9/11 firefighters have an increased risk of developing cancer, especially multiple myeloma

I have read that firefighters in general are three times more likely to get cancer because of their exposure to toxic chemicals that they inhale and that also get stuck in their clothing. But it really saddened me last week to read a recently published report about the 9/11 firefighters…

In this NBC News article, multiple myeloma is the first cancer mentioned: goo.gl/XaZJsa

The fact that so many of these brave people were being diagnosed with MGUS and MM is actually not the news of the day. I’ve been reading articles about this for years now. But, as I wrote above, there is a new study, published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Oncology: ) that officially confirms this terrible trend.

And I quote…The JAMA “study shows that WTC exposure may be a risk factor for the development of multiple myeloma and its precursor disease.”

Here’s the link to the actual (full) study: goo.gl/BcyEqn

My best wishes to them and their families.

A big win for European honeybees

The European Union has voted to expand a 2013 ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides that harm/kill bees and other pollinators. The ban is now permanent. See: goo.gl/yWyJoL

This is a major victory for science AND for common sense. I mean, even if, for some weird reason, you are NOT in favor of banning pesticides, do you really want to be eating food that has been contaminated with toxic crap that kills bees and birds?

Didn’t think so…

Incredibly, the EU vote was not unanimous, as it SHOULD HAVE BEEN. I read that four countries voted against it, namely, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary. Eight others abstained, including Belgium…Finland… Luckily, these countries made no difference.

Well, there are more toxic pesticides that should be banned out there…But for today, let us celebrate this major win for the European honeybees. Yaaaay!


Sexy curcumin

This morning, to help out a friend of mine, I was checking out a curcumin brand on Amazon Italy where I came across an Italian curcumin advertisement that sent me into peals of laughter.

I tried to copy and paste just the photo here on the blog, but Amazon wouldn’t let me do that, so I’ll have to give you the link to the entire ad. Sorry about that. I mean, obviously, I am NOT endorsing this product (although it may be perfectly fine…)…I just think the photo is hilarious!!!

Here’s the link: goo.gl/V19YS1

Enjoy!!!  😆 

Flying poop particles

Throughout the years, because of my teeny tiny immune system, I’ve become rather obsessed with washing my hands, which I do A LOT, several times a day. And, when I’m not near soap and water, I use an Italian hand sanitizer that I always have in my purse.

Public bathrooms…Sometimes you just have to use them (say, in an airport), but boyohboy, I try to be super careful. Anyway, at some point, paper towels were replaced by high tech hot air hand dryers. I was suspicious of them from the start, but I didn’t know why. I think I might have used them once or twice…that’s it.

Then, in 2011, I watched an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” (see below 😀 ) in which Sheldon goes on a rant against these hand dryers. I did some research at that point, and now, if I’m in a public bathroom, and someone begins using a hot air hand dryer, I get out of the way/bathroom as fast as I can. Thanks, Sheldon! 😉

I’m writing about this today because I just came across a new study confirming that Sheldon was right (yes, yes, I know he’s a fictitious character 😉 ). Here’s an easy-to-read synopsis: goo.gl/b3P1fP

The actual study can be found in PubMed: goo.gl/9KLfep

If you’re super interested in this enthralling topic, you can also check out this recent New York Times article discussing what apparently happened when a petri dish was put in an enclosed Dyson hand dryer in a women’s restroom: goo.gl/JgSNvx


But what if there is no other way you can dry your hands in a public bathroom, you might ask? Well, simply wipe them on your clothes, if possible, or have a Kleenex ready.

That’s what I do.

P.S. Oh, and please please please, always put the toilet lid DOWN before flushing. Yes, you got it: more flying poop and pee particles…AGGGHHHHH!

Bone marrow biopsies begone!

The days of painful, or very painful!, BMBs, without sedation, blablablablaetcetcetc, are almost over…or so it seems.

We may soon be able just to have a simple blood test, thanks to the work of a University of Kansas team that has developed a small plastic chip, the size of a credit card, which can yield the same information as a BMB. No pain, no discomfort. Nada. Just a blood test…

You can read all about it in this Science Daily article: goo.gl/vDymjQ

As someone who has always had painful BMBs, without sedation, I find this bit of news to be nothing short of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffantastic!!!

Not just myeloma

First bit of news: I’ve had absolutely no pain in my heel. It’s as good as new. I have to admit I’m still stunned…and I wonder if a more conventional doctor, let’s say a physiotherapist, would have made the connection between my relatively new eyeglass prescription and my heel pain. I doubt it.

This makes me wonder how many similar cases there are, of people who think they have plantar fasciitis or tendonitis or, sorry for the mention! 😉 , heel spurs, but whose pain actually originated in a different part of the body, an easy-to-fix part of the body. Mind-blowing, eh?

But the reason I’m writing today is that EBV, that is, the Epstein-Barr virus, is in the news again.

I wrote a few posts about the EBV connection to MGUS (and, therefore, to SMM and MM) back in October of 2017 when I came across an Italian study on this very topic, and then another bunch of posts in December and January, as I recall. To find and read these posts, all you have to do is put the acronym “EBV” in my blog’s “Search” box.

But now we have a more recent EBV study (which a dear SMM friend, thanks!!!, brought to my attention), conducted by a team at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, showing that this terrible virus is linked to SEVEN OTHER diseases, as follows: lupus, MS, RA, inflammatory bowel disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes. (!!!)

Here’s the link to the Science Daily article: goo.gl/FMyGe5

It’s a very interesting, easy-to-read article…a highly recommended read. As my friend commented, EBV has reached the mainstream now.

Here’s a food-for-thought excerpt from the SD article: “When viral and bacterial infections strike, our bodies respond by commanding B cells within our immune systems to crank out antibodies to battle the invaders. However, when EBV infections occur, something unusual happens. The EBV virus invades the B cells themselves, re-programs them, and takes over control of their functions.”

Given all the possibly dire consequences of an EBV infection, and given the fact that more than 90% of adults all over the world are antibody positive by the time they are 35 years old (freaky fact), we must take action. So, while we wait for an EBV vaccine to be developed (see article for more info), we need to build up our immune systems and, more importantly, those of our kids. How do we do that? Well, by looking up all the natural ways to block EBV…Curcumin would be at the top of my list: it prevents B cells infected with EBV from becoming immortal, etc. etc. etc. (check PubMed…I even found a study published back in 1998 about how curcumin affects EBV!)…There is lots we can do…

Oh how I wish I’d known all this stuff when I was in grad school, BEFORE I contracted this bloody virus, which, I just read, is an ancient fellow, perhaps 100 million years old…another freaky fact!!!

Anyway, it’s too late for me now…But it might NOT be late for you, so…get going! PREVENTION IS KEY!!! 🙂

It isn’t plantar fasciitis after all…

On the recommendation of our GP, yesterday I went to one of Florence’s most famous chiropractors who is also a physiotherapist and an acupuncturist.

I told him (and another female doctor who was there taking notes) my heel pain story. He asked me a few questions and then declared: “It’s not plantar fasciitis.” I was stunned. So what is it?, I asked.

He gave me an exhaustive and detailed explanation, which, unfortunately, I remember only in bits and pieces. But here’s the gist: my heel pain turned out to be merely the final step of a series of events that began when I got new eyeglasses back in October-November 2017. In a nutshell, my new glasses put a strain on my left eye, which at some point caused a “bad something” to happen in my left mandibular region. That “bad something” eventually traveled all the way down to my right hip, making me walk in a “funny” way…until finally it affected my right heel. I felt discomfort and pain only when it reached my heel.

Well, I have to admit that I was skeptical at first. Eyeglasses causing heel pain??? His explanation just sounded too convoluted. But then he proceeded to press down, at times quite hard, on certain points of my body (ouch!), including my right hip (curious note: near or possibly ON the area of one of my BMB tests…).

The result is that today I HAVE NO PAIN IN MY HEEL. None. Zero. Zilch. It’s all gone. Well, the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. The doctor said it will take three more sessions to get me back to normal, but I already feel fabulous…and I admit that my initial skepticism has all but disappeared…

Another thing we discussed was my cat allergy.

He says he’s going to fix that, too (!!!???!!!), so that I won’t have to resort to drugs anymore (Ventolin, e.g.) in order to live more easily with our beloved 7 kitties. He pressed some areas in my hand or wrist to work on the allergy, as I recall (I was so busy answering questions that I don’t remember, exactly).

In addition (what follows has to do with the cat allergy, not the heel pain, eh), he told me to stop drinking anything containing milk. Deep breath. Okay, Margaret, you can do this…

And so this morning I had a soyaccino instead of my usual cappuccino. The taste isn’t great, no not great at all, but, well,  acceptable, I guess…although my first reaction was: yuckrevoltingbleahcan’t-stand-it!!! Note: this was my first taste ever of soy milk (organic, of course). I think I can get used to it. If not, I’ll switch to tea…

It’s going to be more difficult to give up sugar, which is the second thing he recommended. He said it wouldn’t be forever…just for a while (months, probably). The benefits would be immense…I mean, I wouldn’t be allergic to the kitties anymore…I wouldn’t gasp and reach for my Ventolin anymore…That would indeed be great.

I have to admit, though, that right now the idea of giving up both milk AND sugar is tough…

For TODAY, though, I’m simply enjoying being able to walk normally again.

Feeling good!  😀 

Disappointing andrographolide

I received my blood test results yesterday afternoon. I’m not pleased at all. In fact, after comparing these results to my previous ones, I went into a bit of a funk and decided to take the rest of the day off…  👿

When Stefano got home from work and heard about the tests, he admitted that he, too, was disappointed, but he added, “you’ll figure out something. You always have.”

My no. 1 fan…!!!  🙂 

Okay, here goes. The main negative is that my total IgG shot up quite a bit. It had been going down pretty much steadily since 2013 (when it also shot up unexpectedly), but yesterday’s results took it back up to the 2013 levels. Aggggh!!! My M-spike also went up, but I should note that it has been higher, so that doesn’t concern me as much…

I’ve been trying to think of possible REASONS and have come up with a bunch of ’em, which are, of course, mere suppositions on my part, since I cannot possibly know WHY this experiment wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped it would be:

  • perhaps curcumin and andrographolide aren’t synergistic. I took them at the same time every day. A mistake?
  • perhaps the brand was not as good as I thought. I checked it out before ordering it, of course, and it seemed fine to me (a German brand, no bad reviews online, etc.), but…you never know…
  • 1. as we know, stress affects myeloma, and 2. I’ve been under quite a bit of stress lately, between Stefano’s shingles and my plantar fasciitis, e.g. Since stress had such a negative effect on my test results in 2013, I just have to wonder if it could have happened again.

The bottom line is: WHO KNOWS?

That said, my other markers are actually okay:

  • no Bence Jones;
  • kappa/lambda ratio, down a bit (a descending trend since 2016);
  • uric acid, within normal range (note: it hasn’t been normal since 2010);
  • CRP, fine;
  • B2M, normal (note: it hasn’t been normal since 2009, but I’ve never been concerned because it has been only slightly above normal range…still, it’s good to have it within the range now);
  • no change in the other two immunoglobulins, which are low but holding their own;
  • total protein, slightly lower compared to last tests;
  • calcium and creatinine, lower and still nicely within the normal range.
  • hemoglobin and hematocrit are fine…both within the normal range.

So the rest of my results are acceptable, or as acceptable as smoldering myeloma results can be (!!!).

The puzzler is merely this jump in total IgG.

Any thoughts? I know that a few of you began taking andrographolide at the same time I did (toward the end of February, more or less). Have you had your tests yet? Oh I so hope your results will be BETTER, much better!, than mine (that would show that the stress thesis is indeed correct…).

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to read that I will NOT be experimenting with any new extracts anytime soon. I need to get my IgG back DOWN, so, starting today, I’m going back on Reishi, which has done so well for me, and possibly ashwagandha (ditto), if I can find a reliable ashwagandha seller over here in Italy.

But oh how bloody disappointing. I was sooo enthusiastic about andrographolide. I still believe, strongly!, that it holds promise as one of the only (two) substances that attack myeloma stem cells, but more research is needed…and caution, too, obviously.

Well, this has taught me what I think is a good lesson: never ever test a new substance during a period of stress. At the first signs of stress, stop the test. Resume it only once things have gone back to normal. From now on, that is what I will do…