Ben Stiller Wants Men to Test for Prostate Cancer

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Actor Ben Stiller was as surprised as anyone when he heard these words: “So yeah, it’s cancer.”

After all, he was only 48 and had no real reason to suspect that he had cancer, especially prostate cancer, which many people think of as an older man’s disease.

“I have no history of prostate cancer in my family and I’m not in the high-risk group,” he wrote in a public posting detailing his experience. “I had no symptoms.”

So how did the star of movies including There’s Something About MaryMeet the Parents, and Zoolander end up getting diagnosed in the first place? And what does his case have to say about the way we diagnose and treat prostate cancer in the United States?

Stiller’s story began two years before the day in June 2014 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. This is when his doctor, a “thoughtful internist”, gave him a simple and inexpensive PSA screening test. This was the first of many PSA tests over the next few years.

A one-time modest elevation of PSA blood levels can be explained by several factors that are often correctable. So the best course of action is to have follow-up PSA tests to monitor what direction the PSA is moving in.

As follow-up PSA tests were performed, Ben Stiller’s doctor noted a gradual rise in Stiller’s PSA over his earlier baseline. These rising levels triggered a referral to a urologist, who did further testing, including a digital rectal exam, an MRI, and finally a biopsy that confirmed the diagnosis.

Three months after his diagnosis, Stiller had undergone treatment—in his case a robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, or removal of his prostate gland during a minimally invasive surgery—and was cancer free. That could have been the end of it, but after doing his research into prostate cancer screening and diagnosis, Stiller realized he couldn’t be silent about his experience. He’s been spreading the same message ever since: “Taking the PSA test saved my life.”

This might not seem like a controversial statement—after all, it might seem hard to argue against a simple blood test that can identify prostate cancer early enough to treat it before it spreads and without major side effects. But in fact, due to recent chaos in the official recommendations for PSA blood testing, tens of thousands of American men are skipping the very test that possibly saved Stiller’s life on the advice of their doctors and with potentially devastating consequences.

History of Screening Recommendations

The PSA test is used to measure prostate-specific antigen, a protein that is produced by the prostate gland.

PSA levels rise in aging men and can be the first signal of underlying prostate cancer. So the PSA blood test is used to identify men who may have prostate malignancy and need further evaluation.

This simple blood test was approved by the FDA in 1994, allowing men to begin monitoring their PSA levels and identify possible tumors long before they become dangerous.1

Since PSA testing was introduced, the risk of dying from prostate cancer among men who were regularly screened declined by as much as 42%.2,3

Despite this drop, widespread PSA screening remained controversial in the medical community.

Prostate cancer is typically a slow-growing cancer, and the current biopsy and treatment methods, including the kind of less-invasive surgical removal that Stiller underwent, carry risks such as pain, incontinence and impotence. Some doctors worried that the PSA test, which can detect very slight increases in PSA levels, might be causing men with low-risk cancers to undergo biopsies and possibly unnecessary treatment.

Based on these concerns, in 2012, the US Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) issued a stunning update to prostate screening recommendations. Drawing its conclusions from the results of a $400 million federal study, the USPSTF advised against PSA screening for healthy men, saying that PSA screening has “no net benefit.”4-6 The American Cancer Society soon revised its recommendations, steering healthy, average-risk men away from PSA screening until age 50, with revised recommendations for men with a family history of prostate cancer.7

These guidelines caused immediate uproar in the medical community, including rebuttals from Life Extension® urging men over age 40 to continue having annual PSA blood tests. By 2016, the USPSTF announced it was reconsidering its prior recommendations against PSA screening.

In 2017, a new draft recommendation was released for public input. This time, the USPSTF slightly backtracked, saying that the risks and benefits of PSA screening are “closely balanced” in men between the ages of 55 and 69 and they should seek their doctor’s advice on PSA screening. Men aged 54 and under and those over the age of 70 would still be counseled to avoid PSA screening. These new, slightly softer guidelines were still not finalized as of May 2017, and the agency was soliciting public input.8

In Stiller’s case, following even the updated guidelines might have meant disaster—he was still too young to be screened according to the USPSTF (United States Preventive Service Task Force).

“If he [Ben Stiller’s doctor] had waited, as the American Cancer Society recommends, until I was 50, I would not have known I had a growing tumor until two years after I got treated,” he wrote. “If he [Ben Stiller’s doctor] had followed the US Preventive Service Task Force guidelines, I would never have gotten tested at all, and not have known I had cancer until it was way too late to treat successfully.”

The USPSTF’s original recommendations against screening were partly based on the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. This huge trial assigned 76,685 men aged 55 – 74 years to one of two study arms. The first group (38,340 men) underwent annual PSA testing for 6 years and an annual digital rectal exam for 4 years. The control group (38,345 men) underwent normal care, with occasional “opportunistic screening” but no regular PSA monitoring. At the end of the 13-year follow-up period, researchers announced there was “no evidence of a mortality benefit” for annual PSA screening.9 The USPSTF recommendation against PSA screening soon followed.

Life Extension, which has long supported PSA screening, issued a detailed rebuttal challenging the findings of this study. In fact, the study was deeply flawed thanks to widespread “contamination” of the control arm.

While Life Extension was early in identifying the obvious flaws with this study, it wasn’t long until astute research groups began to catch up. In early 2016, a group of urologists from the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York published a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine confirming what Life Extension suspected.10

The shocking truth was that more than 80% of the men in the control group—which was supposed to only receive “occasional” PSA screening—reported at least one PSA test during the trial. In fact, by some measures, the men in the control group received more PSA screening than men in the PSA screeningarm!10

Their conclusion? “We’re going to have to reconsider this issue.”11

Further support for this position was published in another large study, this one called the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer. This study randomized 182,000 men aged 50 to 74 to a “usual care” control group or a group with PSA screening every two to seven years. Spread across seven research centers in Europe, the group tracked prostate cancer mortality in both study arms. At the median follow-up of nine years, researchers reported that PSA screening resulted in a 20% reduction in prostate cancer mortality!12

A study from the Göteborg center, one of the seven participating centers in this study, found that men aged 50 to 64 years of age who had a PSA screening every other year had a 44% reduced mortality risk from prostate cancer. The center used a PSA cutoff of 2.5 ng/mL to 3.0 ng/mL. Men with these cutoff PSA levels and higher were referred for additional testing, including a digital rectal exam, transrectal ultrasound, and prostate biopsy.13

Although it’s too late to help the tens of thousands of men who likely skipped PSA screening, we are grateful the USPSTF is slowly grappling with the well-documented issues in its original guidelines by issuing the new draft recommendations.14

The issue was further complicated by results from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicinein 2016. This trial followed 1,643 men for a decade, each with prostate cancer that was first detected by PSA screening, to see which of the most popular treatment techniques was most effective, including “active waiting” and monitoring the disease, surgery to remove the prostate gland, or external radiation beam therapy to treat the cancer. While the prostate-cancer-specific survival rate was high (>98%) in all three groups, researchers found that men in the “active waiting” group were more likely to progress to metastatic disease, and about half of them needed surgery or radiation therapy within the 10-year study period.15

These results suggest that men benefit from early detection and early treatment of prostate cancer.

Please note that Life Extension does not recommend “watchful or active waiting” in the presence of high PSA and/or low-grade prostate cancer. We instead advise men to follow an aggressive “active surveillance” program that involves an anticancer diet along with specific drugs and nutrients that may enable early-stage disease to be contained.

Rise in Metastatic Cancer Rates

While various agencies continue to issue contradictory and confusing advice, men across the country have paid the price. In late 2016, a research group from Northwestern Medicine released a stunning and tragic finding: diagnoses of metastatic prostate cancer, the worst type, climbed an unbelievable 72% between 2004 and 2013.16

To reach these findings, the group studied a database of more than three-quarters of a million men in the National Cancer Data Base. What they found should alarm any man who skips his PSA screening.

“The fact that men in 2013 who presented with metastatic disease had much higher PSAs than similar men in 2004 hints that more aggressive disease is on the rise,”17 said study author Dr. Edward Schaeffer, chair of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine.

“One hypothesis is the disease has become more aggressive, regardless of the change in screening,” said Dr. Schaeffer. “The other idea is since screening guidelines have become more lax, when men do get diagnosed, it’s at a more advanced stage of disease. Probably both are true. We don’t know for sure but this is the focus of our current work.”17

This makes treatment more difficult, and it’s exactly the situation Ben Stiller would have faced if his forward-thinking doctor hadn’t established a PSA baseline early on and tracked it, allowing him to discover Stiller’s troubling increase in PSA levels over time and recommend the movie star for further evaluation and surgery.

It’s important to note that the increase in metastatic, aggressive prostate cancer almost perfectly aligns with the trend away from PSA screening that culminated with the USPSTF 2012 recommendation against any PSA screening.

Prostate Cancer Survivors Due to Early Detection

Name Year Successfully Treated
Robert De Niro 2003 at age 60
John Kerry 2003 at age 60
Rudy Giuliani 2000 at age 56
Robert Goulet 1993 at age 60
Colin Powell 2003 at age 66
Michael Milken 1993 at age 46

Stiller’s Happy Ending

The main concern with PSA screening is the potential for overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment. These are real concerns—PSA screening frequently returns “false positives,” which are stressful for the patients involved and result in unnecessary biopsies and additional tests.18

We recommends regular, inexpensive PSA screening to establish a baseline and follow PSA numbers over time. If your PSA level rises above 1.0 ng/mL, there are natural and safe measures you can take to reduce it. Further evaluation may be necessary if your PSA continues to rise over time.

In fact, this is exactly the course Stiller followed, and today he’s alive and grateful for it.

“The bottom line for me: I was lucky enough to have a doctor who gave me what they call a ‘baseline’ PSA test when I was about 46,” he wrote in Medium, a popular blogging platform. “My doctor watched my PSA tests rise for over a year and a half, testing me every six months…I think men over the age of 40 should have the opportunity to discuss the test with their doctor and learn about it, so they can have the chance to be screened.”19

More recently, two years after his diagnosis and treatment, Stiller went public with his experience with an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, alongside Dr. Schaeffer. While reporting that he wasn’t experiencing any of the major complications of prostate surgery, Stiller gave a simple reason for going public. He wanted to educate as many men as possible about their options when it came to PSA screening.

“It’s a whole new world,” Stiller said. “You need to educate yourself.”

We at Life Extension commend Bernard M. Kruger, M.D. for having the foresight to test Ben Stiller’s PSA blood levels despite conventional “authorities” advising against PSA screening.

Written By Jon Vanzile

Article Source: http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2017/9/Ben-Stiller-Advocates-Prostate-Cancer-Screening/Page-01

 

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How metformin prevents tumors: UCSD researchers

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Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have identified a previously unknown mechanism that helps fortify the structure and tight junctions between epithelial cells — a basic cell type that lines various body cavities and organs throughout the body, forming a protective barrier against toxins, pathogens and inflammatory triggers. Breaches of this barrier can provoke organ dysfunction and development of tumors.

The findings, published online in the current issue of eLife by senior author Pradipta Ghosh, MD, professor in the departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues, helps illuminate why the widely prescribed anti-diabetic drug Metformin has repeatedly been shown to not only protect epithelial integrity in the face of stressors like inflammation, sepsis, hypoxia and harmful microbes, but also appears to prevent cancer.

Virtually all cell types possess cell polarity — the asymmetrical organization of their components and structures that makes it possible for them to carry out specialized functions. In epithelial cells, polarity determines how they form barriers. Loss of epithelial polarity impacts organ development and function and can initiate cancers.

The stress-polarity pathway, discovered and described in 2006 and 2007, is a specialized pathway mobilized only during periods of stress. It is orchestrated by a protein-kinase called AMPK that protects cellular polarity when epithelial cells are under energetic stress and an activator of AMPK called LBK1.

“The latter is a bona fide tumor suppressor,” said Ghosh. Mutations in LBK1 have been linked to cancers and loss of cell polarity. While the question of exactly how the energy-sensing LKB1-AMPK pathway maintains cell polarity during stress remained unknown for more than a decade, evidence accumulated that Metformin, an activator of the LKB1-AMPK pathway and a frontline treatment for type 2 diabetes, has beneficial effects on the epithelial lining and can potentially prevent cancer.

The new research, said Ghosh, provides “mechanistic insights into the tumor suppressive action of Metformin and the LKB1-AMPK pathway at a higher resolution.” Specifically, she and colleagues discovered that the stress-polarity pathway requires a key effector of AMPK — a protein called GIV/Girdin.

In cultured polarized epithelial cells, the authors demonstrated that AMPK and its activator Metformin exerted much of their beneficial effects via phosphorylating GIV and directing GIV to the tight junctions of the epithelial layer. Without such phosphorylation and/or targeting, the beneficial effects of AMPK, and its activator Metformin, were virtually abolished and the epithelial barrier became “leaky” and eventually collapsed. Mutants of GIV found in colon cancer that specifically abolish AMPK’s ability to phosphorylate GIV could trigger tumor cell growth in 3D matrigel.

“In summary, by identifying GIV/Girdin as a key layer within the stress-polarity pathway we’ve peeled another layer of the proverbial onion,” Ghosh said. “In the process, we’ve provided new insights into the epithelium-protecting and tumor-suppressive actions of one of the most widely prescribed drugs, Metformin, which may inspire a fresh look and better designed studies to fully evaluate the benefits of this relatively cheap medication.”

###

Co-authors of the study are: Nicolas Aznar, Arjun Patel, Christina Rohena, Ying Dunkel, Vanessa Taupin, Irina Kufareva, and Marilyn Farquhar, all at UC San Diego.

 

Article Source: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/how-metformin-prevents-tumors-ucsd-researchers/diabetes/

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Sauerkraut: Anti-cancer Fermented Food that Restores Gut Flora

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Sauerkraut can be an important part of diets designed for healing cancer. Sauerkraut is a German word that simply means sour white cabbage. Lacto-fermented cabbage has a long history of providing benefits for many different health conditions, and now it is proving to be beneficial for cancer. Cabbage, by itself, offers a number of health benefits, but the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering sauerkraut even more nutritious than the original cabbage.1

In 2005, a team of researchers from Poland and the United states observed a substantially higher rate of breast cancer among Polish women who immigrated to the United States. They compared Polish women who were living in and near Chicago and Detroit with women who were still living in Poland. They observed that the rate of breast cancer was three times higher for the Polish immigrants. They evaluated various factors and concluded that the consumption of lacto-fermented sauerkraut was a possible factor in the different cancer rates. Women in Poland ate an average of 30 pounds of raw sauerkraut each year, while the Polish women in the US were eating approximately 10 pounds per year.2

What are the qualities of sauerkraut that would make it a super food for cancer prevention, and to be included as a part of diets designed to treat cancer? Let’s take a look at some of the science.

Sauerkraut contains high levels of glucosinolates. These compounds have been shown to have anti-cancer activity in laboratory research.

“The observed pattern of risk reduction indicates that the breakdown products of glucosinolates in cabbage may affect both the initiation phase of carcinogenesis -by decreasing the amount of DNA damage and cell mutation -and the promotion phase, by blocking the processes that inhibit programmed cell death and stimulate unregulated cell growth,” said Dorothy Rybaczyk-Pathak from the University of New Mexico.3

Pathak, along with colleagues from Michigan State University and the National Food and Nutrition Institute of Warsaw, Poland, found that “Women who ate at least three servings a week of raw- or short-cooked cabbage and sauerkraut had a significantly reduced breast cancer risk compared with those who only ate one serving per week.” They discussed these findings at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting in Baltimore, Maryland in 2005.4

A study published in 2012 in the journal Nutrition Cancer showed that consumption of cabbage and sauerkraut is connected with significant reduction of breast cancer incidences. Estrogens are considered a major breast cancer risk factor and their metabolism by P450 enzymes substantially contributes to carcinogenic activity.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of cabbage and sauerkraut juices on key enzymes involved with estrogen metabolism in laboratory cell tissue. The 2012 study conducted by Hanna Szaefer, Et Al. showed that their research “supported the epidemiological observations and partly explain the mechanism of the chemopreventive activity of white cabbage products.” In other words their research supported the observation that the consumption of sauerkraut was a beneficial food for the prevention of breast cancer in women.5,6

The preceding studies do not show that sauerkraut by itself is a cure for cancer. They do show that eating sauerkraut has various health benefits, among which is the prevention of cancer, and that eating raw sauerkraut can be part of a natural treatment program for certain cancers.

Raw Fermented Cabbage is Traditional Healthy Sauerkraut

Not all sauerkraut has health benefits. In order for sauerkraut to have a preventative effect for cancer, it needs to be raw. Raw naturally fermented sauerkraut contains lactic acid and the living probiotic microorganisms that are the agents of fermentation. Canned sauerkraut, pasteurized sauerkraut, or fully cooked sauerkraut does not have this healing power, because the microorganisms have been killed by extended exposure to high heat. Cooking and pasteurization also damages other cancer preventative properties.

Naturally fermented cabbage is normally made from finely shredded cabbage and salt. The salt preserves the cabbage for a few days while the probiotic bacteria begin to grow. These probiotic bacteria are highly beneficial to human digestion and are the mechanism that turns cabbage into a super nutritious food. Naturally fermented sauerkraut does not contain vinegar. The sour taste comes directly from the process of fermentation. The sugar in cabbage is converted into lactic acid, which gives the cabbage its characteristic sour flavor. The lactic acid also preserves the cabbage and prevents it from rotting. Properly fermented sauerkraut can be kept for years without refrigeration as long as it is stored at a cool temperature. Containers of sauerkraut and other types of fermented vegetables were often stored in root cellars, caves, and sometimes even buried in the ground for long-term cool storage.

It may seem strange to us that, in earlier times, people knew how to preserve vegetables for long periods without the use of freezers or canning machines. This was done through the process of lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria. These lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on the surface of all living things and especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing in or near the ground.7

Before the twentieth century, people throughout the world routinely fermented many types of foods to help with digestion and to preserve foods for long term storage. They had an awareness of how these foods could help them with specific health problems. For example, during long sea voyages, sailors used sauerkraut to prevent scurvy. Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans. Scurvy often presents itself initially as symptoms of malaise and lethargy, followed by formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. Spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. As scurvy advances, there can be open, suppurating wounds, loss of teeth, jaundice, fever, neuropathy and death.8 Sauerkraut contains enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy.

Other Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut also has benefits for many other health conditions. Acne is not a life threatening disease, but for many young people, it is a source of extreme embarrassment and concern. Dr. Thomas Cowan states:

A strategy for dealing with acne begins with effective “bowel cleansing” and healthy bowel flora (the normal lacto-bacteria that live in our intestines). This has always been considered the cornerstone of every natural acne treatment. The best remedy for this is for your teenager to eat about 1/4-1/2 cup of fresh, unpasteurized traditionally made sauerkraut every day and then take one teaspoon of Swedish Bitters in warm water before bed. Sauerkraut, however, should be the cornerstone of treatment as the high sulfur content of the cabbage is especially valuable in skin cleansing. (Cabbage juice is valued in Irish folk medicine for giving a beautiful complexion.)

This treatment recommendation is part of Dr. Cowan’s comprehensive acne treatment discussed in his article.9

Acid Reflux can be an extremely painful condition, which can cause long term damage to the esophagus. This condition can be healed naturally with sauerkraut juice. Dr. Mercola states:

Sauerkraut or cabbage juice is one of the strongest stimulants for your body to produce acid. This is a good thing as many people have low stomach acid, which is the cause of their gut problems. Having a few teaspoons of cabbage juice before eating, or better yet, fermented cabbage juice from sauerkraut, will do wonders to improve your digestion.10

Conclusion

Sauerkraut and other raw lactic acid fermented vegetable products such as kimchi offer a number of health benefits. Their probiotic content helps with digestion and helps to heal damage to the digestive tract. Raw sauerkraut is a traditional part of a healthy diet.

The refrigerator section of most health food stores should have some variety of raw unpasteurized sauerkraut. Be sure you read the label before you make your purchase. You do not want to see the word “pasteurized.” The jar should have plenty of liquid so that the cabbage is completely submerged. It is fine if you see bubbles in the jar, this is proof that it contains living bacteria. The longer the sauerkraut ferments, the better the flavor. Some people say that the best flavor comes after about 6 month of storage.

When you open the jar, always use a clean utensil to remove the sauerkraut. You want to try and avoid introducing new bacteria into the jar. The sauerkraut should be crisp and feel clean. It should never feel slimy or smell rotten. Living sauerkraut has a distinctively fresh smell, which should remain the same down to the bottom of the jar.

 

REFERENCES

1. “6. Digestion Connection: The Simple, Natural Plan to Combat Diabetes, Heart Disease, Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Acid Reflux–And More!.” Elizabeth Lipski, 2013, Rodale. p. 63. ISBN 978-1609619459.

2.  “Sauerkraut consumption may fight off breast cancer,” Dominique Patton, 04-Nov-2005, http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Sauerkraut-consumption-may-fight-off-breast-cancer

3.  IBID

4.  IBID

5. “Modulation of CYP1A1, CYP1A2 and CYP1B1 expression by cabbage juices and indoles in human breast cell lines,” 2012, PMID: 22716309) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22716309

6.  Two additional studies support this finding.

  • “Modulation of carcinogen metabolizing cytochromes P450 in rat liver and kidney by cabbage and sauerkraut juices: comparison with the effects of indole-3-carbinol and phenethyl isothiocyanate,” 2012, PMID: 22173777 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22173777
  • “Modulation of CYP19 expression by cabbage juices and their active components: indole-3-carbinol and 3,3′-diindolylmethene in human breast epithelial cell,” 2013, PMID: 23090135 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23090135

7.  “Lacto-Fermentation” http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/lacto-fermentation?qh=YToxOntpOjA7czoxMDoic2F1ZXJrcmF1dCI7fQ%3D%3D

8. “Scurvy” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy

9. “Acne” http://www.westonaprice.org/ask-the-doctor/acne?qh=YToxOntpOjA7czoxMDoic2F1ZXJrcmF1dCI7fQ%3D%3D

10. “Drinking Water Better than Drugs in Suppressing Acid Reflux” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/08/water-works-better-than-ulcer-pills-to-decrease-stomach-acid.aspx

– See more at: http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/sauerkraut-anti-cancer-fermented-food-that-restores-gut-flora/#sthash.L6Rkxzhi.dpuf

 

Why Donating Blood Is Good For Your Health

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It’s time to roll up your sleeve and save a life — including yours.

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, with a total of 44,000 blood donations needed every day, reports the American Red Cross. One whole blood donation, which takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour, can come to the rescue of as many as three patients.

Harold Mendenhall, an 84-year-old lifetime blood donor from South Florida, donated his 100th gallon of blood, The Palm Beach Post reported. He started giving blood on July 7, 1977 when his wife, Frankie, was diagnosed with breast cancer. After she died, going to the blood bank was a way Mendenhall could deal with the grief of losing his wife and later his two sons. At least, he could save those who needed a blood transfusion.

Mendenhall, strong and healthy, donates 6 gallons of blood a year by platelets. In a platelet donation, a machine withdrawals the blood, filters out the platelets, and returns the rest of the blood to the donor, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. This donation procedure takes 70 to 90 minutes and can be done once every seven days, allowing for the donor to give blood every few weeks instead of the eight weeks of waiting required for a non-platelet donation. Whole blood donors can also donate platelets 72 hours after a whole blood donation, and vice versa.

Blood donors must be 17 years old in most states, with some states lowering the limit to 16 years old with parental consent. Donors ages 16 to 18 are also subject to additional height and weight restrictions, says the New York Blood Center. A single individual who donates whole blood starting at 17 years old every 56 days until they reach 76 will have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially saving more than 1,000 lives, says the American Red Cross.

While the health benefits of recipients who receive blood transfusions are clear, altruistic blood donors too, can reap the benefits.

Preserves Cardiovascular Health

Blood viscosity is known to be a unifying factor for the risk of cardiovascular disease, says the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. How thick and sticky your blood is and how much friction your blood creates through the blood vessels can determine how much damage is done to the cells lining your arteries. You can reduce your blood viscosity by donating blood on a regular basis, which eliminates the iron that may possibly oxidize in your blood. An increase in oxidative stress can be damaging to your cardiovascular system.

Blood donation reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, too. In a study published in theJournal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers found that participants ages 43 to 61 had fewer heart attacks and strokes when they donated blood every six months. In a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found in a sample size of 2,682 men in Finland, those who donated blood a minimum of once a year had an 88 percent lower risk of heart attacks than those who did not donate.

The removal of oxidative iron from the body through blood donations means less iron oxidation and reduced cardiovascular diseases.

Reduces The Risk of Cancer

The reduction of iron stores and iron in the body while giving blood can reduce the risk of cancer. Iron has been thought of to increase free-radical damage in the body and has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and aging, says a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers followed 1,200 people split into groups of two over the course of 4 ½ years. One group reduced their iron stores by blood donations twice a year, whereas the other group did not make any changes. The results of the study showed that the group of blood donors had lower iron levels, and a lower risk of cancer and mortality.

The Miller-Keystone Blood Center says that the consistency of blood donations is associated with lower risks of cancers including liver, lung, colon, and throat cancers due to the reduction in oxidative stress when iron is released from the bloodstream.

Burns Calories

People burn approximately 650 calories per donation of one pint of blood, according to theUniversity of California, San Diego. A donor who regularly donates blood can lose a significant amount of weight, but it should not be thought of as a weight loss plan by any means. To donate blood the American Red Cross requires donors to weigh at least 110 pounds and maintain healthy iron levels in the body.

Provides A Free Blood Analysis

Upon donation, donors are tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases. Testing indicates whether or not you are eligible to donate based on what is found in your bloodstream, says the American Red Cross. The organization also notes that a sample of your blood may be used now or in the future for additional tests and other medical research with your consent.

Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/why-donating-blood-good-your-health-246379

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