Are You A Dipper?

If you were to regularly take your blood pressure when you wake up each day and just before you go to bed at night you should notice a pattern of variance between the 2 readings.

This is because our blood pressure has a circadian rhythm.

Blood pressure is normally lower at night and then starts to rise a few hours before you wake up. It continues to rise during the day, usually peaking in the middle of the afternoon. Then in the late afternoon and evening, your blood pressure begins dropping again.

This is a healthy dipping pattern and denotes a healthy blood pressure circadian rhythm.

So, what happens if this is not the case?  What if you don’t dip?

There are many studies suggesting that people who do not show an appropriate nocturnal dip in blood pressure, called non-dippers, are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular complications and disease. 

We can greatly impact our blood pressure, both negatively and positively, by our sleeping pattern.

Research has found that those who sleep less than 4 hours a night are at a higher risk of hypertension, which is high blood pressure, than those who sleep 7 hours each night.

And here’s a kicker. Even one bad night’s sleep can have an impact by causing a spike in blood pressure that night!

Home Monitoring Of Your Blood Pressure 

Taking your blood pressure reading regularly is a simple habit to develop.  It will give you a day to day snapshot of your reading and over time give you a pattern of your blood pressure. This will help you to identify irregularities or changes.

And this is important both for cancer prevention and for those going through treatment.

Hypertension is associated with a higher risk for not only developing cancer but dying from it as well.

In one large study that included 289,454 men and 288,345 women, the results showed that higher than normal blood pressure was statistically significantly associated with a 10-20% higher risk of developing cancer in men, and a higher risk of dying from the disease in both men and women.

And for those in active care, there is a known association between chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment and the development or worsening of hypertension. 

There is a known association between chemotherapy and radiotherapy for treatment of cancer patients and development or worsening of hypertension…Morbidity and mortality increased in patients with cancer and hypertension without proper antihypertensive treatment. We concluded that there is need for early diagnosis, effective monitoring and treatment strategies for hypertension in cancer patients in order to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality

As well, other medications used to treat cancer can cause a rapid onset of elevated blood pressure. 

So, in both cancer prevention and in active care, monitoring your blood pressure is a simple yet powerful tool to include in your own health protocol.

If you have early warning signs of a change in your blood pressure, whether in active cancer care or in prevention, you can bring this to the attention of your physician and get ahead of potential issues.


References

Sleep and Hypertension

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913764/

High blood pressure is linked to increased risk of developing or dying from cancer

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926182618.htm

Association between blood pressure and risk of cancer development: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45014-4#:~:text=Over%20the%20past%20few%20decades,to%20men%20(63%25%20vs.

Hypertension in Patients with Cancer

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4386854/

Hypertension and cancer treatment

https://siteman.wustl.edu/treatment/cardio-oncology/high-blood-pressure/#:~:text=Hypertension%20and%20cancer%20treatment,pressure%20are%20anti%2DVEGF%20medications.

 

Diabetes, Mitochondria & Cancer

Type 2 Diabetes is a known precursor for many different cancers.

Type 2 Diabetes also appears to confer a significantly greater risk in women than men for cancers of the mouth, stomach, kidney and for leukaemia.

With the knowledge that chronic inflammation fuels complications of Type 2 Diabetes, including cardiovascular and kidney issues, determining the underlying causes of inflammation in Type 2 Diabetes is very important for the development of treatments.  The prevailing assumption has held glucose to be the main determinant.

However, new research from scientists at the University of Kentucky has shown that changes to mitochondria drive chronic inflammation from cells exposed to certain types of fats.  This new finding does not disprove glucose as a mechanism for inflammation but it does shed light on the puzzling situation of people with tight glucose control still seeing disease progression.

What Are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are organelles found in every human cell except for red blood cells. The more energy a cell needs the more mitochondria it will have.  Mitochondria take in nutrients, break them down and create energy for a vast number of cellular functions.

Improving Mitochondrial Health

With the results of this study in mind, improving the health mitochondria is a logical piece of the puzzle for cancer prevention.

Let’s look at some ways to do this.

Exercise

Mitochondria are essential providers of energy for cellular survival.  They are also key to the function of apoptosis, or programmed cellular death.  Exercise is key to increasing mitochondrial health and biogenesis.

Intermittent Fasting

 Intermittent fasting has been shown to remove damaged mitochondria from the body through a process known as mitophagy. It also improves mitochondria homeostasis leading to more optimal functioning.

As well, by avoiding over consumption you reduce the amount of fuel that your mitochondria is required to burn.  This serves to limit free radicals, a by-product of mitochondrial function.

Toxins

The deleterious effects of environmental toxins on mitochondrial function has been studied extensively in humans.  Doing your best to avoid environmental toxins, improving the environmental health of your home and workplace and supporting your natural detoxification pathways to aid your system in the elimination of acquired toxins are vital for supporting your mitochondrial health.

Diet

Poor diet can lead to excessive free radicals and inflammation.  Your mitochondria also produce free radicals.  Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides needed antioxidants to counteract harmful effects of these free radicals.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890380/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-018-4664-5

https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(19)30377-8?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1550413119303778%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31674658

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19448716

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6078194/

 

 

 

 

 

Neutropenia: A Common Side Effect of Cancer

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and an extremely important part of our immune system as they help our body to fight infection.

Neutropenia is a condition where a person has an abnormally low concentration of neutrophils.

People who have neutropenia have a higher risk of getting serious infections because they do not have enough neutrophils to fight off invading and harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Cancer patients who are receiving treatment can be at risk of neutropenia. Neutrophils are made in the bone marrow and cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy can affect a patient’s bone health thus impacting neutrophil production. Neutropenia is also a common side effect in people with leukemia and can also be caused by solid tumour malignancies if they infiltrate the bone marrow.

Neutropenia is diagnosed by a routine complete blood count (CBC).

Symptoms of Neutropenia

The following are common signs of neutropenia:

  • A fever
  • Chills or sweating
  • Sore throat, sores in the mouth
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain near the anus
  • Pain or burning when urinating, or urinating often
  • A cough or shortness of breath
  • Any redness, swelling, or pain (especially around a cut, wound, or catheter)
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or itching

Allopathic Management of Neutropenia

The treatment of neutropenia depends on its cause and severity. In some cases cancer treatment may be suspended until neutrophil count rises to an adequate level.

Patients may be given medication to help bone marrow regenerate new neutrophils.

And in cases where a disease has caused the drop in neutrophils, treatment of the disease will occur.

How Can You Support Your Immune System If You Are At Risk of Neutropenia?

Eat a healthy diet

  • Protein is the building block for the immune system. Foods such as eggs, quinoa and

       lean white meat are good sources

  • Zinc is a strong immune booster. Foods rich in zinc include pumpkin seeds, shellfish and

       beans

  • Omega‐3 fatty acids increase phagocyte activity. Phagocytes are white blood cells that

        consume bacteria. Foods include flax seeds, wild caught salmon and chia seeds

  • Folate increases neutrophil count. Foods high in folate include leafy green vegetables,

        beans, and lentils.

  • Stay well hydrated drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day

Wash your hands frequently

Washing your hands helps to prevent the spread of germs to your nose, eyes and mouth.  All entry points to your body

Stay away from large groups

You are at greater risk of infection when your immune system is compromised.  During this time avoid large groups to help reduce your risk of coming in to contact with potentially harmful germs

Get lots of sleep

Proper sleep is a key piece of a healthy immune system.  Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night

Neutropenia can be serious.  Be aware of the symptoms and contact your doctor if you begin to experience any of them.


References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4059501/

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

https://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/physical-emotional-and-social-effects-cancer/managing-physical-side-effects/neutropenia

Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery Natural Strategies for Preparation & Dealing with Side Effects of Cancer Treatments by Cathy Biase BSc., RHN, CPCC

 

Integrative Approaches for Dealing with Chemo Brain

The frustration that stems from the mental cloudiness experienced by many cancer patients going through chemotherapy is no laughing matter.  And although many may try to make light of it, chemo brain, as it is commonly known, can be a cause of great concern when a decrease in mental sharpness leads to the inability to remember important things, learn new skills or finish tasks.  This negative impact on everyday life can also impart a great emotional hit alongside the practical issues.

It’s Not Just Chemo

Chemo brain to some extent is a misnomer.  In reality mental fog can be experienced by patients who are not going through chemotherapy treatments.  Other noted causes include:

  • The actual diagnosis of cancer can contribute to mental unclarity
  • Medications such as pain killers
  • Radiation treatments
  • Lack of Sleep/Fatigue

  • Poor nutrition
  • Low blood counts
  • The cancer itself
  • Age

Integrative Approaches to Dealing with Chemo Brain

The one positive of this condition is that in most cases it is temporary and can be managed with a few helpful tips.

Get Good Quality Sleep and Enough of It

Lack of enough good quality sleep can be a contributing factor for brain fog.

Here are some tips to encourage a good night sleep:

  1. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine
  2. Turn all electronics off 1 hour before bedtime
  3. Sleep in cool room
  4. Sleep in darkness
  5. If you must have electronics in your room, keep them 2 feet away from your bed

Amp Up Your Nutrition

Incorporating a whole foods diet with key nutrients is an important step in dealing with brain fog. Goods fats need to be included in your daily diet and can be found in foods such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, walnuts and cold water fish like salmon.

Choline and inositol are important nutrients for brain health. Choline can be found in foods such as eggs, beans, flax seeds and pistachios. Foods rich in inositol include beans and cantaloupe.

Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B12 (cobalamin) are important vitamins to include in your diet.

Food sources of B1 include eggs, salmon, asparagus, kale, cauliflower sunflower seeds, beans, lentils and brown rice.

B12 is readily available in meat and shellfish. If avoiding animal products, supplementing with B12 in the form of methylcobalamin should be considered.

Exercise

Exercise overall has many health benefits.

For brain fog, regular exercise can help to keep stress and anxiety in check and encourage a more restful sleep.

And a few other tips

From a life style perspective incorporating strategies in to your daily routine such as making lists, noting activities in to a calendar, setting reminders and challenging yourself with word puzzles and brain games can be very helpful for improving brain function.

For those who like online challenges, one of my favourite sites for brain games is BrainHQ

 


References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chemo-brain/symptoms-causes/syc-20351060

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/changes-in-mood-or-thinking/chemo-brain.html

Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery
Natural Strategies for Preparation
and
Dealing with Side Effects of Cancer Treatments

 

 

 

 

Coping with Cancer During the Holidays

Coping with cancer during the holidays can be difficult.

As we approach the holidays, what should be a joyous time of year surrounded by friends and family, can be a challenge for both people working through a cancer diagnosis and their loved ones.

There is no point in denying it, things are likely to be different.  But with some thoughtful planning and a commitment to enjoying on your terms, the holiday season can be a special one if there is open and honest dialogue between everyone.

Tips for Cancer Patients

It’s time to plan your holiday strategy.

Shopping

Nothing shouts out ONLINE SHOPPING more than fatigue and low immunity.

Get your list together and have at it.  In the comfort of your own home tick off everyone on your list with a delivery right to your front door (or theirs!).  No crowds, lots of comfort and you minimize the chance of catching a cold or flu.

Cooking

Delegate, delegate, delegate! Spread out the cooking detail.  Consider having a potluck dinner this year.  If that’s not an option, then there are loads of places that will cater to all of your gastronomical needs.

Rest

Take the time to rest if you need it.  Heck schedule naptimes so all of your guests can build the events of the day around them.

Provide Clarity

Let your people know what challenges you may be facing during the holidays.  Say YES when you need to and don’t be afraid to say NO. They want to support you.  They love you so let them do so.

Throw your Expectations out the Window

Forget comparing to past holidays or lamenting on what you might not be able to do.  Embrace what is and try to be open to experiencing the joy of what this holiday brings.

If Someone You Love has Cancer

If your loved one has cancer understand that this can be an emotional time.  You can’t change that but there are things that you can do to support them and they pretty much line up with what I have just mentioned

Offer to help

Fatigue and just not feeling well can be so prohibitive for those with cancer.  Offer your time.  It’s the best gift you can give.  Shop, clean, cook, write Santa letters.  Do whatever is needed.

Plan events around their schedule

Plan holiday events around their schedule. Be flexible and mindful about planning things around their routine, treatments and according to the overall vitality.   And be understanding if some traditions have to be shelved for this year.

The holidays can be challenging when cancer is in your midst.  But with a little planning and a lot of love they can continue to be a joyous time of year.