Risk for some cancers rises with U.S. obesity rate
The total number of Americans dying from or diagnosed with cancer is falling, but certain cancers linked to obesity and inactivity are on the rise, according to an annual report on the status of cancer in the United States.
U.S. cancer rates fell 0.6 percent per year between 2004 and 2008, according to the report, based on data from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources.
For men, the incidence of prostate cancer dropped by an average 2.1 percent per year, while lung cancer rates fell 2 percent. In women, lung cancer rates declined by 1.2 percent a year, while the incidence of breast cancer, which is associated with obesity, was flat.
“Breast cancer incidence did drop when hormones were stopped, but it has now plateaued,” said Dr. Powel Brown, chairman of clinical cancer prevention in the department of breast medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Continued Smoking Can Spread Cancer
Cigarette smoke cannot only cause cancer, but it’s also responsible for the spread of it, according to research by UC Merced biochemistry Professor Henry Jay Forman.
Forman discovered tobacco smoke activates an enzyme - called Src - that causes cancer cells to spread to other parts of the body. The study will appear in the April 15 edition of Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
Cigarette smoke is the major cause of lung cancer, Forman said, but nearly half of lung cancer patients remain active smokers. Nonetheless, researchers haven’t understood how cigarette smoke causes cancer to metastasize.
The lab was also able to prevent cigarette smoke from activating the enzyme by introducing an antioxidant. Forman’s discovery could prove useful in the fight against cancer, as it creates more understanding on how it spreads and how antioxidants can help combat this.
Malaria prevention saves children’s lives
Malaria continues to be a major disease worldwide, but while funding projects are working hard to improve malaria prevention it is difficult to measure how effective these interventions are. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Malaria Journal has used a Lives Saved Tool (LiST) model to show that the increase in funding for the prevention of malaria has prevented 850,000 child deaths in the decade between 2001 and 2010 across Africa.
According to the WHO, malaria caused an estimated 655 000 deaths in 2010, mostly among African children. They estimate that a child dies every minute due to malaria in Africa. Deaths which are unnecessary, because malaria is both preventable and curable. In addition to diagnosis and treatment of sick children, simple solutions to prevent the diseases like insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITN) and malaria prevention during pregnancy, (IPTp), have all been shown to reduce the number of deaths due to malaria. Initiatives like Roll Back Malaria, set up in 1998, aim to reduce child mortality due to malaria by two thirds, by 2015, using large scale implementation of these simple solutions.
Researchers from USA at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins, the WHO and the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), used the LiST model to investigate the impact of malaria prevention in the decade between 2001 and 2010 across 43 countries in sub-Saharan Africa where malaria is endemic. The team, led by Dr Thomas Eisele, based their model on UN estimates of malaria deaths over the year 2000 and future population growth, the effectiveness of ITNs and IPTp in preventing child deaths, and the number of households using ITN to protect their children.
Photoacoustics technique detects small number of cancer cells
Researchers have developed multiple techniques and procedures to detect cancer cells during the earliest stages of the disease or after treatment. But one of the major limitations of these technologies is their inability to detect the presence of only a few cancer cells.
Now, a research collaboration between the University of Missouri-Columbia and Mexico’s Universidad de Guanajuato shows that pulsed photoacoustic techniques, which combine the high optical contrast of optical tomography with the high resolution of ultrasound, can do just that, in vitro. Most cancer cells are naturally elusive, so they used a photoacoustic enhancer to detect them.
New developments are necessary, the researchers say, to be able to properly use photoacoustic techniques to recognize different cancer cell types inside the human body or in blood or tissue samples.
Using game theory to understand the physics of cancer propagation
In search of a different perspective on the physics of cancer, Princeton University and University of California, San Francisco researchers teamed up to use game theory to look for simplicity within the complexity of the dynamics of cooperator and cheater cells under metabolic stress conditions and high spatial heterogeneity. In the context of cancer, cooperator cells obey the general rules of communal survival, while cheater cells do not.
The ultimate goal of this research was to gain an understanding of the dynamics of cancer tumor evolution under stress. Since cancer can be likened to a community of bacteria, the researchers zeroed in on a simple bacterial model to examine the progression of resistance to drugs under high competition and stress conditions.
Among their key findings: they discovered emergent cooperative outcomes between the two cell types after modifying their game theory framework to account for heterogeneous stress patterns.
Comic Gallagher suffers second heart attack
Just days after being released from treatment following a heart attack and a medically induced coma, comedian Gallagher suffered a second heart attack Sunday.
His rep confirms to E! News that the 65-year-old funnyman is now awake and resting in an Arizona hospital.
The sledgehammer-wielding comedian was not feeling well Sunday and was taken by his son to the hospital. While there, he suffered a second heart attack.
Scientist who coined “Pink Slime” reluctant whistleblower
Every time someone calls former U.S. government scientist Gerald Zirnstein a whistleblower, he cringes a little.
When he coined the term “Pink Slime” to describe the unlabeled and unappetizing bits of cartilage and other chemically-treated scrap meat going into U.S. ground beef, Zirnstein was a microbiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
He made the slime reference to a fellow scientist in an internal - and he thought private - email. But that email later became public, and with it came an explosion of outrage from consumer groups.
Majority of fourth graders are exposed to smoke, study finds
More than 75 percent of fourth-graders in urban and rural settings have measurable levels of a nicotine breakdown product in their saliva that documents their second-hand smoke exposure, researchers report.
A study of 428 fourth graders and 453 parents in seven rural and seven urban Georgia schools also showed that the urban children were more likely to be smokers – 14.9 percent versus 6.6 percent. Additionally urban children have the most exposure to smokers: 79.6 percent versus 75.3 percent, according to findings presented to the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health March 20-24 in Singapore.
“It’s bad news,” said Dr. Martha S. Tingen, Co-Director of Georgia Health Sciences University’s Child Health Discovery Institute and Interim Program Leader of the GHSU Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program. “Smoking is one of the major causes of low-birth weight infants, it increases the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by 10 times, increases breathing problems, asthma-related hospital admissions, ear and upper-respiratory infections, yet all these kids are living in a smoking environment.”
New genomic test spares patients chemotherapy with no adverse effect on survival
Testing a breast cancer tumour for its genomic signature can help identify which patients will need adjuvant systemic therapy (additional chemotherapy) after surgery, and spare its use in those for whom it is not necessary, according to the results of a study to be presented to the 8th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-8) today (Thursday). Dr. Sabine Linn, an Associate Professor of Medical Oncology at The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, will say that this is the first study where such a test has been incorporated in decision-making about adjuvant systemic therapy, and that the results are promising.
Adjuvant chemotherapy is used in order to destroy any microscopic cancer cells that might still be present in the body after surgery. Although it is effective, the side effects can be distressing. “Based on our data, the use of the genomic test could lead to a reduction of nearly 30% in the use of adjuvant chemotherapy without compromising patient outcomes,” Dr. Linn will say. “This percentage may vary somewhat due to different guidelines used in different countries. These findings are important both for quality of life and for cutting down unnecessary healthcare costs.”
The researchers studied follow-up data from 427 patients with early breast cancer who had taken part in a study called RASTER (MicroarRAy prognoSTics in breast cancER). Their cancers had not yet spread to the lymph nodes (node-negative). By looking for a particular selection of 70 genes in a tumour, the Mammaprint® test can predict which patients are at low and which at high risk of distant disease (metastasis); this enables doctors to select which patients could be spared the side effects of chemotherapy without adversely affecting their chances of disease-free survival. The study aimed to assess the feasibility of implementing the test in daily clinical practice in The Netherlands, as well as its effect on adjuvant systemic treatment decisions.
Childhood hunger policies should target neighborhoods, not families
Policies addressing childhood hunger should target neighborhoods, not individual families, according to new research from Rice University.
Sociologists found that children living in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates and in those with high foreign-born populations and non-English speakers are more likely to experience hunger.
“Policymakers should be thinking about targeting whole communities, instead of what is done now, which is offering public aid programs for individual families,” said Rice sociology professor Justin Denney. “Public aid works on a limited basis, reaching approximately 70 percent of eligible individuals. But unfortunately, the remaining 30 percent are unaccounted for.”
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children, was co-authored by Denney and sociology professor Rachel Tobert Kimbro, co-founders of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s Urban Health Program at Rice, and postbaccalaureate fellow Sarita Panchang. They used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative dataset of more than 20,000 kindergarteners in 1998-1999, to examine individual, family and neighborhood characteristics of children who are or are not affected by hunger. In the dataset, the children were clustered according to schools and neighborhoods.
New research about facial recognition turns common wisdom on its head
A team of researchers that includes a USC scientist has methodically demonstrated that a face’s features or constituents – more than the face per se – are the key to recognizing a person.
Their study, which goes against the common belief that brains process faces “holistically,” appears this month in Psychological Science.
In addition to shedding light on the way the brain functions, these results may help scientists understand rare facial recognition disorders.
Humans are great at recognizing faces. There are even regions in the brain that are specifically associated with face perception – the most well-known one is the fusiform gyrus in the temporal lobe.
Comedian Gallagher still in medically induced coma
Doctors have decided to wait before bringing the comedian Gallagher out of the medically induced coma he was put in after his heart attack last week in Texas.
Doctors had planned to wake the 65-year-old comedian on Saturday. But his promotional manager, Christine Scherrer, says he was trying to wake on his own. Doctors are keeping him sedated because they want to wake him slowly. She says they may try Sunday.
Scherrer says the comedian had two stents replaced after collapsing Wednesday before a performance at a bar in Lewisville, a Dallas suburb.
Students shave heads to find cure for cancer
When freshman Kayla Gurganus got her head shaved, she received several cheers from the people involved at St. Baldrick’s.
The hall council in Brayton/Clevenger put on the event Saturday on the first floor. St. Baldrick’s is an organization that raises money to help find cures for children with cancer.
Students can either raise money to keep their hair cut or shave it. Gurganus said she received an email about the event last month, but did not know she was going to go through with it until today.
“You’d be surprised how much your hair weighs, I think, and how much you actually have,” she said. “It does definitely feel a lot different.”
Red meat is blamed for one in 10 early deaths
The Department of Health was last night urged to review its guidance on red meat after a study found that eating almost half the daily recommended amount can significantly increase the risk of dying early from cancer and heart disease.
Small quantities of processed meat such as bacon, sausages or salami can increase the likelihood of dying by a fifth, researchers from Harvard School of Medicine found. Eating steak increases the risk of dying by 12%.
The study found that cutting the amount of red meat in peoples’ diets to 1.5 ounces (42 grams) a day, equivalent to one large steak a week, could prevent almost one in 10 early deaths in men and one in 13 in women.
The scientists said that the government’s current advice that people should eat no more than 2.5 ounces (70 grams) a day, around around the level the average Briton already consumes, was “generous”.
House GOP look to reshape birth control debate
House Republican leaders are looking for a way to reshape the debate over the administration’s new rule on birth-control insurance coverage before moving ahead with a bid to nullify the requirement.
Representative Jeff Fortenberry, who has introduced legislation on the issue, acknowledged hesitation by some fellow Republicans to take on the incendiary issue. But he said a delay could give Republicans time to recast the issue as a question of religious freedom rather than women’s rights.
“We’ll keep trying to appropriately frame the debate about this core American principle,” Fortenberry said.
Representative Pete Sessions, who heads the House Republican campaign committee, said party leaders are not backing off. “We’re not hesitant to do anything,” Sessions said. “The successful rain dance has a lot to do with timing.”