Russell Apiaries

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Beekeeper vs Cancer

Many of you know my views on the evolutionary process, and my personal battle with cancer and my decision to refuse chemotherapy... I receive many questions about homeopathic treatments, especially those involving apitherapy, honey, pollen, royal jelly, and other honey bee related products... There are several things about cancer that do not seem to be discussed much, such as how cancer and evolution are linked and how that link can explain why a simple "cure" seems to be such an evasive prospect for scientists... In this page, I will attempt to provide some of the answers to those questions as well as some interesting facts about how evolution and cancer are connected. Of course, I will also try to compare this to the wonderful world of the honey bee.

First, let me begin with a brief understanding of my views on evolution... I am a Christian, and as a Christian I believe fully in divine creation with intent and purpose... Where does that put Darwin in my opinion? Well I do not fully reject his views on evolution, however, I do reject his views on origin, such as all species on earth originating from the same life form... In my eyes, a tree is a tree and a human is a human... While the scientific community and the religious community wage their wars over the fact that neither will bend to accept any conclusion that is not 100% their own, I sit perched on the fence somewhere between... Plenty of evidence exist to show that evolution is indeed quite real and active all around us, and likewise, plenty of evidence exists to prove that God is also very real and active all around us... Therefor it is my belief that we were created with a divine intent, and indeed created perfect, for God makes No mistakes, and part of his perfection was creating a method in which all of the life that he created could change to meet the environment that it would find itself in... After all, the implementation of free will does not simply stop at the choice to do good or bad acts in our everyday lives, but goes further in depth as every decision that we make also causes a chain reaction that effects that environment in which we live, as well as the environment in which our future generations will live... This holds true not only for man, but for every living creature on the earth... I believe that God knows the outcome of our decisions, and does not remove himself to be the absentee father that the scientific community tries to paint him as, but rather he allows us to make these decisions so that we can grow spiritually. With each decision having an impact on the environment around us, no matter how slight, the world continually changes to create new stresses that our bodies must adapt to and our hearts can be moved by, and new wonders that can dazzle our minds as we watch creation reveal itself before our eyes...

It seems that far too often, God is portrayed as an absentee father, or viewed as cruel because of the pain and suffering that he allows in our lives... I do not see him as absent, nor cruel, but more as a caring father that is always there to comfort us when we turn to him, yet he loves us enough to take us through the trials of life anyway... One of my favorite analogies to explain this is that of the Judean Refiner... it explains the struggles and pains that we face in our lives in a way that I have yet to find elsewhere...

 If you would, please use your sanctified imagination with me today, and lets take a trip back in time to a small Judean village. It is very early, well before daybreak, and we are here seeking a man that is said to be so exceptional at his craft that we have traveled far just to see him work and know how he does what he does. The man we seek is a Refiner, a man who makes the most beautiful jewelry from the most precious metals that the world has ever seen, and we have finally made it to the village where he lives and works so that we may witness him do this for ourselves... As we comb the streets of the village that seems deserted before daybreak, we finally come across a chimney that is smoking heavily, and we think, That must be it! And there we find the wise refiner with his fire already hot and his wood already gathered in huge heaps all along the walls of this dark room... So we sit and we watch intently awaiting the creation of these most jewelries... He continually adds more wood to his fire, although it seemed to burning so intensely already that we almost could not stand the heat of just being in the room with it. Then he takes a rock, and we think, What is he doing with that Rock?! But to the wise eyes of the experienced refiner, it is so much more than just a rock, for he knows that within that rock lies pieces of a metal that is so precious that it is hard to even imagine its ultimate value...

 Next, he takes a hammer and begins to strike the rock, crushing, beating, pulverizing, over and over and over again, and we think, Has he done it?! Is the metal out yet?! But no, he doesn't stop there. For now he take a crucible, a tempered crucible, and he puts the destroyed remains of the rock in it and thrusts it into the fire... And we think with our micro-society minds, When is he going to be done? But he leaves it there, and he doesn't seem concerned about checking on it at all... Now in the bible the word Fire is used over and over to bring comparison to the trials that we face in our lives. Sometimes we even feel like we have been struck by a hammer time and time again, and just when we think that it can't get any worse, here comes the fire... The bible tells us not to fear the fires (trials) in our lives, but to embrace them as friends... But what do we spend most of our time doing? Trying to avoid any major trials... Of course we do... Now back to the refiner, he is finally taking the crucible out of the fire, and we get all excited... Finally! We think... But no, no he isn't done yet... He peers into the crucible, wipes his brow and reaches for a skimmer, for he knows that while the rock is debris, because of the lower melting point of the gold and silver, the debris has started separating from it, first sinking, then rising to the top... So he takes his skimmer and he carefully skims the top of the crucible removing the debris that has risen...

 Then he adds more wood, and thrusts it right back into the fire... And that cycle continues for what seems like an eternity to us... In, out, skim, more wood, back in, over and over and over, until we can barely stand the waiting in this incredible heat watching such laborious and tedious tasks... and finally, when the sun is high in its rise in the sky, as the refiner peers into the crucible we see a grin, a grin that has not been there at all that morning... Finally, the refiner sees what he had been looking for all this time, The reflection of his face in that pool of molten metals... That's when he knows that the metals are pure enough to be used... enough debris has been removed that the metals are now pure enough to meet his standards and serve their ultimate purpose...

 Funny how that compares to what God does to us... When he hits us with a hammer to open us up for the change, thrusts us into the fire and runs his skimmer over us to remove the debris, and all the while we only ask why, why, why... Why me? Why now? and here's the dangerous one, Why not him? God tells us not to ask the why questions because we will never be able to comprehend to complexities of the answers, but here's the question that we should be asking... WHAT? What is it that you are seeking to change in me lord? What is it that I should learn from this all? For you see, In asking the WHAT questions, we find the answer to the only question that we have any input in... WHEN... We only have an input in the term of the heat, not the temperature... By answering and addressing the WHAT questions, we then find the answer to the WHEN question, because once we let go and allow that debris to rise up leave our lives, we can be used for exactly what we were intended for and when God looks down into the crucible of our lives He should see one thing, His reflection in us... Now getting all cleaned up isn't the end... No, as hard as all that was to go through, it just doesn't end there... For you see, so far we have a pure precious metal... But it must now be placed in a mold before it can take its final shape and be used for its ultimate purpose... The mold that he pours us into is Jesus Christ... That's the shape that he wants us in... That's how we will be the most useful... that's how we can spread joy, love, compassion, forgiveness, and take our place as permanently free of debris.

Now to get back on subject... 

Viewing cancer through the lens of evolution helps explain why a cure seems to remain just out of reach and points the way toward new treatments... You may also find that understanding cancer has some similarities to our understanding of honey bee genetics...

Iconic examples of evolution (birds evolving from dinosaurs, hominids evolving an upright posture, or a lineage of lobe-finned fish evolving four legs and moving onto land) might seem unrelated to the growth of a cancerous tumor, but the process underlying them both, Natural Selection, is the same. We typically think of natural selection as acting among individuals, favoring those carrying advantageous traits and promoting those traits to be more common in the next generation. However, the key elements of this process, variation, inheritance, and selective advantage, characterize not just populations of organisms in a particular environment, but also populations of cells within our own bodies... Much like the complex society within a colony of honey bees, with some workers expressing certain traits while others express totally different ones... which ever group of traits proves to be most effective in assisting in the colony's survival will be promoted through natural selection by the colonies that do not possess enough of these traits dying off, and the ones that do possess these traits now making up more of the gene pool... The cells lining your intestines, for example, are not genetically uniform; there is variation among them. Some of those cells have incurred chance mutations as they have divided. If one of those mutations (or a series of mutations) allows its bearer to evade cell death and reproduce more prolifically than others, it will pass that mutation on to its daughter cells, and cells bearing that mutation will increase in frequency over time. Like organisms in an ecosystem, cell lineages within one's own body compete for resources. A cell lineage that gains an advantage in that competition, accumulating mutations that allow it to grab extra resources and escape the body's control mechanisms, will proliferate and may evolve into a cancerous tumor.

Though the evolution of a population in an ecosystem and cell lineages in a body rely on the same basic process, there are a few key differences between selection at these different levels. First, whole organisms reproduce much more slowly than individual cells do. This means that while the evolution of a new species or a major transition (such as the evolution of birds from dinosaurs) may take millions of years, the evolution of a cell lineage into a cancerous form can take place on the scale of months or years. Second, natural selection generally increases the evolutionary fitness of individuals, favoring those whose traits allow them to survive and produce more healthy offspring; (like the honey bee colony that possesses enough of the traits that helped it to survive and out compete the other colonies around it) however, selection at lower levels may increase the fitness of cellular lineages at the cost of the individual. In the case of cancer, this is especially obvious: cancerous cells have an advantage in comparison to other cells in the body, but are disadvantageous to the organism. Selection at the cellular level may wind up hampering the organism's survival and reproduction, acting in exact opposition to selection at the individual level. An example of this in honey bees is the VSH trait when promoted to the excessive level... At proper levels within the colony, this trait promotes health for the survival of the colony, but when the trait is expressed in excessive levels, the bees begin to seem neurotic by removing so much brood that the colony eventually dies. 

Why has counteracting these negative effects at the level of the individual (i.e., finding a cure) been so difficult? An evolutionary perspective reveals the answer: cancer, even within one person, isn't a single entity. It's a diverse and evolving population of cell lineages. A single tumor, for example, is made up of a variety of cell types, produced as the cells proliferated and incurred different mutations. All of this diversity means that the population of cells could easily include a mutant variety that happens to be resistant to any individual chemotherapy drug we might administer. To make matters even worse, treating with that drug creates an environment in which the few resistant cancer cells have a strong selective advantage in comparison to other cells. Over time, those resistant cells will increase in frequency and continue to evolve. It's not surprising then that a simple cure for cancer has yet to be developed: treating even a single type of cancer is a bit like trying to take aim at a whole set of moving targets all at once...

While an evolutionary perspective emphasizes the slim prospects for discovering a ":magic-bullet" cure for cancer, it also highlights the potential effectiveness of several treatment strategies, some currently in use and some still in development.

So with the understanding that cancer is a complex variety of mutated cells instead of one single group of similar cells, let's start looking at options for prevention and treatments that we can try at home... Keep in mind that these methods, while they may be effective, are in no way intended to be a supplement for professional medical treatment... Follow your doctor's direction, by all means...

That being said, let's start with what cancer cells need to survive and multiply...  A study of auto accident victims has shown that an alarming 40% of women in their 40's had microscopic Breast Cancer, and even worse a shocking 100% of people above 70 could have microscopic cancer in their Thyroids... Research shows us that cancer cells feed upon Oxygen and Glucose, and they stimulate the production of added blood vessels by which the Oxygen and Glucose that they need can be delivered directly to them...  Angiogenesis, the growth of new capillary blood vessels in the body, is an important natural process in the body used for healing wounds and reproduction. The body controls angiogenesis by producing a precise balance of growth and inhibitory factors in healthy tissues. A microscopic tumor can grow to 16,000 times it's size in as little as 2 weeks... By changing your diet, you can change your internal environment and thereby starve the cancer of what it needs to grow...

According to the Angiogenesis Foundation, when this balance is disturbed, the result is either too much or too little angiogenesis. Abnormal blood vessel growth, either excessive or insufficient, is now recognized as a “common denominator” underlying many deadly and debilitating conditions, including cancer, skin diseases, age-related blindness, diabetic ulcers, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and many others. The list of diseases that have angiogenesis as an underlying mechanism grows longer every year... So by properly balancing the growth and inhibitory factors within our bodies, we could possibly stop the unwanted development of capillary blood vessels that cancer would need to deliver it's food source... restoring the body’s natural control of angiogenesis is a new, comprehensive approach to fighting disease... By using new medical treatments that either inhibit or stimulate angiogenesis, doctors are prolonging the lives of cancer patients, preventing limb amputations, reversing vision loss, and improving general health.

All cancerous tumors, for example, release angiogenic growth factor proteins that stimulate blood vessels to grow into the tumor, providing it with oxygen and glucose. Anti-angiogenic therapies literally starve the tumor of its blood supply by interfering with this process. A new class of cancer treatments that block angiogenesis are now approved and available to treat cancers of the colon, kidney, lung, breast, liver, brain, and thyroid, as well as multiple myeloma, bone gastrointestinal stromal tumors, soft tissue sarcoma, and SEGA tumors. Some older drugs have been rediscovered to block angiogenesis, as well... These are being used to treatment angiogenesis-dependent conditions, such as hemangiomas, colon polyps, and precancerous skin lesions...

Therapeutic angiogenesis, in contrast, stimulates angiogenesis where it is required but lacking. This technique is used to replenish the blood supply to chronic wounds to speed healing, and it prevents unnecessary amputations. New research suggests this approach can be also used to save limbs afflicted with poor circulation, and even oxygen-starved hearts. Therapeutic angiogenesis may even help to regenerate damaged or lost tissues in ways that were previously considered impossible, such as with nerves and brain tissue...This process, as with so many other underlying issues with our health, starts with our diet...

A list of foods known to have Anti-Angiogenesis properties has been developed by the angiogenesis foundation and is available at http://www.eattodefeatcancer.org/, and I will share that list here...

 

Sweets - Dark Chocolate, Honey, and Maple Syrup.

Meats - Dark Meat Chicken, Dark Meat Goose, and Dark Meat Turkey.

Fruits - Apples, Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Clementines, Cherries, Cranberries, Grapefruit, Nectarines, Lemons, Peaches, Red Grapes, Pomegranates, Raspberries, and Tomatoes.

Herbs and Spices - Basil, Black Pepper, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cocoa Powder, Flaxseed, Garlic, Ginger, Ginseng, Lavender, Licorice Root, Nutmeg, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Tarragon, Thistle, Thyme, and Turmeric.

Vegetables - Artichokes, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbages (Red, Savoy, & White), Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Collard Greens, Endives, Fennel, Garlic, Kale, Mustard Greens, Olives, Onions, Peas, Parsnips, Peppers, Pumpkins, Radishes, Salsify, Scallions, Shallots, Soybean Sprouts, Spinach, String Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnips & their Tops, Watercress, and Winter Squashes (Acorn & Butternut).

Oils, Sauces & Condiments - Honey, Maple Syrup, Olive Oil, and Soy Sauce.
 
Mushrooms - Enoki Mushrooms, King Oyster Mushrooms, Maitake Mushrooms, Matsutake Mushrooms, Oyster Mushrooms, Reishi Mushrooms, and Shiitake Mushrooms.
 
Seafood - Cuttlefish, Flounder, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, Mackerel, Oysters, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Cucumbers, Seaweed (Arame, Dulse, Hiiike, Kombu, Mozuku, & Nori Wakame), Shrimp, Sole, Squid, Squid Ink, and Tuna,
 
Legumes & Nuts & Beans - Almonds, Cashews, Chestnut, Edamame, Lentils, Lima Beans, Pine Nuts, Sword Jackbean, Tofu (Soft, Firm, or Dried), Natto, and Walnuts.
 
Dairy - Gouda Cheese, Jarlsberg Cheese, Emmenthal Cheese, Edam Cheese, and Yogurt.
 
Beverages & Soups - Apple Cider, Cocao Powder, Coffee, Green Tea, Miso, Red Wine, White Wine, and Soy Milk.
 

Now simply eating these foods alone will not cure cancer, but a balanced diet has so many implications on good health that it is hard to fathom just how profound the impact could be on a body that has strayed as far away from proper nutrition as the majority of us have... There are many recipe examples, and I will share as many as I can here, starting with a few dietary additions that are being called the "5 foods that fight cancer" by some doctors...

 1. Bok Choy (This type of Chinese cabbage contains brassinin; a powerful cancer-fighter, also found in broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Bok Choy should be eaten 3 times a week, in 1/2 cup servings to obtain its full benefits.

 2. Cooked Tomatoes have more cancer-fighting properties than raw tomatoes. Both contain the molecule lycopene, but heating the tomato changes its chemical structure and makes the benefits more readily available to your body. You should eat 2-3 (1/2 cup) servings of cooked tomatoes a week.

 3. Flounder is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury. Three 6-ounce servings a week is ideal.

 4. Strawberries are high in cancer fighting antioxidants, so eating 1 cup per day (including the juice form) is ideal.

 5. Artichokes contain 3 cancer fighting molecules, so 1/4 cup of hearts per day is ideal.

 

If you are like me, then you need some sort of recipes that you can get used to before you can work them into your household items and thus be able to stick with a new diet that incorporates these foods... With that need in mind, I am accumulating recipes to add below...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources, Merlo, L. M. F., Pepper, J. W., Reid, B. J., and Maley, C. C. (2006), Russell (2013). Cancer as an evolutionary and ecological process. Nature Reviews Cancer 6:924-935.