Friday, 12 January 2007

Of mice, calories, and prostate cancer

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Once upon a time there were two groups of mice, all genetically engineered to develop prostate cancer. Each group was fed the same amount of calories. One group of mice lived in cages warmed to 80.6 degrees. The other group lived in cages kept at 71.6 degrees. The mice in the cooler quarters burned more calories to keep warm. And after three weeks, they weighed less than the toasty warm mice. They were also less likely to develop prostate cancer.

Then there were two other groups of mice, also genetically engineered to develop prostate cancer. Both groups were kept in cages with temperatures 80.6 degrees and 71.6 degrees -- like above. But these mice got to eat whatever their little hearts desired. The mice in cooler cages ate 30 percent more than the mice in warmer cages. They got just as fat as the warm mice. And they all got prostate cancer at the same rate, despite the extra calories.

The moral of the story is this -- being lean rather than obese has a greater protective effect against cancer. Excess calorie retention, rather than consumption, raises cancer risk. This moral stands in contrast to what most researchers believe -- that a restricted diet cuts the risk of and slows the growth of cancer and this is directly related to calorie intake.

Tim Nagy, Ph.D. and professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and lead researcher on the mice story says when you eat more calories than you burn, you store the extra calories as fat. It's the fat cells -- not the extra c alories themselves -- that affect cancer risk.

It's not a good idea for humans to chill themselves to avoid cancer, Nagy says. But perhaps people could get the same effect by exercising more since that, too, burns calories.

Nagy's study appears in the January 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research.

Double Diabetes

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Doctors are now finding patients who suffer from both type 1 and type 2 di abetes -- a phenomenon known as double diabetes. This development is predominantly due to the obesity epidemic.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body's inability to produce insulin, the hormone that ushers blood sugar to cells for energy. Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance -- the body's inability to properly use the hormone. Almost 30% of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, due to excess weight and lack of exercise. Generally, double-diabetes sufferers will often look as though they have the more common type 2 version because they're overweight. But subsequent blood tests reveal they also have type 1 disease.

Double diabetes might be caused, in part, by type 1 diabetics who are taking insulin but haven't made the other lifestyle changes necessary to control the disease. Sadly, one of the consequences of insulin use can be weight gain. The national trend toward unhealthy weight gain has spurred both the diabetes epidemic and this newer, more complex form of the disease, mirroring the obesity epidemic. This is an enigma that leaves gaping holes in the rationale of conventional medicine. So there it is-- insulin causes weight gain. Weight gain increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. There you have it: a diabetes double-whammy. No fair.

Diachrome may be helpful for people with type 2

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Diachrome, to me it sounds like that song that Paul Simon sang. To Nutrition 21, Inc. (the pharma company that created it), it probably sounds something like this: Cha-Ching!! And to people with type 2 diabetes, it sounds, well, pretty promising.

So, what exactly is Diachrome? Well, based on the research published in the December issue of Diabetics Technology and Therapeutics, it is the drug that was used in a double-blind, randomized study that showed signs of improving blood glucose levels and cholesterol metabolism in people with type 2 diabetes. More or less, it's a combination of chromium picolonate and a substance called biotin. This "recipe" is patented by Nutrition 21, Inc., and it's showing signs of success.

However, this is far from being the first study to suggest the benefit of chromium picolonate for regulating blood sugars. One released this month at the 19th World Congress meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, offered similar findings with respect to this supplement. Over a six-year period, the blood sugar levels of 1056 type 2 patients between the ages of 20 to 90 consumed 500 mcg daily of chromium picolonate, resulting in an observed improvement in blood glucose levels during each year of the study.

Like I said, it sounds promising.

Is Bariatric Surgery a Cure for Type 2 Diabetes?

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Bariatric surgery is the term for operations to help promote weight loss by making it difficult for the patient to consume a lot (or even a normal amount) of food. It offers a viable solution of mitigating type 2 diabetes, if not curing it entirely. In 2004, a major study showed that after 10 years, diabetes disappeared in 36% of patients who had the surgery, compared with 13% who did not.

Bariatric surgery is an increasingly popular option for people who can't lose enough weight by diet and exercise. The number of such surgeries has quadrupled since 2000, reaching 177,600 this year. For morbidly obese patients with type 2 diabetes, bariatric surgery results in a cure rate of 80-98%. About 90% of type 2 diabetics are overweight. In terms of just diabetes alone, the cure rate of serious illness after surgery is greater than 80%.

Bariatric surgery is nothing to take lightly. Although it is a serious procedure, it gives type 2 diabetics a token of hope they may never have to rue the day of diabetic complication like blindness, amputations, neuropathy, stroke, heart attack, and life itself. Is the risk worth the reward?

Breakfast -- don't leave home without it

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Think about when you were a teen (assuming that you're not one now). Think about what your day was like as you woke-up for school, frantically headed to either catch the bus or bum a ride off of your one friend who had a car. Granted, that car looked like something Fred Sanford should have been driving, but it was still a car. Anyway, as I was saying, remember how tough it sometimes was to make the 8am bell for school. You would rush, rush, rush -- only to then barely make it to homeroom before the teacher marked you absent. Whew...that was close.

And, then around 9:20 or so, something started to happen. You seemed to be working on a two or three second delay, you were inattentive -- but not really on purpose, and your early rising from bed finally began to take its toll. If you were like most teenagers (especially today), you probably felt this way because you skipped breakfast.

Worst of all, in efforts to stop your stomach from making that embarrassing moaning sound (the one that can only mean one of two things: 1) You're hungry, or 2) You have to go the bathroom and you're holding it with all your might. Of course the people around you who hear it always assume that it's number two -- no pun intended), you grabbed a candy bar or potato chips from the vending machine, or maybe even some tater tots from the cafeteria.

That's compounded dietary mistake seems to be the norm more and more for teens, to the point that a study held at the Miriam Hospital and Brown Medical Center concluded that teens are carrying this breakfast-skipping-followed-by-poor-food-choice practice into young adulthood. Based on said study, it was discovered that fast food consumption increased markedly as breakfast consumption dropped -- with both factors coming into play concurrently as teens grew older. The result, as you might have expected, was an overall increase of body mass, as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular problems.

Although not listed in this particular study, I'd be willing to bet that similar statistics could be found for adults who skip breakfast. Remember, the word breakfast itself is derived from "Break the Fast." In other words, you've fasted for 6, 8, 10, or however many hours you had been asleep, and now it's time to break that fast by eating. But, if you opt not to, your body will remind will get back at you by making you sluggish, your eyes heavy, and your stomach sound like a dying camel.

Phil Kessel back with Bruins after cancer battle

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I love a good cancer comeback story -- like the story of Phil Kessel and his courageous return to the NHL.

Kessel, 19-year-old Bruins forward and fifth overall draft pick for 2006, was diagnosed with testicular cancer last month. He underwent surgery and has been recovering off the ice until just recently -- when he was recalled to Boston from its farm team in Providence.

It's back to life and back to work for Kessel -- who is winning his match against cancer.

Kessel, a Wisconsin nativ e, was the second Boston athlete this year diagnosed with cancer. Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester was diagnosed in August with lymphoma.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

JDRF partners with MacroGenics

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The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation announced that they have formed a partnership with MacroGenics. JDRF is providing up to $2 million to fund a clinical trial of a compound called anti-CD3 that has shown promise in slowing the progression of type 1 diabetes.

Anti-CD3 is capable of reducing the autoimmune attack that destroys insulin-producing beta cells. The treatment preserves beta cell function in newly diagnosed patients, and has the potential to decrease insulin requirements, leading to better glucose regulation, and decrease the complications of diabetes. Anti-CD3 blocks the function of CD3 cells - the T cells that destroy islets. The antibodies prevent "activation" of the T cells after they have identified their target, disarming them launching the attack on islets.

Let's hope the peace talks between JDRF, MacroGenics, anti-CD3 and killer Ts result in progressive measures to make the type 1 diabetic body a peaceful place, once and for all.


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Bravo! Brands have teamed-up with the Diabetes Research Foundation again in a partnership that will help raise funds for diabetes research. Here's what their doing: Bravo! Brands have expanded their already existing relationship with DRI by offering two more products that are deemed healthy for most people with diabetes, or for people who simply wish to reduce their carb and caloric intake.

Bravo! Brands already offers Slim Slammers, a flavored milk beverage, as a healthy alternative to other flavored milks, and it has now had the DRI logo on it for over two years. Now, Bravo! Brands has announced that the following products will also be part of the partnership and shall bear the DRI logo:

~ 3 Musketeers Slammers Chocolate Milk: It's 99 percent fat-free, so it's already off to a good start. And, it's taste is that of, you guessed it, a Three Musketeers Bar. Also not a bad thing. Plus, it has half the carbs of other chocolate milk brands and 63 percent less fat than whole milk.

~ Bravo! Blenders: This if for people who are Lactose Intolerant, as opposed to people who have the patience to deal with it ;) It is a meal replacement beverage that comes in four flavors, and it has fewer calories than many popular beverages of its kind. In addition, it's fortified with extra vitamins and minerals, not to mention that it has 25 percent more protein than regular milk.

As I mentioned in a post not too long ago, it is corporate funding of this kind that helps to an extent that a collection of individual donations could only hope to. In fact, another one that comes to mind is Barbersol's partnership with the JDRF (look for cans of Barbersol featuring Olympic Swimmer Gary Hall).

Bravo to all of you.

Uh oh Zyprexa

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Eli Lilly has agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle 18,000 lawsuits from people who claimed they had developed diabetes or other diseases after taking Zyprexa. The drug is intended to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Zyprexa is the brand name for olanzapine, a potent chemical that binds to receptors in the brain to reduce psychotic hallucinations and delusions. Clinical trials show that in many patients, Zyprexa also causes severe weight gain and increases in cholesterol and blood sugar. 16% of people taking Zyprexa gained more than 66 pounds after a year on the drug, a far higher figure than the company disclosed to doctors. In 2004, a panel of the American Diabetes Association found that Zyprexa caused diabetes more than other widely used antipsychotic drugs, in part because it tends to cause much more weight gain. In 2003, the FDA added a warning to the label of Zyprexa about its tendency to cause high blood sugar.

That's a shame. A drug used to treat mental illness characterized by significant social dysfunction actually causes severe weight gain, increases cholesterol and raises blood sugar. I see how Zyprexa works. It helps patients' delusions of being overweight and unhealthy a reality.

A Shot in the Eye for Diabetic Retinopathy

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Treatments that use tiny amounts of new drugs injected directly into the eye are having a dramatic impact on diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of blindness in middle-age Americans. Excessive capillary growth and fluid leakage are the culprits that gradually erase vision in many diabetics. The problem arises when the retina - a high-energy tissue requiring much oxygen and nut rition doesn't get the blood it needs, so it sends out a chemical signal ordering blood vessel growth. The new vessels formed will ultimately leak, causing vision loss.

The treatment is shown to halt abnormal blood-vessel growth that gradually destroys the eye's light-sensing organ, the retina. Unlike macular degeneration, which erases central vision, diabetic retinopathy starts by ruining peripheral vision. The injections are given with tiny needles and require only a local anesthetic. Several trials were done to test the safety and efficacy of Macugen and another new eye drug, Lucentis, which is made by Genentech. So far, no major side effects from treatments with Macugen and Lucentis have been noted.

The best defense is a good offense

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Based on ADA statistics, there are bout 20.8 million people in the United States who have diabetes. For you percentage people out there, that's roughly 7 percent of the total U.S. population. That figure represents the almost 15 million people who have been diagnosed and the estimated 5 to 6 million people who are not aware that they have the disease. This lack of awareness can of course lead to an increased risk for complications. But, for those individuals who are aware that they have diabetes but still do not seek regular treatment, risk of complication s are also great. This is particularly true when it comes to diabetic retinopathy.

Affecting up to 24,000 new people each year, diabetic retinopathy is a degenerative disease of the retina that can sometimes lead to blindness. But, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, permanent blindness from retinopathy can be prevented if it is diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Because only 60 percent of people with diabetes have their eyes tested annually, many cases of blindness could be avoided if that percentage was much higher, doctors say. In fact, studies show that regular treatments, including an annual eye dilation and exam, can reduce the chance of severe vision loss by almost 94 percent. And, with more advanced treatment, such as the method highlighted in Allie's post below, we will hopefully see a day where blindness becomes a thing of the past.

DNA profiling Drug Disasters

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Genomas has identified potential DNA markers for risk factors involved in diabetes-related metabolic side effects from treatment with common antipsychotic drugs. A day late and a few million dollars short, eh Eli Lilly?

The study found that DNA variations could predict a patient's likelihood for developing pre-diabetic side effects such as weight gain. Atypical antipsychotic drugs (AAPs) can induce diabetic symptoms in nearly one third of patients, most notably characterized by increased weight gain in some patients but not in others. However, the side effect profiles for these drugs even within the same drug class may differ, raising the possibility of drug-specific side effects.

Genomas develops systems for DNA-guided diagnosis and treatment of metabolic disorders induced by drugs in cardiovascular and psychiatric medicine. They have the capability to select the safest drug treatment for each patient. A company like Genomas has the right idea. The use of antipsychotic drugs is on the rise, with an estimated 14 million patients for which these drugs are increasingly being prescribed. AAPs are a dime a dozen. The million dollar question is which of these drugs is NOT the one for you?

Flu or a heart attack

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Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain are symptoms of many conditions. During this flu season, don't just disregard your stomach illness as the flu and don't just pass it off as bad food that you ate. A lesson that I learned first hand from my doctor after my flu like symptoms kept coming and going. Conversations with my doctor about personal and family medical history, stress, and ongoing symptoms prompted her to order tests I thought were a little abnormal since I thought I had the flu. These upcoming tests opened my eyes and curiosity to hop on the Internet to do more research. I personally have battled cancer and my who le family has a large history of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. So with this in mind, my doctor has ordered up several tests to determine nothing else is wrong besides the nasty flu bug. With my personal cancer and lupus medical history and my family heart disease and diabetes medical history, the tests make more sense to me now.

The obvious diagnosis of most nausea and vomiting is food poisoning. Nausea or vomiting one to eight hours after a meal may indicate food poisoning. However, certain food born bacteria, such as salmonella, can take longer to produce symptoms. If you are a woman and are pregnant, you experience nausea and vomiting. A viral infection such as the flu can induce vomiting and another well known cause for vomiting is ulcers.

Now a little awareness for the not so obvious reasons for vomiting and nausea. Heart attacks, gastroparesis (most common in diabetics), and certain cancers. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death and disability in women after menopause and symptoms of a heart attack at times can be vague and mild in women and include nausea and vomiting. Gastroparesis means paralysis of the muscles of the stomach. Gastroparesis results in delayed emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine and can cause one to have extreme nausea and vomiting. Certain types of cancers like stomach cancer can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

So if you have persistent indigestion, nausea and vomiting off and on, don't just take it for granted that you have food poisoning or the stomach flu. Talk to your doctor about ongoing symptoms that you are experiencing so that they can get to the root of the problem better and give you a more thorough diagnosis.
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Stem Cells found in amniotic fluid

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Say the words Stem Cell Research to a group of ten people, and you're bound to get ten different reactions. Some are in favor of research of this kind, while others are staunchly opposed. And, some still aren't convinced of its efficacy or morality, so they do not have a firm opinion either way. But, in an ongoing effort to find a means of obtaining stem cells that can hopefully satisfy all parties, researchers from Wake Forest University have isolated broad potential stem cells from amniotic fluid.

In a joint effort between scientists from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, it was discovered that from progenitor cell types found in amniotic fluid, true stem cells can be obtained. Although only a small number (approximately 1 percent) of the stem cells found in amniotic fluid can used to create the many specialized cells found in the human body, the fact remains that it has now at least been proved that it is possible.

The major advantage of what have now been named AFS cells (Amniotic Fluid-derived Stem cells) is that they do not utilize any portion of the actual embryo, thereby mitigating a great deal of moral implication. Also, these AFS cells are readily available, as there are more than 4 million births each year in the U.S. alone. Researchers say that with a bank of 100,000 specimens, it is possible, at least in theory, to supply 99 percent of the U.S. population with perfect genetic matches for transplantation. This could have an enormous effect on doctors' ability to replace damaged cells and tissue from stroke, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and many other illnesses and injuries.

Christmas Cactus

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In 1995 my very dear friend Carolyn, gave me a Zygocactus otherwise know as the Christmas Cactus. Although it was small, it was still full of beautiful pink and white blooms and I loved it more than the most popular holiday plant known as the poinsettia which were decorating my house for the holidays. Shortly after that Christmas my friend Carolyn was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in the spring of 1996.

The following year, my little Christmas cactus failed to bloom around Christmas but I nurtured it just the same. Later that spring, one faithful bloom appeared on the anniversary of the death of my friend. I ca lled my other best friend whom loved Carolyn dearly and let her know about the special little bloom and we both shared a cry and a laugh and determined that an angel was watching over.

Every year after that around Christmas or shortly there after a solitary bloom comes out on my little Christmas Cactus and I smile at the thought of that special angel looking down on me. A few days ago the most beautiful solitary bloom burst out of the cactus for this season as a reminder that there doesn't have to be lots of blooms on a flower for it to be beautiful. Just one very special one.
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Baltimore region's blood supply hits an all time low

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Baltimore region's blood supply hit an annual low. Blood donations are typically slow in January but the need picks up with surgeries back on schedule after the holidays. Types O and B seem to be particularly low.

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein called blood donation "a very thin red line that connects a lot of people in the community". He also stated that as a physician, it is a very horrible moment when you think that blood may not be available.

Blood can not be manufactured in a lab, it has to be given by people. Premature babies require blood donations in order to live, trauma victims need blood so they don't die, cancer victims require blood sometimes because of very toxic therapies, and that is only a few of the reasons blood is so desperately needed.

To schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 800-GIVE-LIFE

Clinical trial enrolling HER2-positive Stage IV breast cancer patients

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Myocet is in its last clinical trial phase prior to FDA review. The trial is enrolling patients to evaluate the investigative chemotherapy agent Myocet (liposomal encapsulated doxorubicin) in addition to standard therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer.

Myocet is a chemotherapy agent that contains the active form of doxorubicin, you might better know it as Adriamycin. This chemotherapy drug is formulated to reduce the side effects associated with Adriamycin. Myocet allows for more of the active drug to be delivered directly to cancer cells, sparing healthy cells from being damaged.

This trial will directly compare the standard option of Herceptin and Taxol to the combination of Myocet, Herceptin and Taxol. Researchers are now enrolling patients with metastatic, HER2-positive breast cancer with a goal in mind to determine if the addition of Myocet to standard therapy can increase response to therapy or regression of cancer.

Florida Gator Reggie Nelson wins big -- for his mom

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I'm not a big sports fan. But everyone in my family is, and I live in Gainesville, Florida -- home of the Florida Gators -- so by default, I've come to know a bit about sports. And I tend to get caught up in the orange and blue spirit that lives in this town. It's contagious.

I am thrilled that the Gator football team beat Ohio State Monday night, earning the 2007 National Championship title. But I am even more thrilled that one player -- safety Reggie Nelson -- gets to claim this victory, for himself and for his mother, who passed away on December 21 after a three-year battle with breast cancer.

It must have be en a bittersweet win for Nelson, who talked with his mom on the phone prior to each of his games. She was his biggest fan and one of his toughest coaches. She cheered him on and offered critiques all the same.

But there was no phone call Monday night -- before Nelson's biggest game ever. But his mom was surely present to witness the wonder and glory of her son. And Nelson surely made every move on that field in honor of her.

"My mom's my life and my best friend," he said prior to her death. "Everything I do is because of her. She's always in my mind."

Nelson did not speak to the media between the time of his mother's death and his match-up with Ohio State. According to the BCS contract, all players must be made available to the media during media day. But the University of Florida struck an agreement with the BCS to waive the clause for Nelso n so he could begin to heal from his loss, without the stress of the Arizona media frenzy.

It's been a difficult time for Nelson who is now speaking out about his mom.

"A person never gets over losing his mother," Nelson said on the field Monday night, as confetti fluttered on the national champs. "I'm a Momma's boy at heart. All I wanted was to make her proud."

Previous posts about Reggie Nelson and his mom are as follows:
Florida Gator Reggie Nelson loses mom to breast cancer
Florida Gator would trade football for family

CML patients who have stopped responding to Gleevec have options

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Sprycel is an oral agent that has recently been approved by the FDA. It works by stopping the production of proteins involved in cancer growth.

The American Society of Hematology presented results that stated that treatment with Sprycel (dasatinib) provides better outcomes compared to giving higher doses of Gleevec (imatinib), in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), who have stopped responding to standard doses of Gleevec.

In the clinical trial the patients were either treated with Sprycel or increased doses of Gleevec to see who had the better response.

Study results indicated:

  • Patients who had achieved a major anticancer response with the standard dose of Gleevec initially, achieved a 35 percent complete response to Sprycel, compared with only 7 percent of those treated with the increased doses of Gleevec.
  • Patients who did not receive a major anticancer response with the standard dose of Gleevec initially, achieved a 44 percent major anticancer response to Sprycel, compared to only 7 percent of those treated with the increased doses of Gleevec.
  • The main side effect of Sprycel was low levels of blood cells, which may be partly corrected with the use of Neulasta.

The research has concluded that Sprycel provides superior responses to increased-doses of Gleevec among patients with chronic-phase CML who have stopped responding to prior Gleevec therapy.

Radioactive seed implants highly effective in prostate cancer patients

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Fifteen years follow up after studying 223 patients with localized prostate cancer showed that radioactive seed implants are a highly effective treatment in combination with conventional external beam radiation.

Seed implants, also called brachytherapy, are small radioactive pellets about the size of a grain of rice. The pellets are implanted into the prostate; they deliver radiation to the prostate cancer from the inside.

Most good-prognosis patients who choose seed implants do not receive other treatments. Patients with more aggressive tumors may get seed implants plus external beam radiation.

Three out of four patients in the study remained disease free at least 15 years after treatment ended. It is not clear from the study if the patients would have fared equally well with either the seed implants or external-bean radiation therapy alone, however they are confident the combined therapy is very effective in treating prostate cancer.

Johns Hopkins receives research grant for childhood cancer

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The primary recipient of the 2006 grants for Curing Kid's Cancer is the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. Curing Kid's Cancer is a charity that raises money for leading edge pediatric cancer research. The organization was inspired by nine year old Killian Owen's battle with leukemia. The $100,000 grant was given to Johns Hopkins for research into new targeted therapies for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Curing Kid's Cancer has two national grassroots programs -- Coaches Curing Kid's Cancer and Teachers Curing Kid's Cancer.

The programs fund the development of cutting edge therapies which will revolutionize childhood cancer treatment by replacing traditional chemotherapy.

Curing Kid's Cancer aims to raise both awareness and money to find cures for all types of childhood cancers. Their objective is to turn this killer disease into a curable one in our lifetime.

Gal to Gal Foundation: Support for Stage IV gals

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The Gal to Gal Foundation believes that women diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer deserve a great amount of support in order to maintain their dignity while receiving treatment throughout the progression of their disease. This organization identifies, partner s with, and provides funding to existing organizations dedicated to the emotional and financial well being of Stage IV breast cancer survivors.

Their research shows that although their are many wonderful organizations supporting breast cancer research, prevention and treatment for early stages -- minimal dollars are being dedicated to Stage IV needs.

Check out some of the items that are for sale, its really cool. You can design your own gal at Design-Her Gals and then print it on stationary, notecards, stickers, mugs and many other items. Five percent of every sale goes to the Gal to Gal Foundation!

BBC quiz show host Magnus Magnusson dies of cancer

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Magnus Magnusson, former host of the BBC quiz show Mastermind, died just days ago after a four-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He died peacefully at his Glasgow home at the age of 77.

Magnusson, a journalist, author, and presenter, is best known for his 25 years of work on Mastermind, a show he called an "undemanding program for insomniac academics late at night." His presence defined the program, a prime time BBC show watched by more than 22 million viewers, from 1972 until 1997.

"Magnus Magnusson was one of the defining faces and voices of the BBC," said Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC. "To the contestants of Mastermind, he was a tough but always fair question-master, but behind this screen persona there was a family man of tremendous warmth and humanity."

Magnusson, who focused on his writing career after Mastermind ratings began to slump and a new host took his place, first became ill in 2004 when he was hospitalized for emergency abdominal surgery. He recovered from this episode but was diagnosed with cancer last October, on his 77th birthday.

Magnusson, who coined the quiz show phrase, "I've started, so I'll finish," is survived by his wife of 52 years and his four children.

Esophageal cancer screening quicker, easier

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Cancer of the esophagus is one of the fastest rising cancers in the United States -- but the common screening test, both expensive and risky, is not widely used. Thankfully, a newer option, around since the mid-90s, is quicker and easier and is catching on around the country.

Trans-Nasal Esophagoscopy (TNE) is the better option, and it works like this: a doctor numbs the nose, inserts a thin, flexible tube -- no bigger than a pencil -- through the nostril and into the esophagus, removes a bit of tissue for biopsy purposes, takes a few pictures, and pulls the tube back out through the nostril. The patient gets to watch it all on a monitor and gets to depart from the procedure with no ill effects.

Traditional esophagus cancer screening involves a similar tube that is inserted through the mouth. Due to the gag reflex, patients are sedated. While there are often no complications from the procedure itself, the intravenous sedation can cause problems.

"You don't need those risks to see what's going on," says one doctor, who reports that esophageal cancer responds very well when caught early by tools like TNE.

Monday, 8 January 2007

Eat Responsibly Decrease Easily

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For diabetics, the energy content of food is extremely important. The ChipList(R) helps diabetics to understand the value in their food choices through a simple sm iley face scale.

The ChipList(R) is a weight reduction tool used in Europe for many years. The purpose of the ChipList(R) is to make nutrition information simple and clear. The goal of ChipList(R) is to teach good nutrition by showing which foods are good and which ones to avoid. The chart identifies which foods you can eat more of and those that you should curtail. The ChipList(R) chart uses a bright yellow happy face to identify healthier food choices with more nutritional value. A rose colored sad face characterizes worthless and empty food choices. The ChipList(R) chart is available in a foldout chart, containing important information for diabetics. There are no prohibitions in the plan.

The objective of this plan is to encourage healthier choices. The smiley face has curried favor for years as a symbol for happiness. With the smiley face assuming the role as the ChipList(R) spokes model for clearly simple weight reduction -- why wouldn't you give it a chance?

NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton dies of cancer

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Longtime NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton -- winner of the 2001 Talladega 500 and champion of the 2004 Craftsman Truck Series -- died Sunday of cancer. He was 49.

Hamilton was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in February 2006 after a malignant growth was found when swelling from dental surgery did not resolve.

Despite his diagnosis, Hamilton went on to race in the year's first three events, with a best finish of 14th at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"I love what I do; I love this business," Hamilton said. "NASCAR has been good to me, and I just don't feel comfortable when I am not around it."

Hamilton did turn over the wheel to his son, Bobby Hamilton Jr., for a short time while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation -- and then he was back to the races in August when CAT scans revealed he looked healthy.

But he learned all too quickly that microscopic cells remained on the right side of his neck.

"Cancer is an ongoing battle, and once you are diagnosed you always live with the thought of the disease in your body," Hamilton said. "It is the worst thing you could ever imagine."

Hamilton, who drove in all of NASCAR's top three divisions, had four wins under his belt in what is now the Nextel Cup series. His wins came at Talladega, Phoenix, Rockingham, and Martinsville, and his best ever season was in 1996 when he finished ninth in the points standings. Also winner of 10 truck races and one Busch Series race, Hamilton boasted earnings of $14.3 million, raced to 20 top-five finishes, and became a full-time driver-owner in the truck series in 2003.

Another NASCAR favorite, Benny Parsons -- 1973 Winston Cup champion -- was diagnosed with lung cancer in July. He was admitted to intensive care last week at a North Carolina hospital.

Lung cancer puts NASCAR's Benny Parsons in hospital

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NASCAR is in the news -- because of the cancer battles of two of its favorites.

On Sunday, longtime NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton died after a battle with head and neck cancer. His cancer was diagnosed in February 2006. He was 49.

It has also been reported that former NASCAR champion Benny Parsons has been in intensive care for two weeks at Carolinas Medical Center due to c omplications arising from lung cancer.

Parsons, 65 and a non-smoker since 1978, was diagnosed with cancer in his left lung in July 2006. Following treatment, he announced in October he had beaten the disease. But he was unable to attend a November ceremony
in New York to accept the Myers Brothers Award for contributions to his sport. And on December 26, he entered the hospital.

"Parsons' family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from fans and the NASCAR community, and they encourage everyone to keep Benny in their thoughts and prayers," according to a statement issued on Parsons' behalf.

Parsons, a NASCAR television commentator with a weekly show on the radio network, was selected one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998 -- 10 years after his retirement -- in honor of his 21 wins in 526 starts.

First Middle East country acquires cervical cancer vaccine

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the first country in the Middle East to acquire the cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil.

Comparisons of cervical cancer statistics for the years 1998 through 2005 show incidences of the disease tripling during this span of time. So acquisition of the vaccine is a true blessing for the women of this country.

"We are proud to have placed the UAE on the map with leading countries such as the US, Australia and EU by approving Gardasil, the first breakthrough vaccine that prevents the cancer," said Dr Wisa m Haddadin, Franchise Manager, Gulf Region, Merck Sharp & Dohme.

Gardasil, distributed by Merck, Sharp, & Dohme, is now available in more than 33 countries for the prevention of cervical cancer, most commonly caused by HPV (human papilloma virus). About 2.3 million women are currently diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide. About 800 women die of the disease every day.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Is Sugar the Culprit of Insulin Resistance?

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A clinical trial found the effects of a high sugar diet did not increase insulin resistance in the men tested. Insulin resistance is an important marker of diabetes risk. This study showed that an intake of sucrose two and a half times above average consumption did not have adverse effects on insulin resistance i n healthy, nondiabetic men.

The study observed 13 healthy men over a 6 week period. The men ate either a high-sugar diet (25% of their energy from sugar) or a low-sugar diet (10% of their energy from sugar). After 6 weeks, the subjects crossed over to receive the other diet for another 6 weeks, separated by a four week wash out period during which the subjects returned to their usual diet. Insulin resistance was measured by a two-step glucose clamp. The high sucrose diet showed no significant adverse effects, such as elasticity of the arteries (known as vascular compliance) which impacts on risk of heart disease, and glycaemic profiles.

This study does not support the notion that sugar intake has any adverse effect on the risk of diabetes in healthy, nondiabetic men. Yes, I agree with the findings of this study. They are healthy. Their response to sugar is healthy. What would a study of 13 men with a parent who has type 2 diabetes look like? I suspect those results may show a horse of a different color.

Sunday Seven: Seven memories of time lost to cancer

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I once waited to see my oncologist -- in a room with nothing more than outdated magazines and my own wandering mind -- for four hours. I offered up 20 hours of my time for chemotherapy treatments and then spent five days -- two times, for a total of ten days -- waiting in the hospital for doctors to determine how to raise my blood counts and decrease my fever after the completion of a dose-dense chemotherapy attack. I traveled to and from radiation appointments for 35 days, spending an average of 90 minutes on each of these round-trip excursions. I reclined in an infusion chair every three weeks for 12 months so that a new breast cancer wonder drug could sail through my veins. I spent 52 hours in that chair. And I spent countless hours pouring out my emotions to a counselor, in an attempt to clear my mind of all that cancer took from me -- including my time.

These are just seven memories I have of time lost to cancer. There are others -- countless others -- but this should suffice as proof that among all the potential side effects that accompany cancer, loss of time is a guarantee.

According to the first study to put a price tag on the time patients spend battling cancer, it seems the disease steals at least $2.3 billion worth of time for patients in the first year of treatment alone.

Eleven of the most common cancers were included in the study. And it was determined that 368 hours are lost during the first year of treatment for ovarian cancer. For lung cancer, 272 hours are lost. For kidney cancer, 193 hours go down the drain. These hours don't take into account time spent in bed recovering from surgery or chemotherapy treatments. It accounts only for time engaged in actively receiving care -- it counts chemotherapy, radiation, blood tests, scans, surgery, check-ups, waiting to see doctors, and driving to and from appointments.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, sheds new light on the burden of commitment -- the human cost of cancer.

"Cancer is more than the just the dollars and cents for the medicines and the treatments and the doctors. It's also the lost opportunities for the patients," said the American Cancer Society's Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, of this overlooked reality.

Lichtenfeld says this study demonstrates the need for early detection. The earlier cancer is caught, the less time patients spend in the system. It also shows the ne ed for more targeted therapies that spare patients physical side effects and allow them opportunities for taking pills at home instead of receiving treatment in clinics.

I would love to have back the time I spent treating and recovering from cancer. But I'm not heartbroken over my lost time. Because it bought me something in the end -- more time.

New Arizona cancer center opens doors tomorrow

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Cancer patients receiving treatment at the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson will walk through the doors of a new building -- the Fasseas Cancer Center-- beginning tomorrow morning.

The new center, named after major donors Peter and Paula Fasseas, is built on the skeleton of a defunct Tucson hospital. It took 16 months to build and cost an estimated $30 million. And now the comprehensive cancer center is ready for use.

More than 800 cancer patients have appointments during the first week, and 110 medical staff will relocate to the new clinic that has been called the crown jewel of new University Medical Center North Campus a nd one of the most modern cancer treatment centers in the United States.

The new two-story clinic -- to be joined later by facilities for radiation oncology, ambulatory surgery, imaging services, and a Ronald McDonald House for pediatric patients and their families -- will feature patient support groups, counseling, therapeutic massage, a healing garden, a resource center, and a salon to help patients cope with hair loss and other side effects of cancer treatment.

A formal grand opening for the new clinic is planned for February 18.

Connecting the clues in Australia cancer cluster

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The ABC building in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong -- subject of a December 2006 post -- has been officially vacated following an investigation that turned up a cancer cluster among female employees.

Over the past 11 years, 10 women from this one building have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Eight of the women worked in the ABC newsroom, and most ha d been there for more than five years. The breast cancer risk for these women was six times higher than for the general population of women in the area. And while the investigation continues and clues are beginning to connect, the big question -- Why? -- has still not been answered.

It has been determined it is highly unlikely the increase in breast cancer was caused by exposure to radio frequency, low frequency electromagnetic radiation, or chemical contamination. According to experts, had any of these factors been at play, there would have been a rise in cancer among male employees as well as female employees. Therefore, it appears something specific to women has caused this cluster.

Perhaps clues will emerge from an analysis of lifestyle influences -- like smoking, diet, and alcohol and medication use -- and already women have answered questions pertaining to body weight, height, level of physical activity, and reproductive history.

One common theme among women is the use of oral contraceptives for periods varying from two to 18 years. Other interesting findings include the average number of babies born to the women -- 1.6 -- and the breastfeeding practices of the women -- each woman with a child breastfed for an average of 2.3 to 12 months -- and the educational background of the group -- of the 10 women, six have college degrees.

Experts says these are important factors. Early puberty, late menopause, lack of breastfeeding, use of oral contraceptives, and the trend of older mothers having fewer babies all can influence breast cancer risk. And so can level of education. Research shows increased rates of breast cancer in women with white collar jobs -- which is related to socioeconomic status and late childbearing.

Everything is important really -- because as breast cancer rates continue to skyrocket, all possible reasons need to be considered.

One in eight women in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85. About 13,261 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. And it is predicted that 14,818 will be diagnosed in 2011.