Monthly Archives: November 2011

HCG, Your Hormone Metabolism and Cancer


by Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor, Metabolism.com

Last week Helen, a friend of the family, called to brag she had lost 12 pounds in 4 weeks and also to ask if she had given herself cancer in the process. What was the connection between her supposed miracle metabolism and cancer? Helen was taking HCG injections and just read this hormone was somehow related to cancer. I reassured her that I didn’t think she was giving herself cancer by taking HCG but I did let her know that very soon she was likely to resume her normal metabolism and regain the weight she lost. Unfortunately her wallet was never going to recover what it lost in this process. Many services prescribing HCG treatment for weight loss are charging $400 or more for a course of treatment.

Now what about the cancer-HCG connection?

HCG is a hormone normally produced by the fertilized egg in the earliest stages of fetal development and then later by the placenta itself. Since rising HCG level is one of the earliest hormone changes during pregnancy, measuring this hormone is the basis for the everyday pregnancy test. HCG also causes the ovary to make progesterone which is essential for preparing the uterus to become a nesting ground for the developing embryo. HCG may also suppress immune function so that the fetus is not rejected by the mother’s immune system.

The placenta forms at the onset of pregnancy to support the developing embryo and later the fetus. If a sperm fertilizes an empty egg at the onset of pregnancy a Hyditidiform mole can arise in conjunction with or instead of the normal placenta. This is also referred to as a molar pregnancy. HCG levels can rise to extreme levels in the presence of the Hyditidiform mole particularly if it goes on to become an invasive cancer known as a choriocarcinoma. Body chemistry gets a little weird at this stage. HCG is slightly similar in structure to TSH, the pituitary hormone that stimulates the thyroid. The result is that when HCG levels are extremely high as with a molar pregnancy, the thyroid can be stimulated to make excess thyroid hormone resulting in hyperthyroidism in the mother. Typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism can occur including feeling hot, shaky, sweatiness, palpitations, vomiting (which can be severe) and diarrhea. Curing the cancer will cure the hyperthyroidism as well.

Other cancers of the reproductive system can make HCG as well. Certain testicular cancers can make HCG. Since HCG is the hormone responsible for a positive pregnancy test, testicular cancer can sometimes be diagnosed in men by a positive pregnancy test. For tumors making HCG, measuring levels of this hormone during cancer treatment can aid doctors in determining whether therapy is working or not.
Certain cancers are termed “hormone responsive”. That means the cancer will grow more aggressively in the presence of a particular hormone. Tumors that grow faster in the presence of estrogen include receptor positive breast cancer and endometrial cancer. A tumor that grows faster in the presence of testosterone is prostate cancer. Since HCG is likely to increase these hormones, it is conceivable that should a hormone responsive tumor already exist in the body it could grow faster during HCG treatment.

So Helen, I don’t think HCG is going to give you cancer, but it may cause you to grow a beard. Why is that? I’ll be explaining my theory in the next article, “HCG is a Hairy Hormone”. Visit metabolism.com for more on this, in the very near future.

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Bariatric Surgery Benefits Last for Years


One of the biggest problems with weight loss programs and diets is that even if they work the weight tends to come back on within a year or two. A recent study from the University of Utah of people who underwent bariatric surgery shows that not only do they lose weight quickly, after 6 years they continue to maintain their lower weight. After undergoing bariatric surgery the average weight drop was 35% of the original weight and after 6 years weight loss was still a very encouraging 28%. 75% of diabetics who had bariatric surgery were able to go off their diabetic medications, while improvements were generally seen in cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Although this study shows a very high success rate, in the real world medical practice I have seen many people who are able to eat their way out of weight loss success after bariatric surgery. Eating small amounts of very high calorie food is still possible and unfortunately is not all that uncommon. Not to say that bariatric surgery is not helpful, because when it works the results can be spectacular, but as always the degree of motivation of the patient is crucial to success.

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, metabolism.com

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They Quit Smoking, Their Metabolism Slows, but Good Attitude Gets Them Through


Here are some encouraging stories from the front line against smoking. It’s a desperate struggle at times but our members share their gutsy approaches that have gotten them through the tough times.

Beach Gal writes:

10 months on Nov 15!
Weight has plateaued at 15lbs gained. 48 years old with perimenopause too.
So here are my thoughts….you have to surrender to the fact you might gain some weight or even maybe alot. We’ve done years of damage to our metabolisms and it will take time to correct that. Also, surrender to the fact you might not be your size 6 or 8 anymore. So what? We don’t smoke. Nothing is more ugly than smoking. There are plenty of heavier women out there who embody beauty. Their spirit shines and they have confidence and self esteem. Smoking robs us of both. Have you ever tried dating online? NO ONE wants to date a smoker.
Anyway, single or married, it doesn’t matter. We matter. I have never laughed so much in my life as I have in the last 2 months. Really laughed. And this while I’m unemployed, my father has cancer, my dog died, and my boyfriend and I are on the rocks. We come first. Period.

Regarding weight…..if you have an “orange theory fitness” near you, join. It’s the cost of 1 month of smoking and will reinforce your quit. Great for us gals in our 40′s 50′ and 60′s too. They know how to get your metabolism cranking. 3 days a week. And could you be drinking a little more wine than usual? I found that I started drinking too much wine….and i don’t even like wine. So had to cut that out!

Here is what V has to say about quitting the cigarette habit:

I agree that the weight was the worst thing. As unhappy as I am about the weight, I am so very happy that I have been quit for 1 year now. With the money I have saved, I have picked up some other hobbies that I enjoy so much, that I would never be able to afford by wasting my money on cancer sticks daily. And, not to mention the health benefits, like being able to breathe, by not sucking down those stupid things. I feel so free when I watch or listen to people scramble trying to figure out how long the cigarettes they have in their pack will last because they don’t have the money or the time to get to the store for another pack, or they can’t wait to leave a non-smoking establishment. I’m not unhappy because I’m fat, it’s just a minor set back. Maybe there are days I get upset over it, but it doesn’t cause me to be an unhappy person. I hope you can overcome your fear of whatever weight gain you may have (it is different for everyone).

Lizzy adds her experience:

Elisa, the benefits of quitting are unreal. I have my first cold since this all happened, yes I still have the weight gain, its not been a year quite yet and I have to say this cold is quite different then I have ever had, it has not settled into my lungs. The weight has leveled off and it seems i am turning the fat into muscle by walking so much. Elisa you have gotten over the nicotine in the system, you need to cut the habit of hands and grabbing, you will be fine, not all people gain 40 or 50 pounds. I have always been a size 6 and now a 12 to 14 and yes that’s killing me, but it too will pass, i have never breathed so deeply in my life. i have never smelt things quite the way I smell them now, and wow food is so different too. You will gradually find out all these things. Honestly the worst thing was the weight gain, but the other benefits make up for some of that.

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