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Natural chemicals found in the spices turmeric and black pepper appear to stop the growth of breast tumors, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

Researchers applied a solution containing both curcumin, found in turmeric, and piperine, which makes black pepper spicy, to breast cancer cells in a laboratory, using concentrations 20 times higher than those found in the human diet. They found that the solution hampered the ability of stem cells to propagate but did not affect the differentiation of normal breast cells.

“This shows that these compounds are not toxic to normal breast tissue,” lead author Madhuri Kakarala said.

Cancer stem cells are the cells in tumors that allow it to keep growing without limit. Current chemotherapy treatments are unable to affect stem cells, which is part of the reason that cancers can spread and recur even in those undergoing treatment.

“If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with potential to form tumors,” Kakarala said.

The researchers found that the piperine appeared to make the curcumin more effective. They also found that the solution affected cancer stem cells regardless of whether the tumors were estrogen-sensitive or not. This is an especially significant finding because the cancer-preventive drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene, which can have highly toxic side effects, do not affect estrogen-independent tumors.

“The concept that dietary compounds can help is attractive, and curcumin and piperine appear to have very low toxicity,” Karkala said.

Previous studies have linked a diet high in turmeric to a lower risk of breast, colon, prostate and lung cancers. Black pepper and piperine have both also been shown to suppress the development of colon and lung tumors in animal tests.

Sources for this story include:;

This information is brought to you by Dr. XiPing Zhou, M.D.O.M., L.Ac.Dr. Zhou is founder & president of East West Healing Arts Institute Massage School, Dr. Zhou’s Acupuncture & Pain Management Clinic,Madison Family Wellness Community Clinic,  The Herbal Palace, &China Delight Tours. Visit anyone of these websites to learn about Chinese medicine and culture

Children with cancer often use alternative medicine Wed, 29 Feb 2012 22:21:19 +0000

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Many children undergoing treatment for cancer use herbal remedies, vitamins or other types of alternative therapies, a new research review suggests.

The review, of 28 studies involving 3,500 children, found that anywhere from 6 percent to 91 percent of study participants used some form of alternative or complementary medicine at some point during their cancer treatment. In half of the studies, the rate ranged between 20 percent and 60 percent.

It is not clear from the studies whether some children were receiving alternative therapies instead of a particular standard cancer treatment, or whether they were only being used in addition to conventional medicine, according to lead researcher Dr. Felicity Bishop, of the University of Southampton School of Medicine in the UK.

What the studies do indicate, she told Reuters Health by email, is that “a substantial proportion of pediatric cancer patients use complementary and alternative medicine at some point in their treatment.”

The bottom line for parents, according to Bishop, is that they should discuss any use of such therapies with their child’s doctor.

She and her colleagues report their findings in the journal Pediatrics.

The public often perceives alternative therapies as “natural” and safe. But while some approaches are unlikely to cause harm — like relaxation therapies to reduce stress — other alternative treatments may present a risk to cancer patients. Research has found, for example, that high-dose vitamin C, St. John’s wort and green tea compounds may interact with certain cancer drugs and lessen their effectiveness.

And few alternative therapies promoted for cancer patients have been subject to rigorous clinical trials to test their effectiveness.

Some recent studies have had promising results; for example, a clinical trial last year found that the herb milk thistle may help limit liver inflammation as a side effect of chemotherapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Another found that adding flaxseed to the diets of men scheduled to undergo surgery for prostate cancer seemed to slow the cancer’s growth in some patients.

However, researchers caution that these are the first well-controlled clinical trials to evaluate those therapies, and more studies are needed before recommendations can be made.

In their review, Bishop and her colleagues found that herbal remedies were the most commonly reported alternative therapies, though use varied widely across the studies — with anywhere from 2 percent to 48 percent of children using herbs.

Between 3 percent and 47 percent of children used special diets or other nutritional therapies, while 3 percent to 30 percent used prayer or other forms of “faith-healing.” Other forms of alternative therapy included high-dose vitamins, mind-body therapies like meditation and relaxation techniques, and homeopathy.

In studies that asked parents why they had turned to alternative therapies, the most common reasons were “to cure or help fight the child’s cancer,” to help ease symptoms and to counter the side effects of conventional cancer treatment.

According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, patients considering alternative therapy should speak with their doctors first to make sure it fits safely into their overall care. Doctors or staff at a patient’s cancer center may also be able to recommend an alternative-medicine practitioner. Some cancer centers now offer alternative- and complementary-medicine programs that can be integrated into standard care.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, April 2010.

This information is brought to you by Dr. XiPing ZhouM.D.O.M., L.Ac. Dr. Zhou is founder & president of East West Healing Arts Institute Massage School, Dr. Zhou’s Acupuncture & Pain Management ClinicMadison Family Wellness Community Clinic,  The Herbal Palace, & China Delight Tours. Visit anyone of these websites to learn about Chinese medicine and culture.

Alternative remedy use common among infertile Wed, 29 Feb 2012 22:11:57 +0000

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A substantial number of American couples are looking beyond just state-of-the-art fertility treatments to therapies dating back centuries in hopes of improving their chances of conceiving a baby, according to new research.

More than a quarter of northern California couples followed in a study sought help from acupuncture, herbal therapy and massage-often as a complement to conventional conception strategies such as in vitro fertilization. Rates were especially high among wealthy, older couples.

“We suggest that couples struggling to achieve pregnancy are more likely to seek out any treatment that offers hope,” Dr. James Smith of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the study, told Reuters Health in an email.

The research is the first in the U.S. to quantify the use of complementary and alternative medicine for infertility-a problem that afflicts 7 to 17 percent of American couples, note the researchers in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Overall, studies have shown that up to 40 percent of Americans use such remedies for all conditions.

As a first step toward understanding what motivates a couple’s decision to pursue alternative remedies, Smith and his team recruited 428 couples from eight reproductive clinics and followed them via questionnaires and interviews over the next 18 months.

During this period, 29 percent of the couples reported using some form of complementary and alternative medicine: 22 percent underwent acupuncture, 17 percent took herbal therapy, 5 percent had body work such as chiropractic or massage, and 1 percent tried meditation.

With every five-year increase in the woman’s age, the chances of her and her partner pursuing at least one of these strategies rose by about 29 percent, even after accounting for factors such as having previous children and the use of other infertility treatments.

Couples earning more than $200,000 were nearly three times more likely to seek alternative remedies than were those with combined incomes less than $100,000.

In another study, not yet published, Smith and his colleagues calculated the total out-of-pocket infertility costs for couples using in vitro fertilization at $16,550. A visit to the acupuncturist runs about $100, added Smith.

“Couples with higher incomes were more likely to have the financial resources to seek out” complementary and alternative remedies, said Smith, emphasizing the relevance of “complementary” over “alternative” in this case.

Perhaps less surprising, couples failing to achieve pregnancy had a nearly two and a half-fold increased chance of using such remedies compared to those successfully conceiving, and partners that had a positive attitude about the effectiveness of alternative treatments were 85 percent more likely to try it.

The authors say the study’s design may limit whether their findings can be generalized to the larger population, because the couples were self-selected and there were low numbers of certain racial and ethnic groups. And, Smith said, the study was not designed to test whether such treatments are effective.

SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility, online March 24, 2010.

This information is brought to you by Dr. XiPing ZhouM.D.O.M., L.Ac.Dr. Zhou is founder & president of East West Healing Arts Institute Massage School, Dr. Zhou’s Acupuncture & Pain Management Clinic,Madison Family Wellness Community Clinic,  The Herbal Palace, &China Delight Tours. Visit anyone of these websites to learn about Chinese medicine and culture