Tag Archives: Antioxidants

Five Cancer Caregiver Tips for the Holidays

Grandparents posing with grandchildren
Take Time to Enjoy Your Caregivers This Holiday

Holidays are often a bittersweet occasion for cancer patients and their caregivers. It’s a time of celebration with friends and family, but it can also create nostalgia and even sadness over the memories of previous illness-free holidays.

If you are a caregiver, it’s important for both you and your loved one that you maintain an emotional and physical balance. These tips will keep things in perspective so you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

• Be honest about your feelings. It’s natural to feel a sense of loss based on the realities of cancer. However, burying those emotions will serve only to intensify them, not eliminate them. Share your thoughts with someone you trust, whether it’s a family member or counselor.

• Modify your expectations. You probably demand more of yourself than anyone else does. Scale back your activities or ask for help when it’s needed.

•Create new traditions. Sharing time with friends and family is the focus of the holidays, no matter what form it takes.

•Ask your loved one about his or her preferences for celebrating the holiday. You may be projecting your own anxieties on them, and you’ll discover that their wishes are simpler than you anticipated.

• Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re making every effort to create a special holiday for your loved one and he or she appreciates it more than you know.

As a caregiver for a cancer patient, you should have your own support system for advice and encouragement. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for medical updates and helpful tips on cancer care.

Cancer Caregivers Must Take Care for Themselves Too

Being a Caregiver is an Important Role.
Being a Caregiver is an Important Role.

Two out of three Americans can expect to serve as a family caregiver at some point in their lifetime. With cancer predicted to outstrip heart disease as the leading cause of death in America, many family caregivers will be caring for cancer patients. But those cold, impersonal facts are far removed from the intensely personal and emotional experience of caring for a family member with cancer.

Highs and Lows of Being a Caregiver

Serving as a cancer caregiver for someone you love can be a tremendously rewarding experience. But trying to juggle your own life with your responsibilities as a caregiver can also take a huge toll on your physical and mental health. Many family caregivers place the needs of their loved one ahead of their own needs which is completely human and sometimes necessary. But failing to take care of yourself can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed which helps neither you nor the family member you are caring for.

Caring for the Caregiver

To be an effective caregiver for a family member with cancer, you must take care of yourself.

Use the following strategies to stay emotionally and physically healthy: 

• Caregiving can be an isolating experience. Establish a good support network and enlist family and friends to help out. Accept help when it’s offered and call on your support team when you need a break.

• Know the warning signs of stress: exhaustion, irritability, trouble sleeping, forgetfulness, eating too much or too little and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Chronic stress erodes your physical health and may lead to depression. Monitor your health and see your doctor regularly.

You know your loved one is receiving the best possible care at Issels alternative cancer treatment centers. Family caregivers must take equally good care of themselves.

Resources for Family Caregivers

Helping Caregivers Deal with Cancer
Helping Caregivers Deal with Cancer

Cancer has been called a family disease because it affects not only the cancer patient but the entire family. Spouses, parents, adult children and other relatives find themselves suddenly thrust into the role of caregiver.

While being the caregiver of someone you love can be a very rewarding experience and is a role many family members willingly accept, it can also be emotionally draining and physically exhausting.

Local Cancer Support Resources

Taking care of another person on top of your own responsibilities can leave caregivers feeling overwhelmed. It is important to develop a strong support network early. There are many excellent organizations, publications and support groups, both online and in your local community, available to cancer caregivers.

Good places to find local resources include the family resource center of your local hospital, your county or city’s senior services department, churches and local branches of national cancer organizations.

Online Cancer Support Resources 

The following online resources may also be helpful:

National Cancer Institute offers an online cancer information service and live chat.

American Cancer Society offers helpful articles for caregivers and links to cancer support networks.

Cancer Care provides a list of online and telephone support groups for cancer caregivers and sponsors educational online and telephone workshops and podcasts on cancer-related topics. Monthly Q&As with cancer experts offer answers to common caregiver questions.

Family Caregiver Alliance is devoted to supporting caregiver family members and friends. The site offers education, practical tips and resources to help caregivers manage every stage of care.

Caregiver Action Network (formerly National Family Caregivers Association) provides information, education and support for family caregivers and offers online support forums and peer networks.

AARP Caregiving Resource Center provides a comprehensive collection of online tools for caregivers, including connections to experts and other caregivers through online forums.

New Study: Antioxidants Might Speed Lung Cancer

Antioxidants and Cancer
Antioxidants and Cancer

A new study calls into question one of the most widely accepted beliefs about cancer prevention: Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants can help decrease cancer risk. Not necessarily, say researchers at the University of Gothenburg Sahlgrenska Cancer Center in Sweden. Antioxidants may actually increase lung cancer risk for smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Antioxidants are supposed to protect the body from cancer by preventing free radicals from damaging cells. “These radicals can damage almost anything inside the cell, including DNA, and DNA damage can lead to cancer,” explained study leader Dr. Martin Bergo. By neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants should decrease the possibility of DNA damage and cancer risk.

However, Swedish researchers found that in people with cancerous or precancerous cells, the body’s response to antioxidants appears to backfire. Instead protecting, antioxidants short-circuit a key immune response to cancerous cells, accelerating cancer progression, according to a HealthDay report posted on WebMD.

The study tested response to vitamin E and acetylcysteine, an antioxidant supplement, in mice with early lung cancer. “We found that antioxidants caused a threefold increase in the number of tumors and caused tumors to become more aggressive,” Dr. Bergo said. “Antioxidants caused the mice to die twice as fast, and the effect was dose-dependent.”

The findings are of concern not only because they fly in the face of current cancer prevention recommendations, but also because acetylcysteine is commonly used to improve breathing in COPD patients. Until further testing can be done, researchers recommend that people at risk of lung cancer avoid taking antioxidant supplements. Issels cancer experts point out that study findings were limited to lung cancer and that antioxidants received through food were not implicated.