Tuesday, 18 April 2017

2017: My alcohol-free year

April 18th today, 108th day without a drug that I'd become accustomed to since the age of 12.

I was a regular drinker, never a drunk, just a guy who liked an occasional beer or glass of wine. But I had been curious for years as to what would happen if I just didn't drink alcohol anymore. What would it do to my mental/physical state? I knew it would save me money, but that wasn't the driver. I wanted to feel how a non-drinker felt.

To be fair, when I turned 65, I started to look at guys older than me who'd been caning the booze for years, and I didn't want to end up like that. My Grandad made it to 99 so I wanted to enjoy the next 34 years!

So how's it going? What difference has it made?

After a few weeks, I felt as though I was emerging from a cloud, a mental haze that I'd been stuck in for decades. But now, after months, I'm beginning to ask myself... Where am I in that cloud? 
Am I near the outer edge yet, or does it carry on getting better and better? Am I yet at the point where I can feel what it's like to be a non-drinker? I really don't know!

My weight loss seemed to have stabilised, lost about a stone and a half, which I'm pleased with.

I dream a lot more, and they're a lot clearer, luckily no nightmares, just pleasant and weird stuff!

My memory recall has improved for sure, and I find learning new stuff a lot easier.

Probably the best bit, I don't think about it as often, the habit has worn off, and yes, it was a 'habit', developed over years.

I sleep so deeply now that I find waking up much harder, but once I'm there, the day feels great.

Will I ever drink alcohol again? Still not sure on that one! I'll finish this year off, and then at least I'll know what it's like to be a 'non-drinker', and if that's a place I want to stay.

If you're thinking of giving up alcohol, for a month, a year or maybe for good, here's a great support site https://www.oneyearnobeer.com 

But first read https://thisnakedmind.com, because until you truly want to give up, it will not be possible. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

PSA making a comeback? It should have never been downplayed!

David Mullen is a textbook case of a potentially life-saving medical test done badly.
Barely a blip of ill-health interrupted Mr Mullen's first 62 years before his GP suggested he start having yearly PSA tests, the blood test that measures levels of the prostate-specific antigen, an early warning marker for prostate cancer.
His PSA was low (3ng/mL) so he carried on having the yearly test. He didn't ask and he wasn't told his results until a cardiologist called him "with great alarm", Mr Mullen said. His PSA had shot up to 14.7ng/mL.
"I was stunned," Mr Mullen said. "It was such a rapid increase over only three or four years."
A biopsy confirmed he had prostate cancer and he underwent a radical prostatectomy.
"In less than a month I went from virtually no knowledge of prostate cancer to having the operation," Mr Mullen said.
More than two decades after the breakthrough test was first introduced it is universally acknowledged that PSA screening for prostate cancer has led to soaring rates of over-diagnosis, unnecessary biopsies, harmful over-treatment.
An estimated 20-40 per cent of the slow-growing cancers were detected in patients who would have likely died with the cancer rather than from it.
For every 1000 men aged 55-65 who had annual PSA tests, 87 would have a false positive result after an invasive biopsy, and 28 would experience side-effects including impotence and incontinence. Just two men will be saved from death as a result of screening.
But the blistering furore over the controversial test has pushed the pendulum too far in the other direction, US urologist Professor Stacy Loeb warned Sydney doctors last week.
Ignoring test results or abandoning screening altogether was a dangerous error that risked younger men developing aggressive prostate cancer and death, Professor Stacy Loeb said.
US projections suggested abandoning PSA screening would lead to twice the rate of metastatic prostate cancers and a 13-20 per cent rise in preventable prostate cancer deaths by 2025.
"We definitely made mistakes with PSA testing in the past, but we have made massive gains at every step of screening and treatment to preserve the benefits and reduce harms," she said.
Prostate cancer has a 95 per cent survival rate, but it was still the second biggest cancer killer among Australian men.
"You only have a small window for cure. When it's closed, it's closed for good," Professor Loeb said.
Professor Loeb
Her warning came days before the US Preventive Service Task Force wound back its watershed 2012 guidelines that recommended against PSA screening.
New draft guidelines now recommend doctors inform men aged 55-69 of the potential benefits and harms of PSA screening, and the decision should be an individual one.
The proposed guidelines were informed by new research showing small net reductions in mortality risk and metastatic disease linked ot screening.
The significant shift brings the US largely in line with Australian guidelines, which suggest men between 50 and 69 should be offered the opportunity to discuss the harms and benefits of PSA testing.
The Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand welcomed the draft guidelines, having long argued the old recommendations were flawed and harmful.
Prostate cancer surgeon at the Sydney Adventist Hospital and Professor of Surgery at the University of Sydney, Henry Woo said the new guidelines remedied the erroneous "one size fits all" approach to testing.
"We know PSA isn't a perfect test ... but the previous guidelines were a classic example of 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'," Professor Woo said.
PSA should be used as a risk assessment tool, not a fast-track to surgery, he said.
When PSA screening was first introduced it was applied indiscriminately with little regard for an individual's risk profile, Professor Loeb said.
But testing for additional prostate cancer markers through blood, urine and tissue samples, and understanding patient risk profiles was helping doctors better identify which patients would likely benefit from treatment and who could forego it, she said.
MRI can reduce the number of men over-diagnosed with prostate cancer and improve the precision of biopsy to detect aggressive cancers, recent research suggests.
"Our precision in patient selection is getting better and better. We consider not only PSA, but the size of the prostate, are there nodules, family history of prostate cancer but and also other cancers" including the BRCA gene, Professor Loeb said.
There had also been an encouraging uptake of the watch-and-wait approach.
"A few years ago all our conference sessions were about surgical technique. Now there are multiple sessions on active surveillance, how to monitor patients and what kind of support they need around living with cancer," Professor Loeb said.
Associate Professor David Smith at the Cancer Council Australia said Australian doctors had been rigorously pursuing active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancer.
"Being told you've got cancer and not treating it is counter-intuitive for many people. It contradicts what we know about a lot of cancers, but for prostate cancer it can be a very rational treatment approach," Professor Smith said.
"It often comes down to patient choice. Screening men who are well-informed and who need it is what our challenge is," he said.
President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Bastian Seidel said doctors needed to move away from applying a blanket approach to screening and instead have a discussion with men about their individual risk.
"This is not about 'to screen or not to screen', but rather identifying the men most at risk," he said.

Sydney Morning Herald, Kate Aubusson, April 15th 2017.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Broccoli - Prostate Cancer

So you hated broccoli as a child, it tasted disgusting? You vowed never to eat it again? You'd be surprised as an adult, how different the taste off many things are, and broccoli is certainly one of them. Andre, Paul, start munching my friends, we need all the help we can get!
Eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables can lower a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, thanks to a phenotype linked to the highly enriched levels of sulforaphane in these vegetables.
Now, scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) suggest that sulforaphane exerts its effects by targeting damaging levels of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Their study, “Long noncoding RNAs and sulforaphane: a target for chemoprevention and suppression of prostate cancer,” appeared in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
The team analyzed the whole RNA content of normal human prostate epithelial cells and prostate cancer cells, both when treated with sulforaphane or with an innocuous substance, in this case dimethylsulfoxide. It found that sulforaphane changed the expression of about 100 lncRNAS and normalized the levels of some lncRNAs whose expression was altered in cancer cells.
“It’s obviously of interest that this dietary compound, found at some of its highest levels in broccoli, can affect lncRNAs,” Emily Ho, the study’s principal investigator, said in a press release. “This could open the door to a whole range of new dietary strategies, foods or drugs that might play a role in cancer suppression or therapeutic control.”
Ho directs OSU’s Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health, and is also a professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
The levels of one particular lncRNA. LINC01116 — whose expression is increased in several cancers — dropped after sulforaphane treatment.
“We showed that treatment with sulforaphane could normalize the levels of this lncRNA,” said Laura Beaver, the study’s lead author and a research associate in the Linus Pauling Institute and College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “This may relate to more than just cancer prevention. It would be of significant value if we could develop methods to greatly slow the progress of cancer, help keep it from becoming invasive.”
Researchers showed that LINC01116 promotes prostate cancer, since decreasing LINC01116 expression decreased proliferation of cancer cells.
Even more importantly, they showed that eating more broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables lowered the risk of developing prostate cancer.
“Taken together, this literature and our own study begin to paint a picture of the important and previously unappreciated role of lncRNAs in the body’s response to diet,” researchers concluded. “These discoveries illustrate that lncRNAs can play important roles in cancer development and may be useful targets for cancer prevention, detection and treatment.”

Thursday, 2 February 2017

150,000 and climbing...

As we pass this amazing milestone, I'd like to thank everyone who drops in from time to time, especially those who are still looking for a reason to sue me. It's a pleasure blogging to such a worldwide audience, and wherever you are, I wish you good health and happiness always. If you're worried about prostate cancer and want help in finding answers, always free feel to contact me. If I can't answer your question, I will always direct you to someone who can. 

Best wishes, Daniel

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Nottingham scientists create prostate cancer cells...

Examples of developed prostate cancer cell line spheres with differing levels of EMT

A group of Nottingham scientists have created prostate cancer cells as they move closer to working out how they spread.

A team at Nottingham Trent University has been able to generate a panel of the cells which spontaneously undergo a process thought to be involved in the spread of the disease.
The team got the cells from a prostate cancer tumour cell line and noticed the cells took on certain features which meant they could move to other tissues.
Metastasis, when cells invade somewhere else such as the bone or brain, causes the majority of prostate cancer-related deaths.
Dr David Boocock, a scientist at the John van Geest Centre cancer research, said: “Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in Europe and 90 per cent of cancer-related deaths are due to disease which is resistant to therapy and has spread to other parts of the body.
“Cancer cells acquire the capacity to move from the primary tumour to other sites by activating biological processes which allow them to survive the journey and establish themselves in their new ‘home.’
“It is clear that understanding these processes is crucial if we are to reduce the number of prostate cancer-related deaths.”
The work is expected to provide vital insight into the biology and spread of aggressive prostate cancers.
It is also hoped it will help improve the management, treatment and survival of patients with therapy-resistant disease.
Director of the centre Professor Graham Pockley said: “This work provides a novel and important platform for future studies that will help us to predict prostate cancer metastasis and better understand cancer progression.
“As such, it could also be crucial in providing valuable insight into potential new therapies and approaches for the treatment and management of prostate cancer.”
The work is reported in Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Reports.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

PSA testing for all men over 50 is essential

Today I had the PSA test I should have had in November 2016. I didn't want to risk that it might be bad and spoil our Christmas holiday to India; but there was another reason. For the past 6 years, I've had the test every May and November (6 monthly). 
I wanted to switch to annual testing, so it made sense that as from this year, I would have a good Christmas, and then go for my PSA in January; just the once in 2017. 
To my relief, again the result was 'zero'. Now I can forget this for another year, and leave behind all the stress of the 6 monthly PSA test.
I'm happy to hear that my brother Paul is still in the clear, though 4 years behind me, this is a good indication of his future chances. My other brother Andre is having regular PSA tests, and is now just before the age that both Paul and I developed cancer. So far, all indications are that he's still not in danger, and long may that last.
Regular PSA testing for all men over the age of 50 is the best chance you have of avoiding advanced prostate cancer. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.