Saturday, 6 January 2007

Missing Piece in Mouse Discovery

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Japanese scientists have discovered an imbalance that leads to the development of type 2 diabetes in mice. A gene called GCK is responsible for sensing changes in blood glucose levels. Researchers found a molecule known as insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2) was shown to influence the beta cell mass increase after GCK sensed an increased in blood glucose levels.

The Journal of Clinical Investigation focused on mice with little increase in beta cell mass regardless of a rise in GCK. Researchers found, in healthy mice, the insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2) was shown to influence the beta cell mass increase after GCK first sensed an increased in blood glucose levels.

Before a person becomes diabetic, his or her body tries to compensate for the increasing resistance to insulin by upping the amount of insulin secreted and the mass of insulin-secreting cells (beta cells) in the pancreas. Researchers will look for new ways of increasing beta cell mass to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Here's where I get a little confused - another study conducted a few years ago found evidence that a sucrose-rich diet (SRD) produces an increase in the pancreatic beta-cell mass in the rat. I'm neither a rat, nor a scientist - but I think a meeting of the minds behind these two discoveries might result in some forward-thinking treatments for type 2 diabetes. What compels the IRS2 to defy the command center of GCK? Perhaps another piece is missing from the balance of this equation.

My So-Called Diabetic Life for Twentysomethings

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Reme mber that ABC drama, My So-Called Life? It was an awesome show about a girl named Angela Chase, who gave a play-by-play of the trials and tribulations she endured dealing with friends, guys, parents and school. Now imagine if Angela Chase had diabetes. You don't have to imagine. Your so-called life does involve diabetes.

Allison Blass and Kelly Dayne Hansen have teamed up to craft a collection of stories written by twentysomethings with diabetes. But these stories aren't just any old stories. The stories will come from remarkable diabetics who have transitioned from adolescence to adulthood and lived to tell about it. They want your sensational tales. The melodramatic the better! The stories will be chosen Greek Life Style - only taking the best of the best. I think it's going to become the modern-day rite of passage for all diabetics. Who wouldn't want to be a part of this? It's going to be nothing short of WOW!

If you've survived every battle you've fought in the war on diabetes, boyfriends, parents, life-changing events, jobs - whoever or whatever -- tell us how you did it. These girls will make you famous! The requirements are: you must be between the ages of 20 and 29, you have been diagnosed before the age of 20, your initial story must be between 1,000 and 2,000 words, and the deadline is April 1, 2007. Those of you looking for 15 minutes of diabetic fame -- email your story to: diabetesreflections@gmail.com or leave a comment and I'll send you the letter with details.

Your Druggist, Your Coach

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For the past 10 years, the city of Asheville, NC has given free diabetes medicines and supplies to municipal workers if they agree to monthly counseling from specially trained pharmacists. The results are significant: almost twice as many patients have their blood sugar levels under control and the city's health care plan has saved more than $2,000 in medical costs per patient each year.

Every dollar spent on medicines or counseling saves the city $4 by preventing emergency room visits, dialysis, amputations or other common complications of diabetes. The program has reduced the number of sick days taken among employees, reduced their chances of catastrophic hospitalization, and saved-money for the federal health care system by encouraging better diabetes management.

Efforts to help people change their lifestyles are complicated by a health care system in which insurers typically do not reimburse doctors for the kinds of counseling and monitoring that might keep patients on track. This experiment has enlisted pharmacists as coaches, clinicians and cheerleaders for the participating patients. It seems the coaches, the players, and the club owners agree -- the teamwork is well worth the payoff!

Sugars in liver may help lower triglyceride levels

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Following a post about the bad rap that fat has gotten over the years, I felt the need to point out that it is, in some ways, warranted. This is not to say that I am recanting my statements about the benefits of certain good fats, I'm just pointing out the fact that bad fat can have adverse affects on your health. There, my own version of a disclaimer. Good, now I can move on --

For most of us, eating red meat or most other foods found to be higher in fat can add triglycerides to your system. Not a huge problem if you are exercising and eating healthy most other times. But, for the 10 percent of Americans who have elevated levels of fat in their bloodstream, this could be a bit more problematic. Fortunately, a research team from the University of California, San Diego discovered another possible reason for these unexplained cases of elevated triglyceride levels.

It is known that high-triglycerides can be related to diabetes, diet, or drug and alcohol consumption. It is also known that it is something that can run in a family. But, what the researchers discovered is that sugar is another significant factor. We're not just talking about any ol' sugar here, though. We're talking about a complex sugar called heparin sulfate -- which is produced by all cells in the body and is related to the anti-coagulant heparin.

The researchers found that heparin sulfate in the liver helps clear triglycerides and cholesterol from the blood. Their full details of their findings can be found in the January issue of Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Earthlink CEO Garry Betty dies from cancer

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At the end of November, EarthLink CEO Garry Betty took a medical leave of absence from his job to fight adrenocortical cancer, a serious form of cancer characterized by a tumor that occurs in the adrenal glands above the kidneys. On Tuesday, Betty died at his Atlanta home from complications of the disease. He was 49.

Betty joined the internet service provider EarthLink in 1996 and helped the regional company grow from a provider with 500,000 subs cribers into a national powerhouse with more than five million subscribers.

"Garry was instrumental in building EarthLink into the company it is today," EarthLink Chairman Robert M. Kavner said in a recent statement.

EarthLink was just one of Betty's successful ventures. He began his career at IBM Corp. and won the IBM President's Excellence Award in 1982 for his work on the company's personal computer. He also served as CEO of Digital Communications Associates Inc. and at the time became the youngest CEO of a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Betty, who graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1979 with a degree in chemical engineering, was responsible for 2,200 EarthLink employees. And in support of his team, he attended the company's 2006 Christmas party just three weeks after receiving his diagnosis.

"He put on a tux and came out for a night to make all of us feel better," said Mike Lunsford, interim EarthLink CEO. "And he succeeded."

Betty is survived by his wife, Kathy.

Ohio State football coach tackles cancer

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Ohio State quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels is part of a coaching staff preparing to take on the University of Florida in the NCAA Football National Championship in Glendale, Arizona next week. It's a big game, with big stakes -- but it's just one match-up Daniels plans to tackle this year. He's also in the midst of a game with cancer -- a game he plans to win.

Daniels, a 64-year-old assistant to head coach Jim Tressel and contender for the Broyles Award, given January 16 to the nation's top assistant coach, was diagnosed with kidney cancer this past year shortly after suffering a heart attack and while mourning the death of his moth er. Although it was a tough year, he still managed to make it through his 37th season as an assistant coach. He and his wife, Kathy, say it's been a hard road but a blessed one too.

"Cancer is a terrible disease," says Kathy. "But in a lot of ways, it's enriched our lives. It's not the burden a lot of people expect it to be. Maybe it's because we've been so fortunate to have football as a distraction."

The Buckeyes' 12-0 season -- complete with a Heisman Trophy victory for quarterback Troy Smith -- was quite a distraction for Daniels who was able to avoid chemotherapy and radiation and is faithfully taking a drug called Sutent to treat his malignant tumor. He takes a pill for 28 days, then takes 14 days off, and then begins again.

Medically, everything seems to be working out just fine for Daniels. His monthly check-ups continue to deliver good news, and he reports he has felt good, with just a bit of fatigue, for the entire season.

Now about that other game. Tune into the FOX network on Monday, January 8 at 8:15 PM -- and watch it all unfold.

Fruit, veggies, milk lower liver cancer risk

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You're in luck if you like fruit, vegetables, and milk -- because Italian researchers say these items appear to reduce the likelihood of developing liver cancer.

Diet plays a significant role in the risk of liver cancer, says the lead researcher of this study who singles out fruits and vegetables as the foods with the most protective effect.

Subjects of this study -- publish ed in the International Journal of Cancer -- were 185 patients with liver cancer and a comparison group of 412 controls without cancer. Participants responded to questions about diet, and their answers showed that as intake of certain foods went up, the risk of liver cancer went down. Factoring out other issues possibly contributing to this indication, researchers found that high intake of milk and yogurt cut the risk of developing liver cancer by 78 percent. High consumption of white meat lowered the risk by 56 percent, and when combined with high intake of fruit, this number dropped to 52 percent.

These finding are particularly important for patients with hepatitis B and hepatitis C (HCV) infection. But overall, experts say anyone wishing to ward off liver cancer should adopt a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, limit alcohol consumption, and avoid HCV infection by practicing safe sex and never sharing needles.

Monoclonal antibody decreases lung metastasis in breast cancer

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A therapy that may block further metastasis from breast cancer is being studied in the lab. The monoclonal antibody, known as JAA-F11, was shown to create a survival advantage in mice with breast cancer and substantially reduce the development of lung metastasis.

The monoclonal antibody inhibited the adhesion to the breast tumor cells to endothelial cells, which would block a key step in metastasis. The study showed that 53 percent of treated mice had no visible lung metastasis.

Dr. Rittenhouse-Olson, of the University at Buffalo, New York, concluded "If JAA-F11 were linked to a radioactive compound, it may be successful in conjunction with current chemotherapy in decreasing or eliminating the tumor".

Understanding more about antibodies, antigens and monoclonal antibodies:

Disease causing bacteria and viruses, known as antigens, are recognized by the body's own immune system as invaders. Our natural defenses against these infectious agents are antibodies, proteins that seek out the antigens and help destroy them.

Each antibody binds to and attacks one specific antigen. Antibodies also can continue resistance, for example, we can acquire chickenpox when we are children and most times never experience the disease again.

This characteristic of antibodies achieving resistance makes it possible to develop vaccines. A vaccine when entered into the body, stimulates the production of antibodies against the specific antigen.

Monoclonal antibody technology allow us to produce large amounts of pure antibodies obtaining cells that produce antibodies naturally, in effect having a factory to produce antibodies that worked around the clock. The antibodies are called monoclonal because they come from only one type of cell.

Power of prayer a factor in cancer survival

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Evangelical preacher Darlene Bishop believes prayer can cure cancer. She wrote a book about it, and she convinced her brother to abandon conventional cancer treatment so he could fully pursue the power of prayer. Sadly, his pursuits were unsuccessful and he died 18 months ago from throat cancer. Now Bishop is in the midst of a multi-faceted legal battle with fami ly members who claim she did her brother wrong. Maybe she did.

Perhaps prayer alone can't cure cancer, but a new study does indicate prayer can be of great benefit to some people following a cancer diagnosis.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin looked at transcripts from 97 breast cancer patients active in an on-line support group. They found patients who wrote more religious words -- like prayer, worship, faith, and holy -- had less negative emotions than other patients. They also had higher levels of overall well-being.

This study, also revealing prayer has the same effect regardless of specific religious practices, lends support to research showing cancer patients with positive purpose in their lives fare better through their journeys than those floundering in negativity.

Another attack on HER2 comes in form of vaccine

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There are sometimes silver linings to the darkest of cancer clouds. I know -- because I have the dark cloud of HER2 positive breast cancer hanging over my head. HER2 positive means the tumor removed from my breast was aggressive. It aggressively over-expressed a protein that accelerates tumor growth. And it led to a poor prognosis -- that might be considered a good one too.

You see, research on the whole HER2 issue is turning up some pretty powerful potions. Like Herce ptin -- the drug that miraculously cuts recurrence upwards of 50 percent for positive women like me. I was a lucky recipient of this drug. And the pharmacist who mixed the drug for all 17 of my infusions tells me it's really a good thing I have this HER2 problem -- because the drugs created to attack the problem may just cure me of my disease.

So in an odd turnabout -- from bad luck to good fortune -- I am not so sad my tumor was aggressive. It means there are bonus treatments for me. And if my cancer comes back and Herceptin no longer works, there is another drug called Tykerb. And now the Army is leading its own breast cancer vaccination study. The focus -- HER2.

Early study results from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. suggest a 50 percent reduction in disease recurrence for HER2 positive women who receive a vaccination of AE37.

AE37 targets HER2 and boosts the body's immune system so it can battle the protein b efore it stimulates growth. It's similar to Herceptin, but the activity of AE37 stimulates a patient's own immune system to recognize the cancer target rather than interacting with the target directly.

Should the Food and Drug Administration decide to support this study, it will proceed to Phase 3 testing, which includes a much larger pool of participants.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Chromium to fight Aging and Diabetes

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Based on studies conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center, the best-selling wellness author recommends niacin-bound chromium supplementation to improve blood sugar levels, regulate proper insulin function and maintain healthy body weight.

Type 2 diabetics are commonly believed to suffer from a chromium deficiency. Chromium is very important in promoting normal insulin function and is essential for proper protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Elevated levels of insulin and blood sugar significantly accelerate cellular aging. Research now shows that the type of chromium known as NBC (niacin-bound chromium) has a superior anti-aging profile.

Studies conducted at Georgetown University Medical reveal that Chromium polynicotinate (a generic term for ChromeMate) promote: proper insulin function, normal blood sugar levels, healthy blood cholesterol levels, normal blood pressure, cardiovascular health and healthy body weight and lean body mass. Chromium looks like a strong defense for diabetics in the battle against aging and blood sugar control.

Heart and Diabetes Associations Join Forces

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In a joint statement, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and American Heart Association (AHA) agree that lifestyle and medical interventions can help to prevent the development of heart disease in people with diabet es.

The clinical research journal Diabetes Care, outlines joint guidelines that encourage more aggressive prevention and treatment of the risk factors leading to heart disease, the number one killer of people with diabetes. Basic lifestyle changes include weight loss, CVD risk factors, increased physical activity, nutrition therapy, and weight control. In addition, the statement calls for increased medical interventions, such as the use of statins, ACE inhibitors, and other drugs to manage lipids, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. The recommendations apply equally to people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

These joint guidelines are part of a collaborative ongoing effort to strengthen efforts in the fight against cardiovascular disease, which affects two out of three people with diabetes. Once a person with diabetes has a heart attack or stroke, they do much worse than people without diabetes. Increase your chances of preventing an irreconcilable cardiovascular event. Good news for diabetics when it comes to diabetes and heart disease - at least one of them is preventable.

Liver response affects obesity and diabetes

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A study published in the online edition of the journal Nature, found a sensor in the liver (LXR) activated by glucose that controls the body's metabolism of cholesterol and fat.

Scientists fed synthetic LXR to mice eating a diet of mostly simple sugars. They discovered that the mice metabolized glucose more effectively and that activation suppressed new production of glucose in the liver. That prompted the scientists to study glucose levels as the LXR activating mechanism in the liver. By controlling glucose sensing and fat synthesis by LXR, scientists may explain and correct why low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets can lead to an elevated level of triglycerides in the blood. LXR can sense surplus glucose, induce fatty acid synthesis, and prompt the liver's export of triglycerides into the bloodstream rather than being stored as fat.

LXR could resolve the problem of hyperglycemia and atherosclerosis by binding to glucose and cholesterol buildup in the body. LXR induced regression of atherosclerosis, the clogging, narrowing, and hardening of the body's large arteries and blood vessels that can lead to stroke, heart attack, and eye and kidney problems. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this experiment led to the discovery that glucose binds directly to LXR, representing the first signaling pathway of this kind.

Dancing video game is good for the heart

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First of all, a very Happy New Year to all of you. This is my first post of 2007, so I decided to start off with something that seems as though it is going to stick around for many years to come: Interactive Video Games. In particular, there are several new games out there that involve actual human movement in order to activate the players who appear on the screen. Nintendo's new Wii system is quickly becoming a gaming phenomenon, especially with its tennis and golf games (both requiring the player to hold onto the joystick controller and swing it like a real racket or golf club). Video games are becoming virtual sports, making this once sedentary ac tivity a bit more physical. In fact, researchers from West Virginia University found that one video game in particular is actually helping kids improve their heart health and fitness levels.

The game is called "Dance Dance Revolution," and yes, if you've ever stepped foot inside a Dave & Buster's (basically, it's a Chuck 'e Cheese's for adults, with wall-to-wall video games and cocktail serving barmaids), this is the game where people bounce all around that light-up dance floor and make utter fools of themselves. Fortunately, there's a home version, so you can still reap the calorie burning and heart-pumping benefits of dancing around like a crazy person, only you can save yourself the public embarrassment. More or less, it's the perfect thing for self-conscious kids who may want to lose weight, but aren't really comfortable enough to exercise with friends (or for the adult who simply wants a new, fun way to exercise).

The game is played on a dance pad, with arrows pointing forward, backward, right, left and diagonally. The players use their dancing feet to follow the arrows that appear on the video screen, all while jamming out to some bass-driven techno song. In a day and age when childhood obesity is on the rise, and when we are seeing a marked increase in the early onset of diabetes and cardiovascular problems, a game of this kind can be a great way to make exercising fun again -- unlike so many other games, which foster the choice of living of a virtual existence in cyberspace over actually going outside and playing.

Cardiovascular decline may cause mental impairment

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As people grow old, their mental acuity and cardiovascular health steadily declines. It's simply a very unfortunate, and almost unavoidable, part of our existence on this planet. But, what was not known until recently is that these two conditions may be linked, with the declination of heart health actually causing cognitive impairment.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published the findings made by Dr. Dae Hyun Kim, who stated that "Advancing age and disease can lower the heart's ability to change its rate and rhythm, which can be associated with changes in mental function."

Dr. Kim went on to say that he was not sure exactly why or how this occurs. Well, frankly, I was interested to still find out how it does. And, I was also interested to learn if this heart health/mental sharpness connection has ever been made in younger people, too. With little effort, I found my answers in a study published in the journal Neurology.

According to the article, researchers gave 2,223 healthy adults a battery of tests to measure mental function. It turned out that people with a high body mass index scored lower than the people who were in better physical shape. The researchers surmised that people with added weight are more likely to have hardened arteries, which can delay the flow of blood/oxygen and nutrients to the brain.

So, by applying what I learned about heavy-set, younger people to the issue involving older adults, it seems as though the link between cardiovascular health and brain function may be due to circulation. Of course, this is just something that I am theorizing right here and right now. I do not have any scientific or medical knowledge to offer on the topic other than what was stated by the researchers referenced above. But given these facts, it still seems to make sense.

Surgery may help kids with rare form of hypertension

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High blood pressure is typically associated with adults, an association that is not entirely true. And, just as it is in adults, high blood pressure in children is a serious issue, one that could potentially lead to stroke. While medication has proved to be an effective means of treating kids with high blood pressure, research published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery suggests that surgery may be the best option for kids with renal artery obstructions.

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, who are considered to be among the world's best at treating kids with arterial blockage, found that 97 percent of children who undergo surgery for pediatric renovascular hypertension will respond favorably, and 70 percent will be cured from the disease altogether.

The unfortunate part is that this rare disease is usually diagnosed after blood pressure medication doesn't seem to be doing the trick. In even more unfortunate cases, it is not discovered until a child has suffered a stroke.

What's in a name?

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Hey, Hey, Hey: It's Protein Albert!! Doesn't have the same ring, does it? Nor does it create the same mental picture. Let's face it, fat gets a bad rap. If it weren't for simple semantics; the fact that 'fat' is also the word that we use to describe an excess of adipose tissue, fat might have been given a more fair shake. But, what's done is done, and what remains is the fat-fear. "Don't eat too much of that, it has a lot of fat in it. You'll gain weight." Or, "I'm on a low-fat diet -- I'm trying to lose weight." Sound familiar? They should, because statements like this are thrown around every day by people who are only pa rtially correct in what they are saying.

First of all, there are both good and bad fats. Making the distinction between the two can mean the difference between raising blood pressure/increasing body weight/increasing bad cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure/decreasing body weight/increasing good cholesterol levels. The point is that not all fats are created equal, and they are certainly not all bad for you.

But, there of course is some truth to the whole 'fat' makes you fat assertion that so many are eager to proclaim. Trans fat is perhaps the most widely talked about culprit these days, to the point that Starbucks has agreed to eliminate all trans fats from their products in the very near future (and, they've already done so in select cities). Bad fats such as these can and will cause you to gain weight, in addition to wreaking havoc on cholesterol levels.

Just like anything else, fats must be eaten in moderation in order to help avoid health risks. Insofar as calories go, just remember that there are 9 calories in each gram of fat, whereas there are only 4 in each gram of protein and carbohydrates. Try adding almonds, olive oil, avocados and other sources of healthy fat to your diet, while at the same time cutting out Krispy Kreme, McDonald's, and KFC. By following these simple guidelines, you'll soon find that fat as bad as everyone wants to make it out to be.

Preacher sued for prescribing prayer over treatment

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There is something to be said for the power of prayer. On the morning the lump in my breast was removed, a friend rallied more than 80 friends from our local MOMS Club to say a prayer for me -- at the exact time I was wheeled into an operating room. I know nothing of the prayer they said for me, but I do know I emerged from surgery with my breast intact and with the knowledge that my cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes.

I don't know for sure what role prayer played in my good fortune -- but I don't discount that it is in some way responsible for the fact that I am alive today.

But there are other obvious factors responsible for my survival -- like chemotherapy, radiation, physical therapy, targeted drug therapy, and counseling. So I don't think prayer alone saved me. I think it took a balance of varied forces to save my life -- a balance one Ohio man was not able to achieve.

The children of Darrell Perry are filing suit against their aunt, Darlene Bishop -- Perry's sister and an evangelical preacher -- who claims both she and Perry were cured of cancer through prayer.

Perry was not cured and died a year and a half ago from throat cancer. And Bishop now reveals she was never diagnosed with breast cancer -- like she claimed at one time -- but was merely worried she may have had the disease. Yet the message in her book Your Life Follows Your Words speaks loud and clear in its message -- that prayer can cure cancer.

Perry's children says their aunt is lying and exploiting their father for her own financial gain. They have filed two suits -- one accusing her of mismanaging and misusing Perry's estate and the other alleging wrongful death for convincing Perry to pray rather than seek medical help.

Cancer risk blamed on fate

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This just in from a survey conducted by Cancer Research UK:

More than one in four British adults believe cancer results from nothing more than fate. That's 27 percent of the adult population claiming cancer risk comes down to fate and is not linked to human predisposition or behavior.

Clearly, there are proven cancer-reducing behaviors -- like stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating fruits and vegetables, and avoiding the sun -- and the fact that so many adults don't realize that half of all cancer cases can be prevented by l ifestyle is alarming.

Dr. Lesley Walker, director of information at Cancer Research UK, says education is key for this group, dominated by British residents living in the most deprived areas of Britain and those over the age of 65.

Radiation side effects must be remembered

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Just before my radiation therapy began, my oncologist ran through a long list of potential side effects I might experience from the treatment. The only two significant short-term possibilities were fatigue and burned, blistered skin -- I went on to encounter them both -- but there were other more long-term effects my doctor told me might one day creep up on me.

She told me the range of motion in my arm might be compromised -- it was -- and that lymphedema or swelling could occur -- not yet -- and that I could feel numbness and tingling in my arm -- I do -- and that I should forever take precautions on the left side of my body. No needle sticks, no blood pressure cuffs, no excessive lifting -- all because of radiation and the missing lymph nodes that further complicate matters.

My doctor also told me that while radiation would target one intended area -- my left breast, just where my cancer was found -- other areas would suffer some degree of exposure. My heart, my lung, and my ribs all bordered the location of my tumor and despite measures to protect these areas, they would be zapped, at least minimally.

This all seemed a bit overwhelming 18 months ago when it came barreling at me. But something fortunate happened with the passage of time -- I began to forget about most of this. And while this a blessing really -- to not be burdened by the what ifs -- I realized yesterday when my three-year-old son kicked me with all the force he could muster right in my ribcage that I reall y must remember the side effects of radiation -- because they could serve to haunt me at any moment.

I remember clearly now my oncologist telling me that my ribcage could be damaged by radiation in such a way that an injury to the area could easily result in broken ribs. But I don't think about this regularly. And I wasn't thinking of it when I snuggled up to my 35-pound baby boy, knowing full well he could strike at any time. But not until he struck did I recall one of the downsides of radiation.

I feel happy and healthy and strong. Like cancer never landed in my lap and threw me for a loop. But somewhere in the back of my chemo brain -- an entirely different side effect story -- I must remember the dangers of the treatments that are keeping me alive. Because the last thing I want is another complication from cancer. I just want smooth sailing -- and smooth snuggling.
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Fines for weight loss pill marketers that claim to reduce the risk of cancer

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Four weight loss pill marketers were fined millions of dollars by The Federal Trade Commission for making false advertising claims. The claims ranged from rapid weight loss to reducing the risk of cancer.

The weight loss pills can still be sold on the market but the companies will have to stop making the false claims that they have no scientific evidence to back up. The fines were against four products, Xenadrine EFX, One A Day Weight Smart, Cortaslim and Trimspa.

FTC Commissioner Deborah Platt Majoras said on the Today Show that the FTC investigation found that the marketers of Xenadrine did have a study that said those who took a placebo actually lost more weight than those taking Xenadrine. They not only did not have a study to support their claims but had a study that went the other way!

"Testimonials from individuals are not a substitute for science," Majoras said. "And that's what Americans need to understand."

Tamoxifen reduces the risk of developing cancer for years following treatment

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Results presented at the 2006 annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, says that it appears Nolvadex (tamoxifen) reduces the risk of developing cancer years following completion of preventative therapy among women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Data from a clinical trial, including 7,145 women who were at high risk for developing breast cancer, was reevaluated at 10 years follow up. They found that breast cancer was reduced by 29 percent among women treated with tamoxifen compared to those taking the placebo. The preventative effect on breast cancer, specifically hormone-positive breast cancer, was actually improved at 10 years compared to the five-year follow-up.

The researchers concluded that women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer continue to benefit from tamoxifen, even five years following completion of treatment.

Talk to you doctor if fall in the high risk group for breast cancer. There are individual risks and benefits for tamoxifen and it may prevent physicians from recommending its use in certain women.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Thumbs Up for Insulin Sensitizing Drug

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Metabolex is a company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for diabetes and related metabolic disorders. They recently announced the launch of a double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2a, proof-of-concept study for MBX-2044, an oral insulin sensitizer for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Metaglidasen and MBX-2044 address insulin resistance, the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes, by enhancing insulin sensitization. The currently marketed insulin sensitizers, Actos(R) and Avandia(R), carry warnings of increased risk of congestive heart failure due to edema and cause significant weight gain, which compromises patient compliance.

Metaglidasen and MBX-2044 have been specifically designed to address the shortcomings of the currently marketed insulin sensitizer drugs. Clinical testing of metaglidasen suggests it has comparable efficacy with an improved safety profile. Now we're getting somewhere with this medical advancement stuff! A new drug that does the trick sans the undesirable side effects - attaboy, Metabolex!

The Smell of Ketoacidosis

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Ketone bodies are produced from liver cells when carbohydrates are scarce and energy must be obtained from breaking down fatty acids.

When excess ketone bodies accumulate, this abnormal (but not necessarily harmful) state is called ketosis. When large amounts of ketone bodies accumulate such that the body's pH is lowered to dangerously acidic levels, this state is called ketoacidosis. Ketone bodies are transported from the liver to other tissues, where they are reconverted to produce energy. The heart gets much of its energy from ketone bodies, although it also uses a lot of fatty acids. The brain gets its energy from ketone bodies when insufficient glucose is available (during a fast). In the event of low blood glucose, most other tissues have additional energy sources besides ketone bodies (such as fatty acids) but the brain does not. The brain retains some need for glucose, because ketone bodies can be broken down for energy only in the mitochondria, and brain cells' long thin axons are too far from mitochondria. If levels of ketone bodies are too high, the pH of the blood drops, resulting in ketoacidosis. This happens if diabetes is left untreated. A telltale sign of ketoacidosis is a fruity smell on the breath, like an apple.

Certain carbohydrate-restrictive diets induce ketosis for weight loss. Ketosis, again, is not necessarily harmful. However, when enough ketones enter the blood to lower the pH - this condition is ketoacidosis, and it is harmful. It can impair mental sharpness and inflict damaging effects on the body. Sadly and not so uncommon, the phenomenon hits type 1 adolescent girls on a dangerous level. A study found that young women with type 1 diabetes have manipulated their insulin to lose weight through ketoacidosis. In a chronic disease where every number of every reading and every calorie of everything you eat defines the control of your health -- how can diabetes NOT inherently fracture the self-image of young girls and mankind alike?

Bridal gown designer creates fashion with a twist of pink

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Women whose wedding dresses are created by bridal gown designer Aimee Lauren get a little something extra when they purchase their dream dresses. They get something of a twist -- a pink twist, in the form of a ribbon.

Each of Lauren's brides gets a pink breast cancer ribbon sewn on the inside lining over the left breast of their custom gowns -- a reminder for them to check their breasts for life. It's Lauren's way o f saying, don't forget, please don't forget.

Most of Lauren's clients are young -- in their 20s and 30s -- and are not thinking of breast cancer. But they should be. Because breast cancer happens to young women -- like Lauren, who was diagnosed with the disease at a young age and in the midst of climbing the New York fashion ladder. She found a lump in her left breast during a monthly self exam. And now she is forever diligent about breast cancer awareness and early detection.

At fittings, Lauren never misses the opportunity to educate her brides about taking charge of their own health.

"I don't ever want to hear somebody say ever again that it doesn't happen to young people," she says. " It can happen to anyone."

Just-released cancer book helps navigate the way

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Puja Thomson, counselor, healing facilitator, educator, and minister, has a newly-released book -- After Shock: From Cancer Diagnosis to Healing: A step-by-step guide to help you navigate your way -- that is just perfect for just about anyone dealing with cancer.

Thomson, surviving her own bout with cancer, offers practical suggestions to help others clarify their cancer journeys in this book that features topics such as reachin g out for help, designing your own personal wellness program, crafting challenges into hopeful perspectives, and organizing financial records and medical paperwork in simple ways.

Thomson shares her own firsthand stories and borrows reflections from other fellow cancer travelers. She offers a well-balanced sampling of ideas from which readers can pick and choose as they create their navigation plans. She does it all because she knows cancer can come as a shock. She also knows life goes on after the shock.

Toddler beats cancer, heads home from hospital

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Little Layla Schilling is just two-and-a-half years old -- and for more than one year of her short life, she has been fighting a rare liver cancer that spread to her lungs. But a series of medical interventions has worked miracles -- and Layla now gets to leave the hos pital and head for home, where a belated Christmas gift from Santa awaits her -- a trampoline.

When Layla's cancer was first discovered, doctors at Royal Children's Hospital in Australia immediately removed 80 percent of her liver to stop the tumor growth. Several months later, cancerous spots appeared again in her liver -- and in her lungs too.

Five months of intensive chemotherapy did its job -- and Layla's mom, Sara Wright, says her daughter is now doing well.

"The chemotherapy has successfully shrunk the tumors in her lung and what was left was removed by surgery," she said. "The tumor in her liver is under control, but the only way to be sure it doesn't come back is to have a transplant."

While a transplant is in Layla's future, she is focused right now on the moment. As every child should be.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Using the Internet to Monitor Blood Sugar

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An Internet-based blood sugar monitoring system is superior to making regular visits to a doctor's office for controlling blood sugar and achieving optimal, stable blood sugar levels, according to a long-term study of a group of diabetes patients who used the system.

In their study, 80 type 2 diabetic patients with varying degrees of blood sugar control were randomly assigned to a conventional management team-- keeping a written record of blood sugar levels and attending office visits every 3 months -- or to the Internet-based monitoring system for 30 months. During the study, average blood sugar levels were significantly lower in the Internet group compared with the control group and fluctuations in blood sugar levels were also significantly lower in the Internet group. The Internet-based monitoring system included a team of three doctors, a nurse and a dietitian, monitoring the system daily and sending appropriate responses, as needed, based on the patients' uploaded information.

Internet-based blood sugar monitoring is convenient for both patients and their doctors by providing a way for frequent feedback and communication between patients and doctors. In this day and age it's not surprising a service like this would be a raging success. Nobody wants to be bothered with spending time in a waiting room when you can be on the Internet!

Effective today: no more public smoking in Washington DC

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A new year. A new law. Effective today, smokers are banned from lighting up in most public places in Washington DC .

Restaurants, bars, and indoor workplaces are now considered smoke-free in the District. The new law takes full effect today -- January 2, 2007.

More than half of the nation's population now lives in areas where smoking is banned in public places, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.

In 2006 alone, nine statewide bans were adopted by lawmakers. In total, 22 states have passed smoking bans. And 16 states have passed laws banning smoking in bars.

In addition to Washington DC, smoking bans also go into effect today in Bloomington and Normal, Illinois.

Cancer survivor's kit helps others keep on living

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Survivorship is the new cancer buzz word -- and what an important word it is. Once left to each individual to define, manage, and transcend, survivorship is now recognized as a distinct phase of cancer recovery -- just as important, and maybe even more so, than diagnosis and treatment.

Linda Griggs, a 13-year breast cancer survivor, clearly remembers t he day her chemotherapy ended. With her therapy complete, her hair growing back, and her medical team sending her off to have a nice life, she thought she'd be fine. But she wasn't.

Three months after her last dose of chemotherapy, Griggs was depressed, consumed with worry about how her cancer might come back. And she realized that the end of treatment is not really the end. It's just the beginning.

Griggs told her doctor about her anxiety, about how she was just trying to make it to her next three-month-check up. When her doctor told her, "that's not living," something clicked for Griggs who instantly decided to start living -- really living.

Surviving is about self-nurturing, says Griggs, who has created a kit to help others survive cancer. On her website, she writes that there are a couple of other breast cancer survivor kits out there -- containing tissues, herbal teas, meditation tapes, medical appointment books, and breast cancer resource materials.

"This is not that," she says of her kit that focuses on the emotional upheaval cancer creates.

Griggs' kit is full of hands-on creative materials -- like an inner child notebook, complete with magic markers for journaling and expressing emotions. If you're angry, you can write down angry thoughts. If you're sad, write what makes you sad. Save the pages, tear them up, burn them, do what you wish -- but allow your emotions to flow, Griggs says.

The kit also includes a wooden box with instructions on how to create a healing shrine, a copy of Griggs' non-fiction account of the first five years of her cancer journey, and so much more.

Griggs, who also teaches healing workshops, guides others to understand cancer as a hero's quest. She says when something happens to us -- death, divorce, disease -- we are receiving a call to adventure. All be t's are off. We must start fresh, gather our spirit guides, collect ourselves, dive into the underworld, overcome, and then emerge full of wisdom of growth.

Griggs has emerged -- full of her own wisdom and growth. She is a hero -- on a quest to help others survive a disease that threw her way off track for way too long.

Monday, 1 January 2007

One less worry for Aging Diabetics

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Here's some uplifting news for elderly diabetics -- the condition does not increase the likelihood that they'll develop Alzheimers disease, according to a report in the medical journal Neurology.

The data came from the Religious Orders Study, which included 1,000 older religious clergy (nuns, priests and brothers). The goal of the Religious Orders Study is to evaluate the transition from a normal functioning brain to the mild cognitive impairment of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. The participants agreed to an evaluation each year and brain donation after death. Of the 233 autopsied participants, researchers found just over one third had one or more cerebral infarctions, and patients with diabetes were about 2.5 times more likely than others to have cerebral infarction. A cerebral infarction, also called a stroke, is a life-threatening condition marked by a sudden disruption in the blood supply to the brain The levels of Alzheimer-type damage were similar between subjects with and without diabetes.

Understanding the results of this study may contribute toward decreasing the effects of diabetes on the brain. Since cerebral infarctions primarily affect muscular coordination, and Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease (muscular and memory) - the results of the Religious Orders Study support the hypothesis that diabetes is not linked to Alzheimer's in seniors. Should old acquaintances be forgotten, and never brought to mind? Not due to diabetes. Happy New Year!

What is Substance P?

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New research reveals that faulty nerves in the pancreas may be one of the causes of type I diabetes, a condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks islets. Substance P was found to be responsible for healthy function and protection of islets.

Toronto researchers injected substance P into diabetic mice to reverse new onset diabetes. Sernova Corp is leading research into reversing insulin dependent diabetes by implanting a small device containing insulin producing islets to reverse diabetes, and Sertoli cells to naturally protect the islets from the body's immune system.

There is no point in scaring you like a virgin on prom night by telling you where the Sertoli cells derive. Where they're taking us along the path to cure type 1 diabetes is of greatest importance.

Top ten most popular posts 2006

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It has been a busy year online when it comes to cancer-related news and issues.

According to the Year-End Google Zeitgeist top ten lists for general and news searches on the internet in 2006, cancer was third in the top ten Google news searches, following Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom.

Wonder what the readers of The Cancer Blog were reading the most during the last year? With one look back, here are the top ten most-read posts and categories:

Top 25 ways to stay healthy

Partnership for Prevention released a report, Priorities for America's Health, that ranked the top 25 preventive health services that a re most effective. Of the top 25, ten were related to cancer. We featured a list of the top ten ways to practice cancer prevention. [read more here]

Chewing gum prevents cancer for smokers and drinkers

Researchers developed, and patented, a specially-designed chewing gum that works to eliminate the cause of mouth and upper digestive tract cancers. [read more here]

Cancer Breathalyzer: pocket-size device for detecting cancer

State University of New York at Buffalo researchers are building a ch emical sensor that will test a person's breath to detect diseases because, based on previous studies, human breath from the body changes when disease is present. [read more here]

100,000 chemicals may cause breast cancer

How do 50 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer develop breast cancer, if they had none of the known lifestyle risk factors or family history for the disease? According to State of the Evidence 2006: What Is the Connection Between the Environment and Breast Cancer?, a report released by Breast Cancer Action, there is compelling scientific evidence pointing to some of the 100,000 synthetic chemicals in use today as contributing to the development of breast cancer, either by altering hormone function or ge ne expression. We provided a link to the pdf document of the report. [read more here]

Henna ingredients may cause cancer

The main ingredient in henna is hydroxynaphthaquinone which is obtained from leaves of the Lawsonia tree. Hydroxynaphthaquinone alone is not carcinogenic, but when combined with para-phenylenediamine (PPD) the mixture has been documented as causing problems. [read more here]

Going pink mmm...mm good for Campbell's soup

In an opinion piece, we took a look at the pink campaigns. [read more here]

Brilliant cancer scientist animal rights activist jailed

Doctor of molecular biology Joseph Harris, 26, was convicted and jailed under the Serious and Organized Crime Act for causing damage to the premises of three companies connected to animal testing, and painting ALF (Animal Liberation Front) on walls, windows and vans belonging to the companies. [read more here]

The three most read categories within The Cancer Blog were breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer. There you have it. What were your favorite posts this past year?
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Ozzy's son Jack Osbourne blames father and cancer for drug problems

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Jack Osbourne, son of rock legend Ozzy and colon cancer survivor Sharon Osbourne, recently stated that he blames his alcohol and drug addiction on his father. During his mother Sharon's diagnosis and treatment for colon cancer, the young Jack used alcohol and the powerfully addictive prescription painkiller OxyContin as a way to cope.

Jack is quoted as saying, "My problems peaked when mom was sick and dad was dealing with his problems the same way as I was, by drinking, so I had no one to turn to. I was just hanging out with my crowd drinking and doing drugs." Jack ended up in an addiction rehab clinic to get clean and sober.

This is no way excuses the badly-decided choices that Jack made when he turned to alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with his feelings, but there is a sharp focus and more than a bit of snarkiness to the news reports concerning Jack's blaming comment that misses a great opportunity in regard to discussing the impact a parent's cancer di agnosis has on children.

As the American Cancer Society (ACS) states, "Families face many complex issues when one of their members has cancer. There will probably be a time during a family's experience with cancer when psychosocial support services will be helpful in meeting the emotional needs of the family. There are teams of experts, each with a different focus, who offer support and are trained in how cancer affects a family." ACS offers a terrific resource for the family with the online publication of Helping Children When A Family Member Has Cancer.

The Family Doctor states, "Every person has a different way of handling news that a loved one has cancer. Many people react with shock, disbelief and even anger when they're first given the news." The Family Doctor's Cancer: Helping Your Fam ily Help You offers advice on different questions a parent might have, such as:
  • How will my family react to the news that I have cancer?
  • Should I tell my children that I have cancer?
  • How do I tell my children that I have cancer?
  • How can I help my children cope with their feelings?
In 2002, when I drove home after being told I had cancer, I wondered and worried about how I was going to tell my children, how I could avoid the unavoidable shattering of innocence in their world, how to protect them from their own fear and pain? I sat outside in the car, trying to stare through the walls of our home, knowing that in the next five minutes I would be changing our lives forever with the news of my cancer diagnosis. I wanted to freeze time, to save the innocence, to keep the awful news from being true.

In the ACS online resource for families, it states, "Parents can have a powerful effect on how their children react to a crisis in the family. In the beginning this responsibility can feel like a huge weight, but it is possible for family members to learn how to deal with and even grow through the experience of having cancer in the family."

Support services can include individual counseling, family counseling, and support groups. If you do not know where to start, ask your physician or call the local hospital or local ACS office. Someone will be able to help you help your children, and all family members, navigate through the crisis of cancer, so that everyone becomes a survivor of cancer in the best way possible.

Nigella Lawson: goddess of food porn changed by cancer

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However unintentional she says it has all been when it comes to the sultry and seductive persona that oozes sexu ality through the television screen during her cooking shows, How to be a Domestic Goddess author Nigella Lawson has made a career out of making food sexy and the act of food consumption sensual. It is part of her not-always-so-subtle coy kitchen charm.

But if we believe her life to be as silky smooth and decadent as warm cream flowing over a morning bowl of juicy plump strawberries, and equally as charmed as she is charming, we would be mistaken. Yes, she is remarried to multi-millionaire, ad man and art dealer Charles Saatchi, but she is also the widow of journalist and writer John Diamond, who died of tongue cancer five years ago, leaving her suddenly mother and father to their two children, Cosima and Bruno.

A decade earlier, Lawson's mother had died of liver cancer. Her sister Thomasina died in her 30s of breast cancer. Cancer changes peop le. It is unavoidable, and the change can take many forms. For Nigella, who in the public eye has taken criticism for her ample figure and lack of concern for the fat content of food, has an almost unreasonable fear about thinness. After watching three family members waste away and die from cancer, she sees thin as a sign of illness.

"So even though I mind it when I put on weight I have a visual memory of seeing those people become skin and bone, and that gives me a slight reality check," explains Lawson. In watching her cooking show Nigella Bites, she came through as warm, down-to-earth, without a care for pretentious protocol or rules for the sake of rules. It is the way she cooks, and I get the feeling it is the way she lives. Cancer changes every person it touches and shapes perspectives about what is truly important in life. Being comfortable and enjoying yourself, including the food you eat, is a good recipe for life. A recipe Nigella seems to dish up with ease.

Nigella Lawson is Food Network's newest host in Nigella Feasts. On January 7, the theme of the show will be Feel Good Food featuring Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Pumpkin Seed Salad, a Vietnamese Prawn and Glass Noodle Salad, a colorful Antioxidant Fruit Salad, and a Syllabubbed Yogurt. Yum.

Survivor Spotlight: Two little boys sound off on 2006

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Those of us diagnosed with cancer are not the only survivors of our diseases. Our families and friends and caregivers and even employers and co-workers survive right along with us. Sure, the facets of our survivorship vary tremendously -- but we all survive the wrath of cancer in our own unique ways.

My two little boys have spent the past two years surviving breast cancer -- my breast cancer. And while they still don't fully comprehend the magnitude of such a disease, they do understand cancer is a sickness. They understand it took my hair, made me feel sick, left me with scars, and they religiously comment on every pink ribbon they see. They call the ribbons cancer.

I am often asked how my children handled my diagnosis, my treatment, my emotions. They handled it all well, I think, and as time passes, they do better and better. In fact, cancer seems to have vanished into thin air for Joey, who will turn six on Wednesday, and Danny, who is three and a half years old. I know this because of their answers to a few questions I asked them last night, on the eve of 2007.

What was the best thing you did this year?

Joey: Swimming in the pool.
Danny: Being at school.

What was the worst thing that happened this year?


Joey: Getting that boo-boo on my foot, when it scraped on the driveway.
Danny: The cheetah that was chasing me.

What could you have done better this year?

Joey: Learning to ride my bike without training wheels.
Danny: Watching Ice Age.

What would you like to work on during this new year?


Joey: Building a better stick house.
Danny: Drinking milk.

What was the scariest thing that happened this year?

Joey: When I thought there were monsters in my room.
Danny: When there was a cheetah in my room.

What was the funniest thing that happened to you this year?

Joey: When Jack (uncle) and Bud (grandpa) tickled me.
Danny: When the cheetah was chasing me.

When I say the word Daddy, what do you think about?

Joey: Someone who makes me laugh.
Danny: no reply -- he was distracted by the movie Ice Age.

When I say the word Mommy, what do you think about?

Joey: I don't know.
Danny: no reply -- still distracted by the movie Ice Age.

What do you wish for 2007?

Joey: I wish I could fly.
Danny: I wish I could slide on a sleigh.

And that's a wrap. Not one mention of cancer. Not one response concerning endless medical appointments, my drastically different hair, or the port -- they called it a stone -- that was removed from my body in September.

There truly are more important things in life than cancer for two little boys whose memories of a horrible disease will hopefully fade with each passing year -- until not even a pink ribbon catches their attention.

Happy 2007, Joey and Danny. May all your wishes come true!
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Timing of weight gain influences breast cancer risk

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Carrying extra weight is a risk factor for developing breast cancer. But it's not been clear how the timing of weight gain affects this risk. Evidence is mounting, though, and it's now believed that weight gain in adult life is more predictive of breast cancer risk than absolute body weight.

A new study, published in December's International Journal of Cancer, reveals a link between gaining weight in adulthood and an increased risk of breast cancer after menopause.

"We did find some suggestion that weight gain during the 30s and 40s, weight gain since a woman's first pregnancy and weight gain since menopause, especially for women with a longer time since menopause, may all be of importance in relation to postmenopausal breast cancer risk," report the researchers who followed 1,166 women with breast cancer and 2,105 without the disease.

A 70 percent increased risk was found among postmenopausal women who gained more than 60 pounds between age 20 and the onset of menopause. This was in comparison to women who gained less than 20 pounds during the same period of time. Overall, there was a four percent increase in breast cancer risk for each 11-pound increase in adult weight.

Wyeth hormone sales up despite cancer link

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2006 will forever be the year linking the decline in breast cancer cases to the decline in use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This was big news on the cancer front, and while some argue other forces helped drive the breast cancer drop, there is still much speculation that the use of HRT somehow increases the risk of developing the disease. Even so, it is predicted that Wyeth's sales of hormone replacement drugs will have reached more than $1 billion as of yesterday, the last day of 2006.

Even more interesting is the prediction by analysts that rev enue from the pills -- used to treat symptoms of menopause -- will rise five percent annually for the next several years.

It seems the sales growth, despite the overall decline in the HRT market, is primarily due to increased demand from wholesalers and price increases too.

It's hard to tell what will happen to the world of HRT in the year 2007 -- will women embrace what is considered the best therapy around for menopausal issues? Will they abandon the controversial treatment altogether? Will they find variations of HRT that meet their needs while minimizing risk for disease? Only time will tell.