Monday, August 3, 2009

Gene Variant That Increases Ovarian Cancer Risk Discovered

By searching millions of DNA variations in the genomes of thousands of women with and without ovarian cancer, scientists have discovered a previously undetected region of DNA which when altered, can increase a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer by 40 per cent. The hope is that this will one day lead to a reliable screening test for a disease that currently has a high mortality rate because it is difficult to detect early.

The study was conducted by an international research team that included UK scientists from University College London (UCL), the Cancer Research UK Genetic Epidemiology Unit, and the University of Cambridge, and is published in the 2 August online issue of Nature Genetics.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK, where around 6,800 new cases are diagnosed every year, which is a rate of about 130 women a week finding out they have the disease.

However, ovarian cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in women in the UK, where it kills around 4,300 women every year.

The human genome, the DNA-coded blueprint of how to make a human being, has more than 10 million genetic variants, of which just a small number will increase a woman's chance of getting ovarian cancer.

Scientists already know that variants in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer genes significantly increase a woman's chances of getting ovarian cancer, but these are rare and account for less than 5 per cent of ovarian cancers.

Senior author Dr Simon Gayther of UCL said this study identified a significant new variant and there is real hope that as more are found:

"We can start to identify the women at greatest risk and this could help doctors to diagnose the disease earlier when treatment has a better chance of being successful."

Gayther and his gynaecological cancer research team's work is supported by funds from Cancer Research UK and The Eve Appeal charity.

For the study the scientists analysed 2.5 million variations in DNA base pairs from the genomes of 1,810 women with, and 2,535 women without ovarian cancer in the UK.

DNA base pairs are like letters of the words that spell out the genetic code. Strips of DNA base pairs (the "words" if you like) are called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Small alterations in the coding of particular SNPs, akin to "spelling errors" in words, link to ovarian cancer risk.

After eight years of searching, Gayther and colleagues found an SNP on chromosome 9 that was uniquely linked to ovarian cancer. Each of us has 23 pairs of chromosomes, each "copy" in the pair comes from one biological parent.

In collaboration with the international Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC) they confirmed the finding in another group of 7,000 women with ovarian cancer and 10,000 women without the disease. The samples came from women all over the world.

The scientists estimated that:
Women carrying that particular version of the SNP on both copies of chromosome 9 have a 40 per cent higher lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who do not carry it on either copy of chromosome 9.

The risk for women carrying both copies is 14 in 1,000 compared to 10 in 1,000.

About 15 per cent of women in the UK have both copies of the variant.

Women with only one copy of the variant have a 20 per cent higher lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have none.

The risk for women carrying only one copy is 12 in 1,000 compared to 10 in 1,000.

About 40 per cent of women in the UK have one copy.
David Lammy, the Member of Parliament for Tottenham and Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, had particular reason to be interested in this research because it included a DNA sample from his mother, Rose Lammy, who died of ovarian cancer last year. She carried both copies of the DNA variant that Gayther and colleagues identified.

Lammy said the study brings us a step closer toward earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer, when treatment is more likely to succeed. He told the media:

"I am pleased that Mum's sample was included in this study."

"We now know the fact that she had this altered DNA meant that her lifetime risk had risen from 10 in 1,000 to 14 in 1,000, an increase of 40 per cent compared to those women who don't carry this DNA variation," he added.

"A genome-wide association study identifies a new ovarian cancer susceptibility locus on 9p22.2."
Honglin Song, Susan J Ramus, Jonathan Tyrer, Kelly L Bolton, Aleksandra Gentry-Maharaj et al.
Nature Genetics, Published online: 2 August 2009.

Source: UCL News.

Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

Scientists Find New Human HIV From Gorillas

Scientists who found a new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a Cameroonian woman living in Paris, have discovered it is an unusual variant of HIV-1 that could have come from gorillas.

The research that led to the findings was headed by Dr Jean-Christophe Plantier of the University of Rouen in France and is published in the 2 August online issue of Nature Medicine. Drs David Robertson and Jonathan Dickerson from the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester, UK, were also involved in the study.

There are three established lineages of HIV-1, known as M, N, and O, which came from chimpanzees, but this new variant appears to be the prototype of a new lineage derived from gorillas and shows no evidence of recombination with the other known lineages, wrote the researchers.

They propose that the new lineage be called HIV-1 group P.

There are 33 million people worldwide living with AIDS which is caused by the HIV-1 virus group M (groups N and O are mainly confined to Cameroon).

HIV is a product of cross-species transmission of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) found in chimpanzees, thought to have crossed to humans from eating infected bush meat.

While first recognized in 1980, HIV is thought to have started some 80 years earlier in and around the African country that is now called the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 62-year old Cameroonian woman at the centre of the study moved to Paris in 2004 and began to have symptoms shortly afterwards. Her blood sample showed discrepancies in her viral load, and further tests revealed she was infected with a new strain of HIV that more closely resembled SIV from gorillas than HIV from humans.

However, before moving to Paris the woman had lived in a semi-urban part of the central west African Republic of Cameroon; she had not come into contact with bush meat or gorillas.

Because of this information and the fact further tests showed that the virus was able to replicate in human cells, the scientists suggest the strain may well appear elsewhere.

Robertson told the media that:

"The discovery of this novel HIV-1 lineage highlights the continuing need to monitor closely for the emergence of new HIV variants."

"This demonstrates that HIV evolution is an ongoing process. The virus can jump from species to species, from primate to primate, and that includes us; pathogens have been with us for millions of years and routinely switch host species," he added.

In the same way as the current swine flu pandemic is showing us, this is another example of how viruses can now move very quickly around the world because nowadays large numbers of humans travel long distances in a short space of time.

Plantier's team in France are part of a network of laboratories that has been monitoring HIV genetic diversity, while the The Manchester Life Sciences team helped with the computer-based evolutionary analysis.

"A new human immunodeficiency virus derived from gorillas."
Jean-Christophe Plantier, Marie Leoz, Jonathan E Dickerson, Fabienne De Oliveira, François Cordonnier, Véronique Lemée, Florence Damond, David L Robertson & François Simon.
Nature Medicine, Published online: 02 August 2009.

Source: University of Manchester.

Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Aspirin and Colorectal Cancer

A daily dose moderate discharge of the long taken term aspirin can prevent the colorectal cancer, but gastroenterologists is cautious on the recommendation of him, investigating said.

Five years of a daily dose of aspirin of magnesium 300 or the colorectal occurrence above reduced to 63% to 74% of the cancer, disclosed Peter M. Rothwell, M.D., Ph.D., of the infirmary of Radcliffe here, and colleagues the results of its 10 - to the recordativa letter of 14 years of two great British tests to support the studies of short term observation that measure risk of the adenoma, they wrote in the application of the 12 of May the Lancet. But, the results contradict those of great, long term studies of aspirin under the dose, such as the study of the health of the doctors and the study of the health of the women. The difference is probable because one more a higher dose is necessary to affect the formation of the adenoma via the way cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2), wrote to Andrew T. Chan, M.D., M.P.H., of the general hospital of Massachusetts in Boston, in a support editorial. “Nevertheless, with the preoccupations by the potential risks of the long term use of aspirin and the availability of the alternative strategies of the prevention (eg., defending), these results are not sufficient to authorize a recommendation for the population in general to use aspirin for the prevention of the cancer,” the Dr noticed Chan. The Dr Rothwell and colleagues followed in two British tests that began in early years 80. British doctors Aspirin Trial originally included 5,139 masculine doctors at random selected to aspirin of 500 magnesium or to no aspirin by five to six years. They did not blind to the participants to the treatment. The isquémico attack transitory Aspirin BRITON of test (UK-TIA) included 2,449 patients who who'd had a recent AUNT or a isquémico movement of smaller importance. They at random selected to the patients aspirin of magnesium 300 to magnesium or 1,200 to the day or placebo by an a seven years depending on the date of randomization. The investigators used national registries of the cancer to follow the colorectal occurrence of the cancer for a midpoint of 23 years in both tests. Altogether, there were 215 boxes colorectal of the cancer. Between the reunited results of the analysis: Any use of aspirin of the duration in the tests reduced the colorectal occurrence of the cancer (quotient of the danger interval 0,56 to 0,97 of the 0,74 confidence, of 95%, P=0.02). Five or more years of use of aspirin reduced occurrence still more (hour ci 0,47 to 0,85 of 0,63, of 95%, P=0.002). The effect only appeared after 10 years (hour 0,92 by the first nine years, P=0.73, against 0,60 by 19 years 10 to, P=0.007). The greatest advantage was considered after five or more years of aspirin it uses 10 to 14 years after randomization (hour ci 0,20 to 0,70 of 0,37, of 95%, P=0.002), particularly for which they were obedient (hour ci 0,12 to 0,56 of 0,26, of 95%, P=0.0002). There was no effect on the non-colorectal occurrence of the cancer (hour ci 0,88 to 1,16 of 1,01, of 95%, P=0.87). They designed the known investigators, nevertheless, who were no data on use of aspirin after the tests finished and no test to study the colorectal cancer. The investigators also made a systematic revision of studies of observation in the risk of the colorectal cancer with aspirin or other antiinflammatory drugs nonsteroidal (NSAIDs). Between the 19 studies of the marry-control of the independent one including, the majority found less aspirin or use of NSAID between the patients who developed the colorectal cancer (reunited quotient of probabilities ci 0,73 to 0,87 of 0,80, of 95%, P<0.0001). Like in at random selected tests, the revision of Literature demonstrated the advantage of increase for a longer and more frequent use. Aspirin irregular or occasional or the NSAID use conferred no advantage (Or ci 0,93 to 1,09 of 1,01, of 95%, P=0.87). The quotients of the probabilities were 0,79 for the short term use of aspirin defined like less than five or 10 years, 0,69 by five or more or 10 or more years of the therapy, and 0,60 by 10 or more years of regular use. Together, the results suggest aspirin is effective in the primary prevention of the colorectal cancer, the concluded investigators. The “use of magnesium 300 or more of aspirin than to the day by near five years is effective in the primary prevention of the colorectal cancer, with a latency of near 10 years, that are constant with results of observation studies,” wrote. If the high oral doses of aspirin are necessary for this advantage, the “additional investigation on the direct local effects of the low dose colonic-sends preparations could be of merit,” the Dr Rothwell wrote. Whereas the cardiovascular advantages and colorectal of the cancer of aspirin can compensate the risk of bleeding the complications for certain groups of elevated risk, they said, the doctors will need to load this decision for the peace ientes individualmente. “Sin embargo, antes de que el chemoprevention pueda ser práctico, más trabajo es necesario caracterizar los para quién las ventajas potenciales del aspirin compensan los peligros,” el editorialista que el Dr. Chan escribió.

The mercury in silver fillings can harm children, pregnant women

The Government warns that amalgam dental fillings color containing mercury may pose a safety concern for pregnant women and young children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced this caution on its website earlier this month after settling a lawsuit. The warning is directed at two groups, which are already urged to limit mercury seafood over concerns that too much mercury can damage the developing brain. The FDA said that publish dental amalgam, "containing mercury, which can have neurotoxic effects on the developing nervous system of children and fetuses." The FDA is also determine whether the mercury vapor released when chewing and brushing can also cause neurological disorders or other problems in children.

This spring, the FDA alerted dentists who is considering additional controls, which include requiring warnings to alert consumers of mercury in amalgam before having cavities or restriction filling containing mercury in amalgam fillings young children and some other patients. The FDA is accepting public comment until July 28 with a final ruling expected a year later, on July 28, 2009, all imposed as part of the legal settlement. "It's an open question what we are going to do," FDA Deputy Commissioner Randall Lutter told the Associated Press, but "what this says is there is a clear intention on our part in the labelling of sensitive subpopulations." "This is a watershed moment," said Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project, which, with other advocacy groups-sued the FDA in hopes of forcing restrictions on amalgam.

Amalgamas cost around $ 100 versus about $ 150 or more for teeth colored compounds. Amalgam fillings are about 50 percent mercury and is alloyed with silver, copper and tin and are made by mixing liquid mercury powder ingredients. All this requires security measures and filters to limit waste seeping back into the environment. Used since 1800, amalgams popularity is declining, partly due to concerns about mercury, which represents about 30 percent of U.S. fillings. Several other countries restrict amalgam, either as a precautionary measure in pregnant women and small children or because of environmental concern.

As part of the solution with several advocacy groups of consumers, the FDA agreed to alert consumers about potential risks on its website and issuing a specific rule over the next year for fillings that contain mercury, FDA spokesman said Peper Long. This rule could affect those responsible for the metal fillings, which include DENTSPLY International Inc. and Danaher Corp. unit Kerr. The new rule allows the FDA to use "special checks (which) can provide reasonable assurance of safety and efficacy of the product," added Long.

Although various FDA said earlier studies showed any damage mercury fillings, some consumer groups argue fillings can trigger a series of health problems such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. In 2006, an FDA panel of outside experts for advice said most people would not be harmed by them, but said that the FDA requires more information.

Mercury has long been linked to and kidney damage brain certain levels.

Why Men Die Early Than Women

Popular culture can paint men as the stronger sex, but from the moment a child is born, her life is more likely that her sister which was cut short. Across borders and cultural, men die an average of seven years earlier than women, the disparity in the United States is approximately five years. In a new book, Why Men Die First, Marianne Legato, a specialist in gender-specific medicine at Columbia University, explains: They are genetically and biologically fragile to begin with, he says, and social norms that encourage demand and even risky behavior of men put at risk. Still, he told U.S. News Legato, men and their families can turn back. He highlighted seven reasons why men die prematurely-and seven actions they can take to prolong their time.

1. Men charged with natural genetic deficits.

While every cell in the body of a woman has two large X chromosomes, men have one X and one Y chromosome smallest; And it is half the size. The "replacement" X chromosomes allow the bodies of women compared to compensate for the damage so that men can not cells. In addition, the mutations are of three to six times more likely in a Y chromosome that a chromosome X. This genetic deficit could be part of the reason why miscarriages, infections, birth defects, cancer and many other health problems strike men especially hard.

2. The uterus is more treacherous for children.

Baby and Children are one-half to two times more likely to die at birth than girls. A weak immune system, a tendency for the development of immature lungs, insufficient blood flow to the male fetuses, and high vulnerability to motherhood stresses seem to be the culprits. Bleeding in the brain, birth defects, pneumonia and urinary tract infections are more common among male newborns.

3. Men are more likely to have disorders of development.

An article published in the British Medical Journal notes that a variety of disorders, including reading delays, deafness, autism, ADHD, blindness, seizures, hyperactivity disorder, clumsiness, stammering, and Tourette's syndrome is between three and four times more common in boys than girls. There are 10 men for every woman with Asperger syndrome, a mild form of autism.

4. They are biologically more prone to risky behaviors.

More slow development in the area of the brain that governs judgement men-especially adolescents-more likely than girls to die in accidents. According to a National Safety Council statistics, men were involved in 82 percent of accidental deaths related to firearms, 87 percent of bicycle-related fatalities, almost twice the number of deaths by poisoning, and almost four times more homicides in 2004. Similarly, in 2006 they were in 81 percent of fatal accidents involving drunk driving.

5. A "suck-it-up" culture of men usually means languish with depression.

Although women are more likely to make suicide attempts, the ratio of men to women who commit suicide is actually almost 4 to 1. For men, ages 20 to 24, fully 15 percent of all deaths are suicides.

6. Men choose most hazardous occupations.

Most of the sailors, firemen, policemen, construction workers, and farmers are men. Of the 5734 deaths that occurred on the job in 2005, men were the victims in the vast majority-5328. And men remain the vast majority of the fighting during military conflicts.

7. Heart disease strikes men early.

Estrogen seems to protect women from heart disease until well into adulthood, but it is common for symptoms start in the men's age 35. Making matters worse, men have naturally low levels of protective HDL cholesterol. The result: between 70 percent and 89 percent of all sudden cardiac events occur in men, and men three times more often die of coronary artery disease than women.

Seven things that men can do to lengthen your life

1. Know your blood pressure no matter what their age; exercise vigorously every day to enhance their naturally low levels of HDL cholesterol, and begins to receive evidence of coronary artery disease in their twenties.

2. Go to the doctor and tell him or her if you have a health problem whatsoever. Our culture can reward stoicism behavior of men; disease. This is especially true for men who feel sad or depressed for long periods. It is very common for men to internalize and ignoring their problems. Seek help.

3. Monitor your behavior and to minimize the tendency to act in a manner boneheaded. You know better than to drive recklessly, ignoring the security protocols at work, or operate machinery while intoxicated.

4. Keep overweight to avoid a phalanx of chronic diseases that will affect their quality of life long before they actually kill you. Heart disease, diabetes and prostate cancer are some very common risks associated with being overweight that often have a toll on his welfare, including the ability to have an erection-long before life is really short. In some cases, is itself the disease that causes sexual problems and other medications or surgery are used to treat the disease to take the toll.

5. Do not smoke. According to the American Cancer Society, smokers who quit smoking 35 years can expect to live up to eight and a half years rather than continuing smokers. Risk begins to diminish within months and falls in levels of non-smokers in three to five years.

6. Not afraid of digital rectal exams. PSA screening for prostate cancer is controversial because it could pick up tiny cancers that are not clinically important, but there is little doubt that digital examinations reveal dangerous cancer that must be addressed. The same goes for colonoscopies. They are uncomfortable, yes, but much less than malignant colon cancer and chemotherapy.

7. Protect your head and tell your doctor if you are being especially hard Ding. A CT scan may be necessary. Conclusions may seem harmless but can cause long-term brain hemorrhage that lead to memory problems, interrupted sleep, and personality changes that last a lifetime.

Heart disease also kills women

The Heart Foundation has launched a new campaign to dispel the myth that heart disease is a medical condition that affects only men.

The disease was the cause of death in 34 percent of Australians in 2006, and more than half of them are women.

Tony Stubbs, the ACT Heart Foundation, said that the Go Red for Women campaign is also promoting a healthier lifestyle.

"Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women is a fact that only three out of every 10 women are aware that came from an investigation of recent Newspoll," he said.

"So we are really trying to promote the message that heart disease is a major problem for women and that is also largely preventable."

Body piercing brings health risks

Body piercing in places other than the ear often leads to complications such as infections, inflammation and bleeding, a new study shows.

The data, collected in the UK by the Agency for Health Protection and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, showed that 25 percent of body piercing in areas other than the earlobe lead to complications, with one of every 100 piercing resulting in a hospital admission. More than 10000 people aged 16 and older participated in the survey, which was published on the Internet today by the British Medical Journal. A 2002 study for students of americas also reported a high rate of complications, with 17 percent of students complained of problems, including bleeding and infection. Piercing the nipple appears to be the most risky, with a 21 percent rate of bleeding or injury.

About 10 percent of the adult population of Great Britain has a non-earlobe body piercing. Estimates of prevalence in the United States are harder to find, but the 2002 report, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that 51 percent of college students surveyed had some kind of piercing, not counting pierced earlobes among women .

In this study, 38 percent of male students had pierced ears, whether in the lobe or elsewhere, while 4 percent had crossed the languages and 3 percent had pierced nipples. Among female students, pierced earlobes were not counted, but 29 percent had piercings elsewhere in their ears. Another 16 percent has crossed the languages, 6 percent had pierced nipples and 32 percent had pierced navels.

In the British study, 16 years old with piercing were also more likely to suffer complications, with almost one third reporting problems and 15 percent seeking professional help. While most piercings are performed in specialty shops piercing researchers noted that a "worrying" 9 per cent of tongue piercing were made by those who do not. In each anatomical site, including the tongue and genital areas, the study's authors said they found a number of people who had carried out drilling or what it had done for a friend or relative.

The most common problems with piercings are swelling, infection and bleeding. Nearly half of the tongue piercing led to complications in the British poll.

The growing popularity of body piercing could "place a significant burden on health services for many years," he told investigators.

The marijuana more potent than ever

Marijuana is more potent than at any time since the scientific analysis of the drug began in the 1970's, according to a report from the University of Mississippi Project Monitoring power. The average amount of THC in marijuana, which is the main ingredient of psychoactive drugs, was tested at 9.6% - more than double the potency of marijuana in 1983.

The largest concentration of THC is in a single sample was 37.2%.

Since 1975, the group, which is funded through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and has analyzed data compiled

Oral Sex

Oral sex can obtain the attention of most of the men. The subject gets to be considerably more excellent, nevertheless, when it is joined with a new study that more often binds papillomavirus human (HPV) to an increasing risk of a considered class of oral cancer in men.

The study, which appears in this week's New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), shows that men and women who reported having six or more oral-sex partners during their lifetime had a nearly ninefold increased risk of developing cancer of the tonsils or at the base of the tongue. Of the 300 study participants, those infected with HPV were also 32 times more likely to develop this type of oral cancer than those who did not have the virus. These findings dwarf the increased risk of developing this so-called oropharyngeal cancer associated with the two major risk factors: smoking (3 times greater) or drinking (2.5 times greater). HPV infection drives cancerous growth, as it is widely understood to do in the cervix. But unlike cervical cancer, this type of oral cancer is more prevalent in men.

HPV is ubiquitous. Of the 120 strains isolated from humans — about 40 of which are in the mouth and genital tracts — Merck's recently FDA-approved vaccine, Gardasil, protects against four: HPV-6 and HPV-11, which cause warts; and HPV-16 and HPV-18, which cause about 70% of cervical cancers. Similarly, according to the study, HPV-16 was present in 72 of the 100 cancer patients enrolled in the study. Between 12,000 and 15,000 new cases of oropharyngeal cancer are diagnosed each year, and about 3,000 people die from it. "It is a significant health issue," says Dr. Robert Haddad, clinical director of the Head and Neck Oncology Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Haddad says that public awareness of the HPV virus needs to be just like that of HIV because the virus causes multiple types of cancer.

The study's findings bring to light a part of the debate over HPV vaccination and treatment that is often overlooked: the elevated risks of cancer that being HPV-positive has for men. According to Johns Hopkins' researcher Dr. Maura Gillison, who worked on the study: "When you look at the cancers associated with HPV in men — including penile cancer, anal squamous cell carcinoma, oral cancers — it's very close to the number of cases of cervical cancer that occur in the U.S. in women every year. We need to adjust the public's perception... that only women are at risk."

In his practice, Haddad has seen an increase in the number of younger people developing this cancer, people in their 30s and 40s. He attributes it in part to a "change in sexual behavior over the last decade." He says: "The idea that oral sex is risk-free is not correct. It comes with significant risks, and developing cancer is one of them."

Gardasil has become a vaccine rock star, but vaccines to fight HPV are still in their infancy. Another study in this week's NEJM points out that while the preventative vaccine works 98% of the time to protect girls not yet infected with HPV-16 and HPV-18, the vaccine is only 17% effective against cancer precursors overall. These findings could undercut the argument ensuing in more than 15 states to make the vaccine mandatory for young girls.

Gardasil and some vaccines in clinical trial are preventative, but drug companies such as MGI Pharma are studying therapeutic vaccines to treat those already infected with the virus. "We need to come up with better vaccines — and we need to study them in men," says Haddad. Gardasil has not been tested against oral HPV, but Dr. Douglas Lowy, laboratory chief at the National Cancer Institute, says that there is every reason to think that, in principle, "the vaccine should be able to have an impact on oral cancers attributable to HPV." Lowy says that the next studies might start with a look at the rate of acquisition of oral HPV in those who are vaccinated and those who aren't.

"There's no question that the debate needs to go further than where it is now," says Haddad. "Men are carriers and that is one way of transmitting this virus."

Plastic Chemical and Health Risks

While 9 out of 10 Americans have Bisphenol A in their bodies, the Food and Drug Administration claims the levels of exposure to chemicals are insignificant to endanger their health, even for babies and children.

Commonly known as BPA, bisphenol-A is a hormone-disrupting chemical used in a wide variety of consumer goods such as food and beverage packaging applications, plastic hard to do. But it has also been found in house dust, drinking water or dental sealants. It is so common that it is almost impossible to avoid.

According to the results of a health survey, based on 1500 data on Americans, individuals exposed to greater amounts of Bisphenol A no less than 40% higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver damage. This category was also more likely to be indigent and overweight, the researchers said.

However, further studies should be conducted to determine if BPA is actually associated with health problems or is it just a coincidence. The FDA agrees with the idea of doing additional research. "We recognize the need to resolve issues that have arisen," said Laura Tarantino, director of the FDA Office of Food Additive Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Despite the fact that previous studies with rats and mice found a link between the chemical and diabetes, and liver abnormalities, several limitations must be taken into consideration. "Concentrations urinary say the exposure of the last 24 hours, but heart disease and diabetes do not occur overnight," said Steven G. Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate / BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council. "Bisphenol A should be measured over the period of time when heart disease or diabetes is actually occurring, so that a major limitation of the study," concluded Hentges.

Breast CT Scanner Could Improve Cancer Screen Comfort

FRIDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Breast computed tomography (CT) scans, already used experimentally to diagnose breast cancer, may also be able to treat it, a California researcher reports.

"Breast CT is superior to mammography for [detecting] masses," said John Boone, vice chair of research radiology at the University of California Davis. He presented information about the potential of breast CT for treatment this week at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine meeting, in Anaheim, Calif.

Since 2004, Boone has led a group of UC Davis researchers in developing the breast CT scan for diagnosing breast cancer in women. The technology's pluses, said Boone, include being more comfortable than conventional mammograms but just as safe.

More than 200 women have been scanned with the custom-designed breast CT prototype scanner, he said. The technology has not yet made its way into clinical practice, he said, but preliminary results look good. "Breast CT is still experimental for diagnosis," he said. But it is already looking to be more effective than traditional mammography at detecting breast masses.

More work needs to be done to find microcalcifications, tiny specks of calcium which don't always mean cancer is present but bear checking, he added.
Next, Boone hopes to use the breast CT scanner to guide interventional procedures such as a robotic biopsy, radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation to treat breast cancer.

With the breast CT scanner, a woman lies on her stomach, face down on the table while the breast drops through a hole in the table; the CT scanner then rotates around the breast. The position is considered more comfortable, especially for big-breasted women.

Boone hopes that the new scanner could be used to perform image-guided therapies such as the technique known as radiofrequency ablation. "It literally heats up the tissue, cooks the tumor and kills the tumor," he said. It may help some women avoid lumpectomy and follow-up radiation therapy.

"The concept is good," said Dr. Chika Madu, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

But she added a caveat that the energy level talked about by Boone may have to be adjusted. "It may come at a price of increased toxicity to the skin," she noted.
The technique may not work for all cancers or all women, she added. "In small-breasted women, not enough breast may come through the hole sufficiently [to treat]," she said. Cancer that is close to the chest wall rather than the nipple may not be treatable by this technique either, she said.

Even so, Madu said, "I think it's worth exploring."
Boone's study was funded partially by the industry, including Varian Medical Systems, Fuji Medical Systems and Hologic Corp.

In another presentation at the same meeting, Michael O'Connor, a professor of radiologic physics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., reported on molecular breast imaging (MBI), a new technique that uses gamma cameras designed for breast imaging.

"The devices look somewhat like a mammography unit," he said. A small amount of radioisotopes is given intravenously and is taken up by any tumors in the breasts, he said.

In a study of 1,000 patients, mammography picked up three cancers but MBI picked up 10, he said.

Next, O'Connor hopes to reduce the dose of radioisotopes and begin a clinical trial. The technique is expected to especially benefit women with dense breasts, for whom mammography is not as accurate at cancer detection.

Efforts to find ways to detect small cancers that can't be felt on exams should be stepped up, said Dr. Gary Whitman, a professor of radiology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Other studies suggest MBI has promise, he said, but O'Connor's finding "would need to be confirmed."

Drug cuts diabetics' pancreatic cancer risk: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Diabetics who took the drug metformin, which makes the body process insulin better, had a 62 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who had never received it, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.

But the risk of getting the cancer, one of the deadliest, was significantly higher among diabetics who took insulin or drugs that make the body produce more insulin, according to their study published in the journal Gastroenterology.

"We find that diabetics that had ever used metformin alone or in combination with other drugs had like a 60 percent reduced risk for pancreatic cancer, compared to diabetic patients who never used metformin," lead researcher Donghui Li from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center said.

Prior studies showed a lower cancer risk in diabetics who took metformin. The drug is used to treat type 2 diabetes, which is linked with poor diet and lack of exercise and accounts for about 90 percent of all worldwide cases.

"In addition, we see some increased risk of pancreatic cancer associated with the use of insulin and the use of insulin secretagogues." Those are drugs, such as sulfonylureas and glinides, which stimulate the pancreas to secrete more insulin or raise circulating levels of insulin.

Diabetics in the study who had taken insulin were nearly five times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. And those who took insulin-stimulating drugs were 2.55 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

Insulin is known to promote cell growth. "Insulin seems to have a growth promoting effect in cancer," Li said. That interaction could help explain the findings of four recent studies published in the journal Diabetologia, which suggested the popular Sanofi-Aventis insulin drug Lantus might raise the risk of cancer.

The European Medicines Agency said last week flaws in the studies made the findings inconclusive, and Sanofi-Aventis said it would do further research in the area. For her study, Li evaluated 1,800 people, including more than 900 who had pancreatic cancer and 350 with diabetes. The groups were matched by age, race and gender and completed detailed surveys of their health histories.

The study, however, was too small to find a benefit for people who had taken another popular type of insulin sensitizing drug in a class called thiazolidinediones, which include GlaxoSmithKline's rosiglitazone or Avandia and Takeda Pharmaceutical's pioglitazone or Actos.

Li said the study needs to be repeated in a bigger group of diabetics but added: "Our findings show metformin's potential as a chemopreventive agent."

There are dozens of diabetes drugs in different classes on the market. Metformin, available generically, is usually one of the first prescribed, with sulfonylureas such as glimepiride, sold by Sanofi-Aventis under the brand name Amaryl, added if patients cannot control blood sugar levels.

The American Diabetes Association already recommends metformin, which has been proven to lower the risk of heart disease.

Immune Systems of AIDS Patients More Prone to HPV Cancers

FRIDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- As their immune system weakens, people with AIDS are at increased risk for human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers, a new study has found.

It was known that people with AIDS had a greater risk for HPV-associated cancers of the anus, cervix, penis, vagina, vulva and oropharynx. However, the extent to which AIDS-related weakening of the immune system played a role wasn't clear, the researchers pointed out.

For this study, researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute analyzed cancer registry data on almost 500,000 people diagnosed with AIDS between 1980 and 2004. They found that people with AIDS had a statistically significant higher risk for all HPV-related cancers.

"Given that individuals currently infected with HIV may obtain little benefit from available HPV vaccines…our results underscore the need for effective screening for cervical cancer and anal cancer among persons with HIV infections or AIDS," the researchers wrote.

The study was published online July 31 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. While it does offer new evidence of the link between HIV/AIDS and HPV-related cancer, the study doesn't actually prove a biological connection, Dr. Howard D. Strickler, of the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The disease that stalked Sir Bobby

What appeared to be a sinus problem was in fact malignant melanoma
Former England manager Sir Bobby Robson, who has died at the age of 76, was diagnosed with cancer five times. It is a scenario that most of us - even the one in three of us who develop the disease - are unlikely to face.

Sir Bobby is reported to have responded indignantly when he was first told in 1992 that a "little bit of cancer" in his bowel would take him away from PSV Eindhoven for three months.

It was taken out and the manager got back to business.

The fear for most would be a recurrence of the original cancer, or the news that it might have spread. But three years later, an entirely new form of the disease made an appearance - and a rare one at that.

Malignant melanoma in Sir Bobby's face was found by a specialist after he had complained about blocked sinuses. A very rare and dangerous form of cancer, he was told he would be "dead by the end of the season" if something was not done straight away.

To remove it surgeons had to take out his teeth and tunnel through the roof of his mouth. When they were done, the hole they left had to be filled with a rubber plug.

It is unclear whether the cancers Sir Bobby subsequently faced were fresh ones or secondary tumours.

In 2006, cancer was found in his lungs and a year later a brain tumour left him with partial paralysis.

A scan then revealed inoperable nodules in his lungs. The doctor told him he may have as little as eight months to live, but Sir Bobby survived for over two years.

"It looks like Sir Bobby had at least two primary tumours - which in itself is very unusual," says Jean Slocombe, Cancer Research UK 's senior information nurse.

"Most people who get one cancer do not go on to develop a completely different one, and to have treatment for five bouts of cancer is very uncommon.

"This is a man who went through a huge amount and showed a great deal of spirit in the process."

Cancer campaigners all agree that Sir Bobby's legacy is multifaceted.

"To live with the disease so publicly has been immensely empowering to many people suffering - particularly given that he had a very complex cancer of the head and neck which required very unpleasant surgery," says Maureen Rutter, northeast regional director of Macmillan.

"He showed you could face cancer head-on, that you could get on with life. He had immense strength of character that was visible to all.

"But at the end of the day not everyone can or wants to cope in that way, and that is nothing to be ashamed of."

He also leaves the The Bobby Robson Cancer Foundation, which raised sufficient funds to open a trials research centre in Newcastle earlier this year.

It aims to offer patients access to early trials and potential new treatments, many of which have never been tried in humans.

Professor Ruth Plummer, the director of the unit, described him as "an extremely warm, generous and special man".

"It took great personal effort for him to set up the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and it was typical of the Bobby we came to know that he thought of helping others even when fighting his own battle with cancer."

One man's 'breast cancer' fight

The youngest man in the world to be diagnosed with breast cancer says that treatment has contained the disease.

Nicky Avery, from Southend in Essex, was 24 when he was told that he had the illness, and three years on his doctors say that scans suggest his treatment has been successful.

"I'm over the moon," Nicky told Newsbeat: "The future is looking rosy. I'm going to take my onchologist to watch Arsenal."

Nicky still has to have bone fusion which he describes as "basically a medical polyfiller" to keep his illness at bay.

He is now planning to campaign to have the male form of breast cancer renamed 'chest cancer' to encourage more men to get themselves checked.

"If you say breast cancer to a man they take a step back, it is so taboo," he said.

"But if we could change the terminology, men would feel more comfortable about going to the doctors.

"Men haven't got breasts they have got chests."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We understand that having a disease that largely affects women can cause embarrassment to male patients.

"However, the term breast cancer is anatomically correct and is the agreed terminology internationally."

Nicky said he was "shocked" at his initial diagnosis as he didn't believe that men could get breast cancer.

He said: "I saw my surgeon who said they sent my biopsy off to a lab without labelling it and the scientists thought I was a 64-year-old woman."

The cancer later spread to the bones of his head and his arm.

He has since undergone a mastectomy, intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Doctors say that he will have to continue to have a bone infusion every three weeks to keep him alive.

Nicky wants to raise awareness about the disease.

"There are a lot of men out there that don't know they can get breast cancer, you know what men are like, we sort of leave the problem and let it fester.

"I will keep fighting and campaigning until something is done. If I can save one or two lives then I will have done my job."

Green Tea: A New Weapon Against Prostate Cancer?

Many medical “discoveries” have occurred quite by happenstance. For instance, consider the story of Green Tea which began some 5,000 years ago when, as Chinese legend has it, leaves from a nearby Camellia sinensis tree fell into an emperor’s boiling pot of water. The leaves turned the water a light-brown color and gave off a delightful aroma. The emperor, upon taking a sip, found it also had an excellent taste and proclaimed it as “heaven sent.” Since then, the delectable brew has been considered a health-promoting beverage in China; used to treat everything from headaches to depression.

Today, a wealth of studies has provided hard evidence for its positive effects on health. Drinking green tea is reputed to promote heart health, lower high cholesterol levels, lessen free radical damage to cells, fight obesity, inhibit the abnormal formation of blood clots, and slow the progression of age-related cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers now say that certain compounds in green tea may actually slow the progression of prostate cancer, a disease that kills more men each year in the United States than any cancer other than lung cancer.

Previous studies have shown that green tea may be linked to a reduced incidence of prostate cancer, and its polyphenols have been regarded as a potential cancer therapy. But last year, the FDA announced that the evidence for green tea benefits was inconclusive, because people consume relatively small quantities. So, Dr. James Cardelli, and his colleagues at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, carried out a clinical trial to determine the effects of short-term supplementation with increased amounts of the active compounds in green tea on the progression of prostate cancer.

The small study consisted of 26 men between 41 and 68 years of age who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and were scheduled for radical prostatectomy. The men were put on a daily dose of four capsules containing a total of 1.3 grams of polyphenon E, equivalent to about 12 cups of normally brewed concentrated green tea, for 12 to 73 days (with an average time of 34.5 days), until the day before surgery. Blood tests showed a significant reduction in serum levels of three biomarkers associated with the growth and spread of prostate cancer: hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and prostate specific antigen (PSA).

On an average, HGF decreased 18.9 percent, VEGF decreased by 9.9 percent and PSA dropped by 10.4 percent. Some patients demonstrated reductions of more than 30 percent. The researchers said that in vitro, EGCG (the main catechin in polyphenon E) swiftly blocked the production of HGF, and the block “seems to be at the level of transcription.” EGCG also blocked the production of VEGF, which plays a critical role in the angiogenic process in cancer-associated fibroblasts, they noted. Age, race, and time on the drug did not have a significant effect on the changes in serum biomarkers.

Previous studies have suggested that high levels of EGCG may have adverse effects on liver function, but in this study the liver function of the patients remained normal. “Our results show a significant reduction in serum levels of PSA, HGF, and VEGF in men with prostate cancer after brief treatment with EGCG (Polyphenon E), with no elevation of liver enzymes. These findings support a potential role for Polyphenon E in the treatment or prevention of prostate cancer,” the researchers concluded.

Dr. Cardelli admits that the study is still in an early stage and that the findings need to be verified by larger, placebo-controlled trials. “Green tea can keep cancer from growing very fast, but it may not be able to shrink tumors,” he said. “But it can be a good addition to traditional therapies, like chemotherapy or radiation.”

“We think that the use of tea polyphenols alone or in combination with other compounds currently used for cancer therapy should be explored as an approach to prevent cancer progression and recurrence," Dr. Cardelli said. “There is reasonably good evidence that many cancers are preventable, and our studies using plant-derived substances support the idea that plant compounds found in a healthy diet can play a role in preventing cancer development and progression.”

John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, says though there have been a number of studies into the potential benefits of green tea, there is no conclusive evidence. “The results of this study do suggest that there is merit in further research into the effects of extracts of green tea, both in relation to its impact on the prevention of prostate cancer and in controlling progression in men already diagnosed with the disease, as was investigated in this instance,” he said. “These initial positive findings could indicate that green tea could have a place in ‘active surveillance’, where a slow-growing, low risk tumor is monitored for changes and men want to take something which could help keep progression at bay.”

“Potentially, this could mean completely avoiding, in some cases, any of the more usual medical interventions and their associated side effects,” Neate said.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 192,280 men and will kill 27,360 in 2009. Men over 50 are urged to get tested for the disease annually, however very few do, putting them at risk of being diagnosed at a later stage rather than earlier in the cancer process.

The study is published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

“Trojan Horse” Used to Terminate Cancer Cells

Scientists have long been looking for a better way to fight the battle of cancer, rather than the traditional radiation and chemotherapy treatments, both of which damage healthy cells instead of just the cancerous ones. Now, they might have found the answer with a new treatment they call the “Trojan horse” therapy.

A team of researchers in Australia have developed the new “Trojan horse” therapy to help combat cancer by using a bacterially-derived nano cell to help penetrate and disarm the cell that is cancerous before a second nano cell kills it with the chemotherapy drugs. The “Trojan horse” therapy has the potential to target the cancer cells directly with chemotherapy, rather than the current treatment where drugs are injected into the cancer patient and end up attacking both the healthy and the cancer cells.

The scientists in Sydney, Dr. Jennifer MacDiarmid and Dr. Himanshu Barhmbhatt who formed EnGenelC Pty Ltd in 2001, stated that they have achieved a 100 percent rate of survival in mice with human cancer cells by using the “Trojan horse” therapy over the past two years. They plan to start the clinical trials on humans within the coming months. However, the human trials of the cell delivery system will begin next week at The Austin located at the University of Melbourne and the Peter MacCullum Cancer Center at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The therapy, which was published in the latest Nature Biotechnology journal, sees the mini-cells that are called EDVs (EnGenelc Delivery Vehicle) attach and then enter the cancer cell. The first wave of these mini-cells release ribonucleic acid molecules, which are called siRNA, that are used to switch off the production of proteins that make the cancer cell resistant to the chemotherapy treatment. Then, a second wave of the EDV cells are accepted by the cancer cells and release the chemotherapy drugs, in turn, killing the cancer cell.

MacDiarmid stated, “The beauty is that our EDVs operate like ‘Trojan horses’. They arrive at the gates of the affected cells and are always allowed in. We are playing the rogue cells at their own game. They switch-on the gene to produce the protein to resist drugs, an we are switching-off the gene which, in turn, enables the drugs to enter.”

RNA interference, also known as RNAi, is designed to help silence the genes that are responsible for producing disease-causing proteins and is considered one of the hottest areas of biotechnology research. The subject of RNA was the basis of the 2006 Nobel Prize in medicine. Dozen of biotechnology companies are already looking for way that they can manipulate RNA to help block the genes that produce disease-causing proteins that are involved in blindness, cancer or AIDS.

Brahmbhatt said that after the treatment with the conventional drug therapy, a high number of the cancer cells are terminated, however, a small percentage of the cells can produce the proteins that make cancer cells resistant to the chemotherapeutic medications. “Consequently, follow-up drug treatments can fail. The tumors thus become untreatable and continue to flourish, ultimately killing the patient. We want to be part of moving toward a time when cancers can be managed as a chronic disease rather than being regarded as a death sentence,” he stated.

The Nature report said that the mini-cells were well tolerated by the animals that were actively treated with no adverse side effects or deaths, despite the repeated dosing. MacDiarmid said, “Significantly, our methodology does not damage the normal cells and is applicable to a wide spectrum of solid cancer types. The hope is that the benign nature of this EDV technology should enable cancer sufferers to get on with their lives and operate normally using outpatient therapy.”

Novel H1N1 Flu

Novel H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

Why is novel H1N1 virus sometimes called “swine flu”?
This virus was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a "quadruple reassortant" virus.

Are there human infections with novel H1N1 virus in the U.S.?
Yes. Cases of human infection with novel H1N1 influenza virus were first confirmed in the U.S. in Southern California and near Guadalupe County, Texas. The outbreak intensified rapidly from that time and more and more states have been reporting cases of illness from this virus. An updated case count of confirmed novel H1N1 flu infections in the United States is kept at CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.

Is novel H1N1 virus contagious?
CDC has determined that novel H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people?
The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.

How severe is illness associated with novel H1N1 flu virus?
It’s not known at this time how severe novel H1N1 flu virus will be in the general population. In seasonal flu, there are certain people that are at higher risk of serious flu-related complications. This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions. Early indications are that pregnancy and other previously recognized medical conditions that increase the risk of influenza-related complications, like asthma and diabetes, also appear to be associated with increased risk of complications from novel H1N1 virus infection as well.

One thing that appears to be different from seasonal influenza is that adults older than 64 years do not yet appear to be at increased risk of novel H1N1-related complications thus far in the outbreak. CDC is conducting laboratory studies to see if certain people might have natural immunity to this virus, depending on their age. Early reports indicate that no children and few adults younger than 60 years old have existing antibody to novel H1N1 flu virus; however, about one-third of adults older than 60 may have antibodies against this virus. It is unknown how much, if any, protection may be afforded against novel H1N1 flu by any existing antibody.

How does novel H1N1 flu compare to seasonal flu in terms of its severity and infection rates?
CDC is still learning about the severity of novel H1N1 flu virus. At this time, there is not enough information to predict how severe novel H1N1 flu outbreak will be in terms of illness and death or how it will compare with seasonal influenza.

With seasonal flu, we know that seasons vary in terms of timing, duration and severity. Seasonal influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Each year, in the United States, on average 36,000 people die from flu-related complications and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related causes. Of those hospitalized, 20,000 are children younger than 5 years old. Over 90% of deaths and about 60 percent of hospitalization occur in people older than 65.

So far, with novel H1N1 flu, the largest number of novel H1N1 flu confirmed and probable cases have occurred in people between the ages of 5 and 24-years-old. At this time, there are few cases and no deaths reported in people older than 64 years old, which is unusual when compared with seasonal flu. However, pregnancy and other previously recognized high risk medical conditions from seasonal influenza appear to be associated with increased risk of complications from this novel H1N1.

How does novel H1N1 virus spread?
Spread of novel H1N1 virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?
At the current time, CDC believes that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. CDC is studying the virus and its capabilities to try to learn more and will provide more information as it becomes available.