Friday, 22 June 2018

Working for a cancer charity - by Lily O'Connor

This week’s blog post has been written by our amazing work experience student, Lily O’Connor, who is only 15 years old and took to our busy office environment like a duck to water…

Your first job can be daunting let alone working in a cancer charity. Most of us have experienced cancer first or second hand at some point in our lives, but I never realised how much support is out there for people suffering with cancer, especially at Yes to Life.

People here at the charity do so much for people and I’ve learned so much in my short time here. I can say that now at the end of my experience I’m not scared of cancer, but I understand it. I’ve learned how lots of alternative treatments work for lots of different diagnoses, how to find practitioners, use different databases and more.

Working with Yes to Life has inspired me; despite what people go through they maintain a happy and have a sense of humour. It has made me appreciate life so much more and I’m so grateful for the experience. They made me feel so welcome and made every task fun.

I’m so happy Yes to Life was my first job and I’ve not only gained experience, I’ve gained friends and I’m definitely going to come back in the future to help out with all the fun events they arrange to support and raise money for these amazing people battling cancer.

Yes to Life are amazing and I thank them so much.

See you soon!

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Lemon Keto Fat Bombs - by Patricia Daly

This week's blog is a recipe from Patricia Daly, nutritional therapist and best-selling author who is one of the contributors of The Cancer Revolution. She shares with us her delicious Lemon Keto Fat Bombs recipe, what a treat...

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Exploring The Mind-Body Connection: Mood As Medicine - by Dr Lauren MacDonald

This week Dr Lauren MacDonald investigates how the mind can help aid in the healing process of the body...

I’ve always been fascinated by the mind, it’s what led me to study Psychology before eventually going on to study Medicine. However, during neither of my degrees did I really consider the enormity of the overlap in the two subjects – namely, that the mind has the power to help heal the body, but also make it physically diseased in the first place. I guess this is because western medicine was traditionally shaped by systems of thought that emphasised the opposite – that the mind and body are separate entities. Yet it now seems so blindingly obvious that they are in fact deeply entwined. The emerging field of psychoneuroimmunology (“psycho” for psychology; “neuro” for neurology, or nervous system; and “immunology” for immunity) is finally providing scientific support for this idea. On a personal level, I also feel as though I’ve had first-hand experience of psychoneuroimmunology via my own cancer journey.

Introducing The Mind-Body Connection

A growing body of scientific research suggests that our mind can play an important role in healing our body, as well as help us to stay healthy in the first place. Recent research has examined how emotions impact our physiology and, as you might expect, emotions such as chronic stress, loneliness, and sadness have been found to cause inflammation, hormone imbalances, impaired immunity, high blood pressure, and illnesses ranging from heart disease and cancer, to anxiety and depression. Conversely, states of calmness, mindfulness and happiness have profound positive benefits, from improved sleep and energy, to better cancer survival rates, and longer telomeres (the end pieces of DNA that shorten as we age).
Although I don’t buy into the idea that the mind can cure the body of cancer simply with positive thinking (this is something I’ve seen peddled on various cancer forums and which actually makes me really angry because it suggests the countless number of people who’ve died from this disease somehow failed to think positively enough), I do now recognise there is a significant role for thoughts and emotions in recovering from illness and preventing disease.

Stress And Cancer

I’ve always felt that I developed cancer at such a young age (and with no family history) due to experiencing two years of chronic stress prior to my diagnosis. I went through two messy relationship break-ups during that time, had to move out of my house, sofa-surfed with friends whilst revising for my medical school finals, moved into a new house with a bunch of strangers from Gumtree, and started work as a junior doctor on a busy ward. After years of flooding my body with the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, I was permanently exhausted, and likely put my body at risk of developing cancer. Of course, this can be debated and I’ll never know whether the chronic stress I experienced did contribute to my disease, but there is increasing scientific evidence supporting this idea.
When a person is exposed to a stressful event, their sympathetic nervous system – the system responsible for the ‘fight-or-flight’ response – is triggered, in turn increasing production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) which regulates how our genes are expressed. NF-kB translates stress by activating genes to produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at cellular level – a reaction that is useful as a short-lived fight-or-flight reaction, but if persistent leads to a higher risk of cancer, accelerated aging and disorders like depression.

The Placebo Effect: An Example Of The Mind-Body Connection

When it comes to learning about the mind-body connection and its relationship to our health, it can be difficult to choose a starting place amongst the vast and growing body of research. However, one of the best places to start is probably with the placebo effect. The placebo effect is fascinating because it unlocks the power of the mind; the biological changes observed in the body after administration of a placebo (for example a pill containing no active drug) are not triggered by the placebo itself, but rather by our mind, and our psychological response to these “fake” treatments.
The power of the placebo can be traced back to a landmark study by the late psychologist Robert Ader in the 1970’s. Ader was trying to condition taste-aversion in rats. He’d give them a saccharine drink and, at the same time, inject them with Cytoxan, a drug that suppresses the immune system, but also makes you feel sick. And it worked. The rats learned to hate the sweet drink, which they linked with nausea. Yet, when Ader kept forcing the rats to drink it, they experienced something worse than a mere distaste for saccharine. They started dropping dead, one by one. The reason? Their immune system had “learned” to fail by repeated pairing of the drink with the cytotoxic drug. Incredibly, the drink alone turned off their immunity and they succumbed to infection.
It also turns out that the placebo effect is more powerful than was once thought. In June 2017 a review of five studies, involving 260 patients, found that “open-label” placebos – those that patients know contain no active medication – can improve symptoms in a wide range of conditions.

Healing The Body By Utilising The Mind

It makes sense that if the mind can contribute to making the body sick, it can likely also support its healing. This idea is perhaps best illustrated by the emerging scientific evidence which has examined the impact mind-body activities like yoga and meditation have on human physiology. Eastern traditions of healing (Traditional Chinese Medicine originating in China, and Ayurvedic Medicine from India) have been focussed on this idea for more than 3,000 years.
Interestingly, research has revealed that people who practice activities which originated from these eastern healing systems often show a decrease in production of NF-kB and cytokines, leading to a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern and a reduction in the risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.
More needs to be done to understand these effects in greater depth, for example how they compare with other healthy interventions like exercise or nutrition. But this research provides an important foundation to build on to help future researchers explore the benefits of mind-body activities.


Leading on from this idea, I just want to take a moment to reiterate that I am in no way suggesting that it is possible to heal yourself from cancer by channelling some kind of cosmic energy through the mind! Self-healing with regards to cancer in particular, is an incredibly controversial idea and one that as doctor I don’t believe is plausible. Many people with cancer or incurable diseases are made to feel like failures because they eat well, meditate, believe in God or divine energy, but yet can’t heal themselves. Ultimately some diseases are terminal, no matter what you think or feel. In these cases, traditional medicine (surgery, drugs or radiotherapy) provide the only potential chance of recovery, or at least a prolonged survival.

The Future Of Mind-Body Medicine

Aside from cancer, there are plenty of conditions which I believe can be healed, or even cured, by utilising the power of the mind. Non-traditional healing methods are slowly gaining acceptance within the medical world and there is finally more research being done in this area. Whereas meditation was once considered by doctors to be “mumbo jumbo”, opinion has shifted and people now understand its benefits, the science, and how it can empower patients to be active participants in their healing.
Ultimately the emerging field of Mind-Body Medicine emphasises an individuals whole being, acknowledging that emotional, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions are all important factors in wellbeing, health and healing. However, more research needs to be carried out in this area to enable medical professionals to guide patients towards potentially helpful adjunct healing modalities – rather than leaving patients to be drawn towards expensive, alternative “cures”.
In the meantime I highly recommend any activities which calm the mind, lower cortisol levels, and (hopefully) enable the body to do what its equipped to do; heal. Check out these posts for some ideas:

You can read more of Lauren's blog posts on her site,

Sunday, 3 June 2018

What type of water are you drinking? - by Ileana Nguyen

In this week's blog, Ileana Nguyen of Holistic Healthcare discusses what is in the water we are drinking...

Some people will not spend a penny buying clean water or invest in water filtration because they believe tap water is clean enough. Well I guess if you fancy ingesting a load of chemicals then that's great! Others drink water stored in plastic bottles exposed to powerful oestrogen mimics, hormone disrupting xeno-oestrogens which come from the plastic and plasticiser which makes the plastic pliable.
The practice of making water safe to drink actually involves adding large amounts of questionable chemicals to it. Key scientists are now providing evidence that long-term ingestion of small amounts of chemicals like these could be the cause of some major health problems. Professor Samuel Epstein, environmental toxicologist has warned us well over 30 years ago of the chemicals found in our environmental which also includes those in personal care products.
Here is a list of just a few of the chemicals routinely added to our water supply:
  • Liquified chlorine
  • Fluorosilicic acid
  • Aluminium sulphate
  • Calcium hydroxide
  • Sodium silicofluoride
Even if the water leaves the source in a relatively clean state, don't forget that your water travels through pipes, which may have been underground since Victorian times (in the UK). It is almost impossible for the water not to become contaminated by something undesirable.
Contaminants in Tap Water
Tap water is treated with a large number of chemicals in order to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. In addition, it may contain other undesirable contaminants like toxic metal salts, hormones and pesticides, or it may become contaminated by chemicals or microbes within pipes (e.g. lead, bacteria, protozoa). Philip Day, UK health reporter has covered a lot on Fluoride.
Typical Tap Water Content:
  • Chlorine
  • Fluorine compounds
  • Trihalomethanes (THMs)
  • Salts of:
    • arsenic
    • radium
    • aluminium
    • copper
    • lead
    • mercury
    • cadmium
    • barium
  • Hormones
  • Nitrates
  • Pesticides
On PUBMED, a search for 'Fluoride toxicity' showed 2443 articles!

Good News ‘Prominent researcher apologises for pushing fluoride’

By Barry Forbes
(Article from the Tribune, Mesa, AZ Sunday, December the 5th 1999)
I had just tracked down Dr. Hardy Limeback, B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry, DDS, Head of the Department of Preventative Dentistry for the University of Toronto and President of the Canadian Association for Dental Research. Dr. Limeback is Canada’s leading fluoride authority and, until recently, the country’s primary promoter of the controversial additive.
In a surprising newsmaker interview, Dr. Limeback announced a dramatic change of heart. “Children under three should never use fluoridated toothpaste,” he counseled. “Or drink fluoridated water. And baby formula must never be made up using Toronto tap water. Never.” Why, I wondered? What could have caused such a powerful paradigm shift? “It’s been building up for a couple of years,” Limeback told me during a recent telephone interview. “But certainly, the crowning blow was the realisation that we have been dumping contaminated fluoride into water reservoirs for half a century. The vast majority of all fluoride additives come from Tampa Bay, Florida smokestack scrubbers. The additives are a toxic by-product of the super-phosphate fertiliser industry.”
“Tragically,” he continued, “that means we’re not just dumping toxic fluoride into our drinking water. We’re also exposing innocent, unsuspecting people to deadly elements of lead, arsenic and radium, all of them carcinogenic. Because of the cumulative properties of toxins, the detrimental effects on human health are catastrophic.” A recent study at the University of Toronto confirmed Dr. Limeback’s worst fears. “Residents of cities that fluoridate have double the fluoride in their hip bones vis-a-vis the balance of the population. Worse, we discovered that fluoride is actually altering the basic architecture of human bones.” Skeletal fluorosis is a debilitating condition that occurs when fluoride accumulates in bones, making them extremely weak and brittle. The earliest symptoms? “Mottled and brittle teeth,” Dr. Limeback told me. “In Canada we are now spending more money treating dental fluorosis than we do treating cavities. That includes my own practice.”
One of the most obvious living experiments today, Dr. Limeback believes, is a proof-positive comparison between any two Canadian cities. “Here in Toronto we’ve been fluoridating for 36 years. Yet Vancouver-which has never fluoridated- has a cavity rate lower than Toronto’s.” And, he pointed out; cavity rates are low all across the industrialized world including Europe, which is 98% fluoride free. Low because of improved standards of living, less refined sugar, regular dental check-ups, flossing and frequent brushing. Now less than 2 cavities per child Canada-wide, he said. “I don’t get it, Doc. Last month, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) ran a puff piece all across America saying the stuff was better than sliced bread. What’s the story?”
“Unfortunately,” he replied, “the CDC is basing its position on data that is 50 years old, and questionable at best. Absolutely no one has done research on fluorosilicates, which is the junk they’re dumping into the drinking water.”
“On the other hand,” he added, “the evidence against systemic fluoride in-take continues to pour in.”
“But Doc, the dentists…”
“I have absolutely no training in toxicity,” he stated firmly. “Your well-intentioned dentist is simply following 50 years of misinformation from public health and the dental association. Me, too. Unfortunately, we were wrong.”
Last week, Dr. Hardy Limeback addressed his faculty and students at the University of Toronto, Department of Dentistry. In a poignant, memorable meeting, he apologised to those gathered before him. “Speaking as the head of preventive dentistry, I told them that I had unintentionally misled my colleagues and my students. For the past 15 years, I had refused to study the toxicology information that is readily available to anyone. Poisoning our children was the furthest thing from my mind.”
“The truth,” he confessed to me, “was a bitter pill to swallow, but swallow it I did.” South of the border, the paradigm shift has yet to dawn. After half a century of delusion, the CDC, American Dental Association and Public Health stubbornly and skillfully continue to manipulate public opinion in favour of fluoridation. Meantime, study after study is delivering the death knell of the deadly toxin. Sure, fluoridation will be around for a long time yet, but ultimately its supporters need to ready the life rafts. The poisonous water of doubt and confusion are bound to get choppier. “Are lawsuits inevitable?” I asked the good doctor. “Remember tobacco,” was his succinct reply. Welcome, Dr. Limeback, to the far side of the fluoride equation. It’s lonely over here, but in our society loneliness and truth frequently travel hand in hand. Thank you for the undeniable courage of your convictions.
For more information on Fluoride, visit The Fluoride Action Network (
Acute Fluoride Toxicity from Toothpaste Ingestion. Click here to read more