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“Have you heard about the martini effect?” the psychologist said. “You write 350 words then reward yourself with a martini.”Β  When I googled it, I found other meanings. It’s a phrase divers use for nitrogen narcosis. Every 10 metres in depth equates to one martini. You start to notice it after three. Mostly though it seems to refer to the effect of technology on geography, meaning we are no longer tied to our desks, our offices, we can connect from anywhere.
My recent bout of cancer left me stirred not shaken, and now I am beginning to re-emerge. This is a continuation of my first blog medical mutiny – which was about diagnosis and treatment. This is about recovery. When you’ve had cancer, you travel hopefully.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nicole
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 18:49:55

    Glad to hear that you are recovering πŸ™‚

    Reply

  2. Carol Knizek
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 12:13:24

    Hi Claire,

    I enjoyed reading your blog and you are a force to be reckoned with, you GO GIRL!! Yes, you are right about the whole plastic situation, if you freeze a water bottle then you are leaching the plastic along with all of the chemicals that went into making the plastic. Also the opposite is true, if plastic gets heated in a microwave or even in a hot car it is bad for your health!

    I am glad that you are detoxing your life, it’s good to detox your emotional world as well as your physical world. We have to clean out the old to let the new in! I am thrilled that you are recovering well and I wish you health and happiness.

    Warm Regards,

    Carol (Eat Right For Your Life)!

    Reply

  3. Carol Knizek
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 12:15:05

    Hey Claire,
    I was just subscribing to your site.

    Thanks,
    Carol

    Reply

  4. Julian
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 21:21:59

    .” ecancermedicalscienceDOI.10.3332/eCMS.2008.88. …
    Defeating cancer with antidepressants
    Julian Lieb, M.D
    Abstract
    Prostaglandins are ephemeral, infinitesimal signalers self-regulating every cell in the body, including those sub-serving mood and immunity. At first, they were perceived as a master switch, but now are believed to regulate every component of cellular micro-anatomy and physiology, including those of the organelles, cytoskeleton, proteins, enzymes, nucleic acids and mitochondria. Prostaglandins are responsible, paradoxically, for cell function and dysfunction. Excessive prostaglandin synthesis depresses immune function and may induce cancer. An ideal anti-cancer agent would inhibit prostaglandins in such a manner as to shut down the pathogenesis of cancer. In this paper, I will show that antidepressants have such properties.
    ________________________________________
    The anti-prostaglandin, immunostimulating and antimicrobial properties of lithium and antidepressants
    Depression predisposes us to, among other things, infection, cancer, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative, cardiovascular and auto-immune disorders [1,2]. Excessive syntheses of prostaglandins is incriminated in all of these [1,2]. Lithium and antidepressants have potent anti-prostaglandin, immunostimulating and antimicrobial properties, and antidepressants have the paradoxical ability to mitigate, reverse or induce auto-immunity [1,2].
    When synthesized excessively, prostaglandin E2 depresses cellular and humoral immunity, allowing pathogens to replicate 3. Prostaglandins regulate the physiology, immunity, replication and toxicity of micro-organisms and the resistance of their hosts [1–4]. Failure of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in infections led to the conclusion that inhibiting prostaglandins has limited value in that field. The prostaglandin-inhibiting properties of lithium and antidepressants have been neglected [5–10], along with their unique immunopotentiating and antimicrobial actions [2]. In the early 1950s, clinicians observed that patients treated for tuberculosis with the monoamine oxidase inhibitors isoniazid and iproniazid had an elevation of mood and energy. It was also observed that monoamine oxidase inhibitors have dual anti-tuberculosis and antidepressant properties failed to impact the pharmacology of infectious disorders. Remission of such manifestations of viral infections as sinusitis, sinobronchitis, frequent colds, sore throats, cold sores and genital herpes in patients taking lithium carbonate has been reported [11–13]. The polymorphonuclear leukocytes of a 29-year-old woman with eczema and recurrent staphylococcal and streptococcal skin infections were unresponsive to standard chemotactic stimuli. In vitro addition of lithium to her polymorphonuclear preparations restored their chemotactic response. After receiving lithium carbonate, 1 g/d for five weeks, she became free of infection and relapsed when lithium was withdrawn [14]. Lithium chloride prevents replication of type 1 and 2 herpes virus in cell culture [15] and augments several in vitro immune reactions [16].
    Monoamine oxidase inhibitors can reverse tuberculosis, aphthous ulcers, cold sores, genital herpes, upper respiratory tract infections and plantar warts [17–19]. Tricyclic antidepressants can reverse aphthous ulcers [20], reduce the frequency of recurrences of shingles [1,2], remit the pain of this disorder [1,2], prevent post-herpetic neuralgia [1,2], destroy leishmania minor and major in vitro [21], and inhibit in vitro growth of the intestinal parasite giardia lamblia [22]. Tricyclic antidepressants have anti-malarial properties: they enhance in vitro susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum to chloroquine and are lethal in vitro against Trypanasoma parasites [23-27]. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors can destroy such fungi in vitro as Candida and Aspergillus [28], reverse recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis in vivo [29], have anti-microbial activity [30] and are synergistic when combined with antibiotics [31].
    Impaired lymphocyte function reduced natural killer cell activity, reduced lymphocyte responses to mitogens and decreased natural killer cell populations have been demonstrated in depressives [1,2,32,33]. Tricyclic antidepressants augment natural killer cell activity in vivo and in vitro [34] and the monoamine oxidase inhibitor tranylcypromine enhances defective cell-mediated immunity [35]. As lithium and antidepressants have immunopotentiating properties, they are effective against a wide range of micro-organisms. Evidence to date shows that while lithium has antiviral and antibacterial properties, antidepressants have antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic and fungicidal properties. Response of infection to lithium and antidepressants mirrors that of response to depression, with subjects responding selectively to antidepressants or lithium; antidepressants are highly specific and humans remarkably variable. Response of depression and infection to lithium or an antidepressant is usually simultaneous, suggesting that the central actions of the drugs are important. While antivirals are not necessarily immunostimulants, lithium and antidepressants are invariably antivirals. If antidepressants double as antibiotics, it would not be surprising if antibiotics doubled as antidepressants. Many antibiotics, among them clarithromycin, erythromycin, amoxacillin and ciprofloxacin, can elevate mood to the level of hypomania or mania [36].
    ________________________________________
    Prostaglandins in carcinogenesis
    Among the mechanisms of carcinogenesis are up-regulation of cyclooxygenase, oncogene synthesis and expression, viral activation, signal disruption, accelerated cell replication, failed apoptosis, tumor initiation and promotion, angiogenesis, metastasis, immunosuppression, auto-immunity and activation of mitochondria. All fall within the orbit of prostaglandins and their forming enzymes. In 1968, Williams reported high levels of prostaglandins in the thyroid and plasma of patients with medullary cancer of the thyroid [37]. In 1976, Goodwin reported excessive synthesis of prostaglandin E2 in suppressor T-cells of patients with Hodgkin’s disease [38]. Numerous studies have confirmed elevated levels of prostaglandins in solid tumors and in the immune cells and body fluids of cancer patients [39,40]. The isolation of such isoforms of cyclooxygenase as COX-2 [41], and the synthesis of selective COX-2 inhibitors has stimulated research into the expression of this isoform in cancer and its role in apoptosis. COX-2 is up-regulated in such cancers as those of the head and neck, breast, lung, pancreas, bladder, cervix, prostate and mesothelium [41–43]. In population studies, chronic use of such prostaglandin inhibitors as aspirin and ibuprofen has reduced the risk of colon cancer by as much as 40% [44].
    Armato and Andreis showed that arachidonic acid and prostaglandins F1 alpha and F2 alpha stimulate the DNA-synthetic and mitotic activities of hepatocytes [45]. Goodlad has reported that the increase in gastric mucosal mass induced by misoprostol in the stomach of dogs is due to increased cell production. The increase in mucosal mass was the result of a dramatic increase in the foveolar surface mucous cells [46], other studies show a paradoxical, inhibitory effect of prostaglandins on DNA synthesis [47]. Prostaglandins and their synthesizing enzymes are key factors in many signaling events, and disruptions of signaling pathways have been incriminated in many cancers.
    In her pioneering studies, Karmali [48,49] showed that increased thromboxane formation in human breast cancer specimens is associated with three clinical variables: tumor size, axillary lymph node metastases and distant metastases. The mechanisms by which prostaglandins and thromboxanes induce metastasis include induction of proteolytic enzyme production, neovascularization and subversion of the immune response. The initiation of metastasis is thought to involve the adherence of circulating tumor cells to endothelial cells or to basement membranes. Prostaglandins and thromboxanes play a role in adherence [49,50], with local thromboxane concentrations possibly determining the sites of metastasis [51]. Immunosuppression is a cause and effect of cancer. Increase in prostaglandins at the primary tumor focus may block surveillance by the immune system, while an increase in plasma prostaglandins may contribute to the suppressive environment for lymphocyte function [52].
    In a paradoxical counterpoint to immunosuppression, numerous autoimmune phenomena are reported in patients with cancer [53]. Malignant tumors are diagnosed with increased frequency in patients with such autoimmune disorders as pemphigus, Myasthenia gravis and the Eaton-Lambert syndrome [54,55]. The paraneoplastic syndrome includes a variety of neurological, hematological, metabolic, cardiovascular and dermatological disorders, in all of which prostaglandins have been incriminated [55,56]. As monoamine oxidase inhibitors, originally used in the treatment of tuberculosis, have potent antiviral and immunostimulating properties, it is not surprising that one of them, Matulane (procarbazine), is effective in treating stage 111 and 1V Hodgkin’s disease.
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    Depression: A precursor of cancer
    In the Ward Jones lecture given at Manchester University in 1957, Sir Heneage Ogilvie commented, β€˜I have slowly come to frame in my mind an aphorism that can never be stated as such, because no statistics can be advanced to support it: β€œThe happy man never gets cancer” … The instances where the first recognizable onset of cancer has followed almost immediately on some disaster, bereavement, the breakup of a relationship, a financial crisis, or an accident are so numerous that they suggest that some controlling force that has hitherto kept the outbreak … in check has been removed’ [57]. In 1998, Penninx et al at the National Institute of Aging provided compelling data for Ogilvie’s hypothesis: chronically depressed people over the age of 70 are 88% more likely to develop cancer and twice more likely to die of it than their mellow peers [58].
    ________________________________________
    Antineoplastic properties of antidepressants in vitro
    Many studies show that antidepressants have potent anti-cancer properties, both in vitro and in vivo, with regard to various antidepressants, mechanisms of action and cancer cell types [59–78]. Irrespective of their putative mechanism of action, the antidepressants destroyed the cells or arrested their proliferation [59–78]. Hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase is the primary prostaglandin-degrading enzyme, highly expressed in normal colon mucosa but lost in human colon cancers [79,80]. Lack of this enzyme promotes the earliest steps of growth of benign as well as malignant colon tumors [79,80]. When this enzyme was first characterized, every agent tested in the hope of stimulating it either had no effect or inhibited it. Eventually Mak and Chen showed that amitriptyline and imipramine powerfully activate the enzyme in mice, especially the kidney enzyme, with more than a thousand-fold activation by amitriptyline. Amitriptyline and imipramine had potent activating effects on this enzyme in the brain [81].
    ________________________________________
    Mitochondria, prostaglandins and antidepressants
    Mitochondria are tiny organelles that supply cellular energy and are involved in signaling, cellular differentiation, control of the cell cycle, growth and programmed cell death. The cells of malignant gliomas of the brain, and small and non-small cell cancers of the lung, tend to repair DNA-breaks caused by radiation and chemotherapy. In an effort to accomplish cell death by an alternative method, investigators are targeting mitochondria. Small molecule agents known as β€˜mitocans’ are able to enter tumor cell mitochondria, reduce oxygen consumption, and activate mechanisms leading to cell death. Agents that can destroy cancer cells in this manner, while leaving normal cells intact, notably include antidepressants [82-84]. Laboratory experiments using this approach on various cancer cells, including those of gliomas, are encouraging [65,66]. It goes without saying that prostaglandins are intermediaries between mitocans and mitochondria [85–87].
    ________________________________________
    Antineoplastic properties of antidepressants in vivo
    A woman suffering from major depression and advanced liver cancer (hepatoma) was treated with psychotherapy, the antidepressant fluvoxamine (Luvox), glycyrrhizin acid and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Various indices of defective immune function normalized, and her liver function tests improved. At follow-up two-and-a-half years later, she was well and symptom free [88]. In 1990, a 60-year-old woman had a mastectomy for inflammatory breast cancer, followed by excision of infiltration of the chest wall. She was given a prognosis of less than a year. I treated her with various antidepressants, and when relocating in 2003 she was in apparent good health.
    ________________________________________
    Discussion
    Antidepressants have the potential to arrest, prevent, reverse and palliate cancer. Short of that they have many other uses in cancer care. Antidepressants can reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes in patients treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer, and remit acute neurosensory symptoms secondary to oxaliplatin chemotherapy [89]. The monoamine oxidase inhibitors deprenyl and clorgyline protect nonmalignant human cells from ionizing radiation and chemotherapy toxicity [90], and antidepressants are capable of reversing chemotherapy-induced vomiting [91].
    As the response to antidepressants is highly specific, many patients require multiple trials before responding. Some subjects are refractory to all antidepressants, and some relapse due to tachyphylaxis [92]. Prostaglandins are capable of paradoxically inducing pro- and anti-cancer actions. The omnipresence of paradox warns that antidepressants are capable of initiating or accelerating cancer. Maintaining an index of suspicion, close clinical observation and limiting the duration of drug trials can mitigate such paradox. Epidemiological studies have failed to confirm the suspicion that antidepressants may induce breast cancer [93]. However, breast cancer has been reported in three men, taking selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors [94].
    Wherever prostaglandin-synthesizing enzymes convert arachidonic acid or phospholipids to prostaglandins, there are possible sites of action of antidepressants. By maintaining these enzymes within physiological limits, antidepressants shut down the mechanisms of carcinogenesis. Considerable evidence now shows that antidepressants are cytotoxic and cytostatic; convert multidrug resistant cells to sensitive and protect nonmalignant cells from ionizing radiation and chemotherapy [95]. While lithium has immunostimulating and anti-microbial properties, there is little evidence for its possible antineoplastic actions. Antidepressants have potent analgesic properties alone or as potentiators of narcotics, and they enhance sleep, appetite and occasionally energy. Their immunostimulating and anti-microbial properties are relevant to infection secondary to chemotherapy or radiation. Alleviation of anxiety, depression, fear of death,
    ________________________________________
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    Reply

  5. Jimmy Kwok (@YogaSeekerJ)
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 10:07:19

    I think one can avoid using anti-depressants during chemotherapy/radiotherapy by integrating other simpler regimes like yoga exercises which have been clinically proven to improve psychological well being. For more information below:
    http://www.yogaseeker.co.uk/benefits-of-yoga-for-cancer-patients.php

    Reply

  6. Jonathan Chamberlain
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 10:45:08

    I would like to share with you that I have just published a book about cancer – based on 18 years research since my wife was diagnosed. It’s called The Cancer Survivor’s Bible and you can read about it at http://www.fightingcancer.com. At 550 pages it’s very comprehensive – it does not advocate any particular treatment. instead it critically evaluates all approaches. You can read some good testimonials on Amazon – such as the one below. I have also attached the free download of a section of the book that is available to anyone visiting my site.

    Could you let people know about this resource on your blog.

    Many thanks

    Jonathan Chamberlain

    UK Amazon Review from “Lucy W.”

    This [The Cancer Survivor’s Bible] is a book that everyone should read.

    A great proportion of us, at some point in our lives, will experience cancer ourselves or through someone close to us.

    Having just been through surgery myself to remove a breast cancer lump and facing follow-up treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy, I am so glad I was tipped off to read this book.

    It tells a lot more about the ‘orthodox’ treatments for many different types of cancer, including statistics on the actual effectiveness of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy and a full list of the possible side effects of these – much more information than the doctors gave me. I was also able to ask more relevant questions about the proposed treatments, how they work, and why they would be given.

    The latter two thirds of the book are devoted to ‘alternative’ ways of treating the body to rid itself of the cancer by holistic means – seeing the cancer as a symptom – not the cause – of the body’s ‘dis-ease’.

    This book helps to put things in perspective and was invaluable to me in making my decisions about follow-up treatment.

    The author does not advocate either the ‘orthodox’ or ‘alternative’ route, but suggests the reader should decide on the treatment – or combination of approaches – that are right for themselves.

    Please, absorb the vast amount of information within this book and make the right choices – knowing you now have so much more information at your fingertips than the doctors will ever tell you.

    Reply

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