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Cancer Project: The News You Need

Managing Cancer with Meditation

A new study from the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary has shown that meditation can substantially reduce levels of emotional distress and stress-related symptoms like headache, muscle tension, and stomach upset in patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Researchers randomly assigned 90 cancer patients to one of two groups. The first attended a meditation class once a week for seven weeks and were encouraged to meditate at least 30 minutes daily at home. The second group did not attend classes or receive instruction. Those who meditated had a major reduction in feelings of anger, depression, fatigue, and anxiety, and enjoyed a 31 percent drop in headaches, digestive problems, and racing heart. For more informationabout meditation, go to

Speca M, Carlson LE, Goodey E, Angen M. A randomized, wait-list controlled clinical trial: the effect of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients. Psychosom Med. 2000;62:613-622.

Dioxin in the American Diet

From food sources alone, Americans are exposed to 22 times the suggested maximum limit of dioxin, according to researchers from the University of Texas. Dioxin is a toxic chemical known to promote various forms of cancer. Researchers tested food samples from across the country, finding no decrease in toxin levels from a decade earlier.

Meat and dairy products are the biggest sources of dioxin because the chemicals tend to concentrate in animal tissue. Study director Dr. Arnold Schecter notes, "Blood samples taken from pure vegans, who consume no animal products, show that they have less dioxin in their bodies than average Americans."

The hardest hit, unfortunately, are nursing infants of nonvegan mothers. Their levels are often 35 to 65 times higher than levels deemed safe.

Houston Chronicle interview with Dr. Arnold Schecter of the University of Texas School of Public Health

Estrogen Linked to Ovarian Cancer

A large study has found that women who took estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for a decade or more were twice as likely to die from ovarian cancer as women who did not, reports the Journal of the American Medical Association. For 14 years, researchers tracked 211,581 postmenopausal women with no history of cancer, hysterectomy, or ovarian surgery, finding those who took ERT the longest were at greatest risk for developing cancer.

PCRM research has found that a low-fat, vegan diet—free of estrogen-boosting animal products such as meat and dairy—helps reduce the body's estrogen activity.

Rodriguez C, Patel AV, Calle EE, Jacob EJ, Thun MJ. Estrogen replacement therapy and ovarian cancer mortality in a large prospective study of U.S. women. JAMA. 2001;285:1460-1465.

Tomatoes Attack Cancer Cells

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is known to reduce the risk of oral, pancreatic, breast, prostate, and colon cancers. But scientists were surprised to find that lycopene—the chemical that gives tomatoes a rich, red hue—actually destroys oral cancer cells in the laboratory. Researchers hope they can duplicate the results in patients.

Some scientists believe lycopene bolsters the body's natural ability to kill off cells that are not developing properly. Research from the University of North Carolina also suggests that lycopene in the diet reduces the risk of heart attack.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Overweight Tied to Certain Cancers

Too much body fat and too little exercise are linked with up to one-third of colon, breast, kidney, and digestive tract cancers, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) cancer agency. With half of European adults and 61 percent of American adults being overweight, researchers fear cancer rates will climb.

The WHO and others believe that a drop in hormone levels produced by weight loss are part of the mechanism for risk reduction. They also note that weight loss, even late in life, appears to cut risks for breast and uterine cancers. Unfortunately, there is difficulty in tracking these trends as many people have difficulty maintaining their weight losses—one more reason to make exercise and a healthy, low-fat eating plan a priority early in life.

Tubal Ligation May Cut Ovarian Cancer Risk

Women with a high probability of developing ovarian cancer could reduce their risk by having their Fallopian tubes tied, say researchers from Sunnybrook and Women's College Hospital in Toronto.

Researchers studied 232 women with a history of ovarian cancer and compared them to healthy women. It turned out that those who carried the BRCA 1 gene, meaning a high risk of ovarian cancer, had a 60 percent decrease in their risk if they had a tubal ligation.

Why it works isn't known, but it may be due to an effect on hormones or a reduction in inflammation of the ovary. Without intervention, carriers of the BRCA 1 mutation are believed to have a 40-percent lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Traditionally, use of oral contraceptives has been recommended to cut risk. However, it may increase breast cancer risk. Tubal ligation did not offer the same protection for BRCA 2 carriers.

Narod SA, Sun P, Ghadirian P, et al. Tubal ligation and risk of ovarian cancer in carriers of BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutations: a case-control study. Lancet. 2001;357:1467-1469.

The Power of Plants

We know how powerful plant foods are for preventing certain cancers. Now British scientists have demonstrated that the plant hormone indole acetic acid (IAA), coupled with a certain enzyme, can destroy cancerous tumors while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The research offers hope for cancer treatments that do not cause hair loss, nausea, and other harsh side effects.

In laboratory trials, an enzyme derived from the horseradish plant has been used to trigger toxic byproducts of IAA, which kill 99 percent of cancerous cells in one treatment.

Cancer Research Campaign, United Kingdom


Autumn 2001 (Volume X, Number 4)
 Autumn 2001
Volume X
Number 4

Good Medicine

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