Welcome to July. Here in the U.S., by the time this newsletter goes out, we will have celebrated our July 4th Independence Day holiday/celebration.
I think this is an ideal opportunity for every person to think about their very own personal independence. It seems to me that too many of us assume we are independent people, but that frequently is the wrong assumption. We each have the ability and opportunity to be independent and to celebrate that independence; but too often we turn that right over to something or someone else. So, I think that this month might be a good time to think a bit about that and to consider how you may have abdicated your right to independence.
Perhaps you’ve given up your independence for an addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex or any number of other addictions we indulge ourselves with. Perhaps it is a person, a person who doesn’t treat you with the respect and love you deserve.
Whatever it is, the first step to fixing an imbalance and regaining your independence is the knowledge and awareness that comes from acknowledging that something is wrong, even if it is acknowledged only to yourself. Awareness and knowledge give you the ability and the power to change whatever you want. Accepting responsibility for the choices you’ve made is the second step but also, the step that starts you on the path of change. Next month I will give you some additional thoughts, ideas and suggestions about this amazing and wonderful journey you can decide to embark upon.
In the interim, please enjoy the article I’ve included in this newsletter and the health trips I am sharing with you this month.
Linda Simmon, C.Ht.
Past Life Regressionist, Certified Hypnotherapist and Life Coach
Those of you familiar with my articles and my work, know that I choose to focus on the positive; and not only do I choose to focus my work on the positive, but there is overwhelming scientific evidence that a positive outlook does amazingly good things for the body and the mind including the ability to build a strong immune system and withstand major illnesses.
However, there are times when we have to look at the cold, hard facts of a situation and face a reality that exists. If we do not do this, we won’t be aware of situations that need to be changed and fought for.
The article that follows falls into this category and I hope you will each take the time to read it.
What is Your Life Worth?
By Linda Simmon, C.Ht.
“From 1996 to 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved 157 new drugs. In the comparable period a decade later – that is, from 2006 to 2009 – the agency approved 74. Not among them were any cures, or even meaningfully effective treatments, for Alzheimer's disease, lung or pancreatic cancer, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, or a host of other afflictions that destroy lives." (Desperately Seeking Cures by Sharon Begley and Mary Carmichael, Newsweek, May 24, 2010).
I started this article with a quote, something I don't usually do, because I want you to really think about that quote for a minute before I write more about what exactly that means to each of us and the people we care about and the ramifications of what is and has been happening for too many years.
Not included among the 74 new drugs approved from 2006 to 2009 is A5G27 (or whatever memorable name a drug company might choose to give it). A5G27 was discovered in 2004 by Hynda Kleinman and her colleagues at the National Institute of Health (NIH). A5G27 blocks the metastasis of melanoma to the lungs and other organs (at least in lab animals so far), and also blocks the creation of blood vessels that sustain metastatic tumors. This amazing discovery was reported seven years ago in the journal Cancer Research ; but A5G27 has not been developed beyond its discovery.
While we cannot know for sure if the discovery of A5G27 would have cured metastatic cancers (which account for approximately 90% of all cancer deaths), it is a fact that the chance of getting FDA approval for a newly discovered molecule targeting a newly discovered disease mechanism is about 0.6%.
Why so low?
There are a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest is money; and here's why. From 1998 to 2003 the budget of the NIH for research doubled to $27 billion and in 2009 it increased to $31 billion. There is very little downside for a President or Congress to support biomedical research. Because of this, research in America is healthy and thriving. The problem is that patients aren't benefiting from this research because the cures, or treatments, get stuck in a void that exists between a scientific discovery and the doctor's office. Something referred to as the “valley of death”.
And again I had to ask Why?
Well, turns out that the system we have developed rewards the discoveries (such as a gene for Parkinson's or A5G27) but does not reward the more mundane and less glamorous work that needs to be done in order to turn these breakthroughs into the actual drugs that a patient can be given. Researchers are very successful in getting NIH grants for experiments that are likely to yield discoveries, even if they have absolutely no prospect of actually producing something that helps human diseases.
How our current system works against finding actual treatments can be demonstrated with Huntington's disease. Huntington's is a single-gene fatal illness and as of 2009 we had something like 300 targets thought to cause the disease and almost as many theories as to why. The way scientific careers are currently structured, the big labs get funded and established based on a target or theory and the last thing they want to do is disprove it because then they'd have to give up working on it and risk losing their funding. That's why there are so many targets and theories. In order to rule out those that don't work, we'd actually have to have people work on moving them from a ‘maybe' to a ‘no'. Nobody wants to do that because there's no interest in publishing articles about something that doesn't work and that is bad for a successful career because getting published and getting published frequently is one of the earmarks of a successful career.
The next stumbling block is the U.S. Patent Office. Back in the 1980's Dr. Robert Sackstein (a bone-marrow transplant surgeon) noticed that fewer than 5% of transplanted blood stem cells reached their target. A decade of study led Dr. Sackstein to the discovery of a molecule on the surface of blood stem cells that turns out to be the master molecule used by those cells to home in on any site in the body. Dr. Sackstein named the molecule HCELL. Dr. Sackstein and his colleagues announced their discovery in a 2008 paper in Nature Medicine. Seems reasonable, correct? The way to get funding is to get published. Unfortunately, when Dr. Sackstein submitted his application for a patent, the PTO rejected his application because he had described HCELL in the scientific paper. It has cost Dr. Sackstein ten years in appeals and hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight that decision. But Dr. Sackstein perseveres because he believes his discovery deserves a patent (which was granted in Europe and Japan); and, because he feels that the impact on patients could be so great. We have cured osteoporosis in mice, but because U.S. patent protection cannot be obtained, there is no company that will develop HCELL, even in Europe and Japan where patents have been granted. In order for a multinational drug company to move forward with development anywhere, it feels it needs the patent protection of the U.S.
And there are even more stumbling blocks. I have just scratched the tip of the iceberg, but the bottom line is this: If we are serious about rescuing potential drugs from the “valley of death”, then disease foundations, the NIH and academia have to change how they operate, not just have to, they must because people are dying who didn't have to die. Things are changing, but it is happening, very, very slowly. There are a few private foundations such as the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research that have steered clear of the standard NIH system of ‘here's money, go discover something' and instead they are insisting and directing that data be shared before it is published and that the scientists cooperate and do the grunt work of development after a discovery is made.
Perhaps a clear sign that patience is running thin is the health-care-reform bill that became law last March and includes a Cures Acceleration Network which will give grants to those companies, researchers, groups and academia that help discoveries cross the “valley of death”. They have authorized $500 million this year. It is a start, but compared to the $30+ billion that is given to research, I still have to ask myself this question, What exactly is your life worth?
Linda Simmon, C.Ht.
It might not seem that as an individual any of us can change this situation, but that is wrong because we can. We can look at health reform bills and we can write our representatives and we can insist that something be done. There appears to finally be some forward movement in the right direction, but we need more; and by making each of you aware of this situation, it is a first step. In any major change or reform, there is always that first voice that starts the ball rolling; and pretty soon that first voice is a few dozen and then a few hundred until finally, it is thousands of voices.
Think This Thought to Curb Overeating
When you lift that forkful of whole-wheat pasta to your mouth, do you think "tasty," or do you think "healthy"? To curb overeating, focus on the mouth appeal. In a recent study, thinking about a food's delicious flavor rather than its nutritional or health-related benefits helped to curb hunger later in the day. Delectable, savory, juicy, crunchy, yummy . . . all good words to have running through your mind when you munch on something healthy. That's exactly what people in a study did when they ate a chocolate-raspberry protein bar. And eating the bar with those kinds of thoughts in mind made the morsels much more satisfying than when the study participants thought of the treat as a fiber- and vitamin-packed health bar. Thinking Is Believing. Although nothing could be further from the truth, many people mistakenly believe that healthy, low-cal foods simply can't satisfy hunger the way tasty foods can -- and this type of thinking may help explain the study results.
The Ultimate Fun Way to Get Fit
Here's the latest no-way-you-could-possibly-get-bored-while-you-whittle-that-waist workout: dance-based video games. And a recent study confirmed their usefulness. When a group of sedentary, couch-lounging women were put on a computerized dance-video workout program, they were transformed into active, get-up-and-go devotees. Sedentary postmenopausal women who spent 3 weeks exercising to computerized programs that combined dance-based aerobics with interactive video-game elements became quick and active fans, noting the fun, convenience, and mental and physical challenges the games provided. And in the end, the women's coordination improved.
If you're in the low-tech camp or you don't have the cash for electronic gadgets and games, no problem. Try popping a dance-based exercise video into your DVD player instead. And give these other inexpensive addict-me-to-exercise tricks a try, too:
- Don't sweat it.
- Do it at home.
- Add music.
20 Minutes to Less Stress, More Memory
Two of our favorite stress reducers are laughing and meditating. But there are times when you just can't muster up a hearty chuckle. On the other hand, you can meditate at will. No mountaintops, daylong retreats, or full lotus positions required. All you need is a quiet place. That's one reason we're such avid fans of meditation. Another: Its benefits go far beyond relaxation. For starters, regularly quieting your mind maintains your brain cells and tunes up your memory. [By the way, hypnosis gives you the same benefit as meditation and complete relaxation with the added benefit of adding in positive suggestions that you choose to change a behavior pattern or habit or anything you want!]
There's now new evidence of this:
- University of North Carolina researchers gave students 20-minute quickie meditation classes for 4 days (similar to the Stress Free Now program on 360-5.com, run by Dr. Mike's home base, Cleveland Clinic). Then they compared their mental test scores to students in a control group. Everyone's moods improved, but those who took the meditation training scored significantly better on critical mental skills, like memory and the ability to pay attention. Find out how meditation helps lower blood pressure, too.
Feeling distracted? Quieting your mind does wonders for concentration, too. The meditators' ability to focus was 10 times higher than participants in the control group who listened to 20 minutes of a good recorded book for 4 days. A good book may be a mood booster, but it doesn't do a thing for wandering minds. Intrigued? You can start right now. Just sit with your eyes partially closed and focus on breathing slowly and deeply, in through your nose, out through your mouth. Repeating a word (“om” or "one" are easy) helps relax your mind. No secret mantra needed.
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