There are over 120 types of brain tumors, determined by the specific brain tissues they affect.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, all brain cancers are tumors, but not all brain tumors are cancerous. But even those benign brain tumors, depending on their size or location, can be dangerous. For example, a brain tumor may put pressure on certain parts of the brain or block the flow of fluid around the brain. They may even spread through the spinal fluid to other areas of the body, causing all kinds of havoc.
Characteristics of Benign Brain Tumors
Benign brain tumors typically grow slowly with distinct borders. They rarely spread throughout the rest of the brain or body. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily make them any less dangerous. Depending on their size and location, benign tumors can be life-threatening when they impose upon other areas of the brain.
Characteristics of Malignant Brain Tumors
In contrast to benign brain tumors, malignant tumors typically grow fast, often invading surrounding healthy brain tissue. Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that examples of malignant tumors that originate in or near the brain include chondrosarcomas, medulloblastomas, and neuroblastomas, among others.
This rare type of tumor may contain hair, teeth, muscle, and bone. These Frankenstein-type tumors have baffled scientists for years and rumors about the tumors being undeveloped twins continue to surface. Though rare, teratomas may be cancerous or benign. Most teratomas, whether cancerous or benign, have excellent survival rates when treated early.
Early Symptoms of Brain Tumors
Symptoms of brain tumors vary depending on where the tumor is located. If the tumor affects the optic nerve, for example, symptoms will include vision changes. If the tumor is located in the cerebellum, symptoms may include difficulty with balance and coordination. But in general, the most common symptoms are headaches, seizures, difficulty speaking, personality changes, weakness, loss of balance, changes in vision or hearing, memory loss, confusion, and disorientation.
Not all brain tumors exhibit symptoms early on. Meningioma, a common brain tumor in adults, grows very slowly and often goes unnoticed until it becomes large enough to impact surrounding healthy brain tissue.
Is Brain Cancer Hereditary?
Genetics are to blame for less than 5% of brain tumors. Ninety-five percent of cancers have a cancer growth rate driven by glycolytic pathways (glucose and insulin). In other words, 95% of cancers are directly affected by sugar and carbs.
This is GOOD NEWS as it largely gives us the ability to control both the onset and growth of cancer by something as simple as determining what we put on the end of our fork from meal to meal. Being conscious of everything we put in our mouths is a great way to begin taking control of your health, especially when you’re dealing with cancer.
Tips for Staying Healthy
Sugar feeds cancer, so avoid sugar in all its forms (read more in this article: Say Goodbye to Sugar If You Want to Beat Cancer). And pay attention to those restaurants you dine at from time to time. Be sure the restaurant you choose is contributing to your health, not jeopardizing it. I created The Templeton List as a means of scouting out, vetting, and reporting on the healthiest restaurants in the country, something I believe is very important to your overall health. The Templeton List is free and easy to use — check it out!
When the Standard of Care Misses the Mark
Some tumors are insensitive to radiation and chemo, and so those treatments may be largely ineffective. Don’t be forced into something which you think may be wrong for you. Always get a second and maybe even a third opinion.
World-champion extreme skier Alison Gannett describes her early symptoms as forgetfulness (she forgot to go to a speech she was scheduled to give at a Microsoft convention!) and when a frying pan she was using in the kitchen caught fire, her response was to stare at the flames, mesmerized, rather than to extinguish it. She said the “check engine light” in her brain had been on for some time, but she didn’t pay attention. It was her husband who finally insisted she be checked out.
The shocking diagnosis was an aggressive brain tumor and Alison was told she had a short window of opportunity to seek treatment (she was told she had fewer than seven months to live). Alison quickly got into gear and began researching her options. Upon discovering that her type of tumor was unresponsive to chemo and radiation, she turned to Dr. Nasha Winters who guided her in a journey of discovering the root causes of her cancer and how to reverse them. The results confounded her conventional doctors.
The holistically-oriented treatment Alison received was highly successful, and she remains cancer-free well beyond the dire prognosis she received in 2013.
Alison shares her experience and all she’s learned in my recent interview with her:
“Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Brain Tumors,” American Brain Tumor Association. https://www.abta.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Neuropsychiatric-Symptoms-of-Brain-Tumors_7-19.pdf.
“Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer,” Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/brain-tumor.
“Life-threatening tumor found in child’s brain had hair, teeth: doctors say that finding such a growth happens approximately once a decade,” Jerusalem Post (January 25, 21) 13:41. https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/life-threatening-tumor-found-in-childs-brain-had-hair-teeth-656610.
Henry W. Edmonds, MD, and James W. Hawkins, MD, “The relationship of twins, teratomas, and ovarian dermoids,” from the Department of Pathology of The Children’s Hospital, the Departments of Obstetrics and Preventive Medicine of Harvard Medical School, and The Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass, cancerres.aacrjournals.org (Sept 8, I94I). https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/.