Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Exercise for Cancer Treatment

When diagnosed with cancer and going through cancer treatment, there are many actions that a person can take in order to improve their life and assist in their own treatment. One extremely important thing that many cancer patients may not think of is to participate in regular exercise while going through cancer treatment. Though some people may be reluctant to get involved in exercise, thinking that it will use up energy needed to fight the cancer, many doctors and researchers have announced that doing light, moderate exercise can be extremely beneficial to cancer patients and survivors.

The benefit of exercise has been demonstrated in a number of different cancers, from lung cancer to mesothelioma. One of the most major benefits is the improved physical functioning and lesser fatigue. Doctors have noted that the overall quality of life of cancer patients who exercise is greatly improved.

Another reason that doing exercise is important while going through cancer treatment is that it helps strengthen muscles. There are many potential issues that can arise when a person is limited to bed rest and is not getting regular physical activity. These issues include stiff joints, breathing problems, and bedsores. Even small amounts of exercise and physical activity can assist in avoiding these issues. For those who are caring for a cancer patient, it is important to allow the patient to do as much on their own as possible. Naturally, do not let them attempt a task that they are unable to do, but doing everything for them reduces their own independence, and further limits their physical activity. Encourage small amounts of physical activity, such as taking a short walk every day. Another option is to complete light exercises that work on muscle strength and improved range of motion. Talk to a doctor or physical therapist as to what types of exercises would be most beneficial. Many of these exercises can be completed while the patient is in bed.

Maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is an important way to increase the overall quality of life, and can even assist in the recovery from cancer. Focusing on statistics such as a mesothelioma survival rate are of no benefit; instead take the situation into your own hands and spend time taking action that can be used to help with treatment and recovery. Cancer patients should make sure to set aside time each day in order to get some physical activity, whether it's a walk around the neighborhood, some range of motion exercises, or just getting up and moving around. Friends and family of cancer patients can participate in these activities as well, as a way to spend time with those they care about, and assist in activities that will help with care.

By Jackie Clark

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Three Things That Help Me Sleep Better

As I approached my 50's, sleeping well was becoming a challenge. Over the last ten years, I have made these three changes that has helped me sleep much better.

Number 1: Elevating My Head While Sleeping

Breathing becomes much easier when you elevate your head while sleeping. I suspect many of us suffer from a mild case of sleep apnea, which is a reduction of breathing while we sleep. Raising your head 4 to 6 inches while you sleep is one way of treating sleep apnea.

Sleeping with your head elevated is also a good way to help you sleep without heartburn.

Elevating your head also reduces the blood pressure on your sinuses. This reduces the likelihood of blood gorging and swelling your nasal membranes, which can block air flow through your nose. Raising your head also helps your sinuses drain, and thus allowing you to breathe more freely while you sleep.

I have put blocks of wood to elevate the head of my bed. I also like to sleep on two pillows with the net effect of raising my head at least 6 inches above my heart. Some people may prefer to use either a Cervical Pillow or a Wedge Pillow . Whatever method you use, I think that you will have a better night's sleep with your head raised, which allows you to breathe freely while you sleep.

Related Link: "Changing Sleep-Related Habits for Better Respiratory Health."

Number 2: Melatonin

With the approval of my doctor, I now take 300 mcg of melatonin about 30 minute before going to bed every night. I haven't experienced any of the melatonin side effects. It does help me sleep much deeper and a little longer than I do without it. As with most drugs and supplements, more is not better. Just a little will help you sleep.

For men, you may find that melatonin helps you with prostate function as you get older. In my case, I have found that it does help with symptoms of enlarged prostate.

Number 3: Choline Supplement

As I approached 50, it started experiencing digestive tract cramping at night. I tried everything from changes in diet to Chinese herbs. Nothing worked and the cramping kept me from getting a good night's sleep.

Finally, I researched possible causes of liver and gall bladder dysfunction. I found that choline deficiency can be one possible cause. So I started taking a choline supplement in the form of phosphatidylcholine, which is found in soy lecithin. I will never forget that night after taking the lecithin supplement for about two days. I laid down in bed, and my digestive system was absolutely quiet for the first time in years. I slept like a baby.

I now routinely take a teaspoon of lecithin, three times a day with my meals.

After a ten year battle with sleep problems, I now have been sleeping extremely well for a year now. May you to sleep in heavenly comfort.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

What Is BPA?

BPA is back in the news with a new press release from the Harvard School of Public Health titled: "Consuming Canned Soup Linked to Greatly Elevated Levels of the Chemical BPA."

BPA is an abbreviation for the chemical name Bisphenol A. It is an additive used to harden plastics, especially polycarbonate plastic which has the Number 7 recycling symbol on the bottom. Many companies over the last few years that make food containers have stopped using BPA. However, it apparently is still used as a food can lining for some canned food products.

BPA Risks

A few studies suggest that BPA may cause brain and behavior problems, cancer and heart problems with long term use. All of these studies, however, involved animals rather than humans.

Results of the New Harvard Study

The new study determined the concentration of urinary BPA in people who consumed canned soup versus freshly made soup.

What is unique about this study is that it used human volunteers rather than animals. Urine samples of 75 human volunteers were studied after consuming canned soup and after consuming fresh, never canned, soup.

The results showed that just one serving of canned soup raised urinary concentrations of BPA by 1,221% compared to eating one serving of fresh soup. This large increase in BPA concentrations in the volunteer's urine samples after one serving of canned soup was a surprise to the researchers.

If BPA is a concern, you may want to avoid canned foods until the industry eliminates BPA from can linings completely. Canned foods may save time, but fresh, unprocessed foods are the healthier choice.

Related Links:

WebMD: "The Facts About Bisphenol A"
Mayo Clinic: "What is BPA?"


Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is Viniyoga?

I had never heard of viniyoga until I researched the topic of relieving lower back pain. Did you know that there is an American Viniyoga Institute?

Viniyoga is actually an individualized approach to yoga. It is an approach to yoga that is adapted for the individual needs of the yoga participant.

A study was conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to determine which of three methods was best in improving function and reducing the symptoms of those suffering from chronic lower back pain. The three methods tested are:

  • Viniyoga classes, which also used breathing and deep relaxation exercises.
  • Stretching or Flexibility classes which used 15 exercises. Each class included 52 minutes of stretching.
  • Or Reading a Self-care book on the subject.
The result showed that yoga and the stretching exercises were equally effective in reducing symptoms of lower back pain, and each was more effective than a self-care book. Back related function improved, and symptoms were reduced after 12 weeks of either yoga classes or stretching classes.

The test involved 228 adults with chronic lower back pain and lasted 12 weeks. Handouts, CD's (yoga) or DVD's (stretching) were given to the yoga and stretching groups, and these groups were asked to practice at least 20 minutes each day when classes were not scheduled. The self-care group was given a book that gave information on the causes of back pain, and provided advice on exercises, lifestyle changes and how to manage pain flare-ups.

The results suggest that yoga's benefits to reduce lower back pain is largely due to muscle stretching and strengthening rather that yoga's mental components.

Related links for further information on Yoga, Stretching Exercises and the benefits toward reducing lower back pain are:

ScienceDaily - "Yoga Eases Back Pain in Largest US Yoga Study to Date"
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine - "For Low-Back Pain, Yoga More Effective Than Self-Care But Not Stretching"
American Viniyoga Institute
Flexibility Exercises


Friday, November 18, 2011

10 Ways To Live A Shorter Life

If you want to live a shorter life than average, these are 10 ways to help you achieve your goal:

Smoke As Often As Possible

If you smoke frequently, you can cut as much as 7 years from your lifespan. Even if you are 65 years old, you can still cut as much as 2 years from your lifespan if you start smoking now.

Eat Only Foods High In Saturated Fat

Eating fast food as often as possible can increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer. This will help you achieve your goal to reduce the length of you life.

Be As Sedentary As Possible

Living an inactive life can reduce your lifespan by as much as 2 to 4 years.

Strive To Be Extremely Overweight

Being overweight can increase your chance of dying young by 20 to 40 percent. Strive to increase your body mass index over 30 to decrease your lifespan by as much as 4 years.

Develop Poor Dental Hygiene

Not brushing your teeth and flossing can help you reduce your lifespan by as much as 6 years. Developing periodontitis and gingivitis can increase your chances of an early death by 25 to 45 percent.

Never Take A Break From Work

Being a workaholic can decrease your lifespan by 2 years. So keep slaving away to help you die an early death.

Develop Early Dementia With An Unhealthy Lifestyle

By being inactive combined with an unhealthy diet can lead to early onset of dementia. This will help you decrease your lifespan by as much as 2 years.

Snack On Salty, Sugary and Fatty Junk Food

Eating these unhealthy snacks and staying away foods like fresh fruits can help you reduce your lifespan by 2 to 6 years.

Sleep As Little As Possible

Not sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night will help you reduce your lifespan by more than 2 years.

Stop Having Sex

Having less sex can reduce your lifespan by 3 to 8 years.

There you go. The 10 best ways to die young.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What are Stem Cells?

What exactly are stem cells?

These are cells that are called undifferentiated cells, since they have the potential of becoming almost any cell in the body. When a stem cell divides, they can remain an undifferentiated stem cell or become a differentiated or specialized cell, such as a brain cell, red blood cell, a muscle cell and so on.

Types of Stem Cells

There are three basic types of stem cells:
  • Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Adult Stem Cells
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Embryonic Stem Cells

Embryonic stem cells come from embryos, which are organisms in the early stages of development before birth or hatching. These cells can become any cell type in the body. In the embryo, these cells are numerous and are easily grown in cell cultures.

Adult Stem Cells

Adult stem cells, which are less numerous than embryonic stem cells, are found among differentiated cells in body organs and tissues. Their purpose is to maintain and repair damaged tissue.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Induced pluripotent stem cells are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to act like an embryonic stem cell.

Cardiac Stem Cell Research

Medical scientist have traditionally used bone marrow stem cells to try to repair damaged heart muscle. New research, however, is finding good success at repairing damaged heart muscle with cardiac stem cells.

One of the reasons for this new success is that cardiac stem cells are already programmed to form heart muscle. These stem cells are obtained from the heart patient and multiplied in a lab. The multiplied stem cells are then infused back into the heart of the patient.

Patients with infused cardiac stem cells have been showing significant improvement in their heart muscle capability. The researchers are currently trying to duplicate their results with a larger number of patients. If proven successful, it will be a huge advance in cardiac treatment.

Related Links:

American Heart Association - "Aged, Damaged hearts yield stem cells that could treat heart failure."
Science Daily -"Stem Cells That Could Treat Heart Failure"
CNN - "Stem Cells Reverse Heart Damage"
"Stem Cell Information"


Sunday, November 13, 2011

How To Help Prevent Memory Loss As We Age

We use to believe that memory loss is an inevitable consequence of aging. However, new research on physical exercise and memory is showing that this belief is false.

The area of the brain called the hippocampus is involved in memory formation. The hippocampus does tend to shrink as we get older. This shrinking of the hippocampus can lead to memory loss and sometimes dementia.

But, new research is showing that moderate aerobic exercise can help increase the size of the hippocampus and improve our mental capability. This is true of older adults who are not experiencing dementia. The benefits of aerobic exercise for individuals with symptoms of dementia is unknown.

The research team led by Dr. Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois and Dr. Kirk Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh used 120 sedentary older adults who were not experiencing symptoms of dementia. The participants were divided into two groups. One group walked for 40 minutes a day (aerobic exercise) on 3 days of the week. The other group did stretching and resistance training exercises.

MRI results showed that the aerobic exercise group increased the size of their hippocampus on an average of 2%. The resistance training group showed a decrease in the size of their hippocampus size on an average of 1.4%. The test also showed that the aerobic exercise group showed a significant correlation between their increase in hippocampus size and improved memory performance.

The results suggest that inactive older adults may be able to reverse memory loss tendencies due to a decrease in hippocampus volume with moderate aerobic exercise, such as routinely walking. The trick is to stay physically active.

Stay physically active and retain your cognitive and memory capabilities even in old age.


Related Web Sites:

UCLA Longevity Center
Neurology Institute For Brain Health And Fitness

Sunday, November 6, 2011

4x4 Interval Training Routine Helps Keep You Young

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have shown that a 4x4 Interval Training Routine can help you stay fit and trim, especially through your elderly years.

Their studies have shown that this exercise routine can help 50 year olds be as fit as 20 year olds who do not exercise much. In addition, this routine has been shown to be a quick and efficient way to increase your fitness level, and to maintain your fitness level.

For additional information on this exercise routine, see "Interval Training Routines."