Posts tagged ‘cancer prevention’
Melanoma is the skin cancer that’s most associated with being lethal, but a study in JAMA Dermatology suggests a much more common skin cancer also carries a risk of metastasis and death.
The 10-year retrospective study, led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, examined outcomes for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, or CSCC, diagnosed between Jan. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2009 – the largest study of CSCC outcomes since 1968.
Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most-common skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Although most cases of this type of cancer are easily cured with surgery or ablation, the study found that the cancer carries a low but significant risk of metastasis and death.
Somewhere along the way, May – a harbinger of carefree summer fun – got serious. It’s now known as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. But as fun-sapping as that name might seem, there does appear to be a way to combine an exuberant embrace of the sun with skin protection. The Aussies have already proved it.
The words Slip! Slop! Slap! are credited with awakening Australians to the need to protect their skin from the sun. That’s what anyone would call a breakthrough. Used as a slogan, the words were the focal point “one of the most successful health campaigns in Australia’s history.”
Of course, the Australian campaign featured Sid the seagull, an animated bird wearing board shirts.
“Slip, Slop, Slap!,” Sid sang, in a charming, and apparently persuasive, Aussie accent. “It sounds like a breeze when you say it like that … Slip, Slop, Slap! Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. Slip, Slop, Slap!”
There’s more, but reading the lyrics doesn’t do the bird justice. See? Fun. Continue reading “To reduce melanoma risk, learn from the Aussies (and a seagull)” »
Currently, the official guidelines to reduce breast cancer risk are primarily a set of lifestyle habits such as eating a healthier diet, exercising regularly and getting the recommended screenings. But what if the prescription to prevent breast cancer included actual drugs?
That just might be the case for some women, specifically those at an elevated risk of breast cancer, according to a draft recommendation made by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
The report, which is still being developed and open for public comment until May 13, recommends: “For women who are at increased risk for breast cancer and at low risk for adverse medication effects, clinicians should offer to prescribe risk-reducing medications such as tamoxifen or raloxifene.”
Both drugs work by blocking estrogen’s effect on breast tissue, and approximately 75 percent of breast cancers are fueled by estrogen.
However, these drugs also have serious side effects, such as increasing the risk of blood clots, strokes and, for tamoxifen, cataracts and endometrial cancers. Thus, the USPSTF report also notes that “women who are not at increased risk for breast cancer should not use tamoxifen or raloxifene to reduce their risk for breast cancer.” Continue reading “Breast cancer: Task force may recommend drugs for high-risk women” »
For nearly two decades, researchers have theorized that physical activity helps prevent breast cancer – particularly in older women – by lowering their estrogen levels.
Now, a new study offers clues into how exercise may provide this protection.
The preliminary findings were presented April 9 at the American Academy of Cancer Research (AACR) meeting in Washington, D.C., by Cher Dallal, Ph.D., a National Cancer Institute prevention fellow.
Researchers evaluated the influence of physical activity on the breakdown of estrogens in postmenopausal women. Known as estrogen metabolism, this process produces molecules called metabolites that break down the estrogen.
Researchers studied the cases of 540 healthy, postmenopausal women between the ages of 40 and 74 who were enrolled as control patients in the National Cancer Institute Polish Breast Cancer Study from 2000-2003. None of the women took hormone therapy.
For seven days, study participants wore small devices called “accelerometers” around their waists while they were awake to record their varying degrees of physical activity. The devices are believed to be a more accurate accounting of physical activity than subjects’ memories. The women also collected samples of their urine during a 12-hour period.
Researchers tested the urine for estradiol and estrone, two “parent” estrogens, as well as 13 different metabolites.
“This is the first study to consider the relationship between accelerometer-measured activity and a panel of estrogen metabolites measured in urine,” said Dallal in an AACR press release. “We hoped by using direct measures to examine this relationship that we could improve our knowledge of how these factors may influence cancer risk among postmenopausal women.”
“By using these new tools to study the relationship between activity and estrogen metabolism, we hope to get closer to uncovering the combination of parent estrogens, metabolites and metabolism pathways that are related to a lower-risk profile of breast cancer,” Dallal continued.
One of the first scientists to make the connection between physical activity and breast cancer risk was Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor and director of the Division of Cancer Etiology at City of Hope.
“We know for breast cancer [risk], hormones are important,” Bernstein told Healthday.
“This is the first time we have strong evidence that measured physical activity reduces hormone levels. It helps us understand what’s going on and how it’s working.”
She lauded the study’s use of the accelerometer, which provides a more objective measure than asking women to recall how much energy they expended.
Bernstein has long championed exercise’s ability to lower estrogen exposure and breast cancer risk, not to mention insulin levels and weight. Women often gain weight after menopause, and estrogen lurks in fat tissue, increasing women’s risk of breast cancer.
As researchers continue to explore exercise’s potential benefits – such as whether physical activity can actually repair DNA – Bernstein urges women to get a move on.
Women who have been estranged from exercise for awhile, she said, should first obtain their doctor’s blessing, then begin physical activities like brisk walking that “puts some stress on the body.”
With various cancer awareness months spread throughout the calendar year, the catchall-sounding National Cancer Control Month might seem a little redundant or nebulous. But even as annual cancer deaths continue to drop, it bears reminding that more needs to be done to keep cancer at bay.
That sentiment was stressed by President Barack Obama in an official proclamation marking April as National Cancer Control Month. In the proclamation, he wrote:
“Together, our Nation is moving forward in the fight against cancer. As we recommit to improving prevention, detection and treatment, let us honor the memory of the courageous men and women we have lost to the disease, and let us stand with all those facing it today … I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent cancer.”
A growing body of research has highlighted an array of lifestyle decisions that Americans can make to reduce their risk of cancer, such as quitting tobacco, eating healthier, exercising regularly, using sun protection and undergoing recommended screenings.
But for one clinician, cancer control is about a different kind of prevention: minimizing cancer treatments’ chronic effects on the growing population of cancer survivors, currently 13 million in the United States. Continue reading “National Cancer Control Month drives attention to prevention” »
One in a series of articles about how to reduce the risk of cancer …
You can’t control your genes, but you can take charge of what’s on your plate. So for National Cancer Prevention Month, give your meals and snacks a nutritious makeover; not only will you look and feel better, but you’ll lower your risk of several cancers.
“It is estimated that half of all breast cancers, a third of lung cancers and three-fourths of colorectal cancers could be prevented with healthier diets,” said Peggy Mancini, M.S., R.D., a clinical dietitian at City of Hope.
As an added perk, a cancer-fighting diet will also reduce the risk of heart diseases and diabetes, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).
Here’s some food for thought to help you make healthier food choices: Continue reading “To fight cancer, improve your diet” »
One in a series of articles about how to reduce the risk of cancer …
The skin is the body’s largest organ, but it’s also one of the most neglected. Skin cancer is — by far — the most common cancer among Americans. According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be more than 2 million new cases of skin cancer in 2013. That includes approximately 76,000 new cases of its most deadly form, melanoma.
And the reason is as clear as day. Americans simply do not take enough precautions against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays; many even deliberately compromise their skin health for a tan.
“Ultraviolet rays from the sun cause mutations which can lead to skin cancer,” said City of Hope dermatologist Jae Jung, M.D., Ph.D. “Every melanoma patient I have seen under the age of 40 has had a sun tanning history.”
The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented and all it takes is a little savvy and vigilance in protecting yourself from the sun, said Jung. She offers these tips: Continue reading “To fight cancer, shield yourself from the sun” »
The first in a series of articles about how to reduce the risk of cancer …
If you resolved to exercise more often this year, here’s a major reason to keep you committed to working out: Research conducted at City of Hope has shown that not only does exercise help prevent cancer, it also increases survival chances for those diagnosed with cancer.
Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor and director of City of Hope’s Division of Cancer Etiology, has been writing the prescription to move for almost 20 years. In 1994, she published her first paper linking physical activity to lower cancer risk, and subsequent studies and research have backed her up – showing that exercise can also reduce the risk of colon cancer and possibly uterine, ovarian, lung and thyroid cancer.
But how often is enough? And how intense should the routine be? Consider these findings and tips: Continue reading “To fight cancer, exercise for the long haul” »
Oprah Winfrey says that during her interview with Lance Armstrong, to be aired in two parts starting Thursday, he admitted to doping during his cycling career. That detail is feeding speculation among the public and the media about whether those doping activities may have contributed to his diagnosis of testicular cancer.
So far, it’s not possible to give a definitive answer to that question. The known connection between testicular cancer and common doping regimens is tenuous at best.
Further, although there’s been plenty of speculation about how Armstrong doped, there hasn’t been confirmation about what substances he used. The amounts and the duration of use – either before or after his cancer diagnosis and treatment – are also unconfirmed.
This is what’s currently known. Armstrong was diagnosed in 1996, at the age of 25, with advanced stage testicular cancer that had metastasized to his lungs, abdomen and brain. Testicular cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer, with a 95 percent survival rate if caught in an early stage when it’s confined to a testicle. It has an 80 percent survival rate if caught in more advanced stages, when it has spread to other organs. Continue reading “Can doping increase risk of cancer? Yes. Testicular cancer? Unknown.” »
Vaccine research has been heralded as a bright spot in 2012′s medical advances against cancer and related diseases – with potential for yielding even more progress in 2013. But although many people have experienced getting vaccinated, not everyone understands how the shots work to protect them against disease.
So here’s a primer on how vaccines work with the immune system to keep people healthy:
For starters, vaccines fall into two main categories – prevention of disease and treatment of disease – and the immune system is made up of white blood cells, or leukocytes.
There are many types of leukocytes, but most cancer vaccines work with a type known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes come in two main versions: Continue reading “How cancer vaccines work – and what it means for the future” »