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After a heavy storm, a boy walked along the beach throwing the stranded starfish back into the sea.

A man watching shouted "there are too many of them - it won’t make any difference."

As the boy threw another starfish back into the sea, he smiled and replied "it made a difference to that one!"

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Star Throwers
30 Melton Road
Wymondham
Norfolk NR18 0DB

Telephone:
01953 423304

Email:
info@starthrowers.org.uk

Centre is open Monday - Friday 10am to 4pm

Registered Charity in England & Wales
Number: 1127037

Star Throwers - Caring for people affected by Cancer

Cancer and Lifestyle

This page is a guide to Understanding Cancer in general and is for information only. For medical advice specific to your condition, please call us on 01953 423304.

Weight Loss in Cancer

Weight loss is a very common symptom in cancer. It has a number of causes which are discussed.

The tumour itself may send out messages to the rest of the body especially the muscles. In effect it tells the muscles to break down as the nutrients in the muscle are required elsewhere for growth (i.e. the tumour). Some tumours send out these chemical messages much more than others and the weight loss can be rapid.

The only way to deal with this type of weight loss is to treat the underlying tumour. Once the tumour is reduced in size the amount of chemical messages it releases into the blood stream is reduced. This results in the muscle no longer breaking down.

Some tumours affect the flow of food through the stomach and intestines either by causing a partial obstruction or producing large amounts of fluid in the abdomen leading to distension and feeling bloated.

If the obstruction or the fluid cannot be removed, then try and eat as many snacks as possible during the day. There are a number of high calorie drinks available from your doctor which come in both sweet and savoury flavours which are worth trying. Examples include Ensure, Enshake and Fortisip. Some people may find a particular brand too sickly so it is worth trying one of the others.

If you can't stand the taste of these, try any soup what takes your fancy.

Others develop an unpleasant taste in their mouth and this can put one off eating. If this is the case, get your doctor to check your mouth to ensure there is no thrush infection present or evidence of dental caries (disease of the gums). If thrush is present, it can be treated with anti-fungals. If there is no thrush, try various types of mouthwash and see if that helps.

Thrush infections and mouth ulcers are very common during chemotherapy. Ensure throughout the treatment that you use regular mouthwashes.

Nausea is another major cause of loss of appetite and weight loss. There are a large number of anti-nausea substances that can help. If one doesn't work, then try another (and another till you find the one or more in combination that seems to help the most).

Numerous trials have generally failed to show that specific additives can prevent weight loss. However, a small trial presented at a European cancer meeting (ESMO) in 2008 suggested that carnitine at a dose of 4gms daily could slow down weight loss and it is probably worth trying for at least two weeks. It is available on the NHS but usually supplied for those with proven carnitine deficiency but discuss with your family doctor. Others have shown that EPA (which is a dietary fatty acid) as a supplement at 2gms a day may also be of use. This is available from most health food shops.

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Nutrition and lifestyle

Our bodies have evolved over thousands of years to function in a manner that depends on the available nutrition around us. When we become deficient in some of these essential products, disease develops which may result in illness or death.

One example is vitamin C deficiency due to a lack of fresh fruit or vegetables which leads to a disease called scurvy. This was a common disease in sailors in the 17th and 18th century who underwent long journeys without fresh food. Scurvy would result in bleeding gums, teeth falling out and eventually convulsions and death.

Nutrition is extremely important in the prevention and probably the treatment of cancer. It has been shown that when people move from a country of low incidence of a particular cancer to a country that has a high incidence, there chances of developing cancer increase as well. However, this is not as high as the local population.

This tells us that part of their resistance to developing a specific cancer is partly genetic and partly environmental. We cannot change the genes that make us up but we can change our behaviour in the environment in which we live.

Exercise

Lack of regular exercise is one of the commonest findings associated with the development of cancer. This also holds true for women with an increased genetic risk for breast cancer.

The reason why exercise has an effect in prevention of cancer is unknown but may be associated with the fact you would be less likely to be overweight if you exercise regularly but the relationship is not clear-cut.

So the message is clear. Try to exercise regularly every day or every other day for a minimum of thirty minutes or longer if you enjoy it. It is probably important to increase your heart rate a little and feel slightly breathless or sweaty. If you have problems with your heart or lungs, take advice from your own doctor first but as long as you don't overdo it, you should feel better for it.

Alcohol

The rule is everything in moderation. If you enjoy a beer, whisky, glass of wine etc. then have one or two but try to keep it at this level. Alcohol is associated with some cancers but again it all comes down to excesses.

Smoking

Smoking should be avoided as it is associated with many cancers. Smokers have a higher risk of developing mouth, throat and lung kidney and bladder cancer, so prevention is the aim.

After lung cancer has been diagnosed, there is no evidence that giving up smoking makes any difference. Unfortunately, people often give up smoking once diagnosed with lung cancer despite being unable to do so for the past 30 years, in the hope it will make the cancer go away.

The reality is that it won't. So for the smokers among you, for your own sake and that of your family and friends, make an appointment to see your family doctor or nurse to help you give up before it is too late.

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Vitamin C in Cancer

Vitamin C is a popular alternative treatment for cancer but is disregarded by conventional medicine. The history of the use of vitamin C in cancer goes back to the 1970's when Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling with Ewan Cameron published a paper stating that the use of Vitamin C resulted in prolongation of life in approximately 50% of terminal cancer patients.

As they compared their results with average life expectancy of cancer patients who had previously died in the same Scottish hospital (this is called a retrospective study), the Americans decided to do a trial which compared those given Vitamin C to those who didn't but during the same time frame (a prospective study which is supposed to be more reliable).

Unfortunately, their trial showed no advantage with giving Vitamin C but Pauling thought the reason was these patients were heavily pretreated with chemotherapy and also were more advanced in their cancer than the Scottish patients. The trial was thus repeated and the Vitamin C was given to patients who had not received chemotherapy but the results were exactly the same. Pauling thought the reason was that the investigators stopped giving Vitamin C when the patients continued to deteriorate and this led to a rebound effect with even more rapid advancement of their cancer.

Both sets of investigators had missed one crucial point which was how the Vitamin C was given. In the Scottish trial it was initially given by intravenous injection whereas the Americans gave it by mouth.The relevance of this has only recently been recognised as the maximum levels of Vitamin C in the blood following the liquid or tablet form is much lower than that achieved by injection and in many studies on cancer cells the concentration required to kill cancer cells can only be reached by this route of administration.

Therefore it cannot be said that high dose vitamin C has no effect in cancer and prospective trials need to be done using varying doses of intravenous vitamin C to try and prove or disprove whether it can slow down tumour growth.

There are some alternative centres offering intravenous Vitamin C, some at quite exorbitant prices. They tend to use a standard dose which is much higher than that originally used by Cameron and Pauling presumably on the assumption that more is better as far as an anti-cancer effect is concerned.

However, there are a number of research studies that show this is not necessarily the case and some tumours grow faster at higher Vitamin C levels.

The other problem is tumours differ in their response to vitamin C with certain types requiring larger doses to slow tumour growth.

Trials are required using different dosages of vitamin C to see the impact on various types of tumours. In the meantime, the dosages used for specific tumours have to be based on research carried out on cell cultures or rodents and those cases reported in the literature as having responded to treatment.

Recommendations on dosage will be made available in the future.

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Diet in Cancer

Common sense tells us that an ideal diet should contain all the nutrients required for normal growth and development which includes maintaining our immune system in first class condition. It is well recognised that a poor diet predisposes us to a large number of conditions due to lack of a number of specific nutrients requires for normal cell activity. Examples include scurvy due to Vitamin C deficiency, rickets due to vitamin D deficiency, eye problems due to vitamin A deficiency and skin diseases associated with deficiency of the B vitamins.

The association of diet and cancer is also related to genetic susceptibility e.g. the ingestion of pickled vegetables is associated with an increased risk of cancer but only in Chinese and Japanese populations. Other studies have suggested that high intake of salt and preserved meat or fish may be associated with an increase risk of developing cancer but some of the studies showed ambiguous results possibly due to difficulty in accurately measuring specific food intake in a population.

However, numerous studies have shown the consistent association between fresh fruit and vegetable intake and cancer risk in that high consumption is associated with a lower incidence of stomach and lung cancer. Similarly, a diet high in red meat appears to be associated with an increased risk of colon cancer.

The problem is trying to discover what constituents in our food are responsible for protection against cancer and in what amounts should we be ingesting them.

Attempts to isolate a specific vitamin or foodstuff have not been successful. It was suggested that supplementing a smokers diet with the vitamin beta carotene would prevent the onset of lung cancer but a result of a trial on middle aged Finnish smokers showed that those who took the supplement actually had a higher incidence of lung cancer. In breast cancer there is no obvious causal link between a diet low in vitamin C, E carotene or selenium although a diet low in fruit and vegetables has been associated with an increased risk in some studies. The intake of fat may be correlated with cancer risk but prospective trials have not confirmed this (see cellular and molecular biology p.48) although the type of fat rather than total intake may make a difference. Increased risk could also be associated with a high fat intake during childhood and adolescence.

If we are unable to pinpoint specific nutrients for the prevention of cancer then it makes sense to ensure our diets contain all the micronutrients required for normal metabolism of all our organs. We know that Vitamin A in excess is toxic to the liver and trials of high doses of Vitamin C have failed to reduce the incidence of lung cancer or even the common cold. This should tell us that in order to be healthy our body requires a large number of micronutrients but these have to be balanced so they can work together for optimal function of our cellular machinery.

Evaluating cancer therapies P.137 suggest asparagus 8ozs a day uncooked in a blender to break down cell walls or possibly lightly cooked with broccoli. Beta carotene can reduce uptake of lycopene therefore losing anti-cancer effect.

Dietary supplements to stimulate the immune system

  • Green Tea
  • Cucurmin (turmeric)
  • Resveratrol (red grapes, peanuts and berries)
  • Capsaican (red chillies, peppers)
  • Ginger
  • Black tea
  • Genestein (soybean)
  • Lycopene ( tomatoes)
  • Garlic
  • Citrus fruits
  • Allium (onions,shallots,leeks)
  • Carrots
  • Ursolic acid (apples, pears, prunes)
  • Cruciferous vegetables(e.g. cauliflower, broccoli)
  • Aloe (Aloe vera)
  • Basil, sweet fennel and coriander
  • Artichokes
  • Ellagic acid (pomegranates)
  • Parthenolide (feverfew)
  • Liquorice
  • Buy organic flax seeds in bulk and grind one tablespoon each day.
  • Asparagus
  • Patients with cachexia try carnitine 4gms a day which is available on prescription as this is the only product shown to slow down weight loss in a presentation at the ESMO 2008 meeting.

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Diet for colorectal cancer

The recommendations given below are based on published scientific articles. Most of them have been researched in the preventative setting.

Some of the articles are based on the actions of food supplements on cancer cells in test tubes or culture dishes and it remains unknown whether they have any effect in patients suffering from or preventing recurrence of a bowel tumour. Other studies have been done in mouse models of bowel cancer which are more likely to be relevant to human bowel tumours but again this is not always the case.

It is very difficult to determine exactly which herb, vitamin or other supplement is having an effect and they may only work in combination. Therefore the diet below is based on the fact that all these compounds have a proven effect on killing colon cancer cells or associated with the prevention of colon cancer and it is worth trying to incorporate as many of them as possible into your diet. If you don't like the taste of a specific compound or it disagrees with you, then leave it out as almost certainly other components in the diet will contain the compound.

  1. Exercise regularly and don't overeat. Avoid red meat as there is a strong association with colon cancer and keep the ingestion of milk, other dairy products and refined flour to a minimum. Try to eat oily fish such as tuna , mackerel or salmon at least twice a week.
  2. Vegetables have a protective effect: Carrots, green vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables and allium vegetables such as garlic, onions, leeks and scallions.
  3. Selenium approximately 200 micrograms daily which can be bought as selenised yeast but can be found naturally in nuts, seafood, broccoli, brown rice, tomatoes, garlic, and wholemeal bread.
  4. Vitamin D at a dose of 10000 i.u. daily for 5 months and then reduce to 50000 units every 2 weeks. However if you are outdoors in the sunshine for more than two hours a day, only take a quarter of this dose. Although this is a high dose it is not normally associated with toxicity. Symptoms of excess vitamin D include vomiting constipation headache irritability and passing large amounts of urine. In the unlikely event of this occurring ask your doctor to check your calcium levels.
  5. Resveratrol which is found in red wine, grape juice and peanuts.
  6. Pomegranate juice 250ml.
  7. Muscadine grape juice.
  8. Reishi mushrooms otherwise known as ganoderum lucidum or lingzhi.
  9. Curcumin 8-12 g a day which comes from the spice turmeric and is added to mustard.
  10. Chilli peppers.
  11. Probiotics.
  12. Folic acid 5mgs daily for one month to ensure maximum storage levels. Continue intake in the form of dark green leafy vegetables, fruit and nuts.
  13. Oral enzymes.
  14. Aspirin at a dose of 300mgs daily .Do not take if you are on the blood thinning drug warfarin or suffer from indigestion that requires treatment.
  15. Statins. Normally used for the prevention of heart disease. If your doctor won't prescribe it, you can buy it over the counter such as simvastatin 40mgs daily.
  16. Flaxseed (not flaxseed oil).
  17. Blueberries, black raspberries and strawberries.
  18. Echinacea preferably derived from Echinacea Pallida.

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Diet for the prevention and treatment of Prostate Cancer

This dietary regime is based on studies for the prevention of prostate cancer and experimental research on prostate cancer cells as well as the prevention of prostate cancer in mice. A few studies have also been shown to slow down progression of both hormone dependent and independent cancer.

Individual supplements are generally not recommended for two main reasons. First, they may be contaminated with other toxic substances such as cadmium in zinc supplements and secondly a number of trials have shown increased cancer rates in people taking supplements in the form of tablets rather than natural foodstuffs.

Lacking scientific evidence into the ideal amount or frequency of intake, a suggestion is to try to incorporate as many of the following into your diet, aiming to ingest most of the recommendations at least every other day. If you are unable to take any particular substance because it is difficult to get hold of, it upsets you or you can't stand the taste, then leave it out. The remaining foodstuffs are more than likely to contain similar substances and it is important to enjoy your food.

  1. Selenium approximately 200 micrograms daily which can be bought as selenised yeast but can be found naturally in nuts, seafood, broccoli, brown rice, tomatoes, garlic, and wholemeal bread.
  2. Zinc approximately 20mgs a day preferably in foodstuffs such as sunflower sesame (tahini spread) or pumpkin seeds, oysters and brewers yeast . If you are unable to take these, then a zinc supplement preferably in the form of zinc gluconate of not more than 20mgs a day is recommended.
  3. Calcium in a dose of 500-1200mgs a day. Again do not exceed this if you are taking supplements.
  4. Vitamin E only in the form of dietary gamma tocopherol- walnuts, corn, corn oil and sesame seeds.
  5. Vitamin D at a dose of 10000 i.u. daily for 5 months and then reduce to 50000 units every 2 weeks. However if you spend a large amount of time outdoors in the sunshine then only take a quarter of this dose.For prevention take 1000 units a day unless you are dark skinned in which case 1500 i.u. may be required.
  6. Soy products such as soya milk or soya beans or any other foods that contain the combinations of genistein with dadzein or equol. Do not take dadzein on its own.
  7. Flaxseed at a dose of 30gms which can be mixed with water or yoghurt. However this should not be used for prevention of prostate cancer.
  8. Silybin-phytosome at a dose of 13 grams.
  9. Curcumin
  10. Garlic
  11. Lycopenes: Tomatoes either fresh fried or as tomato sauce, red peppers, water melon pink grapefruit, guave and strawberries.
  12. Fresh vegetables (or liquidised juice) and fruit
  13. Reishi mushrooms
  14. Resveratrol which is found in red wine, grape juice and peanuts.
  15. Pomegranate juice 250 ml.
  16. Muscadine grape juice
  17. Green tea although there is no direct evidence for a role in prostate cancer, it has strong anti-oxidant properties.
  18. Keep intake of milk and dairy products , red meat and refined flour to a minimum.
  19. Take one aspirin a day (300mgs) with food unless you have a stomach ulcer, it upsets your stomach or you are taking warfarin to thin your blood.
  20. Fish high in omega 3 such as salmon, mackerel and tuna.

Other compounds which may have an effect

  1. Aspirin
  2. DFMO 500mgs daily
  3. Arginine
  4. Sildenafil or other phosphodiesterase inhibitors

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Diet for those undergoing radiation to the head and neck

One of the biggest problems while undergoing radiation therapy is nutrition due to the inability to swallow foods because of pain and swelling in the throat.

If you are offered the opportunity to have a small tube temporarily put into your stomach through the skin, then do it as it will make you feel better if there are a regular amount of good quality foodstuffs entering your body while you undergo treatment.

In the situation where you find it very difficult to swallow, it is equally difficult sometimes to get a soft food diet when you are in hospital. The simple reason being that the caterers have to mass produce their food and the best you are likely to be offered is jelly and ice cream.

In view of this it is important to provide information on how you coped with this problem and in the near future, we will be suggesting recipes which people who have gone through this, can recommend first hand.

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Nausea and Vomiting associated with Cancer

Nausea and vomiting occur for various reasons. The commonest reason is chemotherapy but can also be associated with anything that slows down natural bowel contractions such as fluid surrounding the bowel, tumour tissue pressing on the bowel and causing partial or complete obstruction or simply constipation.

Brain tumours can also be associated with vomiting but is usually associated with headaches. These are due to high pressure in the brain and can be helped with steroids.

Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy can be greatly reduced with anti sickness pills which vary in the way they work. If one doesn't work there are at least three or four different compounds that can be used either on their own or combined. Therefore, if you are suffering from severe nausea or vomiting, tell your doctor or nurse and they will try some other medication.

Ginger has been used for centuries to treat nausea and a recent trial has suggested that taking half to one gram a day is helpful in treating it.

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Massage and Aromatherapy

The importance of complementary therapies is to produce a feeling of well being. They do not act as a cancer treatment directly but this is irrelevant as in the management of cancer or any other chronic disease, there is nothing more important in treating the person as a whole, rather than their specific disease.

The vast majority of people with cancer who have undergone massage and aromatherapy have found it relaxing and made them feel better in themselves and this is what life is all about.

My advice to those of you who would like to try these therapies is to give it a go. If you don't find it useful, then there are many other forms of complementary therapy available.

Some masseuse therapists are worried that their treatment could do harm for example by pressing on the tumour. As long as the massage is carried out gently, then it is not possible to produce any ill effects.

All therapists are different in their approach. The most important thing is to find one who you feel totally relaxed with so when you walk out, you feel it was money well spent.

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Coleys Toxins and Cancer

Coley's Toxins is an cancer therapy from the pre-history of modern oncology. Developed by surgeon William Coley at the end of the 19th century, this was a treatment that showed some impressive results against a range of hard to treat cancers - especially sarcomas. Coley began the treatment after noticing that some patients with cancer experienced tumour regression after becoming infected in hospital. These rare cases of spontaneous remission were regarded as miracles, which they still are, pretty much. The infected patients would develop severe fevers, chills, aches and pains and the rest of the signs of a massive immune response that ended with the tumours being attacked by the immune system.

READ FULL ARTICLE ON www.anticancer.org.uk >

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