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The Island Where People Forget to Die

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Evdilos harbor

Evdilos harbor (Photo credit: Lauren Carpe Diem)

The October 28, 2012, Sunday New York Times ran an article called “The Island Where People Forget to Die”. A man diagnosed here with cancer decided to move back to his parents house near Evdilos Greece. He had lung cancer an the American doctors gave him 9 months to live. He started to eat the local foods (mostly vegetables) and wine. Then something strange started to happen. He woke up when he felt like it and was enjoying what was left of his life. He did not die. He built a vineyard and was cancer free without drugs or chemo.

People on this small Island live very long and healthy lives. They work into old age. They eat fresh grown vegetables and the local produced wines. Food is grown without pesticides and seems to give them longevity. What we eat is so important.

Why do we do unhealthy things?

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Lung cancer

Lung cancer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is amazing how many people still smoke even though it is proven beyond a doubt that it causes lung cancer. A high percentage of smokers do die of lung cancer but it doesn’t seem to stop people. Maybe we feel invincible until it actually happens to us. At that time we always say “Why me?” I remember seeing a show when I was younger on smoking and cancer. It showed a man with a wife and kids. He had a lung removed and they caught him in the garage sneaking a cigarette. Addition is a terrible thing. It makes us do things we really don’t want to do. Smoking, over eating, sugar, salt they are all additions that can lead to disease and premature death.

How can we hope to show people who eating a stronger diet of vegetables will keep them healthy when they still smoke? We humans are an interesting species. We have a large brain and have used it to understand many of the mysteries of life and the universe around us but we still do unhealthy and stupid things to ourselves and our loved ones. We need to either wake up and live a healthier life or become seriously sick at younger and younger ages. Soon we won’t be able to build enough hospitals to house the sick.

We now Understand How Smoking causes Lung Cancer and Emphysema

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Correlation between smoking and lung cancer in...

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Dr. Farrah Kheradmand, professor of medicine and immunology at BCM said, “DNA is written in pen,” said Kheradmand, using a metaphor. “Epigenetics is written in pencil. If you have enough genes affected by epigenetic factors strung together, it can tip you over into lung damage and emphysema. The inflammation that drives emphysema could also drive cancer development, a testable hypothesis that we have begun to pursue.” We are getting clearer maps of how the environmental factors cause epigenetic changes. If enough of our genes are changed, things can happen like lung cancer or emphysema. As we study epigenetics more, we will be able to build better road maps for all diseases and map them back to changes in our lifestyle. This is a clear case where if you have lung cancer you need lots of drugs and operations but it usually ends with the patient dying. Preventing the cause by not smoking prevents the illness, the drugs, the operations and the premature death.

Mapping Cancer’s Genome

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Cancer cureHealth Data Management reported on a study to map 600 patients (both normal and cancer pediatric patients over three years). This study represents a huge effort to study epigenetic and genome data from cancer and normal cells. The data are being publicized in a database to help all researchers at, http://explore.pediatriccancergenomeproject.org. The more we learn about what epigenetic markers are changed from normal to cancer cells, the more we will be able to fight this disease. Then someone in nutrigenomics needs to do a study to map environmental influences (food, stress, thought, etc) to see which influence these markers. At that time we can begin to prevent this disease. We don’t need more drugs but better understanding of how our environment influences are genes and turns normal cells into cancerous ones.