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Dr K K Aggarwal

Some tips to prevent cancer from HCFI

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Here are some ways in which one can diagnose and prevent the onset of cancer at an early stage.

  1. Pay attention to symptoms and get yourself checked regularly.
  2. Using any type of tobacco puts a person at an increased risk of cancer. Avoiding or stopping the consumption of tobacco is one of the foremost steps in cancer prevention.
  3. Filter tap water properly as this can reduce your exposure to possible carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals.
  4. Get vaccinated on time and as per schedule. For example, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer.
  5. Drinking plenty of water and other liquids can help in reducing the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster.
  6. Most importantly, make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which can help ward off diseases.

Spiritual prescriptions learnt from patients

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In a hospital practice, we all witness suffering all the time. When we were young, in medical college, quite often we were disturbed seeing the sufferings of the people. But, in our practice, we have learnt many spiritual prescriptions from our patients. These have not only helped us to heal our patients but also changed our perception to health and sickness.

I recall Swami Bodhanand, a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, was once hospitalized under our care. When I asked him to give me a spiritual message, he told me only two words “Detached Attachment”. He said, “As a doctor you should behave like a lotus leaf. It is wet as long as a drop of water is there, but once the drop is out, the leaf is as dry as if the water was never there.” The message was that “we should be attached to our patients as long as they are with us. The day they die, we should be completely detached from them or else we will not be able to treat other patients”.

I saw another spiritual guru through our Chief Anesthetist. The fee he paid to me was a spiritual message “Suno Samjho Jano Karo – Hear Understand Wisdom and Do”. He said that hearing is different from listening, listening is different from wisdom and wisdom is different from doing. Unless you hear, understand what you have heard and implement, the learning has no value.

One of my Buddhist patients gave me a spiritual learning, which has helped me a lot in my routine clinical practice. He taught me the basic Buddhist message that there is suffering all over; there is a reason for every suffering and it is possible to maintain sufferings. This message fits into the main message of Hinduism and also the main teaching from Garud Purana.

In Hinduism, we know that the very fact that we are born in this life means that in our last life, we could not get liberation as Hinduism believes that after liberation you are not reborn. Not getting liberated in the last birth means that some sufferings were left in our life. The basic purpose of this birth, therefore, is to face sufferings. When the basic purpose of our birth is to face sufferings, then why suffer from these sufferings. Every time we suffer, we should thank God that he has reduced one more. The period in between two sufferings is called a happy period (Sukh). In fact that period is nothing but a period of rest given by God to us to prepare the body for next suffering. This as a concept of counseling helps my patients in managing most of their mental disturbances.

Sometimes not telling a patient that he is suffering from terminal cancer works. One of my patient’s father aged 83 years was found to have extensive cancer of the prostate. Medically, we all gave him three months’ to live. My patient did not have the courage to tell his father or the family members that he (the father) had extensive cancer. He took me into confidence and played a game with the family. We gathered all the family members and told them that with the surgery this cancer had been cured. A party was organized in the evening to celebrate the cure. The magic happened; he lived almost a symptom–free life for the next 9 years. I have tried this on many of my patients thereafter and it works. The probable explanation was loss of fear of death, a confidence in his doctor and faith in himself.

The way to live up to the age of hundred is to go on working in life. My great grandfather–in–law was 75 years old, when I got married. That year, he gathered all family members across the world and said that his purpose of life was over and, he would like a collective family photograph and like to quit the world. Nothing happened for a year and on 20th July next year, he again played behaved the same way. Family from across the world gathered but he remained alive for another year. This went on for three years. Suddenly, we played a spiritual trick on him and told everyone to convince him that he is going to live for 100 years as he has many more work of the family to be done. Every year, we gave him law students from within the family to be taught (he was a lawyer himself), or gave him the responsibility of finding a boy for some eligible girl in the family. We made him teach and search for suitable bride/bridegrooms for years together and he actually died at the age of 100 years. This is the beauty of positive attitude in life.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Is microwave safe for cooking and nutrition?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Some people believe that microwave cooking removes nutrients and makes food less healthy.

Microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are similar to radio waves but shorter. These waves are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical — one end positively charged and the other negatively charged. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.

Some nutrients break down when they are exposed to heat, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Vitamin C is perhaps the clearest example. But because microwave cooking times are shorter, cooking with a microwave does a better job of preserving vitamin C and other nutrients that break down when heated.

Cooking vegetables in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients leach out into the cooking water. For example, boiled broccoli loses glucosinolate, the sulfur-containing compound that may give the vegetable its cancer-fighting properties (as well as the taste that many find distinctive and some find disgusting). Is steaming vegetables better? In some respects, yes. For example, steamed broccoli holds on to more glucosinolate than boiled or fried broccoli.

The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria. Using the microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out. That keeps more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method. (Harvard News Letter)

Some tips to prevent cervical cancer

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Reduce your chances of getting infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) by avoiding sexual contact with multiple partners without adequate protection.
  2. Get a Pap test done every 3 years as timely detection can help in curing this condition.
  3. Quit smoking right away. Nicotine and other components found in cigarettes may pass through the blood stream and get deposited in the cervix where they can alter the growth of cervical cells. Smoking can also suppress your immune system making it more susceptible to HPV infections.
  4. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight as being overweight or obese increases the risk of insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and increase the risk of developing cancer

Patients with acidity should avoid chocolates and peppermint

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Persistent acidity is usually due to reflux of acid from the stomach into the food pipe. Mild cases of acidity reflux can usually be managed with lifestyle and dietary modifications along with antacids H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. However patients in whom lifestyle management along with empirical treatment is unsuccessful or who have symptoms suggestive of complicated diseases should undergo endoscopy to rule out cancer of the food pipe a condition linked with persistent acidity. Symptoms that may suggest complicated disease include loss of appetite loss of weight and difficulty in swallowing food bleeding and signs of systemic illness. Lifestyle changes for reflux involve elevation of head and of the body avoidance of food before sleep and avoidance of food which makes the food pipe valve lax. The examples of such foods include fatty food chocolates peppermint and excessive intake of alcohol. Hurry worry and curry are the three main factors for causing acidity apart from alcohol and smoking. People with acidity should consume less of fermented sour salty and pungent foods.

Repeated CT scans are risky to life

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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CT scan involves x ray radiation and can be harmful to the body. Unless it is essential for any diagnostic procedure one should not undergo repeated CT scans on annual basis for diagnosis of certain cancers. On the other hand ultrasound and MRI are safe and carry no radiations. Experts have said that MRI and CT scan are not interchangeable diagnostic procedures. Contrast imaging which was earlier used with x ray is now available for ultrasound and echocardiography. Thirty percent of patients do not have a good heart window of routine echocardiography. In these cases using special ultrasound contrast can prevent angiography and other cath procedures.

The lips of truth shall be recognized forever, a lying tongue is but for a moment

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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This sutra from Bible has a very deep significance in day to day life. The truth is ever lasting and always ends up in internal happiness and self realization. And in the long run it always gives you happiness and an all win situation. A lying tongue on the contrary will only give you a momentary pleasure but will lead to or create some difficulty later in life. Spoken words cannot come back just as in the case of a released arrow from the bow. Once lost one cannot get back his youth virginity or respect. Similarly spoken bad words cannot be taken back and once spoken will create negative waves in the other persons on whom they were spoken mind which will persist as repressed thoughts or memory in the people s mind forever. Such bad memories will keep on coming back in the person s mind causing damage to the personal relationships. A spoken word is a karmic expression. For every karmic action there is an opposite and equal reaction. For every negative karmic action one has to pay the debt either now or in future. The law of karma says that every debt has to be paid. It is always better to avoid negative language both in spoken words as well as in the mind. The yoga sutras of Patanjali describe thinking speaking or doing anything wrong as having the same karmic significance. We should not only purify ourselves in actions and spoken words but also in the mind. If a person keeps negative thoughts in the mind sooner or later the same will be reflected to the outside world. The momentary pleasure which one gets by lying has no spiritual significance as it only satisfies your ego sense or makes you attached to any of the five senses. The transient pleasure experienced by the body stimulates a chain of reactions consisting of action memory and desire leading to action again which will only intensify the greed attachments. In the Mahabharata Lord Krishna has given only two examples which work as an exception to such a situation. Any truth which harms others may not be spoken and any lie which does not harm anyone but benefits a few may be spoken. Truth is the opposite of doubt and it is always better to clear all the doubts from the mind as any repressed doubts can end up into causation of heart attack paralysis and cancer. Truth also means taking conscious based decisions as the consciousness will never lie. While taking any decision always ask oneself Is it the truth Is it necessary And will it bring happiness to me and the people around Lord Krishna is also described as Satchitanand which only indicates qualities like truthfulness conscious based decisions and internal happiness. Truthfulness has to be practiced for over a period of time and made a part and parcel of your daily life. To start with a person may have bad experiences but in the long run truthfulness will always win. Disclaimer The views expressed in this write up are my own .

A diet that is healthy for a person may be junk food for another

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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We have all wondered why some people do not seem to gain weight, while others do. A study has found that even if we all ate the same meal, we would all burn it differently and have different blood sugar levels later. These findings draw attention to personalized nutrition. High blood sugar levels are associated with several diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and strokes. Blood sugar levels of 800 individuals of varying weights continuously were monitored with a glucose monitor for over a week as they ate nearly 47,000 meals. Some had prediabetes. The study subjects used a smartphone app to log when they slept, exercised, and ate. Stool samples were also taken to analyze gut microbiome. The study revealed a vast variability in the responses to even identical meals. Some people who ate bread did not show any variation in blood sugar levels, while others had high blood sugar with the same meal. Eran Segal, PhD, another researcher who worked on the study noted that one prediabetic obese woman had a blood sugar spike when she ate a tomato, which is a healthy food. The researchers next examined if personalizing the diet improved blood sugar levels for 26 people. The personalized diets reduced the blood sugar levels after meals and altered their gut bacteria. (Medscape)

Patients with acidity should avoid chocolates and peppermint

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Persistent acidity is usually due to reflux of acid from the stomach into the food pipe. Mild cases of acidity reflux can usually be managed with lifestyle and dietary modifications along with antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors.

However, patients in whom lifestyle management along with empirical treatment is unsuccessful or who have symptoms suggestive of complicated diseases should undergo endoscopy to rule out cancer of the food pipe, a condition linked with persistent acidity.

Symptoms that may suggest complicated disease include loss of appetite, loss of weight and difficulty in swallowing food, bleeding and signs of systemic illness.

Lifestyle changes for reflux involve elevation of head and of the body, avoidance of food before sleep and avoidance of food which makes the food pipe valve lax. The examples of such foods include fatty food, chocolates, peppermint and excessive intake of alcohol.

Hurry, worry and curry are the three main factors for causing acidity apart from alcohol and smoking. People with acidity should consume less of fermented, sour, salty and pungent foods.

Turmeric can prevent heart failure

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Traditional Indian turmeric prevents heart failure, lowers cholesterol, prevents cancers and gall stones and augments scar formation in a wound. Studies from the University of Toronto’s Cardiology Division and published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation have shown that Curcumin, an ingredient in the curry spice turmeric, when given orally to a variety of mouse models with enlarged hearts (hypertrophy), could prevent and reverse hypertrophy, prevent heart failure, restore heart function and reduce scar formation. In the studies, curcumin was given to rats, who then underwent surgery or received drugs designed to put them at risk of heart failure. The rats that received curcumin showed more resistance to heart failure and inflammation than comparison groups of rats that did not get curcumin. Curcumin treatment also reversed heart enlargement. Curcumin short–circuited the heart enlargement process, though it’s not clear how it did that. The healing properties of turmeric have been well–known. The herb has been used in traditional Indian medicine to reduce scar formation. For example, when there is a cut or a bruise, the home remedy is to reach for turmeric powder because it can help to heal without leaving a bad scar. Curcumin has come under the scientific spotlight in recent years, with studies investigating its potential benefits for reducing cholesterol levels, improving cardiovascular health and fighting cancer. As an herb, turmeric should to be taken 300 mg thrice–daily with meals. It has useful actions like antioxidant, anti–inflammatory, anti rheumatic; cholesterol–lowering, anti cancer and prevention of gall stones. It is also found to be useful in situations like dysmenorrhea, dyspepsia, HIV, muscle soreness, peptic ulcer disease, scabies and uveitis. Curcuminoids, act as free radical scavengers. They also inhibit leukotrienes and synthesis of prostaglandins. The anti–inflammatory activity has been claimed to be comparable to NSAIDs (such as indomethacin). Curcuminoids lower blood lipid peroxides, decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol. Turmeric has also been claimed to inhibit platelet aggregation.

Aspirin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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People above the age of 50 without excess bleeding risk should take low-dose daily aspirin (75 to 100 mg) as per the current recommendations. 

Patients who are more concerned about the bleeding risks than the potential benefits (prevention of cardiovascular events and cancer) may reasonably choose to not take aspirin for primary prevention. 

Meta –analyses of randomized trials have shown aspirin to reduce the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction (Arch Intern Med 2012; 172:209) and long–term aspirin use reduces overall cancer risk (Lancet 2012;379:1602). 

A meta–analysis addressing this combined outcome suggests that aspirin use in 1000 average risk patients at age 60 years would be expected to result, over a 10–year period, in six fewer deaths, 19 fewer non-fatal myocardial infarctions, 14 fewer cancers, and 16 more major bleeding events.

Aspirin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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People above the age of 50 without excess bleeding risk should take low-dose daily aspirin (75 to 100 mg) as per the current recommendations.

Patients who are more concerned about the bleeding risks than the potential benefits (prevention of cardiovascular events and cancer) may reasonably choose to not take aspirin for primary prevention.

Meta –analyses of randomized trials have shown aspirin to reduce the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction (Arch Intern Med 2012; 172:209) and long–term aspirin use reduces overall cancer risk (Lancet 2012; 379:1602).

A meta–analysis addressing this combined outcome suggests that aspirin use in 1000 average risk patients at age 60 years would be expected to result, over a 10–year period, in six fewer deaths, 19 fewer non-fatal myocardial infarctions, 14 fewer cancers, and 16 more major bleeding events.

High fat diet, prostate cancer prone

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Diets high in saturated fat increase the risk of prostate cancer. As per a report from University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston published in the International Journal of Cancer:

Men who consume high saturated animal fat diet are two times more likely to experience disease progression after prostate cancer surgery than men with lower saturated fat intake.
There is also shorter “disease–free” survival time among obese men who eat high saturated fat diet compared with non–obese men consuming diets low in saturated fat.
Men with a high saturated fat intake had the shortest survival time free of prostate cancer (19 months)
Non–obese men with low fat intake survived the longest time free of the disease (46 months).
Non–obese men with high intake and obese men with low intake had “disease–free” survival of 29 and 42 months, respectively.

Take home messages

High saturated fat diet has been linked to cancer of the prostate
Reducing saturated fat in the diet after prostate cancer surgery can help reduce the cancer progression.
Cancer prostate has the same risk factors as that of heart blockages and both are linked to high saturated fat intake.
With an increase in number of heart patients, a corresponding increase in prostate cancer patients is also seen in the society.

Cancer survival rates can increase the anxiety

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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One of the first questions many people ask when first diagnosed with cancer is their prognosis. They want to know whether their cancer is relatively easy or more difficult to cure. The doctor cannot predict the future, but often he/she gives the estimates based on the experiences of other people with the same cancer. Survival statistics can be confusing and frightening. Survival rates cannot tell about the situation specifically. The statistics may be impersonal and not very helpful.

Cancer survival rates or survival statistics indicate the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time. Cancer statistics often use a five–year survival rate. For instance, the five–year survival rate for prostate cancer is 99 percent. That means that of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer, 99 of every 100 lived for five years after diagnosis. Conversely, one out of every 100 will die of prostate cancer within five years. Cancer survival rates are based on research that comes from information gathered on hundreds or thousands of people with cancer. An overall survival rate includes people of all ages and health conditions diagnosed with the cancer, including those diagnosed very early and those diagnosed very late. Only the treating doctor may be able to give more specific statistics based on the stage of cancer. For instance, 49 percent, or about half, of people diagnosed with early–stage lung cancer live for at least five years after diagnosis. The five–year survival rate for people diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body is 2 percent. Overall and relative survival rates don’t specify whether cancer survivors are still undergoing treatment at five years or if they’ve become cancer free (achieved remission). The five year survival rates for all men is 47.3–66%% and for all women is 55.8–63%

Other terms

Disease–free survival rate: This is the number of people with cancer who achieve remission. That means they no longer have signs of cancer in their bodies.
Progression–free survival rate: This is the number of people who still have cancer, but their disease isn’t progressing. This includes people who may have had some success with treatment, but their cancer hasn’t disappeared completely.

Think positive and think different

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The Mantra to acquire spiritual health is to think positive and differently. Positive thinking produces positive hormones and takes you from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode. When you think different, it gives you several opportunities and from multiple options available, you can ask your heart to choose one of them.

Thinking positive was a message given by Lord Buddha and thinking different by Adi Shankaracharya.

The candle light march, which was held to fight for justice in the Jessica Lal murder case, has been picked up by most of the protest campaigns because it was positive and different.

I have seen three examples in my life where I used this and prolonged the life of those persons.

My grandfather–in–law at the age of 85 thought it was time to go but when we made him work positively and differently, he died at the age of 100 years. He was asked to teach youngsters law, write to Prime Minister everyday on certain issues and find matrimonial matches for the youngest persons in the family.

In other two cases, one was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and the other had terminal brain cancer. The first one lived for 10 years and the other is still alive.

Both were told that they had a very early cancer and that was cured by a surgery.

When you think different, it creates creativity and when it is with positive attitude, it is accepted by all.