Tag Archives: myeloma

My blog…mentioned in a BBC radio programme!

Even though my blog reader D. had told me some time ago that my blog might be mentioned in the BBC radio station that had interviewed her for the programme they were doing on turmeric, I was happy about that, of course, but I hadn’t really gotten too carried away…until today, when I found and actually listened to the programme, which is available online, right here: goo.gl/Gmda8N

BBC food programmeDieneke’s case study is mentioned toward the end of the programme, so please be patient. It’s a very interesting programme, anyway. With a nice turmeric-based recipe or two, which never hurts!

I have to admit that I got a bit teary as I listened to Dieneke (no point in trying to protect her privacy anymore, since her name is mentioned during the programme!) and her oncologist discuss her case…Teary in a good way, of course!

And at this point I would like to thank blog reader Jan who posted a lovely comment on my April 20th post…the comment that inspired me to have a look for the programme in the first place (but I didn’t think I’d find it):

“On Sunday 28th May 2017 ( repeated on Monday 29th) I listened to a programme on BBC radio 4 FM called ‘The Food Programme ‘. It was talking about health benefits of turmeric and in particular curcumin. The contributor to Margaret’s blog called ‘D’ was interviewed about her use of curcumin and how her MM has stabilised now for five years. Her oncologist was also interviewed and the study was mentioned. It all sounded very positive about curcumin. ‘D’ also said that she had discovered curcumin on Margaret’s blog. The programme presenter called Sheila Dillon also has MM and as I recall had a SCT a few years ago.
I’ve had MM for seven years and have been following Margaret’s blog since then. Have tried numerous alternative treatments but due to extreme pain had five months of Velcade etc last year. Pain now coming back so thinking of doing curcumin. Hadn’t done it before for various reasons.
Margaret this is so exciting! Your curcumin protocol and your blog has been talked about on the BBC!
Thanks so much for all your great work. You’ve kept me going over these seven years.

And ‘ D ‘ thanks to you too for your major contribution .

Best wishes to all,

Jan.”

And finally, thank you, Sheila Dillon and BBC Radio 4, for this very interesting programme! :-)

“Long-term follow-up of curcumin treated MGUS/SMM patients – an updated single centre experience”

In an email I received yesterday, Dr. Terry Golombick notified me that her team’s most recent article has been  published in the Journal of Hematology and Medical Oncology. It is available for free online…just click here: goo.gl/cEP93h

keep calm and turmeric onAhhhh. Wonderful…absolutely wonderful.

Wonderful, because finally…FINALLY (!!!)…we have a long-term look at a GROUP of MGUS and SMM patients taking curcumin. These are those who participated in the Australian MGUS/SMM study and who “continued to take curcumin over a number of years, of their own volition, even though the studies in which they were participating are complete.”

So this is a “long-term follow-up of 13 MGUS/SMM patients who have been taking curcumin (at a dose of 4 -8 grams daily) for a period of 3-9 years.”

Only one patient, who had cardiac amyloidosis (!), went on to full-blown myeloma and is currently undergoing conventional treatments. The rest of the patients are doing quite well, some better than others…anyway, you can read all the details in the report…

I really hope that this report will encourage more and more centers to start giving curcumin to their MGUS and SMM patients and, why not?, to their MM patients as well. At this point, I could go into a tirade about the short-sightedness of conventional medicine, but, at least for now, I’d rather look at the positive side, which is the publication of some CASE STUDIES, like the one concerning my blog reader D., and this Australian one.

I would like to end this post by stating that we all owe a large debt of gratitude to dedicated researchers like Dr. Golombick who have overcome all sorts of obstacles (I’m sure of that!!!) to help patients like us have the best quality of life possible, for as long as possible…

To all the Golombicks of the world: thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU!!!  :-) keep calm and watch and wait

By the way, let me remind you that Dr. Golombick and her team have set up a useful website for all of us who have a type of blood cancer. I’ve talked about it here on the blog, but just in case you missed that post, here is the link: https://www.watchandwaitbloodcancers.com/

KEEP CALM AND…

WATCH AND WAIT!!!!!! 

Revising my position on aspirin and myeloma

aaron-bacall-i-m-going-to-prescribe-something-that-works-like-aspirin-but-costs-much-cartoonI just finished re-reading a post I wrote in 2011 in which I stated that I would never take any aspirin…never ever ever ever again!

Well, since then a lot has happened, and I have read quite a number of positive studies on aspirin and cancer, so I am taking this opportunity to revise my former position, without going overboard, of course (no stuffing my face with aspirin every single night, I mean!). Proceed with caution, as always, since aspirin does have some side effects… Anyway, here goes.

A 2014 study, titled “Regular aspirin use and risk of multiple myeloma: a prospective analysis in the health professionals follow-up study and nurses’ health study,” suggests that aspirin might be beneficial to myeloma patients. To see the study, click on this link: goo.gl/P0su2f

Interesting excerpt: “Participants with a cumulative average of ?5 adult strength (325 mg) tablets per week had a 39% lower multiple myeloma risk than nonusers […].”

A 39% lower risk? Wowsie.

I was actually reminded of this issue earlier today, when I happened upon an intriguing Scientific American (May 2017 issue) article on aspirin and cancer, Among other things, the article discusses aspirin’s apparent interference “with the ability of cancer cells to spread, or metastasize, through the body.” It’s is an easy read and so, without further ado, here is the link: goo.gl/uAhwv2

But wow, aspirin may prevent metastasis…and it may be beneficial to myeloma patients…two articles and one stone…Not too shabby, eh?  :-)

More on cardamonin and myeloma

After months of being too busy with other stuff, such as…life!, to do much research, I have been going through PubMed again, yaaaay, and this is one of the studies, published in 2015, that really caught my attention: goo.gl/YgMY8OAlpinia_katsumadai_SQ_405_grande

You can actually read the full study online for free, at this link: goo.gl/muftiW

As my blog title suggests, it’s about cardamonin, about which I actually wrote a brief post
in February of 2011 (see http://margaret.healthblogs.org/other-alternative-treatments/cardamonin/). That post was based on a 2010 study, showing, and I quote, that “Cardamonin affects both the STAT3 and NF-kappaB pathways, which, as we know, are crucial for myeloma cell survival and proliferation. It also enhances the anti-MM activity of some conventional drugs used in the treatment of multiple myeloma: vincristine, doxorubicin, dexamethasone, bortezomib and thalidomide..[…] it also has a strong effect against COX2, Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, survivin, VEGF (angiogenesis).” Good stuff!

Cardamonin is extracted from a plant of the ginger family, called Alpinia katsumadai (see photo), which is widely used in Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation, among other things. It also has antibacterial and antiviral effects…

But, as far as we are concerned, the results of the 2015 study confirm those of the 2010 study, that is: cardamonin strongly inhibits myeloma cell activity and proliferation, and, at higher doses, kills the darn cells.

Music to my ears…

Another study that I hadn’t seen, published in 2013, tells us that cardamonin also blocks RANKL, thus suppressing osteoclastogenesis = the process of bone destruction: goo.gl/cFh3QI.

This is also a bit of excellent news for us.

Well, the news would be even more excellent if it were super easy to find cardamonin. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as going to the health food store and buying some cardamom seeds to add to our food. There are, apparently, seven other Zingiberaceous species, and the cardamom seeds found in stores don’t come from Alpinia katsumadai. For example, in my health food store I found cardamom seeds from Elettaria cardamomum, that is, a different plant altogether. Bummer, eh?

So the search is on! If anyone knows of a reliable, safe source for this stuff, please let me know. But, as always, please be careful and do your research before ingesting anything!

More research needed, but hey, this looks extremely promising…

PLEASE NOTE (note added on March 19): There are different Zingiberaceous species, as I mentioned above. The seeds from Elettaria cardamomum are NOT the same as those from Alpinia katsumadai. The seeds look very similar, but they come from two different plants…Therefore, thanks for sending me the links to different websites that sell Elettaria cardamomum seeds, but it would be pointless and misleading for me to post them. 

Climbing steps with smoldering myeloma

_MG_6707Yesterday Stefano and I drove to Siena with a couple of our best friends and their dog. Ah, what a glorious day! Sunny but not too sunny, cool but not too cool. In short, perfect weather.

When we first arrived, we went to have an espresso at Nannini (you simply have to do that…it’s practically the law in Siena…just kidding! :-) ), then ambled down to Piazza del Campo, Siena’s most famous, shell-shaped square…certainly one of the loveliest squares in Italy.

We’ve been to Siena before, many times, and I’ve posted photos of these day trips, but yesterday we had a different perspective, which means that I have some new photos to show you.

We decided in fact to climb to the top of the famous Torre del Mangia, the tall bell tower in Piazza del Campo (see photo no. 1: it’s on the left). The Torre del Mangia was built in the 14th century.

_MG_6682It’s 88 meters high (289 feet), and it’s also the third highest medieval tower in Italy.

I forgot to count the steps as we went up, up and up and up very narrow marble steps, steep ones at times…But I looked online and found that there are a total of 400 step. Compare that to the 414 steps of the bell tower in Florence, which you might be more familiar with. So, quite high.

Parts of the staircase were extremely narrow, making it difficult to let people by, either coming down or going up. Ah yes, it was quite a squeeze, here and there. But we all (tourists), er, squeezed away in good cheer.

So…400 steps…not bad, eh? _MG_6652

Check out my second photo, which gives a view of the stairwell, looking down almost from the top of the tower. As you can imagine, this climb is not intended for vertigo sufferers. Or for anyone with heart problems.

The view from the top is amazing. 360 degree views of the city and, of course, the surrounding hills of Tuscany.

_MG_6667Incidentally, you can click on the photos to make them bigger. No. 3, e.g., gives you a view of the back of Siena’s Duomo, = Cathedral, and also a nice view of the city’s rooftops. The last photo on the left is a view of the square where you can sort of make out its shell shape.

In sum, we had a lovely lovely day. Bliss.

And hey, I can still climb up to the top of a medieval tower and live to tell the story, puff puff! 😉

New study: polydatin blasts myeloma cells to smithereens

First, what is polydatin? Have you ever heard of it? I hadn’t…before this morning. Well, in short, it’s extracted from Japanese knotweed, a large, herbaceous perennial plant of the knotweed and buckwheat family Polygonaceae. japanese_knotweed-2The description sounds quite innocuous, but in fact this plant is far from innocuous. It’s a terribly invasive, almost impossible-to-get-rid-of WEED that can take over huge expanses of land if unchecked, and its rhizomes can even cause extensive damage to building foundations, walls, and whatnot. Okay, well, there go my first thoughts of planting some in the back yard. Oooops, not happening!!!

But forget the plant. What should interest us is Its extract, polydatin, which has been shown to inhibit “the proliferation of leukemia, breast cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer and liver cancer.”

So the newly-published Chinese study I read this morning on the effects of polydatin and myeloma didn’t just come out of the blue but is backed by a number of scientific studies…In fact, I just found a study on polydatin and laryngeal cancer in PubMed…published just two days ago…

Oh, before I forget, the full polydatin and myeloma study is available for free on PubMed. Just click here: goo.gl/kZex2M

Interesting aside: as we can read in the abstract, in addition to its anti-cancer effects, polydatin has a bunch of other abilities, such as reducing blood lipids (and that is a great bit of info, considering what we know now about cancer cells and lipids, see my March 4 2017 post) and protecting us from strokes. Yes, interesting indeed…

Note: this study tests polydatin on cells, not people. But even so, the results, on the myeloma RPMI 8226 cell line, are quite amazing: the more polydatin was added to the mix, the more these myeloma cells stopped proliferating. The MM cells eventually died. DIED.

Super duper.

Now, the only thing that slightly concerned me was in the Discussion part, where the researchers state that polydatin was found to be less toxic to normal cells. Does that mean it was somewhat toxic to normal cells, though less so, compared to cancer cells? I couldn’t find an answer…can anyone else find it?

Reading on, we see that polydatin (or PD, for short), “functioned as a tumor suppressor in MM cells.  The proliferation of MM cells decreased and apoptosis increased progressively along with the increasing concentrations of PD.” Super duper…again.

The study concludes that “PD effectively suppressed cell growth and induced apoptosis and autophagy in MM cells through mTOR/p70s6k signaling pathway in vitro, which indicates that PD could be used as a potential anticancer drug for MM treatment. However, further research is needed to explore the anticancer effect of PD in vivo.”

Just one last comment on mTOR, that is, polydatin’s target. And here I’m taking from my own research: mTOR is a really nasty pathway involved with myeloma disease progression. When mTOR is activated, MM cell lines resist being killed. Obviously, not good at all. And, in fact, if you do a search of PubMed, mTOR inhibitors are being developed all over the place to treat myeloma.

Okay, so more studies (in vivo ones, especially) are needed, blablabla. But what I find tremendously significant is that this new study proves that the interest in finding new plant extracts that might possibly be useful in the treatment of myeloma and other cancers is live and well.

And that can only be a very GOOD thing…!!!

“This pill could make your dog (and maybe you) live longer”

That is the title of a FASCINATING article by CNN’s senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, about an experiment involving a few very sick dogs and a compound–also a drug–called rapamycin, discovered in the dirt of Easter Island (it’s a bacterial by-product…yum yum!) and mainly intended for humans with cancer and transplant patients. The article is so full of twists and turns that I am not even going to try writing a synopsis…Here is the link: goo.gl/Tdsis8

But I do have a few comments, as always. Ah yes, rapamycin is being studied in myeloma treatment, too…A number of clinical trials testing rapamycin, and its analogs, such as temsirolimus, on MM patients are going on right now, in fact.

It’s a strong immune suppressor, and it’s also a mTOR inhibitor (like quercetin, I would like to add). I mentioned rapamycin years ago in my quercetin post, which you can find by using the blog’s Search box on the upper right. In fact, if you type mTOR into the above-mentioned Search box, you will also come upon my mTOR-rhubarb post. Hey, I’d forgotten about rhubarb…!!!

At this point you might be wondering what mTOR is. Well, quoting from my 2007 quercetin post, it’s “a really nasty pathway involved with myeloma disease progression. When mTOR is activated, you see, MM cell lines resist being killed.” Bad, bad, bad.

I haven’t done any followup research on this topic, but you can bet your basket of ripe bananas that I am going to have another look at PubMed. And a look at those MM patient trials, too. Very interesting…

Sorry if I sound a bit hurried, if not a bit on the rambling side!!!, but it’s getting late over here, and I must go feed the cats and get dinner started. I’m suddenly STARVING! So…off I go! Ciao! Oh, MANY thanks to Stan for letting me know about this article, btw! :-)

The gut factor

Before I give you the link to a very interesting article I read in “The Scientist” this morning on the connection between gut bacteria and cancer, I should really tell you why I haven’t been posting lately. I got back from my emergency trip to the U.S. almost a month ago, but since then I’ve been terribly busy…lots going on…and I’ve also been terribly worried about my mother, who is still in the rehab clinic and not doing as well as she should be at this stage. Luckily, my sister is there, taking care of everything, but the daily updates she gives me by phone and email are hard to take, at times. Well, fingers crossed…

So, yes, in short, I just haven’t felt like posting…

But from now on I will make an effort to post more frequently, especially if I read something that tickles my brain cells, which happened with the above-mentioned article. Here is the link: http://goo.gl/O1BDZ5 I warn you, it’s long!

The article doesn’t mention myeloma or any other type of blood cancer, but in the second paragraph it does bring up the possibility that gut bacteria could “contribute to cancer cell death, even in tumors far from the gastrointestinal tract. The most logical link between the microbiome and cancer is the immune system. Resident microbes can either dial up inflammation or tamp it down, and can modulate immune cells’ vigilance for invaders. Not only does the immune system appear to be at the root of how the microbiome interacts with cancer therapies, it also appears to mediate how our bacteria, fungi, and viruses influence cancer development in the first place.”

Myeloma…immune system…microbes…

???

So if you have some free time in the next couple of days, put your feet up and take a look at this article. And, by the way, any thoughts would be most appreciated. Leave me a comment or two! :-) Thank you!

P.S. A blog reader sent me a link (https://goo.gl/LdXif3) to a recent “Guardian” article discussing how our gut microbes may even affect our behavior, thoughts, and moods…as well as the structure and function of our brains. This might turn out to be good news for folks who have multiple sclerosis, for example. So, another very interesting read. Very!

The cause of many myeloma cases has been discovered.

After I was first diagnosed, I was a bit obsessed with what had caused my (smoldering) myeloma. Nobody in my family had had anything remotely similar—no blood cancers, that is. I hadn’t, as far as I knew (and know), been exposed to any of the toxic crap that has been associated with the development of myeloma. And so on. In sum, no idea how I got this thing…

In time, since even the virus connection seemed a bit weak (although it’s still on my “radar”), I determined I’d never figure it out, and that there was no point of digging and obsessing and getting all worked up about it. Relax, Margaret. And so I did. I let it go.

But now and again, stuff pops up in the news that gets me going on this topic…again. Today is one of those days…

A group of Yale researchers just published their findings about the cause of SOME myeloma cases in the New England Journal of Medicine: http://goo.gl/TlKzJh  By the way, many thanks to TAB and other devoted blog readers for sending me the links to this new bit of…news. I would have seen it eventually, but right now I’m really bogged down with work (which is why I haven’t written anything recently for the blog, not even an itsy bitsy post about our recent business-and-also-pleasure trip to Amsterdam!).

Here is one of the important excerpts from the above-mentioned press release: “…chronic stimulation of the immune system by lipids made in the context of inflammation underlies the origins of at least a third of all myeloma cases.” Key words: “chronic,” that is, long-term; “inflammation”;  and “at least a third of all myeloma cases.” Intriguing.

These new findings are based on previous ones showing that patients with Gaucher disease are more at risk of developing multiple myeloma. This was the first time I’d ever heard about Gaucher disease, so this morning I set about looking it up: basically, it’s a rare genetic (inherited) disease having to do with lipid storage. In simpler language (I hope!), an enzyme called glycolipid glucocerebroside, which is normally supposed to break down the fat in the body, undergoes a mutation that stops it from working normally. This means that the body can’t get rid of a type of fat called glucocerebroside, in fact, which begins to build up in some organs, especially in the spleen, liver, and, tada!, bone marrow. The fatty crap builds up in the bloodstream, too…and can reach toxic levels. And, tada again!, it also begins to accumulate in our macrophages = a type of white blood cell. And, quelle-coincidence-perhaps-not!, macrophages are involved in the protection and survival of myeloma cells, see for example this 2009 “Blood” study: http://goo.gl/WZGLxt Hmmm. A lot of food for thought, today! :-)

Now, back to Gaucher disease: it can cause a lot of health problems, including bruising, fatigue, joint pain, even bone pain, low red blood cell count, and low blood platelets, among other things. It is also characterized by an enlarged liver and/or spleen (I’ve seen images online of grossly distended abdomens…).

You can find out if you have Gaucher disease by having a simple blood test done, a test that measures your glucocerebrosidase enzyme activity. If you don’t have Gaucher disease, those levels will be normal. If, however, the glucowhatever activity is less than normal, you may have to undergo further testing. I read that there is also a skin test…Anyway, if you suspect you might have Gaucher disease, or if you want to rule it out, ask your doctor. Again, keep in mind that it’s a rare disease…I personally don’t think it’s a cause of mine, but I do intend to talk things over with my doctor, since you never know…

Another interesting excerpt from the press release: “the researchers also discovered a subset of lipid-reactive immune cells, called type II NKT-TFH, that promote the development of plasma cells.” Hmmm. What does this mean? Not clear. Okay, I’ll need to read the full study at some point…Of course, it’s not available for free online, so I don’t have it at my fingertips…yet. But the press release has left me with more questions than answers at this point.

Even with having read the full shebang, though, what it seems we’re dealing with here is some sort of long-term immune activation caused by this malfunctioning enzyme, which eventually leads to the accumulation of toxic fatty material in some vital cells and organs. So it seems to me that we have here a direct link between systemic, chronic inflammation and myeloma. By the way, please correct me if I’m wrong…As you know, I’m not a scientist (my Ph.D. is in linguistics, historical linguistics, at that!)

Now, since we’re talking about the accumulation of FATTY material, does this mean that you’re more likely to get myeloma if you’re fat? After doing a bit of research, I believe the answer is a resounding “NO.” True, we frequently associate the word “lipid” with “fat,” but fats are actually a subgroup of lipids. So obesity, in my lay opinion, is not a factor in this particular scenario (again, please do correct me if I’m wrong!).

That said, I should note that some studies have indeed pointed to a link between obesity and the increased risk of developing myeloma. See this 2007 Harvard Med School study, for example: http://goo.gl/sVSDJ8

But, I repeat, in this particular case, things are quite different. This is an enzyme that we all have, no matter our body size…

I’d like to end my post with this excerpt from the Yale press release: “Understanding the origin of any cancer has several implications for how to best prevent it,” Dhodapkar said. “These studies set the stage for newer approaches to lower the levels of these lipids in patients with Gaucher disease and others with precursors for myeloma. Potentially, this could be achieved with drugs or lifestyle changes to reduce the levels of lipids to lower the risk of cancer.” I read about enzyme replacement therapy…But I need to have a closer look at that…

Still, wouldn’t that be absolutely amazing? I mean, not that having Gaucher’s disease is a picnic, mind you, but…well…Okay, I’d better stop here for today.

Anyway, today I’ve learned a few new things, which is always good. Now I’ve got to get back to my translations, or else I’ll be really really really sorry!!!!!! In fact, I already am…I mean, how did it get to be so bloody late?????? Yikessssss! 😉

A new turmeric compound kills myeloma cells

A brand new study shows that another turmeric compound, which I shall refer to by its acronym, SQP (much easier to remember than “beta-sesquiphellandrene”! 😉 ), has the same anticancer potential of curcumin: http://goo.gl/e2jBGe

turmericSQP kills human multiple myeloma, leukemia, and colorectal cancer cells, in a similar manner to curcumin. It also works in synergy with bortezomib (Velcade), thalidomide, and capecitabine.

Now, I haven’t read the full study yet, but if I can get my hands on it, I will certainly see if I can dig out a few more helpful and/or interesting details.

Of course, before getting all excited about this new compound, we should keep in mind that it could take some (a lot of?) time to transform it into something useful–a pill, e.g. Besides, as of now, we don’t know anything about its bioavailability, blablabla. So it’s really early in the game.

Still, I always find it exciting to read about another multiple myeloma killer… :-)