Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News Item] California seeks to remove toxic chemicals from consumer goods

From the 13 March 2014 Stateline Daily item

California took steps to reduce the toxins found in children’s sleeping products and home and building supplies on Thursday, when regulators announced they would begin asking manufacturers to eliminate chemicals known to cause cancer and other illnesses.

In making the announcement, regulators with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control rolled out a program six years in the making — the first of its kind in the nation — that aims to minimize consumers’ exposure to toxic chemicals.

“I can’t even tell you what a big deal this is,” said Kathleen Curtis, the national coordinator for the Alliance for Toxic-Free Fire Safety, a nationwide coalition. “It’s huge, and it’s a super smart strategic move by the state of California.

On Thursday, state leaders announced the first round of top priority chemicals that they want reduced or eliminated from products many Californians use: children’s bedding items, spray foam used to insulate and weatherize buildings, and paint strippers, removers and surface cleaners. All of these products, state officials say, contain toxins that can cause cancer, hormone imbalances and environmental degradation.

Meredith Williams, deputy director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, said the state’s message to manufacturers is this: If you want to sell products in California, you must make products that are safe — or risk being banned from the country’s largest economy.

The announcement signals a larger victory for environmental advocates who have been working for years to rid furniture of toxins that were added as flame retardants. Studies have shown that some of these flame retardants do very little to reduce fires and have been linked to startling health risks. One of the most widely used flame retardants is TDCPP, which, under the Safer Consumer Products regulations, the state will pressure manufacturers to remove from toddlers’ nap mats, cots, cribs, playpens and bassinets.

TDCPP is one of three chemicals the state announced it is targeting: the others are diisocyanates, a chemical found in spray polyurethane foam that is used to weatherize buildings, and has been linked to lung damage, asthma, cancer and respiratory ailments; and methylene chloride, a carcinogen found in paint or varnish removers, paint strippers and surface cleaners. Thursday’s announcement marked the start of what is expected to be a yearlong process that will include a public comment period, discussions with manufacturers and studies to identify safe substitutions. In October, the state will release a second, and much lengthier, list of priority chemicals and products, Williams said. Manufacturers who don’t meet the new standards could be compelled to label their ingredients or have their products banned from California as early as 2016,

flame retardant cotton socks

flame retardant cotton socks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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March 21, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smoking changes our genes

Smoking changes our genes.

From the 17 December 2013 ScienceDaily article

The fact that smoking means a considerable health risk is nowadays commonly accepted. New research findings from Uppsala University and Uppsala Clinical Research Center show that smoking alters several genes that can be associated with health problems for smokers, such as increased risk for cancer and diabetes.

We inherit our genes from our parents at birth. Later in life the genetic material can be changed by epigenetic modifications, i.e. chemical alterations of the DNA the affect the activity of the genes. Such alterations are normally caused by aging but can also result from environmental factors and lifestyle.

In a study recently published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics the researchers have examined how the genes are changed in smokers and users of non-smoke tobacco. They could identify a large number of genes that were altered in smokers but found no such effect of non-smoke tobacco.

t has been previously known that smokers have an increased risk of developing diabetes and many types of cancer, and have a reduced immune defence and lower sperm quality. The results from the study also showed that genes that increase the risk for cancer and diabetes, or are important for the immune response or sperm quality, are affected by smoking.

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Read the entire article here

 

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January 6, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Science’s 2013 Breakthroughs Of The Year – Business Insider

Science’s 2013 Breakthroughs Of The Year – Business Insider.

The editors of the journal Science have chosen cancer immunotherapy — using the body’s immune system to attack tumors instead of targeting the tumor itself — as the biggest breakthrough of 2013.

“Cancer immunotherapy clinched the #1 spot because it’s causing such a paradigm shift among researchers in how they tackle cancer,” the journal’s editorial team wrote in a statement.

The technique involves training immune cells to recognize the characteristics of cancer cells, and then fight back. There’s still a lot of work ahead since the treatment has only worked for a few patients and some types of cancers so far, but the results from clinical trials offer hope for a new weapon against cancer.

Nine other groundbreaking achievements that were chosen from this year are detailed below.

Scientists discover the first real reason we need sleep

By studying a newfound pathway in mice, scientists identified the first major mechanical reason we need to sleep: to clean the brain. When the brain is sleeping, channels between cells grow. This allows cerebrospinal fluid into the depths of the brain tissues to flush out toxic proteins that build up during the day, including the kind that are responsible for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/sciences-2013-breakthroughs-of-the-year-2013-12#ixzz2pFBgpe3O

 

 

 

 

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Journal Article] Novel Genetic Patterns May Make Us Rethink Biology and Individuality

From the 7 November 2013 ScienceDaily article

Professor of Genetics Scott Williams, PhD, of the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (iQBS) at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, has made two novel discoveries: first, a person can have several DNA mutations in parts of their body, with their original DNA in the rest — resulting in several different genotypes in one individual — and second, some of the same genetic mutations occur in unrelated people. We think of each person’s DNA as unique, so if an individual can have more than one genotype, this may alter our very concept of what it means to be a human, and impact how we think about using forensic or criminal DNA analysis, paternity testing, prenatal testing, or genetic screening for breast cancer risk, for example. Williams’ surprising results indicate that genetic mutations do not always happen purely at random, as scientists have previously thought.

His work, done in collaboration with Professor of Genetics Jason Moore, PhD, and colleagues at Vanderbilt University, was published in PLOS Genetics journal on November 7, 2013.

Genetic mutations can occur in the cells that are passed on from parent to child and may cause birth defects. Other genetic mutations occur after an egg is fertilized, throughout childhood or adult life, after people are exposed to sunlight, radiation, carcinogenic chemicals, viruses, or other items that can damage DNA. These later or “somatic” mutations do not affect sperm or egg cells, so they are not inherited from parents or passed down to children. Somatic mutations can cause cancer or other diseases, but do not always do so. However, if the mutated cell continues to divide, the person can develop tissue, or a part thereof, with a different DNA sequence from the rest of his or her body.

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f our human DNA changes, or mutates, in patterns, rather than randomly; if such mutations “match” among unrelated people; or if genetic changes happen only in part of the body of one individual, what does this mean for our understanding of what it means to be human? How may it impact our medical care, cancer screening, or treatment of disease? We don’t yet know, but ongoing research may help reveal the answers.

Christopher Amos, PhD, Director of the Center for Genomic Medicine and Associate Director for Population Sciences at the Cancer Center, says, “This paper identifies mutations that develop in multiple tissues, and provides novel insights that are relevant to aging. Mutations are noticed in several tissues in common across individuals, and the aging process is the most likely contributor. The theory would be that selected mutations confer a selective advantage to mitochondria, and these accumulate as we age.” Amos, who is also a Professor of Community and Family Medicine at Geisel, says, “To confirm whether aging is to blame, we would need to study tissues from multiple individuals at different ages.” Williams concurs, saying, “Clearly these do accumulate with age, but how and why is unknown — and needs to be determined.”

Just as our bodies’ immune systems have evolved to fight disease, interestingly, they can also stave off the effects of some genetic mutations. Williams states that, “Most genetic changes don’t cause disease, and if they did, we’d be in big trouble. Fortunately, it appears our systems filter a lot of that out.”

Mark Israel, MD, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center and Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics at Geisel, says, “The fact that somatic mutation occurs in mitochondrial DNA apparently non-randomly provides a new working hypothesis for the rest of the genome. If this non-randomness is general, it may affect cancer risks in ways we could not have previously predicted. This can have real impact in understanding and changing disease susceptibility.”

 

 

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NIH scientists find that proteins involved in immunity potentially cause cancer

 

 

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Caption: This is Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D., and Steven Roberts, Ph.D., NIEHS.

From a 15 July 2013 article at EurekAlert

A set of proteins involved in the body’s natural defenses produces a large number of mutations in human DNA, according to a study led by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The findings suggest that these naturally produced mutations are just as powerful as known cancer-causing agents in producing tumors.

The proteins are part of a group called apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like (APOBEC) cytidine deaminases. The investigators found that APOBEC mutations can outnumber all other mutations in some cancers, accounting for over two-thirds in some bladder, cervical, breast, head and neck, and lung tumors.

The scientists published their findings online July 14 in the journal Nature Genetics. Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D., is corresponding author of the paper and a senior associate scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH. He said scientists knew the main functions of APOBEC cytosine deaminases were to inactivate viruses that attack the body and prevent ancient viruses present in the human genome from moving around and causing disrupting mutations. Because they are so important to normal physiology, he and his collaborators were surprised to find a dark side to them — that of mutating human chromosomal DNA.

The study is a follow-up to one Gordenin and his group published in Molecular Cell in 2012, after they discovered APOBECs could generate clusters of mutations in some cancers.

 AUDIO: Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D., NIEHS, discusses results of research published July 14, 2013 in Nature Genetics.

Click here for more information. 

“The presence of APOBEC clusters in the genome of tumor cells indicates that APOBEC enzymes could also have caused many mutations across the genome,” Gordenin said.

Gordenin’s team at NIEHS, comprised of scientists from the Chromosome Stability Group, headed by Michael Resnick, Ph.D., and the Integrative Bioinformatics Group, headed by David Fargo, Ph.D., took the 2012 research one step further by applying a modern data science approach.

The group collaborated with co-corresponding author Gad Getz, Ph.D., and other colleagues from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Mass. They looked for signs of genome-wide APOBEC mutagenesis in cancers listed in The Cancer Genome Atlas, a cancer database funded and managed by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, both part of NIH.

Using APOBEC’s distinctive DNA mutational signature, they examined approximately 1 million mutations in 2,680 cancer samples, and found that, in some tumors, nearly 70 percent of mutations in a given specimen resulted from APOBEC mutagenesis. The mutation pattern, which appeared in clusters and individual mutations, could affect many cancer-associated genes.

Steven Roberts, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow who works with Gordenin, is first author on both studies. He explained that since APOBECs are regulated by the immune system, which is responsive to many environmental factors, he believes there may be a significant environmental component to APOBEC mutagenesis.

“We hope that determining the environmental link to these mutations will lead to viable cancer prevention strategies,” Roberts said.

In upcoming work, he and Gordenin plan to address why APOBEC mutagenesis appears in some cancer types and not others.

 

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Protecting the body in good times and bad

From the 15 July 2013 article at EurekAlert

Brandeis scientists bring us a step closer to understanding how to control cancer cells without harming healthy ones

The nasty side effects of radiation and chemotherapy are well known: fatigue, hair loss and nausea, to name a few. Cancer treatment can seem as harsh as the disease because it can’t differentiate healthy cells from cancerous cells, killing both.

But what if there were a way to control or stop the growth of cancer cells without harming other cells?

Brandeis biologist Michael T. Marr is one step closer to understanding how cells promote and inhibit protein synthesis — an essential part of cellular reproduction — during times of stress. His new paper, co-authored by graduate students Calla Olson, Marissa Donovan and Michael Spellberg, is published in eLife, an open access digital publication for life science and biomedicine research.

Marr and his team discovered a mechanism, like an emergency backup system, that allows cells to synthesize certain proteins while shutting down the production of others. Building proteins requires a chain reaction with a dozen moving parts, each triggering the next step. These chain reactions are called signaling pathways.

The pathway that interests Marr and his team is called the insulin and insulin-like receptor (IIS) pathway. It is part of the body’s emergency response system. When organisms are healthy and safe, the IIS pathway increases the activity of a protein complex called eIF4A, which helps in the synthesis of proteins.

But let’s say you’re not safe. You’re starving. Your body is being deprived of nutrients, forcing you to conserve energy and resources. The IIS pathway, sensitive to this stress, realizes something isn’t right, and sends a signal to stop eIF4A.

Protein synthesis screeches to a halt — for the most part.

Marr and his team discovered that the messages that build insulin receptor proteins have internal mechanisms allowing them to synthesize protein without the eIF4A kick-start. When the rest of the production line slows down, production of insulin receptors in the IIS ramps up. Why?

The hope is you’re about to find food. The insulin receptors help the IIS pathway recognize when it’s out of danger. The more receptors, the faster the IIS pathway can start ramping up protein production again. The same principle applies on the cellular level when cancerous cells overwhelm healthy cells, starving them of oxygen and nutrients — the healthy cells continue to produce insulin receptors.

“Even during times of stress, cells are stockpiling for good times,” says Marr.

The mechanism that allows synthesis of insulin receptors during stress is the same from flies to mammals, pointing to a response conserved in evolution, Marr says.

Though this research is still early, the more deeply scientists understand mechanisms involved in growth and inhibition, the better they can decipher diseases that rely on uncontrolled cell growth, like cancer.

 

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Logo of the United States National Center for ...

Logo of the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine , part of the National Institutes of Health. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 From the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

 

Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches

Introduction

People with cancer want to do everything they can to combat the disease, manage its symptoms, and cope with the side effects of treatment. Many turn to complementary health approaches, including natural products, such as herbs (botanicals) and other dietary supplements, and mind and body practices, such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga.

This fact sheet was produced through a collaboration between the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It provides an introductory overview of complementary health approaches that have been studied for cancer prevention, treatment of the disease, or symptom management, including what the science says about their effectiveness and any concerns that have been raised about their safety.

 

Key Facts

  • Symptom management. A substantial amount of scientific evidence suggests that some complementary health approaches may help to manage some symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment. For other complementary approaches, the evidence is more limited.
  • Disease treatment. At present, there is no convincing evidence that any complementary health approach is effective in curing cancer or causing it to go into remission.
  • Cancer prevention. A 2012 study indicated that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement may slightly reduce the risk of cancer in older men. No other complementary health approach has been shown to be helpful in preventing cancer.

 

Keep in Mind

  • Unproven products or practices should not be used to replace or delay conventional medical treatment for cancer.
  • Some complementary approaches can interfere with standard cancer treatments or have special risks for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Before using any complementary health approach, people who have been diagnosed with cancer should talk with their health care providers to make sure that all aspects of their care work together.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

 

About Cancer

Cancer is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and the lymph system. Although cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, improvements in screening, detection, treatment, and care have increased the number of cancer survivors, and experts expect the number of survivors to continue to increase in the coming years. Detailed information on cancer is available from NCI at www.cancer.gov.

 

About Complementary Health Approaches

Complementary health approaches are a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products whose origins come from outside of mainstream medicine. They include such products and practices as herbal supplements, other dietary supplements, meditation, spinal manipulation, and acupuncture.

The same careful scientific evaluation that is used to assess conventional therapies should be used to evaluate complementary approaches. Some complementary approaches are beginning to find a place in cancer treatment—not as cures, but as additions to treatment plans that may help patients cope with disease symptoms and side effects of treatment and improve their quality of life.

 

Use of Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer

Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer use complementary health approaches.

  • According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, 65 percent of respondents who had ever been diagnosed with cancer had used complementary approaches, as compared to 53 percent of other respondents. Those who had been diagnosed with cancer were more likely than others to have used complementary approaches for general wellness, immune enhancement, and pain management.
  • Other surveys have also found that use of complementary health approaches is common among people who have been diagnosed with cancer, although estimates of use vary widely. Some data indicate that the likelihood of using complementary approaches varies with the type of cancer and with factors such as sex, age, and ethnicity. The results of surveys from 18 countries show that use of complementary approaches by people who had been diagnosed with cancer was more common in North America than in Australia/New Zealand or Europe and that use had increased since the 1970s and especially since 2000.
  • Surveys have also shown that many people with cancer do not tell their health care providers about their use of complementary health approaches. In the NHIS, survey respondents who had been diagnosed with cancer told their health care providers about 15 percent of their herb use and 23 percent of their total use of complementary approaches. In other studies, between 32 and 69 percent of cancer patients and survivors who used dietary supplements or other complementary approaches reported that they discussed these approaches with their physicians. The differences in the reported percentages may reflect differences in the definitions of complementary approaches used in the studies, as well as differences in the communication practices of different groups of patients.

 

Safety

  • Delaying conventional cancer treatment can decrease the chances of remission or cure. Do not use unproven products or practices to postpone or replace conventional medical treatment for cancer.
  • Some complementary health approaches may interfere with cancer treatments or be unsafe for cancer patients. For example, the herb St. John’s wort, which is sometimes used for depression, can make some cancer drugs less effective.
  • Other complementary approaches may be harmful if used inappropriately. For example, to make massage therapy safe for people with cancer, it may be necessary to avoid massaging places on the body that are directly affected by the disease or its treatment (for example, areas where the skin is sensitive following radiation therapy).
  • People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult the health care providers who are treating them for cancer before using any complementary health approach for any purpose—whether or not it is cancer-related.

 

What the Science Says

No complementary health product or practice has been proven to cure cancer. Some complementary approaches may help people manage cancer symptoms or treatment side effects and improve their quality of life.

Incorporating Complementary Health Approaches Into Cancer Care

In 2009, the Society for Integrative Oncology issued evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for health care providers to consider when incorporating complementary health approaches in the care of cancer patients. The guidelines point out that, when used in addition to conventional therapies, some of these approaches help to control symptoms and enhance patients’ well-being. The guidelines warn, however, that unproven methods should not be used in place of conventional treatment because delayed treatment of cancer reduces the likelihood of a remission or cure.

A comprehensive summary of research on complementary health approaches for cancer is beyond the scope of this fact sheet. The following sections provide an overview of the research status of some commonly used complementary approaches, highlighting results from a few reviews and studies focusing on preventing and treating the disease, as well as managing cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

Talking With Your Health Care Providers About Complementary Approaches and Cancer

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has resources that can help you talk with your health care providers about complementary approaches and cancer.

  • NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine has a workbook to help cancer patients and their health care providers talk about and keep track of complementary approaches that patients are using. You can download it here: cam.cancer.gov/talking_about_cam.html?cid=ARcam_camnews.
  • NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign has tips to help both patients and health care providers discuss complementary health approaches.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects

Some complementary health approaches, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and yoga, may help people manage cancer symptoms or the side effects of treatment. However, some approaches may interfere with conventional cancer treatment or have other risks.People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult their health care providers before using any complementary health approach.

  • There is substantial evidence that acupuncture can help to manage treatment-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. There is not enough evidence to judge whether acupuncture is effective in relieving cancer pain or other symptoms such as treatment-related hot flashes. Complications from acupuncture are rare, as long as the acupuncturist uses sterile needles and proper procedures. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy weaken the body’s immune system, so it is especially important for acupuncturists to follow strict clean-needle procedures when treating cancer patients.
  • Recent studies suggest that the herb ginger may help to control nausea related to cancer chemotherapy when used in addition to conventional anti-nausea medication.
  • Studies suggest that massage therapy may help to relieve symptoms experienced by people with cancer, such as pain, nausea, anxiety, and depression. However, investigators have been unable to reach definite conclusions about the effects of massage therapy because of the limited amount of rigorous research in this field. People with cancer should consult their health care providers before having massage therapy to find out if any special precautions are needed. The massage therapist should not use deep or intense pressure without the health care providers’ approval and may need to avoid certain sites, such as areas directly over a tumor or those where the skin is sensitive following radiation therapy.
  • There is evidence that mindfulness-based stress reduction, a type of meditation training, can help cancer patients relieve anxiety, stress, fatigue, and general mood and sleep disturbances, thus improving their quality of life. Most participants in mindfulness studies have been patients with early-stage cancer, primarily breast cancer, so the evidence favoring mindfulness training is strongest for this group of patients.
  • Preliminary evidence indicates that yoga may help to improve anxiety, depression, distress, and stress in people with cancer. It also may help to lessen fatigue in breast cancer patients and survivors. However, only a small number of yoga studies in cancer patients have been completed, and some of the research has not been of the highest quality. Because yoga involves physical activities, it is important for people with cancer to talk with their health care providers in advance to find out whether any aspects of yoga might be unsafe for them.
  • Various studies suggest possible benefits of hypnosis, relaxation therapies, and biofeedback to help patients manage cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
  • A 2008 review of the research literature on herbal supplements and cancer concluded that although several herbs have shown promise for managing side effects and symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, pain, fatigue, and insomnia, the scientific evidence is limited, and many clinical trials have not been well designed. Use of herbs for managing symptoms also raises concerns about potential negative interactions with conventional cancer treatments.

Coping With Cancer

People who have cancer, or who have been treated for cancer, may have physical or emotional difficulties as a result of the disease or its treatment. Many conventional approaches can help people cope with these problems. For example, counseling may help people who are distressed about being diagnosed with cancer, medicines can control nausea related to chemotherapy, and exercise may help decrease treatment-related fatigue. Some people find that complementary approaches also help them cope with cancer and improve their quality of life. In addition, using complementary approaches can help people feel they are playing an active part in their own care. If you have cancer or if you have been treated for cancer, be sure to tell your health care providers about all approaches—both conventional and complementary—that you are using. Your health care providers need this information so they can make sure that all aspects of your care work well together. Additional information on coping with cancer is available from NCI at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Treatment

This section discusses complementary health approaches to directly treat cancer (that is, to try to cure the disease or cause a remission).

No complementary approach has been shown to cure cancer or cause it to go into remission. Some products or practices that have been advocated for cancer treatment may interfere with conventional cancer treatments or have other risks. People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult their health care providers before using any complementary health approach.

  • Studies on whether herbal supplements or substances derived from them might be of value in cancer treatment are in their early stages, and scientific evidence is limited. Herbal supplements may have side effects, and some may interact in harmful ways with drugs, including drugs used in cancer treatment.
  • The effects of taking vitamin and mineral supplements, including antioxidant supplements,during cancer treatment are uncertain. NCI advises cancer patients to talk to their health care providers before taking any supplements.
  • A 2010 NCCAM-supported trial of a standardized shark cartilage extract, taken in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, showed no benefit in patients with advanced lung cancer. An earlier, smaller study in patients with advanced breast or colorectal cancers also showed no benefit from the addition of shark cartilage to conventional treatment.
  • A 2011 systematic review of research on laetrile found no evidence that it is effective as a cancer treatment. Laetrile can be toxic, especially if taken orally, because it contains cyanide.

Beware of Cancer Treatment Frauds

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have warned the public to be aware of fraudulent cancer treatments. Cancer treatment frauds are not new, but in recent years it has become easier for the people who market them to reach the public using the Internet.

Some fraudulent cancer treatments are harmful by themselves, and others can be indirectly harmful because people may delay seeking medical care while they try them, or because the fraudulent product interferes with the effectiveness of proven cancer treatments.

The people who sell fraudulent cancer treatments often market them with claims such as “scientific breakthrough,” “miraculous cure,” “secret ingredient,” “ancient remedy,” “treats all forms of cancer,” or “shrinks malignant tumors.” The advertisements may include personal stories from people who have taken the product, but such stories—whether or not they’re real—aren’t reliable evidence that a product is effective. Also, a money-back guarantee is not proof that a product works.

If you’re considering using any anticancer product that you’ve seen in an advertisement, talk to your health care provider first. Additional information on cancer-related health frauds is available from the FDA and from the FTC.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Prevention

A large 2012 clinical trial has shown that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement may slightly reduce the risk of cancer in older men. No other complementary health approach has been shown to be helpful in preventing cancer, and some have been linked with increased health risks.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. The results of a study of older men completed in 2012 indicate that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement slightly reduces the risk of cancer. In this study, which was part of the Physicians’ Health Study II (a complex trial that tested several types of supplements), more than 14,000 male U.S. physicians were randomly assigned to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement or a placebo (an identical-appearing product that did not contain vitamins and minerals) for 11 years. Those who took the supplement had 8 percent fewer total cancers than those who took the placebo.

Other studies of vitamins and minerals—most of which evaluated supplements containing only one or a few nutrients—have not found protective effects against cancer. Some of these studies identified possible risks of supplementing with high doses of certain vitamins or related substances. Examples of research results include the following:

  • In another part of the Physicians’ Health Study II (not the part described above), supplementing with relatively high doses of either vitamin E or vitamin C did not reduce the risks of prostate cancer or total cancer in men aged 50 or older. Men taking vitamin E had an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain).
  • A 2010 meta-analysis of 22 clinical trials found no evidence that antioxidant supplements (vitamins A, C, and E; beta-carotene; and selenium) help to prevent cancer.
  • Two large-scale studies found evidence that supplements containing beta-carotene increased the risk of lung cancer among smokers.
  • The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), funded by NCI, NCCAM, and other agencies at NIH, showed that selenium and vitamin E supplements, taken either alone or together, did not prevent prostate cancer. It also showed that vitamin E supplements, taken alone, significantlyincreased the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men. There was no increase in prostate cancer risk when vitamin E and selenium were taken together. The doses of selenium and vitamin E used in this study were substantially higher than those typically included in multivitamin/mineral supplements.
  • Although substantial evidence suggests that calcium may help protect against colorectal cancer, the evidence of potential benefit from calcium in supplement form is limited and inconsistent. Therefore, NCI does not recommend the use of calcium supplements to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Other Natural Products. A 2009 systematic review of 51 studies with more than 1.6 million participants found “insufficient and conflicting” evidence regarding an association between consuming green tea and cancer prevention. Several other natural products, including Ginkgo biloba, isoflavones, noni, pomegranate, and grape seed extract, have been investigated for possible cancer-preventive effects, but the evidence on these substances is too limited for any conclusions to be reached.

Do You Want To Learn More About Cancer Prevention?

People can reduce their risk of cancer in many ways. They include avoiding exposure to agents that cause cancer (such as cigarette smoke), having tests (such as colonoscopies) that find precancerous conditions early, and, for some people who are at high risk, taking medicines to reduce cancer risk (chemoprevention). Additional information on cancer prevention is available from NCI.

 

NIH Research on Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer

Both NCI and NCCAM fund many laboratory studies and clinical trials related to cancer. Some ongoing studies are investigating:

  • The effects of genetic factors and intakes of calcium and magnesium on the risk of developing precancerous colorectal polyps
  • Mechanisms of action of natural products that may be of value in cancer prevention or treatment, such as bamboo extract, grape seed extract, white tea, red ginseng, and S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)
  • The use of acupuncture for difficulty in swallowing after treatment for head and neck cancer
  • Mind and body practices to improve sleep in cancer patients.

Additional information is available from NCI and from NCCAM.

 

If You Have Been Diagnosed With Cancer and Are Considering a Complementary Health Approach

  • Cancer patients need to make informed decisions about using complementary health approaches. NCCAM and NCI have written a brochure that can help: Thinking About Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Guide for People With Cancer.
  • Gather information about the complementary health product or practice that interests you, and then discuss it with your health care providers. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it is especially important to talk with your health care providers before you start using any new complementary health approach. If you are already using a complementary approach, tell your health care providers about it, even if your reason for using it has nothing to do with cancer. Some approaches may interfere with standard cancer treatment or may be harmful when used along with standard treatment. Examples of questions to ask include:
    • What is known about the benefits and risks of this product or practice? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
    • What are the potential side effects?
    • Will this approach interfere with conventional treatment?
    • Can you refer me to a practitioner?
  • Do not use any health product or practice that has not been proven safe and effective to replace conventional cancer care or as a reason to postpone seeing your health care provider about any health problem.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, seeNCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign.

 

Key References

 

For More Information

NCCAM Clearinghouse

The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on NCCAM and complementary health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
1-866-464-3615
Web site:

National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute is the Federal Government’s lead agency for cancer research. The National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine coordinates and enhances the National Cancer Institute’s activities in CAM research.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
Web site:

NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine coordinates and enhances NCI’s activities in complementary and alternative medicine research.

Information on complementary and alternative medicine in cancer treatment:www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cam-cancer-treatment/patient/page3/AllPages

Web site:

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a Web site, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. The site includes questions and answers about clinical trials, guidance on how to find clinical trials through ClinicalTrials.gov and other resources, and stories about the personal experiences of clinical trial participants. Clinical trials are necessary to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.

Acknowledgments

NCCAM thanks Cornelia Ulrich, Ph.D., German Cancer Research Center; Susan Folkman, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco; Jun James Mao, M.D., University of Pennsylvania; Elizabeth Austin, M.S., Robin Baldwin, B.S.N., Barbara McMakin, M.S., and Jeffrey White, M.D., National Cancer Institute; and Carol Pontzer, Ph.D., and John (Jack) Killen, Jr., M.D., NCCAM, for their contributions to the 2013 update of this publication.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.

* Note: PDF files require a viewer such as the free Adobe Reader.

NCCAM Pub No.:
D453
Date Created:
September 2005
Last Updated:
May 2013
 

 

 

 

July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advances in Cancer 2012

 

Screen-Shot-2012-12-28-at-9.34.37-AM

From the 28 December 2012 article by at The Health Care Blog

 

The 30,000 member American Society of Clinical Oncology is the world’s leading group of cancer physicians. ASCO is dedicated to curing cancer, supporting research, quality care, reducing treatment disparities and a heightened national focus on value. This month they released their annual Report on Progress Against Cancer, which highlights research, drug development and cancer care innovations.  This hundred-page document is important reading for anyone who wants to be up-to-date regarding cancer care.

Cancer related deaths in the United States are dropping, but still totaled 577,000 in 2012.  While world cancer research funding is rising, in the USA it continues to decrease, with the purchasing power of the largest funding source, the National Cancer Institute, having fallen 20% in the last decade, and a further 8% cut slated for January 1, 2013.   Development is dependent on government and private funding, as well as the willingness of more than 25,000 patients a year who volunteer to be involved in cancer trials.  All these critical supports are threatened. The Federal Clinical Trials Cooperative of the National Cancer Institute (FCLC, NCI) supports research at 3100 institutions in the USA.

The report discusses the many types of cancer which continue to be naturally resistant to cancer treatment, particularly chemotherapy.  In some cases, drugs do not penetrate a part of the body, such as the brain, in other cases even when they reach the tumor, they are not effective. ..

 

Read the entire article here

 

December 29, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

Exercise Could Fortify Immune System Against Future Cancers

Physical exercise

Physical exercise (Photo credit: zhaffsky)

 

From the 10 October article at Science News Daily

 

Researchers may soon be able to add yet another item to the list of exercise’s well-documented health benefits: A preliminary study suggests that when cancer survivors exercise for several weeks after they finish chemotherapy, their immune systems remodel themselves to become more effective, potentially fending off future incidents of cancer. The finding may help explain why exercise can significantly reduce the chances of secondary cancers in survivors or reduce the chances of cancer altogether in people who have never had the disease…

..

“What we’re suggesting is that with exercise, you might be getting rid of T cells that aren’t helpful and making room for T cells that might be helpful,” Bilek says.

She adds that this finding highlights the importance of exercise for all, including those with cancer and cancer survivors. These two populations might benefit especially from the heightened “cancer surveillance” — the ability of the immune system to seek out and destroy budding cancers — that this study suggests exercise brings, Bilek explains.

“There’s a litany of positive benefits from exercise,” Bilek says. “If exercise indeed strengthens the immune system and potentially improves cancer surveillance, it’s one more thing we should educate patients about as a reason they should schedule regular activity throughout their day and make it a priority in their lives.”

 

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[reblog]The World of Phytochemicals – FOOD, FACTS and FADS

 

From the article at The World of Phytochemicals | FOOD, FACTS and FADS

VegetablesVegetables (Photo credit: neonbubble)

Phytochemicals serve a wide variety of functions in plants to provide flavor, color but also to protect the plant from insects and microbes.  More than 2000 of these chemicals have been identified.   It has been known for 30 years that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are protective against some cancers and heart disease and for years vitamins and minerals were given the credit; now we know that more than likely it was the presence of the phytochemicals.  Now there is evidence that these compounds may protect against macular degeneration, cataracts, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and hypertension.

Most phytonutrients work together, so it is nearly impossible to put them together in a pill; therefore, it is obviously recommended that foods rather than supplements provide them.

How do phytochemicals work?  In general, they:

  • Act as hormone-inhibiting substances that prevent the initiation of cancer.
  • Serve as antioxidants that prevent and repair damage to cells due to oxidation.
  • Block or neutralize enzymes that promote the development of cancer and other diseases.
  • Decreases plague formation and formation of blood clots.

So what are some of them and where are they found?

  • Indoles, isothiocyanates:  Contain sulfur and may be protective against breast cancer.   Found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower.
  • Terpenes: Limonene is from the same family of compounds as taxmoxifen (an anti- breast cancer drug).  Found in oranges, lemons, grapefruit.
  • Flavonoids (Include tannins, phenols):  There are over 4000 of these.  Gives red wines and dark teas their bitter taste.  Found in apples, strawberries, grapes, green and black teas, red wine, purple grape juice, dark chololate.
  • Carotenoids (alpha, beta carotenes, lutein, zeathanin, lycopene).  There are more than 600 types that act as pigments in plants.  Fat intake increases absorption.  Found in dark green vegetables, orange, yellow and red vegetables and fruits.
  • Capsasin: Affects blood clotting and clots; found in hot peppers.
  • Curcumin: May inhibit enzymes that activate carcinogens.  Found in turmeric, a yellow-colored spice.
  • Resveratrol: Offsets artery-damage due to inflammation. Found in red wine, peanuts.
  • Organosulfur compounds: May speed production of carcinogen-destroying enzymes or slow proliferation of carcinogen-activating enzymes.  Found in chives, leeks, garlic, and onion.
  • Protease inhibitors: May suppress enzyme production in cancer cells, slowing tumor growth; inhibit hormone binding; inhibit malignant changes in cells.  Found in broccoli sprouts, potatoes, soybeans and other legumes.
  • Tannins: May inhibit carcinogen activation and cancer promotion; act as antioxidants.  Found in black-eyed peas, grapes, lentils, red and white wine, tea.

BOTTOM LINE:  Until more research is done, eat real whole fruits and vegetables, NOT supplementary pills or extracts.  By the way, taking antioxidant supplements have not been shown to be very effective if at all in disease prevention.  These phytochemicals work together to protect us from disease, so taking one alone will probably have no effect on health or longevity.

 

 

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | 1 Comment

[Reblog] Googling cancer information: Tips from a cancer survivor

 

The Human Body -- Cancer

The Human Body — Cancer (Photo credit: n0cturbulous)

 

From the 19 August 2012 article at KevinMD.com

 

by  on August 19th, 2012 | in PATIENT| 4 responses
When I got my phone call with the diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), my instinct, like so many of us, was to Google. Today, 3 years later, I have learned about what to look for, what to avoid, and how to manage my natural wish to know as much as possible.

The following are suggestions to help others faced with a cancer diagnosis.

Google wisely. Google (and Wikipedia) are a reflex. Don’t fight it. However, when looking at suggested links, go for more reliable sources. Any national cancer (e.g. American Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Society) or health agency (e.g., National Cancer Institute), major cancer centre (e.g., MD Anderson and others), and any specific cancer organization (in my case, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and LLS Canada).

Be forewarned, for more aggressive cancers, this will be frightening reading.

Ask your medical team. I didn’t at first but learned better. When I saw my first hematologist, he warned me that web information was out of date and, breezily (almost too much so!), reassured me that better treatments were available. But I didn’t press him on which site he would recommend. Another time with a family member undergoing thankfully what proved to be a false cancer scare, I did – and was referred to the kind of sites referred to earlier.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) – there are no miracles. Invariably, you will find sites that promise alternative cancer treatments. Don’t get sucked into false hopes at best, or be preyed upon for money in the worst.

While I believe in complementary approaches to conventional treatments, these are the tried and true advice for everyone: avoid tobacco, eat well (including reducing meat consumption – other nutrition advice here), and exercise.

Prayer, meditation, walking, being with family and friends are also sound elements of a holistic approach.

Explore, within limits, community forums. There is a risk of losing yourself in these forums. However, they are incredibly powerful in connecting you with people who have gone through the same treatment.

While I started late – because in some cases, it was depressing – I now ask about side effects that I am not sure about, and give back to people who are at earlier stages by sharing my experience. Start with a forum that deals with your type of cancer first, as it is likely to have the largest number of others in your situation (for Canadians, the US forums are larger than in Canada so I tend to go with those).

There is also the emergence of some private cancer forums, which have some good logging tools. However, on privacy grounds, I am more comfortable with charitable organizations.

Get efficient with Google Reader. I started off checking individual sites, forums and blogs. Very inefficient. Set up Google Reader (part of your Google account) and set up search terms to capture news stories, blogs and forum updates automatically. You can then scan them quickly and read those of interest.

Lastly, a note of humility. No matter how much one reads, and how well informed, one will never have the knowledge and experience of your medical team. Set your objectives:

  • understand your cancer and treatment better
  • be prepared to ask good questions
  • develop a comfort level in assessing different treatment options
  • be able to “challenge” your medical team if appropriate (e.g., whether I needed to have more or less scans, colonoscopy etc. – small stuff in the bigger scheme but nevertheless made my journey more bearable)

Andrew Griffith is a cancer survivor who blogs at My Lymphoma Journey.  He can be reached on Twitter @lymphomajourney.

 

 

Related Resources

  • Cancer (MedlinePlus) – links to overviews, basic information, health check tools, videos, tutorials, research, directories, organizations, patient handouts, and more
  • US National Cancer Institute  “… conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients.”
  • KidsHealth – Click on Parents, Teens, or Children. Search either through the search box or selecting topic in left column.
  • Webicina- Cancer , information via social media sites

 

 

 

 

 

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories | | Leave a comment

The New Science Behind America’s Deadliest Diseases – WSJ.com

The New Science Behind America’s Deadliest Diseases – WSJ.com (16th July 2012)

What do heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer have in common? Scientists have linked each of these to a condition known as chronic inflammation, and they are studying how high-fat foods and excess body weight may increase the risk for fatal disorders.

While much focus has been on fighting inflammation with drugs, researchers are getting a better understanding of the links connecting diet, inflammation and illness and discovering ways that foods can help keep inflammation in check. Laura Landro has details on Lunch Break.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and outside irritants. But when the irritants don’t let up, because of a diet of high-fat foods, too much body fat and smoking, for example, the immune system can spiral out of control and increase the risk for disease. Experts say when inflammation becomes chronic it can damage heart valves and brain cells, trigger strokes, and promote resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes. It also is associated with the development of cancer.

Much of the research on chronic inflammation has focused on fighting it with drugs, such as cholesterol-lowering statins for heart disease. A growing body of research is revealing how abdominal fat and an unhealthy diet can lead to inflammation. Some scientists are investigating how certain components in foods might help. Dietary fiber from whole grains, for instance, may play a protective role against inflammation, a recent study found. And dairy foods may help ease inflammation in patients with a combination of risk factors…

…A substance known as C-reactive protein, measured with a simple blood test, is an indicator of inflammation in the body. A report published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007, which analyzed results of 33 separate studies, found that losing weight can lower C-reactive protein levels. For each one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of weight loss, whether by dieting, exercise or surgery, the mean reduction in C-reactive protein among participants was 0.13 milligram per liter…

..At a meeting in Quebec City last week on abdominal obesity and its health risks, experts in cardiology, endocrinology, nutrition and related specialties presented a wide range of new research linking obesity to inflammation-related diseases…

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Infographic] Killer Sunshine

From the post at InsuranceQuotes

If you’re like most people, chances are you’ll take any opportunity to throw on a pair of shorts and soak up a little vitamin D. Summer is the season for taking advantage of every opportunity you can to be outdoors, and while you’re enjoying the weather, you’re also probably happy to work on achieving a nice golden tan while you’re at it. But through all of the barbecuing, swimming, hiking, and good old fashioned sunbathing, it might just slip your mind to lather on a little SPF 40. When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, it’s in your best interest to make sure that you do so with the proper protection. Skin cancer rates have skyrocketed in recent years, and while popular culture dictates that a beautifully bronzed body is the ultimate summertime achievement, the obsession with having a great tan is also having some scary health effects. While other cancer rates decline, fatalities from skin cancer continue to rise, and most people don’t realize just how much their risk increases with too much sunshine. While a little dose of golden rays is good for you, most people take that to an extreme, and the impacts of long-term tanning can be more deadly than they realize. The following infographic looks into the causes and effects of the rising skin cancer rates, and it might make you think twice before skipping out on the sunscreen.

Skin Cancer Infographic

July 12, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Chemical And Genetic Changes That Occur As Inflammation Progress To Cancer

The Human Body -- Cancer

The Human Body — Cancer (Photo credit: n0cturbulous)

From the 12 June 2012 article at Medical News Today

One of the biggest risk factors for liver, colon or stomach cancer is chronic inflammation of those organs, often caused by viral or bacterial infections. A new study from MIT offers the most comprehensive look yet at how such infections provoke tissues into becoming cancerous.

The study, which is in the online edition ofProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of June 11, tracked a variety of genetic and chemical changes in the livers and colons of mice infected with Helicobacter hepaticus, a bacterium similar to Helicobacter pylori, which causes stomach ulcers and cancer in humans.

The findings could help researchers develop ways to predict the health consequences of chronic inflammation, and design drugs to halt such inflammation.

“If you understand the mechanism, then you can design interventions,” says Peter Dedon, an MIT professor of biological engineering. “For example, what if we develop ways to block or interrupt the toxic effects of the chronic inflammation?” …

June 13, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

9 skin signs for a yearly visit to the dermatologist

Title: Pathology: Patient: Melanoma Descriptio...

Title: Pathology: Patient: Melanoma Description: This slide shows a melanoma on a patient’s skin. Subjects (names): Topics/Categories: Pathology — Patient Type: Black & White Print. Color Slide Source: National Cancer Institute Author: Unknown photographer/artist AV Number: AV-8500-3850 Date Created: 1985 Date Entered: 1/1/2001 Access: Public (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 9 May 2012 article at KevinMD.com

Visiting your dermatologist every year may be an important step to staying skin cancer-free. So, how do you know if you should schedule that annual appointment?

The answer depends on how likely you are to get skin cancer. Do you fall into one of these groups? Then, it’s time for a skin check-up.

1.  Red hair and freckles. If you’ve got red or blond hair, fair skin, freckles and blue or light-colored eyes, you‘re more likely to get skin cancer. But, that doesn’t mean darker-skinned people don’t develop skin cancer too.

2.  More than 50 moles. If you’ve got a lot of moles, you need regular skin checks. Doing this will help your doctor stay on top of unusual mole changes….

Read the rest of the article here

Seek prompt medical attention if you notice any unusual changes that don’t go away after two weeks.

What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer?

[From Learn about Cancer American Cancer Society]

Skin cancer can be found early, and both doctors and patients play important roles in finding skin cancer. If you have any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor.

  • Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color)
  • Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule
  • The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
  • A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
On a related note (via Sun Safety: Save Your Skin (US FDA)

Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap!

Don't Fry Day - (LOGO)The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day.” The goal?  To make sure people stay safe in the sun and protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors—on “Don’t Fry Day” and every day.

Here’s why. Skin cancer is on the rise in the United States; the American Cancer Society estimates that one American dies every hour from skin cancer. In 2012 alone, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 76,250 new cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

“Don’t Fry Day” offers simple steps that you and your family can take to prevent sun-related skin cancer, such as:

  • Slip on a shirt
  • Slop on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
  • Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Wrap on sunglasses.

For more information on resources available for “Don’t Fry Day” and skin safety, visitwww.skincancerprevention.org disclaimer icon .

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Infection Causes 1 in 6 Cancers Worldwide: Study

From the 9 May 2012 Medical News Today article

WEDNESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) — One in six cancers worldwide is caused by preventable or treatable infections, a new study finds.

Infections cause about 2 million cancer cases a year, and 80 percent of those cases occur in less developed areas of the world, according to the study, which was published online May 8 in The Lancet Oncology. Of the 7.5 million cancer deaths worldwide in 2008, about 1.5 million were due to potentially preventable or treatable infections.

“Infections with certain viruses, bacteria and parasites are one of the biggest and most preventable causes of cancer worldwide,” lead authors Catherine de Martel and Martyn Plummer, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, said in a journal news release. “Application of existing public-health methods for infection prevention — such as vaccination, safer injection practice or antimicrobial treatments — could have a substantial effect on future burden of cancer worldwide.”…

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Dietary Supplement Advisory Items: Cancer Prevention & Food Supplements

As many of you readers know, I continually advise to learn the facts before using dietary supplements.
They are not regulated by the FDA for efficacy(preventing or curing conditiions], just for safety.

Two recent items…

The “Crazy” World of Diet Supplements | FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Excerpt from the blog..

A popular herbal supplement, Aristolochia, commonly sold as birthwort has recently been linked to kidney failure and kidney and bladder cancer.  This herb is commonly prescribed in Taiwan as part of traditional medicine and it was recently observed that nearly 12% of that country’s population suffers from chronic kidney disease.  Now the herb has been conclusively associated with these diseases through gene analysis.

This herb is not marketed in the U.S. since 1994 following FDA warnings. Since cancer may take years to develop, it still may be a causative substance even since it’s ban. In the case of supplements, manufacturers must ensure safety, efficacy, and proper labeling but this regulation does not appear to be enforced. Due to the passage of a supplement…

Beware Of Dietary Supplements For Cancer Prevention

Excerpt from the 26 April Medical News Today article

Government regulators and the scientific community should work to ensure that they give clear guidance to the public about dietary supplements and cancer risk, according to a commentary published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Evidence from animal, in vitro and observational studies has suggested that taking dietary supplements may lower cancer risk. However, the small number of randomized controlled studies, the gold standard in evidence-based medicine, has not confirmed this – and some studies have actually shown that supplements may increase cancer risk. Still, the supplement industry is booming, with estimated annual sales at $30 billion in the U.S. …

Related Resources

 offers information about label ingredients in more than 6,000 selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to compare label ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the “structure/function” claims made by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies may not market as dietary supplements any products that are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent …
 

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Drugs Used To Overcome Cancer May Also Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance

Image by Ethan Hein via Flickr Antibiotic Resistance

Drugs Used To Overcome Cancer May Also Combat Antibiotic Resistance

From the Fri Dec 23, 2011 Medical News Today article

Drugs used to overcome cancer may also combat antibiotic resistance, finds a new study led by Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University. “Our study found that certain proteins, called kinases, that confer antibiotic resistance are structurally related to proteins important in cancer,” says Wright about the study published in Chemistry & Biology…

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

40% Of Cancers Avoidable, UK Research

From the 8 December 2011 Medical News Today article

New research from a leading charity, Cancer Research UK, suggests that around 40% of all cancers are avoidable. More than 100,000 cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK each year can be directly attributable to cigarettes, diet, alcohol and obesity, and this figure raises to 134,000 when taking into account over a dozen lifestyle and environmental risk factors, according to a review published as a series of research papers in a supplementary 6 December issue of the British Journal of Cancer…..

December 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Age-old remedies using white tea, witch hazel and rose may be beneficial


Researcher Tamsyn Thring at work in the laboratories at Kingston University London. (Credit: Image courtesy of Kingston University)

From the Science Daily article of Thu Dec 1, 2011 

Age-old remedies could hold the key to treating a wide range of serious medical problems, as well as keeping skin firmer and less wrinkled, according to scientists. Experts have discovered that white tea, witch hazel and the simple rose hold potential health and beauty properties which could be simply too good to ignore.

The research suggests a number of naturally-occurring substances may offer the hope of new treatments to block the progression of inflammation. It is credited with a major role in both the initiation and development of diseases ranging from cancer, diabetes and arthritis through to neuro-degenerative conditions and cardiovascular and pulmonary problems.

“For thousands of years people used natural remedies to try — and sometimes succeed — in curing their ailments and preserving their youth,” Professor Declan Naughton, from the University’s School of Life Sciences, said. “Now the latest research we have carried out suggests a number of naturally-occurring substances may offer the hope of new treatments to block the progression of inflammation.”….

….The new study builds on work undertaken by Professor Naughton and Kingston University PhD student Tamsyn Thring, along with the technical team from Neal’s Yard. They tested 21 plant extracts for evidence of their efficiency in fighting cancer and also in the battle against aging. Of the 21 extracts, three — white tea, witch hazel and rose — showed considerable potential, with white tea displaying the most marked results. “Indeed it appeared that drinking a simple cup of white tea might well help reduce an individual’s risk of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis or even just age-associated wrinkles,” Professor Naughton said.

December 2, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Popular herbal supplements may adversely affect chemotherapy treatment

Six common medicinal herbs in Tibet according ...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 17 Aug 2011 Eureka News Alert
 

Doctors urge cancer patients to discuss supplements with their doctors before beginning treatment

(Northwestern Memorial Hospital) Acai berry, cumin, herbal tea, turmeric and long-term use of garlic — all herbal supplements commonly believed to be beneficial to your health — may negatively impact chemotherapy treatment according to a new report…

Herbal supplements, defined as plant or plant parts used for therapeutic purposes, can interact with chemotherapy drugs through different mechanisms. Some herbs can interfere with the metabolism of the drugs, making them less effective while other herbs such as long-term use of garlic may increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. While culinary herbs used in small quantities for flavoring are generally safe, consuming large amounts for prolonged periods of time may have a negative effect on the body when going through chemotherapy.

Read the news release

 

August 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mountaintop mining is linked to increased community cancer risk.

Valley fill - Mountaintop removal coal mining ...

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Reported Cancer Rates in Two Rural Areas of West Virginia with and Without Mountaintop Coal Mining

Journal of Community Health via Mother Jones (Published online July 24, 2011; doi 10.1007/s10900-011-9448-5) / by Michael Hendryx, Leah Wolfe, Juhua Luo and Bo Webb
https://motherjones.com/files/final_jch_cancer_2011.pdf

[Abstract] Mountaintop coal mining in the Appalachian region in the United States causes significant environmental damage to air and water. Serious health disparities exist for people who live in coal mining portions of Appalachia, but little previous research has examined disparities specifically in mountaintop mining communities. A community-based participatory research study was designed and implemented to collect information on cancer rates in a rural mountaintop mining area compared to a rural non-mining area of West Virginia. A door–door health interview collected data from 773 adults. Selfreported cancer rates were significantly higher in the mining versus the non-mining area after control for respondent age, sex, smoking, occupational history, and family cancer history (odds ratio = 2.03, 95% confidence interval = 1.32–3.13). Mountaintop mining is linked to increased community cancer risk. Efforts to reduce cancer
and other health disparities in Appalachia must focus on mountaintop mining portions of the region.

July 30, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Are Cancers Newly Evolved Species?

Staining chromosomes with different dyes highlights the orderly nature of the normal human karyotype (left), that is, humans have precisely two copies of each chromosome with no leftovers. A bladder cancer cell (right) has extra copies of some chromosomes, a few missing normal chromsomes, and a lot of hybrid or marker chromosomes, which characterize cancer cells. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California – Berkeley)

From the 26 July 2011 Science Daily article

Cancer patients may view their tumors as parasites taking over their bodies, but this is more than a metaphor for Peter Duesberg, a molecular and cell biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Cancerous tumors are parasitic organisms, he said. Each one is a new species that, like most parasites, depends on its host for food, but otherwise operates independently and often to the detriment of its host.

In a paper published in the July 1 issue of the journal Cell Cycle, Duesberg and UC Berkeley colleagues describe their theory that carcinogenesis — the generation of cancer — is just another form of speciation, the evolution of new species.

A molecular biologists has long believed that cancer results from chromosome disruption rather than a handful of gene mutations, which is the dominant theory today. That idea has led him to propose that cancers have actually evolved new chromosomal karyotypes that qualify them as autonomous species, akin to parasites and much different from their human hosts.

“Cancer is comparable to a bacterial level of complexity, but still autonomous, that is, it doesn’t depend on other cells for survival; it doesn’t follow orders like other cells in the body, and it can grow where, when and how it likes,” said Duesberg. “That’s what species are all about.”

This novel view of cancer could yield new insights into the growth and metastasis of cancer, Duesberg said, and perhaps new approaches to therapy or new drug targets. In addition, because the disrupted chromosomes of newly evolved cancers are visible in a microscope, it may be possible to detect cancers earlier, much as today’s Pap smear relies on changes in the shapes of cervical cells as an indication of chromosomal problems that could lead to cervical cancer.

Read the article

July 27, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer Experts Offer Four Tips For Healthy Grilling

A brazier grill loaded with fresh charcoal bri...

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From the 10 June 2011 Medical News Today article

 

“Two aspects of the traditional American cookout, what you grill and how you grill it, can have a role in raising risk for cancer,” said AICR spokesperson Alice Bender, MS RD. “Big portions of red and processed meat are a well-known concern with respect to colorectal cancer. And although the evidence on the link between grilling itself and cancer risk is less strong, it only makes sense to take some easy cancer-protective precautions.”

Bender noted that when any kind of meat, poultry or fish is cooked at high temperatures, especially when well-done or charred, cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form. These substances can theoretically damage DNA in ways that make cancer more likely.

“The good news is that there are four simple strategies you can use to make allowances, manage risks, and grill more safely,” said Bender.

. Get the Red (Meat) Out, Add Other Colors 

- Focus first on grilling colorful vegetables and fruits, and cut back on the amount of red and processed meat on your cookout menu. Plant foods contain a variety of naturally occurring compounds called phytochemicals, many of which provide their own anti-cancer protection.

- Vegetables like asparagus, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant and corn on the cob are favorites, because grilling brings out flavors that even the pickiest eaters enjoy. Cut into chunks for kabobs, cook in a grill basket, or toss with a small amount of olive oil and grill whole.

- Cut fruit before putting it on the grill: apples, peaches and pears can be halved and bananas split lengthwise. Use fruit that is about a day or two away from being completely ripe so it retains its texture. If you brush fruit or the grill with a bit of oil, it won’t stick, and remember to watch closely so it doesn’t get overdone. Serve as is, with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dollop of plain frozen yogurt.

2. Marinate the Meat 

- If you choose to grill meat, mix it up: Try chicken or fish instead of sticking with burgers and hot dogs. Whatever meat you choose, start by mixing up a marinade with some of your favorite herbs along with vinegar or lemon juice. Keep the meat marinating in the fridge while you prepare the sides. Marinating meat has been shown to reduce the formation of HCAs. Precisely why marinades are protective is still under investigation; some evidence points to the acids (vinegar and citrus) or the antioxidant content. Even just 30 minutes in the marinade can help.

3. Partially Pre-cook 

- You can do this in the microwave, oven or stove to help reduce the amount of time the meat sits on the grill exposed to high heat. To ensure safe food handling, just be sure to put the partially cooked meat on the preheated grill immediately to complete cooking.

4. Go Slow and Low 

- To reduce the amount of HCAs and PAHs that end up in, and on, the meat, slow down the cooking time with a low flame and keep burning and charring to a minimum. More tips: cut off any visible fat (to reduce flare-ups), cook food in the center of the grill and move coals to the side (to prevent fat and juices from dripping on them) and cut off any charred portions of the meat.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Carcinogens – Eight Substances Added To The List

12th Report on Carcinogens

From the 12 June 2011 Medical News Today article

Eight substances have been added to the list of carcinogens by the HSS (US Department of Health and Human Services) today. The Report of Carcinogens has added formaldehyde, aristolochic acids, o-nitrotoluene, captafol, cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder or hard metal form), riddelliine, certain inhalable glass wool fibers, and styrene to the list of carcinogens….

…The NTP prepares the Report on Carcinogens for the HHS Secretary. It is a congressionally mandated document. It identifies substances, agents, mixtures or exposures in two categories:

  • Those that are known to be human carcinogens
  • Those reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens

A substance which is included in the list in the Report on Carcinogens does not in itself mean it causes cancer. There are many factors which cause cancer, including how long the human is exposed and a person’s susceptibility to a particular substance.

There are now 240 carcinogens in the list.

Related Resources

  • Environmental Health and Toxicology (specialized information services from the US National Institutes of Health and US National Library of Medicine)
    • HazMap -an occupational toxicology database designed to link jobs to hazardous job tasks which are linked to occupational diseases and their symptoms. It is a relational database of chemicals, jobs and diseases.ToxNet - Databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases
    • Household Products Databases – This database links over 8,000 consumer brands to health effects from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by the manufacturers and allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients and many more databases..
    • Toxicology Web links from NIH & NLM (extensive list of govt, non-govt, and international Web sites)
    • Toxicology Resources especially for the public (from NIH and NLM), including ToxTown and ToxMap

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Pediatrics Professor Calls Sugar Toxic in a Heavily Viewed 2009 YouTube Lecture

Excerpts from a 13 April 2011 New York Times article

On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube the following July. Since then, it has been viewed well over 800,000 times, gaining new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, fairly remarkable numbers for a 90-minute discussion of the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology….

..by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”….

…The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose….

..If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them….

This  long article goes on to explain how it is believed that an excessive sugar intake leads to fatty livers and accompanying metabolic syndrome. The body, in its inability to use naturally produced insulin, sets the stage for diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer Risk: Understanding the Puzzle

Cancer Risk: Understanding the Puzzle is an interactive site that can help you analyze what you see or hear in the news and make informed decisions about lowering your cancer risk. Use online tools to explore your risk for different types of cancer.
(US National Cancer Institute)

Excerpts

woman on sofa What Is Risk?
Do you know the four types of risk factors that affect your cancer risk? Or that your level of contact with these risk factors can affect your risk? This section explains the concept of risk and lets you test your knowledge of the subject.

two people hiking Can I Lower My Risk?
Here you can explore your risk for 6 cancers: breast, cervical, colon, lung, prostate, and skin. What are the risk factors for each of these cancers? Which risk factors apply to you? And what can you do to reduce your risk?

man reading newspaper Is This News Story True?
You’ve heard the stories about things like cell phones and deodorants causing cancer. How do you decide if the stories you find in the media are accurate? Learn how to analyze what you see or hear in the news.



May 4, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Annual Health Care Costs Rise Dramatically, Says New Study

Percent of Youth 4-17 ever diagnosed with Atte...

Percent of Youth 4-17 ever diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: National Survey of Children's Health, 2003

Poor childhood health caused by environmental factors, such as air pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals, cost the United States $76.6 billion in 2008, according to authors of a new study in the May issue of Health Affairs. This price tag represents a dramatic increase in recent years, rising from 2.8 percent of total health care costs in 1997 to 3.5 percent in 2008…

Click here for a Medical News Today summary of the research article (May 3, 2011)

Excerpts

Researchers used recent data to estimate the number of environmentally induced conditions in children and then calculated the annual cost for direct medical care and indirect costs, such as lost productivity resulting from parents’ caring for sick children. They found that the aggregate cost of environmental illness in children was $76.6 billion in 2008 dollars.

The study provides an update to an analysis of 1997 data that documented $54.9 billion in annual costs of environmentally contributable childhood diseases in the United States. In comparing the two studies, researchers found that diminished exposure to lead and reductions in costs for asthma care were offset by diseases newly identified as environmentally induced, including attention deficit disorder,[Editor Flahiff's note: see above map] and the added burden of mercury exposure. This toxic metal, from contaminated fish and coal-fired power plants, can harm the developing brain and is associated with intellectual disability.

Key findings from the study:

- Lead poisoning cost $50.9 billion
– Autism cost $7.9 billion
– Intellectual disability cost $5.4 billion
– Exposure to mercury (methyl mercury) cost $5.1 billion
– Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cost $5.0 billion
– Asthma cost $2.2 billion
– Childhood cancer cost $95.0 million

May 4, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Proteomics Research Heading Towards Personalized Treatments For Cancer, Diabetes And Inflammatory Diseases

Proteomics Research Heading Towards Personalized Treatments For Cancer, Diabetes And Inflammatory Diseases

From the March 27, 2011 Medical News Today Item

NeoProteomics Inc., a biomarker development and software company, has secured an exclusive option agreement with Case Western Reserve University. The deal has potential to enhance various forms of treatment of cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases. Proteomics is the scientific next step in vital research of protein structures of biological systems. NeoProteomics, founded in 2006 in Cleveland near Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine, focuses on biomarker identification and validation and seeks to spearhead the development of unique and improved analysis tools…..

 

March 29, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Preventive Medicine Really Overtreatment?

Is Preventive Medicine Really Overtreatment?

From the NPR Health News item

In Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch argues that modern medicine is looking too closely for disease, and that unnecessary screenings, MRIs and CT scans turn healthy people into diseased patients, by revealing often harmless abnormalities….

….

But overtreatment isn’t just a problem for patients diagnosed with cancer. It could sometimes be a problem for healthy people, as my next guest writes in his book “Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health,” because even healthy people are subject to more and more tests every time they visit the doctor.

Think about it, what do you do? You get the normal tests. You get your cholesterol level, maybe your liver test if you’re doing statins, you have a PSA, you have a body scan, tests that are often they often result in treatment. And because the traditional dogma is, as my next guest writes, more early diagnosis means better medical care, which means more treatment; and more treatment means better health.

But is that traditional view true? Is it accurate? Should we still be thinking about it that way? Are all these tests and treatments actually improving our health or are we looking too hard for disease?….

FLATOW: Why is it because doctors can do all these diagnoses, all these tests that they do, do them?

Dr. WELCH: Well, certainly, part of it is what’s possible, and what’s possible is, of course, changed dramatically over the last year. But it’s also part of our ethos, if you will, that it’s always a good thing to look for early forms of disease. And, of course, that message just been sent out to the public through the media and other sources that, of course, the thing you want to do is look for early forms of disease.

But the truth is there are really two sides to the story. I think patients are used to thinking of treatments as having side effects, but so does testing. And the side effect of looking for early forms of disease is that we find, virtually, all of us have some. That’s because we all harbor some abnormalities. And we never know which patients are those that have abnormalities that are going to cause problems in the future. So we tend to treat everybody we find with an abnormality and that means we’re just treating some patients who can’t benefit from our treatment because they were never going to develop the problem at hand if they’re overdiagnosed.

FLATOW: But how do you say to the person, you know, that maybe in the minority, as you say, that you may have saved that person’s life by overdiagnosing them? Is that worth of maybe one in a hundred cases?

Dr. WELCH: Well, I think that’s the question we all need to face. And, you know, sort of, traditionally, doctors have focused on the one out of a thousand we might help by looking for early forms of disease. But we haven’t really asked the question, what happens to the other 999? And this problem was really demonstrated to us in prostate cancer screening, which is really a poster child for the problem of overdiagnosis.

20 years ago, a simple blood test was introduced. And 20 years later, over one million Americans have been treated for a cancer that was never going to bother them. That test was the PSA, or prostate specific antigen. And it turned out an awful lot of men had abnormal PSAs. Many were found to have microscopic cancers far more than whatever suffer from prostate cancer.

Now, you might say, does it matter? Yeah, sure it matters because most of these men were treated with either radical surgery or radiation. And roughly a third suffered side effects of treatment generally related to bowel, bladder or sexual function. Even a few have died from it.

So this is a problem. It’s a matter of finding the balance between the question of just how hard we should be looking for problems in well patients……

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Microsponges from seaweed may save lives

Microsponges from seaweed may save lives

Rice University scientists refine process at heart of diagnostic bio-nano-chip

From the February 9 2011 Eureka news alert

Microsponges derived from seaweed may help diagnose heart disease, cancers, HIV and other diseases quickly and at far lower cost than current clinical methods. The microsponges are an essential component of Rice University’s Programmable Bio-Nano-Chip (PBNC) and the focus of a new paper in the journal Small.

The paper by John McDevitt, the Brown-Wiess Professor in Bioengineering and Chemistry, and his colleagues at Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative views the inner workings of PBNCs, which McDevitt envisions as a mainstream medical diagnostic tool.

PBNCs to diagnose a variety of diseases are currently the focus of six human clinical trials. McDevitt will discuss their development at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17-21.

PBNCs capture biomarkers — molecules that offer information about a person’s health — found in blood, saliva and other bodily fluids. The biomarkers are sequestered in tiny sponges set into an array of inverted pyramid-shaped funnels in the microprocessor heart of the credit card-sized PBNC.

When a fluid sample is put into the disposable device, microfluidic channels direct it to the sponges, which are infused with antibodies that detect and capture specific biomarkers. Once captured, they can be analyzed within minutes with a sophisticated microscope and computer built into a portable, toaster-sized reader.

The biomarker capture process is the subject of the Small paper. The microsponges are 280-micrometer beads of agarose, a cheap, common, lab-friendly material derived from seaweed and often used as a matrix for growing live cells or capturing proteins.

The beauty of agarose is its ability to capture a wide range of targets from relatively huge protein biomarkers to tiny drug metabolites. In the lab, agarose starts as a powder, like Jell-O. When mixed with hot water, it can be formed into gels or solids of any size. The size of the pores and channels in agarose can be tuned down to the nanoscale.

The challenge, McDevitt said, was defining a new concept to quickly and efficiently capture and detect biomarkers within a microfluidic circuit. The solution developed at Rice is a network of microsponges with tailored pore sizes and nano-nets of agarose fibers. The sponge-like quality allows a lot of fluid to be processed quickly, while the nano-net provides a huge surface area that can be used to generate optical signals 1,000 times greater than conventional refrigerator-sized devices. The mini-sensor ensembles, he said, pack maximum punch.

The team found that agarose beads with a diameter of about 280 micrometers are ideal for real-world applications and can be mass-produced in a cost-effective way. These agarose beads retain their efficiency at capturing biomarkers, are easy to handle and don’t require specialized optics to see.

McDevitt and his colleagues tested beads with pores up to 620 nanometers and down to 45 nanometers wide. (A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.) Pores near 140 nanometers proved best at letting proteins infuse the beads’ internal nano-nets quickly, a characteristic that enables PBNCs to test for disease in less than 15 minutes…….

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Co-authors of the paper included first author Jesse Jokerst, a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University; postdoctoral students James Camp, Jorge Wong, Alexis Lennart, Amanda Pollard and Yanjie Zhou, all of the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin; Mehnaaz Ali, an assistant professor of chemistry at Xavier University; and from the McDevitt Lab at Rice, Pierre Floriano, director of microfluidics and image and data analysis; Nicolaos Christodoulides, director of assay development; research scientist Glennon Simmons and graduate student Jie Chou.

The National Institutes of Health, through the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, funded the research.

Read the abstract at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/smll.201002089/abstract***

*** For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

 

 

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ancient body clock keeps all life on time: studies

Ancient body clock keeps all life on time: studies

24 hour rhythms may be protein, not be DNA based

From the January 26, 2011 Health Day news item by Kay Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have identified the mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life — a finding they say should shed light on some shift work-related problems like diabetes, depression and cancer.

Researchers from Britain’s Cambridge and Edinburgh universities, whose work was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday**, said their findings provide important insight into health-related problems linked to people such as nurses, pilots and other shift workers, whose body clocks are disrupted.

The studies also suggest that the 24-hour circadian clock found in human cells is the same as that found in algae, and dates back millions of years to early life on earth, they said.

In the first study, Cambridge scientists found for the first time that red blood cells have a 24-hour rhythm.

This is significant, they explained, because circadian rhythms have always been assumed to be linked to DNA and gene activity — but, unlike most other cells in the body, red blood cells do not have DNA.

“The implications of this for health are manifold. We already know that disrupted clocks…are associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, mental health problems and even cancer,” said Akhilesh Reddy, who led the study. “By furthering our knowledge of how the 24-hour clock in cells works, we hope that the links…will be made clearer.”

Many scientific studies have found links between working irregular hours and a greater likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Sleep disruption is also associated with mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder.

A team of scientists said last year they had used experimental drugs being developed by Pfizer to reset body clocks of mice in a lab — opening up the possibility that drugs might in future be developed to restore rhythms to people whose body clocks have been messed up.

In these new studies, Reddy’s team incubated purified red blood cells from healthy volunteers in the dark and at body temperature and sampled them regularly over several days.

They then examined the levels of certain biochemical markers — proteins called peroxiredoxins that are found in virtually all known organisms and are produced in high levels in blood. The results showed that there was a modification in these proteins in a pattern that went back and forth over 24 hours.

A further study found a similar 24-hour cycle in marine algae — suggesting that internal body clocks have always been important, even for ancient forms of life.

The researchers found those rhythms by sampling the peroxiredoxins in algae at regular intervals over several days. When the algae were kept in darkness, their DNA was no longer active, but the algae kept their circadian clocks ticking even without active genes.

Scientists had previously thought the circadian clock was driven by gene activity, but both the algae and the red blood cells kept time without it.

Andrew Millar of Edinburgh University, who led the second study, said it showed that body clocks are ancient mechanisms that have been around through a billion years of evolution.

“They must be far more important and sophisticated than we previously realized,” he said. He added that more research was now needed to determine how and why these clocks developed in people, and what role they play in controlling our bodies.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

** For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCI announces plans to reinvigorate clinical trials

NCI announces plans to reinvigorate clinical trials
Consolidation of cooperative group program is designed to bring enhanced efficiencies to oncological sciences

National Cancer Institute

From the NIH release

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has announced major changes to be made in the long-established Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program that conducts many of the nationwide trials of new cancer therapies. In a major transformation, NCI intends to consolidate the nine groups that currently conduct trials in adult cancer patients into four state-of-the-art entities that will design and perform improved trials of cancer therapies. These changes are designed to provide greater benefits for cancer patients and more information for researchers. These moves come in response to an NCI-requested April 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM)**, which called for a series of changes to the cooperative groups program, including restructuring….

….The April IOM report noted that the current trials system is inefficient, cumbersome, underfunded, and overly complex. The report recommended consolidating existing adult cooperative groups into a smaller number of groups that could function in a more closely integrated manner….

…For the past several decades, clinical cancer trials have used one or a combination of drugs or other treatment modalities, such as surgery or radiation, in comparison to the prevailing standard of care to see if the new treatment was superior. Recently, some trials have begun to depend on the genetic profiling of tumors. For example, one ongoing NCI-sponsored breast cancer study, called TAILORx, is examining whether genes that are frequently associated with risk of recurrence for women with early-stage breast cancer can be used to assign patients to more appropriate and effective treatments.

These types of studies necessitate the screening of large numbers of patients in order to find subsets of patients with tumors that demonstrate changes in specific genetic pathways. These trials therefore require acquisition and distribution of many tumor specimens, DNA sequencing, and the matching of genetic information with treatment options. The increased complexity of these trials provides a rationale for modernization and simplification of the current cooperative group structure…..

..On Jan. 1, 2011, NCI will impose new deadlines, formulated by its Operational Efficiency Working Group, which will reduce by half the time to initiate new clinical studies and will terminate studies not begun within two years of concept approval….

**The IOM Web site has over 50 results with the search phrase clinical trials, including the most viewed Biomedical/Health Research report (as of Dec 27, 2010) - Transforming Clinical Research in the US: Workshop Summary

General Information about Clinical Trials (select Web sites)

  • Clinical Trials (MedlinePlus) has overviews, related issues (as informed consent and ethics), directories, and more
  • Understanding Clinical Trials (ClinicalTrials.gov) answers many basic questions relating to participation, safety, ethics, and types of clinical trials
  • ClinicalTrials.gov is a registry and finding aid for clinical trials. It currently has 100,613 trials with locations in 174 countries. One can search by topic (as a particular drug or disease) or use the advanced search to use limiters as location, conditions, age groups, and sponsors. Results give contact information for individual clinical trials.The page How can I find the results of a clinical trial? provides places where they might be found, including the ClinicalTrials.gov Web site.

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation Oncology Patient Web Site earns Web Health Award

From the December 15, 2010 Eureka news alert

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) has received a 2010 Web Health Award for its patient-geared website, www.rtanswers.org.

The Web Health Awards is a national competition that recognizes high-quality electronic health information. Over 500 entries were submitted for the 2010 competition from a variety of health care professionals nationwide. The winners were selected by a panel of national electronic health information experts. [A complete listing of the winners may be found here ]

This year, ASTRO received a bronze award for RT Answers, a site designed specifically for cancer patients and their families, friends and caregivers. RT Answers began in 2004 as a way to explain to cancer patients and their families and friends how radiation therapy is used to treat cancer safely and effectively. Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be frightening and confusing, so physicians and other members of the radiation therapy treatment team created RT Answers as a one-stop site where patients can receive radiation therapy information.

Here are some highlights from the RT Answers Web site

Among other winners in the medical/health care fields for Summer 2010

(Flahiff’s note: I was disappointed in a few awardee sites [not listed below] some had pages with no content, some did not have an about page; keep in mind there is an entry fee of $58.00 for submissions)

  • The Recovery Month (US Health and Human Services)”aims to promote the societal benefits of alcohol and drug use disorder treatment, laud the contributions of treatment providers, and promote the message that recovery from alcohol and drug disorders in all its forms is possible.”
    Includes Recovery Resources for the public (they are also on Facebook, YouTube,and Twitter)
  • Home Safety Council has information on how to maintain a safe home in formats as fact sheets, guides, quizzes, videos, and interactive media
  • Iowa Health System has links to health information (as an online health library and health videos) and a newsroom (with health care reform summaries)
  • National Diabetes Education Program includes publications, resources, and fact sheets. One may do a tailored search with drop down menus (age, ethnicity, language, and diabetes status)

 

 

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UCR scientists identify pomegranate juice components that could stop cancer from spreading

Manuela Martins-Green is a professor of cell biology at UC Riverside.

UCR scientists identify pomegranate juice components that could stop cancer from spreading
Research could lead to new drug therapies to fight cancer

From the December 12 Eureka news alert

RIVERSIDE, Calif.Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have identified components in pomegranate juice that both inhibit the movement of cancer cells and weaken their attraction to a chemical signal that promotes the metastasis of prostate cancer to the bone. The research could lead to new therapies for preventing cancer metastasis.

Performed in the lab of Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology, the research was presented today (Dec. 12, 2010) at the 50th annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology taking place in Philadelphia….

The researchers – Martins-Green, graduate student Lei Wang and undergraduate students Andre Alcon and Jeffrey Ho – found that the pomegranate juice-treated tumor cells that had not died with the treatment showed increased cell adhesion (meaning fewer cells breaking away) and decreased cell migration.

Next, the researchers identified the following active groups of ingredients in pomegranate juice that had a molecular impact on cell adhesion and migration in metastatic prostate cancer cells: phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids, flavones and conjugated fatty acids.

“Having identified them, we can now modify cancer-inhibiting components in pomegranate juice to improve their functions and make them more effective in preventing prostate cancer metastasis, leading to more effective drug therapies,” Martins-Green said. “Because the genes and proteins involved in the movement of prostate cancer cells are essentially the same as those involved in the movement of other types of cancer cells, the same modified components of the juice could have a much broader impact in cancer treatment.”

Martins-Green explained that an important protein produced in the bone marrow causes the cancer cells to move to the bone where they can then form new tumors.

“We show that pomegranate juice markedly inhibits the function of this protein, and thus this juice has the potential of preventing metastasis of the prostate cancer cells to the bone,” Martins-Green said.

Next, her lab plans to do additional tests in an in vivo model for prostate cancer metastasis to determine whether the same cancer-inhibiting components that work in cultured cells can prevent metastasis without side effects.

 

 

 

December 15, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

World’s most advanced system to help Aussie researchers detect and analyze rare cells

From the November 23, 2010 Eureka news alert

New flow cytometer will help in fight against cancer, asthma, cardiovascular, autoimmune and infectious diseases

A world-first research system to be launched today at the Centenary Institute will give medical researchers in Australia a new weapon in the fight against cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The new BD LSR-9 Flow Cytometer with its nine lasers will be the first user-operated flow cytometer with unprecedented ability to detect and analyse rare cells.

The BD LSR9 Flow Cytometer will be housed at the Centenary Institute as part of the Advanced Cytometry Facility (ACF), which is a joint venture run by the Centenary Institute, the University of Sydney and the Bosch Institute.

Advanced Cytometry Facility Academic Director Professor Nick King said: “Currently, a researcher may have to run a sample of cells two or three times using complex labelling systems to analyse all the unique characteristics of a cell. This makes it very difficult to detect rare cell populations. It’s like a detective at a crime scene gathering two or three sets of partial fingerprints then having to cobble them together to get a complete fingerprint….

About Flow Cytometry

A flow cytometer allows researchers to rapidily analyse large populations of cells. Individual cells are examined and a wide variety of properties of each cell can be recorded. Researchers tag the cell populations with fluorescent dyes and then use the flow cytometer to a pass the cells through a beam of laser light one at a time. This laser light is scattered by the cells and provides a way to measure physical properties of the cell such as size. The laser also excites the different fluorescent dyes attached to cells. These dyes produce light of different colours and allow the researchers to count and analyse the cell types that are present. By examining the cells one by one, researchers can find minute characteristics of the cells to get an accurate profile of rare disease-causing cells.

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About the Centenary Institute: The Centenary Institute is an independent medical research institute, affiliated with Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney. Our unique blend of highly skilled staff and state-of-the art equipment and facilities has allowed us to become world leaders in three critical areas of medical research – cancer, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases. For further information about the Centenary Institute, visit www.centenary.org.au

November 24, 2010 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Summaries for Patients” and other plain language summaries help patients and others understand medical studies and guidelines

Heard or read about research on a medical topic but not sure if the news is reliable? Looking for trusted information on a treatment or drug carefully reviewed by experts? Do scientific articles seem to contain good information, but they are hard to understand?

Not sure where to go next?  You are not alone.

These plain language summaries are great places to start for medical and health information that has been rewritten for those of us who are not scientists or health care professionals. Much of the information is free, and often there are great links to reliable Web pages for additional information.

                    These summaries will help you
    • Discover how researchers did the published study and what they found, including
      • What the problem was and why it is studied
      • Who was studied and why the study was done
      • What the scientists found and what the limits of the study were
    • Find overviews about clinical guidelines -official recommendations for doctors in treating patients
To locate a specific summary

These summaries are provided to help patients or their caregivers more fully understand  research results. They also provide links  to the full text of  many research articles.
Some full text articles are free. Others require a reduce-fee payment (much less than ordering from the publisher!).
(Always check to see if you can get the article for free or at even lower cost from your area public, medical, or academic library – most libraries will try to help anyone who contacts them directly)

Cochrane Summariesbeta

Independent high-quality evidence for health care decision making

  • Cochrane Collaboration provides well researched reviews of the strongest evidence available about healthcare interventions (as drugs, medical tests,  and medical procedures).  Every available treatment/test has not yet been reviewed. However each review is conducted in depth by experts.            

              To find plain language  and audio summaries of Cochrane Reviews

    • Go to the Cochrane Reviews Home page and scroll down to Browse Free Summaries
    • Click on a topic OR scroll down and click on All Summaries
    • The All Summaries page will allow you to
      • Search by entering words and short phrases (as headache, multiple sclerosis drugs, asthma acupuncture
      • Browse by Health Topics (left column)
      • Include only these in the search results
        • Podcasts – audio summaries
        • PEARLS – guidance and advice for real time decisions

Related Blog Items 


Cannot find a plain language summary with the above resources?

Consider asking a reference librarian for help at your local public, academic, or hospital library. Many academic and hospital libraries provide at least limited reference service to the public.
Call or email them for information about their services.

You may also contact me at jmflahiff@msncom.  I will do my best to reply within 48 hours.


November 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Comparative effectiveness research needs to be taught to doctors and patients

An August 18, 2010 blog post by David Williams (posted in Kevin MD.com)

Oncology is the area where the health care cost conundrum is coming into sharpest focus. Theoretically, who wouldn’t spend whatever it takes to cure a life-threatening disease? And yet practically the costs of new treatments are so high, and the improvements usually modest enough, that when it comes right down to it costs are becoming a real issue for patients and doctors.

An interesting article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology explores the attitudes of US and Canadian oncologists. From a survey of hundreds of oncologists they conclude that views of the two countries’ oncologists are similar, despite the fact that Canadians practice in a system where some chemotherapy drugs are not covered due to their cost, while in US society as a whole it is taboo to even talk about cost effectiveness or “rationing.”

A few highlights from the article:

On cost-effectiveness:

  • 84% of US and 80% of Canadian oncologists agree that,”Patient ‘out of pocket’ costs currently influence my decisions regarding which cancer treatments to recommend for my patients.” (Note that while there is little out-of-pocket spend in Canadian health care in general, patients do have to pay for certain drugs that aren’t covered)
  • 67% of US and 52% of Canadian oncologists say, “Every patient should have access to effective cancer treatments regardless of their cost.” Note that even in the US this means one-third of physicians think costs should be a deciding factor
  • 58% of US and 75% of Canadian oncologists agree that, “Every patient should have access to effective cancer treatments only if the treatments provide ‘good value for money’ or are cost effective.” And yet only 42% of US and 49% of Canadian oncologists said they were well prepared to interpret and use cost-effectiveness information for treatment decisions

On policy issues:

  • 57% of US and 68% of Canadian oncologists favored price controls for cancer drugs by Medicare
  • 80% of US and 69% of Canadian oncologists thought there should be more use of cost-effectiveness data in coverage and payment decisions. (The lower number for Canadians is probably due to the fact that cost-effectiveness information is already used for this purpose)
  • 79% of US and 85% of Canadian oncologists want more government research on comparative effectiveness of cancer drugs

Many ideological foes of health reform and comparative effectiveness research think that all would be well if decisions were left up to doctors and their patients. But oncologists already take costs into account and favor cost-effectiveness research, so life (and death) might not actually change much.

In my opinion, we should support more and higher quality comparative effectiveness research, then train doctors and patients to interpret and act on it.

David E. Williams is co-founder of MedPharma Partners and blogs at the Health Business Blog.


October 29, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

Communication in Cancer Care

Communication in Cancer Care is a PDQ (Physician Data Query) summary** which outlines good communication skills among patients, family members, and health care providers. Good communication in all phases of cancer care contributes to the well being of the patient and improves quality of life.

The Communication in Cancer Care Web site has a patient version, a health professional version, and a Spanish language version.

The patient version addresses issues as the roles of family givers and parents, how to talk with the health care team (including the importance of checklists and record keeping)
and where to find more information on communicating effectively in cancer care settings.

The health professional version outlines factors and outcomes related to communicating effectively, how to communicate effectively in cancer care settings, and information on training programs and clinical trials.

On a related note, this is an example of why good communication is important in cancer care…

The Perils of Taking Experimental Cancer Drugs [Reuters Health, Oct 26,2010, by Frederik Joelving]

[Excerpt]

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Trying a new, experimental cancer drug may offer a glimpse of hope for very sick patients, but often does more harm than good, a new study shows.

Researchers said cancer doctors regularly resort to drugs still undergoing testing, as long as they have been approved for other diseases or in different combinations or doses.

But because the science is still up in the air, nobody really knows what the consequences of taking such drugs are.

“Many of these drugs end up not being the tremendous improvement that we hoped they would be,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the new study.

“People need to realize that because the trials have not been completed there is a great deal that is not known about the treatments,” he told Reuters Health. “There are people who get these treatments and get hurt.”

The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, looked at 172 clinical trials published over two years. [Editor Flahiff's note : Ask a reference librarian at a local public, academic, or medical library for availability and if any fee is involved]

Less than a third of the clinical trials showed the experimental drugs improved patient survival, and less than half found the drugs helped other clinical outcomes…..

……

Sometimes, of course, new drugs do work, and no one argues that doctors shouldn’t be allowed to prescribe medications they think will help patients.

But doctors should be very clear about the high risks involved. One way to do that, said Peppercorn, would be to require that cancer doctors get informed consent from patients before they start them on experimental drugs.

In the end, Brawley said, the decision to use such treatment should be left to the patient and his or her doctor.

“There are times when it can be justified,” he noted, “but it is done far more often than it should be.”

 

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**PDQ is an online database developed and maintained by the National Cancer Institute. Designed to make the most current, credible, and accurate cancer information available to health professionals and the public, PDQ contains peer-reviewed summaries on cancer treatment, screening, prevention, genetics, complementary and alternative medicine, and supportive care; a registry of cancer clinical trials from around the world; and directories of physicians, professionals who provide genetics services, and organizations that provide cancer care. Most of this information, and more specific information about PDQ, can be found on the NCI’s Web site athttp://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq. Also called Physician Data Query.

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transforming Discovery into Health

Excerpts from a recent interview with NIH (National Institutes of Health) Director Dr. Francis S. Collins

Revolution in Cancer Research

NIH-funded research has revolutionized how we think about cancer. A decade or two ago, cancer diagnosis was based on the organ involved and treatment depended on broadly aimed therapies that often greatly diminished a patient’s quality of life. Today, basic research in cancer biology is moving treatment toward more effective, less toxic therapies tailored to the genetic profile of each patient’s cancer.

Shortening the Pathway to Health

Whatever the disease, be it depression, diabetes, or something much rarer, NIH’s emphasis will be on translating basic discoveries into new diagnostic and treatment advances in the clinic. For many disorders, there are new opportunities for NIH to shorten and straighten the pathway from discovery to health.

This expectation is grounded in several recent developments: the dramatic acceleration of our basic understanding of hundreds of diseases, the establishment of NIH-supported centers that enable academic researchers to use such understanding to screen thousands of chemicals for potential drug candidates, and the emergence of public-private partnerships to aid the movement of drug candidates identified by academic researchers into the commercial development pipeline.

August 18, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

Cancer Docs ‘Frustrated’ By Lack of Useful Info in Journal Articles

 

 

 

Excerpts from the news article:

Medical journals should include more clinical details in cancer research studies to help doctors better understand and utilize results, according to U.S. researchers.

[The researchers] analyzed 262 articles published from 2005 to 2008 in the Journal of Clinical OncologyThe New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and the journals Cancer and Blood.

Only 11 percent of the articles offered all the information required by doctors in order to prescribe and monitor new cancer therapies, said the researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The dose of the drug was almost always reported in the articles, but only 43 percent reported what premedication was necessary, and only 42 percent provided details about adjusting dosages if the therapy proved toxic to patients.

July 23, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

   

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