Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DCA: A Promising Treatment for Cancer

DCA Research Team publishes results of Clinical Trials

"In 2007 the U of A[lberta] team...  published evidence that DCA reverses cancer growth in non-human models and test tubes. The team showed then that DCA achieves these antitumor effects by altering the metabolism of cancer. By altering the way cancer handles its nutrient fuels, specifically the sugars, DCA was able to take away cancer's most important strength, the resistance to death. Since then, several independent groups across the world have confirmed the Alberta team's findings." (emphasis mine)

This new press release discusses results with human tumors. 

The abstract for the journal article in Science Translational Medicine is also available.  The abstract states that "The dose-limiting toxicity was a dose-dependent, reversible peripheral neuropathy, and there was no hematologic, hepatic, renal, or cardiac toxicity."

So, early indications are that the therapeutic dose has no serious side effects in cancer patients. This is very exciting news because DCA seems to have tremendous results on particular cancers, and would be a non-patented treatment, at much lower cost than other cancer treatments.   Because of this, however, sources of funding for the research are more limited - no drug companies are rushing to bring it to market, as they probably would had it been discovered in their own labs. 

Further information is available in this Wikipedia article.  One point to note is this:
"When faced with the high costs of getting Food and Drug Administration approval, estimated by Tufts University to exceed one billion dollars, the chance of getting DCA approved for the treatment of cancer in the United States is extremely low."

A promising treatment for deadly cancers that is free of side effects, but has no corporate sponsorship, possibly will only be available to Americans in off-label use because it doesn't have a bank account.  What does this say about our medical system? 

For more information about how cancers develop and grow, and how diet and exercise can affect this, I recommend the book Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber, M.D. Ph.D., a two-time cancer surviver and medical researcher.  

For a quick guide to wellness that you can start implementing today, read Servan-Schreiber's Anticancer Rules.

Diet, Inflammation, and Disease

A large study has linked a diet of 3 burgers weekly to a higher incidence of asthma, and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and/or fish to a reduced risk.  While they do note that 3 burgers/week probably indicates a person has other unhealthy habits (and are there fries going along with those burgers?), this immediately reminds me of the anti-inflammatory diet and the link between inflammation and many diseases - asthma, heart disease, cancer, arthritis...

We consume a large amount of food each day and it makes sense to begin there to reduce health issues.  Following are some links to information about an anti-inflammatory diet.
Reducing inflammation - the natural approach
Anti-inflammatory diet tips
Anti-inflammatory diet summary including a brief discussion of omega-6 and omega-3 fats and how the balance between them has shifted in the American diet over the past century


If you have a school-aged child, you've probably received notices about lice having been found on someone in the school.  This article in today's NY Times gives details of a pesticide-free alternative using Cetaphil lotion and a hair dryer, and also discusses pesticide resistance in lice and the lice life cycle.

Kids & Vegetables

An easy way to encourage children to eat more vegetables, reported by Penn State researchers: give them the veggies first.

When the children received 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of carrots at the start of the meal, their vegetable intake rose by nearly 50 percent compared to having no carrots as a first course. But when the first course was increased to 60 grams (about 2 ounces) of carrots, average vegetable consumption nearly tripled to about 63 grams -- or a third of the recommended vegetable intake for preschool children.
 Here's the abstract for the article in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In our house, we find that a plate of prepared, raw vegetables, such as bell peppers, carrots, celery, zucchini, cucumber, and sugar snap peas, vanishes very quickly either as a snack or as part of a meal. 

Pesticides and ADHD Strongly Linked

Recent studies  have estimated that 8.6% of American children have ADHD, which has exploded with a 400% increase in the past twenty years. 

A study released this week examined data for over 1000 children, looking at urine metabolite levels from organophosphate pesticides.  The complete Pediatrics article is available for free; it was also widely reported in the media. 

Some background from this article and other sources as indicated:

Malathion    Chlorpyrifos
Corn 33.7 17.8 % of samples
Blueberries (frozen) 27.8 5.6
Celery 19.3 3.2
Kale 19 1.6
Strawberries 24.6 0.9
Peaches 0 17.2
Broccoli 0.4 8.1

Children are at greater risk from pesticide exposure because:
  • They put many things in their mouths, they are closer to the ground, and they spend lots of time exploring the outdoors (reference)
  • They are growing quickly and take in more pesticides per unit weight than adults (reference)
  • Their bodies are not the same as adult bodies.  In particular, their bodies may offer less protection from pesticide exposure due to differences in enzymatic and immune activity (ibid).
  • Many of children's favorite foods appear in the EWG's "dirty dozen" of pesticide residues, including apples, strawberries, and potatoes.  Many children have limited diets and so eat more of their favorites than an adult might.   
Now - back to the ADHD / organophosphate study.  The authors state that prenatal and postnatal organophosphate exposures have been linked to developmental and behavioral problems problems, including delayed mental development, poorer short-term memory and motor skills, and longer reaction times.

After analyzing the data for various metabolites and looking for confounding factors, they determined that:
  • 93.8% of the children had at least one of the 6 metabolites at a detectable level
  • Metabolite levels were higher in 2003-4 than in 2000
  • Children with a particular metabolite, dimethyl triophosphate, above median values, had twice the odds of having been diagnosed with ADHD; other metabolites also are associated with up to a 72% increased risk of ADHD

They conclude that "[d]evelopmental exposure to organophosphates might have persistent effects on multiple neural systems that may underlie ADHD behaviors, such as inattention and cognitive deficits, similar to the effects of developmental nicotine exposure."

The good news is that organophosphates cannot be used on organic produce.   According to this study, "organophosphates are eliminated from the body after 3 to 6 days," so moving to more organic foods could have a nearly immediate effect.

Lead in Single-Serving Juices

Several brands of single-serving juices and canned fruit products were found to contain lead levels above the limits established for children by the FDA.  Read more.

The Environmental Law Foundation conducted testing of many products in an independent laboratory.  A list of all products that exceeded the CA Proposition 65 lead limit is available here.  Note that it includes both organic and conventional products.

Think healthy, and think green.  Eliminate single-serving anything to reduce packaging, and read about the benefits of eating fruit rather than drinking juice. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vinegar for Mosquito Bites

My grandmother always used vinegar for itchy mosquito bites, and since moving to Minnesota we've had many occasions to try it.  It stops the itching and is effective for at least a few hours.  Any type of vinegar seems to work.

Natural mosquito repellents