03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The LA Times Magazine's Day Of Health And Wellness

In the stunning 102 acres resort of Terranea in Palos Verdes Peninsula, the LA Times Magazine presented its first annual conference on health and wellness. They invited health experts, cancer specialists, nutritionists, and sleep specialists to inspire us to make the commitment to take better care of ourselves on every level.

The conference started with Sheryl Crow, who talked about her experience with cancer. Crow was always healthy and athletic and then got the diagnosis of breast cancer. Her biggest lesson through this journey was that she had to learn to show up for herself and take care of herself.

The daring Laura Ziskin spoke to Dr. John Glaspy about cancer treatment, followed by Dr. Denny Slamon, who shared with us his miraculous work that led to the development of Herceptin, a breast cancer drug which targets a specific genetic alteration found in 25 percent of breast cancer patients. His work has opened the door to a new understanding of the disease. Herceptin is used to treat only what was broken, therefore there are no side effects--only tumor cells are affected by the treatment. The way forward is to attack the specific problem, not the whole body, he said. Dr. Slammon believes that you can't take a one-size-fits-all approach. Hoping to kill more bad cells than good cells is the old paradigm. Dr Slammon's is the future.

Marianne Williamson spoke about spiritual empowerment. She explained that the notion the body works only in a mechanistic way is an old Newtonian idea. "As the perceived changes, so does the perceived," she said. A recognized truth in the new quantum physics.

Times have changed and the necessity for spiritual and emotional support during illness is scientifically recognized and verified. She also spoke of the importance of meditation and how it changes your brain waves. "Meditation is spiritual medicine, meditation is downloading energy."

She encouraged everyone to raise the vibration into health by meditating every day. She aptly stated that, if a doctor told you to take a pill twice a day to get better, you would do it. She states that, "cancer is powerful but the mind is also powerful not to be underestimated. Patients must be part of the process of healing. Sickness is the absence of health. Health is not the absence of sickness."

She inspired us with her uplifting message to exercise your mind and have healthy thoughts. It is imperative to retrain your emotional muscles and take healthy things into your mind, body, and spirit.

Dr. P.K. Shah, director of the Division of Cardiology and director of the Oppenheimer Atherosclerosis Research Center at Cedar-Sinai Heart Institute, shared his amazing research on a vaccine to prevent heart disease.

The vaccine that Dr. Shah and his laboratory are working on has the potential to help the millions of people who suffer from arteriosclerosis. Dr. Shah also talked about ways to take care of our hearts and some supplements that can be used to slow down the process of aging such as resveratrol.

Dr. P.K. Shah

Anne Wojcicki, dubbed the "gene queen" by her peers is the cofounder of 23andme, an organization whose mission is to be the worlds most trusted source for personal genetic information. She is a brilliant scientist, with a great humanitarian heart. 23andme gives people access to their DNA. This is useful for many reasons. 1) Genetic markers can predict side effects which can make drugs safer, more efficacious, and allow adverse events to be predicted. 2) They can prevent disease and Genetics can predict disease.

With the knowledge of our genetics we can make decisions to change behavior and therefore our health. People can also look at different aspects of their genetics and can learn about their ancestors.

Her goal is to make genetics a part of medicine. She has also developed, 23andwe, which is a shared database that has the potential to help consumers band together and organize their own research. The test costs merely $400.00.

The one and only beloved Dr. Soram Khalsa evoked the power of Vitamin D, showing us charts and research proving how Vitamin D strengthens our immune system and prevents cancer and heart failure. You might as well call him "Dr Khalsa states that breast cancer patients with low vitamin D at the time of diagnosis were 73 percent more likely to die over an 11 year period and that men with low vitamin D are more likely to have a heart attack" He has written the book, "The Vitamin D Revolution"--it is worth the read.

Dr. Soram Khalsa, Part 1.

Dr. Soram Khalsa, Part 2.

Dr. Sonia Ancoli-Israel, PhD, researches the effects of sleep disorders on aging, circadian rhythms on sleep, therapeutic interventions, and treatments for sleep problems in dementia and fatigue. Dr. Israel shared the stage with her patient, Fred Roberts. The discussion centered around the many years that Fred had suffered from the treatment of doctors who gave him numerous medications to fall asleep and to wake up from sleep, And even more medications when these medications failed. Dr. Israel gave some very didactic information stating that, adults need 7-10 hours of sleep. Teenagers need more sleep. Sleep is controlled by the biological clock, (circadian rhythms). She suggested that someone try the following suggestions when suffering from insomnia and that not all sleep disorders are treated effectively with drugs. She suggests:

  • Get rid of the clock next to your bed

  • Use bed only for sleep (and good sex)
  • When you can't sleep, don't get out of bed unless 20 minutes have passed
  • Always keep the same schedule, you can't control what time you go to sleep but you can control the time you get up. Always get up the at the same time.
  • No alcohol
  • Stress - find 10 or 20 minutes to sit and worry so that you don't do it at night.
  • If these suggestions don't work you can do a "Sleep study."
  • If the findings show sleep apnea, there is a breathing machine that is very helpful, although initially difficult to get used to, it promotes healthy sleep in those suffering from apnea.

    Dr. Fred Roberts told us that sleep deprivation has an impact on mind, body, and spirit and insomnia can be cured without sleeping pills, if only we find a great doctor with compassion who is effective in working through the major problems of insomnia and doesn't believe in quick fixes (medicine) that deeply damage the psyche of the body mind and spirit.

    Kathy Freston, author of Quantum Wellness and a passionate vegan, interviewed Rory Freedman, author of Skinny Bitch showing us how we can become vegetarian and vegan one step at a time.

    Kathy Freston

    Rory Freedman

    Cara Natterson, a pediatrician and author of three books, including "Dangerous or Safe?" spoke about how to make decisions about what foods, drinks, medicines and common household materials are hazardous to kids and which ones are simply victims of hype. She spoke passionately about the potential deleterious affects of cell phone and cordless phone usage as related to the massive increase in brain cancers. Dr. Natterson stresses the importance of using head-phones or speaker phones, rather than putting the device to your ear.

    Lectures were going on simultaneously in two different rooms so I had to sacrifice some, but here are the rest of the speakers:

    LA's editor-in-chief Annie Gilbar who spearheaded the whole idea for the conference talked with Dr. Judith Reichman about questions we're afraid to ask doctors; Dr. Sue Smalley, Dr. Dan Siegel, and Marvin Belzer, PhD of UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Institute spoke about meditation; Dr. Tim Miller, plastic surgeon and Operation Mend founder, with Octavio Sanchez, Iraq War veteran, talked about efforts to treat wounded U.S. military personnel; Ashley Koff, registered dietician and author of "Food Cures" spoke about nutrition; Brad Bose, PhD, personal training and fitness expert gave a talk on finding balance in exercise; Paco McCauley and Dr. Steven Graff-Radford had a patient-doctor conversation on pain management; and Ross Szabo spoke about mental illness on behalf of the National Institute of Mental Health. In addition, Emmy winner Tyce Diorio presented the piece he choreographed in honor of breast cancer for season five of "So You Think You Can Dance".

    Ashley Koff

    We left with goodie bags, including the ground-breaking breast cancer DVD, "The Path of Wellness and Healing." This inspirational guide explores the entire breast cancer experience blending cutting-edge science with traditional and complementary healing. It helps women navigate complex decisions about treatment and recovery with a mission to heal the whole person: body, mind and spirit and inspire hope. Not only does this DVD serve those diagnosed with breast cancer, all proceeds go to breast cancer research! It is an extraordinary labor of love that is amassed for anyone who has the disease or knows anyone who has it - which includes all of us, I'm sure.

    What an extraordinary day The LA Times Magazine produced for all of us where there is room for conversation, creating the tribe of health and wellness that we're all part of.