Saturday, 20 January 2007

The politics of reversing type 2 Diabetes

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Mike Huckabee is a politician, an award winning "Health Crusader", and a successful loser of over 100 pounds.

After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2002, his doctor gave him two oral meds and a stern warning. His doctor told him the condition of his health, the lifestyle he leads and the stress level of his job would likely put him six feet under within 10 years. At 48 years of age he was one of the youngest governors in the Nation. He knew he could win this fight -- and he did. After losing 110 pounds, the Governor of Arkansas reversed his diabetes and serendipitously assumed a role in the war against obesity.

It took a sobering message, dedication and commitment to bring Mike the healthy lifestyle he enjoys today. On the next dLifeTV, learn how Governor Mike Huckabee is winning the battle against diabetes. dLifeTV airs every Sunday on CNBC at 7PM Eastern, 6PM Central and, 4PM Pacific.

National Cancer Institute paper reveals staggering numbers

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The American Cancer Society has happily announced that cancer deaths have declined for the second straight year. This is big news -- mostly because our population is growing and aging and it's entirely possible this could have led to an increase in cancer deaths. Not only is this not true, but the drop in deaths for this second year is eight times greater than the drop during the first year. Amazing.

It's hard to imagine in light of this great news that there are still less hopeful statistics out there on the cancer front. But there are so many dimensions to this disease -- prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, survival -- that the numbers can vary tremendously depending on perspective.

From the perspective of diagnosis, one in two men and one in three women in America today will develop cancer during their lifetimes. These staggering statistics, based on data collected during 2001 through 2003, are detailed in a pivotal paper appearing in The Oncologist -- a monthly peer-reviewed journal for doctors devoted to cancer patient care.

Dr. Matthew Hayat and colleagues, who worked on this paper for the National Cancer Institute, reveal other worrisome numbers and facts.

It seems the number of new cancer patients is expected to more than double from the current 1.36 million in 2000 to almost 3 million in 2050. Five-year survival for all cancer stages combined ranges from as low as 16 percent for lung cancer patients to 100 percent for prostate cancer patients. And black Americans are reported to have the highest cancer incidence and mortality rates for men and women for all cancers combined.

So while less people are dying from cancer, diagnosis of the disease seems to be on the rise. Not exactly a perfect scenario -- but if science and research can keep up, perhaps those diagnosed with cancer will need to prepare not for death, but for the management of a chronic condition.

Tiny implants to broadcast status of tumors

Scientists from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are developing a tiny implant that will allow doctors to see what's happening with tumors from the inside out.

If all proceeds according to plan, doctors will one day be implanting tiny sensors inside tumors to determine whether or not cancer drugs are shrinking the tumors. The sensors will also determine whether or not tumors are growing.

Cancer specialists have long wished for better methods of measuring the success of drugs. While blood tests can show if a drug has reached the bloodstream, they don't reveal much about the tumor itself. This small silicone cube, no bigger than two millimeters on each side and embedded in a tumor or lymph node, would remain in the body throughout treatment while essentially broadcasting what's going on inside the tumor.

MIT scientists hope to begin animal experiments within months. Their goal is to one day make the implant as thin as the pieces of led used in mechanical pencils.

This research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is part of a long-term project to make medical technologies that will cure cancer. It's all part of journey toward complete targeted cancer treatment. And this little implant will have the power to communicate whether or not these treatments are working.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Xenical may help deter onset of Diabetes

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The journal Diabetes Care reports obese adults who lost a substantial amount of weight through lifestyle modification and dieting regained less weight when they took the diet drug Xenical, This approach was also associated with a reduced occurrence of type 2 diabetes.

Xenical burns fat while you are eating by inhibiting the absorption of dietary fat from your food. Studies have shown that the drug promotes more weight loss than lifestyle modification alone. The study examined the effectst of Xenical in preventing weight regain in 383 obese adults who had lost an average of 31.7 pounds (14.4 kg) on an 8-week protein-rich, very-low-energy diet. The 309 participants who lost 5% or more of their bodyweight then received lifestyle counseling for 3 years while taking either Xenical or a placebo pill daily. Both groups regained some weight. Xenical patients regained an average of 10 pounds, while placebo patients put back an average of 15 pounds.

Most importantly, during the 3-year study period only 8 of 153 in the Xenical group developed type 2 diabetes compared with 17 of 156 in the placebo group. That's remarkable. Twice as many people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, in addition to regaining one and a half times the weight. As an aside (and not to be a whistleblower) but one of the warnings on the label says the drug should not be taken for more than 2 years. Just an FYI.

Blast of bottled sunshine could help cancer survivors

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If clinical trials go well, a new drug simulating the effects of normal sunlight and increasing the life expectancy of prostate cancer patients, could be available in 2009.

The drug, Asentar, provided levels of vitamin D between 50 and 100 times higher than levels delivered by the sun and could double life expectancy from nine to 18 months for those taking the pills. Absent would be any of the consequences associated with such an overdose.

"An extension of nine months would be very significant in my view," said Nick James of the University of Birmingham. "If the results of the phase III trial are as good as those of the phase II trial, that would be significant."

Details about this study can be found in the journal Chemistry & Industry.

Gum disease may increase risk of pancreatic cancer

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As if gum disease is not a painful enough experience, a Harvard study shows the disease can more than double the risk of pancreatic cancer. Additionally, those with a history of gum disease and recent tooth loss have a 2.7-fold increase in risk.

Previous studies have linked gum disease and pancreatic cancer, but smoking -- which contributes to both diseases -- has never been taken into consideration.

Researchers in this study, who controlled for smoking, followed 51,529 men for 16 years and found those who reported gum d isease were 64 percent more likely to have pancreatic cancer. Nonsmokers with gum disease were twice as likely to develop the disease.

It was also determined in the study, published in the January 17 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, that the more severe the gum disease, the higher the cancer risk.

While it is not clear why gum disease is linked to cancer risk, researchers believe perhaps long-term gum infections trigger body-wide inflammation -- and inflamed tissues send chemical signals that promote tumor growth.

Cancer deaths down for second straight year

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In 1971, when it was evident cancer deaths were rising, President Nixon and Congress declared a war on cancer. Finally, after 35 years, it seems we are winning the war.

Experts say the absolute decline in cancer deaths is quite amazing -- because our population is both growing and aging, both of which could contribute to an increased cancer death rate. But prevention, early detection, and early treatment are working wonders and are saving lives for three of the most common cancers -- breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. More and more men are also surviving lung cancer due to cessation of smoking more than 20 years ago. The female lung cancer death rate is not declining, however, due to continued high rates of smoking.

The highest drop in deaths among the major cancers was for colorectal cancer -- thanks to effective screening methods. Deaths dropped by 1,110 for men and 1,094 for women.

According to an American Cancer Society review of U.S. death certificates, cancer deaths declined by 369 between the years 2002 and 2003. Between 2003 to 2004, the decrease was 3,014 -- more than eight times greater.

Experts predict cancer deaths will continue to decline over the years -- although some expect the obesity epidemic, which increases risk for all cancers, to pop the cancer death rate back up in the long run.

Drug slows return of pancreatic cancer

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Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. So any bit of progress on the pancreatic cancer front is a big deal. And researchers are happy to report they've found a chemotherapy drug that can help patients who have received surgery prevent a return of the disease for a longer period of time.

In a German study, participants who received Gemzar, or gemcitabine, lived an average of 13.4 months without their cancers coming back. Participants who did not receive the drug lived without the disease for 6.9 months. While the findings of this study may seem modest, they really are quite encouraging because pancreatic cancer is such a rapid killer, and patients with this disease have the worst chances of recovery.

This study, published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, brings hope for the mere 20 percent of pancreatic cancer patients who are candidates for surgery. While surgery is the best hope for a cure, the disease still returns in the majority of cases -- so Gemzar is surely worth a shot.

It should be noted that some study authors report financial ties to Gemzar drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. Researchers, however, report the firm had no influence in design or data interpretation.

Dense breasts riskier than fatty breasts

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I have dense breasts. And ever since the surgeon who performed my breast reduction surgery more than 10 years ago told me about the composition of my breast tissue, I have been a bit obsessed with how my breasts feel. Good thing -- because I ended up with breast cancer two years ago as a result of my own at-home monitoring. And now I wonder if my cancer was influenced by the density characterizing the tissue that fills my breasts.

Canadian researchers are reporting in a groundbreaking study that women with dense breasts, like me, are five times more likely to develop breast cancer than whose whose breasts have a lot of fatty tissue. It's long been knows that dense breasts inhibit the effectiveness of X-ray mammograms -- and perhaps delay diagnosis -- but now it's clear that breast density is a risk factor all on its own.

"Breast density is an 'extremely important' factor that accounts for up to one-third of all cases," says lead investigator Norman Boyd of the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto

Dr. Boyd says breast size has no bearing on density, and women cannot determine their degree of density on their own.

Density is the percentage of breast tissue not clearly visible on X-ray mammography. While fat shows up dark on mammograms, dense tissue appears light -- making it difficult to spot tumors.

This is not all bad news, say the authors of the study who report that density decreases with age. This research opens up a whole new avenue of prevention because the factors that affect density -- hormones, diet, exercise, environmental exposures -- can hopefully be altered. Also, this is very important news for women because it provides them with new and better information. And now, women who know they have dense breasts can insist on more frequent screening.

This research is published in Thursday's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Trans Fat replacement raises Blood Sugar

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Researchers say a new method of replacing unhealthy trans fats by modifying fat in commercial products has been found to raise blood glucose and depress insulin in humans -- both common precursors to diabetes. If that wasn't bad enough -- it still adversely affects the beneficial HDL-cholesterol.

The study demonstrates the process of rearranging molecules in the fat adversely affect human metabolism of fats and glucose. The metabolism of unmodified natural saturated fat is healthier, in comparison. The trans fats are replaced with interesterified fat, which is a modified fat that includes hydrogenation followed by rearrangement of fat molecules by the process called interesterification. The rearranged fats are then enriched with saturated stearic acid. Experts on human lipid metabolism noted this study shows the specific location of individual fatty acids, particularly saturated fatty acids, seems to make a difference on fat and glucose metabolism.

New York City has already outlawed the use of trans fats in restaurants. Several U.S. cities have or are considering banning them as well. However a safe replacement for these fats has not yet been agreed upon. Looks like the Micronutrient Monitors will have to congregate at the kitchen table to chew the fat on this one a little more.

Toxic Waste can make you Fat

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A study tracked hospitalization rates for patients treated for diabetes in New York between 1993 and 2000. Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled - from 5.8 million to 13.3 million Americans from 1980 to 2002. Experts point to the obesity ep idemic for the growing diabetes rate. However, the reason for the local obesity rate is pretty toxic.

The study found that Americans who live near toxic waste sites are hospitalized more for diabetes than those who live in clean communities. The researchers compared hospitalization rates by zip code for three types of communities: clean, without hazardous sites, contaminated by persistent organic pollutants and containing other types of waste or pollutants. The study examined whites and blacks between the ages of 25 to 74, correcting for potential factors that could skew the data (age, race, sex and average household income). Major types of organic pollutants are polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a former industrial ingredient of pesticides, paints, paper and other products.

PCBs were banned in the 1970s but still exist in the environment. People are mainly exposed through eating animal fats, although they can also breathe in the pollutants. Possible mechanisms for the association with diabetes are unknown, although some speculate that PCBs may influence the retention of body fat, which is a risk factor for diabetes. I looked a little further and found a study with a good hypothesis. It shows the affects of PCBs in fish as having a significant decrease in the levels of enzymes responsible for fatty acid metabolism - which could be a precursor for the retention of body fat in humans. After all -- if you're not metabolizing it for energy, where else will you put it?

Calcium may reduce colon cancer risk, but is it safe?

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In the January issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, findings were published that says calcium seems to protect high-risk people from developing polyps in the colon. Polyps are growths in the colon and some can become cancerous over time.

Patients, who had a history of benign polyps, either took 1,200 milligrams of calcium in supplement form or received a placebo daily for four years. In this study it showed that calcium use was associated with a 17 percent lower risk for polyp recurrence.

"It really does look like calcium interferes with carcinogenesis in the large bowel" researcher John A. Baron, MD, tells WebMD. "The fact that this reduction in risk persisted for years after people stopped taking calcium is amazing".

Baron also stated that it is still not clear if the benefits outweigh the risk since some studies have linked calcium treatment with an increase in prostate cancer risk.

On the flip side a University of Arizona epidemiology professor Maria Elena, PhD, worries that the findings will make people think that all they need to do to protect themselves from colorectal cancer is to increase their calcium intake, which in men high doses can be dangerous.

The best way to prevent colon cancer is to get a colonoscopy when you turn fifty and make sure you have follow-ups. That is not as easy as popping a pill but its true.

The American Cancer Society recommends that adults aged 19 to 50 take in 1,000 milligrams per day of calcium and that those over 50 get 1,200 milligrams. The guidelines stress that the calcium should come primarily from food sources and not supplements.

Glioblastoma brain cancer treatment shows promise

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Glioblastoma multiform, (GBM) is the most aggressive form of the primary brain tumors known as gliomas. The tumors do not spread throughout the body like other forms of cancer, but cause symptoms by invading the brain.

A new drug called AZD2171 (Recentin), is an angiogenesis inhibitor that blocks tumor blood supply and shows promise in treating deadly glioblastoma brain cancers. Recentin suppresses the growth of blood vessels that feed the tumors.

The preliminary findings of the Phase II study show that researchers found that Recentin could significantly reduce the size of glioblastoma tumors and can help reduce brain swelling.

"Patients with recurrent glioblastomas desperately need new, effective treatment alternatives," said study author Dr. Tracy Batchelor, chief of neuro-oncology.

Don't choose cancer, health care provider warns women

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Health care provider Dr. Anthony Vendryes wrote Monday in the Jamaica Gleaner that he is distressed at the growing number of young women developing cancer -- especially breast cancer. He believes women are not working very hard at preventing the disease. He thinks we are just waiting for the problem to surface and then treating it with "painful and often ineffective" efforts.

According to Vendryes, research indicates a woman's risk of developing breast cancer is under her own control. If we live a lifestyle that promotes cancer, we are apparently likely to get the disease. Such a lifestyle would include gaining more than 11 pounds after the age of 18, exercising less than one time per week, eating less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, eating more than three ounces of red meat per day, ingesting too much fat and salt, consuming more than one alcoholic drink per day, and smoking cigarettes.

I am all for healthy living. And I believe achieving good health is under our control. I would personally recommend every woman take charge of her life in a healthful manner. But I do not believe as Vendryes states, "most women actually give themselves cancer by making poor choices in life." I think it's the word most that bothers me.

Obviously, there is a connection between lifestyle choices and chronic disease. And of course our level of health is under our control -- to some extent. But I don't believe it's fair to claim most women ask for breast cancer. I know I didn't.

I did not choose cancer. It chose me. Vendryes might say I am one of the disillusioned people who think cancer is entirely a matter of chance or entirely a matter of genetics. Actually, I suspect it's a combination of all factors. All I know for sure, however, is that my own lifestyle choices were pretty darn healthy prior to my diagnosis.

My weight has always been in a normal range -- and while I did gain more than 11 pounds twice in my life, it was due both times to the more-than-ten-pound babies I delivered into the world. I have always eaten a fairly healthy diet. I consume sweets, salt, and fats in moderation. I have never smoked and have consumed alcohol only minimally. And I have always consistently exercised.

I admit I have eaten red meat, although never daily. And I'm sure I fall short on the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. But really, I cann ot even begin to imagine that my lifestyle was an invitation for cancer. And it makes me sad that most other young women, shocked by a diagnosis of breast cancer like me, might think they asked for such a horrible disease.

It's been two years since my breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent "painful and often ineffective" treatments. And although I have made some lifestyle changes -- I never drink alcohol now, I exercise a little more, and I don't choose to eat red meat if other options are available -- my life is much the same as it was prior to cancer. And I am certain that if cancer makes a return visit to my body, it will not be because I asked for it.

Increased risk of bladder cancer associated with chlorinated water

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A new study shows that if you drink, bathe or swim in chlorinated water it may increase the risk of bladder cancer. The chemicals, mostly chlorine, used to disinfect water can be harmful when they are inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

The chemical by-product produced, called trihalomethanes (THM), can be a powerful carcinogenic because it does not get detoxified by the liver.

The researchers analyzed the average water THM levels in the 123 municipalities in the study. People living in households with an average household water THM of more than 49 micrograms per liter had double the bladder cancer risk of those living in households where water THM concentration was below 8 micrograms per liter. They noted that levels of about 50 micrograms per liter are common in industrialized societies.

Those who drank chlorinate water were at a 35 percent greater risk of bladder cancer than those who didn't and the use of swimming pools boosted bladder cancer risk by 57 percent.

Something else we need to worry about--great! I am not losing sleep over this one. I cannot take back all those years swimming in the backyard pool!

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Infrared check may prevent Foot Ulcers

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An article in Diabetes Care says a daily check of foot temperature with an infrared skin thermometer can significantly reduce the recurrence of foot ulcers.

Elevated skin temperature is a sign of inflammation and tissue injury, but the signs may be too subtle to detect. The study of 173 diabetic patients between 18 and 80 years of age were assigned to one of three treatment groups for 15 months. Group one received standard therapy, consisting of a foot evaluation every 8 weeks, therapeutic insoles and footwear, and an education program. Group two received the same treatment, plus instructions to inspect the bottom of their feet with a mirror twice daily. Group three received the same treatment as the second, but also used a digital infrared thermometer daily and were told to notify the study nurse if the temperature at the same site differed by more than 4° Fahrenheit. About 30% of subjects in groups one and two developed a new foot ulcer, compared with only 8.5% in group three. Approximately 90% of groups one and two also had full-thickness ulcers by the time they noticed a problem.

Once patients identified a hot spot, they were told to modify their activity and stay off their feet until the temperature normalized. Researchers believe this is what reduced the ulcer rate. Impressive! A digital infrared thermometer costs approximately $150 and is powered by 9-V battery. A simple addition to regular foot maintenance could save you an arm and a leg, literally.

Insulin Pill from Under the Sea

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Scientists in Taiwan reported success in early tests of oral insulin in diabetic rats. The study showed the insulin pill combination reached the rats' bloodstream and lowered their blood glucose levels.

Insulin is a pure protein and therefore must be protected from the digestive enzymes in the stomach and small intestine. Scientists found that chitosan, a chemical derived from the shells of shrimp, crabs, and lobsters allowed insulin to reach the blood stream without degradation. Chitosan encapsulation provided a protective barrier for the insulin while traveling through the stomach and small intestine.

An oral drug would be the most convenient way of delivering insulin. No more needles, no syringe - brought to you by chitosan! It almost rhymes -- but nonetheless, it's music to my ears.

Joslin looking for people with type 2 for study

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A call has been put out to people with type 2 to participate in a study being conducted by the Joslin Diabetes Center. In efforts to further their exploration of the possible link between inflammation and type 2, Joslin will hold a national clinical trial to test whether Salsalate, an anti-inflammatory drug that for years has been used to reduce arthritis pain, can also reduce blood glucose levels in people with type 2.

Although Joslin is located in Boston, the study is part of a multi-institutional effort involving 15 medical centers from around the U.S. Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease (NIDDK), the researchers are currently seeking 800 people with type 2 to participate in the clinical trials. The study itself is being referred to as Targeting Inflammation with Sasalate in Type 2 Diabetes (TINSAL-T2D). Not exactly the catchiest name, but it serves its purpose just the same.

If you are interested in learning more about the TINSAL-T2D study, and/or may wish to participate, contact Allison B. Goldfine, M.D. by phone at (617) 732-2643 or vial email at . You can also visit clinical research section on Joslin's website.

Combo surgery may put you at risk

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Published in yesterday's issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology (typically, this can be found on the shelf next to Maxim and FHM in Border's), researchers have found that combining heart bypass surgery and carotid endarterectomy may increase the chance of death or postoperative stroke.

The study of discharge data from over 650,000 patients who had been admitted into hospitals in the U.S. for coronary bypass artery surgery or carotid endarterectomy from 1993 to 2002. It was discovered that patients who underwent both of these procedures at the same time had a 38 percent greater chance of stroke or death after the operation than did patients who had the coronary artery bypass surgery alone.

Doctors involved in this study now question whether if there is any benefit to performing these two procedures during the same hospitalization. They hope to arrive at an answer with a greater degree of certainty after holding further clinical trials.

Researchers make unexpected breast cancer discovery

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Canadian researchers have made an unexpected discovery in a molecule that appears to drastically boost the ability of standard drugs to kill breast cancer cells. Currently, the discovery has been confined to the lab -- but researchers hope the power of this molecule, the ANK peptide, can one day be used to counter drug resistance for many women with breast cancer.

Scientists from Queen' s University say the ANK peptide, not a drug by itself, gives drugs like taxol and nocodazole more than triple the ability to kill breast cancer cells. One scientist says the process of enhancing drug effectiveness is much like adding flavor to coffee to make it taste better.

This is exciting news, but the results -- published Monday in the journal Cancer Research -- only apply to lab experiments at this point. Researchers must now proceed with testing the peptide-drug combination in lab mice. If successful, they will move on to human testing. The whole process could take years. But early results are so promising that application for a U.S. patent on the peptide has already been made.

According the medical experts, breast cancer patients can become resistant to some drugs depending on duration of treatment, dose of medication, and genetic makeup.

"This peptide would be able to give them another chance," said a researcher from this s tudy. "For those who respond reasonably well, they will do even better; for those who don't respond to this drug treatment ... we greatly hope this will make the current drug more useful by extending its impact to a wider range of people, particularly those with a resistance problem."

Anal cancer survivor seeks someone in same boat

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Battling cancer can at times feel like slowly paddling upstream against currents that are both forceful and unforgiving. Sometimes reprieve comes only when we find others in the same boat, others submerged in their own rough waters, others who truly know what it's like to navigate a dreadful disease.

I am lucky -- in an odd sort of cancer way -- because I had breast cancer. Many women have breast cancer. And while this really is a horrible fact, it makes for a great sea of support. At times when I felt I was drowning in cancer, I reached for my lifeguards -- the women who paddled before me, the women paddling al ongside me -- and they coached me, guided me, saved me from one the worst side effects of cancer. Isolation.

I have rarely felt isolated in my cancer journey and as a result, I have not thought much about this lonely cancer consequence. But I am thinking about it now -- thanks to a reader who has courageously shared her story with me, in hopes of locating someone in her same boat, in hopes of creating connections with other survivors who share the challenges of her disease.

Tanya has anal cancer. She was diagnosed one year ago -- during a routine colonoscopy -- with squamous cell carcinoma in-situ in her anal canal, on the wall between the anus and vagina. Previous abdominal discomfort, much like dull menstrual pain, preceded Tanya's screening but she was sure it was due to menopause. She was 53 at the time.

But it wasn't menopause. It was cancer. And it was devastating for Tanya who was spared radical surgery in exchange for a combination of radiation and a chemotherapy called the Nigro Protocol. First came a mitomycin push followed by four to five days of 5-Fluorouracil. Radiation came next -- for six weeks -- and then Tanya endured another round of the same chemotherapy regimen.

"The treatment was brutal," Tanya says. "By the end of the sixth week, I was in a lot of pain, especially since the affected area had a lot of traffic and could not exactly be decommissioned and allowed to heal."

Although she was told by her oncologist she tolerated her treatment well, Tanya says it was pure hell.

Tanya's treatment ended in March and an August biopsy revealed she is doing just fine. Her cancer appears to be gone. What is not gone, however, is the discomfort that still plagues her -- both physically and emotionally. And while the physical scars are simply terrible -- she feels pain during urination and bowel movements and is currently unable to have intercour se with her knight-in-shining-armor husband -- the emotional isolation is overwhelming distressing.

"I have not shared this experience with too many people since I feel awkward discussing that part of my anatomy and because the condition is so uncommon," Tanya says. "I would, however, be most grateful to discuss any or all of this with someone who has been through the same experience."

If you have been in Tanya's same cancer boat, have paddled similar waters, or know someone with whom she might connect, please consider contacting this brave survivor at
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Young architect builds cancer center model

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Joey, my oldest child, is six years old and already quite a clever creator. He can make houses out of sticks and boats out of cardboard boxes. He can build an entire city with toy blocks and crafty cabins with the same Lincoln Logs his daddy used more than 30 years ago. Most recently, Joey has been sharpening his skills with Lego.

Today, while his daddy built him a Lego jet, Joey constructed his own masterpiece. He called it his Cancer Center.

I wasn't around to hear Joey dedicate his building to such an important cause. But I heard about it after the fact when Joey offered me a mini-tour of the structure. I learned that the center has a helicopter landing pad and offices with windows for the empl oyees. I was shown an emergency vehicle with its own system for taking blood from patients, rendering it healthy, and then returning it to the body. And then just as I wanted more -- more details, more specifics, more history on just why he built this cancer center -- Joey's attention moved elsewhere. And so I know nothing more about the cancer center sitting in the playroom of my house.

Cancer is no strange topic for Joey who has been along on my own cancer ride for the past two years -- so perhaps I am the inspiration for his architectural creation. But I suspect the real driving force behind Joey's latest project is the vacant land we passed yesterday. This land is the future site of a new cancer center in our city, and Joey probably heard me talking about the ground breaking ceremony that just took place. Regardless, cancer was on his mind this morning. And while the topic may be far from his mind now -- and I'm sure the building will be demolished by the day' s end -- I am touched that for mere moments, Joey was invested in a noble cancer endeavor.
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Lance Armstrong's new race

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Lance Armstrong means business. He says his new race is finding a cure for a disease that kills 600,000 people a year. Lance is a ten year testicular cancer survivor and was diagnosed at the age of 25.

Yesterday, Lance urged Iowans to support a presidential candidate who's dedicated to expanding cancer research. In a speech to 1,500 guests of the Greater Des Moines Partnership's annual dinner, the seven time Tour de France Champion described the power Iowa holds as the nation's lead-off state in the presidential nominating process.

"The cancer question has to be asked, and it has to be on the agenda for the most powerful man in the world", Armstrong said.

Go Lance!

Soap star Darlene Conley loses battle with cancer

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Soap opera actress Darlene Conley, best known for playing Sally Spectra for the past 20 years on The Bold and the Beautiful, lost her battle with cancer over the weekend. She was 72.

Conley, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer just three months ago, also played characters on Days of our Lives and General Hospital -- and many knew her as black market baby broker Rose DeVille onThe Young and the Restless.

Before embarking on a daytime career, Conley made appearances in mov ies The Birds and Valley of the Dolls and on television shows such as Murder, She Wrote, Cagney & Lacey, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Tomato and Broccoli combination effective against prostate cancer

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Tomato and broccoli are known for their cancer fighting qualities. In a study published in the January 15th issue of Cancer Research, it showed that the tomato/broccoli combination outperformed all other diets in shrinking prostate tumors in animals.

The research suggested that older men with slow-growing prostate cancer who have chosen the watchful waiting over chemotherapy and radiation should seriously consider altering their diets to include more tomatoes and broccoli.

To get the desired effects a 55 year old man concerned about prostate health should consume daily:

  • 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato
  • or 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • or 1/2 cup of tomato paste

The researchers also said that eating the whole tomatoes is always better than taking a lycopene supplement and cooked tomatoes may be better than raw tomatoes.

I don't think any of us can go wrong by adding more tomatoes and broccoli to our diets!

Napoleon Bonaparte: death from cancer, not poisoning

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Employing modern day pathological and tumor-staging methods, University of Texas Southwestern researchers have concluded that French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte died from advanced gastric cancer resulting from a chronic bacteria infection, H. pylori bacteria.

While Napoleon's personal phy sician Francesco Antommarchi stated at the time of Napoleon's death that the ruler of France had died from stomach cancer, an alternative and popular theory that has persisted down through the centuries after his death suggested Napoleon was killed by prolonged arsenic poisoning. Apparently, not so.

By studying historical accounts, the researchers determined that the advancement of gastric cancer was such that even modern day treatments would not have prolonged Napoleon's life. Professor of pathology and internal medicine Dr. Robert Genta stated, "Even if treated today, he'd have been dead within a year."

Napoleon's father died from stomach cancer, but the researchers dismiss that heredity played a role in the development of Napoleon's gastric cancer. Dr. Genta explains, "The ulcerated lesion on the emperor's stomach suggests a history of chronic H. pylori gastritis, which might have increased his risk of gastric cancer. The risk might have been furthe r increased by his diet full of salt-preserved foods but sparse in fruits and vegetables - common fare for long military campaigns."

To learn details of the study into Napoleon's death from gastric cancer, and the methods used by the researchers, read University of Texas Southwestern's Napoleon's mysterious death unmasked.
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Why do patients respond differently to standard doses of medication?

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The standard dose of some medications are too high and dangerous for the patients, where some patients respond the exact opposite and show that the standard dose is too low to produce beneficial effects. It would seem to be a simple case of age, gender, or genetic differences to explain the individual variability in response to the drugs.

A study at the University of Kansas is reporting that variations in the body's production of hydrogen peroxide, which is believed to serve as a signaling molecule at low levels, can affect the accumulation of drugs inside our cells.

Oxidative stress, an increase in hydrogen peroxide levels, may have an increased response to a given dosage of a drug. This seems to show that it is in our best interest for physicians to provide more individualized dosing of drugs.

Hydrogen peroxide effects could be especially important in therapeutic drugs such as aminophylline, carbamazepine, lithium, carbonate, phenytoin, theophylline and warfarin. The researchers think that small changes in the doses of these drugs could cause either subtherapeutic or toxic results.

NASCAR champion Benny Parsons dies of cancer

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Former NASCAR champion Benny Parsons, hospitalized on December 26 due to complications from lung cancer, died today in Charlotte, North Carolina after a short battle with the disease. He was 65.

Parsons, who had not smoked since 1978, was diagnosed with cancer in his left lung in July 2006. He underwent aggressive chemotherapy and radiation and announced in October that he was in remission. But the intensive treatment rendered his left lung useless and then a blood clot appeared in his right lung, prompting his admission to the hospital where he spent his remaining days in an induced coma.

Parsons was confident he could survive with one lung and compared his condition to that of John Wayne.

"John Wayne lived and had a great career with one lung," he said. "There is no reason why I can't do the same."It will take a little while for the right lung to pull the weight for the left lung so until then I will still need to use oxygen when I walk. I won't need it sitting or commentating races and to me that is the main thing. If given a choice between cancer or losing a lung I would say that I got the right end of the deal."

Parson's intense spirit was his trademark. It motivated him to rise from a poor childhood, leave behind a taxi driving job, and head straight to the top of NASCAR. His success is evident by his 1994 induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and his 1995 induction into the National Motorsports Press Association's Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame.

One of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers and the 1972 champion, Parsons retired from racing in 1988 and headed straight into a broadcasting career. He spent the past six years as a commentator for NBC and TNT and even continued to call races from the booth during his treatment. He hosted a weekly radio program and kept fans updated on his condition on his very own blog.

Judging by the comments left for Parsons on a January 8th post about his hospitalization, there was an abundance of love for this man, nicknamed BP by the NASCAR community.

"He was a great driver and a terrific broadcaster, but above anything else he was a kind and generous human being," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports. "His character and spirit will define how he is remembered by all of us. Benny will be sorely missed."

Parson's death comes eight days after the death of NASCAR driver and Truck Series Champion Bobby Hamilton.

Iron-rich foods raise heart risks for diabetics

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Diabetes Care reports consuming red meat and other foods high in "heme" iron, such as chicken liver, clams and oysters, appears to increase the risk of heart disease in diabetics.

Researchers followed 6,161 women with type 2 diabetes. During follow-up visits, from 1980 through 2000, the team documented 550 new cases of heart disease. After accounting for age and body weight, high intake of both heme iron and red meat appeared to increase the risk of heart disease. Specifically, women who consumed the highest amount of heme iron were 50% more likely to develop heart disease than those with the lowest intake. The risks were greatest in women who were postmenopausal.

The researchers point out that because of the study's design, the findings can't prove that high heme iron intake "causes" heart disease, only that it is "associated" with the disease. The results of this study support the suggestion that cutting back on consumption of heme iron-rich foods might be prudent for diabetics. Those of you in the market for a heart healthy diet - consider curtailing the chicken livers and aphrodisiacs of the sea.

Generic Insulin - What's the Holdup?

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In 2005, insulin cost state Medicaid programs $500 million. The diabetes epidemic is causing the government to question one of the big-ticket items on the shopping list - insulin. In sulin was developed over 20 years ago and many of these original forms are now off patent. This is a screaming opportunity for generic drug makers to prosper and government programs to save.

Two of the largest insulin makers, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lily, say they are opposed to any F.D.A. action that would approve generic insulin without clinical studies. Why the concern? The combined sales in the United States for Humulin and Novolin is about $1 billion. No wonder.

A drug maker needs to prove the generic version contains the same active ingredients, purity and quality, and provides equivalent delivery over time as the brand-name version. However the makers of generic drugs agree that the approval process for generic biologics, like insulin, would be more complex than the current shortened process for other generic drugs. Anybody have a guess as to what the hold up is for this much needed and overdue generic insulin explosion?

To your health

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Having been in the fitness game for quite some time now, I've seen and heard just about every claim (mostly false) possible by supplement manufacturers. "Lose 10 pounds in a week," "Gain 20 pounds of lean muscle," "Grow a curly mustache like former Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Rollie Fingers." Okay, perhaps I made up the last one, but it truly wouldn't surprise me if I saw a product on the shelf that claimed to do that very thing.

The craziest thing about the vast majority of these snake oils -- beside the fact that most of them don't work -- is how exorbitantly they are priced. But, what if I told you that there may be a product out there that can prevent our bodies from absorbing some of the calories and carbohydrates that we consume during a meal? And, what if I told you that you may very well already have it sitting in your kitchen cabinet? Still interested? Then read on.

Time for the unveiling of this super-product. Are you ready? Are you sure? Okay, here it is: Tea. Kind of anticlimactic, I know, but that doesn't take away from the apparent absorbent properties that black, green, and mulberry teas seem to possess. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that drinking tea with a meal may cause your body to not absorb as much as 25 percent of the calories from that meal. While more studies on this fascinating discovery still need to be done, in the meantime it brings to bear the countless boxes of Earl Gray you have hidden in the back of your cabinets. And just in case the 25 percent absorption of calories didn't seem all that impressive to you, know that you could lose as much as 16 to 18 pound in year by reducing your caloric intake by this much.

Pilot's Diabetes Contributed to Crash

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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) says a pilot's diabetes may have been a factor in a fatal plane crash in south-west Queensland just over two years ago.

The 49-year-old man was flying to New South Wales in October 2004 when he reported feeling unwell near St George. A short time later, the two-seater Canard plane crashed in a rugged area on the town's outskirts, killing the pilot. The ATSB found the plane was in working order at the time of the incident and the bureau says it is unable to pinpoint what caused the man to become disoriented before the crash. However, it says dehydration and the man's diabetes, which was diagnosed a year earlier, may have contributed to the crash.

This is the kind of news that leaves me wondering what the pilot's blood sugar was at the time of the crash. If it was in range or even considerably high I'm not so sure the cause of the crash was diabetes related. So if the pilot was dehydrated - it is possible his numbers were a little on the high side. If that's the case, I'm skeptical that his diabetes was fairly contributed to the crash. I know I'd rather drive my car with my sugar a little higher than lower. What do you think?

Chill out, ladies.

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Just the other day, I saw a woman -- of about forty to forty-five years of age -- yelling and screaming at someone on her cell phone. She happened to be driving by as she did, so I could not hear what all the commotion was about. Just the same, I remember saying out loud, "Lady, relax. You're going to have a heart attack!!" Needless to say, she didn't hear me, but I can't possibly be the first person to speak out loud while they are alone in their car. Anyway, the reason I bring this story up is that it turns out that I may have actually been right.

In the past, studies have linked anger and hostility towards others with increased risk of heart disease in men. But, a a recent study held by doctors from the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center and the Women's health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that outward hostility by woman can also effect coronary heart health in women. However, the researchers were quick to note that anger and hostility alone are not predictive of heart disease. When combined with other risk factors, though, this anger and hostility can contribute to increased risk.

Researchers actually isolated the kind of anger that served as the greatest detriment to womens' heart health, and, as stated earlier, it was outward hostility. As in, hostility towards others -- such as whoever was on the other end of that woman's cell phone. Anger Out, as it was called in the study, seems to have more of an effect than cynicsm, hostile temprament and suppressed anger when it is combined with such other risk factors as age, diabetes or dyslipidemia.

Decaf may not be as De as you think

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Let's face it, Americans are addicted to caffeine. We love our coffee, just as much as our neighbors across the pond love their tea. So, I suppose it's safe to say that the British are addicted to caffeine, as well. And then if you consider how popular coca cola is in so many other countries around the world, there's clearly an argument to be made that the people living in these countries are also addicted to caffeine. And though the verdict is still out on whether or not caffeine is truly good for you or not (I've personally come across evidence suggesting both), this legal, mood altering substance clearly remains part of a shared w orld culture.

But, what happens when you stop consuming caffeine? Some people complain of experiencing headaches, while others also complain of feeling sluggish and tired. Others still claim that it has a slowing effect on their heart rate. Soon enough, however, those feelings typically go away. At or around this point, some people opt against drinking caffeinated beverages altogether, especially coffee. But, others who enjoy the 'ritual' of drinking coffee, or perhaps even the taste, will go unleaded. That is, they will begin drinking decaffeinated coffee. However, what most people do not realize is that many so-called decaf coffees still contain some caffeine. As a matter of fact, some contain quite a bit -- to the point that drinking five cups of decaf could equal drinking a cup of regular coffee. The biggest culprits of the decaf myth are the franchises; with Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts all having at least 10g of caffeine in their 16oz serving of d ecaf coffee.

So, if you really want to stay 'on the wagon' and not consume ANY caffeine, you can either stick to Folgers Instant, which truly does not contain any caffeine, or maybe empty that kettle into a glass of ice. Last I checked, water is still caffeine free.

Cancer Blog's coverage of the 2006 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

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The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium is an international scientific symposium for interaction and exchange among basic scientists and clinicians in breast cancer.

The objective of the symposium is to provide state of the art information on the experimental biology, etiology, prevention, diagnosis, and therapy for breast cancer and pre-malignant breast disease, to an international audience of academic and private physicians and researchers.

The 29th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium was held from December 14 - 17 in 2006.

Here is a recap of the coverage of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on The Cancer Blog:

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Men Bleed Too: One man's struggle to help his wife fight breast cancer

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Men Bleed Too is a story written by Thomas Brown. Thomas kept a journal and recorded his wife Barbara's journey through breast cancer, starting in December of 1992, after a cancerous tumor was found in Barbara's right breast.

This book, compiled from the journal entries that captured Thomas's life while going through breast cancer with his wife, provides basic information to help the male caretaker though the process and journey of dealing with a loved one diagnosed with cancer. He talks about medical decisions, care management, medications, treatments prescribed, and the emotional roller coaster of feelings he had when confronted with bad or good news.

This book can give the caregiver of someone diagnosed with cancer a feeling that they are not alone in the daily issues they have to face.

Sadly, Barbara died two years after fighting the disease.

Thomas has since married Connie, who encouraged him to turn his journals into a book. He is also at work on his second book entitled She Taught Me How to Laugh Again. In this story he relates how he and Connie met, helped each other through the grieving process and moved forward with their lives.

If not a matter of life and death, it's not so bad

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A few early mornings ago, when my eyes were blurry with sleep and I was holding my three-year-old son, I walked right into the corner of a door. I slammed my little toe -- hard -- and I'm pretty sure it's broken. It's red and swollen. It hurts and throbs. It barely fits in a shoe. And the pedicure I got the other day -- a not-so-wise choice, I know -- really caused my baby toe a lot of discomfort.

Yesterday, while wearing cute little sandals -- to show off my french pedicure, of course -- I followed my husband and two little boys on an outdoor adventure down a steep cliff. Our destination was a stream -- the boys love water -- and while I didn't tumble and fall down the hill, I did gain a lot of momentum on my des cent and ended up running full force toward the stream -- directly into a boulder of a rock, where my other little baby toe scraped right across a jagged edge. A chunk of skin hung off my toe, blood seeped out, and I hopped around on my other foot -- with its own possibly broken toe -- while the pain eased up a bit. And then I sat down and contemplated my recent toe misfortune.

My injured toes, along with an itchy, irritating skin rash I suspect is due to an allergy of some sort, have caused me some amount of stress. But it's not major, it's not debilitating, and it's doesn't even compare to the stress of cancer.

I keep playing this cancer comparison over in my head -- minor pain vs. major pain, minor stress vs. major stress. Others in my life are doing the same. My fitness trainer, who has been on crutches for weeks and weeks with a broken foot, told me when she feels down about her condition, she reminds herself, it's not cancer.

Life has become a matter of perspective for me like never before. Cancer set the bar. And now all other life issues go up against this bar -- and any that are not a matter of life and death I realize are just not so bad.

So I have two sore toes. And itchy skin. But I don't have cancer -- anymore -- and so life is just fine.
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Pancreatic cancer survival better for patients over 65

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A new study sheds new hopeful light on pancreatic cancer survival -- for patients 65 and older.

The study, conducted at Thomas Jefferson University and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, found patients in this age group who survive pancreatic cancer for at least five years have a better chance than patients not yet 65 at surviving another five years.

Researchers studied the records of 890 patients with pancreatic cancer who underwent the standard pancreaticoduodenectomy, or Whipple procedure. And lead researcher Charles Yeo reports that surgery can in fact extend and improve the quality of life for this population.

"Not too long ago, few lived for five years after diagnosis," he said. "Today, that not true. There's been a paradigm shift in the way we treat and think about this disease."

Additional details on this promising study can be found in the journal Surgery.

Protein nestin predicts aggressive breast cancer

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Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School say they have a new way of identifying a deadly form of breast cancer that plagues 17 to 37 percent of all breast cancer patients and mostly premenopausal black women.

Identification comes in the form of locating the marker nestin -- a long filamentous protein indicating the presence of basal epithelial tumors -- which makes this type of cancer hard to diagnose and hard to treat. It also puts patients at high risk for recurrence, marked by a very short time between treatment and relapse.< br />
"Ideally, a marker like nestin would enable clinicians to monitor these patients through frequent tests of a biomarker and, in doing so, detect the cancer before it has a chance to come back," says one professor.

Researchers must now find an effective means of detecting nestin in a clinical screening setting. It won't be as simple as a blood test -- but a non-invasive collection of mammary duct samples may enable the development of a screening tool for at-risk patients.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Wiki ordered to remove link to drug documents

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A wiki about a controversial prescription drug has been ordered by a US court to remove a link to documents which originated with Eli Lilly, the drug's manufacturer. Eli Lilly has paid nearly $1.7 billions to settle cases over its alleged side effects from its drug Zyprexa, including diabetes.

The wiki about Zyprexa published a link to internal Eli Lilly documents which the New York Times said showed that the company deliberately downplayed the side effects of the drug, which are alleged to include weight gain, high blood sugar levels and diabetes.

The judge in one of the product liability cases ordered the site and a number of named individuals to refrain from distributing the documents. A digital rights group defended the free speech rights of one anonymous poster but the judge would not budge. The electronic gag order will remain in effect until the case is resolved, sometime after January 16th.

Kylie Minogue battles flu, not breast cancer

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The flu is what caused Australian pop star Kylie Minogue to cut a live London show short on Saturday. Her cancellation had nothing to do with breast cancer, her spokesman says.

Minogue, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2005, has endured both surgery and chemotherapy and is back on the Showgirl Homecoming Tour she had to postpone just after her diagnosis. The revival of her tour represents Minogue's cancer comeback -- and th is recent health setback is nothing more than a temporary bout with the flu. It is reported that several of her band members also have the bug.

Minogue, 38, kicked off the British leg of her tour on New Year's Eve. She has already played seven dates at London's Wembley Arena.

Cancer fighting GM chicken eggs

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The future cost of producing cancer drugs may have dropped in price with the laying of eggs from genetically-modified chickens.

Roslin Institute scientists have announced the successful creation of five generations of chickens that can lay eggs containing a specific protein needed to manufacture drugs used in the treatment of cancer. The Roslin Institute is the same research facility that cloned the Finn Dorset lamb named Dolly.

According to the BBC News report that states, "the work at Roslin shows it is now possible to use chickens as biofactories," more than one genetically-modified animal is being used as just such a factory for complex proteins needed to produce drugs.

It will be five-to-ten years before the drugs made from the protein of eggs from these genetically-modified chickens can be safely used, if clinical trials show favorable outcomes.
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