Cancer is winning—but why?

CancerWinningDespite all our research and all our drugs there is little doubt that cancer is winning and winning by huge margins. Worldwide cancer cases are expected to increase by 70 percent over the next 20 years according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The top three reasons given are, in order: tobacco; alcohol consumption; and processed foods.

I find this interesting. Interesting because ‘man’ has been smoking tobacco and consuming alcohol since the days of the Pharaohs, and probably longer. I recall reading an article some time ago pointing out that we drink less alcohol less often than was the case 250 years ago when in many circles wines and beers were consumed throughout the day. So why are they blaming a forecast 70 percent increase in cancer over the next 20 years on tobacco and alcohol?

Then they go on to say the biggest killers are lung cancer in men (16.7 percent), breast cancer in women (25 percent) and then bowl cancer. I will not pretend to be an expert on cancer. Far from it really. But does smoking cause breast cancer? Does alcohol cause breast cancer? Does alcohol cause lung cancer? Hmmm.

I can probably see, maybe, how alcohol might cause bowel cancer, but then again isn’t any alcohol metabolised before it gets to the bowel?

To my way of thinking there is something else going on here. Maybe it is all down to the processed foods. Maybe. But I suspect in about 20 years they are going to find out that there is was some other cause. Something we are not seeing right now. Something in the air. Something in the water.

Could it be as simple as the increased stress loads that modern ‘man’ has to cope with? The link between stress and cancer is widely documented, as is the higher stress ratios we cope with in our modern world. Maybe it is not the alcohol at all, but the stress that people drinking the alcohol are trying to relieve.

Or could the higher rate of cancers be a side affect of other prescribed drugs we take to help offset the stress?

BarryMark

Mango Cream Pavlova at Randomly Closed

Pavlova is supposed to be Australia’s favourite dessert. Personally I have never been that into pavlova. I have tried the odd one now and then, probably on a frequency of about a slice every 8 to 10 years throughout my life. As I said: not a big fan of pavlova.

Pavlova is also probably a really bad choice for someone with type 2 diabetes.

Well my 8 to 10 years must have been up last week because I decided to try a half slice of pavlova at the De Orien Café in Collie. For some reason it looked relatively harmless and it was labelled a Mango Cream pavlova, and I could see that it had custard in it as well. Mango, cream, and custard. Sure sounded like a combination I would like.

Well it was amazing. A dessert sensation—as long as you like mango. Unlike the few pavlovas I have previously tried it was not shockingly over sweet. The sweetness level was perfect. A very natural degree of sweetness.

[Click this picture to see a larger version from SmugMug]

RandomlyClosedPav-Small

It is sort of a small joke within my group that we call the De Orien Café ‘Randomly Closed’. This is because about four years ago when I first started going to Collie they were randomly closed—it was kind of tricky working out when they would be open (or closed). Since then they have become a lot more regular and are generally open all week except for Mondays but the nickname Randomly Closed has sort of stuck.

I have never had any food I did not like at the De Orien Café and, as I said, the Mango Cream pavola itself is just about worth the two hour drive from Perth.

They do an all day breakfast and it really is all day. My son has ordered the breakfast for tea/dinner on a number of occasions. They also do coffee, as you would expect from a café.

If you find yourself in Collie, and Randomly Closed—I mean the De Orien Café—is open, then try them out. The food is excellent and the prices hard to beat; and if the Mango Cream pavlova is in the the display unit then you seriously have to try it. They will do a half slice if you are type 2 diabetic.

BarryMark

Not Dead Yet

Readers could be excused for thinking that I had stopped breathing and gone to that huge blog-o-sphere in the sky. My last posting was on Sunday the 3rd of November. There were only two postings in November and I am pretty sure that is my lowest posting month ever.

As it happens I have been going through some scary times in relation to health. If you manage to make it to 60 then, for about 90 percent of us, around about then you are almost guaranteed that something is going to start to malfunction with a few things here and there in your body. That, sadly, is just how life is. For the vast bulk of us our DNA is pre-programmed for things to start failing at around that 60 mark—whether they be minor or major problems and whether we realise something is failing or not.

My scare was in relation to my bowels, or I think the medical coverall term could be ‘colon’.

About three months ago I experienced a somewhat dramatic change to my number two toilet habits. Initially I dismissed this but as the problem persisted I decided to check in with my GP (general practitioner doctor). He said it could be nothing, and often is, but at my age (as I had not had one) I needed to have a stool test done. The stool test showed up blood in the stool. So the next step was to go for a colonoscopy (i.e., camera up the bum).

At about this point I start to get into some serious worrying. I tend to overthink things and  I determined that I most likely had a bad case of galloping bowel cancer. Even though my GP did a few other checks and informed me that, in his opinion, I looked ‘far too healthy to have galloping bowel cancer’. He also pointed out that only about 1 in 40 follow-up colonoscopies (after detecting blood in the stool) showed up anything of concern and only about 1 in 400 showed up bowl cancer. Also there is no history of bowel cancel in my family and about three quarters of bowel cancer cases are hereditary. Besides which early detected bowel cancer ‘was treatable’.

Even so, I decided to be scared. Very scared. It was around this time that I sort of dropped out. I was barely able to function at work.

The next thing was arranging the colonoscopy and that is a whole other story.

To cut a long story short, in the month leading up to the colonoscopy my toilet routine sort or returned to normal. The colonoscopy, which was 1.5 weeks ago now, did not find anything to be too concerned about although I am still yet to have my visit back with the GP for the formal outcome. However at the clinic the camera doctor did tell me that she didn’t find anything to be worried about and to come back in five years for another one.

As anyone who has experienced a scare like this will probably agree, it does cause you to re-focus what remains of your life a bit. As part of my re-focussing I am going to try and take more photographs. Time will tell if I keep this promise to myself but photography is probably the last thing left that I truly enjoy doing. But for some reason it is just so hard to get out and actually do it.

In the meantime I hope to get back to posting a little more often than once a month.

BarryMark

Titbit: Eggs are good, very good

I have posted bits and pieces on this before, but I came across this on Askmen under the heading of “Busting common nutrition myths”.

Don’t forget the main heading is “Busting common nutrition myths”. That makes the heading below make more sense. I have cut and pasted this so the suspect phrasing and punctuation is theirs—not mine.

EggsGood

The last paragraph is interesting. Anyone who has listened to the 4HB diet CDs will know that the recommended breakfast for losing weight is comprised of eggs, bacon, beans, and sausages, and the main things to steer clear of are cereals and anything involving bread.

Also, three years ago when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, as part of my sessions with the dietician I was advised to increase the number of eggs I consumed a week. She was very firm in the view that two eggs per week is not sufficient and that I should aim for five.

For anyone interested in the other nine ‘busted’ myths identified in the Askmen article they are [the capitalisation is theirs]:

  • FatGoodSaturated Fat is Bad For You
  • Everybody Should be Eating Grains
  • High Protein Diets are Bad For Your Bones and Kidneys
  • Low-Fat Foods Are Good For You
  • Carbs Should Be Your Biggest Source of Calories [I think we all know now that this is complete bunkum]
  • High Omega-6 Seed and Vegetable Oils Are Good For You
  • Sugar is Unhealthy Because it Contains “Empty” Calories
  • High-Fat Foods Will Make You Fat

Remember as you read this list that it is a list of ‘busted myths’, meaning that everyone of those statements is wrong.

Both screen captures above will link you over the the Australian edition of Askmen. If you search for “nutrition myths” the above article should be the top hit.

BarryMark

HSD: So now fat is good for us . . . !! Sugar bad!!

The following is a roll-up of various articles that have appeared in the papers and on-line in relation to fat and sugar over the last couple of months. I have been thinking of putting this together but I actually got up off my butt and came in here and did it after just watching a quick article about this very topic on Sunday Sunrise (on TV).

LowFat01

After about 25 years or so of the ‘experts’ telling us that eating fat was just about the worst thing we could possibly do for our health, now they are telling us we need to eat fat! That the health benefits of eating fat far outweigh the downsides.

Seems we NEED fat to ensure our cardiovascular system is well maintained. Turns out fats actually reduce LDL cholesterol levels and are crucial to maintaining healthy brain function.

Eating fat, or fat in our food, is one of the key indicators to the brain that we have had sufficient food to eat and to turn off the hunger alarm. Because of this, not eating fat can make you fat (your hunger alarm is going off when you are not actually hungry).

And now, after telling everyone to eat less fat for tens of years, the low-fat diet is linked to infertility in women, raising the risk of type 2 diabetes, and has even been linked to Alzheimers.

Holy cow!!

LowFat02

This is a bit like the ‘eggs are bad for you’ advice we got for about 40 years. Now they tell us we should eat eggs at least every other day and eat up to five eggs a week.

It seems all this time sugar has been the big bad gremlin. Especially processed sugar.

The new thinking is that sugar is the primary cause of heart disease and is the number one reason we are all getting fat.

Just because they found a build up of fatty cholesterol on the heart and arteries they jumped to the conclusion that cholesterol was the problem. Apparently not. It is sugar. It seems that spikes in sugar in the blood causes the blood to act a bit like sandpaper. This results in a rough surface being created on the inside of the arteries and heart valves. This rough surface then manages to ‘catch’ and hold passing cholesterol molecules. Then further sugar spikes lay down a sticky surface on the cholesterol that is already caught, which then causes additional cholesterol to become attached.

So the root and ongoing issue is sugar. If the blood had not been saturated in sugar the problem would not have started and would not then keep layering on itself.

The other thing sugar spikes do is cause a rapid rise in the insulin levels (in non-diabetics). From research over the last five to ten years we now realised that when insulin levels are high, indicating to the body there is an over-abundance of sugar energy in the system, the body then changes its strategy. Instead of burning the sugar the body instantly starts converting it into stored fat.

Even if you are doing hard exercise, if your insulin levels are high then sugars will be converted to fat rather than being burned.

There is obviously as LOT more to this than I have been able to summaries here. Do your own research, and maybe even have a chat with your doctor, before adopting any changes in eating habits based on the above.

Have you ever heard someone on a low-fat diet who had just eaten about three tomatoes, a lettuce, a cucumber, and a medium sized tin of tuna say something like “I just ate a square foot of food but I still feel hungry”? Seems that there is a reason for that . . .

BarryMark

Titbit: It’s official—more sex = longer life

MoreSexNeeded2

Seems sex reduces depression, reduces stress, and brings on sleep. All of which contribute to a longer life.

MoreSexNeeded

Given that long-term stress seems to cause all manner of diseases including type 2 diabetes, some cancers including liver and stomach cancer, and heart disease leading to heart attacks, then anything you can do to relieve stress has to be a good idea.

Sex daily seems to be about the right amount from the studies conducted, but certainly at least three times a week is recommended.

Hmmmm.

Have I mentioned before that I have type 2 diabetes?

BarryMark

Been Off Sick a Few Days

Today I finally got back in front of a computer after being laid-up in bed for the better part of the last three days. I still ache a bit here and there, mostly there and there, and I still break out in a horrid cough about every hour or so; but I am much better today than I was. Much better.

I don’t know what it was I got but it sure hit me hard and I am one of those people that frequently cruise through cold and flu season without catching anything.

Not this winter but . . .

I went to bed in the motel on Thursday after having a Chicken Treat “southern fried” three piece pack with two corn cobbetts (I only ate two of the chicken pieces). I was feeling pretty chipper and looking forward to an early start and lots of good progress on my project in the morning. Then I woke up Friday morning and it was a struggle to stand steady after getting out of bed. I was all congested up and when I started coughing I could not stop. On a couple of occasions I wondered if I was going to get to inhale again.

So I had to revise my plan. I packed my car, which took a lot of effort in my weakened state, booked out, and started out on the 2.5 hour drive for home. No way I was taking this bug into work to share with my fellow slaves. Anyway, I seriously doubted I could have made it up from the car park to the office building carrying my bag.

The drive back to Perth was marginally challenging. During my coughing fits I often lost my breath for a short time or my eyes would be running so much from coughing I just about could not see. So I would need to pull over until I recovered. But you know how this works right? The gods have a clear view of the road as well (that’s why they are gods) and they would save my coughing fits until I was on a section of road that offered no safe place to pull off.

I made it back to base and basically spent the last three days either in bed or in the TV room recliner, which is basically another type of ‘bed’. All I managed to eat each day was two slices of toast with honey on them. Even so, I bet I have put on about 5 kilograms.

But today I feel a lot better and at this point I am planning to head to site tomorrow.

BarryMark

Titbit: Someone Diagnosed with Diabetes Every 5 Minutes in Australia

Just on ABC 24 News they just said that in Australia this year so far someone was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every five minutes!

That’s 12 per hour. That is 288 per day; 1,240 per month.

HSD (holy snapping duckshit).

You are 800 times more likely in any given week to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than you are to win first division Saturday lotto!!

HSD*2 (double holy snapping duckshit).

The causes of type 2 diabetes are interesting. Back when I was diagnosed some three years ago now (I have been pricking my fingers four times a day for three years—no wonder I gave up the guitar) I did a bit of research on the causes. There are a lot of theories about the causes of type 2 diabetes including:

  1. Being overweight (most likely).
  2. Insufficient exercise (likely, and sort of linked to #1).
  3. Not eating enough salt over a long term (possible).
  4. Consumption of artificial sweeteners and in particular aspartame-based sweeteners (limited evidence).
  5. Consumption of large amounts of sugar even if you are not overweight [#1] and do get sufficient exercise [#2] (likely).
  6. Alcoholic drinks and especially abuse of high proof spirits (possible).
  7. Prescribed medications such as beta blockers and statins (likely).

I am sure there are many more but these are some that I researched.

BarryMark

Four Non-exercise Ways to Lose Weight

According to an article today in Forbes Magazine the following four ‘activities’ good ways to lose weight that do not involve any exercise—assuming you eat relatively normally but just don’t seem to be able to lose any weight.

(1) Sleep

Anyone who has had any serious weight loss counselling will not be surprised at the number one way to lose weight that does not involve exercising. I have certainly been told this as least twice by doctors in recent times. For the average person three hours sleep burns about the same number of calories as a one hour walk on level ground at a normal pace. A good eight hours sleep burns off as many calories as a two and half hour walk—every single night you sleep.

This is because the body has to use energy to maintain body functions while you sleep. Almost all body functions are working away while you sleep, especially your energy burning brain (which technically NEVER rests). Even muscles ‘at rest’ still burn off energy. Also your body has to maintain body temperature, which requires the burning of huge (relative) amounts of energy. This is also why some ‘diets’ recommend sleeping cool and not piling on the blankets or turning off the electric blanket. The colder you sleep, within reason, the more energy you body has to burn to maintain body temperature.

To get the best benefit from calorie burn-off overnight you should eat an early evening meal at least four hours before you go to bed that is low in carbohydrate and sugar content. If you MUST have a night time snack then make it sugar free, or as sugar free as possible (see next point). Then have a solid seven to eight hours of sleep.

Sadly the benefits of calorie burn off during sleep are negated if you do not get continuous sleep. So for someone like me that wakes up about four or five times most nights the sleep-time calorie burn off will not be as beneficial as it should be.

(2) Cut Back On Sugar

For people trying to lose weight sugar is your biggest enemy when it come to food. Not only does excess sugar get very easily converted to stored fat, consuming sugar will instantly—within seconds—stop your body from using energy reserves.

So if you did do exercise, like a 20 minute brisk walk or 15 minutes on your walker, and then you have a drink of commercial orange juice the sugar in the orange juice will instantly stop you body from drawing stored energy. It is like a switch. Sadly it then takes a long time (up to an hour) before you body goes back to drawing stored energy because the sugar takes a long time to be fully used.

(3) Vitamin C

A key chemical required by our bodies to convert stored fat into energy ready to burn is carnitine. Apparently vitamin C prompts the body to produce carnitine.

The best way to get sugar-free vitamin C is by low-dose vitamin C tables or low sugar fruits such at kiwi fruit.

The most effective times to take a vitamin C hit are during times of stress and first thing in the morning.

(4) Eat (Unsaturated) Fat

There are a few reasons why we need to eat fat. Firstly there is strong evidence that fat is a key component in how our body signals that we are full when we eat a meal. Hence if there is insufficient fat in the meal then the full bell never rings. So then we eat too much, generally consuming more sugar in the process.

Secondly, fat does not make us fat. Sugar does. But sugar will not ring the ‘full’ bell. You will get sick from sugar overload before the ‘full’ bell rings.

Thirdly, it takes fat to burn fat.


So that is part of the theory on losing weight without exercising in the health section of Forbes Magazine today.

Now if only I could actually sleep for seven to eight hours a night. I used to when I was younger. I used to sleep for twelve hours on weekends. Maybe that is why I was a skinny teenager and young adult. Maybe I started to put on weight as I lost the secret to sleep. Could be . . .

BarryMark

Looking at the Colour Blue is Seriously Hard Work

For those that remember some of the stuff they were taught in high school you will remember that the sensory part of the eye’s retina is made of cones and rods. The rods operate in dull light and detect brightness, or, if you like it said another way, see in shades of grey. At night when you look up at the moon and stars the eye is using mainly the rods to ‘see’ with.

Unlike rods the cones operate in good light and they are sensitive to colour, or more correctly, the colour wavelengths.

There are way more rods than cones with the ratio of rods to cones being something like 6:1 averaged over the seeing surface of the retina; but in the areas on the edge of the seeing surface the ratio goes up to 10:1. Because there are so many rods and they operate in low light this is how we see in the dark, and this is why you cannot make out colour in the dark—the colour-sensing cones are not operating due to the lack of light.

There are three types of cones. The most abundant cones are the long-wavelength (L) cones that detect red/orange. The next most abundant are medium-wavelength (M) cones that are sensitive to yellow/green. The third type of cones, of which we have the least, are the short-wavelength (S) cones that detect blue/violet.

In people who are colour blind, which are mostly men (because whatever it is that causes someone to be colour blind is carried by the X chromosome), their L and M cones are merged together and cannot differentiate between these wavelength colours. Colour blind people rarely (if ever) have any problems seeing and identifying blue/violet short-wavelength colours.

But back to the point of this post: Blue is hard work to “see”.

Seeing-RGBFor the human eye, relative to reds and yellow and greens, blue is really hard work to see. The “S” or short-wavelength blue sensing cones only comprise about 8 percent of all the cones. The remainder of the cones are distributed about 60:40 between L and M—so we can see red/orange slightly ‘easier’ than we can see yellow/green.

So, with so few blue S-sensing cones how come we seem to see blue without any problems, and in fact, it will often appear as though blue is really standing out when we look at it?

The reason we see blue as vivid, and often more saturated and vivid than it actually is, is because our amazing brain takes over. It knows we need help in seeing blue so it brightens and saturates the S-sensor data as it processes it. Because of this the visual decoding part of our brain ‘works’ about three times harder when we are seeing blue than it does when we are focussing on L- or M-sensor colours.

The reason that police lights in most countries are a combination of red and blue is because of this very reason. L-sensor cones, which pick up the red flashing light, are the most plentiful in our eyes, and due to the enhancement overlayed by our brains when we try to ‘see’ blue we actually see blue brighter and more vivid than it really is—also colour blind people can see blue.

WPexampleBecause looking at the colour blue is relatively hard work for the visual part of our brains a lot of people can develop headaches or migraines if they look at blue too long.

Back in the days of text-only screens on computers many people used to configure their word processors to work with white text on a blue background. Note the example shown at right where the WordPerfect word processor has been configured for white text on a blue background.

It took businesses and people a while to realise the reason the incident of migraines and headaches was skyrocketing. That is was due to staring at such screens for hours working on documents and their poor old brains were basically getting burn-out processing colour data because there was so much blue having to be ‘seen’.

BlueWrenThis ‘over-vivid’ property of the colour blue is often used by nature. For example the colouring of the male Blue Wren. If you are out walking through the bush you can spot a male Blue Wren immediately from a considerable distance due to the almost fluorescing blue colours of its feathers.

Then there is the Peacock with its dazzling blue neck.

BarryMark