[dropcap]W[/dropcap]eight gain, disrupted sleep cycles, chronic pain and other physical drawbacks are often considered an inevitable consequence of old age. Although the aging process is inevitable, many of the side-effects commonly attributed to age are not. In many cases, these setbacks can by mitigated by a change in lifestyle and eating habits.
[ads1]Since the internet is a blizzard of misinformation as it pertains to health, I read a blog the other day by a famous science writer; Janet Farrar Worthington is an award-winning science writer and has written and edited numerous health publications and contributed to several other medical books. In addition to writing on medicine, Janet also writes about her family, her former life on a farm in Virginia, her desires to own more chickens, and whichever dog is eyeing the dinner dish.
I was blown away by the way she told a vivid, beautiful story about how prostate cancer starts. Her story was about campfires and cowboys in the woods,
Let hear her story on prostate “Believe it or not, there once was a time when the Grand Canyon was just a ditch. Before that, it was a rough patch in the desert with a river running through it. It took a very long time for that canyon to form, and the conditions had to be just right to allow water, blazing sun and wind to chip away through layers of fragile rock.
On a very much smaller scale, this is what happens to cause cancer when the conditions are just right. Now, if you will: While we’re thinking about the Grand Canyon, let’s pan the camera a few miles away. We’re near some tall pine trees, and there’s a campfire. Some cowboys are sitting around it. Let’s imagine that they all have white hats; they’re good guys. If you’ve ever sat around a fire, you know that wood sometimes pops unexpectedly and sends out sparks. That’s exactly what happens at our little campfire, and it happens to hit one of the cowboys square on the arm. He brushes out the sparks, and then goes back to his seat. Nothing’s really changed; he laughs it off.
Wouldn’t you know it, the fire sparks up again – right on that same poor guy. This time, he’s a little more scorched; his shirt has a hole in it and his eyebrows got singed. He’s also a little irritated.
It happens a few more times, and he is no longer the proverbial happy camper. He’s moving around, no longer sitting quietly, he’s got some burns that will leave scars, and he’s angry. His hat is so charred now that it’s almost black. One last spark and he’s out of there. He leaves the campfire, saddles up his horse, and rides away, fighting mad and looking for trouble.
This little scene plays out a lot, every day, in our bodies. There are countless campfires – like stars dotting the sky – that flare up, burn quietly, get snuffed out, and never cause harm. The campfires are little flares of inflammation.
Inflammation is our own version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: When it works the way it’s supposed to – when you skin your knee or get a paper cut on your finger, for instance – inflammation is what protects your body from bacteria and germs that find their way through the open wound. The immune system kicks in; zealous home soldiers spray chemicals on the intruders, puncture their armor, or even eat them whole. You notice some redness, a little heat, maybe some swelling or even a bruise, and you know that your body is healing. There’s a scab, new skin covering the hole or tear, and all is well. The inflammation goes away.
But what if it doesn’t go away? Here’s where the dark side of Dr. Jekyll, his alter ego Mr. Hyde, starts to show itself. Chronic inflammation is bad.
“The story of inflammation is absolutely the heart of what causes prostate cancer,” says oncologist Jonathan Simons, M.D., CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
“Inflammation lowers your defenses,” and changes the DNA. Going back to the angry cowboy at our campfire scene: If only he had moved away from the fire, or if someone had poured a little water on the fire to cool it down and keep the flames low. He might have had a few scars, but he would have been okay. Instead, he began moving around, and eventually he left the campsite; if he were a prostate cell, he would have become cancerous – but still there at the site, still easily treatable. But as he became more scorched, he became metastatic. The continued exposure to those flames turned him from a cell sitting quietly into a metastatic cancer cell.
Says Simons: “We estimate that 30 percent of all cancers are caused by this kind of chemistry.” The little fires hurt genes that are fire retardants, so the flames burn hotter; the fires then go after the fire fighters – so they don’t come and stop the burning. They don’t allow paramedics to come and heal the injured victims. The inflammation calls other cells called macrophages and granulocytes to the scene; they’re supposed to be part of the body’s cleanup crew. “Unfortunately, in cleaning up, they actually make the flames burn hotter and further damage the area.”
What causes the fires?
One huge cause is our diet. Fat, charred meat, processed carbohydrates, chemicals in junk food, and sugar. Basically, what we know as the Western diet – high in meat and bad carbs, low in fruits and vegetables. How do we know this? Because the men in the entire world least likely to get prostate cancer are men in rural Asia, who eat the traditional Eastern diet – low in meat, high in fruits and vegetables, with hardly any processed carbs. No soda, lots of green tea. No fries, lots of rice. No burgers, lots of broccoli.
“The rural Asian diet is anti-inflammatory,” says Simons. “It may be that these men would eventually develop prostate cancer if they lived to be 120. But they don’t.” If you think about our campfire analogy, maybe cells still get singed, but they’re few and far between. That critical momentum never develops.
“We are now learning that it’s essential for men to have a healthy diet when they’re young – say, between 14 and 30.” But men of any age can benefit from turning down the inflammation with “fire-fighting” foods.
The opposite is also true: Obesity and one of its consequences, diabetes, make these flames burn even higher. “If you are even overweight or borderline diabetic, you turn on more insulin to try to control your blood sugar,” says Simons. Insulin secretes molecules called cytokines, which – thinking of our cowboys at the campfire – are like the chuck wagon, bringing in oxygen, new blood vessels and nutrients to feed the cancer.
“You can reduce your insulin level with exercise,” says Simons. “There’s a lot of evidence that just being sedentary is a terrible setup for trouble later, if you have a slightly inflamed prostate and higher insulin level.”
The prostate is particularly vulnerable to this activity, Simons adds, because it’s just chock full of inflammatory cells called prostaglandins, most likely nature’s way of protecting the fluid that makes up semen. So the prostate is already a tinder box.
What else makes it worse? Infection. Cigarette smoking.
Okay, then what puts out the fires?
We’re still figuring this out. A good diet, exercise, and other flame retardants such as Vitamin D. Dietary supplements such as turmeric seem to help, as do broccoli and tomatoes.
And finally, there’s a huge question mark. What else helps? “This area of research is woefully underfunded,” says Simons. There may be a bacterial equivalent of H.pyelori – the nasty bacteria found to cause stomach ulcers. New research suggests that probiotics – “good” bacteria that change the microflora in the gut – may prove helpful in preventing cancer. Does this mean that there are bad bacteria that do their share of causing it? Could this be related to the link between infection and inflammation? But we don’t have a lot of campfires or woods or cowboys in our country. So I’ll tell the story a little differently.
Dr. Nyarkotey different approach to the story above:
Think of your cells as people driving to work. Imagine it’s rush hour, bumper to bumper traffic just like the Xmas time (Did your blood pressure just go up one level?) I know when I’m stuck in traffic; all I want is to get to my clinic or college so I can start solving problems. But now there’s this pretty annoying obstacle in the way. Maybe it’s traffic, maybe construction, maybe an accident on the motorway.
The bottom line is, cars are not moving, and people (myself included) are starting to feel the rage. Most of the drivers can keep it under control. They have to; otherwise we’d be killing each other and nobody would ever get any work done. They do their deep breathing behind the wheel, or they scream behind closed windows just to “let it out.”
But let’s say traffic gets really bad. Somebody starts honking. The worst is the Trotro drivers using unapproved route. This is plain irritating. Someone cuts you off. You honk at them because it’s what everyone else is doing. Stress is rising. Now someone is following you like it’s their job. You can see in your rear-view mirror they’re getting ticked off. You stop suddenly and you spill your tea all over yourself. The guy behind you rear-ends you. Now you’re furious, he’s furious, and you pull over to have a shouting match. You know how it goes. Nobody ever wins.
Think of Road Rage as Inflammation, Accidents as Cancer.
Where am I going with all this? Well, this is basically how prostate cancer starts. The cells in your body are just trying to do their job, but they’re in an environment that ticks them off and brings out their worst side. Little by little, the inflammation turns these healthy cells sour. Most cells can take a little damage; they repair themselves or respectfully self-destruct. But some get to a point where the damage can’t be “undone.” Dr. Espinoza put it this way “Just like a calm and collected driver can become a road-raging maniac who is going to get into an accident, a healthy cell can become a cancer cell if it spends too much time in the wrong environment”.
OK, but what am I trying to say?
As the article I mentioned says, inflammation is a leading cause of cancer. What causes inflammation? Primarily infection, but also an unhealthy diet, bad lifestyle choices, poor movement, chronic stress, lack of sleep. These are things that you can choose to do well every day, and by doing that, reduce your risk of prostate cancer or improve your prognosis.
What should you do to prevent road rage (and prostate cancer)?
My first advice would be to avoid road anger. But the real “moral of the story” is that the choices you make every day have a big effect on what’s going on inside your cells.
To reduce your risk of prostate cancer, as well as other male health problems, it’s important to create a “microenvironment” that is hostile to cancer cells. You can do this by:
- Loading up on fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens.
- Getting in 30 minutes of vigorous physical exercise every day.
- Cutting out refined sugar and processed foods. (If you can’t pronounce one of the ingredients, throw it out. If sugar is one of the ingredients, throw it out.)
- Managing stress and getting deep, restful sleep every night.
Is Aging the Cause of Prostate Disease?
This is just a correlation study and prostate diseases are not the natural state of men. Just that as we age, we accumulate more toxins, which affects our sensitive prostate tissues.
There is a concern amongst clinicians that treat prostate cancer and researchers that because it can be labeled as a disease of old men it is not as important. Firstly, younger men can develop prostate cancer, with devastating consequences. That comment still occurs and it is an ageist comment.
In this context it is important to remember that, for the purpose of medical statistics, 75 is considered a ‘normal’ life span, that male life expectancy is now 78 years and that if a decision is even made to raise the retirement age to 67 has just been announced. Thus prostate cancer is, and will remain, a significant health issue for men of working age.
From conception to deception?
In the wisest of ancient days, prior to conception, one cleansed the body fully by fasting, sweating and purifying before making babies. The quality of the sperm and egg had to be the best. This was not common practice, but the wise ones knew how important it was for future generations.
Then when the woman was pregnant she was encouraged, as much as possible, to be calm and peaceful while being active and fit.
No medications, no junk food, no artificial sugars, no manufactured non-foods, no chemical foods, no toxic bodycare products… and the list go on and on.
Amazingly, the choices our mothers made in how to birth and how to feed us as infants, later affect our health as children and adults. Mother’s milk is the best food for creating the conditions for good prostate gland health later on and health in general! The importance of breastfeeding has bypassed many in the last several generations.
People expect that anything as serious as cancer will have obvious symptoms which will warn them to get a checkup. But early stage prostate cancer doesn’t usually have any: no visible lumps to look out for, no funny pains to get checked out. You’d think, then, that screening would be the obvious solution. After all, the stats show that men’s survival chances are dramatically better if their cancer is caught early. But, sadly, the current test is too unreliable for population-wide screening. We need something better which not only picks up signs of the disease early but can also differentiate between tumours – the “tigers” that can kill you v the “pussycats” which will never do you any harm.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that cancer happens for a reason: an environment that brings out the worst in your cells and your genetics. To get the “best” out of your cells, you have to be intentional about the environment you give your cells. Thank you Next week …My Research on Bolgatanga men and prostate issues.. Don’t miss this research
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Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu is a Research Professor of Prostate Cancer and Alternative Medicine –Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine, Larnaca City, Cyprus. He is the president and Dean of Academic Affairs at Dr. Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine at Tema, Com 7 Post Office, which is affiliated to Da Vinci College in Cyprus. He is the National President of the Alternative Medical Association of Ghana (AMAG). A registered alternative Medical practitioner by the Traditional Medicine Practice Council(TMPC) He can be reached on 0541090045. E mail: Oburalph30@yahoo.co.uk