Alternative Integrative Therapies Part 4: Cancer and Epigenetics

biology_of_belief_cover

According to Wikipedia:

Cancer epigenetics is the study of epigenetic modifications to the genome of cancer cells that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Epigenetic alterations are as important as genetic mutations in a cell’s transformation to cancer.[1] Mechanisms of epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes and activation of oncogenes include: alteration in CpG island methylation patterns, histone modifications, and dysregulation of DNA binding proteins. Understanding epigenetic mechanisms holds great promise for cancer prevention, detection, and therapy.

If this explanation was too complicated for you, as it was for me (Science, biology and all related fields were never my strong point),  I have another definition by the person who discovered epigenetics. Author Dr. Bruce H. Lipton, a former medical school professor and research scientist breaks it down in simpler terms,  “Genes and DNA do not control our biology. DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts.” In other words, I am NOT my mother’s genes. For example: My mother having breast cancer doesn’t mean I am destined to have breast cancer. It is my thoughts which create my emotions which contribute to me getting sick.

Dr. Lipton wrote about his discovery of epigenetics and how the mind/body connection works in his book, “Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles.” You can buy a copy here if you are interested to know more, or you can just watch this interview:

Even before I ever heard of Dr. Lipton, I read several articles recently that agreed with this theory. He just backed it up with scientific evidence. For example; chronic  stress contributes to disease by weakening the immune system. Dr. Lipton explains that stress is valuable when you need to run away from danger, like a tiger coming after you. The stress response is the fight or flight reaction left over from when we really did need to run away from tigers, but nowadays we are stressed about being stressed!  We have too many commitments and not enough time to do them all which stresses us out. We don’t get enough sleep. We eat fast food on the run, or while we work at our desk, or watch television. We don’t spend time just “being,” we are always doing and after a while it takes a toll on our bodies and we finally crash.

When we are stressed, our digestion grinds to a halt, our sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) convert to cortisol, and our blood sugar skyrockets. The energy our bodies use to perform those functions is redirected to other parts of our body so we can get away from whatever danger is looming. Its ok if you are in a dangerous situation, but do that for a long period of time, and you will have some sort of heath crisis.

That’s what happened to me. In my case I was not only stressed, I worried all the time. The mantra in my head was always, “What if this? What if that?”  I never worried about getting cancer though, but when I was diagnosed all those other “what ifs?” seemed trivial, and they still do. My thought process created the negative emotions that finally manifested themselves physically (as in they weakened my immune system which enabled cancer to take root).

Our genes aren’t just influenced by our mind, our diet also plays a big part. Eating effects how our DNA is expressed. According to an article written by David Perlmutter M.D., eating foods high in sugar can damage our genes. “… High blood glucose may damage our telomeres; the ends of our DNA code. Considering that an undamaged telomere may be protective against cancer, death, and the very act of aging, any process that harms telomeres could put us at substantial risk. Data from the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging found that the higher the blood sugar, the more damage caused to the telomere and its associated DNA.”

The good news is changing ones diet can change the gene expression to a healthier one.  “… Essentially, the idea of epigenetic diet is to maximize the health of your DNA. This diet emphasizes compounds like the sulforaphane (found in broccoli), curcumin (found in turmeric), epigallocatechin gallate (found in green tea) and resveratrol (found in wine), and is designed to slow or potentially reverse damage to our DNA. The epigenetic activity of these chemicals may both prevent cancer formation and lead to decreased fat cells, as well as generally lower inflammation.”

I learned from my mistakes and I work on keeping my stress levels down, namely by meditating everyday. Most of the time I start my mornings with a twenty minute mediation, but on the rare occasion where I can’t do it, I don’t stress over it; I make time later in the day. Since I’ve been meditating four years now, I can get away with that. I also spend at least ten minutes a day practicing yoga. I’m not great at it but that doesn’t matter to me, I’m taking time out to do something healthy for my body and that’s something I never did before. I also eat a plant based diet. All my intestinal issues that plagued me for years are now gone.

Epigenetics has been around for at least twenty years but I never heard of it before now, at least I now know there is a scientific name to explain what the body/mind connection means. This is proof that we are not victims of our DNA which is what most of us believe. Just filling out one of those medical history forms when we see our doctor makes us think (at least subconsciously) that we are destined to get the same diseases as our parents. I know my doctors asked me if colon cancer ran in my family. It didn’t but heart disease did.

Now that I know my choices affect my health, I want to make better choices.

We are responsible for what foods we choose to eat and what thoughts we choose to think. Now that you know that, are you motivated to think differently?

Be well and think good thoughts!

Ingebird

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3 thoughts on “Alternative Integrative Therapies Part 4: Cancer and Epigenetics

  1. Before I completed reading this post, I purchased the Kindle version of the book. Also, for a deeper read, I printed. I also re-blogged and posted on Facebook to share with others. Thank you.

    • Your welcome SeasonedSistah2! I plan to do more research into this subject since I believe I only scratched the surface . I also found out the hospital where I volunteer at teaches this and will learn more (maybe I can sit in on a lecture)… I am surprised and disappointed that my doctors didn’t tell me about it since…it has been around for 20 years! Oh well… better late than never!

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