World Cancer Day

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Today is World Cancer Day. Cancer occurs as a result of genetic mutations where abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way and may spread to other tissues. There are 5 main types of cancer groups. These are:

  • Carcinoma – Cancer that starts in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs
  • Sarcoma – Cancer that begins in bone, fat, muscle or blood vessels
  • Leukaemia – Cancer that starts in bone marrow
  • Lymphoma and Myeloma – Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system
  • Brain and Spinal Cord cancers

Cancers are generally classified according to where they start in the body such as lung cancer or breast cancer.

Risk Factors?

There are many factors in our life that can lead to an increased risk of cancer. These include:

  • Poor diet – Red meat, burnt food, low fibre, N-nitroso compounds (e.g. cured meats), refined sugars, dairy, table salt, pesticides and aspartame
  • Genetic factors/family history – BRCA gene
  • Chronic inflammation – Gastritis, Irritable Bowel Disease, etc.
  • Radiation – Phones, medical, environmental, etc.
  • Smoking
  • Drugs and Cosmetics
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Obesity
  • Excess alcohol

Plus more…

Symptoms?

Symptoms can vary depending on the location of the cancer. The most important thing is knowing your body. If you notice a change, go see your doctor as spotting cancer early means that treatment will more likely be successful. Some signs and symptoms include:

  • A lump
  • Breathlessness
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Persistent heartburn or indigestion
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Changes in bowel movements i.e. looser stools
  • Appetite loss
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood in your stools
  • A new mole or changes to an existing mole i.e. colour or shape

Plus more…

Tests?

There are numerous tests for cancers, ranging from blood tests to ultrasounds to biopsies. The UK currently has 3 screening programmes:

  • Bowel cancer screening – Offered to men and women aged 60-74 in England and 50-74 in Scotland
  • Cervical cancer screening – Offered to women aged 25-64 in England and 20-60 in Scotland
  • Breast cancer screening – Offered to women aged 50-70

Treatment?

Treatment will be individualised depending on type and severity of the disease. Conventional treatment aims to remove or reduce the cancer. These include:

  • Surgery – Removal of tumour, surrounding tissue and lymph nodes
  • Chemotherapy – Targets rapidly dividing cells
  • Radiotherapy – Aims to stop cancer cell reproduction
  • Drug treatment – Includes hormones, Biologic Response Modifiers and Analgesics

Complementary Treatment?

Complementary treatment can help support medical treatment for cancer and help to prevent the risk of developing cancer in the first place. It is always best to seek the advice of a qualified nutritional therapist in combination with your doctor as some complementary treatments can interact with drugs. Some alternative treatment options include:

  • Nutrition – Phytonutrients, antioxidants, fibre, anti-inflammatory foods, whole plant foods, cutting out refined sugar, etc.
  • Herbs
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Ayurveda
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Reflexology

Plus more…

How Can I Support Cancer Research?

There are lots of ways to help support cancer research and people suffering from cancer:

  • Cancer Research UK have brought out Unity Bands. The money raised will go towards research to help beat cancer (I’ve ordered mine. I can’t wait for it to arrive!)
  • Macmillan Cancer Support hold The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning which asks members of the public to host their own coffee mornings with the donations being given to Macmillan who provide medical, emotional, practical and financial support for cancer sufferers
  • The Little Princess Trust is a charity which makes wigs for children and young adults who have lost their hair to cancer. Members of the public can donate their hair to be made into wigs
  • Many of these charities hold races and other events to help raise funds and opportunities to volunteer

 

Remember that there is support out there for people who are dealing with cancer from charities, doctors and even friends and family. Also, always keep an eye on your body. If something doesn’t seem right, go get it checked out. It’s better to get it checked out and it be nothing rather than ignore it and for something to be wrong.

For more information, visit:

cancerresearchuk.org

Raynaud’s Syndrome

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February is Raynaud’s Awareness Month. 1 in 6 people suffer with Raynaud’s but many people are unaware they have it. I recently discovered that I have this condition after experiencing symptoms for at least a couple of years. But what is it? This blog will give you an introduction to the condition and how you can spot the signs and help yourself if you suffer from it.

Please take into consideration that I was only diagnosed last month so I am still working out the little magic tricks to help lessen my symptoms. Symptoms also differ between each individual person and some may experience more severe symptoms than others. The key is experimenting with different treatments to see what works for you.

What is Raynaud’s Syndrome?

Raynaud’s Syndrome (also known as Raynaud’s Disease, Raynaud’s Phenomenon or simply Raynaud’s) is a condition where the small blood vessels in the extremities are over-sensitive to temperature changes, the cold and sometimes stress. These blood vessels constrict and this triggers the symptoms of Raynaud’s. These symptoms usually effect the fingers and toes but can often affect hands, feet, nose, tongue, nipples and ears.

The symptoms include:

  • Colour changes – Often white, blue and red
  • Cold extremities
  • Tingling, pain and/or numbness
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The common colour changes in Raynaud’s

You may not experience all of these symptoms and you may only be affected in a small area (such as only a couple of fingers).

There are two types of Raynaud’s; primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud’s is usually mild and manageable. It is a stand alone condition which means it is not related to another condition. Secondary Raynaud’s is related to another condition, often an autoimmune condition and may have other complications such as ulcerations or sores.

How is it diagnosed?

Raynaud’s is usually diagnosed by a GP after an examination of your history and symptoms. Blood tests may be arranged if your GP suspects that your symptoms may be related to another condition.

How is it treated?

Depending on how severe your symptoms are, your GP may prescribe you medication to help manage them. These include:

  • Calcium Channel Blockers – Help to relax and open small blood vessels
  • Vasodilators – Relaxes blood vessels
  • Beta Blockers
  • Alpha Blockers

Natural Treatments

There are many different natural treatments that can help with the symptoms of Raynaud’s. These include:

  • Nutritional support – Some vitamins have an antioxidant effect (vitamins C and E) which help to minimise damage to blood vessels and promote oxygen flow. Warming foods such as ginger are also said to help with symptoms. Always seek the advise of a nutritionist or kinesiologist to find out the safest method and amount of obtaining these nutrients
  • Wrap up warm – The cold can trigger the symptoms but we can’t completely avoid it. Wear several thin layers of clothing rather than one thick layer. Wear a couple of pairs of gloves. You could also invest in some thermal gloves and socks. Silver fibre gloves (which are sold on the Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK website) are also self-insulating.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid smoking – Can reduce body temperature
  • Avoid stress – Some people find that stress can trigger their symptoms. While we can’t completely avoid stress, we can use various methods to help us relax and minimise the effects. These include: meditation, colouring books, massage, exercise, etc.
  • Exercise – Exercise can help stimulate the circulation. This can be walking with the arms swinging by the sides, yoga, etc.
  • Acupuncture – There have been studies to suggest that acupuncture can help to increase circulation and reduce inflammation in Raynaud’s

My experience

For as long as I can remember, I have always felt the cold more than anyone else around me. Then over the last couple of years, I noticed that my fingers and toes would go a bluey-purple tinge and would go tingly when cold or when I was stressed. I didn’t think anything of it until people around me told me it wasn’t normal. I decided to go to the doctors last month where she told me about Raynaud’s. It made complete sense. Mine is very mild with it mostly affecting my toes (they tend to be cold all the time, go a whitey/yellow colour then purple and go tingly). I am currently trying out different methods to help manage it:

  • I practise a short meditation routine every night to help me relax.
  • I’ve started getting acupuncture inbetween my fingers and toes to help stimulate my circulation (I know, sounds weird). I’ve only had one session so far so I’ll see how it works
  • I wear lots of layers. I wear two pairs of gloves and socks when I go out (including a pair of silver fibre gloves and socks)
  • I keep my feet covered as much as possible. When I’m at my gymnastics class, if my feet haven’t warmed up, I will keep my socks on floor and wear specialised gymnastics shoes on beam
  • I have a hot water bottle in my bed each night
  • I am trying to work on my nutritional support by including foods that contain antioxidants and are warming

I am still researching and working out different methods to help my individual case.

To find out more information, head over to https://www.sruk.co.uk/