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Chemo Brain Impairment: Studies have Shown that Mindfulness Can Help

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If you or someone you know has had the unfortunate experience of being diagnosed with cancer you have had to make some tough choices in order to preserve your life and quality of life. Perhaps in your case, the choice was made to undergo the harsh treatments of chemotherapy.

For those of you that aren’t aware Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment where chemicals are used to kill the cancer cells. These chemicals are very strong and can carry some pretty intense side effects. The chemicals are designed to target any cell that divides quickly in the hopes to hit the cancer cells but, unfortunately, our body has other cells that divide quickly too.

Healthy cells that line your intestines and mouth are at high risk as well as those that cause your hair to grow.

What is Chemo Brain?

via a4bc.wordpress.com

via a4bc.wordpress.com

People who survive the battle of cancer through the use of chemo can end up with an issue that makes it hard to think or remember things which are often referred to as chemo brain. This chemotherapy connected impairment of the brain is also known as chemo fog.

Although more research is needed to better pinpoint the exact chemical or issue causing the impairment it is still a very real issue and concern for these patients.

Mindfulness Meditation as a form of Stress Reduction Has been found to Help Reduce Chemo Brain

The Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine recently conducted a study which shows us that a stress reduction program based on mindfulness can create a sustainable improvement to people who suffer from cognitive impairment due to cancer treatments. This program has shown success in improving focus, memory and function in these cancer survivors.

This treatment referred to as MBSR was used to help colorectal and breast cancer survivors who were feeling fatigued after their battle and most of whom were in fact treated with chemotherapy.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”- psychologytoday.com

Focus Improves and Thinking becomes Easier with MBSR

Cancer survivors who participated in the program liked it so much that they had over a 95% retention rate which suggests that they found benefits from the 8-week class made up of 2-hour sessions.  

The patients in the control group had supportive counseling and educational materials which is the common therapeutic approach. Whereas the people who participated in the MBSR group had a greater ability to pay attention, made fewer mistakes on the various cognitive tasks, and reported that they saw lots of improvement.

Other related studies found the treatment to also help with post-cancer depression, sleep disturbances, and fatigue.

via ziptrials.us

via ziptrials.us

Researchers believe that the reason why mindfulness training works on helping someone improve their functioning is because of how the technique works. When you are using mindfulness you are trained to observe your internal body and mind reality without reacting.

For example, you would sit and observe the various sensations of your body, your thoughts, and emotions without seeking for a distraction or engage with them. You would just observe them as they are while staying present and not react to them.

When a person works hard to stay present for long periods of time it literally rewires the brain in such a way that many other parts of your life change for the better because of the effort you put forth in a simple meditation session.  

The specific technique used for these cancer survivors was both yoga and meditation as well as other elements to help their patients get the best results.

“More people than ever are surviving cancer due to the development of targeted and effective treatments,” said Shelley Johns, Psy.D. “Yet many cancer survivors are living with difficult and persistent side effects of these treatments, which can be incapacitating.”

“Mindfulness meditation practices enable cancer survivors to better manage cancer-related cognitive impairment, reported by approximately 35 percent of cancer survivors who have completed treatment,” said Dr. Johns,”MBSR provides a creative solution for survivors whose social and occupational functioning may have been negatively impacted by cognitive difficulties.”

What an awesome way to help support those who are recovering from such an intense and trying time in their life.

Already a hardcore meditator?

For those of you that are hardcore meditators and are looking for the next level of peace and liberation from a meditation technique have got to check out Vipassana. It is an incredibly transformational program that has been carefully passed down from the Buddha Gotama and yet many Buddhists don’t know about it.  

This intense 10-day course isn’t for the faint of heart and yet if you work hard and learn the technique it will forever change your life and it has done for me. The best news is that the program is free. Your session is paid for by previous students that felt the program was so beneficial that they gifted it to you. Click on this link to learn more.

Sources- www.sciencedaily.com

www.mayoclinic.org

www.webmd.com

www.psychologytoday.com

www.dhamma.org

Image Credit: consciouslivingtv.com

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Health

Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People

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The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.

Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.

Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.

Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.

Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.

“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”

However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.

In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”

“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

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Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say

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With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.

According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.

The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.

The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.

While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.

Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.

Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced

However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.

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Health

Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact

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Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.

And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.

Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.

Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.

Death Toll, by Percent of Population

In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.

Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.

The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.

Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.

History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning

While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.

In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.

What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?

Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics

Republished from ZH with permission.

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