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Vitamin D: Photodynamic Therapy


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Source: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/article1703170.ece

A ray of light in battle to cure cancer

By ANDREA HAMMETT

Published: 18 Sep 2008

The Sun, London, England

When Don Moulden saw the light it saved his life.

Two years ago, the dad of five was told his lung cancer was incurable and he should start planning his funeral. But thanks to a medical miracle he is CLEAR of the disease.

Don’s cancer was killed off with a special light treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT), and it is just one of the ways light is being used to save lives. Scientists have come up with bright new ways to combat cancer, tuberculosis and MRSA.

Light may even provide a cure for the common cold. There is also mounting evidence that sunlight reduces the risk of heart disease, cancers and multiple sclerosis.

Earlier this week leading scientists reported that lack of the “sunshine vitamin” D is to blame for Scotland’s high levels of heart disease and bleak health record.

And scientists at Queen’s University in Belfast believe light can be used to combat deadly hospital bug MRSA.

Below, Don talks about how his life was saved and on the right we look at how PDT works, the other illnesses light can help and why sunlight is so important to our wellbeing.

Retired salesman Don Moulden was told he would be dead within the year when he was diagnosed with lung cancer for the SECOND time.

But instead, Don went into hospital for photodynamic therapy (PDT), see ... [insert below], and came out two days later cancer-free.

“It was miraculous,” says the 76-year-old. “I thought I’d be planning my own funeral that year, instead I was organising a whitewater rafting trip to the US.”

Don was treated with photofrin, a drug being trialled by Dr Jeremy George at the National Medical Laser Centre at University College Hospital, London. It is absorbed by every cell in the body but is only activated if targeted with light.

Don says: “It was painless — a totally different experience from the surgery I’d had seven years before.”

Ex-smoker Don, from Buntingford, Hertfordshire, was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 1999.

He’d been in for an X-ray to look at his heart — which was fine — when eagle-eyed docs noticed shadows on his lungs.

Just three weeks after his heart scan, tests showed he had lung cancer. It was so advanced the only option was to remove the left lung, breaking three ribs in the process.

With the cancer removed Don was given the all-clear, but in 2006 he got a chest infection he couldn’t shake.

Don, who is married to Jean, 72, says: “I’d been in for my annual flu jab and thought my symptoms were just down to that, but when it didn’t clear up tests revealed pre-cancerous cells in my remaining right lung.”

The cells developed into small cancerous tumours and, with surgery and radiotherapy not an option due to his previous operation, Don was told he had just 12 months to live.

He says: “I just thought, ‘Well that’s that then, a year’s better than nothing’.”

By June 2007, his condition was critical. Luckily for Don and his devastated family he was referred to Dr George at UCH, where he was considered an ideal candidate for PDT — and given the life-saving treatment within days.

PDT can only be used when the diagnosis is made early as some healthy cells around the cancer may be damaged in the process.

Tumours also have to be located where they can be accessed with a bronchoscope, a thin flexible tube inserted through the mouth and into the lungs, which delivers the light directly to the cancer.

Don, who has seen the arrival of his 13th grandchild since the treatment, adds: “It was so quick. The only downside was that the drug takes a number of weeks to leave your body, leaving you hypersensitive to sunlight.

“You have to stay inside for a month, but you can’t complain about that when the pay-off is your life.”

For further information see killingcancer.co.uk

Other conditions treated by light:

BUG BUSTING

Scientists at Queen’s University in Belfast are using light to beat deadly superbug MRSA.

Lab tests found that MRSA was wiped out when a hydrogel containing a drug was applied to the wound and targeted by a particular light. This bug-busting technique hasn’t been used on humans yet, but offers promise for future treatment of the bug.

MRSA is harmless on the skin, but can be deadly if it gets into wounds. It kills about 5,000 people a year.

TB

Light is also being used to curb the spread of deadly lung disease tuberculosis, which affects 8,000 people in the UK every year according to the Health Protection Agency.

It can be cured with antibiotics, but many strains are becoming drug-resistant, making prevention all the more important.

The TB bug, mycobacterium tuberculosis, can be transmitted through the air when an infected person sneezes.

But US scientists have found that placing special fluorescent lights in rooms where the bug might be transmitted lowered the incidence of TB by killing off the bug.

COMMON COLD

The sunshine vitamin may kill the common cold virus.

Dr Adrian Martineau, a chest and respiratory doctor at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine in London, says: “Lab research has already shown vitamin D to switch on the body’s natural antibiotic substances, damaging the growth of bacteria and viruses in the process.”

Previous research has already pointed to a link between cold control and vitamin D. Dr Martineau says: “Patients taking vitamin D in bone health trials had a lower incidence of colds and flu.

“And cold and flu epidemics coincide with vitamin D deficiences in winter and spring.”

A clinical trial by Dr Martineau looking at vitamin D’s ability to fight colds and flu is being funded by the Department Of Health and will begin next year.

HAY FEVER

Olympic running ace Andrew Steele uses mini “lightsabers” to zap hay fever symptoms.

The iPod-sized gadget has two prongs that deliver a short burst of light in two wavelengths.

One increases blood flow, helping to ease congestion, the other suppresses cells in the nasal passages, which trigger symptoms.

The Lloyds Pharmacy Allergy Reliever is £14.99 at lloydspharmacy.com and at stores nationwide.

Light years ahead ... new ways to treat acne

ACNE

Light therapy has been used for years to treat spots.

Non-damaging red and blue light wavelengths are aimed at the skin where they kill the spot-causing bacteria. The light also promotes healing. In some cases the treatment is available on the NHS.

LASERS

Lasers, essentially high-energy lightbeams, are used for a vast number of conditions from cancer and eye treatment to hair removal and dental work. In cervical cancer, lasers can target and vaporise abnormal cells.

More than 300,000 people have had laser treatment for visual problems since it first emerged in the early Nineties. Lasers are used to destroy the middle part of the cornea – this changes the shape of the front of the eyeball so light rays focus perfectly on the retina.

COLD SORES

Biostick is a gadget that zaps cold sores with safe red light. The light increases blood flow, which stimulates the immune response to the virus.

The normal lifespan of a cold sore is ten to 15 days, but clinical trials show 80 per cent of patients using BioStick were clear of their sore in a week. It costs £34.95 from anhealth.co.uk or by phoning 0870 350 1264.

Why light is so vital

Lack of the sunshine vitamin increases the risk of an early death by 26 per cent, an American study has found.

Our bodies make vitamin D from sunlight. In the south of Britain 15 minutes of sun a day from March to September gives us the average three micrograms (mcg) a day we need to carry us through the winter.

But, if you live north of Birmingham, the angle of the sun’s rays means there is no ultraviolet light of the right wavelength.

Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women need up to three times more vitamin D a day.

Here are some of the ways lack of it can affect us:

Heart Disease: Vitamin D helps maintain healthy blood vessels and has cardio-protective properties. US research revealed that men with a deficiency of it double their risk of a heart attack.

Low levels have also been linked to an increase in the risk of Peripheral Arterial Disease, which occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits, which can lead to stroke.

Cancer: Lack of vitamin D is linked to 600,000 cases of cancer every year worldwide.

Bright future ... light therapy

People living a long way from the equator are up to four times more likely to get lung cancer than those in warmer climates.

A US study linked vitamin D levels to a reduced risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Women given supplements cut their risk of breast cancer by 77 per cent.

Diabetes: Finland, about as far from the equator as you can get, has one of the highest rates of Type 1 diabetes in the world.

A study of 12,000 babies found those given the recommended dose of vitamin D as infants had an 80 per cent lower risk of getting it.

sex drive: Research has shown that, by increasing melanin levels, exposure to sunlight can help improve your sex drive.

Plus it boosts levels of sex hormones. Conception rates in the UK are ten per cent higher during the summer.

Bone boost: In children, lack of vitamin D can cause rickets, which weakens bones. Adults denied sunlight can suffer a softening of the bones.

Arthritis: Low levels of vitamin D could make arthritis worse, according to recent US studies.

Depression: Seasonal Affective Disorder is winter depression caused by a lack of sunlight. But low vitamin D levels can make this a year-round problem, Dutch researchers claim.

MS: Dozens of studies show that exposure to the sun reduces the risk of this immune system disorder.

Multiple sclerosis occurs when the body’s infection-fighting T-cells attack nerve fibres, causing degenerative loss of mobility and sight.

Scandinavian studies have confirmed a clear link between increased sunlight and a lower incidence of MS.

And Harvard researchers who studied sufferers who had undergone blood checks before developing the disease found that they had low levels of vitamin D.

---------------------------------------

INSERT: How it works on tumours

--PDT is a technique which can potentially destroy cancer tissue, while sparing healthy tissue.

--First, a drug called a photosensitiser is administered to the patient, usually by injection.

--The photosensitiser alone is harmless and has no effect on either healthy or abnormal tissue.

--However, when light (often from a laser) is directed on to tissue containing the drug, the drug becomes activated and the tissue is rapidly destroyed, but only precisely where the light has been directed.

--When it is used to treat some forms of skin cancer, a cream containing the light-sensitive chemotherapy medicine called 5-ALA is applied to the skin and left for several hours so it is absorbed by the cancer cells.

--The light is then shone on to the area to activate the medicine and kill the cells.

-----------------------------------------------

Note from Carole: I began taking 30K IU daily of Vitamin D caps orally about three weeks ago. This is only one of a number of changes I've effected since stopping treatment this summer, but neither I nor my medical team can argue the fact that I'm doing remarkably well for someone whose cancer has been growing since last December (treated unsuccessfully from 01-06/08 ), including metastasis to all lobes, lymph nodes and liver. Warning: My Vitamin D dosage is TOXIC and I do NOT recommend anyone take such large amounts unless they are in my situation (Stage IVB with no traditional medical treatment options remaining), in which case what the heck! :lol::lol:

Affectionately,

Carole

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Great article Carole. I saw the benefits of sunlight, or lack thereof, years ago when I lived up North. There would be a marked difference in my mood and energy level during prolonged periods of "gray" weather. . But this's man's experience is truly remarkable. Sounds like the light therapy of the 70's and 80's has come a long way

So glad I found your post because it updated me on your situation. Happy to hear you are well and understand you have to conserve your energy. Hope you are still getting some high "quality of life" moments.

Judy currently in Orlando

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