Last Saturday I went to a conference on brain tumors at UCLA.
My main focus was on metastasized brain tumor and the treatments for it. For three years since I got cancer, I have never had a MRI for the brain. Yet if the treatments for the brain tumor are limited, early detection must be important. I came back thinking I should request a MRI for the brain periodically just to play it safe.
The followings are summary of what impressed me at the conference.
1. Metastasized Brain Tumor and The Treatments
1) Even if the treatments for the body are successful, the brain is an exception because many cancer drugs cannot penetrate the Blood-Brain Barrier. Especially if cancer spreads to the lungs, it may spread to the brain next. (In my additional research, Triple Negative followed by HER2 + have the highest chance of metastasized brain tumor. My HER2+ cancer had spread to the lung last year. I may be at risk!)
2) Though Tykerb ( Lapatinib) can go into the brain and is used as a treatment, the required dose is so high that often the severe side effects make it difficult to continue the treatment. Do not assume Tykerb can prevent cancer spread into the brain.
3) Once cancer spread into the brain, it grows slowly for months or even years.
4) Currently there are three options of treatment: Surgery, radiation therapy for the whole brain or a focused tumor, and chemo therapy. Usually if the tumor is less than 3cm, the radiation therapy has a better outcome than the surgery.
5) There are several types of focused radiation therapy though; their effectiveness are not much different.
2. Nutrition for the Brain
1) For a healthy brain, we need glucose and oxygen. (Although the brain tissue is only 2% of the whole body mass , it consumes 20% dietary energy and 20% inhaled oxygen. ) Deep breathing technique or regular exercise are recommended.
2) Balance Antioxidants, which prevent the formation of free radicals that damage DNA (ex: blueberries, green tea, fish, spinach, broccoli, Vitamin C such as berries, bell peppers, citrus, kiwi, avocado, nuts), Anti-inflammatories, which prevent elevated rates of cell division that may increase “mistakes” (ex; Omega 3 such as fish, green tea, flaxseed, apricots, broccoli, rosemary, thyme), and anticarcinogens, which prevent DNA damage and allow time for DNA repair (ex: yellow spice such as curry powder, saffron, etc, citrus, green tea, black raspberries, tomatoes, pomegranates, Vitamin D such as fish) .
3) Cabbage, garlic, berries, mushrooms, etc are good to boost up the immune system.
4) Whole grains are better than refined grains such as flour to maintain more even energy level. Dietary fiber helps maintain steady blood glucose levels.
5) For depression, dark chocolate or cocoa may help.
6) For insomnia, half a banana with a small glass of non-fat milk may help as well as magnesium and vitamin B6.
7) Other good food for the brain: Iron such as green vegetables, eggs, beans, nuts, and prunes, zinc such as oysters, fish, meat, seeds, yogurt, and nuts, olive oil, grass-fed animal meat, etc.
8) Pomegranates, lemon grass, mushrooms, black raspberries are thought of as effective at killing cancer cells.
9) Do not eat too much. Lower sugar and salt intake.
10) Take nutrition from food rather than supplements.
11) Drink lots of water to excrete toxicity.
12) Avoid intake of corn syrup
13) Consume fish at least 3 times a week.