Category Archives: cancer

Which Pesticides Create Precancerous Changes in Thyroid Cells?


pesticidesBy Gary Pepper, M.D.
Last week I posted a few highlights from the just concluded International Thyroid Congress. One of the research papers presented at the meeting generated particular concern. Endocrinologists and scientists at UCLA Medical Center led by Dr. Jerome Hershman investigated the potential for pesticides to damage the DNA of thyroid cells. The group focused on double strand breaks, the type of damage that could eventually lead to cancer. This is a particularly relevant point due to the explosion in newly diagnosed thyroid cancers being reported in many areas of the world. The increase is likely related, at least in part, to improved diagnostic techniques for thyroid cancer but could also represent environmental influences. Continue reading

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Patti Keeps on Running Despite Thyroid Cancer


Thyroid cancer is one of the most common cancers of young adults. Many of these cancers have no symptoms until a routine exam reveals a lump in the neck. This was the case with Patti who shares her upbeat experience with us. The good news about this type of cancer is that despite spread to lymph nodes (metastasized) it is still very curable. So, if you notice an unexplained neck lump don’t hesitate to have it evaluated by an endocrinologist or other knowledgeable physician.

Here is what Patti has to say about her thyroid cancer experience;

I found a lump in my throat in August of this year. I am one of the few (about 10%) who tested positive for Thyroid cancer. I also had cancer in 4 of the lymph nodes of my neck. I am a competitive athlete (for fun not for a living) and I worried what would happen. I had surgery in September and although the last 4 months have been very hard on me, I am happy to report I am running, swimming and cycling again. The cancer is completely gone based on my body scan and negative bloodwork.

Most likely you do NOT have cancer. But you can’t roll the dice and not know. And if you do, you can and will get through it and go on to live a wonderful life. It takes work and perseverance to be healthy but it is worth it. 🙂

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HCG is a Hairy Hormone



By Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor, Metabolism.com
In the first article in this series, The HCG-Cancer Connection, I explained how HCG is made by some types of cancer and can serve as a marker for cancer activity. Now I want to explore another effect of HCG, the stimulation of male hormone (testosterone) production.
Just to review, there is no evidence that HCG will cause cancer although conceivably certain cancer responsive tumors may grow faster due to its effect to increase estrogen and testosterone. Every woman who has had a normal pregnancy has been exposed to high HCG levels for many months so if it did cause cancer that effect would be very obvious.
What concerns me is how HCG can influence the normal ovary and its hormone metabolism. HCG is a promiscuous hormone. It will hook up with different hormone “receptors” and masquerade as these other hormones. In the previous article I explained how at very high levels HCG can stimulate the thyroid to make thyroid hormone resulting in hyperthyroidism. Another hormone effect of HCG is to mimic LH (leutinizing hormone) which turns on the production of the sex hormones by the testicle in men and ovary in woman. Surprisingly the normal ovary makes testosterone which it then converts to estrogen. FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) from the pituitary helps the ovary change testosterone to estrogen. What happens when the ovary gets a lot of LH but not FSH? This is the situation when a woman gets HCG. Testosterone levels will rise more than estrogen levels. Research shows that after a single HCG injection a rise of 20% in testosterone levels occurs in normal women, confirming this theory. During pregnancy with HCG pumping in the blood from the placenta, testosterone levels can double, resulting in acne, oily skin and (in some women) an increase in sex drive. The situation would be far worse for a pregnant woman if the placenta wasn’t also pumping out 100 times the normal amount of estrogen to counteract all the male hormones.
So why should women care if HCG makes their testosterone levels go up? Acne, oily skin and horniness are one thing but there are other effects which might be less acceptable. Testosterone is a mischievous hormone. While it causes hair growth where you don’t want it, it causes hair loss in places you want to keep it. Testosterone stimulates hair growth on the face, chest, back and abdomen. At the same time it causes hair loss from the scalp particularly at the temples and crown. This is referred to as male pattern baldness. Other effects of testosterone in women are the growth of the clitoris, known as clitoromegaly. A clitoris the size of a man’s thumb has been described in a woman due to excess testosterone exposure. Generally this degree of clitoromegaly is seen only in more extreme cases. So you may want to think twice before starting an HCG diet unless looking like Bruce Willis is your thing.
In the final installment on the hazards of HCG I will focus on other possible nasty hormone effects of HCG such as fibroids, infertility and bulging muscles.

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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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New Drug Combination May Revive Post-Menopausal HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy); Part 2


Probably the major cause for concern regarding post menopausal HRT (hormone replacement therapy) highlighted by the WHI study was an increased risk for breast cancer. This finding applied to women in the WHI who were using combination estrogen and progesterone replacement. Progesterone is given to counteract the effect of estrogen to cause uterine (endometrial) cancer but is not crucial for relief of post-menopausal symptoms. Interestingly, women who used estrogen replacement alone (without the progesterone) actually showed no increase and possibly even a reduction in invasive breast cancer after 7 years on treatment. In the group of women who started “estrogen only” replacement more than 5 years after entering menopause, the reduction in breast cancer was even more pronounced. Experts therefore conclude that “estrogen only” HRT is likely to be considerably safer from a breast cancer point of view, and starting estrogen 5 years after menopause reduces the cancer risk even further.
The relationship between estrogen use and breast cancer risk is further complicated by the finding that post-menopausal women using HRT who develop breast cancer appear to have better survival and less aggressive tumors than post-menopausal women who are diagnosed with breast cancer who never used HRT. Breast cancer may not be caused by estrogen, but cancer may grow more rapidly in the presence of estrogen. This doesn’t sound like an advantage but small undetected cancers may grow rapidly with HRT so that they can be seen on mammography and removed before they can spread.
New drug combinations in development offer hope to women who are looking for HRT alternatives. A class of drugs known as SERMS of which Evista is a member, used in combination with estrogen has shown promising results in clinical studies. A SERM will protect against the uterine cancer causing effect of estrogen so progesterone is no longer needed with HRT. This immediately reduces many of the undesirable effects of HRT found in the WHI including breast cancer risk and producing better cholesterol effects. This combination of drugs is referred to as a tissue-selective estrogen complex (TSEC). Other advantages of TSEC treatment are improvement in bone density (lower osteoporosis risk) and possible reduction in coronary artery disease development. Although TSEC treatment is not yet FDA approved for treatment of post-menopausal symptoms, individual doctors can prescribe this if they feel the available information is favorable and the risk/benefit ratio is in favor of the patient’s well being.
Finally, there is the issue of blood clots associated with estrogen treatment. This is likely due to the effect of estrogen to alter the balance of certain blood proteins that favor blood clot development. My thought is that adding a simple baby aspirin daily may reverse or significantly reduce risks associated with increased blood clotting with estrogen, just as baby aspirin is now recommended for those at increased risk of heart attack. Aspirin is unlikely to be helpful to prevent blood clots in veins referred to as DVT but this is not completely certain. As with all medications there are downsides to aspirin such as gastric irritation and ulcer bleeding but these risks can be assessed by the individual and their doctor.
(This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advise or establish a doctor patient relationship)
Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, metabolism.com

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Is Post-Menopausal Estrogen Therapy (HRT) Ready for a Come Back? Part 1


Once a common solution for the Miseries of Menopause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with estrogen was abandoned almost overnight in 2002 with the publication of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) results. The WHI did not dispute the fact that HRT is the best method of reversing post-menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia but it did overturn some cherished beliefs as far as women’s heart health is concerned.
Women have a much lower risk of heart attack then men until they reach menopause. At menopause when the ovaries stop making estrogen the risk of heart attack climbs rapidly until it equals that of men. Common sense suggests that if losing estrogen causes increased heart attack risk then replacing the estrogen should prevent this. What the WHI appears to show is that HRT does not protect women from heart disease, but may actually increase the risk above the normal post-menopausal risk. Worse yet is the WHI conclusion that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer and of blood clot complications (thromboembolic disease). It is no wonder that in 2002 HRT took its place with smoking as the scourge of womens’ health.
Since that time scientists have reevaluated the WHI data and more work on HRT risk versus benefit has been done. What is evolving from this reassessment is that the use of progesterone in the WHI participants and the time from onset of menopause until the time HRT was started, both play important roles in how often women developed heart disease or cancer. Additionally, a new class of drugs when use together with HRT may block the cancer risks associated with HRT. In Part 2 of this article I will be covering these aspects. Stay tuned!
Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in- Chief, metabolism.com

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Sandy Shares Her Thoughts on Ways to Prevent Diabetes


Occasionally, at Metabolism.com, we publish articles sent to us by our members. Here is a contribution by Sandy Harris explaining why maple syrup may possess surprising health benefits. Among the benefits Sandy highlights is a possible link to prevention of diabetes. Metabolism.com welcomes your thoughts on these issues so feel free to post a comment at the bottom of her article.

Sandy writes:

Little Known Ways to Prevent Diabetes with Maple Syrup by Sandy Harris; Guest Writer for Metabolism.com

Are you looking for a natural solution to reduce the risk of diabetes and slow down the growth of cancer cells?
Your search is probably over because recent studies have shown that maple syrup holds the key to these problems.US researchers have found that maple syrup has the ability to substantially decrease the risk of diabetes. The syrup also showed great potential in slowing down the growth of cancerous cells. Maple syrup has thirteen active antioxidant substances.
These antioxidants were previously unknown but were discovered only recently. Because of these antioxidants, researchers have firmed up that maple syrup has a great potential in fighting cancer growth, diabetes, and infections.

Maple Syrup as an Anti Diabetic Food

Considerable amounts of the phytohormone, abscisic acid, are found in maple syrup. This acid is a powerful defense against diabetes and metabolic syndrome, because it encourages the release of insulin through pancreatic cells and enhances fat cells’ sensitivity to insulin. Seeram revealed the results of his tests on Canadian maple syrup during the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco.

Maple Syrup as Your Best Chance against Cancer

A recent study by researchers in Quebec showed that maple syrup has the ability to slow down the growth of cancerous cells. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. The study was an attempt to test the capability of maple syrup in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
The researchers proved that maple syrup is effective against cancer. More specifically, the syrup can significantly slow down cancer growth in the brain, lungs, and prostate. However, the effect of maple syrup on breast cancer cells was less significant.
Better Than Other Anti Cancer Foods
Maple syrup can serve as your tasty alternative in fighting cancer and diabetes. There are many anti cancer foods today like blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and carrots. However, recent studies have shown that maple syrup is more effective against cancer compared to other anti cancer foods. Laboratory testing results also show that the syrup is more potent compared to the maple sap
.It is also ideal to use the pure dark syrup rather than the lighter syrup. Dark syrup has high color oxidation. This is the reason why darker maple syrup should be preferred. So if you want a better alternative to fight cancer and diabetes, then your favorite maple syrup is a good option.
Reference: Journal of medicinal food. 01/02/2010; ISSN: 1557-7600, OI: 10.1089/jmf.2009.0029
About the Author – Sandy Harris writes for the diabetic appetizer recipes blog , her personal hobby blog focused on tips to prevent, cure and manage diabetes using healthy snacks and recipes.

Disclaimer for Metabolism.com:
The author’s views do not necessarily reflect the views of Metabolism.com, and this website is not responsible for the research or accuracy of the statements in this article.

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Dr. Oz, What Exactly Don’t You Know?


For a relatively small South Florida town, Jupiter has attracted a few national news stories. Recently there was the disturbed man who gunned down 4 members of his own family, and Tiger Woods is building his mother a house here. Bringing Dr. Oz to Jupiter is the recently confirmed pediatric brain tumor cluster just West of here. This has stirred up a lot of media attention and later this week Dr. Oz is doing a special on the cancer cluster.

What type of doctor is Dr. Oz? He is a heart surgeon. His training is in using a knife to cut the chest open and in sewing arteries together to heal the diseased heart. Why is he talking to the nation about a brain cancer cluster in South Florida? Why does he have a show where he lectures on everything from swine flu to diarrhea? This situation reminds me of a soap opera where the show’s doctor delivers a baby, removes someone’s brain cancer, and treats someone else for AIDS, all in the same episode. Sorry folks….that’s not the way the real world of medicine works.

O.K…so call me jealous. That doesn’t change the fact that our nation deserves real experts dealing out the facts, not some handsome Oprah pet doc pretending to be G-d’s gift to the medical world.

Operating on the heart requires constant practice and intense focus on only what lies underneath that knife. It shouldn’t come as a surprise therefore, that the last cardiac surgeon I would want operating on my heart is Dr. Oz.

Dr. Gary Pepper, Editor-in-Chief, Metabolism.com

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Radiation Poisoning Remains a Concern in 2010…… by BethEllen DiLuglio


As a clinical nutritionist and author, it can be difficult to prioritize issues and actions.  For several years, my number one concern is the fact that radioactive elements, known to cause childhood and adult cancer, osteoporosis, anemia and immune deficiency, are regularly released into our air and water.  I first learned of this iniquity in 1997 when I became involved in the RPHP “Tooth Fairy Project” at the suggestion of Dr. Ernest Sternglass.  Dr. Sternglass is an author, director of RPHP and professor emeritus of Radiological Physics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Tooth Fairy Project.

The study basically measures radioactive Strontium 90 (Sr90) in children’s teeth and in drinking water supplies.  Strontium is an essential nutrient important to bone structure and health.  The radioactive form, Sr90, can be taken up into teeth and bones where it basically radiates the bone marrow.  This constant bombardment damages red  blood cells and white blood cells (the foundation of our immune system!).  Its breakdown products can also travel to other organs such as the brain, pancreas, breast and prostate.  The resulting anemia, immune deficiency, osteoporosis,  leukemia and other types of cancer can be easily predicted.

The cancer causing effects of radioactive nutrients is well known, and led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to recommend that counties close to a nuclear power plant stock Potassium Iodide to be taken as a protective measure in the event of a nuclear accident.  Saturating the thyroid with the natural element should prevent the radioactive iodine from doing as much damage.

Dr. Sternglass discussed the health effects of low level radiation in his article about childhood cancer in the June 1963 issue of the journal Science. CLICK HERE to link to the article abstract.  Dr. Sternglass presented his paper and findings to President John F. Kennedy and Congress in 1963.  Awareness that Strontium 90 could cause cancer and other health anomalies contributed to a partial Nuclear Bomb Test Treaty between the USA and USSR.
I do hope that they stop releasing these harmful radioactive elements, but until they do, I recommend a few things to reduce your exposure.

First and foremost try to remove the Sr90.  Dr. Sternglass told me that REVERSE OSMOSIS and DISTILLATION will both remove Sr90 from drinking water.  To replace any minerals, be sure to eat lots of mineral rich foods (grown from healthy, nutrient rich soil).  I use Willard Water with Lignite for a trace mineral source.

Secondly, consume lots of antioxidants from FOOD SOURCES such as fresh, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables to protect against free radical damage from the radiation.  Antioxidant superstars include pinto beans, blueberries, prunes, raisins, cranberries, pomegranates, kiwi fruit, red bell pepper, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli just to name a few! CLICK HERE for a list of 277 foods analyzed by the USDA.  See, they are paying attention!  You can also get a pamphlet from the AICR on antioxidants. CLICK HERE to see the PDF or visit AICR.ORG.   Ingestion of seaweed such as kelp appears to be protective as well.

If you are not eating the MINIMUM 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day or are still working toward the RECOMMENDED 9-12 servings per day, consider a personalized NUTRITION CONSULTATION with me!

Beth Ellen DiLuglio, MS, RD, CNSD, CCN, LD/N

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Gastric Banding Can Beat Diabetes. Cancer Too?


On-going research continues to confirm that weight loss surgery can reverse Type 2 (adult onset, obesity related) diabetes. A recent study conducted at NYU medical center of approximately 100 Type 2 diabetics who underwent gastric banding showed almost half had a return of normal glucose levels without needing anti-diabetic medication and the other half were able to significantly reduce the amount of medication they needed to control diabetes. The dramatic reduction in medication requirement in these post-operative diabetics was mirrored by substantial reductions in their weight.

In a separate study conducted in Sweden, researchers compared the occurrence of cancer in obese men and women who underwent gastric surgery for weight loss versus a similar group treated with diet alone. As expected the surgery group lost considerably more weight than the group treated with diet only. After 4 years it was found that women who underwent weight loss surgery had significantly lower incidence of cancer than the diet only group. There was no similar benefit in the men.

Obese women are known to have an increased risk of certain cancers compared to normal weight women. In particular, uterine and breast cancer are more commen in overweight women. Adipose tissue (fat cells) increases estrogen levels in the blood by converting other naturally occuring hormones to estrogen. It is thought that the excess estrogen is responsible for the increased cancer risk in obese women. In the Swedish study of women after gastric weight loss surgery, the reduction in cancer was most obvious for skin and blood cell cancers. This is not what would be expected if the cancer prevention was due to weight loss effects on lowering estrogen. The reason for the cancer reduction after gastric surgery in obese women is still under investigation.

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

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