Here are some of the articles I found interesting this week.
A good reminder of the importance on focussing on prevention, for ‘man at his base is not a chronically ill creature cursed to live a wretched life of suffering and pain, but rather he possesses a marvelous body which is naturally strong and robust by design, and perhaps our goal should be to keep him that way.’ in Sunrise Rounds’ Finding a cancer cure: Maybe we should shift gears. A more conventional, treatment-focussed approach can be found in ASCO’s (American Society of Clinical Oncologists) vision paper focussing on three trends: “big data,” cancer “panomics” (or the complex combination of genes, proteins, molecular pathways etc), and delivering value (address cost pressures and outcome measures) in Shaping the Future of Oncology: Envisioning Cancer Care in 2030.
In terms of helping get through cancer treatment, a number of good articles, starting with yoga, highlighting one of the cancer-specific yoga programs in Ottawa in Restorative Yoga – a Balm for the Cancer Experience; bringing both physical and group support benefits. Unfortunately, most articles on cancer and nutrition focus ignore the emotional side of food. 4 Tips To Help A Foodie Get Through Chemo takes this tack, providing good and practical advice, in a quite amusing manner. And lastly, a note of caution of over-hyped antioxidants from Cancer Research UK in The antioxidant myth is too easy to swallow.
The wide-range of individual quality of life experiences with NHL diagnosis and treatment is captured in the study Quality of life for non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients a complex phenomenon, particularly mental and emotional health, given that many variants of NHL are treatable, not curable, with the anguish that results.
Lastly, a good piece by Suleika Jaouad on how her relationship with her brother changed and deepened, following her cancer and his being her stem cell donor in Life, Interrupted: Brotherly Love, where she was lucky to have a sibling who was a perfect match (not my and the majority of cases).
Health and Wellness
Given that it is flu season, some good reminders of the importance of wide-spread vaccines to improve public health (the ‘herd effect’) and protect those who are more vulnerable, such as seniors, people undergoing cancer treatments in The Best Way To Fight The Flu and Quarantine the healthy. And regardless of whether you have the vaccine or not, common sense dictates frequent hand washing, more effective than hand sanitizer in Really? The Claim: Hand Sanitizer Stops Norovirus Spread.
Great post by Carolyn Thomas on the limits of health apps and the like in changing behaviour in Does knowing change behaving?, noting, like I have earlier, that without these being linked to a better understanding of the psychology of changing behaviour, these ‘preach more to the converted’, just as the bathroom scale only works for those committed to reduce weight. In this vein, cautioning the ‘quants’ not to over-burdening their doctors with unneeded data, Patients who self track their data: Curb your enthusiasm emphasizes the mindfulness aspects of such activity tracking to keep people more active and aware of their health.
While we normally think of extreme eating in terms of those revolting extra-sized specials that advertise no charge if one can eat it all in under an hour, a reminder that extreme eating is common at many restaurants as this Centre for Science in the Public Interest study shows, ‘Xtreme Eating Awards’: And the Winner Is?.
A good piece by David Brooks on the use of psychological ‘nudges’ to change behaviour, and the wish to apply this approach to some of the bigger policy questions in Beware Stubby Glasses. As I become more familiar with my Fitbit, fun seeing how it uses psychology through badges and notifications to encourage more activity. Childish, but it works (so far!).
It has been Lance Armstrong’s ‘confession tour’ week with any number of articles, my favourite being Lance Armstrong’s way: Doping, lying, bullying, along with some more in-depth analysis in Doping Was The Least Of Armstrong’s Sins, Not all cancer survivors ‘mesmerized’ by Lance Armstrong, and How Armstrong’s Foundation Benefited Him. Needless to say, my take is too little, too late, and too many people hurt in his denial of doping for forgiveness, without more sincere contrition.
And lastly, a very funny piece by Woody Allen, Hypochondria – An Inside Look, on the fear of dying. Sample:
And yet, there are worse things than death. Many of them playing at a theater near you. For instance, I would not like to survive a stroke and for the rest of my life talk out of the side of my mouth like a racetrack tout. I would also not like to go into a coma, to lie in a hospital bed where I’m not dead but can’t even blink my eyes and signal the nurse to switch the channel from Fox News. And incidentally, who’s to say the nurse isn’t one of those angel of death crazies who hates to see people suffer and fills my intravenous glucose bag with Exxon regular.