About Cheryl Bretton
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How many cancer risk behaviors are part of your life?
According to Cancer Research UK, four in 10 cases of cancer, attributable to lifestyle choices such as smoking, diet and exercise, could have been avoided.
Also on the list of cancer-related behaviors are catching too many UV rays, drinking alcohol, and being overweight.
Cancer Research UK based their conclusions about the 40 percent preventable rate — or “population attributable fraction,” as the organization calls it — on research funded by the group itself.
So how does Cancer Research UK advise people who wish to minimize their chances of developing cancer?
First and foremost is not smoking, according to the group. Smoking tobacco accounts for over half of preventable cases of cancer.
“[I]t’s difficult to exaggerate the impact smoking has on your body,” the group advised. “It’s not just the 14 different types of cancer, smoking is a leading cause of heart disease, it damages the lungs and causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a range of other health problems like diabetes, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, blindness… the list goes on.”
But in general, avoiding cancer involves staying healthy and active: exercise, a well-balanced diet, and refraining from drinking large amounts of alcohol, are all part. And while exercising, stay out of UV rays as much as possible, the organization advises.
By Cheryl Bretton
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For prostate cancer sufferers, the PSA test and Gleason score may be on their way out as a new landmark study has shown superior ability to predict which of the 5 prostate cancers — also a new development — are likely to be most aggressive.
Researchers at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Addenbrooke’s Hospital analyzed tissue samples from over 250 men and found that they could group the diseased cells into five distinct types. Each of the abnormal cell types had a characteristic genetic pattern.
“Our exciting results show that prostate cancer can be classified into five genetically-different types,” study author Dr Alastair Lamb said of the work. “These findings could help doctors decide on the best course of treatment for each individual patient, based on the characteristics of their tumour.
Although the proceedure needs to be confirmed with larger trials, in its initial phases it has shown itself more effective than the current prostate cancer tests, the PSA test and Gleason score, according to the researchers.
“The next step is to confirm these results in bigger studies and drill down into the molecular ‘nuts and bolts’ of each specific prostate cancer type,” Lamb said. “By carrying out more research into how the different diseases behave we might be able to develop more effective ways to treat prostate cancer patients in the future, saving more lives.”
Because the tumors of the five types may be better dealt with based on their type, the research could significantly improve prostate cancer treatments. This is particularly important, Dr. Malcolm Mason, Cancer Research UK’s prostate cancer expert, noted, because prostate cancer varies widely in the way it develops: sometimes it grows slowly and may not cause problems in a man’s life; other times it spreads aggressively and demands immediate treatment.
“The challenge in treating prostate cancer is that it can either behave like a pussycat — growing slowly and unlikely to cause problems in a man’s lifetime — or a tiger — spreading aggressively and requiring urgent treatment, noted Mason. “But at the moment we have no reliable way to distinguish them. This means that some men may get treatment they don’t need, causing unnecessary side effects, while others might benefit from more intensive treatment.
“This research could be game-changing if the results hold up in larger clinical trials and could give us better information to guide each man’s treatment — even helping us to choose between treatments for men with aggressive cancers. Ultimately this could mean more effective treatment for the men who need it, helping to save more lives and improve the quality of life for many thousands of men with prostate cancer.”
By Cheryl Bretton
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Based on a dataset including 145,456 pregnancies, Université de Montréal scientists have found a significant relationship between mothers consuming antidepressants and autistic children
Université de Montréal scientists have found strong evidence of a link between antidepressants and autism in a large study that accounted for other known autism contributors such as genetic disposition, maternal age, depression, and poverty. After calculating for these other factors, taking antidepressants while pregnant was associated with an 87 percent increase in autistic babies.
The researchers believe the basis for the problem lies in the medical introduction of serotonin and other chemicals used in antidepressant medication.
The study dealt with the second and third trimesters of pregnancy specifically, and the researchers advised that although depression is a serious condition, pregnant women should be treated with other options during this critical period of fetal development. Pregnant women should avoid serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) especially, the researchers concluded.
“Our study is not out to scare women,” said study senior author Professor Anick Bérard, Université de Montréal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre. “It’s 2015 and women can make informed decisions, but they need to have evidence-based data. A discussion with their physician is warranted in order to fully consider all treatment options.”
The researchers did not want their conclusions to be misunderstood as advise to not treat depression, however:
“Don’t take from it … [t]hat, given the increased risk of many adverse pregnancy outcomes (including autism) that have been reported in the literature, we are advocating non-treatment of depression. Depression needs to be treated during pregnancy but with something other than antidepressants in the majority of cases.”
The report, “Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children,” was completed by Drs. Takoua Boukhris, Odile Sheehy, Laurent Mottron, and Anick Bérard, and was published in JAMA Pedriatrics.
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Gladstone Institute and University of California scientists are creating a replacement for diabetics’ skin jabs. The new treatment uses a diabetic’s skin cells to “reboot” the pancreas
Diabetics may be relieved from the daily chore of jabbing their skin with insulin injectors when researchers at Gladstone Institute and University of California complete the development of a new type of diabetes treatment.
The scientists have exploited a technique used to turn skin cells into healthy pancreatic cells to replace the damaged pancreatic cells in type 1 diabetics.
“Our results demonstrate for the first time that human adult skin cells can be used to efficiently and rapidly generate functional pancreatic cells that behave similar to human beta cells,” said Researcher Dr Matthias Hebro of the work.
The treatment is considered to be more natural than the needle injectors currently common, and may reduce diabetes complications such as heart attacks, strokes, blindness, circulatory damage and nerve damage.
The scientist have already used the technique to turn skin cells into fully functional pancreatic cells — the same types of cells needed by diabetics.
They have succeeded in converting human skin cells, but have tested it on mice only so far.
The mouse tests went well: the animals were kept from developing diabetes by the procedure.
“The results of this particular early-stage laboratory study, which has been carried out in mice, are very promising and we look forward to future investigations testing whether this method could be reproduced in humans, and ultimately developed as a treatment for diabetes,” commented Anna Morris of Diabetes UK. “It’s very exciting that research in this area is moving forward.”
How the process would work for humans is a sliver of skin from a person’s arm would be taken to a laboratory where it would be used to make trillions of healthy pancreatic beta cells.
“We can generate virtually unlimited numbers of patient-matched insulin-producing beta cells,” commented another researcher on the work, Dr Sheng Ding.
Another procedure would follow, in which the perfectly matched healthy cells would be put back into the person’s body, replacing the pancreatic cells damaged by diabetes.
Although the treatment is aimed primarily at Type 1 Diabetes, it will also be useful in some cases of Type 2, according to the researchers.
By Cheryl Bretton
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Overall survival for epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) patients is prolonged approximately 5 months as a result of treatment with beta blockers, a type of generic heart medication, according to a new first-of-its-kind study from University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center investigators.
Beta blockers may also be used in conjunction with other treatments to treat other cancer types, according to the researchers, although the recent study looked only at EOC.
The team of researchers analyzed medical records for EOC patients between 2000 and 2010, and compared overall survival rates. Of 1,425 cases studied, beta blockers stood out as clearly involved in longer survival rates.
The researchers noted a difference between various types of beta blockers.
Patients who had received any beta blocker survived over 5 months longer overall than those who did not receive beta blockers at all — 47.8 months versus 42 months.
Median overall survival based on beta-blocker receptor selectivity was 94.9 months for those receiving NSBBs versus 38 months for those receiving SBBs.
Even for patients with hypertension, NSBB users survived over three years longer — 90 months versus 38.2 months.
“Beta-blockers treat a variety of conditions, such as heart disease, high-blood pressure, glaucoma and migraines,” said principal investigator Dr. Anil Sood, professor in Gynecologic Medical Oncology and Cancer Biology at MD Anderson, who has extensive experience researching beta blockers dating back before the current study.
“They target a receptor protein in heart muscle that causes the heart to beat harder and faster when activated by stress hormones.
Ovarian cancer is diagnosed in approximately 21,290 women each year in the US, while 12,180 women die each year from the disease. It is the most fatal reproductive system cancer in women, and the fifth most deadly for women overall.
“Our research has shown that the same stress mechanisms impact ovarian cancer progression, so these drugs could play a new role in cancer treatment… The ability to show improved survival using nonselective agents – which inhibit a specific stress pathway – is the culmination of years of research into ovarian cancer biology and pathogenesis.”
The report, “Clinical impact of selective and nonselective beta-blockers on survival in patients with ovarian cancer,” was published today in the journal Cancer.
By Cheryl Bretton
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