Monthly Archives: February 2013

News flash (!!!): long term use of curcumin in two smoldering multiple myeloma patients…

My blog’s title refers to a case report recently published in the Journal of Hematological Malignancies. The authors are the same researchers involved in the “famous” (well, famous to me, anyway! 😉 ) MGUS-curcumin randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled cross-over study in Australia. This is their second curcumin study. This time, it involves two smoldering myeloma patients, two men, aged 47 and 66, who’ve been taking oral curcumin for two years (and I presume they still are…). Here is the link: http://goo.gl/ieVF3 

(Please note: the full text is available online, and yes, it’s FREE. Just click on “PDF,” where it says “Full text”…).

As you read through the study, keep in mind that these two SMM patients took 6 grams of curcumin a day. Just 6. And their results were…

Well, okay, I’m going to stop here for today. Reason: I began writing this post on Sunday but ran into a huge problem. I mean, I had so MUCH to say and comment that I just kept writing and re-writing and editing and re-editing. And the result is that here I am, TWO days later (!), and I still haven’t posted this important bit of news on the blog…that’s no good. 

So I’ve decided to SHUT UP for at least 24 hours and let you read the study on your own, in peace and quiet…

Hmmm…NOT OFFERING MY OPINION ON SOMETHING? Wow, this may be a FIRST! 😉 

“Do you have any children?”

IMG_0964Every two-three years the Italian Cervical Cancer Screening Programme (CCSP) sends all women a letter with a pap smear appointment already set up at a nearby health unit. This is a FREE service, mind you. All you have to do is show up at the appointment, or call to reschedule, if the date chosen by the CCSP isn’t convenient for you. Easy peasy…and such a bloody good idea! I mean…Prevention Prevention Prevention! 

Well, I received my pap letter a couple of weeks ago. 

And at the beginning of this week I had my routine pap smear. 

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Before performing the test, the gynecologist asked me a few questions, including “Do you have any children?” 

I answered: “Yes, I have six cats.”

I really did. :) 

Hey y’all!!!, it’s FRIDAY!!! And I’m home from work, listening to some great music and working (but not TOO hard). :)

 

A new product: curcumin C3 Reduct

Yesterday I received an alert about a new curcumin formulation (made by Sabinsa Corporation, which produces the C3 Complex curcumin that many of us take). This new formulation, called “Curcumin C3 Reduct,” is apparently more bioavailable than the “old” C3 Complex. It is also allegedly more stable and potent…Etc. etc. etc. 

This morning I wrote a message to Sabinsa Corp, asking specifically if they knew when this new product will be available to the general public. Thanks to this summary, I found out that it is going to be launched in March at the Engredea Show (never heard of it) in Anaheim, California: http://goo.gl/g5hCv

You can read the Sabinsa Corp press release here: http://goo.gl/2Lf6r

And here’s an interesting fact sheet, provided by Sabinsa: http://goo.gl/8VuXi In particular, check out the answer to “Are Tetrahydrocurcuminoids naturally occurring in the plant kingdom?” The answer is yes…But what I found interesting is that THCs can be found in small quantities in ginger and Curcuma zedoaria. I also thought the part about how curcumin is converted into THC was interesting…Anyway, worth checking out when we have more time…

Now, it’s true that all of this information is provided by Sabinsa, the manufacturer. Even so, the new product has my attention, and I’ll be curious to buy and try it. But first I have to try Meriva…that’s next on my list. 

I think it’s great that new curcumin products are coming onto the market…I mean, wouldn’t it be fabulous if they worked BETTER than the old ones…and at a lower dosage, to boot…

Ah yes, that would indeed be superamazinglyfantastic&fabbbbbbulous! :)

The unexpected benefits of dried fruit…

This morning I read a very interesting summary of a study dealing with the effects of dried plums and dried apples on postmenopausal women. I’ll give you the links to the summary (=I don’t have access to the full study) AND to the study abstract.

Study summary: http://goo.gl/VJNrX

Abstract: http://goo.gl/JM5J3

The most interesting part for me was that, after 12 months, the women in the apple group had lowered their C-reactive protein levels by 32% (!). THIRTY-TWO PERCENT!!! Wow. I mean, as we know, C-reactive protein (= CRP) is one of our important myeloma markers, so this is exxxxxxcellent news. And even in the plum group, CRP levels went down rather significantly (17% after 3 months). A very good bit of news!

In the summary, you can also read about the significant effects of dried apples on cholesterol levels. Interesting, I must say, although my own (high, inherited) high cholesterol levels have now gone down quite a bit, 50 points or so, after all my years on curcumin. Aaaaah, speaking of which!, I’d like to point out that I’ve now been “smoldering” for EIGHT FULL YEARS…Not bad, not bad at all, especially since myeloma hasn’t stopped me from doing whatever I please (trekking, bird watching, etc. etc. etc.). So I’d like to share my joy with you just for a second: YAAAAAAAAY!!! :)

Getting back to the summary…it also reminds us of the results of a 2011 study by the same group of researchers…hmmm, I vaguely recall that I commented on it here on the blog…Yes, I’m almost positive about that. At any rate, in that study, dried plums had a positive effect on the BONE DENSITY of postmenopausal women. Compared to the dried apple “control” group, the women in the prune group experienced a significant increase in their bone density…in their ulna and spine, in particular. No kidding. This study’s full text can be found online, free of charge: http://goo.gl/37chO (= this is the link to the abstract. All you have to do is click on “View PDF” to download the full text).

I confess I’ve never eaten a dried apple, but I’m going to look into it now…for sure! By the way, can anyone recommend a few recipes for dried apples? 😉

Uhm…just had an afterthought…a super dumb question, undoubtedly, but I’m going to ask it anyway: why do the apples have to be “dry”? I mean, why wouldn’t regular apples work as well…? Hmmm. Well, I’m sure there’s a really good scientific answer for that…No time to do any research now, though…I must get back to my translationsighsighsigh…Ciao! :)

Staying young with curcumin…

Well, my back is almost, er, back to normal (I’m back to my regular activities, in other words, with no pain)…In a few words, I’m fine and feisty, as usual… 😉 

IMG_0704But my life in Firenze Italy is a bit busier, and crazier!, than usual. In this period, I’ve been submerged by some extra, unexpected work (= translations, mainly), which is great in some ways since it means extra money for cat food (what better cause could there be? 😉 Aren’t my kitties just THE cutest?), but it also means that I don’t have much extra time to spend on the blog. I compose posts in my mind…but just can’t get to them. Not right now. I’m working hard on one big, boring translation. Once I’ve finished, I’ll be all set…

But it’s not all work work work. Fun things happen, too. Tomorrow evening we are going to a friend’s party for which I’m making a yummmmmmy carrot cake. And we’ve been invited to have dinner and play games with other friends on Saturday. And we have plans for Sunday, too…

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And then two nights ago Stefano came home from work and told me we should take advantage of a couple of holidays at the end of April to go to Edinburgh, a city we’ve wanted to visit for yeeeeears but have never gotten around to doing, for one reason or another (no direct flight from Florence, no money, blablabla)…

Needless to say, I said YES!!! Stefano had already found the best flight AND the best place to stay, so we went ahead and booked. We’re not normally spur-of-the-moment people, but lately this has seemed to be the case. As long as we can afford it, and as long as we have someone reliable to look after our furry babies…! 

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Now, let’s get to the meaning of this post’s title. This morning I came across a series of articles on curcumin that I hadn’t seen yet…All in the same journal, called “Biofactors.” Here are a couple of examples: 

The abstract of the study on curcumin and aging can be found here: http://goo.gl/nVMQR Curcumin extended the average life of roundworms (!) by 39%, for example. Curcumin-fed fruit flies and mice also lived quite a bit longer than the controls (= no curcumin). Anyway, it gives us some food for thought, eh? 😉 IMG_0826

Speaking of mice, I’d like to highlight a New York Times article titled “Mice fall short as test subjects for humans’ deadly ills,” which I was able to read thanks to blog reader H.O.: http://goo.gl/I1B3V As you know, I’m VERY strongly opposed to vivisection (especially in the cosmetics industry, of course…horrible stuff goes on there…should be ILLEGAL!!!)…Well, this article certainly gives us all pause for thought…

Another “Biofactor” abstract deals with curcumin and its effect on a variety of cancers: http://goo.gl/nr8OI Nothing too new, here, but it’s always good to read other studies confirming what we already know, that is, that curcumin inhibits an amazing amount of pathways that help cancer cells survive and grow…When I have time, I’ll see if I can get my hands on the full study…

Okay. That’s it for now! I’ve got to go make the icing for my cake. Ciao! :)

An aching back and more photos of Venice…

P2030378P2030395Well, my silly little Venice fever lasted about 24 hours, not much longer…no big deal.

But then, on Wednesday afternoon, for no apparent reason (I mean, I hadn’t been hauling around heavy bookcases!!!), I was suddenly struck by a terrible pain in my lower back. I haven’t had that sort of pain in ages…years, methinks. Of course, one of the first thoughts that popped into my mind was: MYELOMA!

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But then Reason took over, and I remembered that I’d had lower back trouble/pain since I was a rather young thing. It’s just that I haven’t had it in such a long time…and I’d forgotten how crippling it can be. That’s all. P2030203

And then I remembered that I hadn’t taken any curcumin since Friday…A FULL FIVE DAYS PLUS WITH NO CURCUMIN…So I got back on curcumin immediately, et voilà!, today I’m feeling much better. Working and up and about. 

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Just being careful when I have to stoop. Little Prezzemolo didn’t understand why I didn’t bend over to pet him this morning, as I usually do. :) 

Now, about those five full days without curcumin, I noticed something else that might be connected (or not): my urine was foamy on Sunday night. 

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Foamy is not good, as we know! Anyway, point is: it remained foamy until I got back on curcumin. And now it’s perfectly clear again. A mere coincidence? Probably!IMG_4702

And that reminds me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had blood tests. Way too long. Must go. Soon. 

But not today. My back is much better, but I have a TON of work to do. I need to get cracking, in fact! But I did want to post a few more of my favorite photos of Venice, including that glass puffin I noticed in a Rialto store window, how about that? (Well, okay, it’s a toucan, NOT a puffin, but I like to think of it as a puffin…And you should have seen the puzzled looks on the faces of Venetian glass shop owners when I asked them if they had any glass puffins, hehe…)

Have a super weekend, everyone! :)

Venice in the pouring rain…

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Well, this surprise weekend trip came at a slight, er, cost. An unforeseen one. Let’s see…The best thing to do is start at the beginning.

We left for Venice on Friday afternoon, after work, and arrived there around dinnertime. We stayed in a lovely little 3-star hotel (for which Stefano had found a lovely little discount online!), which was about a five minute walk to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). Perfect location. Friendly, helpful staff, nice breakfast. Things were looking good. 

On Saturday morning we awoke to the sound and grayness of rain. It was only drizzle at that point. But we’d been smart (or so we thought!): we’d checked the weather forecast and knew it was going to rain on Saturday, so we’d had packed our Skomer island, puffin-watching rain gear. Covered from head to toe, no worries! (Again, so we thought.)

IMG_4722By late morning the annoying drizzle (see gondola photo no. 1) had turned into a downpour, so much so that the hotel receptionist told us (later) that she hadn’t seen anything like it in all the years she’d been in Venice. It was chilly, too, and, as if that weren’t enough, in the afternoon the wind picked up…in Piazza San Marco, especially. Everywhere you looked there were frantic, wet tourists trying to hold onto their useless, mangled umbrellas (by the way, many of those broken umbrellas ended up getting dumped on the streets, which really irritated me…Please don’t litter…ever!!!).

P2020003Consequences for me: some rain managed to get inside my Gore Tex trekking shoes, the ones that have been through terrific downpours on all sorts of terrain in the UK and have always kept my feet warm and cosy. Always. But…not this time. This time my feet got cold and wet, and so they remained…throughout the afternoon and evening. The truth of the matter is that I was so happy to be in Venice that I didn’t really pay much attention. But by the time we returned to Florence on Sunday night, I had developed a fever, not a super high one but enough to make me sleep all day yesterday and keep me in bed part of today as well. I’m much better now, though, and I actually went back to work this afternoon (so much to do!)…from home, of course!…Translations…

IMG_4667Bottom line (an expression my Dad hates!): don’t ignore wet, cold feet! 

Anyway, getting wet and chilled to the bone and developing a fever was bad enough…but that wasn’t the worst thing. And no, we didn’t fall into a canal! 😉

On Friday night, you see, as soon as we’d arrived in Venice, parked our car at Piazzale Roma and hopped on a vaporetto (a sort of Venetian waterbus), Stefano realized that I’d grabbed my OLD camera, not my BRAND NEW one, the one with the super zoomy lens and so on. Oh noooooo!!! We’d been in such a hurry to leave Florence that I hadn’t even noticed. 😯 You have no idea how incrrrrrredibly stupid I felt…Later on, though, as we will see, I was elated at having made that mistake. But not at first, let me tell ya. I mean…in Venice with my OLD camera and, to boot!, with the batteries and accessories for my NEW camera, which of course wouldn’t work for the old one. Terrrrrrrible.

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Oh, but the worst was yet to come: on Saturday afternoon, after the first prolonged downpour, Stefano’s camera simply shut off. Poof. Wouldn’t turn back on. We took it back to the hotel, dried it off and waited. But it refused to work again. In a nutshell, too much water had gotten inside, so the only thing was to wait for everything to dry out and hope for the best. 

So Stefano didn’t have a camera. Correction: Stefano didn’t have HIS SUPER DUPER CAMERA. He was simply devastated, in shock…our vacation–ruined. Nothing like this had ever happened to us, no matter how MUCH it had rained…

And then, almost immediately afterwards, my camera did the exact same thing. It simply turned off and died (it’s still dead, by the way!). And that explains WHY I was RELIEVED, in the end, at not having brought my NEW camera. It’d would be dead, by now…and I’d be in a mental hospital, probably. 😉

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So there we were…in Venice…during Carnevale…with wet shoes and without ONE bloody working camera. An unbearable thought. So I took action. In the late afternoon we went to a camera shop recommended by the hotel folks, where I explained what had happened and asked for a digital WATERPROOF camera, the sort that you can even use underwater. We ended up buying a small waterproof Olympus. It isn’t top of the line, but it was within our budget…sort of…

Most of my Venice photos have therefore been taken with the not-so-great-but-better-than-nothing! camera. As for Stefano, well, I’m very happy to report that, after drying out overnight in the hotel room, his camera began working again on Sunday, which, as all the weather reports had promised, was a splendid sunny day…

Apart from those “small” annoyances, we had a very nice time. I mean, how can you NOT have a nice time in Venice?

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It’s a magical city. Unique. Romantic. Beautiful beyond words, beyond comprehension. Yes, even in the rain and cold. The wonder of getting lost (because you WILL get lost, and that’s part of the magic) in Venice’s narrow winding streets called “calle,” then suddenly entering a small “campo” (= public square), going over the bridges and peering down the canals, at the gondolas…And the Grand Canal, wow…You feel as though you’ve been catapulted into a different world. And I suppose the only good thing about the awful weather on Saturday is that there were very few people out and about…just a few crazy nut cases like us. On Saturday, because of the weather, all the special carnival events had been cancelled. So we almost had the city to ourselves…

But on Sunday…Well, Sunday was an entirely different story. It was a lovely sunny day (as you can see clearly in the last photo, taken in Piazza San Marco of a group of masked ladies with brilliant, rather outrageous outfits), and the masked crowds were out and about, smiling and strutting around, waiting to be admired and photographed. But that part of my story will have to wait, because it’s late in the day now, and I’m getting hungry…Ciao! :)