Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why Cancer Strikes Some

It's a conundrum that puzzles doctors and patients alike: one person smokes a few cigarettes per week in college and contracts lung cancer in middle age, while another person smokes a pack a day his whole life -- and lives to age 90.

A new program announced last week by the National Institutes of Health aims to unravel such mysteries by precisely measuring the role that environmental agents, such as pesticides and solvents, play in common diseases, including cancer, asthma, and autism.

A major part of the program will fund the development of technologies to monitor personal environmental exposures and to determine how those exposures interact with an individual's genetic makeup to increase the risk for disease. Scientists hope these technologies will allow doctors to determine who is at risk early on, and thus be able to intervene soon enough to prevent serious damage.

The NIH has designated $88 million for the period 2007-10 to fund research both inside and outside the institute. The money will go toward development of wearable sensors that measure exposure to environmental toxins, such as solvents, pesticides, and heavy metals.

The funds will also support the development of sensors to determine if exposure to toxins triggers biochemical pathways linked to disease, such as inflammation or cell death, in some individuals. Ultimately, these technologies will be incorporated into genetic studies to understand the link between genes, the environment, and disease.

Initially, the sensors would be used in population studies of disease. But David Schwartz, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (part of the NIH), envisions a day when everyone would wear a sensor that measured levels of key chemicals. An individual's doctor could then read the information and determine if the patient had been exposed to chemicals and therefore was at risk of developing a disease.

The role of environmental toxins in human disease and death has been a major issue in both the public health and legal arenas. Scientists often have difficulty determining if a reported increase in disease, such as a cancer cluster, is linked to a specific factor in the environment. Emerging technologies that could accurately measure exposure and individual response to different chemicals could clarify these often contentious cases.

New technologies could also help scientists understand some medical mysteries of our time -- such as rising asthma rates, which have doubled in the last two decades. Since the publication of the human genome sequence in 2003, scientists have focused enormous amounts of energy on the genetic basis of disease. "But genes don't tell the whole story," says Schwartz. "The recent increases in asthma, diabetes, and autism are not due to changes in our genome over last couple of decades. These major shifts point to the role our diet, activity levels, and environment play in disease."

"Scientists can now precisely measure genetic variation between individuals, but we can't accurately measure the individual variation in exposure or response to exposure...when faced with environmental challenges," Schwartz says. The new program hopes to fill that gap.

This timely program will take advantage of the explosion of information about the genome sequence, says Gerald N. Wogan, professor of chemistry and biological engineering at MIT. For example, scientists already know that people carry different forms of enzymes that detoxify chemicals, and that specific variants increase the risk of bladder cancer. But these new tools would allow scientists to do this kind of research on a much broader scale, he says.

Esteban González Burchard, a scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, believes that these kinds of tools will also help researchers understand complex diseases, such as asthma. His team, for instance, has shown that people with a particular genetic background are more likely to develop asthma when exposed to secondhand smoke. But the environmental contribution to asthma is probably even more complex, he says, with factors such as socioeconomic status also playing a role. And new technologies could help scientists sort out these complex factors.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Educate Yourself To Fight Against Mesothelioma

The use of asbestos had gained a new momentum in the twentieth century. You can speculate the wide range use of asbestos throughout the world just from the figure that states the amount of asbestos only used in the United States. The amount touches up to 30 million tons that have been used in different industrial sectors. It mainly comprises of the shipyards, construction of buildings, houses, hospitals and schools. The figure also gives an account of the rising numbers of victims suffering from the Mesothelioma cancer every year that have now reached 10000 and most of them are actually the workers in these industrial sectors those who have come in direct contact with the deadly mineral asbestos.

In the earlier times a misconception prevailed relating to this disease. Smoking cigarettes was considered to be the main cause but now there is no doubt in the fact that no other thing but asbestos can only damage the Mesothelium tissues in the body.

Things everyone must know about Mesothelioma:

* Asbestos is the main reason of Mesothelioma attack in the body.

* Asbestos fibers and dust enter the body through different channels but mainly through the air you breathe in.

* Asbestos fibers can readily mix with the atmosphere and form airborne particles and they strike directly on the Mesothelium lining protecting different internal organs in your body.

* The major organs that are at risk due to the Mesothelioma cancer are the heart, lungs, and abdominal cavity.

* Mesothelioma can happen in a person's body long after he has been in contact with the asbestos particles. The time limit ranges from 10-30 years.

* Life after the diagnosis is really short because Mesothelioma is mostly detected when the patient has already reached the final stage.

* The treatments that can help the patient to extend the life span are chemotherapy; radiation therapy and surgery but none of these traditional modes of treating cancer can give the ultimate solution to the patient.

* There are a few modern treatments devised with latest developments are helping the Mesothelioma patients to stay well. Among them the immunotherapy and the gene therapy have gained wide popularity.

* Mesothelioma can be fought for legal claims as well. So you must be aware of the legal prospects that can at least help you with a justified financial support to continue with the medical treatment and also a help for your family if you die. Mesothelioma attorneys are working to serve you for your benefits. Get help from them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From A Great Guide : Mesothelioma Claims

"you can find origin of this entry at
www.mesotheliomaclaims.com (Mesothelioma Claims)"

What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and symptoms may not appear for as long as 20 to 40 years after exposure. Mesothelioma is a cancerous tumor of the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the tissue made up of specialized cells called mesothelial cells which line the chest cavity, abdominal cavity, and the cavity around the heart. These cells also cover the outer surface of most internal organs.

The mesothelium produces a special lubricating fluid that allows organs to move around within the body with less friction. For example, this fluid makes it easier for the lungs to move inside the chest during breathing.

The mesothelium of the chest is known as the pleura. The mesothelium of the abdomen is called the peritoneum. The mesothelium of the pericardial cavity, which is the space around the heart, is called the pericardium.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that attacks any of these mesothelial regions.

What is the difference between mesothelioma and malignant mesothelioma?
Tumors of the mesothelium can either be benign or malignant. A benign tumor is non-cancerous. A malignant tumor is cancerous, and one occurring on the mesothelium is called malignant mesothelioma. Because most mesothelial tumors are cancerous, malignant mesothelioma is commonly referred to as simply mesothelioma, or in casual conversation meso.

What are the causes of mesothelioma?
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma. After asbestos fibers are breathed in, they travel to the ends of small air passages and reach the pleura where they cause physical damage to mesothelial cells that may result in cancer. They also cause injury to lung cells that can result in lung cancer and/or asbestosis (replacement of lung tissue by scar tissue). If ingested, these fibers can travel to the abdominal cavity and cause peritoneal mesothelioma.

While exposure to asbestos is mostly occupational, it can also be environmental. Exposure to asbestos can also occur from being in close contact with an asbestos worker. For example, the work clothes of an asbestos worker can expose a family member to asbestos fibers while doing laundry.

What is asbestos? The main risk factor for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. The term asbestos refers to a family of magnesium-silicate mineral fibers. In the past, asbestos was used widely for insulation because it does not conduct heat well and is resistant to burning. As the link between asbestos and mesothelioma has become more well known, the use of this material has decreased. However, up to 8 million Americans may already have been exposed to asbestos. Although asbestos has not been used in construction since approximately 1975, the products already in place present a danger to individuals involved in repair work and the demolition of structures containing asbestos products.

It is possible that asbestos causes cancer by physically irritating cells rather than by a chemical effect. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, the long, thin fibers may reach the ends of the small airways and penetrate into the pleural lining of the lung and chest wall. These fibers may then directly injure mesothelial cells of the pleura, and eventually cause mesothelioma.

People exposed to asbestos at an early age, for a long period of time, are most likely to develop this cancer. Mesothelioma, however, takes a very long time to develop. The time between exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually between 20 and 40 years.

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
It is important to note that symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. The early symptoms of malignant mesothelioma are common symptoms that are not specific to the disease itself. People often mistake the symptoms for everyday sicknesses and ailments such as the common cold. Many people with mesothelioma have symptoms for only a few months before they are diagnosed.

Over half of the patients with pleural mesothelioma have pain at the side of the chest or in the lower back. Shortness of breath is almost always a symptom shared by patients. Some report coughing, fever, sweating, fatigue, difficulty swallowing, and weight loss. Extreme symptoms include coughing up blood, swelling of the face and arms, muscle weakness, and sensory loss.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Some patients also suffer from hernias, fluid in the abdominal cavity, or the presence of a mass or bulge in the abdomen.

Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms who believes he or she has been exposed to asbestos should see a doctor immediately for diagnosis.

How is a person diagnosed with mesothelioma?
One reason why mesothelioma is such a dangerous form of cancer is because it is difficult to diagnose. Mesothelioma usually progresses to a dangerous stage by the time it is finally diagnosed. For these reasons it is incredibly important to see a doctor as soon as you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms.

It is essential that you give your doctor a complete medical history. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have been exposed to asbestos at work or through a family member. It is important to also tell your doctor when and for how long your exposure to asbestos occurred. Your medical history will help your doctor assess the risk factors associated with mesothelioma, as well as your symptoms.

A physical exam will provide your doctor with information about signs of mesothelioma and other health problems you may be experiencing. Patients with pleural mesothelioma often have fluid in their chest cavity, which is called pleural effusion. A physical exam can also detect the presence of ascites (fluid in the abdominal cavity) in patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. In patients with pericardial mesothelioma, pericardial effusion (fluid in the pericardium) can also be detected during a physical exam by a doctor.

After your medical history and physical exam, you should expect to undergo some medical tests. The tests performed by your doctor can range from basic imaging tests to tests of fluid and tissue samples.

The most basic test is a chest x-ray. The x-ray will show abnormalities involving the lungs, such as irregular thickening of the pleura, lowering of the space between the lungs, abnormal mineral deposits, and fluid build up inside of the lungs. A doctor will either take a CT scan (computed tomography scan) or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging scan) to try and determine the location, size and mass of a possible cancerous growth. The CT scan uses a rotating x-ray beam to create a series of pictures of the body from many different angles. A computer then combines these pictures to produce cross-sectional images of a part of the body. A doctor may need to inject a dye into a vein in order to highlight details on the CT scan. An MRI uses magnetic fields instead of x-rays to create its images. After the magnetic fields capture the information, a computer generates a detailed cross-sectional image.

If pleural mesothelioma is suspected, the doctor may look inside the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope. A peritoneoscope can be used in a similar procedure to look at the abdomen. In this procedure the doctor is looking for abnormal cell growths, which will usually be referred to as tumors. The thoracoscope (telescope-like instrument connected to a video camera) is inserted through a small incision in the chest. The doctor can see the tumor through the thoracoscope, and can use special forceps to take a tissue biopsy.

After looking at the piece of the tumor under a microscope, the doctor may decide whether the tumor is benign, which means that it is not cancerous, or malignant, which means that it is cancerous.

If the doctor can't tell from the biopsy if the growth is cancerous, there are several other options. The doctor may take a sample of any fluid that has built up around the lungs, stomach or heart, or he may take a blood sample to see if your blood cell levels are what they are supposed to be.

In patients with a pleural effusion, a sample of this fluid can be removed by inserting a needle into the chest cavity. The fluid is then tested and its chemical make-up is then viewed under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present. A similar technique can also be used to obtain abdominal fluid and pericardial fluid.

It is often difficult to simply diagnose mesothelioma by looking at the cells from the fluid around the lungs, abdomen or heart. It is even hard to accurately diagnose mesothelioma solely with tissue from biopsies. Mesothelioma can look like several other types of cancer under a microscope. Special laboratory tests are often done to help distinguish mesothelioma from some other types of cancer. These tests often use special techniques to recognize certain markers (various types of chemicals) known to be present in mesotheliomas.

What are the different types of mesothelioma?
About 75% of mesothelioma occurrences start in the chest cavity. This is known as pleural mesothelioma. Another 10% to 20% is peritoneal mesothelioma which begins in the abdomen. Pericardial mesothelioma, found in the cavity around the heart, is very rare.

Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma spreads within the chest cavity, sometimes involving the lungs.

The onset of mesothelioma is usually very slow, the most common symptom is persistent pain localized in the chest. Sometimes the pain is accompanied by severe difficulty breathing, which is caused by an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma involves the abdominal cavity, infiltrating the liver, spleen or bowels. Due to fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity (ascites), the abdomen appears enlarged. The patients experience nausea, vomiting, fever and difficulty in moving their bowels.

The prognosis is poorer for peritoneal mesothelioma with a median survival time of about 10 months from the onset of symptoms.

Rare Forms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma of the pericardium is a very seldom seen cardiac cancer. The mass is usually detected at a late stage and the prognosis is very poor, with or without therapy. Mesotheliomas of the ovaries and the scrotum have also been reported.

Benign Forms of Mesothelioma
A rare form of mesothelioma is the cystic mesothelioma of the peritoneum. Its prognosis is benign. Its occurrence has been discovered primarily in young women.

What are the stages of malignant mesothelioma?
Once a person has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, more tests will have to be done in order to determine whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This process is called staging. The stage of the cancer must be determined in order to plan treatment. The following stages are used to describle malignant mesothelioma:

Localized Malignant Mesothelioma

Stage 1: The cancer is present in the lining of the chest cavity near the lungs and heart or in the diaphragm of the lung.

Advanced Malignant Mesothelioma

Stage II: The cancer has spread beyond the lining of the chest to the lymph nodes of the chest. Lymph nodes are collections of immune system cells that help the body fight off infections.

Stage III: The cancer has spread through the diaphragm or abdominal lining and into the chest wall, center of the chest, the heart, or nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IV: The cancer has spread to distant organs or tissues.

Mesothelioma Guide : Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and cachexia, abdominal swelling and pain due to ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity). Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.

These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions.

Mesothelioma that affects the pleura can cause these signs and symptoms:

chest wall pain
pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
shortness of breath
fatigue or anemia
wheezing, hoarseness, or cough
blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (hemoptysis)
In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses. The individual may develop a pneumothorax, or collapse of the lung. The disease may metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body.

Tumors that affect the abdominal cavity often do not cause symptoms until they are at a late stage. Symptoms include:

abdominal pain
ascites, or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen
a mass in the abdomen
problems with bowel function
weight loss
In severe cases of the disease, the following signs and symptoms may be present:

blood clots in the veins, which may cause thrombophlebitis
disseminated intravascular coagulation, a disorder causing severe bleeding in many body organs
jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
low blood sugar level
pleural effusion
pulmonary emboli, or blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
severe ascites
A mesothelioma does not usually spread to the bone, brain, or adrenal glands. Pleural tumors are usually found only on one side of the lungs.

Mesothelioma Guide : What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is almost always caused by previous exposure to asbestos. In this disease, malignant cells develop in the mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs. Its most common site is the pleura (outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity),the heart, the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart) or tunica vaginalis.

Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways. Washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos can also put a person at risk for developing mesothelioma.Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking, but smoking greatly increases risk of other asbestos induced cancer.Compensation via asbestos funds or lawsuits is an important issue in mesothelioma (see asbestos and the law).

The symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath due to pleural effusion (fluid between the lung and the chest wall) or chest wall pain, and general symptoms such as weight loss. The diagnosis may be suspected with chest X-ray and CT scan, and is confirmed with a biopsy (tissue sample) and microscopic examination. A thoracoscopy (inserting a tube with a camera into the chest) can be used to take biopsies. It allows the introduction of substances such as talc to obliterate the pleural space (called pleurodesis), which prevents more fluid from accumulating and pressing on the lung. Despite treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or sometimes surgery, the disease carries a poor prognosis. Research about screening tests for the early detection of mesothelioma is ongoing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Detailed Guide: What Is Bone Cancer?

Normal bone tissue

Bone is the supporting framework of the body. Most bones are hollow. The outer part of bones consists of a network of fibrous tissue called matrix onto which calcium salts are laid down. The soft tissue inside hollow bones is called bone marrow. At each end of the bone is a zone of, a softer form of bone-like tissue called cartilage.

Cartilage is made of a fibrous tissue matrix mixed with a gel-like substance that does not contain much calcium. Cartilage is softer than bone but more firm than most tissues.

Most bones start out as cartilage. The body then lays calcium down onto the cartilage to form bone. After the bone is formed, some cartilage may remain at the ends to act as a cushion between bones. This cartilage, along with ligaments and some other tissues connect bones to form a joint. In adults, cartilage is mainly found at the end of some bones as part of a joint. It is also seen at the place in the chest where the ribs meet the sternum (breastbone) and in parts of the face. The trachea (windpipe), larynx (voicebox), and the outer part of the ear are other structures that contain cartilage.

Bone itself is very hard and strong. Some bone is able to support as much as 12,000 pounds per square inch. It takes as much as 1,200 to 1,800 pounds of pressure to break the femur (thigh bone). The outside of the bone is covered with a layer of fibrous tissue called periosteum. The bone itself contains 2 kinds of cells. The osteoblast is the cell that lays down new bone, and the osteoclast is the cell that dissolves old bone. Although bone often looks like it doesn't change much, the truth is that it is very active. Throughout our bodies, new bone is always forming while old bone is dissolving.

Inside hollow bones is a space called the medullary cavity where bone marrow is found. In some bones the marrow is only fatty tissue. The marrow in other bones is a mixture of fat cells and blood-forming cells. The blood-forming cells produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets. Other cells in the marrow include plasma cells, fibroblasts, and reticuloendothelial cells.

Cells from any of these tissues can develop into a cancer.

Types of bone cancers

Most of the time when someone with cancer is told they have cancer in the bones, the doctor is talking about a cancer that spread there from somewhere else. This is called metastatic cancer. It can be seen in many different types of advanced cancer, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. When these cancers in the bone are looked at under a microscope, they resemble the tissue they came from. For example, if someone has lung cancer that has spread to bone, the cells of the cancer in the bone still look and act like lung cancer cells. They do not look or act like bone cancer cells, even though they are in the bones. Since these cancer cells still act like lung cancer cells, they still need to be treated with drugs that are used for lung cancer. For more information about metastatic bone cancer, please see the American Cancer Society document Bone Metastases, as well as the document on the specific place where the cancer started (Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Prostate Cancer, etc.).

Other kinds of cancers that are sometimes called "bone cancers" start in the blood forming cells of the bone marrow -- not in the bone itself. The most common bone cancer is called multiple myeloma. Another cancer that starts in the bone marrow is leukemia, although it is generally considered a "blood cancer" rather than a "bone cancer." Sometimes, lymphomas, which more often start in lymph nodes, can start in bone marrow. Multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and leukemia are not discussed in this document. For more information on these cancers, refer to the individual document for each.

A primary bone tumor is a tumor that starts in the bone itself. The main type of cancers that are true (or primary) "bone" cancers are called sarcomas. This is a term that describes the type of tissue that the cancer started in. Sarcomas are cancers that start in bone, muscle, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, fat tissue, as well as some other tissues. They can develop anywhere in the body.

There are several different types of bone tumors. Their names are based on the area of bone or surrounding tissue that is affected and the kind of cells forming the tumor. Some primary bone tumors are benign (not cancerous), and others are malignant (cancerous). Most bone cancers are called sarcomas.

Benign bone tumors

Benign tumors do not spread to other tissues and organs and so are not usually life threatening. They are generally cured by surgery. Types of benign bone tumors include:

osteoid osteoma
chondromyxoid fibroma.
These benign tumors are not discussed further in this document, which is limited to bone cancers.

Malignant bone tumors

Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma (also called osteogenic sarcoma) is the most common primary bone cancer. This cancer starts in the bone cells. It most often occurs in young people between the age of 10 and 30, but about 10% of osteosarcoma cases develop in people in their 60s and 70s. It is rare during middle age, and is more common in males than females. These tumors develop most often in bones of the arms, legs, or pelvis. For more information, see the American Cancer Society document, Osteosarcoma.

Chondrosarcoma: Chondrosarcoma is a cancer of cartilage cells. It is the second most common primary bone cancer. This cancer is rare in people younger than 20. After age 20, the risk of getting a chondrosarcoma goes up until about age 75. Women get this cancer as often as men.

Chondrosarcomas can develop in any place where there is cartilage. Most develop in bones such as the pelvis, leg bone or arm bone. Occasionally, chondrosarcoma will develop in the trachea, larynx, and chest wall. Other sites are the scapula (shoulder blade), ribs, or skull.

Benign (non-cancerous) tumors of cartilage are more common than malignant ones. These are called enchondromas. Another type of benign tumor that has cartilage is a bony projection capped by cartilage called an osteochondroma. These benign tumors rarely turn into cancer. There is a slightly higher chance of cancer developing in people who have many of these tumors, but this is still not common.

Chondrosarcomas are classified by grade, which measures how fast they grow. The grade is assigned by the pathologist (a doctor specially trained to examine and diagnose tissue samples under a microscope) after looking at the tumor under the microscope. The lower the grade, the slower the cancer grows. When a cancer is slow growing, the chance that it will spread is lower and so the outlook is better. Most chondrosarcomas are either low grade (grade I) or intermediate grade (grade II). High grade (grade III) chondrosarcomas, which are the most likely to spread, are less common.

Some chondrosarcomas have distinctive features under a microscope. These variants of chondrosarcoma can have a different prognosis (outlook) than usual chondrosarcomas.

Dedifferentiated chondrosacromas start out as typical chondrosarcomas but then some parts of the tumor change into cells like those of an osteosarcoma or fibrosarcoma. This variant of chondrosarcoma tends to occur in older patients and is more aggressive than usual chondrosarcomas.
Clear cell chondrosarcoma is a rare variant that grows slowly. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body unless it has already come back several times in the original location.
Mesenchymal chondrosarcomas can grow rapidly, but like Ewing tumor, are sensitive to treatment with radiation and chemotherapy.
Ewing tumor: Ewing tumor is the third most common primary bone cancer. This cancer (also called Ewing sarcoma) is named after the doctor who first described it in 1921, Dr. James Ewing. Most Ewing tumors develop in bones, but they can start in other tissues and organs. The most common sites for this cancer are the pelvis, the chest wall (such as the ribs or shoulder blades), and the long bones of the legs or arms. This cancer is most common in children and teenagers and is rare in adults over age 30. Ewing tumors occur most often in white people and are rare among African Americans and Asian Americans. More detailed information about this cancer can be found in the American Cancer Society document, Ewing Family of Tumors.

Malignant fibrous histiocytoma: Malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) more often starts in "soft tissue" (connective tissue such as ligaments, tendons, fat, and muscle) than in bones. When MFH occurs in bones, it usually affects the legs (often around the knees) or arms. This cancer most often occurs in elderly and middle-aged adults and is rare among children. MFH tends to grow quickly and often spreads to other parts of the body, like the lungs and lymph nodes. MFH mostly tends to grow locally, but it can spread to distant sites

Fibrosarcoma: This is another type of cancer that develops more often in "soft tissues" than it does from bones. Fibrosarcoma usually occurs in elderly and middle-aged adults. Leg, arm, and jaw bones are the ones most often affected.

Giant cell tumor of bone: This type of primary bone tumor has benign and malignant forms. The benign (non-cancerous) form is most common. Giant cell bone tumors typically affect the leg (usually, near the knees) or arm bones of young and middle-aged adults. They don't often spread to distant sites, but tend to come back where they started after surgery (this is called local recurrence). This can happen several times. With each recurrence, the tumor becomes more likely to spread to other parts of the body. Rarely, a giant cell bone tumor spreads to other parts of the body without first recurring locally. This happens in the malignant (cancer) form of the tumor.

Chordoma: This primary tumor of bone usually occurs in the base of the skull and bones of the spine. It develops most often in adults older than 30 years, and is about twice as common in men than in women. Chordomas tend to grow slowly and often do not spread to other parts of the body, but they often come back in the same area if they are not removed completely. When they do spread, lymph nodes, the lungs, and the liver are the most common areas for secondary tumors.

Other cancers that develop in bones

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma generally develops in lymph nodes but sometimes starts in the bone. Primary non-Hodgkin lymphoma of the bone is often a widespread disease because multiple sites in the body are usually involved. The outlook is similar to other non-Hodgkin lymphomas of the same subtype and stage. Primary lymphoma of the bone is given the same treatment as lymphomas that start in lymph nodes -- it is not treated like a primary bone sarcoma. For more information see the American Cancer Society document, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma is almost always found in bones, but doctors do not consider it a bone cancer because it develops from the plasma cells of the bone marrow (the soft inner part of some bones). Although it causes bone destruction, it is no more a bone cancer than is leukemia. It is treated as a widespread disease. At times, myeloma can be first found as a single tumor (called a plasmacytoma) in a single bone, but most of the time it will go on to spread to the marrow of other bones. For more information see the American Cancer Society document, Multiple Myeloma.

Last Revised: 07/02/2008

Detailed Guide: What Is Cancer?

Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells.

How a normal cell becomes cancer

Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a person's life, normal cells divide faster to allow the person to grow. After the person becomes an adult, most cells divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells or to repair injuries.

Because cancer cells continue to grow and divide, they are different from normal cells. Instead of dying, cancer cells outlive normal cells and keep forming new abnormal cells. Another difference between cancer cells and normal cells is that cancer cells can invade (grow into) other tissues. Being able to grow out of control and to invade other tissues makes a cell a cancer cell.

Cells become cancer cells because of damage to DNA. DNA is in every cell and directs all its actions. Most of the time, when DNA gets damaged the cell can fix it. If the cell can’t repair the damage, the cell dies. In cancer cells the damaged DNA is not repaired, but the cell doesn’t die like it should. Instead, this cell goes on making new cells even though the body does not need them. These new cells will all have the same DNA damage as the first cell does.

People can inherit damaged DNA, but most of the time DNA damage is caused by something we are exposed to in our environment. Sometimes the cause of the DNA damage is something obvious, like cigarette smoking. But many times no clear cause is found.

A cancer cell has many mistakes in its DNA -- having damage in just one spot does not cause cancer. Even when someone inherits damaged DNA, more mistakes in their DNA are needed before a cancer will develop. Staying away from things that are known to damage DNA (like smoking) as a part of a healthy life style lowers the chance that more DNA damage will take place. This can reduce the risk of cancer -- even in people who have an inherited tendency to get cancer.

How cancers grow and spread

In most cases the cancer cells form a tumor. Some cancers, like leukemia, do not form tumors. Instead, these cancer cells involve the blood and blood-forming organs and circulate through other tissues where they grow. But sometimes the extra cells in these blood cancers may also form a mass of tissue called a tumor.

Cancer cells often travel to other parts of the body, where they begin to grow and replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis. It happens when the cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels of our body.

But no matter where a cancer may spread, it is always named for the place where it started. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the liver is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer. Prostate cancer that has spread to the bone is metastatic prostate cancer, not bone cancer.

Not all tumors are cancerous. Tumors that aren't cancer are called benign. Benign tumors can cause problems -- they can grow very large and press on healthy organs and tissues. But they cannot grow into (invade) other tissues. Because they can't invade, they also can't spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). These tumors are almost never life threatening.

How cancers differ

Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For example, lung cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. That is why people with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their particular kind of cancer.

How common is cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly half of all men and a little over one third of all women in the United States will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

Today, millions of people are living with cancer or have had cancer. The risk of developing most types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a person's lifestyle, for example, by quitting smoking and eating a better diet. Often, the sooner a cancer is found and treatment begins, the better are the chances for living for many years.

Last Medical Review: 02/24/2009
Last Revised: 02/24/2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Molecule Provides Clues about How Infection with Human Papillomavirus May Lead to Cancer

New research shows for the first time that certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which cause cervical and some other types of cancer, can inhibit the production of a tiny single-stranded RNA called microRNA 34a, or miR-34a. Because previous research had demonstrated that microRNAs regulate important functions of the cell, the new finding provides insight into the mechanisms by which HPV contributes to the development of cancer and may lead to the development of treatments to counter HPV infection. Currently, such treatments do not exist. The study, appearing online March 3, 2009, and in the April print edition of the journal RNA, was led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Besides causing cervical cancer, HPV is a major cause of penile, anal, and vaginal cancers. HPV inhibits natural tumor suppression by inactivating a cellular tumor suppressor protein called p53. The p53 protein regulates the expression of other genes that control the cell cycle, activates the repair of damaged DNA in cells, and, in cases of severe damage, initiates cell death. This protein also stimulates the expression of a group of microRNAs, including miR-34a.

MicroRNAs are short strands of RNA that regulate protein expression by binding to specific messenger RNA molecules and inhibiting them from their normal function, which is to direct the production of proteins. Dysregulation and abnormal expression of microRNA genes are common occurrences in many human cancers, but little is known about the role that microRNAs play in cancer development or the causes leading to their abnormal expression.

The research team, led by Zhi-Ming Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., at NCI's Center for Cancer Research, first compared microRNA levels in cervical cancer cells and normal cervical cells and found that levels of miR-34a were much lower in the cancer cells than the normal cells.

During the early stages of HPV infection, the virus produces a protein known as E6. To gain an understanding of the mechanism by which E6 protein inhibits the expression of miR-34a during HPV infection, the researchers used a method known as RNA interference, which makes it possible to turn specific genes off and to observe the subsequent effects on cell activity. The team found that interfering with the expression of E6 in HPV-infected cervical cancer cells grown in the laboratory led to increased expression of both p53 protein and miR-34a. Most miR-34a accumulated during the early stages of cell division. The researchers also observed that induced expression of miR-34a suppressed cell growth and promoted cell death, which suggests that this microRNA also plays a role in tumor suppression.

"This study is the first compelling evidence to show tumor viruses are involved in the regulation of microRNA expression," said Zheng. "Our data imply that, in addition to HPV, other tumor viruses may also contribute to the abnormal expression of cellular microRNAs in virus-associated cancers.

The Zheng team is working to identify miR-34a targets in HPV-infected cells in order to understand the mechanism by which decreased expression of a microRNA favors tumor formation. In addition, they are studying several other microRNAs that are normally involved in cell growth regulation, yet increase their expression levels during HPV infection.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Scientists Identify a Potential Target that May Provide a New Approach to Melanoma Treatment

In a new study released today, researchers have shown that a specific protein plays an important role in inhibiting the development and spread of melanoma tumors in mouse and in human skin models. Increased expression of the protein, SOX9, may also decrease the resistance of melanoma cells to retinoic acid, which is used to treat several other types of cancer. The ability to increase sensitivity to retinoic acid by stimulating SOX9 expression could lead to new approaches for treating melanoma and other cancers. The study, led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, appears online March 9, 2009, in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Melanoma, which begins in cells called melanocytes, is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Current approaches to treating melanoma include the use of conventional therapies, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, or stimulating the immune system to inhibit cancer growth.

"Unfortunately, in most cases, those approaches fail to cure patients," said lead author Thierry Passeron, M.D., of NCI's Center for Cancer Research. "For some blood cancers, forms of retinoic acid have provided effective treatments. However, most solid cancers, including melanoma, are resistant to retinoic acid."

The SOX9 protein is a transcription factor expressed in various adult tissues, including the brain, heart, and kidneys. Transcription factors control the expression of genes and, therefore, function as key regulators of important biological processes. In previous work, the researchers demonstrated that SOX9 protein plays a role in regulating the differentiation, or acquisition of mature characteristics, of normal melanocytes, as well as in inhibiting the proliferation of human melanoma cells. Other work with laboratory-grown cancer cells suggests that retinoic acid may play a role in the antiproliferative effects of SOX9.

Melanoma on a patient's skin.

In the study, the researchers first looked at the expression of SOX9 protein in normal human skin samples and in samples of nevi (precancerous tissue), primary tumors, and metastatic melanoma tumors that had spread to other tissues. They found that the expression of SOX9 is highest in normal cells and is progressively reduced as cells transition from the precancerous state to the most advanced stages of cancer. Next, the researchers inserted the SOX9 gene into human melanoma cells. Using reconstructed skin samples, which contained the human melanoma cells that either had or did not have the inserted gene, the researchers found that cells without the inserted SOX9 gene formed tumors, whereas cells containing the added gene did not. Similar findings were observed in mice that were injected underneath the skin with melanoma cells that either had or did not have the inserted SOX9 gene.

The researchers next determined whether melanoma cells with the inserted SOX9 gene were sensitive to retinoic acid. Indeed, when exposed to retinoic acid, these cells showed a dramatic decrease in proliferation compared to cells without the inserted gene. The sensitivity to retinoic acid appeared to be a consequence of reduced expression of a protein called PRAME, which is a known repressor of the receptor that binds retinoic acid in melanoma cells.

The researchers next investigated whether the SOX9 protein could be activated or its expression increased in melanoma cells. Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), a naturally occurring molecule in the body, had previously been shown to activate SOX9 protein in human testicular cancer cells, and the researchers found that melanoma cells exposed to PGD2 also had enhanced SOX9 activity. They treated mice with induced melanoma tumors with a substance that simulates the PGD2 biochemical pathway alone, retinoic acid alone, or a combination of the two agents. They found that the combination treatment decreased the size of tumors in the mice to a greater extent than treatment with either single agent alone.

"This study brings new insight into the cellular changes that occur during the development of melanoma and suggests a new therapeutic approach," said senior author Vincent Hearing, Ph.D., of NCI's Center for Cancer Research. "We will also use our models to determine the optimal combinations of agents and forms of retinoic acid to stimulate SOX9. The next clinical steps will be phase I and phase II studies in humans, as our ultimate goal is to treat people affected by this public health burden."

Staying Fit with Budokon

Sure yoga has had more than its fifteen minutes of fame and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be over any time soon, and pilates is still a popular offering for those looking to add a bit more intensity to their workout, but there is a new type of “miracle exercise” popping up in magazines, gossip rags, and newspapers over the last few years. Have you ever wondered why Friends Courteney Cox Arquette and Jennifer Aniston are able to keep their figures and their friendship so tight? If you enjoy yoga but are also in love with the high-intensity kickboxing class across the hall, try a fusion class like Budokon (bu-do-kon) and get hip with the Hollywood crowd. Budokon is spiritual rhythmic class involving the poses of yoga with the quick, cardio aspect of martial arts training that is quickly sweeping the red carpet.

Created in 2000 by Los Angeles-based trainer Cameron Shayne, the word Budokon is Japanese for “Way of the Spiritual Warrior” and Shayne is the embodiment of his creation. Budokon isn’t just the hyped-about new fusion workout that has celebrities praising his name, but is more about precision and technique while being true to your mind and spirit while tending to your body’s health needs. Shayne says that Budokon is a “living art,” he goes on to say that it encompasses your entire being, “It is your waking and your sleeping, your walking and your sitting, your living and your dying.” Shayne promises that he isn’t selling anything with Budokon and that there are no gimmicks, there is only something he calls "The Way."

Although “The Way” sounds like a connection to a religion or another structured practice, Shayne emphasizes that it is merely a zen way of approaching your life and is not meant to be taken as enlightenment. There is a specific philosophy attached to the practice of Budokon as a way of connecting spirituality to the physical and mental stages of the art, but it primarily focuses on the individual and letting go of attachments and being true to yourself above all else.

There are three steps to bringing Budokon into your life. First, study the practices and do them regularly, keeping a fluid motion within your body and an open communication with your mind. Check out the locations to find a Budokon class near you or to inquire when a teaching workshop will be in your area.

Second, learn the ten cultivations of Budokon and research the food guidelines in order to attain the highest level of effectiveness in order to completely balance to your life. The cultivations are simple and range from simple and direct, “Order before chaos,” to something more complex for example, “Humility before dishonor.” Food guidelines are also straightforward and easy to follow by advising against eating or drinking a lot before practice and sticking to light foods, keeping a diet of leafy vegetables throughout the day, using meat sparingly in your diet, staying away from rich foods, and trying to eat only natural sugars like honey and stevia, among others.

The third and final step to acquiring full Budokon is to keep a rhythm moving from the peaceful yogic poses to fast moving cardio kicks to the seated meditation as the final part of a class.

Of course the steps are aquired over time and beginners are not obliged to be graceful right away, as Ellen McCarthy of The Washington Post learned when she experimented in a class taught by a student of Shayne’s. McCarthy later calls the experience, “A hell of a workout.” On her recommendation alone, I would volunteer to try out a class or two and challenge my body to work outside of its comfort zone for a bit, I think it sounds like fun regardless of whether or not the rest of the Budokon lifestyle fits me. Budokon may end up being another fad exercise trend that celebrities will wear out soon, but it seems to be gaining strength for now. If it makes you feel good and helps to make your body look like you could be a starlet’s body double, more power to founder Cameron Shayne and the refreshing style known as Budokon.

Coconut, Not Your Average Oil

When I have a little time on my hands, whether I am feeling stressed or bored or just in need of a task, I bake. One of my favorite ingredients to use is coconut. The rich sweet flavor, the soft chewy texture if it’s inside a baked good, and especially the nutty toasted crunch after it’s been baked and sprinkled over cakes, ice creams, or just about anything else you can think of. There are a lot of varieties of coconut sold at stores: flaked, whole, shredded, flour (good for people with wheat flour allergies), raw, unsweetened, dried, milk, and the most unusual type which I have been hearing about recently: coconut oil.

Claiming to be a “miracle cure” everyone has seemed to be raving about it from a new diet to an unbeatable moisturizer, Jennifer Aniston has supposedly been known to swear by it as well as professional international sports teams for multiple aspects of the oil's promising effects. Coconut oil promises a lot, but is it enough to withstand the dangers to your diet?

According to the Coconut Research Center based in Colorado, scientists are aware of the saturated fat content but are also aware of the more substantial positives found in the oil, like fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Used for centuries in Asian and Pacific cultures, they call it the “Tree of Life” for its many remarkable uses. Both food and medicine, coconut oil goes beyond what Americans describe as “dietary oil,” used to prepare foods and for taste without all the calories, dietary oil is a type of oil used for its natural fatty acids and often marketed as a weight loss supplement.

The researchers from the Center urge us to take another look at coconut oil, beyond its dietary purposes. Around the world, traditional alternative medicines have been using this oil to treat a myriad of symptoms and conditions, “asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cramps from menstruation, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, and wounds,” among others. In Western medicine, however, studies have shown that scientists have had some luck in proving coconut (in certain forms) may be a healing substance in the lab.

The possibilities are endless, from killing bacteria and parasites, to boosting the immune system and the body’s energy, acting as an antioxidant, as well as having a lower cholesterol content than other oils, it seems science knows something we don’t. A new study recently conducted and presented by Drs. Gilda Sapphire Erguiza, from the Philippine Children's Medical Center and Daniel Rauch, from the New York University Langone Medical Center, found that children diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia healed faster while on normal antibiotics when also given a dose of coconut oil according to their weight, though researchers have more to investigate as to why this effect took place.

On the opposite side of the crowd, nutritionists and the health-conscious weigh in on why coconut oil shouldn’t be a part of a regular diet. Just look at the numbers: Coconut oil has a whopping 117 calories per tablespoon and with the artery-clogging qualities of a saturated fat to boot. Coconut oil on its own has 87 percent saturated fat compared to a juicy burger that contains merely 38 percent. With most American diets already high in fats and saturated fats, adding additional oil on top of all the rest probably won’t be good for your overall health.

The fatty acids in foods are measured in length that tells of the danger to our bodies: short, medium, and long. Most fatty acids we consume are of the long variety and essentially it takes our bodies longer to break them down and metabolize within our system. Most of the long-chain varieties are what we consume—98 to 100 percent—from plants and animals daily. Coconut oil is medium-chain or known as MCFA. Some nutritionists warn about the high saturated fat content of coconut oil but advise to use caution and think about what we are substituting it for within our diet in order to keep a balance and keep our heart in check.

Whatever your choice, for or against the “miracle cure” of coconut oil, remember that everything even supplements and natural remedies should be used in moderation no matter how healthy they may seem and to always consult a doctor before trying anything new so as to prevent future complications. I always knew I loved coconut, but I didn’t know it could be for more than just taste.

Tea Tree Oil: Natural Treatment Alternative

Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is often used as an essential oil for a variety of ailments. Extracted from the leaves of a plant native to Australia, the pure form of the oil is very strong and usually diluted for use in cosmetics and medicines. Historically, tea tree oil got its name because the leaves of the melaleuca alternifolia plant were first steeped as a tea. Traditionally, the leaves were used topically for treating burns, lacerations, and infections.

Tea tree oil has been effective in helping or healing many maladies from athlete’s foot and acne to dandruff, nail fungus, eczema, ringworm, and even annoyances like lice and mosquito bites. This antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal oil is wonderful for stopping pain and irritation while providing a soothing disinfectant for your skin. For acne sufferers, tea tree oil has been proven great for killing the bacteria and flushing out the toxins while keeping the skin’s natural oils without over-drying. For helping coughs and colds, tea tree oil helps to break up mucus.

As an essential oil used in aromatherapy, tea tree oil is found in many face and body creams, soaps, lotions, hair products and candles. Even though tea tree oil is a natural product, there have been studies done to prove its effectiveness as a treatment for certain ailments.

A controlled trial investigated three groups with athlete’s foot. Out of 158 sufferers, one group used 25 percent tea tree oil solution, the second group worked with 50 percent, and the final group was the placebo. Used twice daily for four weeks, the 50 percent solution group showed 64 percent cured in relation to only 31 percent in the placebo group. Another trial used tea tree oil to fight acne and it was tested against benzoyl peroxide and had fewer skin side effects overall but both groups showed significantly less skin irritations, inflammation, and breakouts.

Natural health products have been more popular in recent years and because they are branching out of their niche environment, more scientific studies are being conducted in order to test these natural products on conditions and diseases we have yet to find cures for. Tea tree oil has not been forgotten and emerging information is making headlines due to a rising health outbreak in the United States.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, has been in the news recently due to outbreaks of the infection caused by mistakes and sloppy corners used in hospitals across the country. MRSA cannot be treated with normal antibiotics and the virus is easily transferred through large environments of sick people (from hospitals to nursing homes) causing pneumonia and other serious infections. A Northern Ireland study conducted by Queen’s University Belfast, shows that tea tree oil may provide a simple approach to preventing the virus from spreading.

In the news published earlier this month, lead author of the study Dr. Bronagh Blackwood from the university and his colleagues are testing results of patients using a body wash with 5 percent concentration of tea tree oil to combat MRSA. Earlier studies have shown that tea tree oil-infused body wash has seemed to eliminate the virus from the skin because a lot of these infections start at the surgical site. Blackwood’s team is experimenting with newly-diagnosed MRSA patients on people in hospital’s intensive care units and even though they are only a year into the trial they are hopeful for a positive outcome, “We started this trial in November 2007,” Blackwood continued, “We aim to complete it in November 2010.”

Tea tree oil should be used with caution and under supervision from a natural healer or healthcare provider in order to be used properly and in its correct form. It should be noted that tea tree oil should be checked for potency before use, because in its undiluted and purest state, it can cause skin irritations like blistering, itching, and rashes. Also tea tree oil is supposed to be used topically only and never to be ingested, ask a professional before using if pregnant or breast-feeding.

Healthy Horseradish

At a birthday party over the weekend, a friend of a friend who I have not seen in a year was chatting with me over appetizers and general conversation ensued until he told me that lately he has become “obsessed” with horseradish and cannot get enough of the potent condiment. Throughout the party he would come over and tell me another fun fact about horseradish’s health benefits as if to persuade me to add it to my diet. Well, even though I do not enjoy horseradish much with my meals and only occasionally add a bit of wasabi to my soy sauce on sushi, I also could not get the idea of horseradish off my mind. Horseradish, as it turns out, is cousin to the hot dog-favorite mustard as well as tasty and good-for-you veggies like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
A large white root that grows up to five feet tall, horseradish barely gives off a scent in its original form. What we normally call “horseradish” is actually the product of the grated root with vinegar added and is properly known as “prepared horseradish.” Vinegar is added to stop the reaction process and stimulate flavor because when the root is cut down or grated, enzymes are released as the cells break down to produce the sinus-and eye-stinging effect we know and either love or hate depending on our taste tolerance. If the grated horseradish is not immediately put to use or has vinegar added to it, the paste gets dark and becomes bitter because the plant cells have all broken down and spoiled producing an unpleasant condiment once exposed to the air, which no one would want on their dining table.

Horseradish has been used for centuries as a natural herbal medicine to cure all sorts of ailments from toothaches and sinus troubles to urinary tract infections and as an immune booster full of antioxidants to fight against cancer cells. Around for centuries, Pliny the Elder named horseradish (called Amoracia) in his writings of history, Native Americans chewed the root as a natural form of toothpaste, and seafarers rationed it against the spread of scurvy. Helping to rid the body of mucus, consuming horseradish can cure sinusitis and can also prevent against infection and cough. The root, either plain or cured with vinegar, helps to remove toxins and other waste from the body on an as-needed basis.

The rest of the plant can also be used for natural healing. The leaves are said to dispel a headache almost immediately when pressed on the forehead and tea made from the flowers of the plant is steeped and enjoyed in order to calm even the most severe of colds or even the flu.

Chock full of vitamins C and B, potassium, iron, and calcium, as well as helpful enzymes and a natural antibiotic, the spicy root acts as a super food and is also great for dietary means. In just one tablespoon of prepared horseradish the numbers are small and great for adding lots of flavor without all the guilt of more fattening condiments such as mayonnaise or gravy. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) even included horseradish on their tip sheet for healthy eating as a way to curb obesity. As well as acting as a natural food preservative, with only 6 calories in one tablespoon, 1.4 grams carbohydrates, 14 milligrams of sodium, 9 milligrams of calcium, and 0 grams of fat, horseradish should be a welcome addition to any sandwich, meat, fish, salad, soup, or any other dish, so get creative!

In the United States, prepared horseradish or creamy horseradish sauce is commonly found on roast beef sandwiches and culturally alongside fish and other meat-related dishes, and fast food has made it a staple at Arby’s chains across the nation. If you enjoy the taste, spicy and tangy horseradish can clean out your airways, boost your nutrient intake, and is a great way to stay healthy without all the bland “diet food” fear.

High Pressure Chambers Proves Positive for Children with Autism

Ongoing research using high-pressure chambers–also known as hyperbaric chambers–is now being considered in the treatment for autism. A newly released report on a controlled study utilizing 40 one-hour chamber treatments over a four-week period, showed positive results in children with autism.

Autism affects one in every 150 children in the U.S. and there is no current cure for the condition. Recently published in the journal BMC, this new small study was conducted to determine the affects of hyperbaric pressure treatment on children with autism. The study involved 62 children in the U.S., ranging in ages from two to seven, with varying degrees of autism. They were divided into two groups, the treatment group and the control.

The treatment group was treated in the hyperbaric chamber with 1.3 atmospheric pressure and 24 percent oxygen and the control group was given 1.03 of pressurized room air and 21 percent oxygen. The study was blind, with the children not knowing which treatment they were receiving, which potentially provided truer results. After the completion of forty one-hour treatments, over four weeks, the treatment group showed significant improvements with receptive language, social interaction, and eye contact, with nine of the children in the treatment group reporting, “Very much improved” or “Much improved” results, with the control group only having two children who reported the same results. Eighty percent of the treatment group showed improvement, but only 38 percent of the control group improved. Hyperbaric chamber treatments seemed to have no significant side effects, with some children suffering tantrums or claustrophobia while in the chamber.

Dr. Daniel A. Rossignol of the International Child Development Resource Center in Melbourne, Fla., the study's lead author who has two children who suffer with autism said, “We wanted to do a formal study that looked to see if this was even a valid treatment." The team hopes their study will initiate other research involving the high-pressure treatment. The study’s physicians offer hyperbaric chamber treatment in their practices, which is mentioned in their study as a possible conflict of interest. More studies involving hyperbaric chambers will need to be conducted before the therapy should be recommended as treatment.

Autism has become a hot topic over the past few years, with more and more children being diagnosed with the condition. Parents of autistic children want what is best for their children, and in hopes of finding that, they may try any new treatment options, within reason. Even though the treatment has not officially been tapped as an official recommendation for autism treatment, it warrants additional research and gives hope to parents of autistic children.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Catch Some Natural Zzzzs with Valerian Root

Most people have woken up to droopy eyes, a drowsy head, and/or a foggy brain only to spot the clock and realize that there is no more time for sleep and a headache-inducing busy morning ahead. Tossing and turning in your sleep or waking up repeatedly can be related to many factors: a poor or uncomfortable mattress, sinus or other breathing problems, a state of inebriation, stress, and poor bedtime habits. With any type of insomnia, no matter what the cause, a person enduring restless sleep at any time cannot fully enjoy the following day because of their sleep-deprived state. While there are many over-the-counter remedies for insomnia, from pills and teas, to syrups and oils, a popular natural sleep aid is called valerian root.

Valerian root, known scientifically as valeriana officinalis, is a perennial plant with flowering blooms of pink or white flowers with a pleasant sweet scent. Simply called valerian—native to regions of Europe and Asia—it was used as a perfume in the sixteenth century. The pharmaceutical-grade type of valerian is not found in the stalk, leaves, or flowers but only culled from the roots of the plant. It is often found as a dietary supplement in capsules, tablets, and liquid extract form in order to help in natural calming and sedation techniques.

Meaning “to be strong or healthy,” valerian comes from the Latin word valere, which many historians think can refer to either the healthy advantages it gives or simply just for its strong odor. According to folk lore, valerian was thought to turn everything painful into good, and it has also been used for medicinal treatment since ancient Roman and Greek times.

Traditionally used to ease gastrointestinal pain and irritable bowel syndrome, the root is primarily sold as a nutritional and dietary supplement in the United States. Valerian has been used for treating sleeping disorders and anxiety, restlessness and even taken as an organic muscle relaxer. Some studies have shown valerian has a better effect over a long period of time if used regularly but some users have claimed success as an immediate relief substance, although there is no scientific evidence to support such effects.

Science says that valerian root breaks down into isovaleric acid that triggers a relaxation agent throughout your central nervous system creating the ability to relax enough to sleep through the night. Double-blind studies show that valerian root’s effects as a sedative and has been prescribed by naturalists for tension headaches as well as mild insomnia. Released a few years ago, a natural supplement advertised to help you relax is called Sleepasil containing the three main organic ingredients of melatonin, chamomile, and valerian root and is approved for persons over the age of 12, with a dosage of one to two capsules half an hour before bedtime.

In support of valerian is the fact that the root has very few side effects. Valerian does not cause the user to become sluggish the following day and cannot become addictive unlike certain anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills which can be dangerously addictive and have shown reports of destructive behavior as a result of over usage. However, physicians recommend that you see your healthcare provider before adding any new medications to your schedule and to please follow the instructions carefully in terms of dosage.

Whether or not you wake up and stay awake for long periods of time during the night, or if you are just moving around a lot and waking your body up, a good night’s sleep is your best defense against stress, colds, and the flu, and improves your sanity in order to function your best. However you choose to erase your sleeping problems, don’t forget to turn out the light and don’t let the bed bugs bite.

National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week

When I was a kid I had those popular flavor-scented markers that I called “smelly markers” because when you wrote on something you smelled lemon, orange, cherry, grape, or my least favorite licorice, which is why I rarely used the black marker to make posters. While I was not the kid who stuck the markers up my nostrils to get a high off of the fumes, as I grew up, I was aware of the possibility. Nail polish bottles, carpet cleaners, and whipped cream canisters, along with the thousands of products like these lurking around your house that you normally would not think about intentionally inhaling, there are at least 1 million people per year that experiment with one form or another. Curiosity is the main reason cabinets under the sink and in kitchen drawers and cupboards that sparked the baby lock craze on all dangerous areas around the house. National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week (NIPAW) starts March 15, so keep your household chemical items—and your children—under watch.

NIPAW promotes the statistic that one in five students throughout the United States has used an inhalant by the time he or she enters eighth grade. Unassuming little products like my old “smelly markers” or white-out to fix an ink error are not items that usually trigger a red flag at the grocery checkout but can be harmful if used improperly, especially by children. Most parents don’t think about the danger behind the poisons in inhalants lying around the house until something bad happens.

When inhalants are abused it is called “huffing.” Huffing is described as the intentional inhalation of a substance that absorbs into your lungs, deprives the brain of much-needed cells and produces a euphoric feeling. Besides affecting the way your brain works, inhalant poison is as dangerous as any amount of hard drugs, it can kill you the first time you use or the second, third, or even the thirtieth, and is known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. Every time you inhale, you can die from lack of oxygen, cardiac arrest, or pneumonia among others. Among other risks are heart damage, kidney failure, liver damage and other organs along with the deterioration of bone marrow.

The signs of inhalant abuse are hard to tell, but significant use can cause abusers to look disoriented or intoxicated, slur their speech, have random paint stains on their clothes, hands, or face, have strong chemical odors, nausea or loss of appetite, a runny nose, and mouth or nose sores. If you suspect your child, friend, or loved one is abusing inhalants also look for hidden canisters, dirty rags, strange behavior and receipts for culprit items.

NIPAW is a community oriented program that uses education as a preventative tool. Started by the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, NIPAW has been helpful for increasing awareness of the dangers of abusing poisons. Since 1992 NIPAW has proven to be successful. Last year, over 2,000 organizations from 46 of the states were involved in the annual prevention week. Anti-drug campaigns, schools, police departments, volunteer groups, poison control centers, and local media outlets across America have been joining in the efforts.

From popular inhalants like paint or glue to unsuspecting newcomers like computer keyboard cleaner or rubber cement, be careful of poison abuse, especially in children and during the third week in March make sure parents, friends, and coworkers are aware of the dangers of inhalants as well. I am not sure if those “smelly markers” from my childhood still exist, but in the future, it might not be a good idea to market toxic chemicals to children that smell like food products.