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The Limits of Tylenol for Pain Relief


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Low back and neck pain (spinal pain), along with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, are leading causes of disability worldwide. It’s estimated that more than 9 percent of the global population suffers from spinal pain while another 4 percent have osteoarthritis.1

Doctors often recommend drugs as the go-to treatment for such pain, with acetaminophen (Tylenol) being the first-line pain reliever typically recommended. Such advice is not without controversy, however.

There can be responsible and appropriate use of painkillers to treat debilitating pain, but there are also significant dangers when these drugs are overprescribed and overused.

Research has shown, for instance, that acetaminophen may only be mildly effective compared to placebo, while regular doses of up to 4,000 milligrams a day of the drug, which might be needed for optimal therapeutic benefits, could pose a risk of serious side effects.2

Now the use of Tylenol for pain relief is being called into question again after a systematic review of randomized trials found it works no better than a placebo.3

Tylenol Ineffective for Treating Back Pain, Quadruples the Risk of Liver Damage

A new review of 13 studies found that widespread recommendations for treating back-pain and osteoarthritis patients with acetaminophen need to be reconsidered. The study found “high-quality evidence” that acetaminophen is ineffective for treating low back pain and had only a small effect in patients with osteoarthritis.

That small effect was “not likely to be meaningful for clinicians or patients,” the researchers wrote. In addition, acetaminophen use increases the risk of having an abnormal result on liver function tests by nearly fourfold.4 According to researchers:

We found that paracetamol [acetaminophen] is ineffective on both pain and disability outcomes for low back pain in the immediate and short term and is not clinically superior to placebo on both pain and disability outcomes for osteoarthritis.

…Our results therefore provide an argument to reconsider the endorsement of paracetamol in clinical practice guidelines for low back pain and hip or knee osteoarthritis.”

Acetaminophen Can be Deadly

Given the fact that acetaminophen is one of the most widely used drugs in the world, you might be surprised to learn that taking just a bit too much on a regular basis, or taking it in combination with alcohol, can have rather significant health risks.

Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers across the US—more than 100,000 instances per year—and acetaminophen poisoning is responsible for nearly half of all acute liver failure cases in the US.5

Acetaminophen overdoses are also responsible for more than 150 deaths each year in the US.6 A major problem is that while acetaminophen is considered safe when taken as recommended, the margin between a safe dose and a potentially lethal one is very small.

Taking just 25 percent more than the daily recommended dose—the equivalent of just two extra strength pills per day—can cause liver damage after just a couple of weeks of daily use.7

When taken all at once, just under four times the maximum daily dose can be lethal. Previous research has also shown that taking just a little more than the recommended dose over the course of several days or weeks (referred to as “staggered overdosing”) can be more risky than taking one large overdose.8

In 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally added a warning to acetaminophen-containing drugs alerting consumers to its potential for causing liver damage—a move recommended by an expert panel all the way back in 1977!

Then, in 2013, the agency warned that acetaminophen may cause three serious skin reactions, two of which typically require hospitalization and can be fatal. Last year, the FDA issued a statement urging doctors and other health professionals to stop prescribing and dispensing prescription combination drug products that contain more than 325 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule, or other dosage unit.9

One of the problems with relying on medications to treat pain, especially chronic pain, is that the side effects can sometimes be worse than the condition you’re trying to treat. This is even sometimes the case with seemingly “safe” medications like acetaminophen. Your risk of severe liver injury and/or death related to acetaminophen increases if you:

  • Take more than one regular strength (325 mg) acetaminophen when combined with a narcotic analgesic like codeine or hydrocodone
  • Take more than the prescribed dose of an acetaminophen-containing product in a 24-hour period
  • Take more than one acetaminophen-containing product at the same time. Make sure to read the list of ingredients on any other over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drug you take in combination.
  • Drink alcohol while taking an acetaminophen product. Research suggests that acetaminophen significantly increases your risk of kidney dysfunction if taken with alcohol—even if the amount of alcohol is small.10 Combining alcohol with acetaminophen was found to raise the risk of kidney damage by 123 percent, compared to taking either of them individually. Besides alcoholics, young adults are particularly at risk as they’re more likely to consume both.11

Past Research Also Found Acetaminophen Doesn’t Work for Back Pain

Research published in 2014 also found that taking acetaminophen for back pain is no more effective than taking a placebo.12 As reported by Fortune Magazine:13

“Conducted at hundreds of clinics in Sydney, Australia, the study tracked 1,652 individuals with lower back pain for four weeks. They were given either paracetamol (what acetaminophen is known as overseas), or a placebo.

In the end, researchers found there was almost no difference in the number of days required to recover between the two groups; the median time to recovery was 17 days in the regular paracetamol group, 17 days in the as-needed paracetamol group, and 16 days in the placebo group.”

According to lead author Dr. Christopher Williams, “The results suggest we need to reconsider the universal recommendation to provide paracetamol [acetaminophen] as a first-line treatment for low-back pain…”

Unfortunately, back pain is also one of the leading causes for opioid addiction, which now claims the lives of 17,000 Americans each year. Prescription opioids have also become the latest “gateway drugs” to illicit drug use. It’s important to realize that prescription medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone are opioid derivatives—just like heroin.

One in Four Chronic Pain Patients Misusing Opioids, One in 10 Addicted

In an accompanying editorial to the featured acetaminophen study, Christian Mallen and Elaine Hay of Keele University in England wrote that removing acetaminophen from existing treatment guidelines for back pain and arthritis might lead to an increase in the use of other powerful drugs, particularly addictive narcotics.14

Yet, misuse and addiction to such drugs has already reached epidemic levels. A new study published in the journal PAIN, for instance, found that one in four chronic pain patients may be misusing narcotic painkillers, and one in 10 may have formed an addiction.15 Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the chief medical officer at Phoenix House, a drug treatment provider, told Forbes:16

“Some people who become addicted develop the disease from misuse, but people can just as easily become addicted taking pills exactly prescribed … Once addicted, misuse (i.e. taking more pills than prescribed or crushing and snorting pills) becomes more common, but again, keep in mind that patients can still be addicted without misuse.”

Opioids Often Cause More Harm Than Good for Chronic Pain

In 2014, the American Academy of Neurology updated their position statement on opioids, highlighting the problems of overuse. Over 100,000 people have died, directly or indirectly, from prescribed opioids in the US since the late 1990s. In the highest-risk group (those between the ages of 35 and 54), deaths from opioids exceed deaths from both firearms and motor vehicle accidents.

Pain is one of the most common health complaints in the US, but record numbers of Americans are, sadly, becoming drug addicts in an attempt to live pain-free. According to 2010 data, there were enough narcotic painkillers being prescribed in the US to medicate every single adult, around the clock, for a month.17 By 2012, a whopping 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written in the US, which equates to 82.5 prescriptions for every 100 Americans.18

The Academy of Neurology report notes that while such drugs may offer short-term relief for non-cancer chronic pain such as back pain, headaches, migraines and fibromyalgia, they cause more harm than good over time:19

“Whereas there is evidence for significant short-term pain relief, there is no substantial evidence for maintenance of pain relief or improved function over long periods of time without incurring serious risk of overdose, dependence, or addiction.”

Research has shown, for instance, that more than half of people who use opioids for three months will still be using them five years later.20 Meanwhile, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that long-term use of opioids actually does little to relieve chronic pain.21 In some cases, they may even make chronic pain worse. As TIME reported:22

“…the opioids can backfire in excessive doses; in the same way that neurons become over-sensitized to pain and hyper-reactive, high doses of opioids could prime some nerves to respond more intensely to pain signals, rather than helping them to modulate their reaction.”

The American Academy of Neurology is now calling for clear limits to be set on opioid use, especially for non-cancer pain. Certain states already have warnings in place that require physicians to seek other opinions if a person takes daily opioid doses of 80-120 mg without getting relief. Still, the pills shouldn’t be viewed as a go-to treatment for chronic pain in the first place, as lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other strategies are often more effective and far safer.

Medical Marijuana Offers Pain Relief While Driving Down Opioid Overdose Deaths

In states where medical marijuana is legal, overdose deaths from opioids like morphine, oxycodone and heroin decreased by an average of 20 percent after one year, 25 percent after two years and up to 33 percent by years five and six.23 As the researchers explained:24

Opioid analgesic overdose mortality continues to rise in the United States, driven by increases in prescribing for chronic pain. Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis, laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related to opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them… Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates.”

There is a wealth of research linking marijuana with pain relief. In one study, just three puffs of marijuana a day for five days helped those with chronic nerve pain to relieve pain and sleep better.25 If you’re in pain, especially if it’s severe, I realize that you may be desperate for relief. Prescription and over-the-counter painkillers do have their place in medicine, especially for short-term relief of severe pain (such as after surgery or serious injury). In certain cases, such drugs can be a great benefit when used cautiously and correctly with appropriate medical supervision.

However, it’s also quite clear that these drugs are being overprescribed, and can easily lead you into addiction and other, more illicit, drug use, as well as cause other serious side effects. The overreliance on them as a first line of defense for pain is a major part of this problem. So if you are dealing with severe or chronic pain, my first suggestion would be to see a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments and the underlying causes of pain. Ideally, it is best to find a knowledgeable practitioner who can help you attack the pain from multiple angles, giving you both relief and healing.

As mentioned, cannabidiol (CBD) in marijuana is an excellent painkiller and has been used successfully to treat a variety of pain disorders. If your pain is severe enough, it might even be worth moving to one of the many states where medical cannabis is legal, as it can be a real life changer. In states where medicinal marijuana is legal, such as California, you can join a collective, which is a legal entity consisting of a group of patients that can grow and share cannabis medicines with each other.

By signing up as a member, you gain the right to grow and share your medicine. I do, however, still recommend working with a health care practitioner who can guide you on the most effective dosage and form of use. While critics of medical marijuana (which, by the way, are in the minority, as 85-95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical cannabis, and 58-59 percent are in favor of legalizing marijuana) point out its risks, they pale in comparison to those of opioids. While some do become addicted, or at least dependent, on marijuana, it is far less addictive than prescription opioids.

19 Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief

I strongly recommend exhausting other options before you resort to an opioid pain reliever or even acetaminophen. The health risks associated with these drugs are great, and addiction to opioids is a very real concern. For instance, exercises, such as strengthening exercises, have been found to decrease pain more than short-term use of acetaminophen for hip or knee osteoarthritis.26 And as Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, told WebMD:27

“This [featured] study does suggest that other methods — such as acupuncture, smoking cessation, weight loss, physical activity and proper ergonomics at our work stations — may have an equal role to [acetaminophen] in treating back pain.”

Below I list 19 non-drug alternatives for the treatment of pain. These options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that prescription (and even over-the-counter) painkillers carry. This list is in no way meant to represent the only approaches you can use. They are, rather, some of the best strategies that I know of. I do understand there are times when pain is so severe that a prescription drug may be necessary. Even in those instances, the options that follow may be used in addition to such drugs, and may allow you to at least reduce your dosage. If you are in pain that is bearable, please try these first, before resorting to prescription painkillers of any kind.

  1. Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
  2. Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat. My personal favorite is krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they manipulate prostaglandins.)
  3. Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.
  4. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture, in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.
  5. K-Laser Class 4 Laser Therapy. If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis, or other inflammation-based pain, I’d strongly encourage you to try out K-Laser therapy. It can be an excellent choice for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers. K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance tissue healing—both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, or even bones.
  6. The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body, and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip. For more information about this groundbreaking technology, and how it can help heal chronic pain, please listen to my previous interview with Dr. Harrington.

  7. Chiropractic. Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain, such as low-back pain. Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.
  8. Acupuncture can also effectively treat many kinds of pain. Research has discovered a “clear and robust” effect of acupuncture in the treatment of: back, neck, and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches.
  9. Physical and massage therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.
  10. Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
  11. Ginger: This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
  12. Curcumin: In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.28
  13. Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  14. Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.
  15. Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
  16. Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
  17. Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
  18. Medical cannabis has a long history as a natural analgesic, as mentioned.29 At present, more than 20 US states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Its medicinal qualities are due to high amounts (about 10-20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes, and flavanoids. As discussed in this previous post, varieties of cannabis exist that are very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes you feel “stoned”—and high in medicinal CBD. The Journal of Pain,30 a publication by the American Pain Society, has a long list of studies on the pain-relieving effects of cannabis.
  19. Methods such as yoga, Foundation Training, acupuncture, meditation, hot and cold packs, and other mind-body techniques can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.
  20. Grounding, or walking barefoot on the earth, may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.


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How a Terminal Illness Can Change Your Perception of Time


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

“Clocks are now kind of irrelevant to me … time, where it used to have sort of a linear progression, now feels more like a space,” said Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, writer, father, and husband, after learning he had metastatic lung cancer.curc

Kalanithi, who died at age 37 in March 2015, wrote a series of poignant works describing the “strange relativity” of living with a terminal cancer diagnosis, and how it rattles your concept of self and your perception of time. He wrote:1

“Verb conjugation became muddled. Which was correct? ‘I am a neurosurgeon,’ ‘I was a neurosurgeon,’ ‘I had been a neurosurgeon before and will be again’? Graham Greene felt life was lived in the first 20 years and the remainder was just reflection.

What tense was I living in? Had I proceeded, like a burned-out Greene character, beyond the present tense and into the past perfect? The future tense seemed vacant and, on others’ lips, jarring. I recently celebrated my 15th college reunion; it seemed rude to respond to parting promises from old friends, ‘We’ll see you at the 25th!’ with ‘Probably not!’”

Amidst many questions, including how much time he had left (a question no one could, with certainty, answer), Kalanithi spoke of his infant daughter. Recognizing he would not likely see her grow up, he wanted her to know the joy she brought him in his last days, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied.”2

‘Days Are Long, Years Are Short’

Kalanithi’s story has struck a chord in many people’s hearts. It’s the type of inspiration that stops you in your tracks, makes you think deeply and can change the way you’re living your life right now. As he said, “the days are long, but the years are short.”

Some of you reading this may be struggling with chronic illness right now. You may have a loved one who is ill, or you may be healthy but acutely aware that health is one gift not to be taken for granted.

In Kalanithi’s case, doctors found a specific genetic mutation tied to his cancer. In many other cases, the cause is unknown. What we do know is that each cell membrane in your body has receptors that pick up various environmental signals, and this mechanism controls the “reading” of the genes inside your cells.

Your cells can choose to read or not read the genetic blueprint depending on the signals being received from the environment. So having a “cancer program” in your DNA does not automatically mean you’re destined to get cancer. Far from it. This genetic information does not ever have to be expressed.

In other words, having a genetic mutation is by no means an automatic death sentence. As you will see below, there are many things you can do to dramatically decrease your cancer risk through the lifestyle choices you make, which have a profound impact on your genetic expression… and this should give you hope.

Cancer Is the Second Leading Cause of Death in the US

Sadly, even with the latest technology and “advances” in medicine, cancer continues to kill people far before their time. And the current medical paradigm remains essentially clueless about the underlying causes of cancer, along with how to effectively treat them.

In 2015, it’s estimated there will be more than 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed and nearly 600,000 cancer deaths in the US.3 Further, the lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer over the course of a lifetime is incredibly high. For American men, the lifetime risk of developing cancer is slightly less than 1 in 2; for women, it’s a little more than 1 in 3.4

There are many causes of cancer, from certain bacteria in your mouth to viruses, environmental chemicals, radiation and more. In 2010, researchers studied hundreds of Egyptian mummies along with literary evidence for ancient Greece and medical studies of human and animal remains dating back to the age of the dinosaurs.5

They found evidence of cancer is extremely rare in history and instead is a modern, man-made disease, noting:6

In industrialized societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.”

What’s important to remember is that many cases of cancer can be prevented, which means you are empowered to take control of your health. Even the American Cancer Society states:7

“A substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented. All cancers caused by tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption could be prevented completely…

In addition, the World Cancer Research Fund has estimated that up to one-third of the cancer cases that occur in economically developed countries like the US are related to overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and/or poor nutrition, and thus could also be prevented.”

Cancer Rates Predicted to Rise by Nearly 60 Percent in the Next 20 Years

The 2014 World Cancer Report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted worldwide cancer rates to rise by 57 percent in the next two decades.8

The report refers to the prediction as “an imminent human disaster,” noting countries around the world need to renew their focus on prevention rather than treatment only. Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer told CNN:9

“We cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem. More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer burden globally.”

Besides the death toll, there’s also the financial cost of treating cancer. According to the report, the worldwide cost for cancer treatment was estimated at $1.16 trillion in 2010. But again the report noted that about half of all cancers were preventable and could have been avoided if “current medical knowledge was acted upon.” This includes promoting preventive lifestyle strategies such as:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol consumption

Does Sugar Fuel Cancer?

There is quite a bit of truth behind the old adage that sugar feeds cancer. According to one study, older women who drink a lot of soda or other sugary beverages may be at significantly increased risk for endometrial cancer—an estrogen-dependent type of cancer that affects the lining of a woman’s uterus.10 Previous research has also shown that dietary fructose can promote cancer growth in a number of different ways, including:

  • Altered cellular metabolism
  • Increased reactive oxygen species (free radicals)
  • DNA damage
  • Inflammation

In 2010, researchers also published findings showing that fructose is readily used by cancer cells to increase their proliferation.11 Cancer cells did not respond to glucose in the same manner. In this case, the cancer cells used were pancreatic cancer, which is typically regarded as the most deadly and universally rapid-killing form of cancer. According to the authors:

” … fructose intake has increased dramatically in recent decades and cellular uptake of glucose and fructose uses distinct transporters. Here, we report that fructose provides an alternative substrate to induce pancreatic cancer cell proliferation. Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different; in comparison with glucose, fructose… is preferentially metabolized via the nonoxidative pentose phosphate pathway to synthesize nucleic acids and increase uric acid production.

These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation. They have major significance for cancer patients given dietary refined fructose consumption, and indicate that efforts to reduce refined fructose intake or inhibit fructose-mediated actions may disrupt cancer growth.”

In other words, they found that tumor cells do thrive on sugar (glucose). However, the cells used fructose for cell division, speeding up the growth and spread of the cancer. This difference is clearly of major consequence, and should be carefully considered by anyone who is currently undergoing cancer treatment or seeking to prevent cancer, particularly by avoiding the consumption of fructose-containing processed foods and beverages.

Exercise Is Another Key Player

Mounting evidence continues to show that exercise may be a key component in successful cancer prevention and treatment. Studies have also found that it can help keep cancer from recurring, so it’s really a triple-win. Yet not surprisingly few oncologists ever tell their patients to engage in exercise beyond their simple daily, normal activities, and many cancer patients are reluctant to exercise, or even discuss it with their oncologist.

Research presented at the 2013 International Liver Congress, for instance, found that mice who exercised on a motorized treadmill for an hour each day, five days a week for 32 weeks, experienced fewer incidents of liver cancer than sedentary mice.12 A report issued by the British organization Macmillan Cancer Support also argued that exercise really should be part of standard cancer care. It recommended that all patients getting cancer treatment should be told to engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two and a half hours every week, stating that the advice to rest and take it easy after treatment is an outdated view.13

Research has even shown that breast and colon cancer patients who exercise regularly have half the recurrence rate than non-exercisers. Macmillan Cancer Support also notes that exercise can help you to mitigate some of the common side effects of conventional cancer treatment, including:14

Reduce fatigue and improve your energy levels Manage stress, anxiety, low mood or depression Improve bone health
Improve heart health (some chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy can cause heart problems later in life) Build muscle strength, relieve pain and improve range of movement Maintain a healthy weight
Sleep better Improve your appetite

I would strongly recommend you read up on my Peak Fitness program, which includes high-intensity interval training exercises that can reduce your exercise time while actually increasing your benefits. Now, if you have cancer or any other chronic disease, you will of course need to tailor your exercise routine to your individual circumstances, taking into account your fitness level and current health.

Often, you will be able to take part in a regular exercise program — one that involves a variety of exercises like strength training, core-building, stretching, aerobic and anaerobic — with very little changes necessary. However, at times you may find you need to exercise at a lower intensity, or for shorter durations.

My Top 12 Cancer Prevention Strategies

There is so much you can do to lower your risk for cancer, but please don’t wait until you get the diagnosis—you have to take preventative steps now. It’s much easier to prevent cancer than to treat it once it takes hold. I believe you can virtually eliminate your risk of cancer and chronic disease, and radically improve your chances of recovering from cancer if you currently have it, by following these relatively simple strategies.

  1. Food Preparation: Eat at least one-third of your food raw. Avoid frying or charbroiling; boil, poach or steam your foods instead. Consider adding cancer-fighting whole foods, herbs, spices and supplements to your diet, such as broccoli, blueberries and resveratrol. To learn more about how these anti-angiogenetic foods fight cancer, please see our previous article: “Dramatically Effective New Natural Way to Starve Cancer and Obesity.”
  2. Carbohydrates and Sugar: Reduce or eliminate processed foods, sugar/fructose and grain-based foods from your diet. This applies to whole unprocessed organic grains as well, as they tend to rapidly break down and drive up your insulin level. The evidence is quite clear that if you want to avoid cancer, or you currently have cancer, you absolutely MUST avoid all forms of sugar, especially fructose, which feeds cancer cells and promotes their growth. Make sure your total fructose intake is around 25 grams daily, including fruit.
  3. Protein and Fat: Consider reducing your protein levels to one gram per kilogram of lean body weight. It would be unusual for most adults to need more than 100 grams of protein and most likely close to half of that amount. Replace excess protein with high-quality fats, such as organic eggs from pastured hens, high-quality grass-fed meats, raw pastured butter, avocados, and coconut oil.
  4. GMOs: Avoid genetically engineered foods as they are typically treated with herbicides such as Roundup (glyphosate), and likely to be carcinogenic. A French research team that has extensively studied Roundup concluded it’s toxic to human cells, and likely carcinogenic to humans. Choose fresh, organic, preferably locally grown foods.
  5. Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats: Normalize your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil and reducing your intake of processed vegetable oils.
  6. Natural Probiotics: Optimizing your gut flora will reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune response. Researchers have found a microbe-dependent mechanism through which some cancers mount an inflammatory response that fuels their development and growth. They suggest that inhibiting inflammatory cytokines might slow cancer progression and improve the response to chemotherapy. Adding naturally fermented food, including fermented vegetables, to your daily diet is an easy way to prevent cancer or speed recovery. You can always add a high-quality probiotic supplement as well, but naturally fermented foods are the best.
  7. Exercise: Exercise lowers insulin levels, which creates a low sugar environment that discourages the growth and spread of cancer cells. In a three-month study, exercise was found to alter immune cells into a more potent disease-fighting form in cancer survivors who had just completed chemotherapy. Researchers and cancer organizations increasingly recommend making regular exercise a priority in order to reduce your risk of cancer and help improve cancer outcomes. Research has also found evidence suggesting exercise can help trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.
  8. Ideally, your exercise program should include balance, strength, flexibility, high intensity interval training (HIIT). For help getting started, refer to my Peak Fitness Program.

  9. Vitamin D: There is scientific evidence you can decrease your risk of cancer by more than half simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with appropriate sun exposure. Your serum level should hold steady at 50-70 ng/ml, but if you are being treated for cancer, it should be closer to 80-90 ng/ml for optimal benefit. If you take oral vitamin D and have cancer, it would be very prudent to monitor your vitamin D blood levels regularly, as well as supplementing your vitamin K2, as K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity.
  10. Sleep: Make sure you are getting enough restorative sleep. Poor sleep can interfere with your melatonin production, which is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance and weight gain, both of which contribute to cancer’s virility.
  11. Exposure to Toxins: Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides, household chemical cleaners, plastics chemicals, synthetic air fresheners and toxic cosmetics.
  12. Exposure to Radiation: Limit your exposure and protect yourself from radiation produced by cell phones, towers, base stations, and Wi-Fi stations, as well as minimizing your exposure from radiation-based medical scans, including dental x-rays, CT scans, and mammograms.
  13. Stress Management: Stress from all causes is a major contributor to disease. It is likely that stress and unresolved emotional issues may be more important than the physical ones, so make sure this is addressed. My favorite tool for resolving emotional challenges is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

Have You Been Diagnosed With Cancer?

One of the most essential strategies I know of to treat cancer is to starve the cells by depriving them of their food source. Unlike your body cells, which can burn carbs or fat for fuel, cancer cells have lost that metabolic flexibility. Dr. Otto Warburg was actually given a Nobel Prize over 75 years ago for figuring this out but virtually no oncologist actually uses this information. You can review my recent interview with Dr. D’Agostino below for more details but integrating a ketogenic diet with hyperbaric oxygen therapy is deadly to cancer cells. It debilitates them by starving them of their fuel source. This would be the strategy I would recommend to my family if they were diagnosed with cancer.

Download Interview Transcript


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Why Do Patients Lie To Doctors?


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

Popular TV doctor, Gregory House’s favorite adage about patients is: “everybody lies.” I used to believe that this was a cynical and inaccurate statement, but I had to revisit it recently when faced with a patient whose signs and symptoms were consistent with a diagnosis that she vehemently denied.

A young woman was admitted to my rehab unit with brain damage of unclear cause. She adamantly denied drug or alcohol use, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she was suffering from a genetic or autoimmune disorder that the academic neurology team had somehow overlooked. I had recently read the New York Times best-seller, Brain on Fire and feared that I would be like one of those dismissive physicians who missed the author’s unusual diagnosis and nearly killed her from their inaction.

But staring me in the face were the specific physical manifestations of drug and alcohol abuse, though her urine toxicology screen proved she hadn’t used in the very recent past. I asked her again and again if she recalled any exposure to them – probing for an admission of even a small amount of recreational use. She remained adamant. An exhaustive work up had in fact revealed some vitamin deficiencies, the only hard evidence of anything that could explain her very real and devastating impairments. This was not a case of faking symptoms – at least I was sure of that much. Yet her situation continued to haunt me, because until she came clean about the cause of her condition, lingering doubt would drive me to continue the “million dollar work up.”

And for this young and desperately lonely person, the “million dollar work up” may have been her only chance at experiencing ongoing concern for her well being from others. If she admitted to drug use, then the only people who seemed to care about her (sadly, even if it was mostly because she could make a “great case for Grand Rounds”) would probably turn their backs. With the mystery solved, this fascinating neurological conundrum would become a garden variety drug abuser. A person who was, perhaps, not so much a victim as a perpetrator of their own condition.

I don’t believe that those whose conditions are contributed to by their behaviors receive poorer medical care (consider the smoker with lung cancer, or the person with multiple fractures from a bridge-jump suicide attempt – their quality of care will be similar to non-smokers with lung cancer or people with orthopedic needs from a motor vehicle accident). But there may be a subtle and unspoken judgmental attitude held by some of their caregivers and providers.

Fellow friend and blogger, Kerri Morrone Sparling suggests that fear of judgment, and the guilt and shame associated with self-induced harm, are the main reasons why people with diabetes may not come clean to their endocrinologists about their eating and exercise habits. She writes,

Finding enough confidence in myself to admit my shortcomings to my doctor, who I aim to impress with my efforts, was a tall order. For me, it took finding an endocrinologist I trusted with the truth, including the parts of the truth that weren’t so pretty. I know the best doctor for me is one who cares about my emotional response to diabetes, as well as my physical response. It took some trial-and-error, but eventually I found an endo who I felt didn’t judge, but listened and helped me find reasonable solutions to my problems with “reasonable” defined as something I would actually follow through on. Instead of a blanket response of “Do everything. Try harder,” my endo helps me build off of small successes in pursuit of better outcomes.

So patients lie to their doctors because they don’t want to be abandoned, judged, or shamed. And until they are quite certain that this will not happen to them, they are likely to continue withholding information from those who are ostensibly trying to help.  The problem of lying does not rest squarely on the shoulders of patients – it is also the responsibility of physicians to make it safe for them to tell the truth. They will commit to honesty when we commit to compassion.

As I look back at my interactions with the young woman with the “mystery” illness, it is not so much the fear of missing the right diagnosis that haunts me now. It is that I did not make her feel safe enough to tell me the truth. In the end, the “million dollar work up” offered her little value for the cost and used up precious healthcare resources.

What she needed was a safe place to live, a supportive environment, a program for drug counseling, and job training for those with disabilities. I missed out on really helping this patient because I was more comfortable with searching for a rare diagnosis than pursuing treatment for the all-too-common, nebulous cycle of social ills that poverty, drugs and abuse cause. Maybe I wanted to believe her lie because at least then there was a chance I could fix her?

As it turns out, I was as invested in her lie as she was – we just had different reasons for it. While she did not want to be abandoned or shamed, I did not want to have to face the fact that I had very little to offer her.

Dr. House was right – under certain circumstances, patients are likely to lie. The other side of the coin, though rarely discussed, is that sometimes doctors are complicit in keeping those lies going.

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Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal
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