Prostate Cancer and Black American Men

I had a great uncle, Walter Lee by name. He was quite an active guy. Even up into his nineties he was able bodied enough to shovel snow, in Nebraska and climb roofs to repair them. I would often marvel at how spry my uncle was. One day he told me that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was confident that he could overcome it but, in looking back, I believe that he had waited too long to get check up. The disease took him rather quickly. His decline and passing happened within a three week period. The following write is a overview of how prostate cancer inordinately affects black American men.

The Black male population in the U. S. A. is evidenced as displaying the highest amount of diagnosed prostate cancer. What are the dynamics of this phenomenon? What is prostate cancer and how do genetics influence the incidence of it occurring? Does lifestyle? Can physical activity mitigate its’ development? What steps can lead to a decreasing frequency of cancer? We can consider strategies that can reduce prostate cancer occurrence among black men.

The prostate gland is doughnut shaped and about the size of a walnut. Encompassing the urethra, the tube through which urine and semen flow, it gives rise to painful and difficult ejaculation and urination when cancerous. When afflicted with cancer, those cells can, and often do, migrate to other parts of the body. This cellular migration can cause deleterious effects on organs in other parts of the body.
Picture of a healthy prostate gland.

American black men exhibit the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world – greater than 2 per 1,000 population. Between 1996 and 2000, in the United States, the age-adjusted death rate of prostate cancer among black men (0.7 per 1,000 population) was more than double that of non-Hispanic white men (0.3 per 1,000 population).[2,3]

Prostate cancer has been linked to the involvement of genetic factors”, says Dr. Walter Willett: Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. The epidemiology also suggests that there is something synchronous with diet and lifestyle in the development of prostate cancer.

The theory of the prostate cancer/testosterone link is that excess testosterone stimulates prostate growth when present in higher amounts; this is probably due to racial differences within the testosterone/testosterone receptor pathway. Research shows that African-american females exhibit 50% higher amounts of testosterone over white females. Consequently, black males, on average, have higher percentages of testosterone. A mutation in the testosterone receptor could, in part, contribute to the clinically observed, racial group differences in prostate cancer epidemiology, leading to the correlation between analyzed total testosterone and prostate cancer development.

Lifestyle studies reveal positive associations between fat intake and prostate cancer risks in relation to prostate cancer incidence among blacks, whites, and Asian-Americans. The data highlights African-American men consuming a higher percentage of calories, mostly from fat, than whites or Asian-Americans. However, insoluble fiber or roughage, a known cancer fighter, can assist in minimizing the ill effects of high fat diets.

Studies indicate that increased fiber intake decreases the risk of some cancers. Fiber’s protective effect leads to decreased retention of wastes in the body, resulting from added, fibrous bulk to your digestive system. Fiber supplemented diets lead to reduced tumor development. This may be a major factor for the low risk of prostate cancer in vegetarian diets. Of course, vegetarian diets are also rich in cancer-protective antioxidants.

What a nice way to start . . . . .
This looks great, doesn’t it??

The development of prostate cancer can be reduced through regular physical activity. With a diagnosed higher testosterone amount, vigorous activity may have a greater positive effect. Also, in men with prostate cancer, physical activity is associated with better survival. Modest amounts of vigorous activity, about three hours a week, could substantially improve prostate cancer survival.

Many treatments for prostate cancer can have detrimental effects on the body. Hormone therapy can lead to osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass; these conditions, however, can be improved through exercise and strength training. Other treatments, such as surgery, can cause urinary incontinence (inability to control urine flow). Kegel exercises before and after prostate cancer treatment strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles, thereby reducing incontinence. Consultation with a physician is recommended before starting any exercise regimen.

To be cared for
Woman taking man’s temperature in bed

A ‘disconnect’ from the healthcare system exists among black men. Braithwaite, discusses the prevalence of ‘stoicism’ as a possible explanation of why black men do not pursue regular check-ups and are reluctant to participate in health-related activities. More than likely, black men become “indifferent to pain/discomfort and do not seek healthcare services until absolutely necessary, most often in the emergency room”. Higher mortality from advanced prostate cancer is strongly associated with late detection. Lack of adequate health insurance, adherence to traditional male gender roles, avoiding possible poor prognoses, and overall distrust/mistrust of the medical community can be counted amongst ‘other’ contributing factors.

In short, there is a high degree of prostate cancer among African American males. Genetics, hormonal distributions, improper diet, inadequate exercise and infrequent check-ups are all implicated in developing prostate cancer. Adjustments to diet, exercise, and obtaining regular checkups could significantly contribute to lessening the impact of this disease amongst Black American men.

. . . . . and yes, I miss my Uncle Walter.

Exercise while relaxing on vacation – Chair Yoga

The movement of the body is important for maintenance of one’s health and well being. When you are on vacation, the tendency to gloss over adequate movement and exercise often occurs.

There are many ways to exercise one’s body when one is on vacation. One way that you can move the body is to make use of a chair.

Chair exercise is an accessible format that can be used when you are on vacation. Exercises that address basic spinal movements are always a good bet. The spine, being the bodily expression of health and vitality, when healthfully maintained, will positively affect the quality of one’s actions.

These are basic movements but they should still be approached with a degree of awareness and caution. If anything is painful or aggravating, do not do it. Breathing is important when performing these movements.

Spinal Warm-up


Sitting in the chair, the individual will place their hands on their knees and keep the arms straight. On the inhalation, you will lift your chest to the ceiling. On the exhalation, you will arch your spine toward the chair. This will gently warm up the spine.

Forward Bending


Standing up and facing the chair, you will position yourself so that you can lean forward and grab the chair. With the arms outstretched, hinge forward at the hips and lean the torso forward. Keep the spine straight, keep the core engaged and the arms and torso aligned with and to each other. Use the chair to support your body as you lower yourself. Breath.

Side Bending

Lateral Extension
Good for the spine.

While sitting in a chair, move your hips to the front of the chair. Sitting square to the front, extend your right arm up. As you extend your arm up, lean your body to the left. Repeat on the other side. Breath.

Back Bending

Opens the front of the thighs / hips. Opens the the chest, strengthens the arms and back


These types of movements are great for strengthening the back and arms. Start with the lunge movement. With hands on the seat, extend one leg backward and bring the other foot forward. The extended leg thigh and the forward foot hip will get a stretch. Repeat on the other side.

For a deeper stretch, place both hands on the chair and extend both legs back. Squeeze the inner thighs toward the ceiling, roll the shoulders back and lift the chest up. Breath.

Spinal Twist


While sitting in a chair turn your body so that your legs are on the left side of the chair. Turn your torso so that it faces the back of the chair. Use your hands to support you in this position. Breath. Repeat on the other side.

Forward Bending


Standing up and facing the chair, you will position yourself so that you can lean forward and grab the chair. With the arms outstretched, hinge forward at the hips and lean the torso forward. Keep the spine straight and the arms and torso in alignment. Use the chair to support you as you lower yourself

How Not to Gain Weight during the Holidays

The holiday season is here. This means that many of us will be with families and eating homemade pies and cakes. At work, there will be streams of goodies and sweets seemingly surrounding us. Planning for and attending various holiday functions, we will unconsciously nosh, nibble and imbibe to our hearts content. All of this means that we will be making those New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of the New Year. Typically, weight loss is at the top of the list.

However, we need not wait until the results of our holiday activities shock us into more healthy habits. In fact, there are things that we can begin to do right now that will minimize the amount of (unwanted) weight that we accumulate due to the holiday season excess. Specifically, by drinking more water, sleeping more, being more active, eating more fiber and monitoring portion size, we can keep weight gain to a minimum.

  • Drink Water

    Up to 60% of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70% water, and the lungs are nearly 90% water. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75% water by weight, as is the brain; body fat contains 10% water and bone has 22% water. About 83% of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature.
    “To all living things, water is of major importance.”

    When looking to minimize weight gain during the holiday season, one need look no further than though the bottom of their glass; that is to say, drink more water. Water is the liquid that sustains all life on earth. Water also has ‘0’ calories. But more than that, one can actually burn calories due to water consumption. Specifically, men burn more fat while women break down more carbohydrates due to water consumption. So, to hedge your bets against that holiday weight gain, drink more water.

    Recommendation: Ideally, 1.5 liters of water per day or 2 (8 Ounce) cups of water before each meal.

  • Sleep More

    a sleeping baby
    Babies are growing so they need rest. Adults need rest for health maintenance and physiological repair.

    According to researchers, adequate sleep can be instrumental to obtaining positive results from dieting and exercising endeavors. Adequate sleep allows for the activation of Human Growth Hormone: this hormone is responsible for “functions in the body such as vitality, energy and weight maintenance“. In addition, adequate sleep brings about a near 50%:50% muscle mass loss to body fat loss. Inadequate sleep can cause five times more muscle mass loss than body fat loss (5:1 ratio). Minimal sleep can stimulate higher levels of consumption because hormone levels, that stimulate hunger, food intake and retention of body fat, increase. One cannot sleep themselves thin but one can insure that caloric accumulation is kept to a minimum with adequate sleep.

    Recommendation: Get more than 6.5 – 7.0 hours of sleep.

  • Walk More/Be Active

    For those who are busy, there are creative ways to stimulate metabolism. Standing up and stretching a couple of times an hour will do wonders for the body.
    One step at a time: a good way to burn calories.

    To maintain (current) weight and avoid the effects of holiday binging, the importance of physical activity cannot be overlooked. The amount of physical activity can positively affect the efforts to maintain weight. Balancing Calories In vs. Calories Out will yield Weight Control/Weight Maintenance. 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommended to maintain weight. If this proves difficult, however, there are options such as parking farther away from the entryway door and walking, taking the stairs, doing little chores around the home and the like. Every little bit helps. Increased physical activity will also help people to improve conditions of:

    1. Heart disease and stroke
    2. High blood pressure
    3. Diabetes
    4. Back pain
    5. Depression and anxiety

    Recommendation: Try to accumulate 30 minutes of mild to moderate activity per day or try to stand up and stretch a couple of times every hour.

  • More Fiber

    These are some great sources of fiber.
    These are just some of the great sources of fiber that are available

    Generally, studies indicate that increased fiber intake correlates to better weight control. Fiber is an important constituent of food that assist with the passage of food through the colon. Fiber supplementation, along with adequate water consumption, can be part of a balanced diet. However, if a person needs to see and consume an amount of food that makes them feel full, then eating fiber dense foods will be instrumental in their consuming less. Fiber may not help with calories that are consumed from high-caloric beverages: consider that the average American’s recent, increased calorie consumption has come from increased consumption of high-calorie drinks.

    Recommendation: Accumulate more fiber from food sources; drink more water.

  • Portion Control

    Which one do you want?
    Larger portions are being accepted as ‘normal’, single servings. This puts less active people at risk for weight gain.

    One of the best ways to minimize weight gain is through portion control. Many people often eat what is in front of them and most underestimate the amount (of calories) that they consume on a day to day basis by as much as 25%. In order to affect portion control, one must direct their efforts toward assessing, monitoring and regulating the portion sizes of foods that they consume. If you are at a restaurant, eat half of your order and take the remainder home, if possible. If you are at home, eat a smaller than normal portion and wait a bit before going for seconds. If the feeling a fullness is there, you just may not want to go for seconds.

    Recommendation: Make a strong effort and adhere to consuming smaller portions and waiting to see if satiety sets in or eat smaller portions throughout the day.

These steps are presented as a way to help in minimizing the weight gain that typically occurs during the holiday season. By adding these steps to your daily routine throughout the holiday season, you can be in control of what transpires with your weight. Of course, if you are exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet, then these steps will easily help you in maintaining your weight.

Drinking water will assist in caloric expenditure. Sleeping more will help the body to burn more fat. Being more active will help to burn the calories that you consume. Consuming more fiber will keep the colon clear. Portion control will allow you to regulate how much you are actually consuming.

I have assembled a Percentage (%) of Effort Chart below to give you an idea of how these activities will contribute to your minimizing that dreaded holiday weight gain. The items are the five points outlined in this blog: i.e. water, sleep, activity, fiber and portions. The more days that you do these things, the better your results will be. 100% of effort will yield better results than 20% of effort.

Oh, before I forget . . .


% of Effort

1 item

2 items

3 items

4 items

5 items

1 – 2 days






2 – 3 days






3 – 4 days






4 – 5 days






5 – 6 days







CNN: Trying to Lose Weight? Drink More Water

WebMD; Drinking Water May Speed Weight Loss

Science Daily; Sleep Loss Limits Fat Loss

HuffPo: Sleep Is Integral To Weight Loss, Study Suggests

WebMD: Exercise and Weight Loss

WIN: Physical Activity and Weight Control

CalorieLab: Does more fiber mean more weight loss?

Food Product Design: The Skinny on Fiber and Weight Management

Mayo Clinic: Portion control — Downsize portions for better weight control

WebMD; Portion Control and Weight Loss

A Cleanse and Detox adherent speaks.

The changing of the seasons is symbolic of the cyclical nature of the heavens. In temperate climates, there are the seasonal rains that come and wash the earth during spring and autumn. The rains are a sort of announcement, a prelude, to the ensuing summer and winter seasons, respectively. It also during these times that some individuals commit themselves to seasonal cleanses and detoxes. Cleanse is short for Colon Cleansing. Detox is short for Detoxification Diet. In addition to setting the stage for enjoying a more vibrant life, cleanses and detoxes engender a higher degree of psycho-energetic sensitivity. People then can be more in tune to the seasonal vibrations.

Can you feel the change??
The changing of the seasons is symbolic of the cyclical nature of the heavens.

Cleanses and Detoxes can be very beneficial to the body. They allow the body to slow down and recuperate from the abuse that results from overindulgence in nutritionally devoid foods, overindulgence in improper drinks (alcohol, soda pop, etc.), exposure to chemically laden foods, and lack of dietary fiber. “Despite all of our best efforts, we may not be able to prevent toxic substances from entering our body and affecting our well-being. Pollution, packaged foods, caffeine, smoking, drinking, and etc, over a period of time can, impair our immune function and affect our health”.

We can always work toward better health
Despite our best efforts, we may not be able to prevent toxic substances from entering our body and affecting our well being.

To the individual who initiates and undergoes the process, the benefits of improved digestion, greater energy and immunity, and a slimmer, more vibrant appearance can be the result. Honestly though, cleanses and detoxes are only, can only be, a part of a true effort to live a more healthy lifestyle. It has been said that many people care more about their cars than they do their bodies. Given the recent statistics concerning health in the U.S.A., that statement seems to be ‘Dead On Point’. However, it does not have to be. If they are undertaken with caution and awareness of what one’s body is ready for, cleanses and detoxes can be a part of the initiative to reverse the trend of ill-health.

Do you know how good you can feel??
If they are undertaken with caution and awareness of what one’s body is ready for, cleanses and detoxes can be a part of the initiative to reverse the trend of ill health.

Lately, attention has been focused on cleanses and detoxes as a way to lose weight. This method of weight loss is totally counterproductive to a ‘healthy lifestyle’. Cleansing and Detoxing can most certainly result in weight loss. However, because of the intense and drastic manner in which it occurs, the weight loss is usually short-lived. Remember, the reason for the cleanse is to purge the colon of catarrh and built up waste material while the detox helps in purging impurities and toxins from the body. Lifestyle is what will really enable people to maintain a ‘healthy weight’. Cleanses and Detoxes can really only be a compliment to a healthy lifestyle. They can only be a means to an end as opposed to an end unto themselves.

For me, spring and autumn are optimal times for this. It is a chance for me to cleanse my body and be in communion with the Source of All Creating/Sustaining/Dissolving (my concept of GOD). I use cleanses and detoxes to prepare for deeper meditation and other physical/spiritual practices in lieu of bringing in more of the new seasonal energies. On a personal note, I have been blessed to see 52 years of age and, as of last year’s (2011) check up, I had no polyps in my colon. I think that my observing a healthy lifestyle has helped. However, I think that my spiritual practices, to include the recent addition of cleanses and detoxes, since 2009, have enabled and will allow me to maintain much of my health, vitality and positive outlook.

Intense Seated Forward Bend
This pose is great for taking breath into the backside of the body. Even so, there must still be breath going into the front side of our body as well.

We can all be healthier, if we so choose . . . .

Be Healthy, Be Ageless, Be You!!!


Read more:

Read more at Suite101: Health Risks of Cleansing Diets: Harmful Effects of a Detox Diet |

To Breathe or to Breathe Fully, LFSB

Intense Seated Forward Bend
This pose is great for taking breath into the backside of the body. Even so, there must still be breath going into the front side of our body as well.

Breathing exercises, that utilize long, full, slow breaths (LFSB), provide benefits that enhance the gains obtained from conventional, western exercise. LFSB, as is encouraged through the practice of yoga, tai chi or meditation, allows for maximum oxygenation of the blood and the ensuing, corresponding development and exhalation of carbon dioxide. During exercise, the actions of skeletal muscles, and associated physiological processes, require that fresh oxygen (O2) constantly replace carbon dioxide (CO2) in the lungs. O2 supplies fuel for the bodily processes that supply energy.

Some of the benefits of LFSB include:

  • Slows the heart rate – the heart rate slows when the parasympatheric nervous system is operating.
  • Full diaphragmatic breathing increases the ratio of O2:CO2. Normal inhalations result in a 1:1 ratio. Full diaphragmatic inhalations create a 5:1 ratio. Thus, more O2 can be absorbed into the blood.
  • Normalizes blood CO2 levels – full exhalations facilitate CO2 build up in the blood. This triggers and facilitates maximal uptake of O2 from the following inhalation.
  • Reduces blood pressure – Dilation of venous-blood vessels decreases venous-blood pressure. This allows a slower heart rate and more efficient blood flow/O2 transfer.
  • Reduces stress – Breathing deep, full inhalations and exhalations, synchronizes CO2/O2 blood levels and produces a natural autonomic relaxing effect.
  • Increases the health of lung tissue – The lungs are completely expanded and contracted during deep breathing. This maintains the elasticity of the lungs, especially as we age.
A very relaxing pose. Good for relieving tension in the ankles and for taking breath into the front of the body.
This pose requires hip flexor length and good opening in the knees. It is a great pose for allowing breath into the front of the body.

Conventional exercise (Running, Tennis, Basketball, Weightlifting, Gymnastics, Aerobics) focuses on developing (1) the external muscles and (2) the body’s ability to make O2 consistently available in the presence of an O2 debt. In a totally complementary manner, LFSB exercises help develop the ability to fully expand the lungs, which is beneficial for maximal absorption of O2 into the lungs and into the body and contract the lungs, which exhausts CO2 from the lungs and increases blood CO2 concentration. LFSB exercises also provide a natural massage for the internal organs which has a beneficial and rejuvenating effect on the physical, physiological and psychological processes. This can greatly benefit the vigorous exerciser.

LFSB training is a methodology. It can shift the autonomic nervous system away from fight or flight (sympathetic) mode into a more relaxed state (parasympathetic). LFSB inhalations and exhalations have ‘been shown to positively affect immune function, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress-related disorders‘ (Jerath et al., 2006). Jerath and colleagues add that investigations, regarding stress and psychological improvements, support evidence that deep, full breathing alters the brain’s information processing, making it an intervention that improves a person’s psychological profile.

intense twisting posture from a standing position. Ground through the rear foot and initiate the rotation from the rear ankle, rotating the rear leg outer hip down toward the ground and spiraling the torso.

LFSB exercises can enhance the benefits gained from vigorous exercise. The physical aspect of western exercise is good for muscle strengthening and development of aerobic capacity. LFSB practice benefits the body on the physical, physiological and psychological levels. Studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of LFSB. Breathing to finish that mile run is good; breathing fully to assist the body in processing O2 more efficiently will provide long lasting effects throughout one,s life.

Some techniques that can be employed to develop one’s LFSB capacity is to breath full inhalations and full exhalations at a rate of 4 breaths per minute. As one’s ability improves, the rate can go to 3 breaths per minute, then 2 breaths per minute, and then one breath per minute. This practice should not exceed a period of 15 minutes and should be done no more than twice per day.

Please consult your physician before attempting any of these practices.

Happy Breathing


Yoga and Health, Yesudian and Haich, Harper and Row; pg 67

Front body/Back body, how’s your posture?

In the words of Chang San Feng, “Up and down, forward and backward, left and right, it’s all the same . . . If there is a top, there is a bottom, if there is a front, there is a back, if there is a left, there is a right.” This excerpt, from the Tai Chi Chuan Treatise, sums up the reality of the synchronicity of duality; in particular, that of front and back. The human body has a front side (anterior) and a back side (posterior). The posture that one exhibits is a tell-tell sign of the balance between the two. When one exercises, engages in daily activities or just sits or stands, more than not, emphasis is skewed toward weakness and laxity in the back of the body. This can lead to poor posture as well as musculoskeletal complications. However, aside from just looking better, one can ‘Be Better’.

Good posture/Bad posture
Good posture is advantageous for overall good health

When we let our arms hang at our sides, the general tone of the back/shoulder musculature becomes apparent. Muscular balance between the front side and back side of the body, as evidenced by neutral spine, would be revealed by the longitudinal axis, aka the plumb line, extending from the top of the head, through the ears, through the shoulders and all the way down through the ankles. It is this degree of alignment along the plumb line that gives evidence of balance between the posterior muscles and anterior muscles of the torso.

Fitness activities are predominantly oriented towards strengthening the front of the body and the muscles of the anterior torso tend to be more developed than those of the posterior torso. Thus we see more pushing than pulling and more forward bending (spinal flexion) than back bending (spinal extension). Pronation (rounding) of the shoulders is the visible result of indulging the ease of pushing exercises and neglecting the beneficial challenges of pulling exercises.

Pronation of the shoulders makes lifting overhead more challenging. The scapula (shoulder blades) must be engaged on the rib cage (scapulothoracic articulation) in order for the shoulders to be properly positioned when reaching overhead. If this does not take place or is not taking place, dysfunctions of the shoulder can result. One of the more critical shoulder dysfunctions is impingement syndrome.

Deep space between the shoulders and the ears. This is great scapulothoracic rhythm.

By maintaining the muscular balance between the anterior torso and the posterior torso, our posture, core engagement/stabilization and overall balance are more synchronous. The muscle groups of the back (i.e. rhomboideus, mid tapezius, low trapezius, infraspinatus, teres major teres minor, rear deltoid) should be addressed within the scope of our exercise routines. Some exercises that can be used for this are: cable rows, pull downs, bent over barbell row, pull ups, reverse dumbbell flyes, reverse table top, reverse cable flyes, reverse plank (purvottanasana), and supermans.

Good Posture
Take a moment to assess your posture.

So it behooves the fitness enthusiast to work toward establishing that balance between the front of the body and the back of the body. The front of the body is stronger overall and is engaged in strength expression; both ballistic and sustained. Most activities require good anterior strength. The back of the body is involved with postural stability. One cannot have good posture without good posterior strength. The back of the body must be strong enough to counterbalance the pull of gravity, ballistic activities of pushing and the juxtaposition of anterior tightness/posterior weakness that is endemic in today’s modern society; amongst those who are exercise oriented, as well as those who are not.