Cancer. It’s a word that reverberates deeply in the ears of anyone who hears it. No one wants to think that they might have it, especially when symptoms begin in the body.
But when you begin to lose weight, you notice a red or brown discoloration to your urine, fatigue, fever, and possibly experience pain in your mid-back or sides, you should consider getting checked out right away.
The American Cancer Society says that kidney cancer statistics are on the rise, and have been rising every since the 1970’s. Often kidney cancer has only very mild symptoms, and patients usually get diagnosed while being tested for something completely different. The sooner a person gets diagnosed, the better their chances for fast and effective recovery.
Why is Kidney Cancer Becoming More Common?
The rise in kidney cancer, also known as renal cell carcinoma, has a heck of a lot to do with the modern way of living. Men whom drink lots of alcohol, eat lots of red meat, and are overweight, are most at risk of developing this cancer (and especially men who smoke tobacco). Your kidneys are responsible for eliminating water-soluble toxins, waste products, acids and metabolites from the body. Men and women with a poorer quality lifestyle will be exposing their kidneys to more toxins, acidity and oxidative damage.
According to one study performed by scientists from Uruguay, a high meat intake, especially from barbecued meats, caused a 3.4 increase in the risk of developing kidney cancer in men. That’s huge. One barbeque isn’t necessarily going to give you kidney cancer. But consider what weekend after weekend of eating charcoal meat, drinking alcohol and smoking might do to your kidneys after several decades.
People who are exposed to toxins and industrial by-products at work are also more at risk. If you work in a steel works or near coke ovens, studies show that there is a significantly greater risk that you will develop kidney cancer. Wearing the proper protective gear is so simple and so important. But at the end of the day, the evidence all points towards living a clean and toxin-free lifestyle in order to reduce your risk.
Surgery and Drug Therapies
So you have been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Good news, there are lots of conventional therapies which are very effective and have a high success rate. Surgery is, more often than not, the primary treatment recommended by doctors for kidney cancer.
Either part of the kidney, or the entire kidney, is removed, along with the lymph nodes around it. This is the best chance that you have to stop the kidney tumours from metastasising and spreading to other parts of the body. Having one of your kidneys removed is no laughing matter though — it is a big step, with ramifications on your health that will last the rest of your life. Whether part of the kidney or the entire kidney is removed depends on where the tumour is, its size, and if it has begun to spread.
Radiation and freezing the kidney tumour cells are also possible treatment options, but rarely do patients with kidney cancer receive chemotherapy. Kidney cancer cells are highly resistant to chemotherapy, and studies show that using chemotherapy rarely benefits patients once surgery has been performed.
Compared to other types of cancer, kidney cancer is very responsive to immune therapies. Interferon and interleukin, two drugs used in the treatment of kidney cancer, are able to muster immune defences against cancer cells and metastasis. Unfortunately, it is possible to develop resistance to these drugs.
One of the easiest and safest ways of improving immune defences is by using nutrients and botanical extracts that have shown in studies to increase immune activity.
You may be living with one kidney and not even know it.
Being born with just one kidney isn’t common, but it does occur in about 1 in 1000 people, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Having half of your renal system missing might sound like something you, or somebody, would notice. But in actual fact, you can live quite a normal, healthy life with a solitary kidney.
That’s not to say that you don’t have to take some special care of yourself, in order to keep your kidney strong and healthy. But it certainly is not a death sentence. Playing sport, traveling, having children, having fun — it’s all possible.
The trick is to maintain a kidney-friendly lifestyle, go for regular kidney function tests, and avoid sports or activities (e.g. skiing, kickboxing, cliff diving, gladiators, etc.) that may put the kidneys in danger of being injured accidentally.
If you take care of your kidney, there is no reason for it not to serve you well for the rest of your long life.
How does it affect overall health?
I’m not going to lie — people with just one kidney, either from birth defect or surgery, have extra health issues to face. When born with a solitary kidney, often it functions perfectly well for a number of years. However, as the years goes on, kidney function begins to deteriorate.
The New York University School of Medicine funded a study on adults with solitary kidney, showing:
When you are first diagnosed with kidney failure (eGFR of 15 ml/min or below), many emotions may arise: anger, shock, panic, despair, and a feeling of complete hopelessness. You try to hold your composure and recount the past days, weeks, and months that lead up to this event to see if there were any signs or past actions that may have caused this.
You draw a blank and the only thing you are left wondering is “how do we fix this?”
This is when disbelief really sets in. The only form of treatment that your doctor provides you is either kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation. Both of which are highly invasive and complicated.
For the purposes of this article we will be discussing kidney dialysis as a treatment option, as this is the most common treatment choice for most sufferers of kidney failure.
The life changing effects that these treatments have on your life are both profound, but unfortunately even these drastic measures do not offer healthy increases to life expectancy for the “average” person once they are diagnosed with kidney failure.
Kidney Failure Life Expectancy
Kidney failure life expectancy, like anything depends on many variables, some of which you can control, and others that you cannot control: age, gender, genes, race, diet, lifestyle choices, what caused your condition (etiology), the type of treatment you choose, etc.
It is therefore prudent to exercise your will to give yourself the best chance of being the “lucky*” ones that live for 20+ years on dialysis. (*luck definition = where preparation and action meet)
Once again it should be noted that we are discussing life expectancy in relationship to kidney failure. This means that the kidneys are now functioning at or below 15% – also termed as End-Stage-Kidney-Failure or Stage 5 Kidney Failure. It is important to make this distinction, because the life expectancy severely drops once at this level.
Let’s take a look at some of the stats…
• The life expectancy of a kidney failure patient with an eGFR of 10ml/min or less, ranges from 1 to 12 months without treatment of any kind (e.g. dialysis, transplant, natural medicine). The average is 6 months.
(Szeto CC, et el. Nephrology (Carlton). 2011 Nov;16(8):715-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1797.2011.01504.x.)
• The average life expectancy of someone receiving kidney dialysis is 4.25 years.
• The 10 year kidney dialysis life expectancy is 23%.
(Mailloux LU,et el. Clin Nephrol. 1994 Aug;42(2):127-35.)
As I am sitting here waiting for 2 new tyres to be placed on my car, I thought what better way to use the time than write a blog post on this sunny afternoon.
Today I would like to discuss and clarify a reader’s question I received just the other day. The reader was confused as I routinely state that vitamin C and kidney disease are a good marriage – he thought it was a cause of kidney stones and therefore bad for all kidney diseases. Initially my reader spoke to my lovely assistant Erika (a naturopath) to confirm that what he had read from me was true. Erika confirmed this. Even with confirmation the reader (let’s call him Steve) had to ask his doctor to triple-check this fact, and of course the doctor said “definitely not”. I don’t hold anything against Steve for asking his doctor, 9 times out of 10 if you encounter an article based on the topic of vitamin C and kidney disease you will read that it should be avoided. So if you have routinely read something – that most of the population agrees on – then you will want to be damn sure before you act on ‘different’ advice, especially when your health is at stake.
So why would I go against 9 others who seemingly know what they are talking about? Good question. The response I have to this is that a lot of the people writing articles on the internet do not have any formal training. They are simply health enthusiasts, or worse, a writer with no health background that has been asked to write a health article for a company’s website. This second person is far more dangerous, and this because even though they are excellent researchers (and writers), most research now is purely from the internet, and therefore rehash what everybody else has written without any ‘real’ research – a vicious, vicious circle.
So the purpose of this blog post is twofold:
1. Whenever reading a health article, and then basing your actions off that article, please do you due diligence and make sure that the source/writer has been formerly trained in the health sciences. But on top of that, if they are giving you natural medicine advice make sure they have been trained in natural medicine, not just any health training. For instance, many of the doctors and nurses out there are giving advice on how to use natural medicines, but have no training in that field. Which leads us to the question: “how can we seriously believe the information that they are giving us?” Well, we can’t. It might surprise you, but doctors and nurses receive no formal training in herbs, nutrition, and diet as part of their education. At the most, there could be an elective 6 week course within their education that they choose to do (not have to do). In comparison, naturopaths are trained in this for 4-5 years. Who would you say is the better source for this type of information? It would be like me prescribing you drugs. Yes as part of naturopathic training we study biochemistry and pharmaceutical drugs, but only for 6 months.
2. And two, detail in brief the health benefits that vitamin C has on kidney disease, and debunk the myth that vitamin c is a cause of kidney stones.
The Benefits of Vitamin C and Kidney Disease
It is well known that an increase in oxidative stress plays a role in the development of kidney diseases. Furthermore vitamin antioxidant supplementation improves kidney blood flow and pressure (renal hemodynamics), decreases inflammation, and improves fibrosis in kidneys with poor blood flow.
Greed is Good. Greed, I believe, maybe the one quality most of us lack that needs to be developed, nurtured, and maintained for success in all areas of your life: health, career, relationships, happiness and finances. Greed is the fuel to help us reach for the stars and achieve our goals. Greed amplifies our energy, makes us more determined, productive, and effective.
Don’t believe me?
Mother Teresa was greedy. She had an insatiable hunger for helping those in need, and wanting to change the world to the way she envisaged the world. She wanted “more, more, more” for those she dedicated her life towards, and created much health, wealth, happiness, and prosperity for all she touched.
Should you be any different in the way you tackle, your vision, your goals?
The now infamous character Gordon Gekko on the movie Wall Street (1987), stated:
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind…”