Pain in remote Andean communities–learning from Quichua experience

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Incayawar M, Saucier JF. Pain in remote Andean communities–learning from Quichua (Inca) experience. Rural Remote Health. 2010 Jan-Mar;10(1):1379. Epub 2010 Jul 15. PubMed PMID: 20635837. [Free full text]

Researchers from the Institute for the Study of Quichua Culture and Health, Otavalo, Ecuador and Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal undertook a study to explore how Quichuas in the Andes perceive, describe, and cope with pain and reveal highly sophisticated perspectives, including:

The role of strong emotional experiences in the origin of psychological or physical illnesses, including pain, is a salient feature, and is probably an ethos of the Quichua people of the Andes. There is strong agreement among them that pain can lead to depression, anxiety, irritability, fearfulness, tiredness, sleep disturbances, poor appetite, a range of serious diseases, and even death.

A useful benchmark for future study.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Bush medicine in treating cancer among Aboriginal people in Western Australia

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Shahid S, Bleam R, Bessarab D, Thompson SC. “If you don’t believe it, it won’t help you”: use of bush medicine in treating cancer among Aboriginal people in Western Australia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Jun 23;6:18. PubMed PMID: 20569478; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2902429. [Free full text via PubMed Central]

Researchers at the Centre for International Health, Curtin University undertook a qualitative study exploring Aboriginal Australians’ perspectives and experiences of cancer and cancer services in Western Australia, “providing an opportunity to analyse the contemporary meanings attached and use of bush medicine by Aboriginal people with cancer in Western Australia.”

The authors note that Aboriginal Australians with cancer are twice as likely to die from the disease than non-Aboriginal Australians.

From the Discussion and Conclusions:

Bush medicine has spiritual significance for Aboriginal people as it is natural, comes from the land, connects to identity and spirituality and plays an important role in people’s health and wellbeing. Bush medicine is also connected to the holistic world view in such a way that the interplay between the physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects is crucial in attaining wellbeing. Whereas hospitals and Western medical systems are representative of the dominant society reminding Aboriginal people of their loss of cultural knowledge, access to the traditional healing system, bush medicine and other healing processes repairs some of the damage inflicted by colonisation. The opportunity to access traditional knowledge through other groups who have retained this knowledge can be reassuring for Aboriginal people with cancer.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Diabetes and Cancer: ADA/ACS Consensus Report

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Giovannucci E, Harlan DM, Archer MC, et al. Diabetes and cancer: a consensus report. Diabetes Care. 2010 Jul;33(7):1674-85. PubMed PMID: 20587728; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2890380. [Free full text]

A consensus statement from the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society. A review of evidence concerning “the association between diabetes and cancer incidence or prognosis, risk factors common to both diabetes and cancer, possible biologic links between diabetes and cancer risk, and whether diabetes treatments influence risk of cancer or cancer prognosis.

Key findings and recommendations:

  • Diabetes (primarily type 2) is associated with increased risk for some cancers (liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon and rectum, breast, bladder). Diabetes is associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer. For some other cancer sites there appears to be no association or the evidence is inconclusive.
  • The association between diabetes and some cancers may partly be due to shared risk factors between the two diseases, such as aging, obesity, diet, and physical inactivity.
  • Possible mechanisms for a direct link between diabetes and cancer include hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, and inflammation.
  • Healthful diets, physical activity, and weight management reduce risk and improve outcomes of type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer and should be promoted for all.
  • Patients with diabetes should be strongly encouraged by their health care professionals to undergo appropriate cancer screenings as recommended for all people in their age and sex.
  • The evidence for specific drugs affecting cancer risk is limited, and observed associations may have been confounded by indications for specific drugs, effects on other cancer risk factors such as body weight and hyperinsulinemia, and the complex progressive nature of hyperglycemia and pharmacotherapy in type 2 diabetes.
  • Although still limited, early evidence suggests that metformin is associated with a lower risk of cancer and that exogenous insulin is associated with an increased cancer risk. Further research is needed to clarify these issues and evaluate if insulin glargine is more strongly associated with cancer risk compared with other insulins.
  • Cancer risk should not be a major factor in choosing between available diabetes therapies for the average patient. For selected patients with very high risk for cancer occurrence (or for recurrence of specific cancer types), these issues may require more careful consideration.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

NYAFF – Dwen-Jang (The Recipe)

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Dwen-Jang (The Recipe)
Director: Lee Seo-Goon (Anna Lee)
Cast includes: Seung-Ryong Ryu, Yu-won Lee, Dong-Wook Lee, Seong-ha Jo, Yong-nyeo Lee, Choong-seon Park, Jung-Hee Nam, Tae-kyeong Lee
Korea, 2010
New York Asian Film Festival
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Walter Reade Theater, NYC
5 July 2011
New York Premiere

A lyrical mystery, following Yoo-jin Choi (Seung-Ryong Ryu), a hard-bitten television producer, as he pursues a lead from an applicant for an internship: A death-row fugitive is captured as he eats a bowl of doenjang jjigae so delicious, so fragrant, both he and the arresting detectives are held in thrall until he finishes and they can capture him without a struggle.

Choi discovers that the stew was made by a mysterious young woman, Jang Hye-jin (Yu-won Lee), and begins a transformative quest to learn the recipe. No spoilers here, just a recommendation to seek out this movie about true love, honest craft, and the aura of the unique.

Read the Subway Cinema essay.

The Recipe was also the opening-night selection of the Culinary Cinema series of the 2011 Berlinale.

NYAFF – Sell Out!

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Sell Out!
Director: Yeo Joon Han
Cast: Jerrica Lai, Peter Davis, Kee Thuan-chye, Lim Teik-long, Lee Szu-hung, Wong Wai-hoong, Hannah Lo
Malaysia, 2009
New York Asian Film Festival
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Walter Reade Theater, NYC
4 July 2011
New York Premiere

A hilarious opening sequence – actually two – sets us up for an original musical about money, creativity, love, and reality TV in a fantastic land. Malaysia shares land borders with Thailand, Indonesia, and Brunei, and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines, and it shows in this playfully cynical take on corporation Earth.

With one of the best lines of dialog in cinema: “She’s beautiful. And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t eat babies.”

Read the Subway Cinema essay.