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Early Onset Pompe Disease

Early Onset Pompe Disease

Welcome to the Early Onset Pompe Disease Community

Pompe disease is a rare multisystem genetic disorder that is characterized by absence or deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme alpha-glucosidase (GAA). This enzyme is required to breakdown (metabolize) the complex carbohydrate glycogen and convert it into the simple sugar glucose. Glycogen is a thick, sticky substance and failure to properly break it down results in massive accumulation of lysosomal glycogen in cells, particularly in cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscle cells. Pompe disease is a single disease continuum with variable rates of disease progression and different ages of onset.

The infantile form is characterized by severe muscle weakness and abnormally diminished muscle tone (hypotonia) without muscle wasting, and usually manifests within the first few months of life. Additional abnormalities may include enlargement of the heart (cardiomegaly), the liver (hepatomegaly), and/or the tongue (macroglossia). Without treatment, progressive cardiac failure usually causes life-threatening complications by the age of 12 to 18 months.

The extent of organ involvement may vary among affected individuals; however, skeletal muscle weakness is usually present with minimal cardiac involvement. Initial symptoms of late-onset Pompe disease may be subtle and may go unrecognized for years. Pompe disease is caused by mutations of the GAA gene and is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.

Pompe Disease late onset

Pompe Disease late onset

Welcome to the Late Onset Pompe Disease Community

Pompe disease is a rare multisystem genetic disorder that is characterized by absence or deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme alpha-glucosidase (GAA). This enzyme is required to breakdown (metabolize) the complex carbohydrate glycogen and convert it into the simple sugar glucose. Glycogen is a thick, sticky substance and failure to properly break it down results in massive accumulation of lysosomal glycogen in cells, particularly in cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscle cells. Pompe disease is a single disease continuum with variable rates of disease progression and different ages of onset.

Pompe disease that present in childhood, adolescence or adulthood, is collectively known as late-onset Pompe disease. The extent of organ involvement may vary among affected individuals; however, skeletal muscle weakness is usually present with minimal cardiac involvement. Initial symptoms of late-onset Pompe disease may be subtle and may go unrecognized for years. Pompe disease is caused by mutations of the GAA gene and is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.

AKIO – Antwerps Kanker Informatie & Ontmoetingscentrum

AKIO – Antwerps Kanker Informatie & Ontmoetingscentrum

Welkom op de AKIO community!

Akio is een lokaal initiatief gedragen door vrijwilligers voor (ex-)kankerpatiénten en hun naasten.

Je kan in ons inloophuis binnenlopen op maandag-, en donderdagnamiddag voor een babbel of info.

We organiseren ook een aantal activiteiten zowel binnen als buiten, die je terugvindt in onze folders en op onze website: akio-vzw.be.

Doelstellingen

De behandeling met chemo- of radiotherapie gebeurt steeds meer en meer ambulant. 

Vele patiënten komen tijdens of na de behandeling in een situatie terecht waarin de vanzelfsprekende contacten, structuur en toekomstperspectief zijn weggevallen. 

Dikwijls ontbreekt de energie om het roer om te gooien en nieuwe wegen te gaan bewandelen.

Wat geldt voor patiënten, geldt ook voor de mensen die hen omringen. 

AKIO bieden daarom gelegenheid tot ontmoeting, gesprek, informatie en activiteiten voor iedereen die betrokken is bij de problematiek “Leven met en na kanker”: patiënten, familieleden en vrienden. 

U kan met AKIO, geheel buiten de ziekenhuis omgeving, deelnemen aan crea activiteiten zoals yoga, origami, kalligrafie, bloemschikken, mandala tekenen en andere.

Er worden heel het jaar door uitstappen in de natuur, bezoeken aan musea of andere  bezienswaardigheden gepland. 

Bij gelegenheid kunt u ook samen met ons naar een toneelvoorstelling of een concert.

Info Ons Steentje

Info Ons Steentje

Het doel van “Ons Steentje”

Waartoe dragen wij ons steentje bij?

Kinderen in het ziekenhuis hebben hun ouders nodig en het liefst zoveel mogelijk. Ouders met minder zorgen zijn ouders die er meer voor hun gezin kunnen zijn. 

De Vzw “Ons Steentje”, ontstaan uit ervaring:

  •  is het eerste aanspreekpunt zijn voor ouders van levensbedreigend zieke kinderen.
  •  wijst hen de weg
  •  probeert hun primaire zorgen weg te nemen
  •  werkt en overlegt samen met andere prachtige initiatieven en organisaties.

Hoe dragen wij bij aan het welzijn van een levensbedreigd ziek kind binnen zijn of haar gezin?

WE VULLEN HIATEN IN DIE OVER HET HOOFD WORDEN GEZIEN. Te vaak merken we dat ouders en omgeving de rechten van het kind niet kunnen naleven. Ze komen er financieel niet, weten niet meer welk document eerst in orde te brengen, begrijpen niet wat er met hun kind aan de hand is etc…

Ze zijn met dingen bezig die niet prioritair zijn… als ze bij hun kind willen zijn is dat hun prioriteit.

Daartoe nemen wij een behoefte analyse af bij de gezinnen thuis of in het ziekenhuis. We lijsten hun zorgen en bekommernissen op. Daarnaast houden we op regelmatige basis rechtstreeks contact met deze gezinnen. Op sociale media onderhouden we een groep waar ouders elkaar kunnen ondersteunen.

Samenwerkingen: “we vinden het wiel niet opnieuw uit”

WE VINDEN HET WIEL NIET UIT. Er bestaan zoveel mooie initiatieven die te vaak onbekend zijn en waarnaar ouders en kinderen de weg niet vinden. Wij wijzen hen de weg en bovendien houden we een nauwe samenwerking met ziekenhuizen, overheid en grote instanties.

Vooruit kijken

“ONS STEENTJE” heeft zich tot doel gesteld om alle kinderen te bereiken die strijden voor hun leven en we proberen mee om het hun in de gegeven omstandigheden zo aangenaam mogelijk te maken. Hun ouders moeten in de mogelijkheid zijn om doordachte en beredeneerde beslissingen te nemen in het belang van hun kind waardoor zij hun kind beter kunnen begeleiden. Dit in samenspraak met ziekenhuizen, professionelen, ervaringsdeskundigen en alle reeds bestaande organisaties.

 

Lifestyle – Thyroid C.

Lifestyle – Thyroid C.

The importance of a healthy lifestyle

healthy lifestyle cancer
An improved lifestyle can have a significant impact on quality of life. In some cases, a better lifestyle can lead to a better tolerance of a treatment and reduced side effects after or during a treatment. Several research papers have individually confirmed the positive correlation between lifestyle and quality of life for specific cancer types.

Scientific literature links the following indicators to lifestyle: level of physical activity, sleep quality, nutrition, smoking behavior, alcohol consumption and stress level. These indicators are used to calculate a ‘Lifestyle Score’ on Esperity. By following your lifestyle score over a certain period of time you might see fluctuations that can make you aware about specific indicators of lifestyle that deserve a bit more attention.

What are the recommendations?


Although setting goals to achieve a better health is very individual, there are some general recommendations that you could use to define your personal goals. Of course, it is important to assess the feasibility with your health professionals if you have difficulties or have specific questions related to your condition.
Click on one of the items to find out more about the importance of that indicator during and after a cancer treatment.

Drinking alcohol – Thyroid C.

Drinking alcohol – Thyroid C.

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The relation with cancer risk and survival

According to the several medical publications, chronic consumption of alcohol is a well-known cause of several cancers. These include cancers of the mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), esophagus, liver, colon and rectum, breast and pancreas. Especially when alcohol is consumed chronically together with smoking, it significantly increases the risk of getting a cancer [1].

More important than the type of alcoholic beverage, it is the amount of alcohol that matters. The active ingredient found in alcohol is ethanol. When consumed chronically, ethanol can lead to tissue inflammation or destruction. This inflammation can be the first step in the emergence of cancers (especially liver and esophagus). Ethanol can also influence the oestrogen level in the body and this might increase the risk of oestrogen sensitive cancers, such as ER-positive (oestrogen receptor positive) breast cancer [2].

According to a recent review in the American Journal of Public Health, the majority of alcohol-attributable female cancer deaths were from breast cancer (56% to 66%), whereas upper airway and esophageal cancer deaths were more common among men (53% to 71%) [3].

Although there is a relation between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing certain cancers, the relation between alcohol consumption and cancer survival is less clear [4]. For instance, several studies on breast cancer have shown that moderate drinkers experienced a better cardiovascular status and an improved overall survival compared with non-drinkers, which might be confusing compared to previous research studies [5]. Other studies reported no link between moderate alcohol intake and breast cancer recurrence and that moderate post-diagnosis alcohol consumption is unlikely to have a major adverse effect on the survival of women with breast cancer [6,7].

Captura de pantalla 2015-10-19 a la(s) 16.11.25One study reported that folic acid intake might reduce the risk for breast cancer caused by alcohol consumption, although more research is needed to reveal the role of folic acid and alcohol discontinuation [8]. Taking into account the known effects of alcohol on the health, it is however recommended to discontinue or lower alcohol intake.

Interaction with treatment

Alcohol can interact with some chemotherapy treatments in the same way other drugs can interact with each other. Always talk to your physician before drinking alcohol during a cancer treatment.

There are some chemotherapy drugs that have a known interaction with alcohol and it is important not to consume alcohol when taking these drugs. This is the case for instance with procarbazine and lomustine. Procarbazine is a drug often used to treat Hodgkin lymphomas in children and young adults, some types of non-Hodgkin lymphomas, and some types of brain tumors. Lomustine, also called CCNU, is a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat various tumors, such as, but not limited to, breast cancer, cervical cancer, testicular cancer, myeloma, ovarian cancers, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, melanoma skin cancer and brain tumors. [9,10]

Alcohol and appetite

Some chemotherapy drugs can make you feel sick or might reduce your appetite. Having a small alcoholic consumption might increase your appetite again and help you relax. But here again: always first check with your physician before doing so. Keep in mind that alcoholic drinks can bring a total different experience due to changes in taste because of the chemotherapy. Furthermore, a sore mouth might give you an uncomfortable feeling when drinking alcohol.

Recommendations

Based on the numerous studies on alcohol and chemotherapy, the general recommendation by the American Cancer Society for alcohol consumption during treatment is not to drink alcohol unless your doctor is OK with it. After cancer treatment, the general recommendations are one glass or less per day for women and two glasses or less per day for men. [11,12]

References

  • [1]http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/alcohol-use-and-cancer
  • [2] Enger et al.; Alcohol consumption and breast cancer oestrogen and progesterone receptor status; Br J Cancer. 1999 Mar; 79(7-8): 1308–1314.
  • [3] David E. Nelson et al. Alcohol-Attributable Cancer Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2013 April; 103(4): 641–648.
  • [4] Scoccianti et al. Female breast cancer and alcohol consumption: a review of the literature. American journal of preventive medicine. 2014;46(3 Suppl 1):S16–25.
  • [5]Simonsson et al.; Pre- and postoperative alcohol consumption in breast cancer patients: impact on early events. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:261
  • [6]Kwan et al.; Postdiagnosis alcohol consumption and breast cancer prognosis in the after breast cancer pooling project.
  • Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Jan;22(1):32-41
  • [7]Am et al.; Alcohol consumption and survival after a breast cancer diagnosis: a literature-based meta-analysis and collaborative analysis of data for 29,239 cases. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Jun;23(6):934-45
  • [8]Islam et al. Alcohol and dietary folate intake and the risk of breast cancer: a case-control study in Japan. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2013;22(4):358–66. Epub 2012/11/28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CEJ.0b013e32835b6a60. [PubMed]
  • [9]http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/cancer-questions/alcohol-and-chemotherapy
  • [10]Armand et al. ; Reappraisal of the use of procarbazine in the treatment of lymphomas and brain tumors . Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2007 Jun; 3(2): 213–224.
  • [11]http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003025-pdf.pdf
  • [12] http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/alcohol-use-and-cancer

Sleep – Thyroid C.

Sleep – Thyroid C.

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Why sleep matters?

Sleep disturbances affect between 30% to 75% of newly diagnosed or recently treated cancer patients [1], a rate that has been reported as double as that of the general population [2]. Surveys have suggested that sleep complaints in from cancer patients consisted of difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep, with frequent and prolonged nighttime awakenings. Patients reported these complaints both before treatment and during treatment [3].

Sleep disturbances have been shown to decrease quality of life, decrease work productivity, increase utilization of health care resources, decrease mental health, and serve as a predictor of other complications in cancer patients [4, 5, 6].

Why sleep matters for cancer patients

Studies have shown that bad sleep habits may influence the risk of cancer recurrence. During sleep, our brain produces the hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is a very potent stimulant for our immune system and has oncostatic properties, which means it may help reduce the risk of cancer progression. Even more, trouble sleeping, especially when it is chronic, alters the balance of cortisol and melatonin. These two hormones may influence the behavior of cancer cells [7].

“Patients need as much vitality and energy as possible to fight their cancer. Sleep allows the body to relax and recoup. Without sleep, the body becomes even more stressed, which can interfere with its ability to fight cancer” says Dr. Altshuler, head physician of the Sleep Lab at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Tulsa [8].

Also, when patients get enough rest they are less likely to be depressed, and there are some evidences that depression may be associated with an increased risk of recurrence. A study submitted at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology reported that depressed women with breast cancer had a 50 percent greater chance of recurrence than women with breast cancer who were not depressed.

Which are the primary reasons why cancer experience sleep disturbance?

Emotional distress is usually the main reason cancer patients don’t sleep well. Uncertainty and fears about the future, which includes worry, anxiety, depression, and overall stress caused related to family issues and financial concerns, creates stress that can hamper sleep.

The side effects of the cancer itself or treatment, radiation and chemotherapy are both known to produce sleep disturbances, including certain medications, also may contribute to sleep problems. So does pain, a symptom often observed in cancer patients. Regarding the onset of sleep disturbances, studies have shown that it might already be present before the start of a treatment.

Diagnosing sleep disorders

Sleep disturbances are common among patients with cancer for many reasons. Sleep problems can be present at any stage during treatment for cancer and in some patients sleep disturbance may be the presenting symptoms that lead to the diagnosis of some types of cancer. Poor sleep impairs quality of life in people with cancer, but most do not specifically complain of sleep problems unless they are explicitly asked. Insomnia and fatigue are most common sleep disorders in this cohort, although primary sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome, which are common in the general population, have not been carefully studied in the oncology setting despite significant impairment to their quality of life [9].

If sleep is interrupted or does not last long enough, the phases of sleep are not completed and the brain cannot finish all the tasks that help restore the body and mind. Sleep problems are significant among patients with cancer prior to undergoing radiotherapy, and were found to be associated with progression of cancer, prior treatments and other psychosomatic symptoms (e.g. anxiety). Sleep problems within this context must be explored to provide adequate guidelines to palliate their effects on quality of life [10].

Dealing with sleep disorders

If you have chronic sleep problems, a good night’s sleep can seem out of reach. Sleep problems that go on for a long time may increase the risk of anxiety or depression. There are several therapies, though, to help improve your sleep. In many cases, cancer patients can benefit from working with a psychologist or sleep specialist. Cognitive behavioural therapy, such as relaxation techniques, have shown promising results, next to mindfulness or setting up a strict bedtime and wake-up time.  Please consult your clinician or medical specialist before starting any specific therapy.

Monitor your sleep, together with other quality of life indicators

On Esperity you can monitor your sleep by simply indicating what your subjective scoring is for your quality of sleep (on a scale from 0 to 5). You can also couple your Fitbit to capture the amount of sleep and link it to your lifestyle score.  Furthermore, you can also manage your consultations and medication, and exchange experience with other Esperity members.

 

*REFERENCES:

  1. Ancoli-Israel S, Moore P, Jones V. The relationship between fatigue and sleep in cancer patients: a review. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl) 2001;10:245–255.
  2. Berger AM, Parker KP, Young-McCaughan S, et al. Sleep wake disturbances in people with cancer and their caregivers: state of the science.Oncol Nurs Forum.2005;32:E98–E126. A comprehensive review.[PubMed]
  3. Cimprich B. Pretreatment symptom distress in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.Cancer Nurs.1999;22:185–194.[PubMed]
  4. Cancer Nurs. 2015 Jan-Feb;38(1):60-70. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000128.
  5. Akman, T., Yavuzsen, T., Sevgen, Z., Ellidokuz, H. and Yilmaz, A. U. (2015), Evaluation of sleep disorders in cancer patients based on Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. European Journal of Cancer Care. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12296
  6. Rumble ME, Keefe FJ, Edinger JD, Affleck G, Marcom PK, Shaw HS. Contribution of Cancer Symptoms, Dysfunctional Sleep Related Thoughts, and Sleep Inhibitory Behaviors to the Insomnia Process in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Daily Process Analysis. Sleep. 2010;33(11):1501-1509.
  7. De Bella et al (2013), Melatonin Anticancer Effects: Review, Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Feb; 14(2): 2410–2430.
  8. http://www.cancercenter.com/community/newsletter/article/addressing-sleep-problems-in-cancer-patients/
  9. J Community Support Oncol.2015 Apr;13(4):148-55. doi: 10.12788/jcso.0126. / http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25978413
  10. Eur J Oncol Nurs.2015 Mar 14. pii: S1462-3889(15)00021-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2014.12.008. / http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25782721

Additional references

Nutrition – Thyroid C.

Nutrition – Thyroid C.

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Benefits of a healthy diet for cancer patients 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, but did you know that it can affect the prognosis for cancer patients? According to the American Cancer Society one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States each year are linked to diet and physical activity, including being overweight or obese, while another third is caused by tobacco products. [1]

Many studies have already demonstrated that physical activity and a healthy diet can help not only reduce the lifetime risk of developing cancer, but also reduce the risk of relapse and fight the growth of new cancers [2]. In addition, a healthy lifestyle can also reduce the risk of a wide range of complications ranging from cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis to depression and diabetes [3].

Healthy diet and cancer

A number of studies have shown that maintaining a diet which consists primarily of plant-based products (such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrain products, lentils, beans, and nuts) is ideal for cancer survivors [2]. Additionally, studies have found that certain fats might also influence cancer risk, although more research is required as the findings are not always consistent. One study has shown that breast cancer patients who eat a low fat diet after being diagnosed havegetables-752153_1920ve higher survival rates than those who don’t and their risk of relapse drops by 23%. Other studies show that it especially the trans-fats that need to be avoided, or that there is an increased risk of breast cancer in ER+/PR+ disease, but not ER-/PR- tumors. [4] [5]

One may think that organically grown/manufactured foods may also help reduce the risk of developing cancer or relapsing, but recent articles mention there is no difference in developing cancer when comparing organic versus non-organic food consumption [6] [7].

Some observational research has suggested that the use of alcohol has both positive and negative health effects: limited quantities of alcohol (one glass per day for women and two glasses per day for men) can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, larger quantities of alcohol can increase the risk of certain cancers and may have serious side effects, such as mucous membrane infection or a higher risk of relapse [8].

During treatment, some doctors recommend a protein-rich diet which consists of fish, lean meat, poultry, skimmed dairy products, nuts, seeds, pulses and soya products rather than red and processed meat.

The Anticancer Fund has compiled a guide to general eating recommendations based on research by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. Studies suggest that following these recommendations was associated with decreased mortality rates and improved quality of life [9].

To share your experiences and to follow your lifestyle over time, register now on www.esperity.com.

Healthy Eating Recommendations:

(Compiled by the Anticancer Fund)

  • At least five portions (at least 400 grams) of fruit and vegetables every day.Keep a varied selection and eat them as a snack. Try to include a portion of fruit or vegetables with every meal. They are crammed with beneficial vitamins, minerals, fibers and other bioactive ingredients, which could aid in the prevention of cancer.
  • Choose wholegrain products instead of refined (processed) grains and sugars.Eat wholegrain bread, rice, pasta and grains, as these are rich in dietary fiber. They are believed to combat the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They may play a role in preventing gastric and colon cancers and also in hormone-dependent cancers like breast and prostate cancer. Refined products have lost a large proportion of their dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals because they are ground and the bran and seeds removed.
  • Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates and sweetened drinks (soft drinks) as well as processed food, including pastries, fast foods, sweetened cereals and other sweets. These contain a great deal of added sugars, fats and/or salt, provide no added value to your diet and can interfere with the insulin action which can lead to insulin resistance.
  • Try to achieve the best possible energy balance, which means that the energy introduced (through your diet) must be balanced with the energy expended. Pay attention to the total calorie intake in order to achieve and retain a healthy body weight. It is important that you are aware that some calorie-rich products are good for you and consequently can be a part of a healthy dietary regime, including nuts, dried fruit, fatty fish, vegetable oils and others.
  • Limit red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and processed meat (salami, ham, sausage, etc.) consumption to less than 500 grams a week. Various epidemiological studies have linked the high consumption of red and processed meat to an increased risk of colon cancer. A study by the WCRF/AICR has shown that eating 100 grams of red meat every day increases the risk of colon cancer by 17% compared to someone who eats no red meat. Eating 100 grams of processed meat a day meanwhile increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 36% when compared to someone who eats no processed meat.
  • Fish, poultry and pulses are a good alternative to beef, pork, mutton and lamb.When eating meat, select lean cuts and eat small portions.
  • When preparing meat and fish, the best option is to steam, poach or bake it at a relatively low temperature.Cooking meat at a high temperature over an extended period or barbecuing it, could release certain harmful substances, such as heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which could increase the risk of some types of cancer.
  • Cut your salt intake, as excessive salt consumption increases the chance of high blood pressure and gastric cancer.Salt is used as a preservative and can be found in many processed products, like bread, snacks, breakfast cereals and ready-made products such as soups and sauces.
  • Males should drink no more than two glasses of alcohol a day and females one glass. One glass is the equivalent of 250 ml of beer, 100 ml of wine or 25 ml of liquor.

Check with your doctor or dietician to determine what eating guidelines are the best for your situation. Bon appétit!

Source:

The Anticancer Fund: “A Guide for Cancer Patients on Nutrition and Physical Exercise, Both During and After Treatment”

Source:

[1] http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002577-pdf.pdf

[2] Holman and White Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:60

[3] Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015; 12: 33. Published online 2015 March 6. doi: 10.1186/s12966-015-0195-3

[4] http://progressreport.cancer.gov/prevention/fat_consumption

[5] http://cancer.ucsf.edu/_docs/crc/nutrition_breast.pdf

[6] Bradbury K.E., Balkwill A., Spencer E.A., Roddam A.W., Reeves G.K., Green J., Key T.J., Beral V., Pirie K., Banks E., et al. Organic food consumption and the incidence of cancer in a large prospective study of women in the United Kingdom. Br. J. Cancer. 2014;110:2321–2326. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.148.

[7] Bradbury et al. British Journal of Cancer (2014) 110, 2321–2326. doi:10.1038/bjc.2014.148

[8] Bagnardi et al. NIH. Alcohol consumption and risk of cancer. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-4/263-270.htm

[9] The Anticancer Fund: “A Guide for Cancer Patients on Nutrition and Physical Exercise, Both During and After Treatment”


Stress – Thyroid C.

Stress – Thyroid C.

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What is stress?

We are all familiar with the term “stress”. In fact, the very name can cause many of us to react negatively. Stress is the body’s response to events that demand attention. Many things in one’s daily life can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be good or bad, as well as short term and long term. Not all changes are bad. For example, some changes such as getting a promotion are good changes. But there are also changes that can affect us negatively, such as getting divorced or being diagnosed with a cancer

In our daily lives, we are constantly faced with situations and events that cause us to be stressed. There are three types of stress: acute, episodic, and chronic stress.

  • Acute Stress: It is the most widely experienced stress and one that we are all too familiar with. It is caused by daily demands and pressures and actually brings about some excitement, joy, and thrill into our lives. Acute stress occurs for a very short period of time
  • Episodic Stress: Repetitive acute stress is called episodic stress. People with episodic stress tend to be over-aroused, short- tempered, irritable, and anxious. It is frequently observed across “Type A” personalities and worry warts. (Theoretically, there are two types of personalities: type A and type B. Type A individuals live a more active, ambitious, and proactive life. Type B, in contrast, manage their life with lower stress levels and face less competition for example). The symptoms of episodic stress are: persistent tension headaches, migraines, chest pain, and heart disease.
  • Chronic Stress: Chronic stress is the opposite of acute stress; it can be dangerous and unhealthy. This type of stress is caused by long term exposures to stressors such as traumatic experiences, chronic illnesses, relationship conflicts etc. The stress accumulates and it can cause a person to resort to violence, suicide, and/or self-harm. It can also be associated with serious illnesses such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, and clinical depression.

So how does our body react chemically to stress?

headstressWhen our body is faced with stress, we release three chemicals: norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol. These chemicals increase our blood pressure, heart rate, and elevate our blood sugar levels. All of which prompt us to react or act in the classic, “flight” or “fight” response. People with chronic stress have been found to have higher levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol.

A number of studies have demonstrated that stress can disrupt neuroendocrine circadian rhythms in ways that favor tumor growth and metastasis. Higher cortisol levels have also been associated with a weakened immune system, memory loss, and even weight gain.

Does chronic stress even cause cancer?

Research suggests that stress does not cause cancer. However, it has been shown that chronic stress can lead to experiencing digestive problems, weakened immune systems (increasing susceptibility to influenza), and fertility problems. A weakened immune system can influence cancer development but does not cause cancer.

This is demonstrated through physiological and molecular studies in which one suggests that chronic stress can indeed influence cancer development and progression. Clinical and epidemiological studies over the last 30 years have also identified psychosocial factors including stress, chronic depression and lack of social support as risk factors for cancer progression. The effects of stress on tumor growth have been examined using in vivo models. In one study, researchers found that chronic stress resulted in high levels of norepinephrine in serum, and led to the activation of a cell signaling pathway for lung tissue. That is, it led to the formation of lung tumor in vivo.

Other studies have revealed that chronic stress also affects the activation of specific pathways in cancer cell growth which can lead to tumor growth and progression.

Since chronic stress is bad for your health, what can you do to manage it?

Being physically active, practicing mindfulness and yoga, and having a healthy diet are some ways to manage stress.

Several studies proved a positive change in the body’s response to stress after practicing mindfulness based stress reduction techniques. Yoga appears to moderate stress response by modulating heart rate, blood pressure and easing up breathing. Further, physical activity has also been shown to reduce the negative effects of stress. Aiming to exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes per day can help you manage your stress and improve your overall well being.

Support groups and talking about what you are facing will also help you manage your stress. Talking to a loved one, a friend, or a family member can offer perspective and reduce anxiety. It can help you feel that you are not alone and provides an outlet for discussing fears and anxieties. 

In conclusion, it is very important that we take care and find ways to manage our stress and not let it turn into chronic stress. The key is to remember that you are not alone and that with consistent practice, you can manage and take control over your stress.

References:

  • Hyun-Ji Jang, Hye-Jin Boo, Yujin Jung, Hye-Young Min, Ho-Young Lee. Chronic stress promotes lung cancer development via IGF-1R pathway. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl): Abstract nr 2729. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-2729
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