22 November 2019

Two types of soy receptors and how they affect your cancer risks

Perhaps more than anything else to do with food, people ask me about the cancer risks associated with soy. Is it safe? Is it dangerous? Is it even helpful?

Well, the research gets clearer and clearer, while the social media and some health practitioners seem to get more and more confused. So this week, vital new insights into why soy acts the way it does – and what that means for our health, plus details of Ruth's pre-Easter meditation retreat with Melissa Borich that I will be joining next year - April 3rd - 9th, but first




       Thought for the day   

Meditation enables me to feed myself - the soul 
With spiritual knowledge that gives me 
The experience of peace, purity, wisdom, love and lasting happiness. 

It gradually restores in me the confidence and dignity 
To live in the light of my original nature 
And awakens hope in the self.

                         Sister Jayanti



One thing is certain, oestrogen is not all bad. It is the main female hormone and is closely tied to so many of women’s wonderful qualites. Men produce it too but in much smaller quantities (just as women produce some testosterone). Also, oestrogen does reduce menopausal symptoms, improve bone health, and reduce hip fracture risk.

However, oestrogen clearly also has a dark side. It is associated with increasing blood clots in the heart, brain, and lungs, and more troubling still, with breast cancer.

How oestrogen has its effect is due to the fact various types of cell within our bodies have receptors on their surfaces that respond to oestrogen.

When oestrogen comes in contact with these external receptors, an internal reaction is triggered that in bone tissue is healthy, in breast tissue - unhealthy!





Now the old theory related to breast cancer risks – one I have shared a lot - is that phyto-oestrogens, plant based oestrogens like genestein in soy beans, compete with a woman’s own estrogens, effectively block the natural oestrogens and in doing so inhibit breast cancer growth. In this theory, the oestrogen-blocking ability of phytoestrogens explained their unhelpful effects, yet can we explain their helpful effects on other tissues like bone?

So here is where both the body and plants are so amazing. First the body. Recent research has established there are 2 types of oestrogen receptors. The recently discovered ones are being called estrogen receptor beta…to distinguish them from the ‘classical’ oestrogen receptor alpha”.

As for the plants, soy phytoestrogens preferentially bind to the beta receptors, and you can probably guess… the beta receptors have the positive effects; the alpha receptors the unhelpful effects.

Natural oestrogen from the body tends to bind to the alpha receptors.

What does this all mean in real life? If you say eat a cup of soybeans or its equivalent in natural soy products like tofu, there is very little alpha activation, but lots of beta activation.

By contrast, chemical oestrogen supplements increase the risk of fatal blood clots by causing the liver to release high amounts of clotting factors. And again, you can probably guess – our livers contain only alpha estrogen receptors, not beta receptors. In theory if you ate a huge amount of soy – like 30 cups (as maybe you might in a concentrated supplement) well that could be a problem but at the concentrations associated with normal soy consumption, no problem.

The effects on the uterus also appear to be mediated solely by alpha receptors, which is presumably why no negative impact has been seen with soy. So, while oestrogen-containing drugs may increase the risk of endometrial cancer up to ten-fold, phytoestrogen-containing foods are associated with significantly less endometrial cancer. In fact, protective effects are recorded for these types of gynaecological cancers in general: a study showed women who ate the most soy had 30% less endometrial cancer and appeared to cut their ovarian cancer risk nearly in half.

Soy phytoestrogens do not to have any effect on the lining of the uterus and can still dramatically improve some menopausal symptoms.

In what is probably the most robust study to date, researchers compared the soy phytoestrogen
genistein to a more traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) regimen.

 Over one year, in the spine and hip bones, the placebo group lost bone density, while it was gained in both the soy phytoestrogen and HRT estrogen groups. The “study clearly shows that genistein prevents bone loss…and enhances new bone formation…in turn producing a net gain of bone mass.”

The main reason we care about bone mass is that we want to prevent fractures. Is soy food consumption associated with lower fracture risk? Yes. In fact, a significantly lower risk of bone fracture is associated with just a single serving of soy a day, the equivalent of 5 to 7 grams of soy protein or 20 to 30 milligrams of phytoestrogens, which is about a cup of soymilk or, even better, a serving of a whole soy food like tempeh, edamame, or the beans themselves.

Fracture data has not been determined for soy supplements. “If we seek to derive the types of health benefits we presume Asian populations get from eating whole and traditional soy foods,” maybe we should look to eating those rather than taking unproven protein powders or pills.

Finally, is there anyone who should avoid soy? Yes, if you have a soy allergy. That isn’t very common, though. A national survey found that only about 1 in 2,000 people report a soy allergy, which is 40 times less than the most common allergen, dairy milk, and about 10 times less than all the other common allergens, such as fish, eggs, shellfish, nuts, wheat, or peanuts.

Happy eating


MEDITATION RETREAT

Ruth has asked me to contribute to the meditation retreat she will present with Melissa Borich pre-Easter next year. Not possible to refuse, so looking forward to being involved once again and joining these two extra-ordinary women.



Here is the link to Reclaiming Joy : 3rd – 9th April 2020

Enjoy!!!

RELATED BLOGS
Is soy safe – Part 1 

Is soy safe – Part 2


The latest on soy and breast cancer


28 October 2019

Ian Gawler art show

After all these years my own artworks are to be involved in my first ever exhibition! And also for the first time, my pictures will be offered for sale!

There will be an opening night – Friday 15th November, however, most of the pictures can be purchased now via the internet. Some of the paintings are quite special – like those done during my recovery or are of places where meditation retreats have been held. All are in oil on good quality canvas and most are framed – by me.

So this week, a little on each of the pictures plus their images and a little of my art history, plus news of the meditation workshops Ruth and I will present in Queensland over the next few weeks, but first

           Thought for the week

If we could say it we would. 
What wants to be said is unsayable - and unthinkable too. 
That is why we make music, we dance, we paint and write poetry. 

Language and words are for mundane things 
Like shopping and running a country. 

The arts are a way to impart to each other 
The wordless core of experience: 
They are nothing short of stepping stones 
To the heaven hidden here on earth.

                                 Rashid Maxwell

As a teenager, I always wanted to be a veterinarian – and so it was. Yet the arts always held a special place in my heart. I held great admiration for artists and writers and actually yearned to do both.

At school I was fortunate to be accepted into veterinary science at the end of year 12. However, I was very young and at the school I attended, rather than taking gap years, many boys did a second year 12 – or matriculation as we called it.

So in my second year, I took English Literature and Art. What a delight! Probably my favourite year of study ever. In art we had two professional artists as our teachers… the wonderful Ronald Miller and the quiet, unassuming and highly talented Des Norman (of the Daisy Bates series of paintings).

That year provided a framework of both theory and technique and I struggled through to achieve a fabulous basic pass mark! Since then my art has surfaced in fits and starts. It was taken up seriously for a few years following my cancer diagnosis then relapse.




This first picture was painted

from the veranda of the house

I convalesced in near Melton

- AUTUMN LIGHT KIPPEN ROSS


Next big influence was Larry LeShan, the real founder of psycho-oncology and author of Cancer as a Turning Point. Met Larry at a conference in the USA and became good friends – a delightful, insightful maverick of a man.

Anyway, Larry challenged me… Said if I did not have half a day to put aside for myself each week I was missing something really important. So I came home and enrolled in the art class my sister Sue was attending. This was with Peter Churcher – a great painter of figures, classically trained and a wonderful teacher.

So these next 3 come from those days…






A still life with grapefruit that I really like :

GRAPEFRUIT









Another still life, simply named STILL LIFE












And a model from the classes : THE MODEL AT REST











In recent years there was quite a lull in painting up until last year when I joined Anne Esposito's weekly art classes; again with my sister. Anne is a great artist in her own right and an excellent teacher while the group includes many highly talented artists. We will all have works on display and for sale at the exhibition.

So this has led to a series from times spent around Alice Springs, including a picture from a perspective above Hamilton Downs where we held 7 Meditation in the Desert retreats :






HAMILTON DOWNS

















NAMATJIRA GHOST GUM
is of the last of the 2 famous ghost gums
West of Alice Springs that were
a favourite subject for Albert Namatjira.
Sadly, both are now gone...










SPINIFEX MACDONNELL RANGES
– such a beautiful part of the world…











RAIN SHOWER MACDONNELL RANGES















And this one from the Eastern Macdonnell Ranges : GHOST GUM









And of course, Uluru – no longer climbable
and here under an amazing sky as it is so often…

ULURU EVENING

(Note: this one is not framed although it says it is on the website)









Finally, a moment of reflection caught in WA
at the aptly named Green’s Pool.
(Note: this one too is not framed
although it says it is on the website)







All the pictures are featured on my art group's website - LINK HERE 

The photos on the website are good indications, but not always true as you might expect… For most of the pictures above the frames do not appear and there are 2 without frames.

ANYONE INTERESTED IN SALES PLEASE CONTACT:
Email: theartistsgroup1@gmail.com

If you are local enough and would like to attend the art show, it includes works from the art group I am involved with. There will be an opening on Friday 15th November at 5pm, and then more showing Saturday 16th from 10am to 2pm. For more details of the exhibition, including the venue, or to attend the opening, please email Info@insighthealth.com.au.

If you have questions re any of the works, please do direct those to me via Info@insighthealth.com.au. as well.

Hope to see many of you at the exhibition – this is quite a buzz for me… Something quite different


Plus news of our coming events...




30 September 2019

Go retro – one simple solution to thwart climate change

Are you old enough to remember simpler times? Maybe you have watched films or TV shows from the 50s and 60s. No plastic, less stuff, less people. And yet we all managed quite nicely. These days so much plastic and stuff. So much we can learn from back then, so here is a delightful tale, but first


         Thought for the day

   I was sitting on a hilltop looking 
   At the endlessly expanding horizon under the blue sky …
   A bliss began to permeate my body and mind. 
   I didn’t know that my eyes welled up with tears. 
   I bent down to kiss this earth. 
   This is a magic land, a sacred pureland…

                 Chen Xiaodong
   freelance Buddhist writer based in Shanghai



Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring

her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.


The woman apologized to the young girl and explained,

"We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded,


"That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."


The older lady said that she was right our generation did not have the "green thing" in its day. The older lady went on to explain: Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.



But we did not have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things.

Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.



But, too bad we did not do the "green thing" back then. We walked up stairs because we did not have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and did not climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We did not have the "green thing" in our day.


Back then we washed the baby's nappies because we did not have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.


Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we did not have the "green thing" back in our day. 
Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.


In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we did not have electric machines to do everything for us.


When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.


Back then, we did not fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.


We exercised by working so we did not need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we did not have the "green thing" back then.


We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.


But we did not have the "green thing" back then.


Back then, people took the tram or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the "green thing."


We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we did not need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.


But it is sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we did not have the "green thing" back then?


Of course, my older generation poisoned rivers and streams, created havoc with DDT, lead based paints and many other environmental disasters. So while we have made good progress in some areas, and there is much more needed in many, maybe we can learn from going retro in others...

18 September 2019

Toxic tide - marine plastic pollution and what to do

In 2016, a Senate Committee released "Toxic tide: the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia". This report contains alarming concerns about the impact of plastics found in abundance in our environment and provides suggestions. So this week we reproduce details to complete our 3 part series on plastic pollution, but first
   


            Thought for the day

     Power without love is reckless and abusive, 
     And love without power is sentimental and anemic. 
     Power at its best 
     Is love implementing the demands of justice, 
     And justice at its best 
     Is power correcting everything that stands against love.

                            Martin Luther King Jnr 






One generation ago, plastics were not part of our daily lives. Cloth, boxes or paper bags were used for shopping and there were no plastics for storing food in the fridges. Now it is part of our daily lives even for single-use packaging of food! The problem is global and widespread.

Go to Asia and places such as Bali and experience swimming in one of their beaches with plastic debris floating in the water and brushing up against your skin. 

It is not a pleasant experience!

The World Economic Forum warn plastics are increasingly being used across economies in sectors ranging from packaging to construction, transportation, healthcare and electronics. 

This increasing use is reflected in the rate of increase in global plastic production: in 1964, 15 million tonnes of plastics were produced, in 2014 that had increased to 311 million tonnes. According to the World Economic Forum, plastics production is expected to double again in 20 years, and to almost quadruple by 2050.

In summary, the Senate report raises serious concerns and highlights the following points:2
There is an alarming production and use of plastics worldwide. 
The vast majority of plastics is non-biodegradable and can persist in the environment for hundreds of years.
Majority of marine-based pollution comes from land, originating from urban and industrial waste sites, sewage outlets, stormwater and litter discarded by recreational users of our coasts and marine waterways.
A major national study led by CSIRO, documented the state of marine plastic debris in Australia and its negative impact on marine wildlife.  The study suggests most marine plastic debris in the Australian region is domestic and correlates with increase in local population, urbanisation and human activity. 

Stormwater drainage is a significant contributor of plastic debris in the marine environment which often delivers directly to coastal areas, or via catchment runoff into coastal areas. 

Other sources include: urban litter, garbage from shipping and abandoned fishing gear from local, national and international fishing operations.



Marine plastic pollution in Australian waters can also originate from international sources with ocean currents transporting plastic debris over long distances. According to the World Economic Forum’s best available data, Asia accounts for more than 80% of the total leakage of plastic into the ocean.  CSIRO also note that China and Indonesia are significant sources of plastic pollution.4
Due to their light weight, plastics are readily transported by wind and water.
National and international studies demonstrate significant quantities of hard plastics, plastic water bottles and packaging litter found in our coastal and river waterways such as Sydney Harbour and Port Phillip Bay. 2, 
Plastic debris found in the marine environment is either larger debris (macroplastic) or small particles (microplastic) i.e. tiny plastic fragments, fibres and granules of less than 5 mms in size from intentionally produced items, inherent by-products of other products or activities, emitted through accident or unintentional spill or macroplastic degradation.

Substantial human voluntary hours such as Clean Up Australia and BeachPatrol are expended on collecting record numbers of plastic littering on coast and land. 

The cost of removing litter by local and state Government is enormous. 

For example, the Victorian Government in 2012–13 spent $80 million in removing litter, including the removal of over 7,800 tonnes of litter from Melbourne waterways.2

CSIRO report highlights the cost of littering to local government is substantial.4
There are international efforts to address the global concern of plastic debris and pollution. At present this issue is addressed on a state by state level in Australia, yet the problem is not a boundary issue and the Senate recommends it be addressed on a National level.2
The Senate committee received considerable evidence on the impact of plastic pollution on marine fauna and flora from leading Australian academics, government agencies and community organisations. The evidence indicates that plastic debris affects marine life through ingestion, entanglement, the transport i.e. plastic acting as a medium and bioaccumulation of harmful chemicals.2
Plastic ingestion is well documented in a large range of marine species, shorebirds and seabirds - small plastics look similar in appearance to prey for marine animals. The Senate also received evidence in relation to ingestion of plastics by turtles, seabirds, cetaceans (e.g. dolphins and whales), corals and zooplankton.2
Marine plastic pollution also acts as both a transport medium for accumulated chemicals present in seawater, and is a source of toxic chemicals such as pesticides (e.g. DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls and endocrine-active substances).2 These substances are well known to be bio-accumulative and impact marine and human health. 1, Many toxic chemicals are fat soluble, lasting decades in the environment where they undergo biomagnification (tissue concentrations increase) as they pass up the food chain.1
The effects of plastics on human life e.g. ingestion of plastics through consumption of marine life, is not well recognised or studied, and warrants further research in view of the growing contamination of plastics in the environment.

In summary, the Senate has made a number of recommendations to address the problems of plastics.2 

Every effort should be made at the State, National and International level to help raise community awareness of the problems of plastics on the environment. 

This includes a reduction in the production of plastics by industry and finding alternative options and the need and use of plastics by communities, e.g. one use plastic products. Additionally, the community and government should prohibit the supply of plastics where suitable options are available, e.g. shopping bags made of plastics, and for improved discarding and recycling programs of all types of plastics.


22 August 2019

What chemicals are in the food plastics we use in 2019? How toxic are the chemicals in food plastics? And how to avoid food plastic chemical hazards?

How much food are you eating out of cans these days? Ever wonder about the plastic linings in those cans, or about the impact plastic is having in your food chain?

Could easily write a PhD on this, but let us go Out on a Limb once more, summarise where we are at in 2019 and suggest how to avoid some potentially major health problems, but first

         

      Thought for the day

   There is no need for temples; 
   No need for complicated philosophy. 

   Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; 
   My philosophy is kindness.

                     His Holiness, the Dalai Lama




Well I remember way back in the mid 80s and my old friend Michael Lerner from Commonweal in California shared evidence linking chemicals in plastics with breast cancer particularly, and other health problems in general.

Michael’s research was compelling so most will know I have recommended doing all possible to keep plastics out of your food chain since then.

Decades have passed and slowly the risks have become better known. BPA (bisphenol A) emerged as one of the main culprits and public opinion has driven legislation to limit its use and seek substitutes.

So in 2019 does this mean some food plastics are OK to use? 

Please note I have limited time and resources for this. It is written as if writing to one of the family and the hope is that you find it helpful… So while I did read and use many sources, I am not documenting what is written. It may well be incomplete, but it has been written with due diligence and represents the best I can offer on the subject. Let us examine the facts and the issues, and then attempt to reach some conclusions; starting with BPA itself.

What is BPA?
BPA is an industrial chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

In the ‘30s it was identified as a synthetic oestrogen and considered for pharmaceutical use but BPA-based plastics were first manufactured in the ‘60s.

Currently, millions of tonnes are produced each year, to make polycarbonates - for CDs, spectacles lenses, water bottles and other clear plastics, and resins - used to line food cans.

What risks are associated with BPA?
Basically, BPA is a hormone disruptor that mimics oestrogen and interferes with its healthy activity. Widely researched now, it has been associated with

i) Cancer
Particularly hormonally related cancers like breast and prostate cancers.

ii) Sexual function and anatomical issues
The oestrogen-like effects in women are associated with early onset of puberty in females, infertility, miscarriage, premature delivery and polycystic ovaries.

Then, as oestrogen can supress testosterone in males, it is associated with male genital defects, reduced sperm counts and reduced male sexual function.


iii) Obesity
In children and adults through stimulating the formation of extra fat cells.

iv) Behavioural problems in children
Including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, aggressiveness and impaired learning.

 v) Other conditions
Altered thyroid and immune function, diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory and kidney diseases.

What a list!!!

How do we become exposed to BPA? A list of major sources…
i) Can linings (it is in both aluminium and steel based cans).

ii) Polycarbonate food containers and bottles (both re-useable and especially single use bottles), plus
food wraps. Heat, scratching and cleaning can all increase exposure. Fast foods with the packaging used are a major source.


iii) Thermal papers - these are those all so common supermarket receipts, movie tickets, lottery
tickets and the like.

Using hand moisturisers or handling receipts with wet hands increases the risks of absorption greatly.




iv) Microplastics - BPA tends to aggregate on the surface of microplastics. Given it is estimated average current US ingestion is a staggering 50 - 90,000 pieces of microplastic per person per year, this is another major source.

v) Children’s plastic toys remain a real concern, especially when you consider how young children put everything into their mouths. BPA has been banned for years from use in children’s bottles and dummies (where it was a major source of this chemical and affecting young children for decades).

vi) Dust also builds up BPA residues.

vii) Some toiletries and women’s hygiene products

viii) Many plastic eyeglasses

So what is the biggest source? 
It is claimed 90% comes through our food chain. Fast and levels drop 10 fold in 10 days. Once clear, eat one can of food lined with PBA and levels go up hugely.

What level of exposure is common?
Based on testing, virtually everyone has some BPA in their body; in the US, 93% of all over 6 years - and disturbingly it is commonly found even in babies prior to birth.

Are there safe limits for BPA?
Authorities in both Australia and the US claim our exposure levels are safe. France has banned BPA in plastics for food use. So if safe levels are not being exceeded, why are there so many problems associated with BPA?

What about low dose effects of BPA?
It is well know chemicals that mimic hormones and hormone disruptors can have significant impacts at low dose while not being so bad or having different effects at high doses. While the science is debated, and not surprisingly rejected by Industry sources, many researchers claim a low dose of BPA could well be worse than a high dose and that these low dose effects are yet to be fully researched and evaluated.

What about BPA substitutes?

BPA is associated with many problems but at least it has been studied extensively and those problems are reasonably well understood. When BPA is taken out of plastics, it needs to be replaced with another chemical, and here is the rub.

When you see “BPA free” touted on some plastic bottle or metal can, the implication we often take is
it is now safe.

Unfortunately this may well be far from the truth.

The substitute chemicals invariably are less studied, less known and while some substitutes may well be safer, others are clearly implicated with worse issues than BPA.

This is what is known as a “regrettable substitution”.

However, to be balanced, it is worth pointing out there may be a trade off here. Through the TGA and the CMI, the remarkable safety record of canned foods is observed: “More than 3,000 people die and more than 40,000 are hospitalized from foodborne illnesses every year, yet there has not been a single reported incidence of foodborne illness from the failure of metal packaging in more than 40 years and the consumption of trillions of cans of food.”

However, there are still major concerns that do need addressing…

Next blog we shall cover other chemicals in food plastics, and what solutions are available to us.

Please do consider sharing this post with others; it feels like one of the more important ones for some time…

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