An attempt is made to share the truth regarding issues concerning Israel and her right to exist as a Jewish nation. This blog has expanded to present information about radical Islam and its potential impact upon Israel and the West. Yes, I do mix in a bit of opinion from time to time.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Israel Research: Catch some zzz's to control cancer
Possible new treatment approach suggested
by Arab-Israeli pediatrician’s discovery of how interrupted sleep speeds
the spread of cancer.
Dr. Fahed Hakim laughs while admitting that he is
remiss at taking his own advice about getting a good night’s sleep. As
is the case with so many of us, his grueling work schedule, coupled with
a full family life, takes its toll on his ability to get sufficient
But Hakim, a pediatrician and pediatric
pulmonologist at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, as well as a
private practitioner in Nazareth, spends his waking hours efficiently
and wisely. Sleep research he conducted during a two-year stint at the
University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital led to a discovery that
is causing genuine excitement in the scientific community.
“We found a new pathway that could drive medication in cancer treatment,” Hakim tells ISRAEL21c at his office in Rambam.
connection between health problems and fragmented sleep is already
known, says Hakim. For example, children who don’t get enough sleep
exhibit memory and cognition difficulties, and have a greater tendency
to attention deficit disorder. Hakim wanted to know why.
His groundbreaking study on the effect of interrupted sleep on tumor growth was published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Cancer Research. Sleep less, eat more
40, is a Christian Arab-Israeli who was born, raised and still lives in
Nazareth. He is a married to a dentist, also from Nazareth, whom he
began dating when the two were students at the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem. The couple has two sons, 11 and 7.
His father, a civil
engineer, pushed him to excel in his studies. Hakim participated in
several educational programs and summer camps in Israel for gifted
children. He completed his degree in medicine in 2000, and has worked at
Rambam ever since.
In 2010, Hakim received a joint American
Physicians Fellowship/Israel Medical Association Fellowship grant that
took him and his family to Chicago.
The first topic he examined
there, under the tutelage of pediatrics chairman David Gozal, was the
correlation between poor sleep and conditions such as hypertension and
metabolic syndrome (obesity).
Rambam Medical Center, Haifa.
with sleep disorders tend to eat much more,” says Hakim. “This creates a
vicious cycle, because they keep gaining weight, and if they become
obese, they are prone to sleep apnea.”
More waking hours mean more
trips to the fridge because brain receptors for the
appetite-suppressing hormone leptin cease working in people whose sleep
Hakim’s first year in Gozal’s lab was devoted to
this issue. His second was spent researching the connection between
fragmented sleep and cancer. Sleepless mice
from epidemiological studies that people whose Circadian rhythm is
disrupted – like night-shift workers – have a higher incidence of
cancer,” says Hakim.
“We also knew that sleep apnea sufferers, who
snore and wake up dozens of times a night, have a higher tendency to
cancer. In other words, the more hypoxic a person is – the lower the
levels of his oxygen – the more he is disposed to cancer. Studies on
this emerged just when we began to think about our next research
project. So we decided to ask how it happens and why.”
his research team experimented on two groups of mice. The control group
was allowed to sleep normally. The other group was wakened repeatedly.
After a week, cancerous tumor cells were injected into all the mice.
four weeks, the volume of the tumors – as well as the amount of cancer
cells — in the mice whose sleep had been interrupted was double that in
the mice that slept soundly.
And the tumors in the sleep-disrupted
mice were more invasive; they spread into the adjacent tissue, muscles
and bones. The tumors in the mice that had slept better, meanwhile, were
“To understand why, we looked at the tumor micro-environment,” says Hakim.
you have an invader in your body, your immune system tries to attack
it. The cells that eat invaders, like bacteria, are called microphages.
Tumor cells have two kinds of macrophages — M-1 and M-2. M-1 helps the
immune system; M-2 helps the invader. In the sleep-fragmented mice,
instead of having more M-1 cells to help the immune system fight the
tumors, the M-2 cells came out to help the tumors.” Take sleep seriously
team discovered that these M-2s were sitting on the edges of the tumors
and calling other macrophages to the area by sending messages to the
TLR4 receptor – a protein that activates the immune system.
we found was that the TLR4 in the sleep-deprived mice was highly
activated,” Hakim says. “So we decided to knock out the TLR4. And we
discovered that the tumors in the mice in which we knocked out the TLR4
did not grow as quickly.”
It is this discovery – which suggests pharmaceutical possibilities – that has the scientific community buzzing.
For the rest of us, the take-home message is that we need to take sleep seriously.
fragmentation is widespread, even among healthy people, but it has
negative long-term effects,” Hakim says. “Thomas Edison did not realize
when he invented the light bulb that this would mean we would never be
in complete darkness.”
Hakim stresses the importance of preparing
properly for sleep. “Sleep is not the default of being awake; you don’t
just unplug yourself and go to sleep. It is something that requires
taking a kind of action, such as creating the right atmosphere before
getting into bed. Calming down by reading or taking a shower or whatever
works for you.”