Articles of Interest This Week

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As part of my transition, here is my first effort at highlighting the articles that most interested me this week. Some date from the holiday break but as I work through these, this will become more of a weekly summary.

Cancer

Analysis: In war against cancer, progress is in the eye of the beholder provides a good reminder that in the war against cancer, the basics of prevention (not smoking, healthy eating, exercise etc) are the most important factors, also captured in this year-end review by James Salwitz in Advances in Cancer 2012, along with a commentary on the limited success of current approaches, and a warning that antioxidants may be counterproductive by the iconoclastic James Watson, DNA pioneer James Watson takes aim at ‘cancer establishments’.

Susan Gubar’s experience with ‘chemo feet’ (Living With Cancer: Chemo-Feet – NYTimes.com) makes me realize just how lucky I am with my very minor neuropathy (numbness) and how it does not impede my being active. And on the practical side, some good tips and reminders on working with your cancer team in How to get the most out of your oncology appointments, which usefully also indicates what not to ask or do (e.g., not asking questions).

And some encouraging developments in the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), starting with an 18 minute video from the Cleveland Clinic, providing a good overview of treatment options (Treating for Control Versus Cure in Mantle-Cell Lymphoma). Lastly, some encouraging results from a new drug, Ibrutinib, in an MD Anderson Cancer Centre study, Experimental Rx Has “Unprecedented” Impact on Cancer.

Health and Wellness

We don’t need to run marathons to be healthy, or adopt extreme diets to lose weight, as Gretchen Reynolds reminds us in Good and Bad, the Little Things Add Up in Fitness, moderation works. The graphic above provides a dramatic demonstration of how our lifestyle choices affect longevity in How To Gain Or Lose 30 Minutes Of Life Every Day. Our agricultural and food subsidy policies and programs run counter, in many cases, to improved health in Mark Bittman’s Stop Subsidizing Obesity.

And some interesting pieces on the link between exercise and the brain, starting with the evolutionary perspective and speculation in Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain and a more practical examination of whether exercise benefits last in Do the Brain Benefits of Exercise Last? – not surprisingly, they do not, so keep on being active if you want to help your brain.

Other

A fun list of The Top 10 Brain Science and Psychology Stories of 2012, with my favourite being ‘Why jerks get ahead.’ Susan Cain, The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance, likely with a touch of irony in promoting her book on introverts, nevertheless makes the case that as a society we are biased against introverts; the extroverts ‘suck up all the oxygen in the room.’

And lastly, a nice quote by Henry Miller, on life, death and the search for meaning:

Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning. Something has to be created, as a healing and goading intervention, between life and death, because the conclusion that life points to is death and to that conclusive fact man instinctively and persistently shuts his eyes. The sense of mystery, which is at the bottom of all art, is the amalgam of all the nameless terrors which the cruel reality of death inspires. Death then has to be defeated — or disguised, or transmogrified. But in the attempt to defeat death man has been inevitably obliged to defeat life, for the two are inextricably related. Life moves on to death, and to deny one is to deny the other. The stern sense of destiny which eery creative individual reveals lies in this awareness of the goal, this acceptance of the goal, this moving on towards a fatality, one with inscrutable forces that animate him and drive him on.

Henry Miller on Creative Death | Brain Pickings.

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