I just got the results of my Helicobacter pylori test. It’s negative. Stefano asked: "is that good or bad?" It’s good, it’s good. It means that I don’t have this bothersome bacterium in my stomach. Well, to tell the truth, I was almost positive the test would be negative, because curcumin kills H. pylori. I should have had this test done two years ago, in the pre-curcumin era. But back then I didn’t know of the possible connection to MGUS. At any rate, now I can add another item to my "thankful that something didn’t happen" list: H. pylori.
This is genius, indeed. We normally use the adjective “thankful” to express appreciation for a positive experience or whatnot. But how about being thankful for things that did NOT happen? In fact, I can think of a number of things for which I am thankful…not.
And I met Stefano. If I hadn’t turned down the teaching job, we wouldn’t be together today. Yes, there are indeed worse things than spending a weekend with Bodfish.
I love the idea of starving a tumour to death by cutting off its blood supply. That is what anti-angiogenic drugs are supposed to do. But first, what exactly is angiogenesis? I have mentioned this process here and there but don’t think I really have dealt with it in much depth. So yesterday and then today, after getting home from work, I looked it up.
From a previous post we know that tumours cannot grow beyond a certain size (the size of a sesame seed, I read!) because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients. But, unfortunately for us, tumours are very adaptable, so instead of kicking the bucket they start secreting a horde of growth factors (e.g., the infamous VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor) which induce angiogenesis, or blood vessel growth. The tumour is thus able to receive a constant supply of nutrients and can grow inside of us like a nasty weed. Without the process of angiogenesis, tumours wouldn’t be able to grow or spread.
Need I mention that Genentech’s stock, which had been declining, according to a February 23 2008 New York Times article (http://tinyurl.com/26zts4), after the FDA approval…all of a sudden rose more than 8 percent? Money, profit, and more money…but who CARES about the patients??? Certainly not the CEOs whose pockets are being lined with blood money.
My parents check on me and my state of health via my blog. When they get up in the morning (they live in the U.S., a six-hour time difference), they check to see if I have posted a new entry. If I have, they are reassured that all is well. If I haven’t, though, they give me a call, especially when they know that I am a bit under the weather (oh, I’m much better, by the way; in fact, I am about to set off for work, as usual, even though right now I feel about as perky as Garfield in this cartoon, zzzzzz…).
Anyway, yesterday I didn’t feel like posting, even though I did do some research and have a couple of items up my sleeve, so in mid afternoon the phone rang. My mother’s worried voice: "Sweetheart, are you OKAAAAY???? You didn’t post anything today!" Well, this truly is a health-blog in every sense of the term!
Okay, I am off to work. Have a grrrrreat day, everyone!
I read that solid tumours are unable to grow beyond a certain size because of hypoxia, which means "insufficient oxygen." What happens is that, as tumours grow, they need more and more nutrients and oxygen. At a certain point, though. the tumour microenvironment just can’t deal with this constant demand (if I got that right…) and becomes hypoxic. Under hypoxic conditions (less than 6% oxygen, I read), HIF-1 alpha, a transcription factor, becomes activated, and it in turn activates genes, dozens of them!, that keep tumours alive and well, via angiogenesis, glucose transport and whatnot. So tumour progression goes hand in hand with the increased activity of HIF-1 alpha.
Back to the Italian study on caffeine (see abstract): “Pretreatment of cells with caffeine significantly reduces adenosine-induced VEGF promoter activity and VEGF and IL-8 expression.” (Wait…adenosine? Uffa, another thing to look up…) Here we go: simply put, adenosine is a natural chemical, a neurotransmitter, released by brain cells to make us sleepy. The more we stay awake, the more adenosine gets released. But I should point out that adenosine is present also in all cells of the body, and, aha!, has the function of protecting cells from damage under conditions of hypoxia. And it protects solid tumours from the attacks of NK cells and T-lymphocytes, as can be seen in this abstract (“International Journal of Oncology,” March 2008): http://tinyurl.com/yu7o72. It seems to be involved in a lot of mischief! Well, ok, not all the time!, for instance it mediates the damage caused by strokes…
Enough. You can read more about the importance of adenosine on the Grouppe Kurosawa public blog (February 29 post): http://tinyurl.com/23fbgo. The main thing we need to know is that, when adenosine is released, HIF-1 alpha and VEGF, the very best friends of cancer cells, are activated.
- Hypoxic tumour cells are resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Eh!
- Hypoxia stimulates IL-8, which is involved with cancer progression (including myeloma progression, as we know from a previous post).
- HIF-1 “contributes to tumor progression and metastasis.”
I made my first bread yesterday. Italian bread, what else?
But panic I did. I called one of my best friends, a fabulous cook and also a bread-making goddess. Horrified, she exclaimed, “You tried making WHAT? Have you lost your mind? It’s extremely difficult to make that kind of bread, blablabla. For one thing, you need a wood-burning oven! Why didn’t you just try making loaf bread?” (Well, what she really said was: hai fatto COSA? Ma che ti sei impazzita? Ma chi te l’ha detto di fare quel pane lì? Il pane normale è difficilissimo da fare, eppoi va cotto in un forno a legna, blablabla. Ma perché non hai fatto il pane in cassetta, che è facilissimo, invece?)
I looked around my kitchen: no wood-burning oven in sight, just my electric one. I thanked her and hung up. Sob!
I began to tremble. It wasn’t bad enough that my sticky dough wasn’t rising properly, now I didn’t have the right kind of oven. Urgh. I called Stefano at work to let him know that he’d better stop at the supermarket on his way home to buy some proper bread. Mine, I told him, was going to be a terrible-tasting tooth-breaking flat focaccia, at best. (For the record: he actually did buy some bread…hmmm, could this be considered grounds for divorce? ).
The misshapen hand-shaped dough that I managed, eventually, to pop in my preheated oven didn’t look anything like the photo in the bread book. Sigh.
I have vowed NEVER EVER to buy another step-by-step cookbook with colour illustrations, things like that just make you feel totally inept. Because guess WHAT?
My bread turned out to be the best bread we have ever tasted! The best bread in the entire WORLD! Stefano pronounced it “delicious!” (which, I am quick to point out, he almost never does, except when I make NY cheesecake or apple pie). He said I should start selling it. This morning, first thing, before even having his usual cup of espresso, the man who never ever eats breakfast (ever!) made himself two salami sandwiches with my bread! Hah! Triumph! Well, I may not be the bread-making goddess, but I am definitely (now) the bread-making QUEEN!
This photo shows all that is left this morning of my, as it turned out, gorgeous bread, crunchy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside!