Hack hack!, a flare-up and the new protocol

The dreaded cough is back, after a welcome absence of months. Since by now I know that whenever I get even the slightest cold it goes right into my chest and turns into bronchitis, I pay attention to the signals. On Wednesday evening, the signals told me to begin taking an antibiotic. In the nick of time! Luckily, I don’t have any English classes until next Tuesday, so I have plenty of time to get over this thing. I feel fine but have an occasional annoying cavernous cough. No biggie. The antibiotic will zap it.

More importantly, Sherlock and I have a new protocol. After our Biocurcumax experiment ended on Tuesday (when we had our blood and urine tests done), we went back on the C3 Complex curcumin (Doctor’s Best), eight grams a day (no change in quantity).

New item: we have added 500 mg of EGCG, which we will increase to one gram next week. We are testing the synergistic effect of curcumin and the green tea extract, in other words. For a couple of months, as usual.

The protocol also includes (no change from previous protocol): omega-3 oil capsules (I take flaxseed, she takes fish oil), one gram a day. Also, vitamin D and, for me, an occasional multivitamin (B vitamins, mainly). We are still following the “atomic bomb” theory. That is, we take all this stuff once a day (early evening).

Now, as my faithful blog readers may recall, I suffer from rosacea, an inflammatory (inflammation-cancer connection…?) condition of the facial skin, which I inherited from my father, instead of his lovely green-gray eyes! This means that I have occasional flare-ups. Usually they aren’t too bad, I merely look a bit flushed. While I was taking Biocurcumax, though, I noticed (hard not to! This is what I looked like: ) that my flare-ups were absolutely…dreadful. I wore cover-up to work, but that didn’t disguise it completely. Well, today is my fourth day without Biocurcumax, and my facial flare-up has already died down a bit. Hmmm.

So my questions are: was the flare-up (as I have suspected all along) related to my Biocurcumax intake? Could it be seen as a good or bad sign? For obvious reasons, I hope it was a GOOD sign, a sign, that is, that my immune system was kicked into high gear to attack the myeloma. Wishful thinking, eh. We will have no way of knowing until we get our test results next month.

Foods that fight cancer

Today’s post is about two books that I will add to my Recommended Readings page. Ah, I would like to thank Sherlock publicly for having found these books. Bravissima!

1. The first is titled “Foods to fight cancer,” by Richard Béliveau and Denis Gingras. Fascinating book, I must say. I haven’t studied all of it (yet), but it’s extremely well done, easy to follow, and has heaps of examples, great charts and colourful photos. First-rate job. If you have just been diagnosed with any sort of cancer, buy this book. Actually, eh, just buy this book, period! 

Okay, we have all heard that bad diets are…bad for us, right? I myself have been guilty of following a terrible diet in the past, particularly when I was in college and grad school. My diet is still not perfect, but it’s a LOT better than it used to be. Ah, but read this: according to Béliveau and Gingras, your poor dietary habits give you a 30% chance of developing cancer. THIRTY PERCENT? I should have eaten more broccoli and Brussel sprouts when I was younger! Drat.  But the shocking part for me is that 30% is also the risk factor percentage assigned to smokers (I have never smoked, by the way)! So if you smoke AND have a poor diet….yikes! Hereditary factors, which most folks believe are high risk factors for cancer, amount only to 15%.

In Part One, the researchers explain what cancer is, how to prevent cancer growth, indeed how to prevent cancer itself. How?

With FOOD. Consider this: even at a one part per thousand dilution, garlic is very toxic to medulloblastoma cells, a very aggressive type of brain tumour. Garlic, one of my favourite foods.

Part Two is devoted to nutraceuticals, that is, foods with anti-cancer potential. Members of the cabbage family, garlic and onions, soy, turmeric, green tea, berries, omega-3, tomatoes, some fruit, resveratrol and (saved the best for last!) chocolate (!) all have separate chapters. My favourite chapter title: “Cancer hates cabbage.” Hehe.

Toward the end, there is also a chapter on supplements. Béliveau and Gingras rightly point out that it’s easier for us to take a vitamin pill than modify pre-existing unhealthy eating habits. These are short-cuts, they write. We would do better (and they explain WHY, of course) by leading a healthier lifestyle. Okay, I agree that we cannot "just eat anything and then get off the hook by taking a pill," but I must point out that, in order to obtain my daily eight grams of curcumin, I would have to consume an enormous amount of turmeric, the spice from which it is extracted. Turmeric contains only 5-8 % of curcumin. I don’t need to whip out my calculator to figure out how much turmeric I would have to consume in my food. I can tell that it would simply not be possible. I do agree, though, that, for instance, we should eat broccoli and garlic and not take broccoli and garlic-based supplements.

2. The second book, by the same authors, is titled “Cooking with foods that fight cancer.” I haven’t yet really examined the first part, which is an introduction to cancer, but I have tried a couple of the recipes: the broccoli soup and the tomato and apple soup. I would suggest adding less water to both recipes, unless you like watery soup. I also always add more turmeric than the amounts listed. Eh!

I will leave you with a couple of fascinating titbits from book 1:

1. “Turmeric was already featured in the list of over two hundred and fifty medicinal plants mentioned in a series of medical treatises dating from 3000 BC, written in cuneiform on stone tablets, collected by King Assurbanipal (669-627 BC)…”
2. “Turmeric content in mustard is about 50 milligrams per 100 grams; a North American or British adult would have to eat four kilograms (about nine pounds) of mustard per day to have a turmeric intake similar to that of an Indian!”


My English classes were cancelled today. I found out just as I was about to leave the house. Just as well, since I still feel a bit under the weather. So I decided to take the day off. Well, okay, not entirely off, since I had housework to do, but after lunch I lay down with the cats and watched one of my Xmas presents to Stefano, a dvd we hadn’t watched yet: “Sicko,” the Michael Moore documentary on U.S. healthcare.

I went through a gamut of emotions. I cried (buckets). I was angry. I was…sickened. Sicko is shocking. I am still in shock. I thought I knew, but I really didn’t. Until today. Sicko made me realize how lucky, how privileged I am to live in Italy, the second country, after France, with the best healthcare system in the world.

A few personal stories. During one of my parents’ recent visits to Italy, my father needed to see a doctor. This happened on a Sunday in August, while my family doctor was on holiday. So my parents had to go to the emergency room at Careggi hospital (the same hospital where I have my blood tests and see my haematologist). Since Dad wasn’t an emergency case, my parents had to wait for a while, I don’t recall how long, perhaps an hour or so. No longer. Then Dad was seen by a doctor and treated for what turned out to be a large and painful abscess (sorry, Dad!). After treating him, the doctor told him to call the out-patient surgical clinic at Careggi hospital on Monday. That’s what he did; he was given an appointment for the very next day. He was also given follow-up appointments for each of the four subsequent visits (so he wouldn’t have to wait each time). After the…condition had finally cleared up, my parents asked the doctors how much they owed the hospital. A lot of head-scratching. Finally, my parents were told “you owe us nothing.” All that healthcare…for free.

Would the same thing have happened to foreigners with no health insurance in the U.S.? I think we all know the answer.

Another story. Before my condition turned malignant (in December 2005), like every healthy Italian I had to pay what is called a “ticket” for hospital lab tests and visits. A small fee, in other words, oh but nothing like the thousands of dollars that uninsured folks, and even insured folks!, pay in the U.S.

This situation changed in January 2006. I took my mieloma multiplo test results to the local healthcare office and officially became a “cancer patient.” And do you know how much I pay now for ALL of my healthcare, even unrelated to the cancer? Nothing. Absolutely nothing (of course, if I wanted to have private healthcare, that would be a different matter). I have blood and urine tests run every two months, heaps of tests, and I pay: zero. If I had chemo, that’s what I would pay. Zero.

I would like to point out that I am not an Italian citizen. I am a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident of Italy married to an Italian. The only privilege I don’t have over here is being able to vote in the Italian political elections. (Although I was able to vote in a recent referendum on an issue involving the municipality of Florence.).

Back to us. Is it fair that people with cancer or other health problems have to worry ALSO about paying their hospital or doctors’ bills? Is it fair that people with cancer (etc.) lose their jobs and go bankrupt?

I echo Michael Moore’s question: what is WRONG with us?

I remember when I went to the hospital near my parents’ house in the U.S. when I came down with a simple urinary tract infection many years ago. I had just gotten out of college, as I recall. When I checked in at the hospital, the first thing I had to do was produce my health insurance card. I was lucky. I had insurance at the time (for which I paid a pretty penny). Then I had to wait until the administration folks checked me out to make sure I was covered. Financially, I mean. Some time passed, then I was taken into the emergency ward where I went through a battery of tests. Even a pregnancy one (guess they didn’t believe me when I told them I was NOT pregnant!). I still have the forms and test result sheets somewhere in my files. Anyway, all I remember was that I was run through a series of unnecessary tests. I tried to tell the staff that I believed it was a urinary tract infection. At a certain point, though, I gave up arguing, and had all the tests. In the end, I was proven right. I had a urinary tract infection. Hello?

Well, today I wonder: what would have happened to me if I hadn’t had any health insurance? Wait, I am not sure I want to know the answer to that question.

Blood tests, more on cyclopamine and…Cancer Vixen

Blood tests. Last night I decided that a silly little fever wasn’t going to stop me from taking these tests. So this morning I got up at the crack of dawn, made sure I had no fever (the little coward vanished overnight, hah!), and set off for the hospital, where I met up with Sherlock. We were tested together and were out by 8 a.m. She had work to do so she headed home, while I went to another part of the hospital to have a breath test…ah, no, not what YOU are thinking, no siree! This test will determine if I am infected with Helicobacter pylori. In case you don’t know what I am babbling about, check out my page on Helicobacter pylori and MGUS. In a nutshell: it’s a bacterium that infects the stomach and can cause us a lot of grief, A LOT!, ranging from peptic ulcers to cancer.

A slight aside. Wikipedia provides a fascinating account about how H. pylori was discovered, or rather, rediscovered in the early 1980s more or less, by two Australian scientists, Warren and Marshall, who were the first to successfully culture it. They believed that most stomach ulcers and gastritis were the result of an infection caused by this bacterium and not by stress or spicy foods as had been previously assumed. To prove their point, Marshall drank a Petri dish of H. pylori and developed gastritis. A man after my own heart!  Gutsy! You can read the full story on Wikipedia.

Anyway, this was an interesting test. First, using a plastic straw, I had to blow some air into two vials, enough to steam them up. Then I had to drink something that tasted like very bitter lemonade (urea) and wait for a half hour. I then blew into two different vials. That was it. For details on how the H. pylori breath test works, see http://tinyurl.com/33nvay

I will have all my test results back in about three weeks. Probably a few of my values will be altered due to the cold I have been fighting (successfully, so far!!!), but I am hoping they won’t be TOO off. No worries.

A few words on cyclopamine. Yesterday I wrote to CT, asking the question posed by one of my blog readers (see my recent cyclopamine post) concerning water solubility. CT replied: I took cyclopamine tartarate which Logan labs claims is somewhat water soluble. Mice at UTMS took the regular cyclopamine orally for basal cell CA and it worked, so it must be getting absorbed. I note that is does mix well in water. In any event, my M-marker did go down. I will know more when I retest.

Cancer Vixen. While I was waiting to have my breath re-tested this morning, I began reading a book that Sherlock gave to me (grazie!), titled "Cancer Vixen," by Marisa Acocella Marchetto, a cartoonist for the New Yorker (etc.). At one point I almost laughed out loud. I wonder what the other patients sitting in the waiting room thought of me: a grown woman reading and chuckling over what looks like a…comic book!  (Not that I cared one whit, mind you!). Hehe.

Anyway, since you already know (if you have been reading my blog for a while) that I have a wacky sense of humour, you won’t be surprised to read that the part that thus far has amused me the most, and I am only on page 20!, is when she is told that she has an "abnormality" (referring to a breast tumour). Oh yeah, that’s a bit of really hilarious news, ujú ja ja ja ja ja jaaaaaa…ñaca-ñaca (that’s an "evil laugh" in Spanish, no kidding; you can find the most peculiar items in Wikipedia…), but I assure you that the cartoons are quite amusing, IF you have a warped sense of humour, that is!  

Well, I haven’t read any cartoons since I was in my teens, so this is fun, even though the subject itself (cancer!) isn’t that much…fun, admittedly! Oh, wait, another funny cartoon is the one depicting "possible cancer cells" in a petri dish, "magnified 3 gazillion times." Marisa makes them look like evil little green buggers sticking out their tongues and giving us the…finger. Good job, Marisa, so far. I will keep reading.

Fabulous news!

A MMA and Beating Myeloma list friend sent me a fabulous bit of news yesterday morning via e-mail, as follows:

I was diagnosed with MGUS. Feb.06, m-spike 0.03, went up to 0.07, and then I took control, took all your advice and listened to my body. I worked my way to 5 grams of curcumin among other things. Reduced stress, soaked in 104 degree water twice a day. Last test before Dr’s appointment: 0.02. The day of appointment I had another test, just got it back: "NO monoclonal protein detected by the current electrophoresis study.


I asked her for permission to post her story here. She very kindly (thank you!) consented, also providing me with the details of her protocol.

She takes the following: Andrew Weil’s Daily Multivitamin, Daily Antioxidant, Immune System Builders that include ashwaganda, cordyceps, astragalus, Siberian ginseng – the quantities are prepackaged in an AM and PM dose.

She also takes: Life Extension Super Curcumin with Bioperine 800 mg, 3 pills in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. Lysine: 1000 mg, 1/day. Resvera Wine Complex 500 mg, which contains: grapeseed extract, ellagic acid, & resveratrol, 1/day. Guggul Plex 340 mg, 1/day. Zyflamend softgels by New Chapter, 1/day. Yaeyama Chlorella 400 mg., by Yarrow Formulas, 1/day.

She writes: I am anemic if I am not careful and I take Slow FE- 47.5 mg. slow release iron- doesn’t upset my stomach.

Every morning and afternoon, she soaks in a 104 degree hot tub for 35 to 45 minutes and, she adds, there I do nothing but soak- it was hard to learn.

She adds: “I eat lots of veggies, some fruit and meat 2 or 3 times weekly (salmon, or whatever I’m craving, meatloaf last week, buy organic whenever I can). If I crave an old evil food, I eat it- it’s usually not as satisfying as I remember, and it takes care of the craving, although I recently made a German chocolate cake.

Lots of nuts, focusing on walnuts- make my own chocolate bars by roasting walnuts and pouring Ghirardelli’s chocolate (bought at Trader Joe’s) over top, keep it in my freezer for a quick fix.

No coffee, diet anything, fast food. Use real butter (organic) and olive oil- did notice a difference for the better when I gave up Smart Balance. Try to keep all food real—very little pre-prepared. In spring and summer frequent my local farmer’s market. Juice carrots every other day, and buy Green food juice at Trader Joe’s. Drink tons of water.

I have early retired, and I now do projects that used to take 1 day. I now spread them out over 3 or 4 days. If I’m fatigued, I do nothing.

I’m careful to avoid stress, I have started saying no to volunteer situations.

I’m 58, I have neuropathy from the waist down -large areas of no temperature feeling- reflexes not strong below the waist- My doctors are now saying fibromyalgia just because they don’t know. But if I listen to my body I can do anything I want, just slower with planning- I used to be a construction worker and have worn out my spine.

Hope this helps.

Upon rereading this post, I must admit that the list of things that she takes is quite daunting. I don’t take anything except for curcumin, quercetin, flaxseed oil, black cumin oil and an occasional multivitamin (heavy on the B vitamins). That’s my current intake. My list pales in comparison with hers. Hmmm.

At any rate, she will continue to monitor her blood situation every four months for the next year, then will go to every six months. She believes that getting rid of stress has really helped her, as well as ignoring the reports that we shouldn’t build our immune systems. Well, this approach clearly worked in her case! In her own words: I do believe our society demands multi-tasking, major stress, the need to buy more, have more. I think my efforts at doing nothing helped reset my immune system and yes, I ignored those reports that you don’t want to build your immune system.

Speaking of immune systems. Incredible but true: yesterday I began feeling a bit ill. And it just so happens that tomorrow Sherlock and I are supposed to go to the hospital lab to have our Biocurcumax tests done. But this morning I am having chills and, can you believe it?, a low-grade fever. Needless to say, I am quite annoyed! But not too surprised, since all of my students have been ill, with fevers and colds and terrible coughs…SIGH! Che pazienza che ci vuole…Well, unless I get worse, I will go have my tests done anyway. Oh, bother!

Update on the Consumer Lab curcumin report

A blog reader who uses the curcumin manufactured by Ageless Cures sent this company an e-mail expressing her concern about the recent Consumer Lab report (see my February 8 2008 post for details; there you can also read a message by an Ageless Cures representative: I would like to mention that I did NOT get in touch with Ageless Cures…but I must say this message made me feel like a VIP). Anyway, my blog reader received an immediate reply with reassurances that Ageless Cures was looking closely into the matter and working with Consumer Lab to figure it all out.

A few days ago she received another message from Ageless Cures, including a certificate of analysis of a 500 mg batch. I just checked, and the same certificate can be downloaded from the Ageless Cures website, and also the certificate of analysis of the 1000 mg batch.

The curcumin lot analysed by Consumer Lab was a 500 mg batch that had been discontinued in June 2007. Ageless Cures informed my blog reader that it transferred the manufacture of its 500 mg capsules to an FDA certified facility in October 2007. That seems to take care of that problem.

I admit that I can’t help wondering why Consumer Lab tested a discontinued batch of curcumin in the first place? That makes little or no sense at all. Hmmm. Moreover, it did not test the popular 1000 mg pill (odd, eh?), which is manufactured in an FDA, GMP (which means “Good Manufacturing Practices,” not “Greater Manchester Police” 🙂 ) and BBB (must be “Better Business Bureau”) certified facility. More hmmms.

Well, anyway, here follows the message my blog reader received from Ageless Cures (she authorized me to publish it; I have edited out some parts of it, such as personal references):

“Attached is the Certificate of Analysis of Curcumin 500mg and Super Curcumin 1000mg products performed by Internationally recognized Testing Labs Eurofins Scientific. Every batch manufactured by Ageless Cures is being tested and results posted on www.agelesscures.com. A copy of the COA is being enclosed with every order effective FEB 10th, 2008.

The test results show that the Active Curcumin levels (curcuminoids) meet or exceed the label specifications within tolerance. This same batch products manufactured in NOV-DEC 2007 are being shipped to customers. The same test methods purportedly used by Consumer Lab, HPCL (High performance Liquid Chromatography) is used to test the products for Active curcuminoids.

Certificate of Analysis Summary

Curcumin C3 Complex 500mg – 90 Capsules. Lot# 151011. Exp Date:12/2011. TEST RESULT: 512 mg of Active Curcumin (curcuminoids)

Super Curcumin C3 Complex w/Bioperine 1000mg. Lot# 101044. Exp Date:1/2011. TEST RESULT: 975mg of Active Curcumin (curcuminoids) + Bioperine.

Ageless Cures strongly feels that our customers are entitled to know the quality of products being purchased from us. We buy the most expensive organic Curcumin, manufacture in a FDA, GMP and BBB certified facility, maintain stringent quality standards and market directly to keep prices low.

The Consumer Lab report is a small blip which pertained to a specific small batch which we ceased to market long back and have also changed manufacturing to an FDA certified facility. We are also looking into the testing methods used by Consumer Labs and have been working with them to present all our products for voluntary testing.

From the very beginning, I always found it odd that Consumer Lab, a For Profit Organization (…), didn’t test the Doctor’s Best curcumin (very popular among us curcumin-takers; I have taken it, too) or the more popular NSI curcumin brand. It instead tested some obscure (to me, at least!) curcumin brands.

Odd, yes.

Curcumin, cats and heart disease

Really tired and sleepy this evening. It’s been a long day.

But I just read a fascinating "Globe and Mail" article on heart disease prevention and thought I would post about it briefly. The article first discusses a new University of Minnesota study showing that cat people (I don’t care for the expression "cat owners") have a much lower chance of developing heart disease. Interestingly, dog owners aren’t as lucky (makes no sense, but there you go). Click here for the full story: http://tinyurl.com/24m4qy

There follows an interesting section on turmeric, the “spice of life” (no kidding!): “A new study involving laboratory mice suggests curcumin can dramatically reduce the chances of developing heart failure, a chronic illness that claims 40,000 Canadian lives a year.” Basically, when mice with big hearts (I have a big heart, too! Yikes!) were fed curcumin, “signs of the disease actually reversed.” How about that? This is news to me. Welcome news, too! 

[This is a photo of Priscilla when she was a kitten. Here she is walking through a cat play tunnel.]

Update on cyclopamine

Yesterday a myeloma list member reported his test results after five cycles of cyclopamine. He authorized me to post about it. If you have no clue as to what I am writing about, see my August 2 and 3 2007 posts about cyclopamine, or my permanent page (see my Pages on the right, and look under "Other anti-myeloma/cancer supplements").

Here are some details posted by the cyclopamine-taking list member (from now on, I will refer to him as CT, or cyclopamine-taker) took a water-soluble form of cyclopamine for a year and a half. More specifically, he took 200 mg of cyclopamine a day for 14-15 days at a time, every 2-4 months. His m-spike went from 1.0 (achieved after two stem cell transplants two and a half years ago) to 0.2, then to 0.1, and he is convinced that these decreases, the first since his transplants, were due to his cyclopamine intake. Coincidental? Possibly. He reported, by the way, no side effects. Indeed, he feels great.

Okay, but we should not get TOO excited about this substance. The main reason, at least as far as I am concerned, is that it costs an arm and a leg. I had the brilliant idea of seeing if I could order some and ask my parents bring it over to me when they fly to Italy for their regular summer visit, but when I saw what it cost, i.e. thousands of dollars, my eyes almost popped out of my head. No way I could afford it. CT has a cheaper source than what I found online, but it’s still way beyond my budget.

Another list member pointed out that he would be anxious about potential side effects that might not manifest themselves immediately, but perhaps 20 years down the road. But CT (good sense of humour!) said that he would be happy to survive 20 years with myeloma! Indeed. He added that he is well aware that there are possible risks involved in taking a substance that hasn’t been approved by the FDA, but after all, we are dealing with myeloma, not an ingrown toenail (my analogy, actually). So true.

CT reminded us that Dr. Matsui reported in April 2006 at the American Association for Cancer Research (AARC) meeting that cyclopamine caused differentiation of  myeloma stem cells. In other words, the myeloma stem cells were eliminated because they did not produce any more cancer stem cells. The stem cells turned into mature plasma cells that eventually died out. Normal cells were not affected, he reported.

For an interesting Science Daily article (2002) on cyclopamine, see: http://tinyurl.com/2zcwut

In PubMed there are 260 studies on cyclopamine. But there is not one clinical trial. Typical.

As usual, I hope this situation will change soon. If it does, I might be first in line!

Update on the update: with this post, I wanted to report on an interesting case, perhaps (I hope!) a crucial one in the battle against myeloma stem cells. I would like to underline, though, that I am not encouraging folks to take cyclopamine. Even though we aren’t pregnant sheep (if you are puzzled about that statement, read my page on cyclopamine: all will be clear ), we still don’t know if there might be harmful side effects (etc.). CT did report that he had none, which is extremely important. In sum, I think this substance should definitely be put on our watch-and-see list. Yes, indeedie!

Non c’è due senza tre!

On my way to work this morning I was pulled over by two traffic officers for the first time in my life. They were checking out older cars to make sure the anti-pollution laws were not being violated.

Cars here are classified as Euro 0, Euro 1, Euro 2 and so on (for information on European low emission zones and relative policies, see: http://tinyurl.com/2dya7q). Cars that belong to the Euro 0 category can no longer circulate in Florence (and elsewhere), nor can certain types of Euro 1 (diesel cars, e.g.). It has to do with keeping the levels of pollution as low as possible. Speaking of which, how can the big polluting SUVs be allowed to circulate? Outrageous.

At any rate, my little old two-door hatchback Mazda is a Euro 2, so it is still okay, but we will probably have to turn it in (sob) and buy a new car next year. Anyway, this morning the officer checked my driver’s license and vehicle registration…everything was in order, so I drove off.

I had barely crossed the bridge (over the Arno River) when I got stopped…AGAIN! Even though I was afraid of arriving late at work, I just had to chuckle. I rolled down my window and told the traffic officer that my car had just been checked out by a couple of his colleagues, and the funny (handsome, too!) guy quipped, “well, then you already know what documents I need to see!” 

Just as I was pulling back out on the street, he shouted after me, “ah, ma non c’è due senza tre!” The English equivalent is “it never rains but it pours,” but the literal translation from Italian would be: “two things never happen without there being a third.” Meaning that before long I would be stopped again. Haha, very funny.

But no, I managed to get to work without further incident.

And my students very much enjoyed the story.

Weeping for health…

That onions are good for us is nothing new. If you have high glucose, a cold, a cough, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure or are at risk of developing certain types of cancer (colon, ovarian, prostate and so forth), etc., incorporate onions into your diet. Onions are good for us, period.

But the real reason I am writing this post is as follows: a recent Ralph Moss report, titled (hehe) “Read it and weep” (see: http://tinyurl.com/ytc2mp), contains some interesting titbits about onions. In recent years, he tells us, sweet onion varieties have been becoming more popular in U.S. supermarkets, mainly because they are less expensive than the red, yellow and white varieties, but also because they don’t make you weep all over the place when you cut them.

But are these blander varieties as healthful as their more pungent cousins? Not by a long shot. A group of Cornell scientists, Moss writes, compared the “phenolic and flavonoid content of 10 varieties of onion.” Shallots made the top of the list, followed by yellow and red onions (varieties grown in the U.S., but I presume or hope the same would be true of European varieties…?). And so on. You can see the list on Moss’ website, and you can also read the Cornell University news release here: http://tinyurl.com/yptld2.

The Cornell researchers tested all the onion varieties with cancer cells (for details, see the above-mentioned news release). Upshot: shallots and yellow and red onions had the strongest anti-cancer effects.

If you have a hard time peeling onions, the World’s Healthiest Foods website suggests chilling them for about an hour before using. That is a better method than peeling them under running water, which may wash away some of the healthful compounds, thus defeating the purpose.

I learned a fascinating little fact on the WHF website: the workers who built the pyramids in ancient Egypt were paid with…yes, with onions. I must admit that I wouldn’t be too happy if my salary consisted of onions! 

Seriously, now, my final point is: forget about sweet or white onions, but buy or grow shallots or yellow or red onions. The bitterer, the better!