Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A contrarian opinion on nutrition and Myeloma

Hello folks.   Have been waiting for something noteworthy to post...there are a few things that are percolating but nothing has really broken through just yet, although hopefully in the next several days there will be a couple of things of (minor) interest.  Quite minor, as in don't expect much.  :)

One recent text I got from a friend a fellow traveler did tickle my funny bone, however, and I thought I would pass it along.

Among the many things we MM patients consider is the impact of diet on our condition.  Is there anything we've eaten that could have made this worse?   Diet soda has had a number of detractors lately, although it's a little murky considering some of the damning research was subsequently retracted.  However, Dr. BD (a leader in the field and one of my early consults) is big-time against consuming any diet soda and considering I was drinking 10 a day (not an exaggeration) before diagnosis this probably played a part in my disease.

Then there's Asparagus.   What to make of it?  Death-dealing carcinogen to be avoided by Myelomics?   A powerful cancer-fighter?  Or somewhere in between?   My money is on the latter, although based on the evidence it's probably not a good idea to pound this stuff if you have blood cancer, MM included.  But a few stalks one or two times a month?   Pfft.

Then there's curcumin.  Preventative care for MGUS, if not MM?     Or...maybe something else?

My point isn't to poop on the holistic medicine parade here, but I did want to convey a quick message that maybe...JUST MAYBE...we should relax, eat sensibly, and not sweat the details too much.

My friend BB, not to be confused with my Dr. BB, is experiencing a rare (for UAMS) and unfortunate (for anybody) recurrence of MM after initially responding favorably to treatment.  Per the aggressive UAMS approach, the response to this is...continued aggressive treatment.  BB (the friend, again not the doctor) has undergone the newest drugs (Kyprolis and Pomalidomide) with mixed effects, additional VDT-PACE (nasty chemo), and several other combos, and has found some stability with low-doses of chemo administered continuously over 28-day cycles.   He's understandably tired.

He wrote:
"I've always led a healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, etc. but considering everything I'm going through I need to step it up...So here's what I've started and am developing along the way as I do more research:
Reduction of fat in diet.  Curcumin.  Barley.  Probiotics.  Beta Glucan.  Lots of Omega 3s. Daily detox juice of kale, cucumber, apples, ginger, lemon juice, olive oil.  Breakfast of organic Greek yogust (not the pretend stuff) with flaxseed oil."
Then the payoff:
"Of course BB says it's all a bunch of crap."
Haha!   I do love my doctor.

I think the point is not that BB advocates an intentionally unhealthy lifestyle (like me drinking 10 cans of diet soda a day for ten years) but that a sensible diet in moderation is likely to have just the same impact on Myeloma as spending two hours a day assembling a precise cocktail of stuff that deprives you of the joy of just eating what you want (again, in moderation).  Should you eat short ribs and ribeye steaks every day?  No.  But should you sweat a cut of lean beef every 10 days?  No.  Should you eat a pile of bacon or steak and eggs for breakfast every morning?  No.   But confining breakfast to yogurt made from goats grazing in a "blue zone" on a particular Greek island probably isn't worth the stress.

I hope that my friend BB gets better quickly -- from any combination of overzealous dietary focus to good ol' fashioned poison.  But don't forget to stop and smell the roses...without stressing too much about whether or not they've been sprayed recently for pesticide.  :)


  1. I think people over-emphasize diet and under-emphasize the endocrine system. Naturally, diet impacts hormonal response quite significantly, but it isn't the only thing that influences hormone production. For the past couple of weeks, I have been experimenting with a combination of dietary supplements and specific, targeted forms of exercise to promote greater HGH production and to inhibit cortisol production as far as possible.

    I'm only two weeks in, but so far, so good. I'm a type 1 diabetic, and the results have been consistent, controlled blood sugar. I'm not one who believes that we can "eat our way to better health," but I do believe that a person can impact their endocrine system in deliberate ways if one knows where to start.

    So that's where I am. Not a myeloma story, but perhaps applicable to the matter at hand.

  2. Finally! A reasonable stance. I have had MM since 2007. I'm 58 years old. Throughout my 30's and 40's (in fact, my whole life) I lived a life of moderation. When bagels and donuts were available at a work meeting I always took a bagel (plain, with no cream cheese). Since getting this disease I have actually gone the opposite way. If there are free donuts, I have one! I want to enjoy what life remains. I still eat fruits and vegetables. But I don't pass on a nice steak or alcoholic beverages.

    Everyone is going to die. Too much of anything is bad. These are truths. I've never been big on diet soda but I will still drink one occasionally if I feel I'm getting too fat.


  3. Nick, Don't forget to have a cannabis salad with your dinner. I just saw a study that found that POT use reduced the occurrence of bladder cancer by 45%. First, used to help nausea when taking chemo, now reduced cancer risk. Were the researcher smoking something or is WEED the next wonder drug? Too funny!! Gary Petersen

  4. I was diagnosed in 2008 at age 45, and I had always been concerned that my family history of heart and vascular issues was my biggest health concern. I ate low and non-fat alternatives, I drank diet sodas, I left the cheese off my burgers.
    After my diagnosis, and after my two stem cell transplants, I went through a stage where I completely ignored any dietary constraints, embracing real butter, double cheese and not a drop of low-fat anything.
    Now, I'm back to semi-normal, trying to eat smart but not passing on the occasional extra now and then.
    Bottom line ... a moderate diet is NOT going to kill me before the MM does.

  5. Nick-
    I am a product of my mm experiences. I began to focus on nutrition, lifestyle and supplementation after I failed conventional induction and pbsct. There are dozens of studies documenting the benefits of moderate exercise, nutrition and supplementation such as curcumin, vitamin D, fish oil, green tea extract, others.
    I was originally diagnosed with mm 2/94 and achieved complete remission 4/99 where I have remained ever since.
    I cancer coach mmers (free)- there is more to cancer survival than conventional therapies. Much more.

    David Emerson

  6. Hi, Nick. Like you, I punted on my substantial diet cola habit and have substituted seltzer water without too much of a struggle. Like Don Ho, I guess that I'm just a fan of the tiny bubbles. I have also been eying some common sense dietary/supplement/exercise changes so that obesity/vitamin deficiency/laziness don't do me in unnecessarily. If I'm going out, I don't want it to be because I had one-too-many slices of pizza pie. Nor do I want one-too-few. Moderation it shall be. Having stopped chemo and other MM meds six months ago, I can no longer point an accusing finger at dex for my unwanted weight gain. I am going to take a look-see at David's website for some insight. Hang tough, friend! Hope to see you in AR one of these days...

  7. When I was there to see Dr BB a few months ago I asked him about consuming red wine because I read that it contains resveratol. I have also asked him about drinking carrot juice b/c when I was first diagnosed with MM my cousin told me he had done a lot of research on foods that helped treat cancer and carrot juice was one of them. Dr BB bascially said he thinks that's a bunch of "crap". LOL. He said if I wanted an excuse to have a glass of wine to go ahead and try it and we will see what my numbers look like when I go back. I am opting to not drink the wine. I would like to say that I'm not so sure how much nutrition plays a role in the development or treatment of MM (yes I am aware of the studies). Having an identical twin who has pretty much eaten the same kinds of food that I have eaten over our lifetime (38 years) and who doesn't have MM (or any signs thereof), I am inclined to think that nutrition hasn't really had much to do with it. Now as a Nurse Practitioner, I will say that there is no disbuting the fact that diet has a huge effect on co-morbid illness such as diabetes, HTN, hyperlipidemia and obesity. In the end, I say life is desert first and take some basic vitamins daily!

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  13. Reading the research, contributors to myeloma progression include: high insulin (which is in response to diet) body fatness - which increases insulin levels, and IGF-1, which is linked to high insulin levels and a high intake of animal protein. As a sensible approach: keep your weight in the normal range, keep your body fat low, keep exercising - which also helps bones, and have a diet that does not spike your blood sugar level too often.
    Dr Carol Granger, cancer nutrition consultant.