Archives for the month of: July, 2015

In April I posted on my Facebook page about a study I decided to take part in, run by the Cancer Council of Victoria.  In fact, I’m taking part in two studies, the first called the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study or ABCstudy and the second is a Melanoma Genetic Risk Study.  Both of the studies had fairly long, online questionnaires covering family history and general health and lifestyle and both sent vials to collect saliva to “extract DNA from the saliva and use it to answer questions about the role that genes play in the development of cancer”, and tape measures to measure my waist and hip size.

My immediate family has a history of basal and squamous cell carcinomas as well as breast and prostate cancer so I feel strongly about finding causes and cures or preventions for these conditions; my obvious reasons for wanting to take part in this research.

My sample for the Melanoma study took a while to get to them, I got an email asking if I’d sent it and of course three days later another one saying it had turned up after all.  Not sure what diversion it had made on the way but it got there.   I haven’t had any more contact from this study so far, but I’m sure they will come back to me with their findings once the study is complete.

A couple weeks ago I got an email back from the ABC Study to say they were interested in taking a blood sample from me for further testing.  The website says “this sample will allow us to examine more than just DNA, such as the circulating hormones and vitamin and mineral levels in the blood”.  So today I went to give my sample and the poor pathologist admitted to being out of her comfort zone, as she had to read the instructions carefully a few times before starting (this was a first for her).  She had a quick think and wasn’t sure she’d want to know her genetic risks for cancer but I’m all for it, if you can see what your risks are then you can make changes to your epigenetics to switch on or off the genes involved.  If you’d like to read a bit more about epigenetics please click here.

Blood taken for ABC Study

Blood taken for ABC Study

Apparently they will only take blood samples from about 10%-20% of participants.  The website also states that “the ABC Study aims to follow the health of participants over many years to see whether genetic makeup, lifestyle and environment affect the development of diseases”.

I think this is an amazing way to participate and help in cancer-related research and the long-term follow up will give great insight into how disease can develop and hopefully help in finding a preventative method of dealing with cancer.  If you’d like to participate, please go to their website and register.

http://lisahiggins.ntpages.com.au

People are often surprised when I tell them that the number one function of the Lymphatic System is to transport immune cells around the body.  Basically, your lymphatic system IS your immune system.  And yet if you go to the doctor because you are constantly getting sick you could be offered a script for antibiotics because they “may” help, but if you ask them about getting a Lymphatic Drainage treatment their response generally goes along the lines of … “well, it can’t hurt you I guess”.   You can’t blame the doctors though, my lecturer (Neil Piller, himself a Doctor and lecturer in medicine) says that GPs have one class on the lymphatic system in all of their training.  That’s one class, not one semester – four hours.  I have no words for this.  It makes my blood boil.  Apparently it’s exactly the same for nutrition – one class.  OK, I’m going to move on because I get really riled up thinking about that.

So, what does it mean to say the lymphatic system transports immune cells?  Immune cells are stored in lymph nodes for the most part, though there are also some circulating immune cells that do exactly that – circulate around the body looking for infection.  Lymph nodes can also be referred to as “glands” and that’s probably how you are most familiar with them – your can sometimes feel your glands come up when you are sick, particularly in illnesses like glandular fever (or Mono if you’re from the US) or tonsillitis.  You go to the doctor and he has a feel in your neck, under your armpits or in the groin area to see if the nodes are “up” (these are some of the areas where there are large collections of nodes).  And this is a normal thing to happen when your body is fighting infection – the body is signalled to produce more antibodies so the nodes kick into action to make them (getting bigger in the process) and then circulate them through the body to the site of the infection, via you guessed it – the lymphatic system.

immunesystem

Photo courtesy http://www.humanvitaminhealth.com on google images

What can happen is that with the winter weather our lymphatic systems can become sluggish and inefficient.  That can be due to lots of different things e.g. cold temperatures or exercising less.  When this happens the immune cells circulating around the body aren’t cleared out and replaced with new ones as efficiently as they should be, so the body is slower to respond to an attack of a virus and we succumb to illness.

A regular maintenance session of lymphatic drainage massage helps to stimulate the immune system, increasing circulation and moving out the old immune cells and replacing them with freshly produced immune cells which are more effective at fighting off the viruses.  Immune cells circulating in the lymphatic system can target a pathogen and transport it to the nearest lymph nodes where that cell is neutralised and then the waste material is transported through the heart and kidneys then excreted out of the body.  It’s a very efficient system when it is fully functioning.

I suggest that people who want to keep on top of their immune systems have a regular Lymphatic Drainage massage.  If you are generally healthy and are looking to maintain that health, then I suggest a session at the change of season, so once every three months.  If your immune system is more compromised, then I’d aim for once a month, at least during the colder months when we can all be a little more run down.

If you’d like more information on ways to build your immune system using lymphatic drainage please send me a message or visit my website here.