Why Meditation and Yoga Are Recommended for Breast Cancer

Up to 80% of American patients with breast cancer will undergo complementary therapies to manage anxiety and stress after they receive a diagnosis.

Though there’s no clear consensus on which integrative and alternative therapies work and which are ineffective, more and more medical practices have incorporated practices like mindfulness and acupuncture into their offerings. But a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs conducted by several major oncology facilities has examined which therapies benefit patients the most. The answer? Meditation, yoga and relaxation with imagery.

The three methods are known to be calming for those who practice them, and the researchers gave the practices an “A” for treating symptoms of mood disorders that are highly common among people with a recent diagnosis.

To come up with the grade, the researchers parsed through clinical trials conducted from 1990-2013 on complementary therapies paired with routine cancer treatment, like chemotherapy. The researchers then graded each therapy based on efficacy. Acupuncture was given a “B” for controlling chemo nausea, and music therapy also received a “B” for anxiety and stress.

“Women with breast cancer are among the highest users [of these therapies]…and usage has been increasing,” the authors write in their study. “Clear clinical practice guidelines are needed.” The study involved researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, MD Anderson, University of Michigan, Memorial Sloan Kettering and more.

The researchers also gave some therapies low grades. For example, healing touch was given a “C” for lowering pain, and aloe vera gel was not recommended at all for preventing skin reactions from radiation therapy. The researchers also point out that while some natural products were shown to be effective, they did not have the safety data to back them up, suggesting more formal research is needed before some of the therapies can be officially recommended.

As patients with breast cancer and other forms of cancer continue to seek other ways to deal with some of the emotional side effects that stem from serious illness, it will become increasingly important for hospitals to find ways to answer their unmet needs—which might include a yoga class.

Health Benefits Of Coffee vs. Tea: Which One Is Better For You?

To some, coffee is an essential drug of sorts: a jolting liquid that staves away fatigue, headaches, and lack of motivation. Or perhaps you’re a recovering coffee addict who has now turned to the soothing varieties of tea to get a decent caffeine fix, just without the jitters.

Of course, coffee sometimes sounds more like an addiction than a drink that’s good for you, and this is perhaps why tea gets the good reputation of being healthier. But is tea really that much better for you?

Origins

While tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water (and right before beer), coffee is also hugely popular. And both drinks have been around for a long time, to boot.

According to legend, tea was first discovered by the Emperor of China in 2737 BC while he was boiling water under a tree. When leaves accidentally fell into the boiling water, he tasted it and was surprised by its goodness. Tea then became popular among scholars and priests in China and Japan, who drank tea to stay awake, study, and meditate. This is perhaps why the hot drink has always been associated with mindfulness, calm, spirituality, and solid health.

Coffee, meanwhile, didn’t seem to appear until much later — and is believed to have originated in the Ethiopian highlands, where legend says a goatherd named Kaldi noticed his goats became hyperactive after eating certain berries from a tree. Coffee then spread to monks at monasteries, where they drank the beverage to keep them alert while praying. From there, it began making its way across the Arabian Peninsula. Both coffee and tea remained Eastern beverages for a long time; coffee didn’t even arrive in Europe until the 17th century.

Benefits

Both coffee and tea have their benefits, though it’s always hard to pinpoint exactly what those are due to the large amount of contradictory studies. Researchers have focused on specific potential benefits of coffee, with some studies finding that coffee might have the ability to reduce the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer’s or even type 2 diabetes, for example. Coffee has a higher caffeine content than tea, meaning its levels of the stimulant might help people with asthma by relaxing the lung’s airways. Caffeine also helps in constricting blood vessels in the brain and reducing migraines, and often alleviates hangovers because of this. So if you’ve got a bad headache, taking some Advil with coffee and food (and water) might help you out.

Harvard School of Public Health analyzed coffee’s overall effect on health and concluded that the beverage was pretty neutral — it didn’t cause any serious health problems, but it also didn’t necessarily have any specific health benefits, either. Even drinking up to 6 cups of coffee didn’t appear to raise anyone’s risk of dying — but it also didn’t seem to make anyone live particularly longer. What this means, essentially, is that if you’re a stalwart coffee lover, you really have nothing to worry about.

Tea, on the other hand, is filled with antioxidants and potential cancer-fighting properties. According to the National Cancer Institute at the NIH, tea contains polyphenol compounds, which are antioxidants that might aid in cancer prevention. Though not enough has been studied to conclude whether tea does in fact reduce the risk of cancer, tea has often been considered a therapeutic or medicinal drink that has both soothing and rejuvenating qualities. All types of tea are made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, which wilt and oxidize after harvesting; oxidation results in the breaking down of chemicals. The amount of oxidation that occurs in the leaves is what defines different types of teas, from black tea to white tea, and of course green tea. Polyphenols in particular are a group of plant chemicals that are believed to be involved in health benefits — especially in green tea. Teas with the highest levels of polyphenols are usually brewed hot teas rather than cold (and sugary) bottled teas. Polyphenols in green tea, and theaflavins and thearubigins in black tea, contain free radicals that might protect cells from DNA damage.

Cons

As with anything that contains caffeine, way too much coffee and tea could result in increased anxiety, tachycardia, heart palpitations, insomnia, restlessness, and nausea. High amounts of unfiltered coffee, meanwhile, has been linked to higher levels of bad cholesterol, LDL. Tea contains fluoride, and while this is good for your dental health, too much of it may increase your risk of brittle bones and osteofluorosis. Certain tea blends from China, India, or Sri Lanka have been found to contain aluminum and risky amounts of lead, so where you get your tea is pretty important.

To be completely honest, however, you’re better off leaving the heavy cream and three packs of sugar out of your drinks — and stop worrying about whether coffee trumps tea or vice versa. Both drinks have vague cons and benefits, but are, for the most part, pretty decent for you. Too much sugar, on the other hand, is quite the villain — so enjoy your caffeine and remember to take your coffee breaks or meditative tea breaks every so often; humans have been doing it for thousands of years.

Medical marijuana vote should be a no-brainer

When I was in pain — at times quite debilitating — from four breast-cancer related surgeries, I wished Florida had medical marijuana because narcotics make me sick.

The highly addictive drugs my doctors prescribed made me nauseous and lethargic but didn’t relieve my pain.

Research shows medical marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for pain that, unlike narcotics, has no known lethal dose. And the drug relieves the nausea and vomiting that cancer patients suffer from chemotherapy.

That is one of several reasons I voted yes on Florida’s Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana.

I trust Mother Nature more than Big Pharma. And more than the Florida Sheriff’s Association, which has a vested interest in keeping marijuana illegal, namely the millions Florida law enforcement agencies take in every year seizing assets.

FSA President Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County said the sheriff’s have an “obligation to educate our constituents and the people we’ve sworn to protect,” but he offers misinformation instead of facts. As do the TV ads sponsored by opponents of medical marijuana.

One of the false claims that Judd and the group No on 2 have made is that teenagers will be able to get medical marijuana. Not true. Florida law requires that doctors obtain consent from a parent or guardian before treating a minor — and that includes recommending medical pot.

When Judd’s department busted two marijuana grow houses this summer he tried to tie the illicit operation to what would be the legally regulated enterprises Amendment 2 would allow if it passes tomorrow.

“No wonder there are efforts to legalize marijuana in the state of Florida,” he said. “There are greedy people who want a piece of this without taking the risk of committing a criminal act.”

He doesn’t mention that his department gets to keep 85 percent of the value of cash and property they seize in drug busts, even when there’s no conviction.

No wonder there are efforts to keep marijuana illegal in Florida. There are greedy people who want to keep their piece of this cash cow.

What Judd and the other fear mongers won’t tell you is that a recent study by Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found states that legalized medical marijuana have fewer deaths from opioids like OxyCotin, Percocet and Vicodin — all of which doctors prescribed for me — than states without medical marijuana.

On average, the 13 states with legalized medical marijuana have nearly 25 percent fewer opioid overdoses. Researchers say the results suggest that individuals in states with medical marijuana choose weed to manage their pain instead of opioids.

Florida had more than 2,000 prescription drug-related deaths in 2012, including 735 caused by oxycodone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an interim report on drug deaths during the first half of 2013, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement noted prescription drugs “continued to be found more often than illicit drugs, both as the cause of death and present at death.”

When my mother was in a Palm Beach County hospital five years ago facing the amputation of her second leg, she lost her appetite and a considerable amount of weight. Doctors prescribed Marinol, synthetic THC, the main ingredient in marijuana. The hope was that it would give her the munchies and she’d eat. A joint would’ve been more effective.

Her appetite didn’t improve in the least. Fake THC doesn’t have the therapeutic properties of the natural cannabis plant.

Marinol is also more psychoactive than real marijuana, so patients experience more adverse effects.

Still, Florida made it easier several years ago for doctors to prescribe Marinol, moving it from a Schedule II to a Schedule III drug. Meanwhile, marijuana remains in the most restrictive category, Schedule I, along with heroin.

How does that make sense?

If Florida is going to have sensible drug policies, voters will have to make it happen.

Legalizing medical marijuana is more than compassionate. It could save a significant number of lives. That should be a no brainer.

Source: Sun Sentinel

How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?

“Caffeine intoxication” became official in the medical community when the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” known as DSM-5, added the diagnosis last year.

So do cappuccino lovers need to worry about limiting their consumption?

One expert, Matthew Johnson, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, explains how caffeine works in the body and when to cut back.

Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, a neuromodulator in the brain that puts the brakes on excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. “Caffeine allows these stimulating chemicals to flow, which can have a rousing effect, even at very low doses,” says Dr. Johnson, a psychopharmacologist who studies the influence of drugs on behavior and mood.

Some people will get edgy from a weak cup of tea. For others, a double espresso is required to get them into the shower in the morning.

Most coffee drinkers are familiar with at least some symptoms of overindulging—nervousness, excitement, insomnia, rambling thoughts. But a large majority of people who consume caffeine don’t experience severe consequences, Dr. Johnson says.

There are some case reports of students experiencing major anxiety after drinking a dozen cups of coffee, Dr. Johnson says. But overdosing would be difficult, “unless folks took multiple caffeine pills or drank many cans of energy drinks” such as Red Bull.

It is possible for a person to die from too much caffeine, “but that would mean about 14,000 milligrams, or around 140 8-ounce cups of coffee in one day,” Dr. Johnson says. Consuming that much would be difficult because of coffee’s self-limiting nature. “One cup makes you feel good and alert, but five cups may make you feel like your stomach is cramping,” he says. “You feel wired and you wouldn’t typically be able to go overboard.”

While clinicians may observe benefits and risks of caffeine intake, the effects are still being debated in academic circles, Dr. Johnson says. “The evidence that unfiltered coffee increases LDL cholesterol levels is convincing,” he says, referring to the “bad” type of cholesterol. “But it’s the mortality studies that count the most,” he says.

One study suggests mortality benefits at up to six cups of coffee a day, Dr. Johnson says. Another suggested mortality risks in people under 55 who drink more than four cups a day. As a result, “I would be hesitant to say that we’ve reached any final answer,” he says.

Current research into depression has looked closely at glutamate, one of the neurotransmitters affected by caffeine, Dr. Johnson says. “In a recent study, those who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee had fewer depressive symptoms, and the opposite was true for those who lowered their intake,” he says. That doesn’t mean depressed patients would benefit from a steady diet of triple lattes. “If a patient is depressed and predisposed to panic attacks, for example, caffeine might make the condition worse,” he says.

The most convincing evidence indicates you’re probably not at risk for major side effects if you consume up to about four 8-ounce cups of filtered coffee, or around 400mg, early in the day, Dr. Johnson says. “If you’re drinking under four cups a day and not having any side effects, then you’re probably OK,” he says.

Source: Coffee & Bean (Part of the TwinStar Media Network)