Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tip #8: Learn about inflammation, maybe even yours

Before last year, I had never really heard of inflammation. Or if I had, I don't remember. But I instantly perked up when I read the following:
 "At the Glasgow Hospital in Scotland, oncologists have been measuring inflammation markers in the blood of patients with various cancers since the nineties. They have shown that patients with the lowest level of inflammation were twice as likely as the others to live through the next several years. These markers are easy to measure, and to the astonishment of the Glasgow oncologists, they are a better indicator of the chances of survival than the patient’s general state of health at the time of diagnosis".  
Servan-Schreiber MD PhD, David (2009-12-31). Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition (Kindle Locations 926-931).
In fact, I found out that your level of inflammation (as measured according to the The Glasgow Prognostic Score) at the time of diagnosis is a better indicator of survival than the stage of your cancer. Thus, you may be diagnosed with a Stage IV cancer but, if you have low inflammation, you will probably live longer than somebody with Stage I with high inflammation. This was great news! There was something I could do: Keep my inflammation low. I learned most of this through my nutritionist (I'll talk more about her in another tip) and, with her help, I follow now a plan to control my inflammation.

So, what is inflammation? The way I understand it, your body has an inflammatory reaction when you get a bruise or a cut and this is good, as it your body's way to heal that bruise or cut. But, in our modern world, we attack our own bodies with the food we eat, the little exercise we do, with stress, etc and cause systemic inflammation that affects the whole body. This inflammation is actually at the root cause of many diseases: Type II diabetes, heart disease, some autoimmune diseases and, possibly, also cancer.

From what I've learned, I feel that everyone should have an idea of how "inflamed" they actually are. There is a simple blood test that can actually tell you. It is called the C-Reactive Protein test (or CRP). I'm not suggesting that you go to your doctor right now to have it done. But maybe, next time you have a check up, you can ask for this. It is normally used to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease, but I think it is good to know for all the other things mentioned. If you have a high CRP it may indicate an underlying problem you may not even be aware of.

Here is some more information about it:
And to keep your inflammation low, the same things that you always hear apply here too: have a healthy diet (lots of greens, organic products, not processed foods), avoid stress, cultivate friendships and connections with others, you know, everything I've been telling you. :)

And, just for reinforcement, here's a 2 minute video about it:

You know, you still can have low inflammation AND cancer, like it happened to me. The first time I was tested for the CRP, about three months after my diagnosis last year, my inflammation was extremely low. But, that number still gave me lots of hope, and, who knows, maybe that's one of the reasons why I'm responding so well to my treatment. 

To your health(y CRP)!!