Pot compound seen as tool against cancer

Marijuana, already shown to reduce pain and nausea in cancer patients, may be promising as a cancer-fighting agent against some of the most aggressive forms of the disease.

A growing body of early research shows a compound found in marijuana – one that does not produce the plant’s psychotropic high – seems to have the ability to “turn off” the activity of a gene responsible for metastasis in breast and other types of cancers.

Two scientists at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute first released data five years ago that showed how this compound – called cannabidiol – reduced the aggressiveness of human breast cancer cells in the lab.

Last year, they published a small study that showed it had a similar effect on mice. Now, the researchers are on the cusp of releasing data, also on animals, that expands upon these results, and hope to move forward as soon as possible with human clinical trials.

“The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there’s no toxicity. There’s really a lot of research to move ahead with and to get people excited,” said Sean McAllister, who along with scientist Pierre Desprez, has been studying the active molecules in marijuana – called cannabinoids – as potent inhibitors of metastatic disease for the past decade.

Like many scientific endeavors, connections made between disparate elements – in this case, a plant considered a controlled substance and abnormal cells dividing out of control – involved a high degree of serendipity. The two researchers were seemingly focused on unrelated areas, but found their discoveries pointing in the same direction.

Desprez, who moved to the Bay Area from France for postdoctoral research in the 1990s, was looking at human mammary gland cells and, in particular, the role of a protein called ID-1.

The ID-1 protein is important in embryonic development, after which it essentially turns off and stays off. But when Desprez manipulated cells in the lab to artificially maintain a high level of ID-1 to see if he could stop the secretion of milk, he discovered that these cells began to look and act like cancer cells.

“These cells started to behave really crazy,” Desprez said. “They started to migrate, invade other tissues, to behave like metastatic cells.”

Based on that discovery, he took a look at metastatic cancer cells – not just standard cancer cells, but those responsible for aggressively spreading the disease throughout the body. He found the vast majority tended to express high levels of ID-1, leading him to conclude that ID-1 must play an important role in causing the disease to spread.
Anticancer potential

Meanwhile, McAllister was focused on studying anabolic steroids in drug abuse. McAllister, who also made his way to CPMC from Virginia in the 1990s, became fascinated with the role non-psychotropic cannabidiol, or CBD, interacts with cancer.

Marijuana’s better known cannabinoid – delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – had already shown some anticancer properties in tumors, but the non-psychotropic cannabidiol had largely gone unstudied. McAllister initial research showed CBD had anticancer potential as well.

About eight years ago McAllister heard his colleague, Desprez, give an internal seminar about his work on ID-1, the manipulated protein cells that masquerade as cancer cells, and metastases. That produced an idea: How effective would cannabidiol be on targeting metastatic cancer cells?

The pair teamed up – Desprez with his apparently cancer-causing ID-1 and McAllister with his cancer-fighting CBD – deciding to concentrate their research on metastatic cells of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer called “triple negative.” It is so named because this type of breast cancer lacks the three hormone receptors that some of the most successful therapies target. About 15 percent of breast cancers fall into this category, and these cells happen to have high levels of ID-1.

Complete Article HERE!

The Kay Jaybee Connection

Interest in The Amateur’s Guide To Death and Dying is coming in from all corners. Even from what would appear, at first glance, as unlikely sources of interest. Take for example my good friend, Kay Jaybee. She is an award-winning author of sizzlin’ erotica who lives in the UK. She and I have know each other since September 2008 when, together, we inagurated The Erotic Mind podcast series over at Dr Dick’s Sex Advice.

Kay and I don’t often get a chance to connect, our schedules and the eight-hour time difference between us often prohibits that. But when we do chat it’s like old home week. Some weeks ago we visited with one another on Skype. I was telling her about the difficulties I was facing trying to get the word out about The Amateur’s Guide. Being an author herself she understood.

Kay asked me if I would be interested in writing a guest post for her site. I jumped for the opportunity.

Of special interest to Kay’s audience, and also my favorite, is Chapter 6 of my book, titled, Don’t Stop.  I collaborated with my dear friend, the internationally known sex educator and therapist, Dr. Cheryl Cohen Greene on this chapter about sexuality and intimacy.

We begin by posing 5 simple questions to help our readers focus their attention on their sexuality and intimacy needs.

1. How important is sexuality in your life?

2. Is there’s a difference between sexuality and intimacy?

3. Do you have a range of options in which to experience your sexuality?  If yes, what are some of them?

4. How well are you able to communicate your needs for sex and/or intimacy to your partner(s)?  Are there any specific issues that get in the way of asking for what you need?

5. What are your biggest concerns about your sexuality as it relates to your disease, aging and/or dying process?

Cheryl sums up the reason for incorporating this chapter in the book.

“Sexuality and intimacy are important topics for us to consider, because there is so little information out there about these things for elders and those of us who have life-threatening conditions.  The assumption, I suppose, is that sick, aging and dying people don’t have sexual and intimacy concerns, so why even bring it up?

That ridiculous assumption is so prevalent, even among healing and helping professions, that I’m forever having to confront it with, ‘Hey, we’re not dead yet.’”

Kay published my guest posting this morning.

I invite you to take a look at the full post.  I think you will agree things have got to change.

Click on Kay’s banner below to see the posting.

Starting Over

I have this great opportunity to cross post, here, a posting I made this morning on my sex advice site, Dr Dick’s Sex Advice.

Name: LD
Gender: Male
Age: 38
Location: Atlanta
How do you jump back into the game when your partner passed away suddenly? Getting really horny but its still awkward to actually do it.

Good question, LD. You say you’re feeling awkward. Why exactly? Is it because you’re out of practice with the whole dating thing? Are you concerned that people might think you’re jumping the gun, trying to get back into the game before your partner is cold in the grave? People can be pretty heartless about this. Or, is your awkwardness associated with your grief?

Grief has a profound effect on every aspect of our lives. Yet there is hardly any literature on the effects grief has on our sexuality. To my mind, grief is the leading causes of sexual dysfunction for those who have experienced the death of a partner.

Allow me a bit of time here for one of my pet spiels. Healing and helping professionals often misdiagnose grief. I want to make one thing clear, grief is not depression. Treating grief with an antidepressant is counterproductive. It can actually take away the impetus to resolve the grief and get on the rest of one’s life.

Making sure that you have processed your grief may eliminate some of your awkwardness you are currently experiencing. This is something I’m pretty familiar with. A good portion of my private practice is with sick, elder and dying people and their friends and family who survive them. I know the impact a terminal illness and dying process can have on the surviving spouse or partner. We often go into survival mode, shutting down so much of ourselves in an effort to have the strength to cope with this life-altering experience. Of course, trying to kick-start our life afterwards is often a monumental effort. Without the support and guidance of a professional or a group of similarly challenged people, some of us just sink to the lowest common denominator.

I believe in the resilience of the human spirit. I believe that we can honor our dead and continue to live and love. It sounds to me like you have a desire to get on with your life, LD, to fill the void, to make new connections, but you simply don’t know how. Acknowledging that fact is a real good place to begin.

Perhaps you could start by reawakening your sexuality through self-pleasuring. Reconnect with your body and the joy it can bring you. Reestablishing a social life will no doubt follow, slowly at first. But the inevitable tug of the need for human-to-human contact will draw you, if you let it. Remember the best testament to those who have died is to continue to celebrate life itself.

Allow me to draw your attention to my latest book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying; Enhancing The End Of Life. Actually it’s more of a workbook then a text and while its primarily target are those currently facing their mortality it’s not exclusively for them. Concerned family and friends, healing and helping professionals, lawyers, clergy, teachers, students, and those grieving a death will all benefit from participating in the interactive environment the book provides.

Of special interest to you will be Chapter 6, Don’t Stop. My good friend and colleague, Dr Cheryl Cohen Greene, joins me in presenting this chapter on sex and intimacy concerns. Like I said above, there is a dearth of information about this timely topic for sick, elder and dying people as well as those who are grieving. So I am delighted that my book helps break this deafening silence.

I hope you take the time to write back, LD. I’d very much like to keep tabs on how you are doing.

Good luck

New Tory health chief Anna Soubry slams law that forces terminally ill Brits to die abroad

NEWLY promoted UK health minister Anna Soubry said terminally ill people should be able to receive assistance in ending their lives in the UK.

DAVID CAMERON’S new health minister yesterday slated current laws on assisted ­suicide as “ridiculous”.

Newly promoted UK health minister Anna Soubry said terminally ill people should be able to receive assistance in ending their lives in the UK.

Last night, her comments were ­welcomed by independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who has fought to have assisted suicide legalised in Scotland.

MacDonald said: “These comments are very welcome. They are more realistic and in tune with public opinion than what we have heard from politicians in all parties, with one or two laudable exceptions.

“I am absolutely delighted that the wind is blowing that way.”

The Lothian MSP, who has Parkinson’s disease, has attempted to change the
law in Scotland with her End of Life ­Assistance Bill.

The bill was rejected by MSPs last year but she has vowed to reintroduce it.

She said: “I think this will help MSPs, particularly the newer ones, feel freer about supporting it and we will have a greater chance of success this time.”

Soubry called for greater “honesty” about when prosecutions would be brought for helping relatives to die.

She said: “You can’t say to a doctor or a nurse, ‘You can kill this person’.”

Soubry added: “I think it’s ridiculous and appalling that people have to go abroad to end their life instead of being able to end their life at home. The rules we have about who we don’t prosecute allow things to happen but there’s a good ­argument that we should be a bit more honest about it.”

Her comments came after locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson died a week after he lost his legal bid to end his life with a doctor’s help.

His widow Jane welcomed Soubry’s comments.

She said: “We’re pleased that she has come forward and said this. It does open the debate even more, having an MP who’s willing to stick her neck out and actually support assisted suicide.”

But anti-euthanasia group SPUC ­Pro-Life general secretary Paul Tully said: “The goodwill among the public towards people with disabilities has never been higher than at the Paralympic Games.

“Suddenly they are faced with the ­prospect that if they struggle with suicidal feelings, they will be given help to die instead of care and support.”

Complete Article HERE!

Exhibit gives cultural views on death

— Saerom Yoo

Death is universal. But the way people deal with it is not.

This fact is the basis of an exhibit that opened recently in downtown Salem.

Salem Health and the Salem Multicultural Institute partnered to put on the End of Life exhibit in the World Beat Gallery, homing in on the process of dying from a cultural perspective. The three cultures highlighted are Hispanic, Russian Old Believer and Micronesian.

Dr. Nancy Boutin is medical director of Salem Health’s Salem Cancer Institute as well as the Palliative Care Program. She said the three groups are among those the hospital staffers see most often.

In the twenty-something years Boutin has worked in Salem, the cultural diversity of patients has greatly increased. At the same time, the provider community has not.

So the exhibit was a way to educate the medical professionals on beliefs and customs around end of life. The hope is that greater awareness will help medical personnel be more sensitive to the needs of different cultures.

“I am aware now that, despite my best intentions, I’ve done things that probably have caused discomfort, if not actual pain, to families,” Boutin said. “Just because I didn’t know.”

So that’s how this exhibit was conceived, but it has the potential to start meaningful conversations for the general public, too.

Graham Morris, executive director of Salem Multicultural Institute, says death is not something people like to talk about. But families might benefit from doing so. Questions surrounding where and how you’d like to die, organ donation, cremation and burial are a few topics to think about.

The exhibit won’t provide you textbook information on where the three cultural groups land on those issues. In fact, you’ll notice that there are differing opinions within the same general group.

“We’re not looking to provide hard answers,” Morris said. “We’re here to start conversations.”

The information for the exhibit comes from interviews with people who live in the Mid-Valley, which offer a sense of authenticity.

And while the featured cultures originate in vastly different parts of the world, there are some key commonalities in the way they think about death.

Extended family members gather around food in an event prompted by death, for example. People have a desire to die with forgiveness and peace in their hearts, whether it’s in personal relationships or with a higher being. They also want to die or be buried on their home turf.

The exhibit, which is on the second floor of the Reed Opera House in downtown Salem, requires a lot of reading. The most visual aspect is an example Day of the Dead altar, which is used in Mexico to honor the deceased. The display includes colorfully decorated skulls and yellow marigold petals.

If you take the time to read through the information, you’ll learn that hospice isn’t an attractive option for people in Latino cultures, possibly because the Spanish word “hospicio” means orphan asylum.

In Ukrain, death is not accepted until all options for recovery have been tried and the person has actually died.

Those in Micronesian communities may not agree with organ donation because of beliefs that alteration or intrusion into the body could harm the soul.

I asked Boutin how she thinks the exhibit might influence the way she and her staffers serve patients. There wasn’t a straight answer — and perhaps for the better.

Cultural education offers a wider understanding of different people’s needs and beliefs. It doesn’t prescribe routine practices. Death is too personal for that.

Both Morris and Boutin agree that the exhibit, while it is about end of life, is just the beginning.

Complete Article HERE!