Yesterday I finally finished editing the technical translations (concerning the inner workings of leather-processing machinery…ah, you have no idea…zzz!) that I had been working on for days, now. A bigger job than I had anticipated, but, phew, it’s done. I had no time to do any blogging, though, uff. But today I am baaack! 🙂 And I am going to post a couple of links to random things I have been reading during my work breaks.
First, here is the link to a study I learned about from a Facebook friend (thanks!): http://goo.gl/rI9fq Yes, yet another MGUS-SMM progression to MM study. Hmmm, they seem to be popping up like dandelions these days, don’t they? That is good, of course! The more we learn, the better off we are. And this study is also a relatively easy read. If you don’t have time to read the whole shebang, though, just jump to the Summary at the end.
Here is a particularly interesting titbit, which you can find in the paragraph titled “From ‘Multiple Myeloma Without a Progressive Course’ to Smoldering Multiple Myeloma”: basically, before 2003, there was a bit of confusion on how to define asymptomatic myeloma. Some studies, e.g., made a distinction between SMM and IMM (or indolent myeloma). This lack of consensus means that, Due to these varying definitions, one has to be cautious when assessing results across different studies. In fact, it is very problematic to compare SMM data collected prior to 2003, the year that the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) released a consensus on the specific diagnostic criteria for the known monoclonal gammopathies. By the way, IMM has now been lumped in with MM, whereas SMM is defined as “asymptomatic myeloma.” I must say, I found the news about how difficult it is to judge SMM data before 2003 a bit troubling. Too bad!
If you have SMM, please make sure to read the paragraph titled “Current Clinical Recommendations.” I was interested in what Dr. Langren had to say about the use of conventional chemotherapy in SMM: Using standard chemotherapy in SMM, early treatment has not been found to delay progression to active disease and overall survival. There you go…
She then spends a few words on that simply outrageous (hmmm, I really must find a synonym for “outrageous”…), still ongoing Spanish SMM-chemo trial. She comments that it is still impossible to determine if early treatment improves overall survival. Until we know the answer to this important question, we can only speculate whether early treatment has the potential to cure SMM, or if SMM should be classified as a chronic, asymptomatic disease state requiring maintenance therapy. Well, “speculation” is not good enough for me…no siree!
Then I read something that made the hairs on the back on my neck stand up (and freeeeeeze!). My emphasis: At the same time, we do not know if early treatment may facilitate selection of aggressive clones that are more capable of competing in the treatment-altered microenvironment (Figure 1). Because none of these scenarios has been proven true, it is very important to conduct well-designed correlative studies in clinical trials aimed at treating SMM patients.
Very important??? Why, that is possibly the biggest understatement I have read so far this year. I don’t know how you feel…but I would most certainly NOT care to anger my myeloma cells to the point where they would/might become more aggressive…Forget it, not happening…
This study does nothing but confirm my cautious approach to SMM: do NOT poke the tiger! By the way, I am not suggesting that those of us who are in the high-risk-for-progression group should simply sit back and wait. No, I very strongly believe that we can be proactive in many ways–diet, supplementation, laughing like a drain (I just learned that expression, hehe), etc… But we should avoid chemotherapy at this stage…No, not even in a clinical trial setting, especially if any of the researchers have a connection to the big drug companies that are funding the trial (as in the case of that confounded Spanish trial). As I have said over and over again (and will probably say it again!), early treatment in asymptomatic myeloma is too bloody risky. Case closed.
Now for something entirely different. Have you ever heard of “fenugreek”? If not, see http://goo.gl/ML9Iu I have used it in some of my Indian dishes…curries, e.g. Fenugreek is a plant, but the parts we use in the kitchen, as far as I know, are its teeny tiny seeds (see the rather blurry photo I took of my own organic fenugreek seeds).
But there is more to fenugreek than I thought: http://goo.gl/CjIQu According to this “Telegraph” article, fenugreek seems to have a rather powerful antiviral activity (like curcumin!)…so much so that it might help prevent our developing colds in the winter months. The volunteers in an unofficial-sort-of-study, half of whom already had cold symptoms, took a half teaspoon of fenugreek seeds twice a week (boy, talk about easy peasy!). The symptoms experienced by the “cold-ridden” folks improved significantly, whereas the people who usually developed colds in this period remained healthy. Interesting, no?
Since I am not one to shy away from tasting non-toxic substances that might be good for me, I decided to try some of these seeds. To me, they tasted a bit like, well, burnt celery…Yes, I know, that sounds terrible, but I can assure you that it was not. Not really. What I found a bit unpleasant was their extreme crunchiness…So I think it might be best to cook them, not eat them raw.
At any rate, since a simple cold can be potentially quite dangerous for us MM folks (more often than not, my colds quickly turn into bronchitis), I am definitely going to try eating some fenugreek seeds from now on. After all, they can’t hurt me! 🙂