Category Archives: Hereditary Cancer:

A Genetics and Energy View of Breast Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

BRAC genes illustration_Rev_CPD 2015For breast cancer awareness, it’s important to do something beyond wearing “PINK in October.” So today, I’d like to focus on two factors related to breast cancer: genetics and energy.

First, let me use a simple diagram (as seen here) to illustrate how a mutation of BRCA genes is linked to breast cancer.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are cancer suppressors. Their function is to protect a cell from developing cancer, thereby helping you fight cancer. When either of these genes becomes mutated, it no longer functions properly. As a result of unrepaired DNA damage and impaired genetic integrity, cells are more likely to grow uncontrolled to develop cancer, like a car racing on the highway without brakes.

Each of us has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, both women and men, because BRCA is not a sex-linked gene. The mutation can be inherited from either parent. For women with a BRCA mutation, the lifetime risk of breast cancer is approximately 80%, and the chance of ovarian cancers is 54%. Men may carry the BRCA mutation, but have a lower risk.

Among approximately 200,000 breast cancer cases each year, BRCA gene mutation accounts about 10 percent of them. So, clearly here there is a promising area for treatment and prevention.

Next, let’s approach the topic from the viewpoint of energy.

“Energy” in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is termed “Qi.” Everything is energy at both the physical and spiritual levels. Essentially, the root of cancer is Qi related. There is a principle in TCM – “Flow of Qi makes flow of blood; Qi stagnation causes blood stagnation,” which implicates clots, masses, tumors, and illness.

How can we use positive and healing energy to prevent or cure cancer? Here are 8 ways:

  1. Makes our immune system strong. Our immune system is our powerhouse to fight cancer. That’s why scientific innovations tap into the body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. When cancer overwhelms your body’s immune capacity and healing power, it is a tragic ending.
  2. Take care of your emotions. Keeping a positive outlook on life will boost your positive energy, because stress is one of risk factors for breast cancer. Anger, fear, sadness, and worry affect your Qi negatively, but happiness and socializing build up vibrant Qi.
  3. Foster gratitude. Devote time (at least a few minutes a day) to appreciate what you have, even the “small things”. Doing so will boost your positive energy!
  4. Go for a nutrient-packed diet. Consume fruits and vegetables and other foods with high fiber, low fat, and low sugar, because nutrition boosts both level and quality of your energy. Alcohol, animal fats, and processed foods do not.
  5. Exercise regularly. Be physically active, because it keeps Qi moving and blood flowing!
  6. Maintain a healthy weight. The key to weight management is energy balance. Obisity is energy imbalance and contributes to the risk of breast cancer. Healthy weight plays a role in lowering the risk of cancer and that of cancer recurrence.
  7. Be vigilant about early detection! Get a genetic screening to identify BRCA gene mutation, and start treatment early. Doing so will help protect your vital energy.
  8. Prevention, prevention, and prevention. Preventive care keeps your energy moving in the right direction. We all know that prevention is better than cure.

To sum up—

Breast cancer prevention is for both women and men, and is a year-round practice. We cannot control our genes, gender, age, race, or family history. However, each of us can promote a healthy lifestyle to boost vibrant, positive energy to reduce breast cancer risk.

Old Men’s and Young Men’s Cancer – How to Protect Yourself?

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Men-s Cancer in Puzzle_CPDMen may experience something wrong or annoying physically but hate to bring it up in conversation. This is understandable, but could potentially be gravely risky in regard to cancer. Stick with me for a few seconds, and I’ll explain why, along with a list of lifestyle-modifying and life-saving strategies to protect you from cancers that strike old men and young men.

First, let me briefly outline the difference between “young men’s cancer” and “old men’s cancer.”

 

Testicular cancer

Prostate cancer

Age 15 – 35 50+
Location Outside body, inside the scrotum Inside body, under the bladder
Risk factors Race/ethnicity, HIV infection, uncorrected or undescended testicles, injury to scrotum, family history Family history, genetics, race/ethnicity, hormones, smoking, obesity, inflammation, occupation
Signs or Symptoms
  • A lump in either testicle
  • An enlarged testicle or swollen scrotum
  • Discomfort or heaviness in the scrotum
  • Pain in the abdomen, groin area, or lower back
No sign at early stage

  • Change in urinating frequency, urgency, or flow; blood in the urine
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pain in the hips or lower back
Prognosis Malignant, rare, but can be cured if detected early Common, can very often be treated successfully

So, how can men be vigilant about their cancer risks? If you are a man, here are 20 things you can do:

  1. Get screened for prostate cancer. Men over 50 should consult their doctors for screening, especially those having a family history of the disease. The screenings may include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA).
  2. Detect testicular cancer. Perform testicle self-examination monthly and have a doctor examine annually. See instructions for testicular self-examination at http://www.webmd.boots.com/men/guide/tescticular-self-examination
  3. Take a blood test for HIV antibodies. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes AIDS, and HIV-infected individuals can remain symptomless for years. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, consult your physician. The good news is, new drugs are available to treat HIV infection effectively.
  4. Move your body. Physical activity is a key to preventing prostate cancer. Some research evidence indicates that men who are more physically active have a lower risk of getting prostate cancer. Do whatever works for you—whether that’s exercising regularly or getting physically active in various ways throughout the day. And keep it fun by alternating your routine, workout format, or partners.  More activity is more protective.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight and obesity are among modifiable risk factors for cancer. Obesity is strongly linked to diabetes; one in three Americans has diabetes and these folks often don’t even know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a wide spectrum of health problems from heart disease and stroke to kidney, eye, and nerve damage.
  6. Have RED in your diet. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Especially, cooked and processed tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene.
  7. Eat more GREEN. Broccoli is high in cancer-fighting agents (i.e., sulforaphane and isothiocyanates). Regularly eating broccoli may lower your risk of prostate cancer. Other greens such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and mustard greens are vegetables rich in indoles, sulfoxide, and 5-methyl-methionine, all of which have potent anticancer effects.
  8. Consume more fish. Omega-3, found in certain fish including salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and trout, can help reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer.
  9. Consider biological selenium (not synthetic or supplement). Selenium, a naturally occurring chemical, may help you fight prostate cancer, though the evidence is non-conclusive. However, you’ll never go wrong with plant-based foods (vegetables, grains, etc.), fish, nuts, wheat germ, and Brewer’s yeast, which all contain selenium.
  10. Reduce meat consumption. Red meats and processed meats have been linked to a greater risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
  11. Avoid deep-fried foods. High-heat cooking (e.g., deep-frying or grilling) generates potential carcinogens. In particular, it produces heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in animal meats, and so does overcooking meat. One study revealed that frequent consumption (once a week or more) of certain fried foods including French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, and doughnuts was associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer.
  12. Be wary about supplements. There is no clear evidence that any vitamin or herb supplements prevent testicular or prostate cancer. Plus what’s in a supplement is not all regulated.
  13. Drink more water or tea. Water helps get rid of toxins, bacteria and waste in the body. Green and black tea contain potent antioxidants and anticancer agents such as polyphenols.
  14. Drink coffee daily. Coffee provides a beneficial effect for fight cancer, according to Harvard researchers. They found that men who drank six or more cups of regular or decaf coffee were 59% less likely to develop advance prostate cancer than those who eschewed the brew.
  15. Listen to your body. If you experience pain in your groin area or lower back, a change in urination (frequency, urgency, or pressure), or difficulty urinating, or if you see blood in your urine or semen, talk to your doctor. Never ignore those warning signs.
  16. Quit smoking. Smoking is one of the primary risk factors for lung cancer, and is attributed to several other cancers including prostate cancer.
  17. Keep your cell phones away from your pants if possible. Cell phones emit radio frequency radiation, and radiation is a carcinogen.
  18. Enjoy fun for life. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to come with boredom. You can exercise, have sex, and watch TV too as long as it’s not too much. Also, instead of chips and popcorn with your TV watching, eat a big plate of fresh veggies and fruits.
  19. Prevent inflammation and viral or bacterial infections. Inflammation has been linked to many human cancers.
  20. Treat an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). There are effective drugs available, so consult a doctor.

Finally, ladies, let’s encourage the men in our lives to take actions for a healthy lifestyle and cancer protection.

 

Image credit: by Ambrozjo and CancerPreventionDaily.com/

How to Prevent Hereditary Cancer: A Yoga Concept

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Do you or your loved ones have any hereditary cancer? Facing hereditary cancer can be challenging. The passing of family members is devastating, and the possibility of getting this “C” makes you feel fearful, sad, frustrated, powerless or even angry. Staying very emotional is understandable, but won’t fix the problem.

Warrior2_IMG_3388-e1360171441431-1024x682Today I’m going to show you one way to stay on top of this horrible “C” – a solution inspired by Yoga Warrior II.

Let’s engage in this yoga pose first. As the warrior II image illustrates, you stretch one arm straight in front and extend the other out behind, with legs and feet stepping apart in a facing-forward position, while your body maintains steadiness and balance, being powered by the leg and core muscles’ strength, with your gaze focusing ahead (just to give an idea for non-yoga goers).

In addition to its physical benefits, the mental or psychological aspect of Warrior II guides you to honor the past, to explore your future, and to strengthen your presence. Angelina Jolie has taken real-life Warrior II actions when facing her risk for hereditary breast cancer. She kept in mind the tragedy of losing her mother to breast cancer, and desires to stay around long for her children and the loved ones. Courageously, she pursued all she could do at the present. Angelina went for a genetic testing to find out her mutated BRCA1 gene, and then underwent a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her high risk of developing breast cancer.

Cancer risk factors come from foods we eat, water we drink, the environment we live, and the genes we inherit; the latter is considered out of our control. What Angelina has done is truly empowering not only for women dealing with hereditary breast cancer, but also for a boarder population; because breast cancer occurs in men too and men do get mastectomy treatment. This conveyed a message that you can take control of your health, including hereditary cancer, by taking preventative measures before it’s too late.

So, what can you do now when it comes to the genetic susceptibility to cancer? Here are 8 practical tips:

1.      Consult your physician and get genetic testing. Genetic counseling is an essential step for any hereditary illness.
2.      Identify a medical or preventive treatment that’s best for you. With the advance of new technologies and therapies, you have more options to choose, which opens up the horizon for your healthy future.
3.      Remember follow-up visit or care whether or not you have had any therapy.
4.      Explore insurance plans for the coverage of your cost. This seems non-therapeutic, but could be a determining factor for many folks to make an informed, life-saving decision.
5.      Cope with any change in your physical body, and manage side effects from your treatment. Keep informed on any related issues.
6.      Seek support when coping with fear, i.e. any fear of cancer diagnosis or cancer recurrence, so as to uphold your emotional well-being, which is vitally important.
7.      Live a healthy lifestyle, refraining from any known cancer risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol, or toxic chemicals and carcinogens.
8.      Enjoy the moment!

See more Cancer and Hereditary Cancer

Image credit: By Brittany Becher