20 August 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: Childhood trauma, milk and cancer

This week, disturbing but important research findings demonstrating strong links between childhood trauma and cancer in later life, as well the consumption of milk amongst boys with increased rates of prostate cancer in men. But first:

Thought for the day:
In Australia, over 110,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

What this translates into, is that for every 100,000 people living in Australia, 
450 will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year, 
and 1350 are currently living with cancer.

This is too much! And cancer is a highly preventable disease.

Abused children have higher cancer risk as adults

New research from the US has indicated childhood trauma increases the odds of developing cancer in later life.

The study investigated over 3,000 people and found those who were emotionally or physically abused by their parents on a regular basis were more likely to develop cancer in adulthood.

The results were even more pronounced when fathers abused sons and mothers abused daughters.

Men who experienced greater cumulative stress during childhood were also more likely to develop cancer but this was not true of women, suggesting men and women had different mechanisms for coping with stress, the authors said.

Although early trauma increased the probability of other cancer risk factors such as smoking or excessive drinking, the link between frequent parental abuse remained even after the results had been controlled for a wide range of health and lifestyle issues.

“Although childhood misfortune is currently not a widely acknowledged risk factor for cancer, this study reveals that it should be: some types of childhood misfortune, especially abuse, are implicated in the development of cancer in adulthood for both men and women,” the authors concluded.

In related research, investigators from the Johns Hopkins and Harvard Universities have found cancer incidence is significantly higher among people with mental illness.

Cancer rates were two and a half times greater than the general population for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, with lung, colorectal and breast cancers a particular problem.

“Clinicians should promote appropriate cancer screening and work to reduce modifiable risk factors ... among persons with serious mental illness,” the authors recommended.

Journal of Aging and Health 2012; doi: 11.1177/0898264312449184

Psychiatric Services 2012; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201100169


Obviously anything that helps to alleviate stress amongst families, and enhances their coping capacities is of great importance. This research adds to a myriad of evidence that suggests one of the best things for modern families to do together is to learn and to practice meditation.

Ruth and I have made a Meditation for Children CD that not so many people seem to be aware of; it is available through The Gawler Foundation and many stores.

I am very interested in observations, thoughts, comments you may have on this challenging subject, so please feel free to add your voice via the Comment section below. Maybe share this post with friends - what do they think?

Milk in boys leads to more prostate cancer in men

Researchers have investigated whether early-life residency in certain areas of Iceland marked by distinct differences in milk intake was associated with different risks of prostate cancer.

The study involved 8,894 men born between 1907 and 1935. During a mean follow-up period of 24.3 years, it was found that daily milk consumption in adolescence (vs. less than daily), but not in midlife or currently, was associated with over three times the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer.

The researchers concluded that frequent milk intake in adolescence increases the risk of advanced prostate cancer.

REFERENCE: Torfadottir et al, Am J Epidemiol: 2012 Jan 15;175(2):144-53. Epub 2011 Dec 20.


CD:  Meditation for Children - Ian and Ruth Gawler

1.  Next blog post will be in 2 weeks time.

2. Darwin: The next 'Cancer, Healing and Wellbeing' Program, will be offered in Darwin by Sue Brownlee, from 16 September 2012 on Sundays from 10am - 1pm.

Sue will also be teaching another Beginner's Meditation Program commencing Sunday 23 September for 4 weeks from 2pm - 3.15pm.  A 50% discount applies to those who have previously attended the course, and those who paid for but for various reasons missed some sessions are welcome to come along and catch up. If there is sufficient interest when the Program is finished, the group can continue to meet weekly for meditation until 9 December 2012.

Sue is happy to respond to any queries - please call or email.

Sue Brownlee
Mindful Practice
PO Box 387, Nightcliff NT 0814
P:  0439 498 636

12 August 2012

Can vegans win gold?

With the Olympics having been so prominent, the question arises, can a vegan diet provide enough fuel for a top athlete? Many worry that while good for our health generally,  a vegetarian or vegan diet, will be short on meat, short on energy, short on performance. So let us go “Out on a Limb”, examine some evidence and hear from some experts in the field. But first:

Thought for the Day
Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups:
alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.
                                 - Alex Levine

Nancy Clark, who rather euphemistically describes herself as “two-thirds vegetarian” — she only eats meat at dinner, not breakfast or lunch — is a sports nutrition expert in Massachusetts and the author of “Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners.” Nancy claims that currently there is not enough solid research to know how vegetarian — let alone vegan — diets affect athletes.

That in itself strikes me as remarkable. Is no one interested? Seems like sport is similar to the cancer field, where research investigating nutrition as a therapy is only recently beginning to gather momentum. However, as Clark says, anecdotally vegan athletes do fine.

Some of the “anecdotes" were pretty good. Check the link to Carl Lewis – probably the world’s greatest Olympic athlete. Carl said he became a full vegan because it improved his performance. Sadly, the great Aussie swimmer, Murray Rose died recently. Back in the 50s, Murray was a full vegan and became perhaps the first of the super swimmers.

David C. Nieman, a vegetarian and professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University, has run 58 marathons or ultramarathons and has studied runners at extreme events. Asked if an athlete can get enough protein on a vegan diet, Nieman says that dairy products and eggs, are the easy ways to get protein in a plant-based diet.

However, as a vegan, you still have grains, nuts, soy. Eat enough of those and you will be fine. However, while these are good sources of vegan protein, they are not as bioavailable as meat. So you need to eat a greater volume of them relatively speaking

The one issue Nieman is concerned about is vitamin B12, which is found only in meat. B12 is important for endurance athletes ( and everyone else), since it affects red blood cell production. But many cereals and soy milks are fortified with B12 now, or you can take supplements.

D. Enette Larson-Meyer, an associate professor of human nutrition at the University of Wyoming, as well as a longtime competitive athlete and author of “Vegetarian Sports Nutrition” answers another important question regarding how to obtain the complete range of proteins from a vegan/vegetarian diet.

“Years ago, studies in rats showed that if they were fed only one source of protein, like corn, all day, they did not get sufficient amounts of essential amino acids. From that, the idea grew that you had to combine proteins at the same meal. But since then, other studies have found that if you get multiple sources of protein throughout the day, that will be fine. For example, have rice at breakfast and beans at lunch or dinner.”

What about calories?

According to Nancy Clark it is not hard at all. “My favorite weight gain or weight maintenance advice is to drink juice. Grape juice, pomegranate juice, tart cherry juice. They have plenty of calories, and if you pick the right juice, especially pomegranate or tart cherry juice, it looks as if they can help with recovery. Tart cherry juice was a very popular topic at a recent American College of Sports Medicine meeting. It’s a potent beverage, in terms of speeding recovery. And it’s vegan.

What about weight loss or gain?

David Nieman says that vegetarians tend to weigh 6 to 10 pounds less than meat eaters. “But the lower weights are probably due to self-selection bias. Many vegetarians are more health conscious to start with. You can overeat on a plant-based diet. There are obese vegetarians. Junk food can be vegetarian. You still have to make healthy food choices, whatever your diet.” Clearly, with obesity being such a huge issue, being lighter is a good thing.

So what is best?

David Nieman:
“What we know is that when it comes to endurance performance, it’s all about the fuel, primarily carbohydrates, and you can get sufficient carbohydrates whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat eater — unless you follow a really goofy diet, which some people do. It’s possible to eat a lousy vegetarian diet, just as you as can eat a lousy meat-based diet.”


What fuel goes into your tank?

Would you eat like a dog?


CDs Eating well, being well – summarizes how to eat well as a vegetarian or vegan.

06 August 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: A Christian monk and 90,000 Arabs.

He was sitting serenely in the Church of the Nativity where Christ was born in Bethlehem. Magnetically drawn, we got to talking. A monk, he was about to return to his solitary life living in the desert amidst 90,000 Arabs. Just time for the fascinating and insightful conversation that follows. 

Also, Peace of Mind comes to Italy and an update on the foreign translations of my books. But first:

Thought for the Day:

    The attention I gave to my spiritual life, gave me the strength and confidence to recover

                                                   Long term Multiple Sclerosis survivor

Sometimes appearances do match expectations. Being at the birthplace of Christ in Palestinian Bethlehem, I was drawn to light a candle at the altar of the ancient Church of the Nativity. Lighting candles is not a feature of the branch of Christianity I grew up in, but I can recognize a useful ritual when I see it. A great way to formalizing wishing for peace, good health and happiness for everyone, especially those we know more closely.

Seated beside the candles, the monk was clothed in a black robe, had a long, flowing white beard, kindness in every pore and eyes that went deep, like into some dark well that reached into the heart of what matters. The archetype of the Holy Man.

Turns out he had lived in Australia some years back, but now I asked him what he would be doing when he went back to living on his own in the desert amidst so many Arabs.

“Praying” came the simple response.

“Do you pray on something particular, or is it like going into a deeper stillness?”

“No, it is not like meditation, it is prayer. It is a particular type of prayer. Do you know the Jesus Prayer?”

“Yes I do. Can you tell me a little about what happens when you do pray in this way?”

He paused to look at me more closely. It seemed like in the pause, he was deciding what level of response to give to such a direct question.

“The aim is to let go and become immersed in the presence of Christ.”

“Is that like letting go of the ego?”

“No, it is not like that; it is more like letting go of attachment to anything to do with this world, and becoming one with Christ.”

“Like a surrender?”

“More like an immersion or a joining.”

“So is it the practice of devotion?”

“Yes, devotion!”

The conversation seemed complete. We smiled. I had a brief opportunity to travel down into the depths of the well that his eyes gave entrée to; we shook hands and I went to light my candle.


Is prayer scientific?


1. Peace of Mind comes to Italy

After all these years, my first meditation book has been translated into Italian. “Meditare” becomes the fifth translation of Peace of Mind and I thought it may be useful to relist the other translations. Quite a few will be out of print but may be available second-hand over the net. Hopefully, with the new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer due out in October, there will be a new round of translations.


YOU CAN CONQUER CANCER - 13 translations

First published by Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1984 and new editions by Michelle Anderson Publishing, Melbourne, 2001 and 2004. Fully revised edition due for release in October 2012.

UK and USA English editions by Thorsons, Vermont, 1987

Germany: Peter Erd, Munich, 1985 and 1990

Spain: Sirio, Malagu, 1988

Israel (Hebrew): 1989

Sri Lanka: Daya Jayasinghe, Pitakotte, 1989

Poland: Wydawnictwa, Warsaw, 1992

Czechoslovakia: Pavla Momcilova, Cestlice, 1993

Netherlands: Uitgeverij Ankh-Hermes bv, Deventer, 1995

Norway: Oversattning Leif Edstrom, 1995

Thailand: Folk Doctor Publishing, Bangkok, ?

Indonesia: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, Jakarta, 1997

Japan: Shunjusha, 2003

The book has been printed in the following languages, but we do not have records of the publications:



PEACE OF MIND - 4 translations

First published Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1987 and new edition by Michelle Anderson Printing, Melbourne, 2002.

UK and USA editions by Thorsons.

Gt. Britain: Prime Press, Bridport, 1989

German: Scherz, Bern, 1990

Brazil: Editoria Gaiai, Sao Paulo, 1995

Hungary: Hunga-Print, Budapest

Italy: Meditare: Armenia, Milano, 2012


First published by Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1996

French: Vivez Soleil, Chenebourg, 1996

MEDITATION – AN IN-DEPTH GUIDE written with Paul Bedson

First published by Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2010

USA Edition: Published by Tarcher, 2011


First published by Brolga Publishing, Melbourne, 2011

UK Edition due the second half of 2012

3. Retreat

I am now on retreat for nearly 7 weeks with Sogyal Rinpoche. Home and garden is being well cared for by the house sitter, but I will be out of direct communication until the end of September. I get back to australia just in time for No 2 son's wedding!

The blogs are scheduled for every week or two, but there will be no comments on current affairs.