It seems absurd that something as innocuous as taking a daily walk could decrease your risk of cancer, as well as a host of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. But, as we noted in our previous post, researchers are finding that regular exercise could be the “magic pill” that saves us from a host of ills, including cancer. Exercise promotes a healthy immune system, improving your body’s ability to fight off cancer; but it is the link between exercise and obesity reductions that intrigues cancer researchers.
Affecting the health of more than a third of American adults, obesity adversely affects the body in several ways that can weaken its ability to fight off cancer and disease:
Obesity can change the way your body absorbs and uses energy from the food you eat, resulting in metabolic dysfunction.
Obesity can interfere with the process of cytokines, disrupting cell communication which can increase inflammation.
Obesity can also impact the body’s endocrine system, affecting production of certain hormones that can fuel cancer tumor growth.
As little as 30 to 60 minutes of brisk walking or other moderate-intensity exercise a day can be enough to promote weight loss, help maintain a healthy body weight, protect you from the deleterious effects of obesity and reduce your cancer risk. (Tip: at moderate intensity you should be able to talk but not sing.) If you don’t have the time or stamina for a 30-minute workout, experts say you can derive the same obesity-fighting, cancer-prevention benefits from several 10-minute workouts. Cumulative exercise time and exercise intensity are what matter.
Exercise could be the “magic pill” we’ve all been looking for that not only thwarts the growing incidence of chronic diseases but wards off cancer. Vital to good health, physical activity offers the mind and body a panacea of healthy benefits. Exercise promotes a healthy immune system, enhances positive mind-body connection, reduces stress and aids in weight control. Regular physical activity has also been strongly linked to both cancer prevention and reduced cancer recurrence among cancer survivors.
The importance of exercise in preventing obesity appears to be the key to its importance in preventing disease and maintaining a healthy body. As CBS News recently reported in a 2-part series on the connections between cancer and exercise, decreasing your obesity risk can reduce your risk of developing a life-threatening cancer.
Not only have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked obesity, which affects more than a third of U.S. adults, to increased incidence of chronic disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer; but the National Cancer Institute has linked obesity to increased risk of specific cancers, including cancers of the esophagus, endometrium, pancreas, colon, rectum, kidney, thyroid, gall bladder and post-menopausal breast cancer.
Why does obesity have such a profound affect on our health? Obesity appears to cause significant disruption to the body’s normal metabolic functions, even interfering with basic cell processes. We’ll discuss that next time.
“We’re asking surgeons to buy a device that takes away profit margins and their next case but makes life and recovery easier for the patient. Why, in Israel and Europe, where no one is rewarded monetarily for second surgeries, do they embrace this tool?”
That’s the telling question Newport Beach, California cancer surgeon Dr. Alice Police asked the Orange County Register while discussing the reluctance of U.S. hospitals and cancer surgeons to use a game-changing new breast cancer surgery tool that dramatically reduces the need for repeat surgeries.
Using the new MarginProbe System, surgeons can test removed tissue in the operating room to determine whether all cancer cells have been excised and, if necessary, remove additional tissue during a single surgery, negating the need for subsequent surgeries. While the cost of using the device is high, FDA approval means costs are covered by Medicare and most major health insurers. So why have only 4 U.S. hospitals purchased the MarginProbe System in the 8 months since FDA approval?
Dr. Michael J. Stamos of the University of California-Irvine Medical Center said UCI purchased the device “to improve patient care.” While admitting that the hospital loses money when repeat surgeries are not needed, he told the Register, “You have to look beyond the current economics and more at favorable outcomes.”
Concern that profit margins may be affecting hospitals’ and surgeons’ reluctance to adopt this new cancer treatment tool calls into question broader treatment recommendations made by practitioners of traditional Western medicine. Do profit margins play a role in their failure to offer cancer patients effective alternative cancer treatments from which they will not profit?
“Tumors evolve on a very simple principle; it is all about the survival of the nastiest,” Paul Workman of the British Institute of Cancer Research in London recently told The Guardian.
Their killer survival instinct may be what allows cancer tumors to eventually overwhelm traditional cancer treatments – typically within 6 months — and find new ways of replicating cancer cells. As noted in our previous post, achieving long-term remission of advanced cancer tumors and standard therapy-resistant tumors requires multiple attack paths to counteract the surprising ability of cancer cells to change attack mode when cancer treatment interferes with their ability to reproduce.
Cancer-causing agents initiate tumor growth in several ways:
Trigger cells to divide and spread uncontrollably;
Turn off cell mechanisms that normally halt cell division; or
Block the DNA repair mechanisms that maintain cell health.
Given the flexibility of cancer cells to change behavior when denied their preferred method of attack, study researchers believe that a multi-pronged treatment program must be employed to effectively counteract all possible growth methods. For many cancer researchers, including those involved in the London study, this means developing new cancer drugs and chemotherapy protocols that could deliver multiple drugs simultaneously or in rapid succession in a manner similar to that used to fight HIV.
The problem with limiting cancer treatment to drugs is one of scope. Of the 23,000 human genes mapped 150 have been identified as cancer-causing agents; but drug treatments are available for only 15. Issels integrative immunotherapy looks beyond drugs, employing a variety of treatment methods that work with the body to effectively attack cancer on multiple fronts.
Unlocking the body’s genetic code has led to myriad discoveries that are transforming medicine. One unexpected discovery is that cancer tumors are considerably more genetically complex that previously believed, causing researchers to rethink current traditional methods of treating cancer.
“Until recently, it was assumed cancer cells were more or less identical clones of each other. We have found this is not true. Cells, taken from a single tumor from one person, can have many different genetic alterations within them,” Chris Jones of the Institute of Cancer Research in London told The Guardian.
Mapping of the human genome opened the door to targeted cell therapy. Of the body’s 23,000 genes, scientists found 150 genes with mutations that could trigger cells to create cancerous tumors. Scientists found that the various triggering mechanisms could be targeted and tumor growth slowed or halted using new cancer drugs that redefined chemotherapy. Now instead of a blanket approach that killed healthy cells along with the cancerous ones, specific drugs could be used to target cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
Initially, patient response to these new targeted drug treatments was impressive. However, in many cases cancer returned 6 months after treatment; but this time tumors were drug-resistant. What scientists discovered surprised them. When drugs blocked one path to tumor development, cancer cells demonstrated their genetic complexity by finding a new path.
The problem may be that traditional chemotherapy, even when targeted, is a destructive force designed to tear down the body. Issels personalized integrated immunotherapy, on the other hand, uses targeted cell therapies designed to build up the body’s immune system, strengthening its ability to fight cancer.
Stress can be a killer. Considered a contributing factor to many chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, a new study reported on eScienceNews.com has discovered a direct causal link between stress and the ability of cancer cells to metastasize and kill.
Researchers at The Ohio State University have linked the activation of the stress gene ATF3, a component of the body’s immune system, to the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body. Researchers believe the stress gene may also trigger metastasis in other types of cancer and could be a major cause of cancer fatalities.
The study emphasizes the critical link between cancer and the body’s immune system.
“If your body does not help cancer cells, they cannot spread as far. So really, the rest of the cells in the body help cancer cells to move, to set up shop at distant sites. And one of the unifying themes here is stress,” explained Tsonwin Hai, OSU professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry and the study’s senior author.
A normal stress response that occurs in cells of all types, activation of ATF3 triggers cell death, a therapeutic immune system response used to eliminate irrevocably damaged cells. However, the new study indicates that cancer cells are somehow able to co-opt ATF3, throwing the body’s normal immune system response into chaos which allows cancer cells to escape the tumor area and spread.
When cancer attacks, Issels integrated immunotherapy brings the immune system back into balance so it can more effectively protect the body against cancer stressors and prevent the activation of cancer triggers.