Archive for the “Cancer” Category

Protect Your Breasts

Protect Your Breasts

Protect Your Breasts
Dietary changes and regular exercise can help prevent breast cancer.

by Susan Weiner, Energy Times,  May 2010

Roughly 40,170 times a year, or nearly once every 13 minutes, an American woman dies of breast cancer. It is the most common malignancy among women except those affecting the skin. But while most skin cancers are non-lethal, breast cancer is the second leading cause of female cancer deaths.

The chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman’s life is a little less than one in eight, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Last year, 62,280 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS, the non-invasive, earliest form) and 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in American women. What many people don’t realize is that men aren’t spared. The ACS says that 1,910 new cases of invasive male breast cancer were diagnosed in 2009, with 440 deaths.

Ductal cancer, which affects cells lining the ducts that carry milk to the nipple, is the mostwidespread form. The other primary type, lobular cancer, develops in the milk-producing areas of the breast. These mutated cells can break away and move around the body to form secondary breast cancer.

The likelihood of disease development increases with age, since exposure to risk factors accumulates over time.

The good news is that breast cancer rates decreased by 2% a year between 1999 and 2006 (the last year for which comparative data is available). The ACS attributes this decrease to a drop in the use of synthetic hormone replacement during menopause.

Cancer Triggers

Genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors are all believed to play a role in cancer development. “Alcohol is definitely a key risk for breast cancer, particularly because it increases the levels of estrogen,” says Natalie Ledesma, MS, RD, CSO, oncology dietician with the Cancer Resource Center at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Francisco (www.cancer.ucsf.edu). “What you eat and drink modulates the way your genes are expressed and that can influence the tendency to develop cancer.” The link between alcohol and breast cancer has been extensively documented. The Million Women Study, a seven-year British investigation, concluded that as many as 11% of breast cancers can be attributed to alcohol consumption (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 3/4/09).

Common chemicals in the home, garden and workplace act like estrogen in the body, a hormone linked directly to breast cancer. Your body probably contains a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA, a synthetic estrogen used in everything from plastics to epoxies to the interior coating in many cans. More than 200 studies show links between low doses of BPA and cancer, according to the Breast Cancer Fund (www.breastcancerfund.org), a nonprofit environmental watchdog group.

Overweight women are more susceptible to breast cancer. Risk increases depending on how late in life weight gain occurs, with triple the probability of breast cancer if body mass index is at its maximum after age 50, according to a study in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology (9/09). The research also found that smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for nine years increased breast cancer odds by 59%.

While having a mother or sister with breast cancer raises risk, only an estimated 5% to 10% of all breast cancers are hereditary. Particular genetic mutations are more common among certain geographic or ethnic groups, including people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and individuals of Dutch, Norwegian or Icelandic ancestry. “Most breast cancers are not due to strong hereditary factors,” explains medical geneticist Patricia Kelly, PhD, who has a cancer risk assessment practice in Berkeley, California. Breast cancer development is complex even if genetics isn’t involved; Kelly says that it takes about 15 different changes inside one cell to bring about a non-hereditary malignancy.

“If a woman has a relative diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50, or several relatives on one side of the family with breast, ovarian or other cancers, she may benefit from a visit to a genetic counselor who specializes in cancer risk assessment,” says Kelly, author of Assess Your True Risk of Breast Cancer (Holt). “Testing is available to detect some of the strongly inherited breast cancers.” The genes most commonly linked with cancer are BRCA-1 and BRCA-2; other genes that may play a role in disease development include ATM, P53 and P65.

Some researchers believe that up to one-third of all breast cancer case could be avoided through dietary and other lifestyle changes (Seventh European Breast Cancer Conference, Barcelona, 3/10). But it’s important to remember that while a healthy lifestyle can help reduce one’s risk of cancer, this disorder can affect anyone. Bob Riter first noticed the lump under his left nipple while reading in bed, absent-mindedly scratching his chest. The growth, about the size of a pencil eraser, didn’t alarm him; he simply filed a mental note to discuss the matter with his healthcare provider and fell asleep. Three weeks later, while driving home from work, Riter felt wetness on his chest, looked down and saw blood on his white shirt. His nipple was bleeding.

A biopsy confirmed that Riter had breast cancer. He was 40 years old, in good health, an avid exerciser and had no history of breast cancer in his family. “I knew in theory that men got breast cancer,” says Riter, associate director of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes in Ithaca, New York (www.crcfl.net), a nonprofit that helps people deal with the ramifications of cancer diagnosis and treatment. “It was like knowing in theory that you could get hit by an asteroid.”

Detection Toolbox

For a woman, a breast cancer diagnosis can be emotionally devastating. “There are a lot of psychosocial issues around breasts. The disease, in so many ways, is so related to being a woman,” says Eliot Edwards, ND, at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Illinois (www.cancercenter.com/midwestern-hospital.cfm). “It’s potentially a deadly disease and the treatments are invasive.” Finding cancer early can help improve a woman’s chance of saving the affected breast.

Small breast cancers, the most treatable kind, typically produce no symptoms. That makes detection difficult without the proper diagnostic tools. ACS guidelines for early detection include mammography and the clinical breast exam (CBE), in which the practitioner carefully palpitates (feels) the breast. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in which a magnetic field is used to create images of body structures, is also suggested for women at increased breast cancer risk.

During a mammogram, X-rays are used to provide a picture of the breast’s internal structure; its proponents say that mammography can show abnormal tissue changes before they can be found by any other method. In November 2009, the US Preventive Services Task Force released new recommendations suggesting that women begin routine mammogram screenings at age 50, as opposed to age 40, a long-recommended guideline. Additionally, the group advised mammograms every two years, as opposed to annually, and discouraged women from conducting self-breast exams.

While the new recommendations were intended to limit radiation exposure, they instead created debate and uproar in the medical community. To date the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, still recommend yearly mammograms beginning at age 40, in addition to self-breast exams.

“Any exposure to radiation has a potential risk, but mammograms have been an effective tool in identifying cancers,” says Edwards. “Patient risk factors, such as family history, smoking or if they’ve been diagnosed with other cancers, increases the necessity of mammograms. I’m still in the camp that, until we have better methods of detection, that is the method that we have right now.” Research continues into mammography’s usefulness. For example, one Danish study suggests that it may not improve overall cancer survival rates (British Medical Journal 3/24/10 online).

Some practitioners recommend thermography (also known as digital infrared imaging, or DII) as an alternative. This method measures differences in temperature within the breast; it is based on the idea that cancer cells are more metabolically active and require increased blood flow, which makes malignant areas warmer than the surrounding tissue.

Lifestyle Support

To ward off the chances of developing breast cancer, Edwards stresses lifestyle changes that incorporate nutritional support and exercise. “Clearly, anything we do that causes oxidative damage to the body—drinking, smoking, eating trans fats, not exercising—are factors,” he says. “Exercise is the best way to detoxify your body. It will lower body fat and lower estrogen production.”

Women who consume more fiber and less fat have lower levels of estrogen in their bodies. Ledesma advocates a vegetarian-based diet of beans, legumes, whole grains and plant-based foods. “Use animal protein as a condiment as opposed to up to 50% or more of a meal,” she says. “Load up with cancer-fighting phytonutrients to help inactivate carcinogens and nourish and detoxify the body. There’s no real room for processed and fast foods in a healthy, cancer-fighting diet.”

“From a naturopathic perspective, it’s about how well our bodies are metabolizing those estrogens,” explains Edwards. “One of the main things to prevent cancers in general is to support the body in its ability to detoxify.” Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage contain diindolmethane, or DIM, a plant compound (available in supplement form) that helps the body effectively eliminate hormones. Freshly ground flax seed, high in cancer-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, can also aid in estrogen metabolism.

“The two big anti-cancer herbs that we use are green tea extract and curcumin, the principal curcuminoid of the Indian spice turmeric,” says Edwards. Studies show that curcumin can block estrogen-mimicking chemicals from getting into cells, while regular consumption of green tea may reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer by about 12% (Journal of Nutrition 2/09).

With death rates from breast cancer on the decline, it seems that increased awareness, earlier detection, effective screenings and lifestyle changes are paying off. So eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in vegetables, take long walks, use natural cleaners and get screened. Your breasts will thank you.

May 31, 2010 Posted Under: Cancer, Energy Times   Read More

Colon Cancer: Equal Opportunity Threat

Colon Cancer: Equal Opportunity Threat

Colon Cancer: Equal Opportunity Threat
The third leading cancer in the US now strikes more women than men. Find out  how awareness and lifestyle choices can keep this low profile predator at bay.

By Susan Weiner, Energy Times, May 2006

Darlene Kipling felt like she’d been sideswiped by a city bus when her doctor announced that she had colon cancer. What made the diagnosis even more alarming is that Kipling, a registered nurse, tends to cancer patients for a living. “I really didn’t expect it to be colon cancer,” she says. “My symptoms were so minor. Probably if I had not been an oncology nurse, I would not have realized I had a problem until much later.”

The minor symptom that prompted Kipling, then 52, to see her physician would easily have been overlooked by most of us: a tiny speck of burgundy in her stool. She spotted it once, then again three weeks later. At the urging of her physician, Kipling underwent a colonoscopy (the most comprehensive test for colon cancer), where he discovered and removed three polyps, growths that project from the lining of the intestine or rectum.

Polyps, which grow on a stalk and may appear like a mushroom or a cherry on a stem, can turn into cancer with time. A biopsy of Kipling’s polyps determined that two of the mushroom-like growths were, indeed, cancerous.

Kipling was fortunate: The disease was early-stage. Colon cancer caught early can often be cured simply by removing the offending growths, but her doctor opted for a bowel resection, surgery that entails removing portions of the diseased bowel and reattaching the remainder to create a functioning colon. The surgery is significant and not without risks, including infection, abscess, fistula, obstruction and lifetime use of a colostomy bag. Fortunately, she came through it without a hitch.

Had Kipling not been a self-described “stool watcher,” she never would have detected what turned out to be a life-saving symptom. If she’d missed the sign, or waited, the symptoms would have progressed and could have included severe abdominal pain, constipation, bleeding and black stools. Early-stage colorectal cancer—which includes cancers of the colon, rectum, appendix and anus—is highly treatable, with a five-year survival rate of 90%, yet only 39% of all cases are diagnosed at this highly curable stage, mostly due to low rates of screening.

“The bottom line for me is that I had the earliest possible form of colon cancer,” says an indebted Kipling, who presently works for Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “The lesson is that people need to check their stool.”

A Warning for Women

Once considered a man’s disease, colon cancer now afflicts more women than men. Colon cancer is the third leading cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among both sexes in the US, but significantly more women than men are now diagnosed with the malady. The American Cancer Society estimates that 57,460 women will learn that they have colon cancer in 2006, compared to 49,220 new cases among men. Yet the disease continues to be perceived as more prevalent among men.

“It might be a bias in the medical community that we don’t think of women as having colon cancer as much as men,” says Eliot Edwards, ND, who treats patients at Complementary Medicine and Healing Arts in Vestal, New York and Oneonta, New York. “In general, over the years there’s been an inclination in medical research towards looking at men more than women in all areas.”

Colorectal cancers develop slowly over years and most begin as polyps, common in nearly half of all adults. Not all polyps are cancerous, but those known as adenomas, which constitute nearly three-fourths of all polyps, have the potential to turn malignant. Although the causes of polyps are not completely understood, these protruding lumps, which may look the same as normal colon tissue or ulcerate and bleed, are widespread in women and men who live in industrialized countries, suggesting that dietary and environmental factors—such as cigarette smoking, obesity and a low-fiber diet high in red meat and fat—are vital to their development. Over time, polyps are more likely to develop into cancer, with more than 90% of cases diagnosed in individuals older than 50.

Just like the plumbing in your house, avoiding a backup in your internal plumbing is crucial to maintaining a healthy colon and preventing the growth of polyps, explains Edwards. “If a person is constipated, metabolic waste is sitting in the colon for an extended period of time. By correcting constipation, it helps to decrease the tendency to develop polyps.”

In Edward’s experience, constipation is far more frequent among women, which may offer insight into rising rates of colon cancer among the fairer sex. The doctor urges his patients to adopt a constipation-fighting diet low in meat and dairy and high in fiber: “Fiber helps to increase buteric acid, a byproduct of good intestinal flora, which is shown to decrease the incidence of cancer.”

Although the landmark Nurses’ Health Study did not show a strong direct correlation between fiber intake and incidence of colon cancer, the Harvard School of Public Health, which sponsored the study, still recommends a minimum amount of 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day in the form of fruits, whole grains, salads, vegetables and legumes.

Exercise is another approach to keeping bowels healthy and flowing freely. Numerous studies—including the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II and the Nurses’ Health Study—found benefits of up to a 30% to 40% reduction of colon cancer risk through carefully measured physical activity. “Exercise has definitely been shown to help in the prevention of colon cancer, as well as decrease constipation,” says Edwards.

Eat Well, Live Well

Simply by carrying excess body weight, your chances of developing colon cancer are greatly increased. “Obesity is an independent risk factor for colon cancer,” says Pankaj Vashi, MD, gastroenterologist and chief of surgery at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Illinois. “If everything else is equal, your chance of getting colon cancer is significantly higher if you are obese.” The logical way to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer, suggests Vashi, is to initiate a program that incorporates weight loss, dietary changes and exercise.

“In my opinion, the most important thing is diet,” says Vashi, who notes that in India, his native country, colorectal cancers are very rare. “That’s because 90% of the Indian population, even today, is vegetarian.” In some families, genetic factors can predispose members to colon cancer, a syndrome known as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), but the majority of colorectal cancers are clearly attributed to lifestyle.

Vashi suggests initiating lifestyle changes before polyps ever have a chance to develop. “The same instructions hold true for heart disease and colon cancer,” he says. “A low-fat, high-fiber diet, weight reduction, and obviously avoiding chemical toxins in your body like smoking and alcohol.”

It also makes good sense to add a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements to your daily routine. “These are definitely plus points that have been shown to reduce the incidence of colon cancer,” says Vashi. Helpful ones include selenium and zinc; calcium may decrease the risk of large colon polyps, reports the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Studies have also shown the benefits of antioxidants like vitamins C and E, and beta carotene. “We are more on the go, producing more free radicals [which damage cells and can cause cancer], and we need something to reduce this.” By stabilizing free radicals, antioxidants may prevent damage that they might otherwise cause.

Screening Time

Since colorectal cancer usually causes no symptoms in its early stages, by the time an individual experiences pain or bleeding the disease is often advanced. Given that 75% of colorectal cancers have no risk factors other than age, both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society recommend that screening for colon cancer should be part of routine care for all adults starting at age 50.

While there are several methods to screen for polyps, including a stool blood test, barium enema x-ray and sigmoidoscopy, they can be limited in their ability to diagnose colorectal cancers. At the same time, checking your stool or looking for other signs is inadequate, as symptoms come and go, or there may be none at all.

Colonoscopy is the most effective examination because it offers direct visualization of the entire colon and allows the doctor to remove polyps for laboratory analysis. Characteristics, number and size of polyps are easily analyzed under a microscope throughout the procedure. The colonoscopy itself is relatively simple; after being given a sedative and pain reliever, the patient lies on his or her side. A flexible colonoscope is gently inserted and advanced. The most difficult part of the exam, say many, is the preparation, which involves fasting and cleansing the bowel. “Ninety-nine percent of my patients would come back and ask me, ‘Are you sure you gave me this procedure?’” says Vashi.

While no one is expected to look forward to a colonoscopy, fear and embarrassment prevent many from pursuing the potentially life-saving exam. Many individuals who should get screened don’t, despite the fact that as many as 60% of deaths from the disease could be prevented if everyone over age 50 were checked once every decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only 42.5% of US adults aged 50 or older underwent a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy within the previous 10 years. Among African-Americans and Hispanics, screening rates run as low as 28%.

Darlene Kipling, for one, is grateful that she had a colonoscopy. Now cancer-free for 12 years, Kipling has made important dietary changes, including forgoing some favorite foods and cutting back on salt and sugar. “I stopped eating red meat. I had been a very big meat eater and there is a link between red meat eating and colon cancer,” says Kipling. “I was a chronic soda pop drinker, and I immediately stopped and began drinking bottled water.”

Colorectal cancer may not be polite dinnertime conversation, but maybe it should be. More and more patients have been asking doctors for colonoscopy exams, perhaps accounting for an average decline in deaths from colorectal cancers by 1.8% per year since 1990. Still, nearly 60% of all Americans have never had an exam. “Get yourself screened,” urges Vashi. “If that message is spread, then we have done our job.”

May 15, 2006 Posted Under: Cancer, Energy Times   Read More

Turning Down the Heat

Turning Down the Heat

Turning Down the Heat
It’s a very scary word. Nearly one million Americans suffer some form of this brain attack each year. The number one culprit? Hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure. Learn how you can keep your blood flowing smoothly for years to come.

By Susan Weiner, Energy Times, February 2006

Joseph Reiss was short and burly, with a full head of white hair and lively brown eyes. Like most street-tough New Yorkers of his generation, he was a self-reliant man with an unpredictable resume who, over the years, supported his family as a bus driver, ice cream shop vendor, gas station owner and barkeep. He smoked cigars, drank whiskey and black coffee, ate steak for breakfast and popped jalapeno peppers into his mouth as snacks, savoring each one like a sugared candy.

One morning, Joe awoke to find that his speech was slurred, his movements awkward. The 68-year-old adamantly refused to see a doctor. Unable to feed himself or tie his shoes, and days after his right arm stopped working, his family—my family—brought him to a hospital. Over the next five months my grandfather deteriorated rapidly; he lost his ability to speak, developed agonizing bedsores and could not recognize some of us. In the end, withered and powerless to put thoughts into words, he died in his hospital bed.

“He was a walking time bomb,” says his daughter Terri. “He had a family history of heart disease, he had a terrible diet of white flour, meat, black coffee and salt, and he never went to a doctor.”

A lifetime of bad habits, a history of heart problems and his refusal to see a physician following not one stroke, but two, considerably lessened Joe’s chances for survival. Most significantly, my grandfather suffered from undiagnosed hypertension, known more commonly as high blood pressure, the single biggest risk factor for stroke.

Out of the Blue

A stroke almost always strikes abruptly and without warning: blurred vision, dizziness, confusion, loss of or trouble understanding speech, or sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs. Sometimes called a “brain attack,” a stroke is caused by a disruption in the amount of blood in the brain. Too little blood due to a clot or blockage results in an ischemic stroke (80% of all strokes are this type); a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery suddenly ruptures, flooding the brain cavity with blood.

Since blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries, your blood pressure is directly tied to risk of stroke. “High blood pressure is essentially increased pressure on the walls of the blood vessels of the body,” explains J. David Forbes, MD, founder and director of Nashville Integrated Medicine and board-certified founding diplomate of the American Board of Holistic Medicine (ABHM).

Your blood pressure consists of two numbers: The top number indicates systolic pressure, or the amount of pressure your heart generates when pumping blood through your arteries, and the bottom number indicates diastolic pressure, or the amount of pressure in your arteries while your heart is at rest between beats. The consenting viewpoint of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC), a coalition of 46 health care agencies, is that a blood pressure reading of 115/75 mmHg should be the new gold standard. Once you rise above that threshold, risk of stroke increases.

For those with untreated high blood pressure, stroke risk is high: Of the 730,000 Americans who endure a stroke each year, more than half suffer from high blood pressure. Of the estimated 50 million Americans who currently have high blood pressure, 30% don’t even know they have it. Like a ticking bomb, hypertension damages blood vessel walls, promoting the buildup of plaque deposits or the likelihood that a vessel will break due to excess pressure.

Heart Hazard

People of all ages, including children, are affected by high blood pressure so whether you’re 20 or 60, hypertension poses a significant danger. Women are at particular risk: Stroke occurs with roughly equal frequency among both genders, but women are more likely to have a stroke in their 40s or 50s and are more likely to die as a result. In fact, two-thirds of women who die suddenly from cardiovascular disease, including stroke, have no previous recognized symptoms. Many of these women, however, carry excess weight; the American Heart Association (AHA) reports that women inclined to accumulate fat around the middle have almost a fivefold increased risk of fatal cardiovascular events.

Across the board, overweight men and women with high blood pressure have double the risk for fatal stroke than overweight people with normal pressure. “We observed that cardiovascular risk is not clearly increased unless hypertension is present in overweight and obese subjects,” says Athanase Benetos, MD, PhD, who conducted a 14-year study of nearly 250,000 French men and women.
Another very important analysis, the Framingham Heart Study, continuously followed a group of 3,128 men and women. The study found that those with normal blood pressure live longer and spend more years free of stroke and other cardiovascular disease, underscoring the association between high blood pressure and shorter life expectancy. Lead researcher Oscar Franco, MD, DSc, says, “This emphasizes the need to improve blood pressure control.”

Work It Out

Hypertension isn’t the only culprit when it comes to stroke risk; other medical conditions, including diabetes and high cholesterol, also increase the chance of stroke. Swings in blood glucose slowly damage blood vessels, while cholesterol deposited in blood vessel walls build up and clog arteries, leading to atherosclerosis. Promisingly, these conditions—like hypertension—can be controlled or influenced by lifestyle factors.

“If there’s a magic elixir in life, exercise would be it,” says Forbes. “Regular exercise reduces hypertension as well as virtually every other modifiable risk factor. Almost every study that has been done looking at exercise and disease conditions shows an improvement in that condition with exercise.”

Aerobic exercise can lower blood pressure, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, control diabetes and improve overall cardiovascular health. For the uninitiated, gradually working up to 30 minutes or more a day of walking, jogging, bicycling or swimming can dramatically diminish stroke risk.

Compared with people with low levels of physical activity, the risk of ischemic stroke is 20% lower for those who are highly active and 13% lower for those who are moderately active. Even those who exercised for only one to 29 minutes daily had an 8% lower stroke risk, proving that any exercise helps.

Eating for Life

A protruding tummy is not just aesthetically unpleasing. Obesity leads to a greater output of blood, since the heart has to pump out more blood to supply the excess tissue. The result: higher blood pressure. Fortunately, losing as little as 10 pounds can drop blood pressure and improve cholesterol and insulin levels.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan, endorsed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and recommended for everyone in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, beans, lean proteins and low-fat or nonfat dairy.

The DASH diet is considered flexible enough to meet most lifestyle and food preferences.
A diet high in soybean proteins, nuts and plant sterols can lower cholesterol and reduce stroke risk just as effectively, says the American Heart Association. Studies show that the diet is as efficient at lowering cholesterol and C-reactive protein, a blood marker of impending stroke or heart disease, as statin drug treatment.

“Dietary change, exercise and weight loss are the primary places to focus,” says Forbes, who proposes an anti-inflammatory diet high in omega-3 fat-rich foods such as salmon, halibut, mackerel and flax seed. “A diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates, moderate in alcohol, and high in fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber, whole grains and anti-inflammatory foods can have a dramatic impact on the risk factors of stroke.”

A moderate reduction in salt intake may also contribute to lowering blood pressure, though not all individuals with high blood pressure are responsive to sodium reduction. Still, the NIH recommends moderate salt intake for all Americans to help prevent or treat hypertension.

Vitamins Against Stroke

Dietary supplements are another effective weapon in the crusade against stroke—especially antioxidants. Researchers in Neurology report, “Our results agree with the view that high dietary intake of antioxidants, in particular vitamin C and vitamin E, reduces the risk of stroke.” Scientists from Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (CPMC) of New York Presbyterian Hospital found a person’s risk of stroke is reduced by 53% by taking a vitamin E supplement each day.

Studies show a correlation between low levels of vitamin B6 and incidence of stroke, signifying a relationship between inflammation and low B6 status. Researchers suggest that, in lieu of a B6 capsule, it is preferable to take a multivitamin tablet that contains at least two  milligrams of B6.

While you can’t control some major stroke risks, such as age and family history, you can control such factors as weight, exercise and diet, tobacco use and stress. Even if you can’t escape a stressful job, researchers have good news: A supportive home life can help lower the negative impact of stress on a person’s blood pressure.

Had my grandfather taken these proactive steps, his story might well have had a different ending. A lifetime of bad habits can’t be erased overnight, but preventative measures can head off high blood pressure and stroke in the long run.

February 17, 2006 Posted Under: Cancer, Energy Times, Stroke   Read More