Friday, 29 December 2017

Mesothelioma Treatment and Arthritis

[this is the first contribution by Virgil to this blog with many thanks!]
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My personal story of battling cancer is a difficult one, but I continue to share my experiences in the hope that I can help others. I was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the tissue around the lungs, at age 50. While going through chemotherapy has helped slow the progression of the tumors and helped manage some symptoms, it has also caused side effects. One that many people don’t realize can happen, and can be long term is joint pain and arthritis.

My Cancer Story

My mesothelioma story begins when I was just a teenager. Growing up in West Virginia, I began working at a young age to help contribute to the household. My first job was in demolition and then I worked with cars and as a mechanic. In both jobs I was unknowingly exposed to asbestos dust. I didn’t know I needed to be protected from it, and now decades later I am suffering the consequences of having inhaled those toxic fibers.

Asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma, and when I got sick, really sick, it never occurred to me that this was the problem. I ended up in the emergency room and was diagnosed with pneumonia, but treatment didn’t help. I was then diagnosed with cancer. I have been fighting this cancer mostly with chemotherapy because it was too advanced to treat surgically. The chemotherapy has helped me feel better as it slowed the progression of the cancer, but it has also caused its own side effects. Most recently I started dealing with joint pain.


Chemotherapy and Joint Pain
Chemotherapy is like taking controlled doses of poison. Chemotherapy drugs target and kill any fast-growing cells, which is why it can cause so many side effects while also killing cancer cells. For me, I thought I had experienced all the possible chemotherapy side effects, but now I know that it can cause serious joint pain, even long after a cycle of chemotherapy is finished.

Chemotherapy can cause arthralgia or arthritis. Arthralgia is a symptom of joint pain, regardless of the cause, while arthritis is swelling and stiffness in the joints that causes pain. For most people who experience this side effect of treatment, the symptoms will resolve on their own. But, it can take many months for that to happen, meaning there can be months of pain.

There are ways to manage the pain in the joints caused by chemotherapy, but the first and most important thing to do is be evaluated by a doctor. If it really is arthritis rather than arthralgia, it may require different treatments. Generally, though, cancer patients can find relief and management of chemotherapy-induced joint pain with painkillers and alternative therapies.

Painkillers that help relieve joint pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, which can be purchased over the counter, prescription drugs that treat arthritis, and corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation and pain. Some people also find that acupuncture helps relieve joint pain, and others get relief from massage, Reiki, and other types of therapy that complement cancer treatment.

Adding joint pain and arthritis to the list of symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment can make battling cancer more difficult. Anyone going through chemotherapy should inform their doctors of any side effects experienced, because like joint pain, these side effects can usually be managed, and if not eliminated, at least minimized so that treatment can continue. 

Article by V. Anderson

Sunday, 24 December 2017

fermentation is the Key!

I read with interest this article on food trends for 2018.

Special Ks: kefir, kimchi, kraut, kombucha

Fermented foods are filling fridges as shoppers get more gut-health aware. So far, the most impactful of this fizzing bunch is kefir, the bacteria-laden (usually yogurt-based) drink essential to balanced eastern European diets.
This year saw Russian ex-figure skater Natasha Bowes’s Bio-tiful brand get stocked nationwide by Sainsbury’s, and she’s set to unveil a new stomach-friendly creation in May. Water-based kefir sales were also up 34% at Whole Foods since last year. Meanwhile, Marks and Spencer will launch their own-brand kefir in January.

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Kefir is an ancient cultured drink rich in probiotics and known for its incredible health benefits. Its origins can be traced back more than two-thousand years to the Caucasus Mountains region, located between Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

In FLIPS @ UL, we have an ongoing project on kefir with some interesting data on bioactivities against inflammation and CVDs.

More to come in 2018!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, 22 December 2017

from FLIPS@UL to all of you

It started as a joke one day in the lab.
How would we name our research group?
After few minutes of active brainstorming, the name FLIPS was created.
F fod food
Lip for Lipids
s ...for the plural.

Here is a photo from all the FLIPS team saying goodbye to Martina, who has been visiting our group on the Erasmus scheme.

From left to right : Alexandros, Eoin, Yannis, Ronan and Martina

With our best wishes for Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy Polar-Lipid 2018!

May His Star bring you Warmth, Love and Courage!


Monday, 18 December 2017

We are the world – We are the children

[my Dec 2017 article in the International Aquafeed] 

by Ioannis Zabetakis


From November 12-19, 2017, we celebrated what we call “Science Week” in Ireland, when hundreds of different workshops, tutorials, talks and experiments took place all around the country.
Ioannis Zabetakis

During that week, I was invited to visit schools and talk to the students – Scientists of Tomorrow about Science, Food, Diet and Nutrition.

Tuesday November 14, was an exceptional day; a day to remember! I was invited to go to the secondary school of one of my boys where I had (the honour and) the chance to talk and interact with Year One boys (i.e. 13 year old) on diet, nutrition, Science and "How to Live Well?”. Because at the end of the day, we need to remember that we are Scientists in order to improve our lives, to help people live with fewer diseases, less pain and live more happily.

At St Munchins College, boys were interactive, inquisitive and happy! Talking to them, teaching them about Diet and Food Pyramids (and some endemic mistakes there...) was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my teaching career so far. We compared the Mediterranean diet pyramid and the Irish food pyramids, we tried to identify what mistakes the Irish pyramid has and how we can correct them so we can pass to the Public correct dietary advice, we talked about Science, Health and Diet and so many other things that affect our Lives in a positive or a negative way.

We discussed about food, cooking, exercise, happiness, love, addictions. But above all, we had FUN!

Boys were buzzing non-stop and though this collaborative experience, we all learned some useful things. From now on, it is up to us to start implementing them. By making small changes in the way we eat and live, we can improve our Lives.

By thinking (Food) Science when we choose and prepare our food, the quality of our life can be improved and then we can more easily reach further out like the song “We are the World” suggests... A special "Thank you" to all the Teachers and the Boys in St Munchins for this beautiful day!

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving!

Read the full article in International Aquafeed magazine, HERE.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Allons enfants

I need to make a confession.
I love French! The language; the People; the Culture.

Last weekend, Nathaniel had to choose which second language he will follow towards Junior and Leaving Cert ; the choice was either French or German...

Last week, St Munchins college held a parents/students evening where we heard about all the options...At the end of the meeting, I went to speak to the language teachers...
I asked them about the support that the lads will get in French/German.
I decided to be a bit cheaky and told them: I do not want my son to learn a language that is only spoken in Germany...
The teacher's answer: It is also spoken in Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Austria.
 My response: whereas, if u know French, you can learn Spanish that is spoken in the whole Latin America...

I left them with a smile.

The smile became bigger last Monday morning when Nathaniel chose French!

The smile is huge today...when Nathaniel told me that at school today they talked about La Marseillaise

'La Marseillaise': 
Allons, enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous, de la tyrannie
L'étendard sanglant est levé

Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes!

Aux armes, citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!

English translation:
Arise, children of the Fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny's
Bloody banner is raised

Do you hear, in the countryside
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They're coming right into your arms
To cut the throats of your sons, your women!

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions
Let's march, let's march
Let an impure blood
Water our furrows!

lipids and fish sperm

did you know that...
sea bass sperm freezability is influenced by motility variables and membrane lipid composition but not by membrane integrity and lipid peroxidation

great paper ...It gave me an idea for my next aquaculturist column.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

are you ready for this?

a book proposal for Christmas?

 Would you like to find out your life expectancy and how long you'll stay healthy?

Well, you need to be honest and try this test !

Pass the word to your colleagues and friends, and also your students!

It's an engaging way to talk about diet, lifestyle and quality of life!


Ioannis Zabetakis


is Dietary Cholesterol Related to Chronic Disease?

this is the question!
to be or not to be?
to bother about cholesterol or not to? Need to think about it?

The answer is clear and we are going to communicate it further with a commentary for this special issue of the Journal "Nutrients"

In the meantime, our book gets great shape!

After all, as mentioned above, writing a book is an opportunity to promote a novel idea. The idea that we are going to promote is that human diet is the only valid medicine against cardiovascular diseases. Drugs cause inflammation and therefore promote CVDs.

If you would like to share some information with us during the process of writing this book, please drop me a line. I would be happy to hear from you.