VANCOUVER – Depression can decrease a cancer patient’s chances of survival, a new research suggests.
Published in the November 15, 2009 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the finding of an analysis highlights the need for systematic screening of psychological distress and subsequent treatments.
In order to determine the effects of depression on cancer patients’ disease progression and survival, graduate student Jillian Satin, MA, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and her colleagues analyzed all of the studies to date they could identify related to the topic.
The researchers found 26 studies with a total of 9417 patients that examined the effects of depression on patients’ cancer progression and survival.
“We found an increased risk of death in patients who report more depressive symptoms than others and also in patients who have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder compared to patients who have not,” said Satin.
In the combined studies, the death rates were up to 25 percent higher in patients experiencing depressive symptoms and 39 percent higher in patients diagnosed with major or minor depression.
The increased risks remained even after considering patients’ other clinical characteristics that might affect survival, indicating that depression may actually play a part in shortening survival.
However, the authors say additional research must be conducted before any conclusions can be reached. The authors add that their analysis combined results across different tumor types, so future studies should look at the effects of depression on different kinds of cancer.
The investigators note that the actual risk of death associated with depression in cancer patients is still small, so patients should not feel that they must maintain a positive attitude to beat their disease.
Nevertheless, the study indicates that it is important for physicians to regularly screen cancer patients for depression and to provide appropriate treatments.
GENEVA – Prostate cancer patients who belong to low socio-economic status are more likely to die than patients with higher incomes, according to a new study from Swiss researchers.
The study’s findings indicate that poor prostate cancer patients receive worse care than their wealthier counterparts.
The researchers wanted to know how disparities affected prostate cancer mortality in Switzerland, a country with an extremely well developed health care system and where healthcare costs, medical coverage, and life expectancy are among the highest in the world,
Dr. ElisabettaRapiti, of the University of Geneva, and her colleagues conducted a population-based study that included all residents of the region who were diagnosed with invasive prostate cancer between 1995 and 2005.
The analysis included 2,738 patients identified through the Geneva Cancer Registry.
The researchers found that as compared with patients of high socio-economic status, those of low socio-economic status were less likely to have their cancer detected by screening, had more advanced stages of cancer at diagnosis, and underwent fewer tests to characterize their cancer.
These patients were less likely to have their prostates removed and were more likely to be managed with watchful waiting, or careful monitoring.
Patients with low socio-economic status also had a 2-fold increased risk of dying from prostate cancer compared with patients of high socio-economic status.
“The increased mortality risk of patients of low socio-economic status is almost completely explained by delayed diagnosis, poor work-up, and less complete treatment, indicating inequitable use of the health care system,” said Rapiti.
The authors say lead time and length time biases linked to early detection through PSA screening may partially explain the survival advantage observed among high SES patients.
The study has been published in the latest issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
Bone Strengthening Drugs Linked To Lower Breast Cancer Incidence
LOSANGELES – New research from the US has discovered that women who used bisphosphonates, commonly-prescribed bone-strengthening drugs, had significantly fewer invasive breast cancers than women who did not use them.
The study is the work of lead investigator DrRowanChlebowski, medical oncologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), and colleagues, and the findings are being presented at the 32nd San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas this week from 9 – 13 December. The symposium is presented by the CTRC (Cancer Therapy & Research Center), AARC (American Association for Cancer Research), and the Baylor College of Medicine.
“The idea that bisphosphonates could reduce breast cancer incidence is very exciting because there are about 30 million prescriptions for these agents written annually in the US targeting bone health, and more could easily be used to counteract both osteoporosis and breast cancer,” Chlebowski told the media.
For the study, Chlebowski and colleagues re-analyzed data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a large observational study set up by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1991 to examine the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The WHI collected information on cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
In the 150,000-plus cohort of generally healthy postmenopausal women, the researchers found 32 per cent fewer cases of invasive breast cancer among women who used bisphosphonates (mostly alendronate, marketed as Fosamax by Merck), compared to women who did not use such drugs.
What prompted the study were the findings of a report from a breast cancer trial that suggested bisphosphonate zoledronic acid given intravenously every 6 months resulted in fewer cancers in the other breast.
“It appeared to make bone less hospitable to breast cancer.”
In deciding how to devise the study, the researchers had to find a way to control for bone density, since that in itself is a risk factor for breast cancer. In other words they had to devise a way to control for potential differences between the women prescribed bisphosphonate and those not prescribed bisphosphonate, because those on the bone-strengthening drugs were on it because they had low bone mineral density, which is linked to lower breast cancer incidence.
They found that about 10,000 of the cohort had their bone mineral density analyzed as part of the WHI study, and for the others, including those prescribed bisphosphonates, the researchers used a 10-item hip fracture predictive score to measure bone density.
Thus they were able to correlate the results of bone mineral density tests in the 10,000 who had the tests with the predictive score in order to correct for any potential difference in bone density in women using bisphosphonates compared to those who did not use them.
Thus prepared, Chlebowski and colleagues then studied data on 2,216 women who were using bisphosphonates when they entered the WHI study.
The results showed that:
* Only 64 of the bisphosphonate users developed breast cancer, and most of the cases, (50 of them), were estrogen-receptor positive.
* Overall there was an average of 32 per cent fewer breast cancers among bisphosphonate users compared to non-users.
* There were 30 per cent fewer estrogen-receptor positive cancers and 34 per cent fewer entry-receptor negative cancers among bisphosphonate users, although the latter finding was not statistically significant due to low numbers.
Speculating on what effect bisphosphonates might have to cause fewer breast cancers, Chlebowski said it could be because the drugs discourage blood vessel formation (which tumors rely on to grow), and help the immune system:
“Bisphosphonates reduce angiogenesis and stimulate immune cells responsible for tumor cell surveillance as potential mediators,” explained Chlebowski.
He said we need to study this link in more detail, because “while we currently have several options for reducing receptor positive breast cancers, none are available for receptor negative cancers”.
Novel Two-Step Chemical Process Makes Cancer Cells Glow Quickly, Safely
BOSTON – Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a two-step process that uses a chemical reaction to make live cancer cells light up quickly and safely.
This attains significance because scientists generally label cells with colored or glowing chemicals to observe how basic cellular activities differ between healthy and cancerous cells, but existing techniques are either too slow or too toxic to perform on live cells.
Under the novel process, chemically modified antibodies first home in on cancer cells, and then a chemical reaction called cycloaddition transfers a dye onto the antibody making the cancer cells glow when viewed through a microscope.
Philip Dawson, a member of Faculty of 1000 Biology and leading authority in chemistry and cell biology, reviewed a study and observed that the novel cycloaddition reaction is fast, very specific, and requires minimal manipulation of the cells.
He comments that, in combining antibody binding with the cycloaddition, “low signal-to-noise ratios are achieved”.
He points out that the new labeling technique could be used to track the location and activity of anti-cancer drugs, the location of cancer-specific proteins within the cell, or to visualize cancer cells inside a living organism.
Dawson concludes that cycloaddition will allow scientists to observe live cancer cells in the body, leading to a better understanding of cancer’s basic processes.
SAN DIEGO – Curcumin, a compound that is found in the India curry spice turmeric, seems to be effective in stopping nicotine’s adverse effects in smokers with head and neck cancer, according to a study.
Presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting and OTO EXPO in San Diego, the study examined the effects of curcumin on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) growths.
It used an in vitro model of a variety of head and neck cancer cell lines.
The researchers behind it pre-treated HNSCC cells with curcumin, and then introduced nicotine, with a view to mimicking the clinical situation.
They observed that curcumin was able to block the nicotine from activating cancer causing cells.
Though nicotine itself has not been shown to be carcinogenic, it has been shown to encourage the cancer-forming process.
The researchers said that they wanted to find out a safe, bioactive food compound that could be used not only as a chemopreventive agent, but that could also block the harmful effects of nicotine.
They believe that their findings may help to discover additional therapies for cancer prevention and treatment.
ROCHESTER – Certain structural features within breast tissue can indicate a woman’s individual cancer risk, say Mayo Clinic researchers.
The findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The study shows that acini (AS-ih-nye), the small milk-producing elements in breast lobules, can be counted in sample biopsies. The percentage of acini present per lobule at a given age indicates cancer risk.
“Aside from the predictors of heredity, there is no effective independent predictor of risk of breast cancer,” says LynnHartmann, M.D., Mayo Clinic oncologist and senior author of the study.
“This risk estimate model based on novel tissue in each individual may provide a reliable strategy,” the expert added.
To reach the conclusion, researchers studied the tissue structures in 85 patients with breast cancer and examined earlier, noncancerous breast biopsies from the same women. They compared them to 142 age-controlled samples from Mayo’s Benign Breast Disease Cohort, a bio repository of benign biopsy tissues. Then, researchers developed the model and tested a risk prediction for each patient.
For the same women, they used the existing Gail model to make five-year risk predictions for the same women. While helpful in determining increased risk in groups of women, the Gail model is only slightly better than a guess when it comes to predicting cancer for an individual, the researchers say.
“Women who were more likely to develop breast cancer had larger lobules with more acini,” explains Dr.Hartmann.
As women age, especially as they approach menopause, the risk of breast cancer declines because the lobules and acini disappear. This natural process, called involution, is at the core of this risk factor.
Dr.Hartmann says if the lobules aren’t largely gone by the time a woman is 55, her risk of breast cancer triples. By looking closely at the structures in a large sample of benign tissues, the researchers were able to note standard measurements for lobule size and number of acini in the lobules.
This twofold approach led to development of accurate metrics on which to base individual risk. The team hopes this new model, combined with other patient information and assessments, will greatly improve a physician’s ability to predict cancer risk for individual patients.
MANCHESTER – Obesity caused at least 124,000 new cancers last year in Europe, according to a new study.
The proportion of cases of new cancers were highest among women and in central European countries such as the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.
“As more people stop smoking and fewer women take hormone replacement therapy, it is possible that obesity may become the biggest attributable cause of cancer in women within the next decade,” said AndrewRenehan, who led the study.
Renehan, senior lecturer in cancer studies and surgery, University of Manchester, and colleagues in Britain, The Netherlands and Switzerland, created a model to estimate the proportion of cancers that could be attributed to excess body weight in 30 European countries.
Using data from the WHO and International Agency for Research on Cancer, they estimated that in 2002 there had been over 70,000 new cases of cancer attributable to excess body mass index (BMI, height to weight ratio), out of a total of nearly 2.2 million new diagnoses across the 30 European countries.
Researchers found these numbers increased to 124,050 in 2008. “These are very conservative estimates, and it’s quite likely that the numbers are, in fact, higher,” said Renehan.
The number of new cases of obesity-related oesophageal cancer was particularly high in Britain relative to the rest of Europe. “This country accounts for 54 percent of new cases across all 30 countries,” said Renehan.
“This may be due to synergistic interactions between smoking, alcohol, excess body weight and acid reflux – and is currently an area where research is required,” Renehen said, according to a Manchester university release.
Renehen presented these findings at the 15th congress of the European Cancer Organisation and the 34th congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology.
These findings are slated for publication in the International Journal of Cancer.
PLEASE SEE OUR POST ON “BUDWIG PROTOCOL” AND “BICARBONATE”
BUFFALO – The number of women going for surgery to remove the healthy breast after cancer diagnosis in one breast, according to a new study of New York State data.
And this was despite a lack of evidence that the surgery can improve survival.
The study also found that despite extensive press coverage of women who choose to have both breasts removed because of a strong family history of cancer, the rate of this surgery is relatively low and has changed little in the last decade.
Prophylactic mastectomy, the removal of a non-cancerous breast, is one method for reducing a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
But not much is known about the prevalence of prophylactic mastectomies for preventing breast cancer among high-risk women or on the prevalence of the surgery to prevent tumours in the healthy breast among women whose cancer is limited to one breast.
Led by Dr. StephenB.Edge, at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, the researchers examined the frequency of prophylactic mastectomies in New York State between 1995 and 2005 using mandated state-wide hospital discharge data combined with data from the state cancer registry.
They identified 6,275 female New York residents who underwent prophylactic mastectomies.
It was found that 81 percent of the women had been diagnosed with cancer in one breast, while 19 percent had no personal history of breast cancer.
The researchers found that the number of prophylactic mastectomies increased during the time period, particularly among women with cancer in one breast.
Over the 11-year study period, the prevalence of these contralateral mastectomies more than doubled.
The prevalence of bilateral prophylactic mastectomies among women with no personal history of breast cancer increased only slightly.
“These data from New York are the only data on a large population of women that examine the use of bilateral prophylactic mastectomy,” said Edge.
“These data demonstrate that prophylactic mastectomy is an uncommon procedure that is performed most commonly on women with a personal history of breast cancer. Although the total number of prophylactic mastectomies performed per year was small, it appears that the use of the surgery is increasing,” he added.
He also advised that women with breast cancer should have careful counselling regarding benefits and risks before proceeding with prophylactic mastectomy of the other breast.
The study has been published in the journal Cancer.
LONDON – Two new studies have found that sunbathing, which causes skin cancer, can also help to fight the disease.
Scientists say, although, protection from sunlight is necessary, moderate exposure is beneficial to health.
A joint team of researchers from Leeds University and the US National Institutes of Health found the high level of vitamin D produced due to high exposure to sunlight helped malignant melanoma patients to fight the deadly skin cancer.
The study found that those with the lowest levels of the vitamin D in their blood at the time of diagnosis were 30 per cent more likely to suffer a recurrence of the disease after treatment than those who had the highest levels.
The findings of the research have been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The Independent quoted the team leader of the melanoma study, ProfessorJuliaNewton Bishop, as saying: “It is common for people to have low levels of vitamin D in many countries. Melanoma patients tend to avoid the sun as sunburn is known to increase the risk of the disease.
“Our results suggest that melanoma patients may need to get vitamin D by eating fatty fish or by taking supplements to ensure they have normal levels.”
However scientists also warned about the excess intake of vitamin D.
ProfessorNewton said: “There is some evidence from other studies that high levels of vitamin D are also harmful. So we should aim for a normal level rather than a very high one.”
ProfessorKimmieNg, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, US, led the second study.
This team observed over 1,000 bowel cancer patients for nine years, and concluded those with highest vitamin D levels had 50 percent more survival chances than those with lowest levels.
The report has been published in the British Journal of Cancer.
LONDON – A new approach to treating wrinkles could emerge as an alternative to Botox and cosmetic surgery.
The non-invasive technique combines high-intensity light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and a lotion made of green tea extract. It works 10 times faster than a similar anti-wrinkle treatment that uses LEDs alone, the researchers say.
Andrei P. Sommer and DanZhu point out that researchers have used light-therapy, or phototherapy, for more than 40 years to help heal wounds.
Recently, scientists showed that use of high-intensity LEDs, similar to those used in automotive tail lights and computers, could help reduce skin wrinkles when applied daily for several months.
But exposure to intense LED light is also involved in generating high levels of reactive oxygen species as byproducts that can potentially damage cells.
To combat that effect, the researchers combined the LED with a potent antioxidant in green tea extract called epigallocatechin gallate.
The combination treatment resulted in smoother skin, including “less pronounced wrinkle levels, shorter wrinkle valleys, and juvenile complexion”, the scientists say.
The treatment showed promising results in only a tenth of the time it took for LED therapy alone to reduce wrinkles.
The study could form the basis of “an effective facial rejuvenation programme”, and lead to a new understanding of the effect of reactive oxygen species on cellular ageing, they note.
Their study was published in the Oct 7 issue of ACS’ Crystal Growth & Design, a bi-monthly journal.
BEVERLY HILLS – Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer. Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies.
Don’t freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic.
Recently, DrEdwardFujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital , was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This especially applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.
Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else. Paper isn’t bad but you don’t know what is in the paper. It’s just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.
Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.