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
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
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
“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?
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.
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
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
Have you ever had a period in your life where, despite the fact that everything looks the same on the outside, you know that everything has changed on the inside and will never be the same again?
Core to my MSc. programme is the idea that we are all unique, and that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet. You may think that’s a great way for nutritionists to justify their existence on the planet but the more I read, the more true it becomes. Continue reading
These last few days, during a gap between modules on my MSc, I’ve been enjoying updating my knowledge about the latest advances in cancer treatments. Our understanding of the way cancer behaves is changing and evolving, and with it our ability to influence its growth and behaviour. I’ve been closely following this field for a couple of decades and feel genuinely excited about the things I’m reading and learning. Continue reading
In attempting to explain the importance of gut flora, I often ask people to imagine themselves as an outside-in planet.
Your digestive tract is densely populated with micro-organisms in a similar way to humans on the face of the earth, though the scale is somewhat different. While there are billions of humans on Planet Earth, there are trillions of bugs inside you – about ten times as many critters as you have cells, all eking out a living on you and from you. And, if you play your cards right, they have plenty to give you in return.
If you are positively prune-like at the end of Dry January then I hope you feel justifiably proud of yourself. Maybe you’ve seen some health benefits too? I’ve heard people say they sleep better, feel more alert, less depressed and can see improvements in their skin and digestion. It’s a great start to the year.
But what next? Continue reading
I have always been mad about biology. From the moment in Lower Remove classroom when I opened my first Biology text book under the watchful eye of Sister Prudence (who instructed us not to look, yet, at page 24 where all the books naturally fell open) I was hooked. Continue reading
It’s three years this month since I wrote The Dissident Diet, based on my own experience of losing three stone, and a pilot study carried out with 16 people who needed to do the same. At the time it was ground-breaking, and more than a little brave, for a professional nutritionist to recommend a ketogenic diet when so many people in nutrition and medicine felt it was dangerous. Continue reading
When I discovered that ‘healthy whole grain carbohydrates’ were causing my worrying weight problem I felt like I’d stumbled across the Holy Grail. That was back in 2012 when I published The Dissident Diet. I wrote it as a healthier version of the ketogenic/Atkins diet with an emphasis on losing weight. Continue reading
I’m sharing this excellent article from Vicky Unwin’s site. With one in two of us in the UK facing cancer this may be something to factor into your election decision making.
Facing up to the statistics around your cancer diagnosis can be difficult, and a lot of people would rather not know. I don’t blame you. No one wants to hear that sort of news, especially when it’s unlikely to be correct.
As a nutritional therapist, I always find it hard to swallow when clients come back from the oncologist having been told that there’s no point changing their diet. Even if we accept that diet is not going to cure cancer, it can make you feel much better and be of great help in dealing with side effects. Continue reading
I wonder if you watched Panorama this week? It was a gently uplifting programme which explained some exciting new human cancer experiments which are yielding some impressive results. Continue reading
Here’s what I notice… across a growing number of clients…
Patients who ask the oncology team if diet can make a difference invariably get the answer no.
Patients who tell the oncology team that they are trying to help themselves with diet often get told to be very careful, or to stop.
“We now have good evidence… If you overfeed somebody with fat you don’t increase their cancer risk at all. If you overfeed them with carbohydrates then you dramatically increase their cancer risk. And protein is half way in between”
We could hardly have got it more wrong. All these years you’ve been depriving yourself of butter on your bread when it’s the bread you should have been worrying about!
Twenty thirteen was the year when the volume of opinion in favour of low carbs for health (not just weight loss) was impossible to silence, and when the evidence started to stack up.
There’s no doubt that cancer is enjoying the 21st Century. It’s attracting lots of PR and managing to reach many more people than it used to.
Those of you who have been following my progress over the past year will know that I’ve been following a diet that I knitted together after years of struggle. Many of you have tried it yourselves with amazing results. To date I’ve lost 36 pounds in 13 months. Continue reading
Although it might sound semantic, it’s a critical difference. Your weight problem is not the result of overeating, it’s a problem with your storage mechanism. Continue reading