Tag Archives: cancer

Throat cancer: What, Why, Who and Everything you should know, before oral sex

Throat cancer is one of the many kinds of Head & Neck cancers. When Hollywood actor, Michael Douglas, was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer, he brought this disease, usually discussed in hushed tones to the limelight. He used his estimated worth of $200 million to get the best attention and cure for his cancer, which fortunately could be cured. His ordeal with throat cancer was portrayed on the popular TV show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. His portrayal of his “persistent sore throat” opened up the discussion of this particularly treacherous, fast developing cancer.  This Oscar winning actors Actor Michael Douglas’ comments about throat cancer have thrown a spotlight on risks from HPV during oral sex. Michael Douglas suggests oral sex caused his throat cancer.

Sex in Ancient Rome

Sex in Ancient Rome

“I’ll never forget,” Michael says. “All he did was put a tongue depressor on my tongue. I just looked—I saw the look in his eye. He pulled back, and he looked at me, and said, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to need a little biopsy on that.'”. He is now cancer free.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Hollywood-Legend-Michael-Douglas-Tells-All/2#ixzz2WfE3Dzp3

Throat cancer can kill
Many throat cancer patients are not this fortunate; they may not be diagnosed in time to survive this quick progressing scrouge of the mouth, larynx and voice box. It kills more men than women. In recent times there has been an alarming rise in throat cancer, especially among men. There are many risk factors for throat cancer. Among them oral sex and the biological microorganism, HPV, are suspected to play an increasing role in recent years. HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus, has been shown to have an association with various cancers of the neck of both men and women, in addition to cancers of the cervix in women. During oral sex, the micro-organism, HPV might be transferred between males and females, or between males and males, or between females and females. HPV does not discriminate.  HPV is a common cause of sexually transmitted disease (STD) and is spread during unprotected sex with an infected partner. Read more.

Listed below are some of the general symptoms and warning signs of head and neck cancer listed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York, which treated and cured actor Michael Douglas of his throat cancer, after an attentive Canadian doctor diagnosed his “persistent sore throat” needed a biopsy.
* blood in the sputum
* persistent sore throat
* persistent hoarseness or a change in the voice
* persistent pain in the neck, throat, or ears
* difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaws or tongue
* numbness in the tongue or other areas
* a lump or swelling in the neck

Throat cancer is the cancer of the mouth, larynx, voice box, thyroid
Throat cancer is not a medical term. In hospitals it is under the term Head and Neck cancers. The medical name for the throat is the pharynx. The easiest way to think of this is as a passage that makes sure food and drink go in one direction (down the food pipe). Cancers are treated according to where they started and the type of cell they started from. The treatment for mouth cancer will not be the same as treatment for cancer of the voice box. Each year, approximately 48,000 Americans are diagnosed with a head or neck cancer (not including skin cancers that occur in the head or neck). These tumors account for up to 5 percent of all cancers in the US.

Oral Cancer
Cancer of the oral cavity (mouth) is the most common type of head and neck cancer. Nearly 30,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the US each year. Oral cancer can begin in the lips, the gums, the area behind the molars or wisdom teeth, the inside of the lips and cheeks, the floor and roof (hard palate) of the mouth, and the front of the tongue. Most oral cancers arise in the tongue, the lip, the floor of the mouth, and the minor salivary glands. The rest are found in the gums and other sites.(Read more).
Your dentist is your first line of prevention – most oral cancers are first detected by the dentist!

Laryngeal Cancer
The cancer that arises in the voice box (larynx) — is the second most common type of head and neck cancer. An estimated 12,000 new cases of laryngeal cancer are diagnosed in the US each year. The vast majority of laryngeal cancers occur in men. People with aplastic anemia, a blood disorder associated with certain hereditary conditions, exposure to chemical inhalants like asbestos, deficiency in vitamins A and E, may have a higher risk of developing laryngeal cancer. The most common symptoms of laryngeal cancer include hoarseness, ear pain, a neck lump in the neck near the adam’s apple and difficulty swallowing. Read more.

Pharyngeal (Throat) Cancer
Prior infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) is also a particularly strong risk factor for this cancer site (Read more). The cancer of the pharynx or throat is in three areas of the throat:
– uppper part of the throat, nasopharynx
– middle part of the throat, oropharynx
– bottom part of the throat, hypopharynx
An estimated 11,800 people develop pharyngeal cancers in the US alone, but nasopharynx cancer is much more common in Asia, the Mediterranean area, and Africa than in the US. A lump in the throat is the most common symptom with nosebleeds as a frequent symptom. The living with mouth and oropharyngeal cancer pages cover coping with your diagnosis and the possible effects of cancer and treatment on your appearance, diet, breathing, speech and sex life. Read more.

Throat cancer is squamous cell cancer
Squamous cell cancer is the type of cancer which remains restricted to a specific region. Read more.

This cancer is considered preventable. Read more. Visits to the dentist is the first line of screening for oral cancer! A poor diet, a weakened immune system and prior exposure to the Human Papilloma virus (HPV) among other exposure factors that are preventable.

An annual examination for such cancers of the Head and Neck is highly recommended if you suspect a risky lifestyle factor. The annual visit to the dentist is an additional recommended screening for oral cancer. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York, hosts a free screening for this cancer every spring funded by The Yul Brynner Foundation. Do check your local hospitals. They too may host free screenings, or dental visits or group chats with people having similar symptoms and worries. Physicians have found that seeking out people who share your similar concerns about this cancer has helped in therapy.


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Odors can identify and differentiate three stages of melanoma

The human skin produces numerous airborne chemical molecules known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, many of which are odorous. “There is a potential wealth of information waiting to be extracted from examination of VOCs associated with various diseases, including cancers, genetic disorders, and viral or bacterial infections,” notes George Preti, PhD, an organic chemist at Monell who is one of the paper’s senior authors.

A Melanoma nodule (From National Cancer Insitute)

A Melanoma nodule (From National Cancer Insitute)

Philadelphia based, The Monell Chemical Senses Center has an innovative way of detecting melanoma through a unique odor signature detection technique.  Tiny, nano-sized tubes can be bioengineered to recognize among other targets, a variety of odor factors which could evaluate the stage of a disease progression. Before this discovery can be brought to a doctor’s office, a portable measuring device has to be invented.

Examine your own skin regularly to know what is normal for you says Melanoma Research Foundation. Moles might resemble Melanoma but are usually benign or non-cancerous.  It is safer to take annual photos of your moles to detect any abnormal rate or changes.

If you wish to fund or encourage any aspect of this research do not hesitate to contact the researchers at:

George Preti, Monell Chemical Senses Center, 3500 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

You may want to read the original scientific article: Jae Kwak, Michelle Gallagher, Mehmet Hakan Ozdener, Charles J. Wysocki, Brett R. Goldsmith, Amaka Isamah, Adam Faranda, Steven S. Fakharzadeh, Meenhard Herlyn, A.T. Charlie Johnson, George Preti. Volatile biomarkers from human melanoma cellsJournal of Chromatography B, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2013.05.007

How to self – diagnose Melanoma?
What is melanoma? Mayo Clinic of Cleveland has a slide show on how to identify and self examine for melanoma, a skin cancer.

Melanoma Research Foundation has good photos on what Melanoma might look like.

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Could the cure for cancer be a simple master switch solution by a Massachusetts based company?

Yes, blocking of a few master genetic switches associated with “super enhancers” might be a simple cure for cancer, says Dr. Richard Young, of Whitehead research institute, MA, senior author in two papers in the prestigious, peer – reviewed paper, Cell, and founder of a start-up company, Syros Pharmaceuticals, with the goal to cure cancer. The company has raised 30 million dollars to support its goal to cure cancer by finding and switching off the master switches in each type of cancer. You may click here to read the Cell paper led by Dr. Jakob Loven, for “Selective inhibition of tumor oncogenes by disruption of super enhancers”, and here to read the Cell paper led by Dr. Warren A. Whyte, for “Master transcription factors and mediator establish super enhancers at key cell identity genes.  Both the papers have a single, master illustration explaining the main concept. It is must see to understand how simple the hypothesized solution is. images-1

Dr Young’s team says a normal cell regulation is remarkably less complex, with core genes controlled by only a few hundred super enhancers. With this hypothesis, cancer research focus is forever changed since April 2013, and gives remarkable insight to how a single fertilized egg from a father and mother can develop into a unique individual, with two-thirds of his/her diseases having a genetic determination. Loss of old super enhancers and assembling a cluster of new enhancers drives cell identity as a human grows develops.

For years cancer scientists have been reporting their discoveries of the mediators responsible for over expression of cancer genes. What makes Dr Young’s work more unique is that it suggests that a few master switches might control this gene at super enhancer regions. There are thousands of cancer gene transcription factors in the literature. One example is the study of pancreatic cancer, the fourth commenest cause of cancer related deaths in the western hemisphere. Several key genes have been shown to play a role in pancreatic cancer, including the oncogene K-RAS and several tumor suppresor genes including some from the TGFbeta signalling pathway. The researchers discovered that the Fibroblast growth factor receptor gene 4 (FGFR4) was overexpressed in almost two-thirds of pancreatic cancers. They found a research outside this gene called intron 1, was greatly extended in pancreatic cancer cells. Two sites binding transcripton factors and two sites binding mediators were identified, and additionally, the team discovered which mediator was essential for over expression of FGFR4 to cause pancreatic cancer. You may read about this pancreatic cancer work led by Dr. Helen C Hurst of London by clicking here. Might this deadly pancreatic cancer too be controlled by inhibiting one or more of the several hundred master switches?

Do you prefer a non scientific explanation of the above solution? A very simple explanation of the complex work done by Dr. Richard Young and his team of enthusiastic young scientists is given by Amy Maxmen in the respected weekly journal, Nature and you might read it by clicking here. She appropriately titles it “Super-powered switches may decide cell fate”. Different cells in the body have the same genes swithced on at different times. When such cells are switched on by a super enhancer complex due to unknown factors (as yet), then the cell becomes cancerous. You might say that cancer cells are “fueled” by “super enhancers”, and might suggest inhibiting such a fueling source to cure cancer and you might be correct to be hopeful, albeit with a heavy dose of patience. Last year it was discovered there are a million enhancers in the human genome. Dr Young speculates that some of these enhancers act together in large clusters and function as a unit. How are cancer cells able to employ such super enhancers to produce more of their harmful factors that lead to aggressive tumorsimages

Dr. Richard Young and his team of enthusiastic young scientists deserve to know if you support their goal. Do write to them if you do to encourage them. Scientists work long hours tied to a laboratory bench. Although they love their job to solve mighty goals, receiving your notes of encouragement will inspire them further. Do keep in mind that discovery through clinical trials with FDA approval to doctors office may take a decade or longer and might cost a billion dollars for each drug in research over that period. So 30 million dollars will not take them too far without your support and creative solutions to funding.
Email: Dr Richard A. Young and his team at young@wi.mit.edu
Snail mail: Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA

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Decrease fatigue with Peony root tea

Peony root

Paeonia  radix may bring about reduced fatigue. How does it do it? Dr. Hong and colleagues of the College of Oriental Medicine of Seoul, South Korea studied the process in rats (2003). They showed it could increase time to exhaustion on the treadmill (in rats) and suppressed the expression and synthesis of two exercise – induced substances, both during rest and exercise. 5-hydroxytryptamine synthesis (5-HT) and tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) expression were studied by these scientists.

Peony root

The Peony flower


Prescribed as a tea, it is used sparingly. Use wisely and proceed with caution. A tiny bit or a pinch of this herb goes a long way. It does not mean that more is better because it may not. We just don’t know. Some people may have adverse reactions from even a pinch of this, so I cannot imagine using large amounts could be beneficial to anyone. Some adverse reactions, like nausea, has to be judged against the benefits, which may outweigh the slight nausea.

[/caption]The effective part discussed for decreasing fatigue is the root of the perennial plant, Paeonia japonica MIYABE, which belongs to the family, Paeoniaceae. It is also prescribed in ancient Chinese Medicine. It is commonly known as Paeony.

The white Peony flower

The tea can be bought from various sources. Each site has listed further medicinal claims such as reduce toxins in the liver, reduce pain and regulate menstruation. These claims I have not checked personally for peer – reviewed support, although several clinical trials on alternative medicine are ongoing and I shall update this site. I firmly believe the fatigue reducing claim. Some tea suppliers are cited below, although we do not endorse any supplier:
1) MDidea Exporting Division;
2) a global trade site called Alibaba.com which lists several bulk suppliers

The Natural database lists common names and scientific names and medicinal uses of what is commonly called Peony when cultivated in the garden. For a photo of colorful wild or cultivated Paeony varieties or Paeonia lactiflora , is available at this Japanese site and Steven Fosters photography site and plenty of beautiful photos on this site from which all the photos on this site were borrowed.

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Crocus sativus L.

Crocus is native to Asia Minor and Southern Europe. Saffron is obtained from the stigmas of the flower, which flowers in autumn. Crocus sativus L. is a major agricultural crop, in northeastern Iran. Not only is saffron one of the most ancient spices of the old world, since ancient times, the genetics of this plant has remained unchanged. The labor intensive method of removing the stigmas from the saffron flowers has made the product extremely expensive. Hence, this product may be found in the market place adulterated (Negbi, 2004).

A field of Saffron and the Saffron harvesters

Photo curtsey from: The Penthouse Kitchen

Medicinal value of Saffron

Ancient medicine uses included antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, aphrodisiac, stimulant, cardiotonic, and stomachic (Zargari, 1993).  In modern medicine, crocus plant constituents are used as an exhilarant and curative of anxiety (Mirheidar, 1994; Salomi MJ, Nair SC and Panikkar KR, 1991). The orange-yellow coloring principle is crocin.

Saffron: Photo curtsey Vaishali Parekh

Pharmacological research has shown the extract of saffron to have antitumor effects (Rojhan , 1995), radical scavenger activities (Nair SC, Kurumboor SK, Hasegawa JH., 1995) and hypolipaemic effects (DerMarderosian, 2001). Research shows potential usefulness in neurodegenerative disorders connected with memory impairment (Abe and Saito, 2000). In addition, Kaempferol, an extract of saffron petals has potential as an anitdepressant (Hadizadeh, 2003; Karimi G, Hosseinzadeh H and Khaleghpanah P. 2001).

There are other varieties of Crocus sp. which are highly valuable and economically important in the garden as flowering plants. However, the saffron producing European crop is in danger of extinction. Saffron production has decreased dramatically in many European countries and is already extinct in England and Germany. The world Saffron and Crocus collection makes available a wide variety of over twenty Crocus genotypes. It aims to slow down the genotypic erosion and hosts a database of Crocus species from various countries.

Recipe suggestions:

Visit Vaishali Parekh’s site which has a delicious Indian recipe using saffron.

Visit The Penthouse Kitchen site, caterers serving you recipes using saffron.

Experts on Crocus sativus :

1. Moshe Negbi 
Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

2. Farzin Hadizadeh*a,b, Naaman Khalilia, Hossein Hosseinzadeha,b, Randa Khair-Aldinea. Faculty of  Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran,  bBu-Ali Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Bu-Ali Square, Mashhad, Iran.

Corresponding author for reference on kaempferol: Email: fhadizadeh@yahoo.com


1. Negbi, Moshe. 2004.

Saffron. ‘Prelims’, Saffron, 1:1, 1 – 12 . Edited by Dr Roland Hardman; Harvood academic publishers; The Netherlands. ISBN 0-203-30366-0 Master e-book ISBN

2. Farzin Hadizadeh*a,b, Naaman Khalilia, Hossein Hosseinzadeha,b, Randa Khair-Aldinea 2003. Kaempferol from Saffron Petals. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research : 251-252.

3) Zargari A. Medicinal Plants, 1993. Volume 4, Tehran University Press, Tehran : 574-578.

4) Mirheidar H. Maarif-e Ghiahi, Farhang-e. 1994. Eslami Press, Tehran : 341-5 6

5) Salomi MJ, Nair SC and Panikkar KR. 1991. Inhibitory effects of Nigella sativa and Crocus sativus on chemical carcinogenesis in mice. Nutr. Cancer (1991) 16: 67-72 .

6) Rojhan MS. 1995, Herbal drugs and treatment. Alavi Press, Tehran :87

7) Nair SC, Kurumboor SK, Hasegawa JH.. 1995. Saffron chemoprevention in biology and medicine. Cancer Biother. 10: 257-264.

8) DerMarderosian. 2001. A. Review of Natural Products, Facts and Comparison, Missouri :520.

9) Abe k and Saito H. 2000. Effects of saffron extract on learning behavior and long-term potentiation. Phytother. Res. 14: 149-152.

10) Karimi G, Hosseinzadeh H and Khaleghpanah P.. 2001. Study of antidepressant effect of aqueous and ethanol extract of Crocus sativus in mice. Iranian J. Basic Sciences 4: 186-190.

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