Understanding Targeted Cancer Therapy

The National Cancer Institute spends over 5 billion dollars each year on research to better understand cancer and to develop therapies that will slow or eliminate the disease. One of the more promising areas of discovery in recent years is in targeted therapy. This method of treatment focuses on a precision assault of the cancer cells rather than all of the cells in the body.

What Targeted Therapy Does

The research that has been conducted for targeted therapy is focused on discovering specific molecular targets. These are the molecules that are involved in cancer growth, progression and spread. Unlike traditional chemotherapy which is designed to eradicate all of a specific type of fast dividing cell, targeted treatments are focused on only destroying specifically selected cells which facilitate the proliferation of the cancer cells. While the goal of traditional chemotherapy is to kill existing cancer cells, a cytotoxic process, targeted therapy is designed to stop the growth of new cells, a cytostatic process.

How Targets Are Determined

Proteins are very important to cancer cell growth and proliferation. Scientist are able to harvest cancer cells and healthy cells to determine which proteins appear in much higher concentration in the cancer cells than the healthy cells or even which proteins are present in the cancer cells but not present in the healthy cells. These proteins are then determined to be the target of the treatment. Scientist work to create a compound that will inhibit the protein from binding with receptors to grow the cancer.

Challenges of Targeted Therapy

One of the drawbacks to targeted therapy is that the cancer cells can become resistant to the treatment. In some cases, the target will mutate to become immune to the treatment and in other cases the cancer will use a different protein to facilitate growth. Another issue that researchers are working to overcome is the existence of certain targets that cannot be inhibited at all. Many variants of treatments have been used but none have successfully bonded with the protein.

Side Effects of Targeted Therapy

One of the driving goals of targeted therapy was to offer cancer patients a treatment that was less toxic to normal cells and that didn’t produce the debilitating side effects that are common with a standard chemotherapy treatment. Although side effects have not been completely eliminated, the targeted therapy side effects appear to be more mild in most patients. The issues can include diarrhea, skin problems, issues with blood clotting and normal healing processes and high blood pressure.

Targeted Therapy Treatments Available

There are many types of cancer that offer FDA approved targeted therapy options for select patients. The list includes stomach cancer, bladder cancer, brain cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, large cell bone cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, liver cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and some skin cancers. More information about possible treatment options and eligibility can be found at the National Cancer Institute website or by calling 1-800-4-CANCER.

The Investment is Paying Off

The vast investment that society has made in cancer research is finally offering a sizeable reward for cancer patients and their loved ones. Survival rates are increasing and the life altering side effects of treatments are diminishing. My generation might not see the cure for cancer but it is not out of the realm of possibility for my son’s generation to see it, and for his son’s generation to grow up with no frame of reference for this horrendous disease.

6 Ways to Recharge Your Batteries

Everyone has a breaking point. Even when things are at their best, as women, we sometimes push ourselves too hard and experience a kind of overkill, stress-wise. We can often feel it coming, but we ignore it.

Instead, try to think of yourself as needing a moment to just recharge your batteries. Pushing yourself can only get you so far before everything—work, home life, friendships, etc.—begins to suffer. Here are 6, quick ways to take a moment and allow yourself to relax. Afterwards, you can then go back to living your fast-paced life, just with a lot less stress.

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1. Remove Yourself from Social Media

Better yet, if you can, remove yourself from all technology for as long as possible. Whether it’s refreshing our email, obsessively checking our Facebooks, or just updating the news on our phones, technology is constantly giving us new things to stress about, worries we honestly don’t need when our lives are already so hectic.

So take some time off, and plan it so the important people will know how to get in contact with you when it’s happening. Trust us, you’ll feel so much better once it’s over, and then, you can return to the world of technology like nothing happened.

2. Spend Time With Your Pet

Petting an animal can lower one’s stress levels, minimize blood pressure, and elicit a laugh, which is almost better than anything. If you don’t have a pet, try volunteering at the local animal shelter. Whatever you do, just get some cuddle time with a furry friend.

3. Book Some Spa Time.

Even if it’s just in your own bathtub. Give yourself a break and light some candles, use some good bath salts, and relax. If you can afford to go to the spa, do it! You deserve to be pampered.

4. Listen to Music.

We all have a favorite type of music or band. Even if you just have a favorite song, put it on repeat when no one else is home and dance along. Sing at the top of your lungs, and enjoy yourself! If you don’t have time to do this at home, do it in the car on your way to work.

5. Go for a Walk.

Yes, it seems like a sneaky way to get exercise into your day, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re enjoying the scenery. Spend some time walking but not going anywhere in particular. It will help you remember there isn’t always a finish line to sprint toward.

6. Take a Nap.

Most of us don’t get enough sleep at night, and many of us feel like taking a nap is selfish or indulgent. The truth is, though, napping is actually extremely good for you, and it’s one of the easiest, most natural ways to recharge your batteries.

So what’re you waiting for? Close this window and go get 20 minutes of shut-eye. Don’t worry, you’ve earned it, and everything will still be here when you wake up.

7 Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work

Two years ago I tried on a dress for my friend’s wedding, looked in the mirror, and hated what I saw. I stood there, staring at myself, crying, wondering how I got to that point. I weighed in at 192 and knew something had to change. I came across the Atkins diet, went on the Atkins 20 plan, and my life was forever changed. I focused, put in the hard work, and came out feeling confident, healthy, strong and 73 lbs lighter on the other side – and you can too! I learned what worked for my body and left what didn’t. Here are a few tips that helped me along the way.

    1. Never let yourself go hungry. In other words, EAT! The Atkins diet encourages you to have three meals and two snacks per day, or five or six small meals, whichever you prefer. Either way, snack regularly! Eating low carb snacks every few hours helps keep you satisfied, maintains your blood sugar and keeps your energy at a sustainable level. I found that keeping Atkins meals, shakes, bars and treats on hand helped when hunger strikes!
    2. Hydrate. Drink at least 8 oz glasses of water each day. If you are active, drink more! Yes, two of your daily cups can come from coffee, tea, or broth (vegetable, chicken, beef, or bone are all good for you). Dehydration makes your body retain fluid as a protective mechanism, so make this a priority!
    3. Count net carbs, not total carbs. This is a common mistake for newcomers to the Atkins diet. Net carbs are the grams of total carbs minus grams of fiber. On the Atkins 20 plan, your daily goal is to intake 20 net carbs, which is the average level at which fat burns. It’s best to eat 15 grams of carbs per day in vegetables, saving the other 5 for meat, cheese and other necessities. (Definitely cheese!)
    4. Plan your meals. Take time every Sunday to plan your meals for the week, make your shopping list, and stock your kitchen only with approved food. Order Atkins prepared meals, shakes, snacks, and more to help along the way. Click here for a $5 off coupon! Once you register, you’ll get free weight-loss guides and coupons to save on their delicious products.
    5. Supplement your diet with vitamins to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Multivitamins help improve energy levels and reduce sugar cravings, electrolytes will assist with headaches or fatigue, fish and flaxseed oil can improve blood circulation, and fiber can ensure a healthy digestive system. These will all make sure your body is working in sync and feeling good.
    6. Exercise daily. Whether it’s a walk after dinner, a yoga class, a group fitness class, or going for a swim, exercise builds muscle. And the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn. Get out there!
    7. Track your success. Take photos along your journey, keep a food and fluid intake journal, and write about challenges or achievements that come up. Atkins even provides free diet tools to track your weight loss goals and progress. I have found these trackers especially helpful in times when I wanted to give up. It wasn’t an easy process, but seeing my day 1 photo next to my day 30 photo helped me when I wanted to eat that chocolate cake on day 60.

So whether you just started the Atkins diet or you’re trying to figure out if you should take the plunge, Atkins can help you get there with determination. If I can do it, you can!

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Cheap, Easy Ways to Bust Stress at Home

Work is hard, and life is stressful. Sometimes, we all wish we could get away from everything for a minute, but not everyone can afford to take a week-long vacation in the Seychelles. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to stay a ball of stress until you can. There are plenty of cheap and easy ways that you can relieve the stresses of your day-to-day life right from your couch.

  1. Grab a glass of wine, put on Netflix, and cuddle up with your pet.

 

  1. Buy an adult coloring book or print out some free pages available online. Then, bust out the Crayolas and focus on something calming for an hour or two.

 

  1. Meditate. Just sit down in a comfortable spot, close your eyes, and try to focus on nothing but your breathing. As thoughts come into your head, acknowledge them and then let them go. Doing this for even a few minutes a day can have a wondrous effect on your overall state of mind.

 

  1. Put on your favorite song and dance to it as fast as you can.

 

  1. Ask your best friend to come over and dish about your lives over a frozen pizza. (Remember to heat it up first though!)

 

  1. Find an old notebook or journal you once bought and start filling it up with all your thoughts, worries, fears, and desires. Keep writing until your hand hurts, filling up as many pages as you can with your feelings.

 

  1. Give yourself something small to do around the house whether it’s to clear off the kitchen counter, make yourself dinner, or fix a broken appliance. Once you do it, you’ll be flooded with a sense of satisfaction, and you should give yourself a reward for a job well done.

 

  1. Take a nap. Go on, you deserve it! In our constantly working, hustle-‘til-you-make-it society, we are always telling ourselves we can’t take a break. You can, and you should.

 

  1. Think about the thing you are most stressed out about. Consider the potential outcomes of the stressful situation and ask yourself how you will cope with each outcome. This is called mental creation, and it not only helps you destress but prepares you for many different possible futures.

 

  1. Take a warm bath and then a cool shower.

 

  1. Put down your phone for the rest of the night and refuse to check your texts, emails, social media, all of it! Unplug for just a few hours and see how free you’ll feel.

 

  1. Try breathing in slowly, thinking about the things you’re stressed about when you do. When your lungs are full, hold the breath in for a few seconds and then slowly let it out. As you do, let all those stresses go.

 

  1. Lie down and relax your toes, then your feet, then your ankles, and then your legs. Go all the way up your body relaxing until you get to your head. Lie still for five minutes as you simply breathe and let your body unwind.
2017 Breast Cancer News Means Serious New Conversations With Doctors Necessary

Up until November of 2017, women who reached the 5-year cancer free mark following a diagnosis and subsequent treatment of breast cancer, breathed a sigh of relief. They believed that this marked the beginning of a cancer free life. Not necessarily so, a recent report claims.

According to a November report in the New England Journal of Medicine, many of these women run the risk of developing new malignancies up to 20 years following their initial diagnosis. This information comes on the heels of a lengthy examination of 88 clinical trials. These trials involved the testing of nearly 63,000 women who were initially diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive tumors in their breasts.

The protocol in recent years has been to treat these women with chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery—or sometimes a combination of the three. They then followed up their treatment with a five year course of tamoxifen or another aromatase inhibitor. The idea behind the ongoing treatment was to kill off any lingering cancer cells the radiation, chemotherapy or surgery may have missed. All the women in the aforementioned study were, in fact, deemed cancer free at the five year mark.

The recurrence rate for the highest risk women in the study group—those who originally had the largest tumors that had spread beyond their breasts—is raising alarms. 41 percent of those women experienced a recurrence over a 15 year period. 10 percent of those women with the lowest risk of recurrence were diagnosed with cancer again over that same period of time.

Dr. Daniel Hayes of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan served as senior study author for this report. He doesn’t want to raise fear via this study, but instead wants both doctors and patients to become acutely aware of its findings.

“We know that adjuvant (hormone based) therapy for five years substantially reduces the risk of recurrence and mortality,” he explains. “We now have good evidence that extending adjuvant (hormone based) therapy beyond five years continues to suppress and reduce recurrence and mortality.”

Women with breast cancer and survivors should talk with their doctors about extending the course of adjuvant therapy for an additional five years. Though some may be hesitant to continue these therapies due to menopausal symptoms, it could wind up saving their lives.

Albert Farias wasn’t part of this study. A cancer researcher at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, he is in agreement with Dr. Hayes and the others involved.

“Breast cancer cells can travel from the primary tumor to the lymph nodes and can circulate throughout the body undetectable with current screening methods, and over time these circulating cancer cells can attach to other organs in the body and this is generally when there is a cancer recurrence,” he says. “One way that adjuvant breast cancer treatment works is to kill and/or stop the undetectable cancer cells from growing and dividing.”

While this new information may fill some breast cancer survivors with fear, they should use this fear to their advantage and have a serious conversation with their doctor. If they are among the high risk group that participated in this study, a new course of adjuvant therapy may be in the cards for them.

Should You Get a Flu Shot?

The question of whether or not a person should get a flu shot seems to be one asked yearly. What are the benefits? What are the risks? What are the myths? Will it help our overall general health? Hopefully after reading this article the answer will be clear whether or not you should get a flu shot.

What exactly is the flu? The influenza virus is a highly contagious virus that attacks the respiratory system. All of the symptoms you might find with the common cold (coughing, sneezing, congestion, sore throat, headache, etc.) are associated with the flu, but the flu often causes a high fever accompanied with body aches and fatigue.  These symptoms can lead to more serious issues that are certainly not good for one’s general health which may prompt an individual to consider getting a flu shot.

There are several benefits to getting a flu shot. The flu vaccination reduces the risk of getting the flu by 40% to 60%. This is especially true among children and older adults and the prevention of hospitalization caused by flu symptoms. Flu vaccination has proven to be an effective tool for people with chronic health conditions such as cardiac issues. It has lowered some cardiac events just by receiving the vaccination especially for those who have experienced heart issues within the past year. Patients who have chronic lung disease or diabetes who have received the flu shot have also shown a decrease in hospitalization. Another benefit of the flu vaccination is proven among pregnant women to not only reduce their risk of catching the flu, but reducing their baby’s risk of getting the flu after birth. If for some reason you still get sick with the flu after receiving a flu shot, chances are your symptoms will be milder.

As with any medication or vaccination, risks are always involved. Babies under the age of six months should not receive the flu shot. Any person with a severe allergy to the ingredients found in the flu vaccination, such as gelatin or antibiotics, should not consider getting a flu shot for obvious reasons. Other things to consider before getting the flu vaccination are any allergies to eggs or a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Speaking with your physician is advised in either case. People may also experience a low-grade fever and a sore arm after receiving the injection.

The biggest myth about flu shots is that the flu vaccination actually causes the flu. Prior to 2016 some vaccines contained a live virus, however, it was weakened and was specifically developed to prevent illness. Since then flu vaccinations are made from inactivated virus. The virus is essentially grown and then killed, making it impossible for a dead virus to cause the flu but instead help your body build an immunity to the live virus.

When considering one’s general health, one needs to be informed and educated. Only you can decide if getting the flu shot is best for your well-being. Compare the benefits to the risks and deduce whether or not the risks of getting the flu are better or worse than the risks of receiving the vaccination.

10 Ways Ketones Can Improve Your Health

Just as sugar is converted to glucose in our bodies, fat is converted to ketones by the liver. When blood sugar drops and the body has burned up its stored glucose, our bodies convert fat into ketones.

There are many health benefits to ketones, provided the body doesn’t go into ketoacidosis. This occurs when a person is unable to produce insulin—such as in the case of diabetics—and the body creates way too many ketones. This, however, only typically occurs in the cases of diabetics who are untreated.

Ketones can, in fact, have considerable health benefits. Here are 10 ways they can improve your health.

  1. Ketones help reduce hunger. This is very beneficial for weight loss.
  2. Ketones lessen cravings. When cravings are curbed, meals and snacks tend to be wholesome foods that add power to your day.
  3. Ketones increase energy. Who couldn’t use a whole lot more of that? Ketones are responsible for developing a higher oxygen capacity, as well as better athleticism and motor performance.
  4. They are noted for improving moods. People who fear they are on the verge of depression have found ketones vastly improved the way they felt.
  5. Ketones help with better focus and sharper mental clarity. If you’ve felt like you’re not quite with it or can’t complete the tasks at hand, this will be a welcome and significant change. People with seizure disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and even ADHD have experienced vast improvements.
  6. Ketones improve body composition. Loss of fat leads to a leaner physique.
  7. Ketones help are known to prevent autoimmune diseases. In people who already have autoimmune diseases—like Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus—they are known for healing them and putting the disease into remission.
  8. Ketones improve the skin. Not only do they make it softer and more supple, it also both prevents and cures many skin disorders including eczema, psoriasis, acne and common rashes.
  9. The presence of ketones can alleviate many forms of chronic pain. Arthritis pain is often lessened as is the occurrence of migraines.
  10. Instances of developing heart disease and cancer are lessened with ketones. Not only are the risks decreased, but those with these diseases have noted quicker and more complete recoveries.

In order to get ketones, you must get your body into ketosis. This occurs when eating a ketogenic diet. This isn’t always an easy task, since our bodies are used to burning sugar. The process will throw your body into a major change. Going from burning sugar to burning fat is an enormous contrast.

Most people begin by seriously limiting their intake of carbohydrates. This leaves only fat and proteins for the body to burn. Since you don’t want your body burning proteins, it’s important to considerably up your protein intake. Eating healthy fats, like avocado and olive oil will help you reach ketosis even faster.

It’s true that reaching ketosis requires planning and diligence. Those ten benefits listed here, however, will certainly make it worth your efforts.

8 Signs that You May Have a Mental Disorder

As a society, we don’t talk enough about the issue of mental disorders. In many cases, we treat them as secret problems when really they are no different than physical disorders. As a result, it is important to be aware of any signs that you may have a mental disorder and to receive the treatment necessary for you to get better. Remember: everyone deserves to receive the help they need to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.

  1. Suicidal Thoughts

This is one of the strongest warning signs of a mental illness. However, if you are not suffering from any of the other symptoms, it is still important to seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts, as these could potentially manifest into action.

  1. Withdrawal

If you begin to find yourself withdrawing from others (even those you care most about) and/or from activities that used to matter to you, this could be a strong sign of a mental illness. Many individuals feel they cannot connect with others and start to isolate themselves, which can make it hard for them to recover.

  1. Illogical Thinking

If you find yourself constantly thinking things that do not make sense, things that scare you, or things that are not logical, this could also be a sign of a mental disorder. Many people start to think they see hidden meanings in what others say or do or use magical reasoning the way a child might. These are strong signs something isn’t right with your ability to reason with what is happening around you.

  1. Mood Changes

One minute, you may be feeling extremely happy, and the next, extremely sad. Anger and apathy can also be included in these mood swings, especially if you suddenly switch from one to the other with little to no cause. We all feel shaky from time to time, but if you find yourself dealing with mood swings often, it may be time to seek help.

  1. Appetite or Sleep Changes

Have you found it is suddenly hard to sleep or that you are sleeping far too much? Are you eating much more or less than you used to? These can also be signs of a developing mental illness.

  1. Sensitivity

Have you often found yourself avoiding situations that could be volatile? Have you also noticed an increase in your sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, etc.? Any type of sensitivity, if extreme enough, could potentially be a sign of a mental disorder as well.

  1. Hallucinations

Hallucinations are a strong indicator of a mental disorder. They can be visual, auditory, or tactile.

  1. Difficulty Thinking

If you often find your thinking to be fuzzy, to the point where you cannot focus on your work or concentrate, this could be a sign of a disorder. Many people also have problems with memory or logical thought processes.

While none of these symptoms alone are definite indicators of a mental disorder, several of these can clearly define one’s need for treatment. No matter what, it is best to seek help if you are struggling with symptoms that make it difficult to live your daily life.

What Are the Best Post-Workout Snacks?

Working out feels good. It gets your body and mind in a better place, and obviously, it’s healthy and can help you lose weight. But you should never underestimate the importance of the post-workout snack. Without it, you could become lethargic, and if you eat the wrong one, it could blow your whole workout. Here are some of the best options for your snackage once you’re finished with your daily exercises.

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Protein Shakes

We know, it’s been done. But there are some great options for protein shakes you’ve never tried, many of which are as delicious as they are healthy. Here are 13 recipe options for protein shakes that are quick and easy to make. But as long as you’ve got some Greek yogurt, some protein powder, and some complimenting fruits, you can pretty much experiment with whatever recipe best suits you.

There’s a reason why protein shakes are pretty much considered the best, after-workout snack. They give you energy and help you recover from your workout. So go ahead, fire up the blender.

Rice Cakes With Peanut Butter and Fruit

If you’re tired of the liquid diet, we’ve got another option for you. Rice cakes will give you a little bit of bulk with very few calories. In order to get the protein and energy you need, it’s a good idea to give it a little slather of peanut butter. Adding banana or another kind of delicious fruit will give you some natural sugars and a burst of flavor. If you’re not a fan of rice cakes, whole wheat English muffins can stand in.

Tuna or Turkey Sandwich

These are meats that will be healthy for you to eat after your workout. Make sure to put them on whole wheat bread and, instead of reaching for a bag of chips, go with apple slices.

Hummus

Hummus is a great, protein rich, after-workout snack for those of you who want something dippable. You can pair it with pita chips or pita bread, both of which are a lot healthier than a bag of potato chips and a container of dip.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a great option as well because it keeps your body healthy and you can add anything to it. For example, granola can be a good option if you’re looking for something crunchy. If you want something sweet, try adding fresh berries to the mix. Want something a little more out there? Try yogurt, red peppers, and orange slices.

Trail Mix

Making your own trail mix can allow you to decide what will go into it. This means less butter, salt, and other ingredients your body doesn’t need. Simple trail mix can be achieved by using dry, roasted nuts, dried fruit, and some sunflower seeds for a perfect combination of different flavors and textures.

Fruit and Cheese

Many people like to get a dose of fiber and a dose of dairy after their workouts, which is a great combination. Fruit like apple slices and low-calorie cheese (like a string cheese you can find at the grocery store) are perfect.

I Know I Should Drink Water But Why: The Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated

Practically everyone knows drinking water is where it’s at, and we all pretty much know we don’t do nearly enough of it. But why is drinking enough water so important and what can it actually do for your health? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

Here are the top seven health benefits of drinking the recommended amount of water every day (about 8 8-ounce glasses or whatever your body needs).

  1. Weight Loss

Most people know that drinking a lot of water can actually help you lose weight, but many people don’t know why. Water can actually remove the by-products of the fatty foods you eat to an extent. It can also reduce your amount of hunger (because it fills up your stomach) and it can minimize the amount you will eat (because your hunger level will decrease). One of the best ways to promote weight loss is to drink lots of water every day.

  1. Energy Boost

Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or—even worse—an energy drink, why not try getting yourself a glass of water instead? Drinking water can actually make your brain more alert and give you energy, in large part because your brain and your body are mostly made up of water. After drinking water, you will feel more energized, and you may even feel less tired if you didn’t sleep well the night before.

  1. Stronger Immunity

When you drink enough water, you will begin to see the effects over time in the number of sick days you won’t have to use. Drinking water can actually make you less likely to catch a cold. In addition, drinking water can help your body fight other types of diseases, cancers, and issues like heart attack.

  1. Healthier Skin

Drinking water helps to keep your skin healthy and glowing. Making sure you’re properly hydrated can also potentially decrease the sight of wrinkles and other issues that can also be attributed to dry skin instead of just age.

  1. No More Toxins

Okay, your body is always likely to have some sort of toxins in it, but drinking lots of water can help your kidneys flush them out more easily. If you are properly hydrated, your kidneys will work better and be able to get rid of the toxins your body doesn’t want or need, allowing it to be healthier and function better.

  1. Regularity

If you’ve noticed your body hasn’t been regular as of late, try to drink more water. This will help your body digest its food more easily and decrease the likelihood of constipation.

  1. Pain Relief

Do you suffer from headaches or migraines regularly? Drinking water can be a great way to treat this issue naturally rather than with medication. While it can sometimes be necessary to reach for a pain reliever, you should also make sure to stay well hydrated the next time you experience a headache, as this could also help minimize the issue.