November 3, 2000, Morristown New Jersey
Appraisal of Alternative Interventions and New Development in Traditional Treatments for Prostate Cancer.
The first speaker of the day was Charles Matkin, MS. His talk was titled Yoga & Meditation.
Charles told us that he is a third generation Yoga practitioner / instructor and that his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer 6 months ago. Yoga is an ancient practice from India defined as Union. Stress is created when the body is preparing for fight or flight and will cause the blood pressure to rise.
Meditation is a method of reducing stress by combining the mind with the body by placing the mind in the present moment. Charles led us through a meditation exercise in which we focused our minds on our breathing. If our mind starts to wander he said not to worry or get upset, this is normal, just concentrate on the present moment and your breathing and relax.
He then had us imagine a star in the middle of our chest, feeling it absorbing our stress to cleanse our body. As we inhale the star rises to the top of our head, and flies away as we exhale taking our troubles with it. When we are ready to come back we place our hands on our thighs and focus on our feet and the ground beneath them thus grounding ourselves back to the earth.
When Mark Moyad came back on stage to supervise the questions he said that melatonin plus tamoxifen are being studied in breast cancer with some good results. It has also been shown that meditation produces melatonin so this is another reason to meditate.
In answer to another question Charles said that the mind and the body are the same thing. Your brain is a nerve and our nerves extend right out to the tip of our toes.
Mark introduced the next speaker, Michael Lerner, Ph.D., President and Founder of Commonweal, Bolinas, California. Michael’s talk was titled Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Therapies in Prostate Cancer. Commonweal conducts weeklong support retreats.
Michael told us that our choices are healing therapies, conventional therapies, alternative/complimentary therapy, pain therapy, and death/dying. He said that his father is a prostate cancer patient plus he has another type of cancer that I missed.
Michael defined healing as coming from within our body, becoming whole. Cure he defined as elimination of disease. He stressed the mind body connection and said that worry is a very powerful imagery. Imagery is the language of the unconscious.
Michael said that we need to stay creative and useful. He gave an example of a man dedicated to the care of his terminally ill wife. When she died he became lethargic and moped around with no purpose. His purpose had been buried with his wife. His children suggested he get a dog to care for, but he said that he did not want a dog.
While visiting a daughter he had a great time with her cat. He decided he would get one for himself. At the animal shelter he found a cat with a litter of kittens one of which was the runt and in very poor health. It came right to him and he adopted it and nursed it to health. The cat gave him a purpose again.
What is your CAT?
Michael said that there is no cure in complimentary therapy, but we can benefit by combining complimentary with the standard western medicine.
In discussing pain and suffering Michael said that 90% of all pain can be controlled. He said that oncologist and urologist are not trained to deal with pain and suffering. We need to see a pain center or hospice care. All religions tell us that suffering is the road to greater understanding. We should not run from our pain but should embrace and welcome it.
When we are in the stage approaching death the family should create a safe place for everyone to talk and discuss death and dying. We should allow ourselves the experience of what is happening to our loved one and/or our self. We have a fear of dying but not of death itself. Hospice can be a midwife to the dying process.
Mark Moyad, MD was the next speaker. His talk was titled Dietary Supplements for Prostate Cancer – What Should I Take or Avoid? Dr. Moyad is the director of Complementary Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center.
Dr. Moyad started his talk by telling us that he believes that a product that does not have side effects does not work. As an example he said that there are no trials showing side effects for glucosamine, but it does work so he believes that it has to have some side effects somewhere, they just haven’t shown up yet.
In talking about acupuncture he said that it has been shown to work for some things, but the buyer should be aware and check the credentials of the practitioner. The number one complaint of patients with acupuncture is that needles have been left in place at the end of the session.
The vitamin with the most data is the multivitamin, and he said that the cheap one is just as good as the expensive one. We were warned that if we see a supplement with a doctor’s picture on the label we should avoid it. Dr. Moyad told us that single men do not get as much prostate cancer, but married men with prostate cancer live longer. For this reason we should stay single, but if we get prostate cancer then we should get married.
There is no clinical data on MGN 3 but a trial is starting in Texas. Medical evidence is now allowed to help sell products, think the advertisements for oatmeal on TV. Fat has been proposed as a cause of breast cancer, but studies do not show it to be true. The oriental diet has less fat and less food plus they get more exercise than we do.
In a study of cancer in twins it has been shown that if one twin has prostate cancer the other is very likely to get it also. This was the #1 shared cancer in twins, #2 was a tie between breast cancer and colorectal cancer. The only fat shown to affect prostate cancer is saturated fat, think animal products or hydrogenated oils. By reducing saturated fat we reduce our chance of getting prostate cancer. Trans fats are a man made form of saturated fat.
A McDonalds value meal has 800 calories, but by super sizing it we double the calories. Dr. Moyad said that one of the most important things your doctor can do is keep track of your cholesterol. A diet that keeps cholesterol low will be a good diet for helping to fight cancer. He recommends soy products primarily because they tend to keep cholesterol down. He does not recommend mega quantities and said that the soybean itself is the best source of soy’s good qualities.
In talking about diets Dr. Moyad said that fat is the best appetite suppresser. Diets work by reducing calories or by increasing the fat intake to reduce the hunger. You should increase intake of all vegetables. He said that flaxseed does show some effect on PSA, but the cholesterol benefit is great and more important. Over weight men show an increased rate of prostate cancer so we need to get up and exercise.
The final speaker of the morning was Saki Santorelli, Ed.D. Saki is Head of Stress Reduction Clinic, University of Massachusetts. The title of his talk was: Heal Thy Self.
Mr. Santorelli said that we have alternative/complimentary and medical treatments for our cancer, but what can I do for myself? What is myself? We should consider self as a verb not as a noun. We are not limited to who we think we are. We need to be aware and to be mindful
We should stop, not just pause but stop, to see ourselves more clearly. We need to connect to ourselves. We have enormous resources. We just need to connect to them. These resources have never been tapped.
Mr. Santorelli read a couple of poems to illustrate his points.
I am not sure which one but one of the mornings speakers said in answer to a question about the stress level caused by the events of 11 September that it was as if the whole country had been diagnosed with cancer at the same time.
For lunch we were served a nice salad, sliced turkey breast, rice, steamed green beans, tea or coffee followed by a raspberry ice in a chocolate cup.