Ecuadorian Institute of Endocrinology, Laron people simply don’t get cancer.

There are a little more than 300 people in the world with the condition Laron dwarfism, a third of whom live in remote villages in Ecuador’s southern Loja province (Zapotillo, Macará, Celica)

Dr Jaime Guevara-Aguirre, a hormone expert from the Ecuadorian Institute of Endocrinology, who has been studying Laron dwarfism for more than ten years, said: ‘We’ve discovered that people with Laron simply don’t get cancer.

‘Cancer can be detected in their relatives of a normal size, but never in my patients – not one single case.

‘Every experiment has demonstrated that high levels of IGF1 are associated with cancer, but these patients have low levels of IGF1 and an absence of the disease.’

According to Dr Guevara-Aguirre, finding a way to reduce levels of IGF1 could mean finding a way to prevent cancer from developing. ‘Medically, this is very, very exciting,’ he said.

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Vilcabamba Again!

Vilcabamba is the famous Andean village where almost everyone lives to over 100. Queue lots of specially bottled mineral water (label features Jose a sprightly 87 year-old) and a lot of hippies in floaty shirts wandering around like minstrels. The locals explain that it is “because of the special healing vibes” first discovered by the Incas. You could get  invited  to a native American sweat (It involves heat and chanting, sadly for some have  to decline).  Anyway the upside of the hippies is that the food is fabulous. Lots of vegetarian bakes, beans, yoghurts and the most delicious juices!
My main reason for going to Vilcabamba is to relax and stay in just one place for a few days after the hectic rush that could become after visiting neighbor countries as Peru. Spend your first morning in town, on the back of a horse (well known Envidiosa ,envy or jealousy I think) heading off for a two day tour of the nearby Podocarpus national park, which suddenly can turn into a bizzare combination of pain and pleasure. The first day a rode of four hours, then hike for three to bathe under waterfalls in the cloud forest, on the second morning  hike for another 2.5 through thick primary forest then rode for 3 more hours. You are going to be so glad you hadn`t done the three day trip like You`d originally might have planned! The second day´s hike may have been the best in your life, crawling through bamboo tunnels, over logs, under branches, through streams (very wet feet as You thought the welly alternative would be blister inducing), up and down vertical drops. You might really be ready to drop and then have to get back on your horse. There are times during afternoon when You are in so much pain you thought You`d cry (sore arse, bad knees, sore feet, aching back, blistered hands) but fortunately for once they`d have given you the best horse and when the group finally get back on the flat they have had a fantastic gallop which made it all worth while. Ha!
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What it means to be in Vilcabamba

OMG…Vilcabamba. The Ecuadorian town where hippies and travellers go to relax. You will definitely get more than you expect. Initially,  Vilcabamba is an amazing little town with a feeling that you can’t explain with words. It is quaint and everyone mind themselves. People move at their own relaxed pace. Vilcabamba is famous for not only being a gringo town but also for having the largest population of people who live the longest. So that means most people in Vilcabamba live a long time. There was a study done with the people of the village and they found that they lived longer because they: 1) Ate lots of (healthy) yogurt…not the sugary american stuff, 2) Exercised regularly, and 3) Had low blood pressure because of a lack of stress. I think the lack of stress has something to do with the environment around them. It’s very serene and mountainous. The mountains and hills just have the ability to calm you no matter how shaky you are.

So I can’t write this blog without mentioning the food there. You might want to get a taste of home with spagetti that isn’t overcooked and a wonderful lasagna. I know it seems silly to write about food but it’s surprising how much you can miss the good stuff when its not at your fingertips. The yogurt was all natural with NO sugar…it’s a rarity to find in the US and come in a yummy crepe.

Natalie a tourist  in her way to Peru says: I had trying to cross the border back into Peru. So on Sunday, there was only one bus out of Loja back to Piura at 10:30pm because of some religious festival in Loja(arriving El Cisne’s Virgin). This meant that we got stuck at the Ecuadorian border for 2 hours because Ecuador has decided that they should close their border between 1am and 5am. Finally 5am rolls around and we get our exit stamp for Ecuador and so we can now finally get our entrance stamp for Peru.  I decided to play it off as if I didn’t understand the Spanish or at all what was going on. It was worth a try…actually it worked and he gave me 90 more days. I don’t think he was too keen on having to explain to me a few times that he was trying to cheat me and that I should bribe him to get through. Silly border police…maybe next time I should bat my eyes and give them a big smile…!

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