Western diet heightens risk of death after prostate cancer

Posted by on Friday, June 26th, 2015


In addition to fireworks displays and downtown parades, the Fourth of July is a celebration of the American diet.

But before you pile burgers and hot dogs on the grill this holiday weekend, consider this recent study: Among men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, those with a diet focused on processed meats, red meats and high fat dairy products had a higher risk of death than those whose diets were oriented around fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes and whole grains.

Pass the lettuce and tomato, please.

The Harvard study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, followed 926 men participating in Harvard University’s Physician’s Health Study who had been diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer, asking them to fill out questionnaires approximately 5 and 10 years after their diagnosis. The study showed that this animal-based western pattern of eating contributed to earlier death both from prostate cancer and other causes.

The research underscores a growing body of evidence that diets that avoid red meat and are rich in fruits, vegetables and other plant-based sources result in prevention or reversal of chronic disease and longer life expectancies. Less is known about the specific connections between diet and cancer, and the Harvard study sheds more light on the way diet may significantly impact long-term outcomes for cancer patients.

“Because cardiovascular disease is one of the top causes of death among prostate cancer survivors, our findings regarding all-cause mortality are what we anticipated and closely align with the current knowledge of the role of diet on cardiovascular disease. Our findings with Western diet and prostate cancer-specific mortality, however, were surprising, in part because there are very little data regarding how diet after diagnosis may impact disease prognosis,” said Jorge E. Chavarro, study senior author and assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School Public Health.

This isn’t Harvard’s only research foray into the effects of diet on prostate cancer. In another national study, Harvard Medical School is following men with small, low-grade tumors who have opted for “active surveillance” rather than immediate treatment. One group will eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, two servings of whole grains and one serving of beans or other legumes compared to a group that will eat according to standard American dietary recommendations.

In the meantime, grab an extra piece of watermelon, opt for salad and baked beans, and celebrate the freedom of a long and healthy life!


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Provision patient enjoys “summer camp” experience with protons

Posted by on Friday, June 19th, 2015

Camp Proton

 We welcome today’s guest blog by patient and Provision graduate Michael Swiatek. Today he completed treatment for prostate cancer.

This has been a very different experience than what I expected. I’m here for medical treatment in a facility that seems more like a social hall. My wife Maureen was down here the first week helping me set up the apartment and I felt like I was being checked into a summer camp. I was, it’s called Camp Proton.

At Camp Proton I arrive at the main lodge each morning and start my first activity of puzzle building. Later the camp counselors (Jennifer and Sheri) escort me to the next activity. They teach me a new way to wear my bathrobe and take me over to the gantry ride. There they have stickers for me that I can wear. We also get to play with balloons, but it’s not what I expected. I then lay down on the motion table for a ride where I get to see the laser light show, watch the gantry spin around and try to guess when the pop up targets will come out of the wall. This of course is all done to a music score emanating from the walls.

Before you know it you come back to rest from where you started. Now it’s time to go back to the main lodge for a hot drink and animal crackers.

There is plenty of time to socialize with the other campers before lunch is served in main lodge loft. There are many camp directors, mine is Dr. Fagundes. They will sit down and talk with you about how you are enjoying and participating in the camp activities.

There are also weekly talk sessions with science professor Niek Schreuder who will challenge your imagination with images of protons racing about. I was surprised to find out that the Bragg Peak was not one of the Smoky Mountains.

For me, my stay is over and now I get to go back home and tell all the neighborhood kids how I spent my summer vacation.

Goodbye camper buddies.


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Good sleep promotes survival in breast cancer patients

Posted by on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015


How long cancer patients survive following treatment can be influenced by one simple factor: sleep.

A new study reveals that patients who slept less at night and snored frequently showed poorer survival rates than those with longer, better quality sleep. The study of 21,230 women cancer survivors. Less sleep combined with snoring also impacted the prognosis of women with lung cancer and all cancer cases included in the study, however the association was not as strong. The research was presented this week at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Other research shows that sleep level impact the body’s cortisol production, which helps regulate the immune system, as well as melatonin, which is thought to help prevent cell damage that can trigger cancer. And poor quality sleep has long been linked to higher risk for certain types of cancer.

So what to do if you’re a snorer or insomniac? First, if you’ve received a recent cancer diagnosis and know you suffer from these problems, talk to your doctor. He or she may refer you to a sleep clinic that can help take active steps toward ensuring a good, quiet night’s rest.

One study showed yoga practice improved sleep in 90 percent of participants who’d been diagnosed with cancer—75 percent of them with breast cancer. And exercising regularly has been shown to help participants get a good night’s rest. Setting a schedule, reducing caffeine intake and eating light at night should also improve the quality of your down time.

Losing weight, exercise, smoking cessation and avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime can help fix snoring—as can be simply sleeping on your side instead of your back.


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Employee snapshot: Hospitality coordinator is a cancer survivor herself

Posted by on Thursday, June 11th, 2015


There’s a reason hospitality coordinator Sharon Bishop is a favorite with Provision patients: She’s walked in their shoes.

In 2006, Bishop was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

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Sharon has had a bi-lateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and conventional radiation—a treatment regimen that lasted five years. The chemotherapy caused cancer to develop in her uterus, requiring a radical hysterectomy. And the radiation left scars on her heart, requiring long-term follow-ups with specialists.

“Honestly, I’m never done,” Bishop says.

She was 42, with two teenage sons. And as she fought for her life, two sisters also were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Through it all, however, she maintained a positive spirit—joking with her sister about applying mascara to three remaining eyelashes so she could flirt with an officer should she get pulled over—and channeling her experience into a story of support she shared with others. Bishop has been involved with cancer support groups and had lots of one-on-one connection with cancer patients as a mastectomy fitter at Thompson Cancer Survival Center, the University of Tennessee Medical Center and Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center. She also serves on the steering committee for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” initiative and is a member of the Young Survivors Coalition.

Bishop discovered Provision when her friend, Talbott Paynter, came to work here and encouraged her to apply. Her job lets her to get to know patients, offering a sympathetic ear and her own experience with cancer.

“When I started working here, I spent more time in the lobby than behind the desk,” she says.

Graduating patients get hugs from Bishop. Many confide in her their struggles and even medical issues they’re experiencing through the treatment. Patients often mention her when listing the things they appreciate about the Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

Her daily motivation comes from a picture on her bedroom dresser. It’s a black and white photo, snapped by her older son as she, hairless and weak, prays with her younger son in the midst of her battle with breast cancer. The image keeps her focused on why she comesto work here.

“Everyone that walks through that door, they matter to me,” she says. “I know what they’re going through.”

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Men’s health awareness should include cancer screenings

Posted by on Friday, June 5th, 2015


June is Men’s Health Awareness month—a time to remember that keeping tabs on your health can pay long-term dividends.

Cancer screenings can play an important role in health awareness, particularly for those at risk of certain types of cancer, because catching and treating cancer in its early stages improves the prognosis for remission and long-term survival.

This is particularly true for lung cancer patients.

For example, in lung cancer patients, those who have stage 1 cancer experience a 45-49 percent five-year survival rate—that is, 45-49 percent of patients are still alive five years following treatment. That compares to a 5-14 percent five-year survival rate for stage 3 and a 1 percent five-year survival rate for those with Stage 4 lung cancer. That’s according to statistics from National Cancer Institute.

Lung screenings are now covered by Medicare as well as state and private insurers for those at high risk for lung cancer. Medicare, for example, pays for the test for those between ages 55 and 77 who’ve smoked 30 pack-years—or the number of cigarettes smoked per day divided by 20 (1 pack has 20 cigarettes)—as well as those who currently smoke or quit smoking within the past 15 years.

Provision Diagnostic Imaging offers lung screenings, a low dose CT scan that would cost $300-$500 without health insurance reimbursement. Call (865) 684-2600 to schedule a lung screening.

Unlike lung cancer, prostate cancer has a much higher survivability rate—but it affects a much higher percentage of the population. Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer. In 2015, there will be an estimated 220,800 new cases diagnosed in the U.S., and approximately 14 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate in their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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