There is no doubt that our mental state has a bearing on our physical health – few would argue with that point any more – so it’s ironic that a cancer diagnosis can trigger such a strong stress and fear response, the exact opposite of what our bodies need. But there’s something else I’ve noticed time and time again: a cancer diagnosis can trigger a strong rebellion too. As I was travelling home from the Yes to Life Conference on Sunday night I found myself reflecting on why that might happen.Continue reading
The pioneering work of Otto Warburg in the 1930s showed that cancer cells need a highly specific set of biochemical conditions to thrive. In the 1990s, the brilliant biochemist, Mina Bissel, named it the tumour microenvironment, and showed that it is a key factor in breast cancer development. Unfortunately our modern lives, filled with high stress levels, environmental chemicals, uncontrolled inflammation, disregulated hormones and depleted diets are pretty good at creating that precise toxic bath, and some of us are genetically less suited to this brave new world. Nutrigenomics can target the areas which are more problematic for you.Continue reading
After twenty years of studying nutrition and breast cancer I firmly believe (and the evidence supports) that everyone should learn how to personalise their diet to their genes and lifestyle to improve survival outcomes. However, there are a few things that are more universal – ways that everyone can build into their everyday lives to improve their health and clean up the tumour microenvironment. Here’s my list:Continue reading
After twenty years of clinical practice as a nutritional therapist, I’m continually reminded that healing is not all about broccoli! No matter how much we would like to rely on randomised controlled trials, and base our advice on things that are irrefutably proven, there are elements of healing that are beyond our ken, and way beyond our ability to experiment with. Not everything that can be measured matters, and not everything that matters can be measured.Continue reading
Yes to Life Interview – Spring Congress 2021 – Dawn Waldron and Robin Daly
Based on Billy Connolly’s insightful observation, Dawn and Robin will explore the idea that poor diet and lifestyle choices are the most important factor in fending off carcinogens. Referencing Michael Fenech’s work on the ’nutriome’ which shows that micronutrient deficiencies and macronutrient imbalances are major causes of genomic instability – one of the recognised hallmarks of cancer, rivalling the impact of X-rays. The discussion will look at how we can better protect ourselves against our toxic inner and outer world.Continue reading
Many of you must be weighing up the risks and benefits of spending time with loved ones over Christmas this year and wondering what’s best to do. There are no magic answers and the government is right to highlight the potential downside of celebrating together. But maybe there are things – over and above the current public health advice – that we can do to protect ourselves from infection and, more importantly, to ward off the worst case COVID scenario if the virus manages to get through our defences?Continue reading
Stress plays a significant role in cancer, impacting key cancer pathways, inhibiting important health processes and promoting invasion and metastasis. We know that stress and cancer feed off each other in a most unhealthy way, but the experience of cancer is so inherently stressful it’s difficult to see how to separate the two.Continue reading
When the Human Genome Project was launched it was hoped that we would identify signature genes for each of the many types of cancer that would in turn lead to targeted treatments. By the time the project was wound up those hopes were dashed. Cancer mutations are diverse and confusing and have not led to the solutions we were hoping for. Cancer, it turns out, is a multifactorial disease that cannot be explained by a single gene.
In the previous post we looked at the way epigenetics influences the way your genes work and introduced the idea of ‘single nucleotide polymorphisms’ or SNPs which may help to explain how even people with a healthy diet and lifestyle can become ill. In this post we’ll take a closer look at how food can make a difference.
It’s hard to convey just how much my heart was in my mouth when I first looked at my own genetic results in 2015. With my horrible health history I was worried that I would have a long list of genetic mutations that could lead to my early demise. So imagine how I felt when I clicked on the results and found…
Until fairly recently it was thought and taught that genetic outputs were irrevocably fixed. Which has led to a common perception that having unfavourable genes will lead to an unfavourable future. Luckily for us, that rather clunky early understanding has given way to a much more fluid and intelligent understanding of genetics and resulted in a new field of study called epigenetics.
When we talk about genes we are normally referring to the protein coding genes (rather than the somewhat more mysterious non-coding genes). In the simplest terms, these genes contain the instructions for building a protein that controls the way your body works, using a two stage process called transcription and translation.
In the second post in our mini-series leading up to my talk with Emma Beswick for Your Life and Cancer 2020 we look at how our genes differ from each other.
In fact they don’t! We all have the same gene set containing around 20000 genes and we all have the same genes in the same place (locus) on the same chromosomes, though boys have a bit missing.
Differences between people occur when they have another variant of the same gene.
I’m thrilled to be part of the YOUR LIFE AND CANCER 2020 conference that has already provided so much hope and information to cancer patients all over the world. I was delighted to be invited to talk on one of my favourite topics, Nutrigenetics, along with one of my favourite colleagues, Emma Beswick, founder of Lifecode Gx.
When preparing for my talk the question that was going around in my head was: ‘What is the most important message that people need to understand about their genes?”
If you are diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer before menopause you will most likely be prescribed Tamoxifen, a selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. The key benefit of this drug is that it protects hormone sensitive breast tissue and tumour cells from the effects of growth-promoting oestrogen – without completely suppressing oestrogen in the rest of the body. It’s a win-win!
There’s no doubt that Tamoxifen saves lives, but leaving oestrogen in circulation has been shown to increase the risk of other hormone-mediated cancers, and a proportion of women find that Tamoxifen adversely impacts their quality of life with increased pain, depression, headaches and mood changes – which can be severe. In my experience most women show tremendous courage in dealing with the balance of risks and benefits of breast cancer treatment and accept the downs with the ups. But in this case you don’t need to settle for the downside: nutritional therapy can help you mitigate the extra risk that Tamoxifen poses and minimise the mood and menopause effect that some women experience, without diminishing the benefits of the drug: a win-win-win!Continue reading
Last week was the first of the new Thursday lunch time ‘weekly chat’ sessions: a chance to get together each week to discuss all things related to breast cancer, diet and lifestyle.
The issue that seemed to be on our minds was the urge to snack: more literally the urge to take a handful of something instant, crunchy, and uber tasty and put it into our mouths. We agreed that lockdown, with more time on our hands and in the home, makes snacking a more pressing issue.Continue reading
Triple negative breast cancer accounts for around 15% of breast cancers, and it is a more diagnosis common in younger women. This subtype of breast cancer tends to share similarities with BRCA-related disease, being more likely to be linked to faulty DNA repair and reprogrammed cellular metabolism. TNBC tumours don’t exhibit the over-expression of oestrogen and growth receptors found in other forms of breast cancer, and this lack of modifiable receptors tends to be seen as bad news. But all it really means is that we don’t currently have any specific adjuvant medical treatments, which makes it all the more important to look for other modifiable factors, such as diet and lifestyle.Continue reading
“If you can keep your immune system while all around are losing theirs…”
I hesitated before using, or rather abusing, this Rudyard Kipling quote because there’s nothing funny or flippant about the state we and our loved ones find ourselves in. Nevertheless, with no medical treatments available for coronavirus, maintaining a strong immune system is the name of the game. Cancer patients will be all too familiar with this dilemma and, in many ways, the advice for coronavirus builds on what you already know. Natural medicine, as far as we know, cannot stop you becoming infected, nor can it offer a cure, but research suggests you maybe able to reduce your chances of hospitalisation by improving your metabolic status. Continue reading
A post in The Guardian today includes the news that gut bacteria may influence bowel cancer risk. How confusing! For years we’ve been taught that cancer starts with genetic mutations. So how can bacteria be involved?
Our growing understanding of tumour metabolism provides new opportunities to conquer this dread disease. But it also brings a new threat: people are confused between what their tumour ‘eats’ and what their body needs to eat. Do you know the difference?
As I write this, I am listening to Handel’s Messiah playing in the background – an age old Easter ritual for me. As well as calming my soul and lifting my heart, it reminds me of the underlying pagan theme of this time of year — the cycles of nature: spring and summer, flower and fruit, birth and death. It’s a message that all of us affected by cancer need to take to heart. Continue reading
It’s great to be able to share some good news about breast cancer: the headlines today report that improvements in surgery and radiotherapy techniques are helping to keep more women alive. But did you know you can further increase the effectiveness of treatment with simple diet and lifestyle changes? Continue reading
When I cured myself of irreversible, pre-cancerous proliferative verrucous leukoplakia (PVL) my specialist surgeon was, I think it’s fair to say, gobsmacked. It’s something he had never seen before, and believed to be impossible. The five nasty white patches on my tongue melted away leaving a perfect pink patina, in five months flat.
One of the nicest things that happened for me in 2018 was being featured in IHCAN Magazine, the official publication for complementary medicine practitioners. As it’s not available to the general public I’m re-blogging the article here so you can see what I’ve been up to, and maybe even learn a bit more about me…
On 13 October I will be joining Dr Etienne Callebout and Dr Marcus Stanton at the Cavendish Conference Centre for a day that will focus on breast cancer and immunity. I will be talking about personalised breast cancer protocols and the methods I use to help clients identify and manage personal risk factors in order to optimise health and happiness after diagnosis. The event is aimed at a professional audience and you can book your ticket at http://www.nouveauhealth.co.uk. Come and say hello!
Your weight is an especially sensitive subject after a cancer diagnosis. Everyone knows that being overweight is linked to a higher risk of cancer but after diagnosis we are also told that it’s not a good idea to lose too much weight. I have found that the science around weight and cancer is not well understood, giving rise to all sorts of unhealthy advice. So what are the facts? Continue reading
I’m sharing this post from Vicky Unwin’s great site, Healthy Living with Cancer. A Cochrane review is considered the gold standard for evidence evaluation. If you take this right back to Warburg’s theories, I suspect the benefits of yoga are closely linked to optimal oxygenation.
Perhaps more than any other disease, cancer prompts people to make major life changes. Research suggests that less than 10% of cancers are genetic in origin, meaning that diet, environment and lifestyle are responsible for the rest. Functional medicine looks at the complex interplay of these factors for individuals with a view to restoring healthy functioning to body systems. Continue reading
I’ve been a busy girl this week so I didn’t catch up with BBC’s Doctor in the House until Friday evening. When I did I was surprised it hadn’t made major headline news. After all, whenever there’s a story about the dangers of supplements you’ll find it all over the front pages of the papers. What a surprise, then, that a story showing how magically effective supplements can be didn’t get the same treatment! What gives?