the drug group came down to normal, which are exactly what the drugs are supposed to do. What about the exercise-only group, though? Exercise had the same powerful effect.

The researchers concluded that an exercise training program may be considered an alternative to antidepressants for treatment of depression in older persons, given that they’ve shown that a group program of aerobic exercise is a feasible and effective treatment for depression, at least for older people.

Not so fast, though.

A “group program?” They had the exercise group folks come in three times a week for a group class. Maybe the only reason the exercise group got better is because they were forced to get out of bed and interact with people—maybe it was the social stimulation and had nothing to do with the actual exercise? Before you could definitively say that exercise can work as well as drugs, what we would need to see is the same study, but with an additional group who exercised alone with no extra social interaction. And those same Duke researchers did just that,

They created the largest exercise trial of patients with major depression conducted to date, and not just including older folks, but other adults as well with three different treatment groups this time: a home exercise group in addition to the supervised group exercise and the drug group as before.

And they all worked about just as well in terms of forcing the depression into remission. So we can say with confidence that exercise is comparable to antidepressant medication in the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder.

Putting all the best studies together, researchers indicate that exercise at least has a moderate antidepressant effect, and at best, exercise has a large effect on reductions in depression symptoms and could be categorized as a very useful and powerful intervention. Unfortunately, while studies support the use of exercise as a treatment for depression, exercise is rarely prescribed as a treatment for this common and debilitating problem.

Exercise may compare favorably to antidepressant medications as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression, but how much is that really saying? How effective are antidepressant drugs in the first place? Check out my video Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work?

For dietary interventions that may improve mood, see:

Exercise can also help with ADHD (Treating ADHD Without Stimulants) and improve immunity (Preserving Immune Function in Athletes With Nutritional Yeast), not to mention extend our lives (Longer Life Within Walking Distance). But what we eat matters: Paleo Diets May Negate Benefits of Exercise.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

4 Ways To Add Holiday Cheer To Your Home With Aromatherapy

 

holiday-cheer-with-aromatherpyThe holiday season is in full swing and it’s the perfect time to enjoy diffusing and blending essential oils that will help get us into the spirit of the season. There are definitely certain smells that remind us of the holidays and these holiday essential oil diffuser blends are a natural way to spread delightful aromas throughout your home. Essential oils are a safe way to bring some scented cheer to your home during the holiday season! Here’s 5 blends for your favorite method of diffusing that not only will warm your heart, but have some health benefits too!

gingerbread-aromatherapy-blend

Gingerbread is one of the sweetest smells of Christmas. This Gingerbread holiday diffuser blend will make your holiday complete with its warm and calming scent.

Gingerbread

5 Drops Ginger

4 Drops Clove

2 Drops Nutmeg

2 Drops Cinnamon

fireplace-aromatherapy-diffusor-for-healing

Holiday fireplace aromatherapy diffuser and Cozy By The Fire aromatherapy blend can be used to bring holiday cheer to your home. Cuddle up by the fire with a warm, cozy scent. Electric warmer mimics flickering flames as it releases the fragrance of your favorite Scent Plus Melt, Aroma Simmers, or Oils.

Cozy By The Fire

3 Drops of Cinnamon

2 Drops of Sweet Orange

1 Drop Clove

1 Drop Nutmeg

holiday-cheer-aromatherapy
Wish your artificial Christmas tree smelled like a fresh cut tree? Then simply hang this cool new Snowflake Bubble Aromatherapy Ornament. This festive glass ornament has an inner bubble that holds and diffuses your favorite essential oils.

Christmas Tree

6 Drop Fir

3 Drops Spruce

1 Drop Orange

2 Drops Nutmeg

christmas-tree-aromatherapy-ornamentsHow cute are these? Set of 10 wood slice tags (each is 2-2.5 inch diameter). Perfect for a gift tag or ornament. Add a few drops of Spiced Cider essential oil recipe and fill your home with cheer. Add a couple more drops of essential oil every few days as needed.

Spiced Cider

5 Drops Ginger

4 Drops Orange

1 Drop Cinnamon

Enjoy this holiday season and have a healthy and happy New Year!

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

 

Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Cancer?

In people without a personal history of cardiovascular disease, the “risks of aspirin [may] outweigh [the] benefits.” But, aspirin may have additional benefits, as well.

“We have long recognized the preventative role of daily aspirin for patients with [heart] disease; however, it now appears that we can [hatch two birds from one egg].” Daily low-dose aspirin may also help prevent certain forms of cancer, as well.

In an analysis of eight different studies “involving more than 25,000 [people], the authors found a 20% decrease in risk of death from cancer among those…randomized to [a] daily aspirin.” You know, the search for effective and safe treatments for cancer remains an enormous, burdensome challenge. “If only we could stop cancer in its tracks—prevent it before it strikes.” Well, “[p]erhaps we can,” with this plant phytonutrient—salicylic acid—found in aspirin.

How does it affect cancer? Well, the Nobel Prize in Medicine went to the team that discovered how aspirin works. Enzymes named COX, cyclooxygenase, take the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid that our body makes—or, we get directly in our diet, from mainly chicken and eggs—our enzymes take the arachidonic acid and turn it into inflammatory mediators, like thromboxane, which produces thrombosis (clots), and prostaglandins, which cause inflammation.

Aspirin suppresses these enzymes, though. So, less thromboxane means fewer clots. And, less prostaglandin means less pain, swelling, and fever. But, prostaglandins can also dilate the lymphatic vessels inside tumors, allowing cancer cells to spread. So, one of the ways cancer tries to kill us is by boosting COX activity.

That’s one of the ways we think aspirin can help prevent cancer—by counteracting tumor attempts to pry open the lymphatic bars on its cage, and spread throughout the body—because “the reduction in mortality due to some cancers occurred within 2 to 3 years after [aspirin was started].” That seems “too quick to be accounted for by an effect only on” the genesis (formation) of cancer. Cancer can take decades to develop.

So, the only way aspirin could save us that fast is by suppressing the growth and spread of tumors that already exist. Aspirin appeared to cut the risk of metastases in half—particularly for adenocarcinomas, like colon cancer.

So now, what about everyone taking a daily baby aspirin? Previous risk/benefit analyses did not consider the effects of aspirin on cancer, instead just balancing cardiovascular benefits with bleeding risks. But, these new cancer findings may change things.

If this was just the reduction of colon cancer risk, then the benefits might not outweigh the harms for the general public. But, now we have evidence that it works against other cancers, too. Even a 10% reduction in overall cancer incidence “could tip the balance” in favor of benefits over risks.

So, how does the cancer benefit compare?  As we saw before, using aspirin in healthy people just for cardiovascular protection is kind of a wash. By contrast, the cancer prevention rates might save twice as many lives. So, the benefits may outweigh the risks. If you put it all together, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and bleeding, aspirin comes out looking protective overall—potentially extending our lifespan.

Yes, higher risk of major bleeding, even at low-dose aspirin, but fewer heart attacks, clotting strokes, and cancers. So, it may be beneficial overall.

Now, note these age categories only go up to 74 years old, though.  That’s because the risk of bleeding on aspirin increases steeply with age; and so, may tip the balance the other way. But, in younger folks, this data certainly has the research community buzzing. “The emerging evidence on aspirin’s cancer protection highlights an exciting time for cancer prevention.”

“In light of low-dose aspirin’s ability to reduce mortality from both vascular events and cancer to a very notable degree, it is tempting to recommend” low-dose aspirin for nearly everybody. However, aspirin pills, even at low doses, have “a propensity to damage [the lining of our stomach and intestines], and increase [the] risk for gastrointestinal bleeding; this fact may constrain health authorities from recommending aspirin for [the general population].” Recent meta-analyses estimate that just a single “year of low-dose aspirin therapy will induce major gastrointestinal bleeding…in one…out of 833 [people].”

If only there were a way to get the benefits, without the risks. Those who remember this video already know the answer.  The aspirin phytonutrient isn’t just found in willow trees, but throughout the plant kingdom. This explains why the active ingredient in aspirin is found normally in the bloodstream even in people not taking aspirin.

Here’s the levels of aspirin in people that eat fruits and vegetables, and here’s the levels found in those that don’t. Then, just drink one fruit smoothie, and within an hour and a half, your levels rise. As you can see, one smoothie ain’t going to do it; you have to regularly eat daily fruit and vegetable consumption.

But, are these kinds of aspirin levels sufficient to suppress the expression of that inflammatory enzyme implicated in cancer growth and spread? Well, using umbilical cord and foreskins—where else are you going to get human tissue?—they found that even those low levels caused by smoothie consumption significantly suppressed the expression of that inflammatory enzyme at a genetic level.

Well, if this aspirin phytonutrient is made by plants, we might expect plant-eaters to have higher levels. And, indeed, not only did they find higher blood levels in vegetarians; there was an overlap with people taking aspirin pills. Some vegetarians had the same level in their blood as people actually taking aspirin. Vegetarians pee out as much of the active metabolite of aspirin as aspirin-users do, just because they’re eating so many fruits and vegetables.

“Because the anti-inflammatory action of aspirin is probably the result of [this active ingredient in aspirin—salicylic acid—], and the concentrations of [salicylic acid] seen in vegetarians [has] been shown to inhibit [that inflammatory COX enzyme] in vitro, [it’s] plausible that dietary salicylates may contribute to the beneficial effects of a vegetarian diet, although [they say] it seems unlikely that most omnivores would be able to achieve sufficient dietary intake of salicylates to have a therapeutic effect.” Though, they could certainly eat more fruits and veggies, too.

With effectively all that aspirin flowing through their systems, plant-eaters must have high ulcer rates, right? Aspirin can just chew through our gut. But no, vegetarians appear to have a significantly lower risk of ulcers, for both men and women.

So, for the general population, by eating plants instead of taking aspirin, we may not just get the benefits without the risks, we can get benefits—with benefits! How is that possible? Because in plants, the salicylic acid may come naturally pre-packaged with gut-protective nutrients.

For example, nitric oxide from dietary nitrates exerts stomach-protective effects by “boosting blood flow” and protective “mucus production” in the lining of the stomach—”effects [that] demonstrably oppose the pro-ulcerative impact of aspirin…”

“Dark green leafy vegetables…are among the richest dietary sources of nitrate.” But, of course, the researcher goes on to say that, “Since it may be unrealistic to expect people to eat ample servings of [greens] every day,” we should just give people pills with their pills, right? Nitrate pills with their aspirin pills.

But, why not just eat our greens? People who’ve had a heart attack should follow their physician’s advice, which probably includes taking aspirin every day. What about everyone else? I think everyone should take aspirin—but, in produce, not pill form.

Doctor’s Note

To see the pros versus cons for people trying to prevent or treat heart attacks and stroke, see my previous video, Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Heart Disease?

If the COX enzyme sounds familiar, I talked about it in my Anti-inflammatory Life is a Bowl of Cherries video.

Where does one get “dietary nitrates” from? See: Vegetables Rate by Nitrate.

Do some plant foods have more aspirin than others? Definitely. In fact, some foods have the same amount as a “baby” aspirin. Check out my next video: Plants with Aspirin Aspirations.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

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