Garlic and Brain Cancer, part 2


I have been doing some research on cancer lately (see last post here) due to my father-in-law being diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. It is not our first bout with cancer:
  • Grandmother (breast cancer) – passed in 1972
  • Two aunts (breast cancer) – recent, both in five year period
  • Daughter (non-metastatic Ewing’s sarcoma)

It is my daughter that first got me interested in cancer and during her treatment I found how woefully ignorant most doctors are of nutrition. In fact, talking to Tiffany’s cousin, I found he only had 8 hours of nutrition during his entire medical school career (that is 8 real hours, not 8 semester hours). Unfortunately, this is typical.

During Miranda’s treatment, we found that supplementing with L-Glutamine reduced mucositis symptoms tremendously. We also found that she stopped getting C-Diff infections when supplemented with probiotics. And we found that supplementing with certain minerals reversed what the rnal specialists told us was permanent kidney damage. Realize that a study of one is not scientifically conclusive and that the kidney diagnosis may have been incorrect, but it is still evident that the supplementation we fought for did wonders for our daughter. This is why I am very interested in nutrition in disease management and prevention.

What is interesting is going back and looking at just one active ingredient over history. In particular tracing back Diallyl Trisulfide (DATS), an active ingredient in garlic. It is of interest now as DATS is especially good at causing apoptosis (cell death) in glioblastoma cells. The way it works in cancer is very complex, but one interesting aspect is DATS causes cancer cells, or at least certain cancer cells, to be starved of Glutathione (GSH). Without GSH, the cell seems incapable of sustaining its "immortality" and the tumor dies.

The studies I am currently looking at are from the 1980s. With hindsight (which is 20-20), it seems someone should have noticed this before. But, I do realize that cancer was more mysterious then, doctors are trained to trust drugs, and a variety of other reasons "blinded" us to something so simple for such a long time. I also realize getting grant money is hard, especially for something that, scientifically speaking, is considered more of a "whim" than a theory.

It boils down to this. garlic, or rather one or more of its active ingredients, causes GSH (Glutathione) starvation in certain types of cells. Conversely (perhaps paradoxically) garlic has been shown to increase GSH levels in the body. GSH, or Glutathione, is a molecule made up of three key amino acids. One of its primary "symptoms" is a charged immune system, which is a good thing. In general, raised GSH levels are good, as high levels have been shown to help detoxify the body and help in a variety of disease conditions, including cancer, allergies, alzheimers, diabetes, etc.

I would not state that garlic, by itself is a cure. In fact, I am suggesting that it is one component in a diet that can be used to complement conventional treatment for disease. I also believe that is is a decent component to avoiding disease. In that area, I would also include:

  1. Increase in physical activity (exercise)
  2. Healthy weight maintenance
  3. Diet rich in fruits and veggies, lower in meat products
  4. Diet with meat that is more balanced in essential oils (omega-6 and omega-3) – free range is generally better if you know that it is truly "ranged"

There are others, but this is a good start. Would I replace conventional medical treatment for these options alone? No. Perhaps one day, but not today. But, think if we spent as much research dollars on nutritional elements as we do drugs? That would be powerful. And, despite medical poo pooing of the idea, I think nutrition could be the key, or at least part of the key, to curing cancer and other diseases. Of course, we have to either shift our priorities or figure out how to make money off it, right?

Peace and Grace,
Greg

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Garlic cures Brain Cancer?


I was looking for some information on glioblastoma, due to my father-in-law’s diagnosis. Interstingly enough, I found a study that showed massive apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells, using active ingredients in … are you ready for this … garlic. This is big news. It appears that there is now evidence that garlic can kill glioblastoma cancer cells. You can read the study here, if you are medically inclined:
 
This is not really new news, as garlic has been shown to be effective against breast cancer (http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/22/6/891), prostate cancer (allium veggies in general – http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/94/21/1648), bladder cancer (http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/131/3/1067S) and many others.
 
What is new is the extreme amount of apoptosis in a type of cancer with a median life expectency of about 9 months. At levels of 500 μM , there is almost complete aptosis of the cancer cells. Since this is in vivo (in a test tube), there are still questions of how to get the chemicals from the garlic into the brain (I am not sure if they pass the blood-brain barrier, still researching), so we need clinical trials. Number of clinical trials proposed for garlic on glioblastoma: 0.
 
Let’s look at a different direction. Last year, they found a new drug Abiraterone was effective on prostate cancer. Number of clinical trials for Abiraterone on Prostate cancer: 8. This is a new drug. What about "old" drugs, meaning those in studies for at least 5 years. Herceptin is in 296 studies, mostly breast cancer. Gleevec is in 355 studies on a variety of cancers.
 
Now, one might argue the efficacy of the drug versus chemicals in garlic, as the measure of what gets study money. Unfortunately, it is hard to compare apples to apples here, as one study focus on cell viability and the other on tumor shrinkage. But, let’s look at it. In the Herceptin study (Trastuzumab – http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/reprint/23/11/2460) study, aptosis increased by 35% with a median tumor decrease of 20% over 3 weeks. In the garlic study, viability of the cancer cells reduced from 90% to less than 10% at a level of 500 μM, with DATS (one the active ingredients: DAS, DADS, and DATS), this type of cell death was seen at 100 μM.
 
Now, I am not a researcher or a doctor, so I cannot tell you how less than 10% viability relates to 20% tumor shrinkage, but, as a thinking human being, I would gather that a huge decrease in viability equates to a large amount of shrinkage in tumor size and a great amount of tumor cell apoptosis (death). To me, this would at least warrant one study on glioblastoma and garlic.
 
Why the disparity?
  1. Brain cancer is rare. It is also a killer, but rare is why it is not studied as much.
  2. The breast cancer "lobby" is very noisy (think pink ribbons), thus breast cancer is more noticed.
  3. Drug companies fund many of the studies.
  4. Doctors are taught to use drugs as cures. Thus studies not funded by drug companies often go to drugs.
  5. Doctors are woefully ignorant of nutrition. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the class of 2012 (those entering med school today) will be required an average of 21 hours of nutrition over 4 weeks of study.
  6. It is hard to make money off food, as a drug.
If, in fact, garlic can be shown effective in vivo (rat studies), it would be wise to move this up to clinical trials as quickly as possible, as lives are at stake. But I do not have a lot of faith it will happen. Once I can figure out a decent regiment, I am going to pass it on to my father-in-law. I am not going to suggest going away from the radiation and chemo, but instead add garlic as a complementary treatment.
 
By the way, if you are currently diagnosesd with cancer, there are other natural chemicals that show promise in fighting cancer. I would not necessarily suggest going completely alternative, but I would look into eating more cruciferous vegetables (brocolli, kale, etc.), turmeric, garlic and hot peppers. It would also be wise to increase anti-oxidants, but I would do a bit of research as antioxidants can reduce the efficay of the active ingredients in some of the more potent cancer killers (garlic, turmeric). The positive side of natural "cures" is the reduction, if not elimination, of side effects.
 
Peace and Grace,
Greg

Microsoft Expression at 50% off


If you had thought about picking up Expression Web, Expression Blend or the entire studio, now is a great time. If you order from the Microsoft office store, you can get them at 50% off right now:
 
Peace and Grace,
Greg

Dear Mr. Obama


I have looked over your site change.gov and I see a lot of people asking about how soon you are going to punish George Bush or overturn his policies on education, health, economics, etc. While I might disagree with you on some things, I am hopeful for change. My hope is that we will see change that makes a difference rather than change for change’s sake. So here are a few of my thoughts.
 

Education

Many are asking you to scrap No Child Left Behind as a failed system. I ask that you see it for what it is, a good idea with a bad implementation. Rather than scrap the entire idea of accountability, why not shift the program to ensure accountability is based on individuals not statistics.

One of the issues with the implementation is teachers are aiming for a benchmark rather than for student education. Under the current system, students that are excelling stop progressing when they reach the "benchmark", as many teachers begin to focus almost solely on the students who have not reached the bar. This leads to a situation where the more brilliant students are not reaching their full potential. While some might state "at least the others are not being ‘left behind’", a loss of potential is being left behind.

The first change I suggest would be to benchmark the students at the beginning of the year as well as the end of the year. You then change the focus to how far the students progressed rather than whether or not each passed the end exam. Under the current system, a teacher with a sixth grade classroom where the average student has the equivalence of a third grade education is considered a failure if she can only get them to the beginning of sixth grade, although this would be the equivalent of moving them up two grades. Conversely, the teacher that stopped teaching half her students in December to focus on the least common denominator would be a success, even though she could have taken her more brilliant students farther.

If the focus was on improvement rather than benchmarks, there would be incentives to move all students forward as far as their minds could progress. This would lead our country forward in education to where we could actually compete with other countries. Certainly some students would still end a year below the benchmark, but we could focus on the success of moving them up a few grades in proficiency rather than punishing someone for missing an arbitrary benchmark.

Assistance Programs

Another change necessary is an overhaul of assistance programs. Under the current system, when one gets a job, he replaces the income a dollar for a dollar. If you made $300 in welfare and got a minimum wage job, you assistance completely disappears. There is no improvement in your situation, thus there is no immediate incentive to get a job.

I suggest you set up assistance on a sliding scale. If a person is getting $300 in welfare and gets a full time minimum wage job ($7.25 per hour), you continue to give them half their assistance. This means the person who made $300 last week in assistance now makes $300 from his job and $150 from assistance, or $450 total. The net result for getting a job is a $150 more in the pocket while cutting his assistance to half rather than a zero sum gain. When this person gets a raise, you further cut the assistance, but always at a rate lower than the raise. Incentivize good work and make it more attractive to work than simply sit on welfare.

In the past, we have tried to get peopole off welfare with a stick. Doesn’t a carrot work much better?

In addition to incentivize work, incentivize education. Stop cutting off living assistance when someone gets grants for education. Allow them to continue to live while they better themselves. It is evident from statistics that education is one of the primary factors in one’s economic status. Let’s not force people to choose between education and eating.

Health Care

We are said to be in a health care crisis. Rising costs are eating us alive while care is decreasing. But most of our focus has been on the symptoms and problems and not the solution.

Our real issue is there is a middle man between the patient and the care providers. I know of nobody that buys home owners insurance because they are planning to burn down their house, or car insurance because they want to rear end somebody on the road today, but everyone buys health insurance with the idea of using it. In our viewing health insurance as a bank account, we have placed the insurance company in the middle of every transaction. There are some who envision the government as the underwriter, but this just changes the middle man. While this might help in some areas, it will likely hurt in others.

Rather than replace the insurance company middle man with the government as a middle man, I propose we remove the middle man. The first step would be to find a reasonable way to put day-to-day health care back on the individual and leave catastrophic care to the insurance companies. Insurance is meant to ensure our livelihood in the midst of unforseen downturns, not to dole out cash for all of life’s little bumps. Let’s focus on making insurance insure and removing it from our day to day care.

The first step is to make all medical coverage expenses pre-tax, not just those someone has socked away in an account. Under the current system, only those funds in a FSA or HSA are pre-tax, so the American who has some unforseen routine medical ends up out in the dark if he cannot reach medical bills accounting for 7% of his income.

As another early step, we need to move Americans away from traditional HMOs and PPOs to Health Savings Accounts (or similar) with catastrophic insurance policies. As the average American is poor at saving, there will have to be some guidelines to minimums the account should be funded, but these minimums should not change the monetary output of the average working American, as some of the money currently spent on insuring 100% of the health burden would go into this account.

End Notes

These are just a few ideas I thought I would share for you. If you are seeking real change, these ideas, or a variation thereof, should be a pretty good start. We need to start thinking outside of the box and stop insanely trying different versions of the same thing.

If you feel you are not up to thinking outside the box and focusing on solutions, perhaps I should find a way to run in an upcoming election?

Peace and Grace,
Greg

Encrypting string in an external config for ASP.NET


I have seen this type of question a lot lately:
 
 
The bad news is I do not have an answer. I have tried all variations of aspnet_regiis to no avail. The good news is there is an answer, if you think outside the box.
 

The Set Up

The setup for this is easy. I have a website that I want to encrypt the connection strings in. I have placed them in an external file. The files look somehting like this:

web.config

  <connectionStrings configSource="db.config"></connectionStrings>

db.config

<connectionStrings>
    <add key="MyConnectionString" connectionString="{something}"/>
<connectionStrings>

You will have to supply your own {something} here, as these are your strings. Open-mouthed

The following will work:

aspnet_regiis -pe "connectionStrings" -app "/MyWebSite"

as long as the connection strings are in the web.config, but the following does nothing:

aspnet_regiis -pef "connectionStrings" C:projectswebsitesMyWebSitedb.config

Not quite true, as it errors out, which is something. What to do?

Solution

The answer is fairly simple. Encrypt in the web.config and then move the connectionStrings section to the db.config file. You can do this with the standard aspnet_regiis. Make a copy of the config section before you do this, just so you have a backup (sometimes decryption is problematic).

Here is one way to set up a tool to do this for you.

  1. Create an application. In this case, I am using a web app to encrypt another web app, but it can be other forms of app. I am just showing off, perhaps?
  2. On the form of the app, drop two textboxs and a button (we can make this more full featured by querying IIS for sites, if you like, and use a drop down)
  3. Double click the button and add the following code to the button event handler

    Configuration config = WebConfigurationManager.OpenWebConfiguration("/" + websiteTextBox.Text);
    ConfigurationSection section = config.GetSection(sectionTextBox.Text)
     if (!section.SectionInformation.IsProtected)
            {
                section.SectionInformation.ProtectSection("DataProtectionConfigurationProvider");
                config.Save();
            }

  4. Run the page and type in the name of the web. If you want to make this more sexy, you might want to add a dropDown for the protection provider, as not everyone wants "DataProtectionConfigurationProvider", but this is just a simple example

The resulting config looks something like this (albeit with a much longer cipherValue – bolded section):

<connectionStrings configProtectionProvider="DataProtectionConfigurationProvider">
  <EncryptedData>
    <CipherData>
      <CipherValue>AQAAANC … houZY5ihx4v2Q==</CipherValue>
    </CipherData>
  </EncryptedData>
</connectionStrings>

Now copy this to the external file and change the config to point to it (as above). I have repeated the section that goes in the web.config below:

<connectionStrings configSource="db.config"></connectionStrings>

Want to test it? Add a web page to the web site with the following Page_Load:

    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        string connString = ConfigurationManager.ConnectionStrings["MyConnectionString"].ConnectionString;
        Response.Write(connString);
    }

If you see the connection string on the page, all is set up correctly.

It would be nice if you could simply encrypt any file, but I think I know the reason this is not so. In some instances, you encrypt using your own keys. It is possible, for example, to encrypt some items in your web using a key specified in the web.config. In fact, this is often preferred for applications that reside on multiple machines. I do not say "Microsoft preferred" as duplication of machine keys is the more secure method, but it is a quick way to set up a simple web farm where every machine can decrypt.

Of course, the tool could be altered to work with both web.config and an external file, but this adds complexity to the scenario. Since you can work your way around the issue with an "out of the box" solution, like the one above, it is not a big deal.

Peace and Grace,
Greg

Suncoast Energy (Orlando Airport) gas rip off


We just got back from a trip to Orlando where we witnessed the most extreme form of gas gouging I have ever seen. This is not a short term thing, like most cases, but an ongoing rip off. As there are general technical conferences at Disney every year, this is for my IT buddies.
 
As you come back to the Orlando airport, there are only gas stations on the north side of the airport. The first one you come to is Suncoast Energy. It has no placard announcing gas pricing, which is a danger signal. The price, last friday, was $3.99 per gallon. You see no other gas stations close by, so you pay. But, just 1/2 mile up the road is a 7-11 selling gas for $1.83.
 
My wife went in to question this practice and the guy said "we are the closest to the rental agencies". This is true. It would also make sense if they were charging 25 cents more for convenience, but $2.16 more? 218% more than other gas stations, which are making a profit?
 
Hey, it is America. He is free to rip people off. But I am also free to tell everyone about his practices.
 
Peace and Grace,
Greg