Posts Tagged ‘Cancer Prevention’

Chokeberries may help cancer therapies

Chokeberries may have a role in helping cancer therapies- according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

Chokeberries may have a role in helping cancer therapies- according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.Scientists suggest chokeberries could work in combination with conventional drugs to kill more cancer cells, but the UK research is at an early stage, with experiments carried out only on cancer cells in laboratories.

Researchers from the University of Southampton and King’s College Hospital London, tested a berry extract on pancreatic cancer samples.

Pancreatic cancer is particularly hard to treat and has an average survival period of just six months after diagnosis.

The study found that when the berry extract was used, together with a conventional chemotherapy drug called gemcitabine, more cancer cells died than when the drug was used alone.

But the scientists say the chokeberry had no effect on normal body cells tested in this way.

They believe compounds known as polyphenols in the chokeberries may reduce the number of harmful cells.

And the team previously carried out similar early work on brain cancer cells.

Henry Scowcroft, at the charity Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s far too early to say from this small laboratory study whether chemicals extracted from chokeberries have any effect on pancreatic cancer in patients.”

“And the findings certainly don’t suggest that the berries themselves should be taken alongside conventional chemotherapy. But innovative approaches are urgently needed to improve treatment for people with pancreatic cancer – a disease for which there has been precious little progress over recent decades.”

Chokeberries grow on the eastern side of North America in wetlands and swamp areas.

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UK’s five big killers

Five big killers – heart disease, stroke, cancer, lung and liver disease – account for more than 150,000 deaths a year among under-75s in England alone and the Department of Health estimates 30,000 of these are entirely avoidable.UK's five big killersCoronary Heart Disease is the biggest killer, causing almost 74,000 deaths each year in the UK- that’s about 200 people dying every day.

More than a quarter of the deaths occur in people who are younger than 75 and experts say the majority are preventable.

Smoking, being overweight and having high blood pressure are all risk factors.

About one in three adults in England and Scotland have high blood pressure and nearly half of them are not receiving treatment for the condition, says the British Heart Foundation.

Between April 2011 and March 2012 only 2% of those eligible in England actually had a health check. Out of nearly 16 million people eligible, about 425,000 were offered a check and 211,000 took up the offer.

England has one of the highest rates of asthma prevalence in the world. Figures from GP registers in 2008 suggested that about 6% of the English population has asthma.

And more than three million people in England are living with COPD. This lung disease kills about 23,000 people a year in the UK.

The most important cause of COPD is smoking, but about 15% of cases are work-related, triggered by exposure to fumes, chemicals and dusts at work.

Premature deaths from COPD in the UK was almost twice as high as the European average in 2008 and premature mortality for asthma was more than 1.5 times higher.

The disease is one of the most common causes of emergency admission to hospital and is expensive in terms of acute hospital care. It costs nearly 10 times more to treat severe COPD than the mild disease.

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in England each year and the leading cause of disability. More than 150,000 people have a stroke every year in the UK but, according to The Stroke Association, up to 10,000 of these could be prevented if more people were aware of the symptoms and sought out emergency treatment.

Symptoms can include facial weakness, speech problems and pins and needles down one side of the body.

The Health Secretary Mr Jeremy Hunt says a major challenge is getting all parts of the country to meet the performance levels of the best.

For example, if all patients suffering from a mini stroke (transient ischaemic attack or TIA) were treated as rapidly as those treated in the top 25% of hospitals, 540 strokes would be avoided each year, which in turn would save the NHS £4.5m a year.

Cancer has now become so common that today one in 30 people living in the UK either has cancer or is in remission. By 2030 it is estimated that three million people in England will have had some form of cancer.

The good news is that cancer survival rates are now improving in the UK.

More men are now surviving prostate and bowel cancer and women with breast cancer have a better outlook than ever before. But the UK still lags behind other European countries in terms of cancer survival.

Cancer Research UK says part of the problem is unhealthy lifestyles. It is estimated that about a third of cancers are caused by smoking, diet, alcohol and obesity.

And many cancers are detected too late. Although there are national screening programmes for certain cancers, like breast and cervical, public awareness of symptoms and the need to seek help early is still too low.

Another issue is access to treatment. Waiting times to see a doctor for speedy diagnosis and treatment have come down. But the provision of certain types of cancer investigations and treatments across the UK is variable and some groups of society, like the very old, can miss out.

Lastly, the Chief Medical Officer of England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, highlighted liver disease as an issue in her annual report.

It is the only major cause of mortality and morbidity that is on the increase in England while it is decreasing among European peers.

Between 2000 and 2009, deaths from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the under 65s in England increased by about 20% while they fell by the same amount in most EU countries. And all three major causes of liver disease – obesity, undiagnosed infection, and, increasingly, harmful drinking – are preventable.

More than a third of men and over a quarter of women regularly exceed the government recommended level of alcohol intake – three to four units of alcohol a day for men and two to three units for women.

The government in England is currently considering whether to set a minimum unit price for alcohol to deter problem drinking and cut alcohol-related illness.

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Just one daily fizzy drink linked to higher prostate cancer risk

Drinking just one fizzy drink a day could increase a man’s chance of developing prostate cancer by around 40 per cent, research suggests.Just one daily fizzy drink linked to higher prostate cancer riskMen who consumed 300ml of a sugary soft drink a day appeared to raise their odds of succumbing to faster growing forms of the disease, according to a 15 year study.

The sugar in the drinks is believed to release insulin, which feeds tumours.

The study, carried out by Swedish scientists and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tracked the health of more than 8,000 men aged 45 to 73 for an average of 15 years.

All were in good health when the study began, and were asked about what they liked to eat and drink.

Those who drank more sugary drinks were more likely to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer by the end of the study.

Isabel Drake, a researcher at Lund University, said: “Among the men who drank a lot of soft drinks, we saw an increased risk of prostate cancer of around 40 per cent.”

Large amounts of rice, pasta, cakes, biscuits and sugary breakfast cereals were also linked with a less serious form of the disease.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and about 36,000 are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year. It accounts for a quarter of all newly diagnosed cases of cancer in men but most cases develop in those aged 70 or older.

The scientists who carried out the study said that while genetics were more important in determining the likelihood of developing prostate cancer than was the case with many other cancers, diet did seem to be important.

More research was needed to confirm the link with fizzy drinks but there were already “plenty of reasons” to cut back on them, they said.

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Glass of wine a day fights breast cancer

Women with breast cancer can boost their chances of surviving the disease by drinking a glass of wine a day, according to research.Glass of wine a day fights breast cancerThose who drink a medium-sized (175ml) glass a day cut their chance of dying within a decade of diagnosis by a fifth – from 20 to 16 per cent, say Cambridge University doctors.

Even drinking half that cut the chance to 18 per cent, they found.

Dr Paul Pharoah, from the university’s department of public health and primary care, said that their findings suggested women should not deny themselves the odd drink.

He said: “What our study says is that it is reasonable, if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, to enjoy the occasional drink of alcohol.  You shouldn’t feel that you should deny yourself the enjoyment of moderate alcohol.”

Dr Pharoah was speaking at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool, where he was presenting results from a study conducted with the South Egypt Cancer Institute.

They looked at 13,525 women who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, who they followed for up to 15 years.

Those who drank seven units a week cut the chance of dying from breast cancer in a decade from 20 to 18 per cent, and those who drank 14 units weekly reduced the chance to 16 per cent.

The study did not look at how drinking more than 14 units a week might affect a women’s chances of survival.

The study found there was a “slightly stronger” benefit for those women with oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancers. These tend to be more aggressive but only affect a minority of patients.

The benefit was a little weaker among women with oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancers, which account for about three-quarters of cases.

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Only one in six baby boomers retiring in good health

Only one in six ‘baby boomers’ is retiring in good health- with most succumbing to a range of conditions and diseases including high cholesterol, osteoporosis or cancer.Only one in six baby boomers retiring in good healthEven though today’s 60-somethings have benefited from the NHS and welfare state pretty much from birth, most still have at least one health problem, say Government scientists.

They found the average baby boomer – referring to those born in the years just after the Second World War – has two medical conditions.

Just over half have high blood pressure, a third are obese, and a quarter have high cholesterol.

A quarter have Type 2 diabetes or ‘pre-diabetes’, meaning they are on the cusp of fully developing the condition.

Almost one in five suffer from a mental health problem, while 12 per cent have chronic lung or throat disease.

Eleven per cent have cancer, the same proportion that has osteoporosis. In addition, 11 per cent have suffered from cardiovascular disease such as a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.

One in six have three or more health problems.

The results are from a study of 2,661 people born in 1946, from every walk of life, whose health has been followed from birth. For this, the latest study, they were assessed between 60 and 64 years of age for 15 conditions.

The study found the origins of poor health in one’s 60s could usually be traced back to early middle age.

Dr Mary Pierce, of the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, the GP who led the report Clinical Disorders in a Post War British Cohort Reaching Retirement: Evidence from the First National Birth Cohort Study said: “The babies born in the post-war period were the first generation to enjoy the lifelong benefits of the NHS and the welfare state, and have an extended life expectancy.”

Writing in the report, published in the journal PLoS One, she warned: “The health of the baby boomers as they age will dominate the work of the health and social care systems for the next three decade.”

“We might, therefore, expect this generation to be in pretty good health at retirement age.  But our research shows that medical conditions – some of which could lead to serious disability or even death ­– are common among baby boomers.”

Professor Diana Kuh, director of the unit, said some of the conditions shared “common root causes related to poor diet and inactive lifestyles”.

They argued GPs would become more and more stretched as the baby boomer generation aged, with Dr Pierce saying it made “a compelling case to invest in primary care to ease the burden on an already stretched service”.

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Drinking coffee could help protect against bowel cancer

Drinking several cups of coffee a day could help protect against bowel cancer  according to new research.Drinking coffee could help protect against bowel cancerIt can cut the risk of developing a tumour by between15 per cent and 25 per cent the study of almost half a million people found.

Some previous studies have hinted that coffee could have a protective effect, but their findings have been inconclusive.

However, researchers at the US National Cancer Research Institute in Rockville, Maryland, have found evidence of a possible protective effect.

They looked at 490,000 people who agreed to have their health monitored for a decade, after answering questions about their lifestyle and diet in the mid 1990s. The research is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Among the sixth who said they drank four or more cups a day, the risk of being diagnosed with bowel or rectal cancer over the decade was 15 per cent lower than non-drinkers of coffee.

Among those who drank at least six cups a day, their risk was 24 per cent lower than non-drinkers.

The researchers noted that drinking decaffeinated coffee appeared to have some beneficial effect, although it was not as strong, while drinking tea had no observable effect.

They concluded: “Additional investigations of coffee intake and its components in the prevention of colorectal cancer … are warranted.”

Every year in Britain 40,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and it claims 16,000 lives annually.

In middle age the disease disproportionately affects men, perhaps due to lifestyle factors such as eating more red and processed meat.

If caught early the chances of long term survival are markedly better than if it is only diagnosed late, when it has spread.

Henry Scowcroft, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Many studies have looked at whether people who drink more coffee have a higher or lower risk of different kinds of cancer than those who drink a little or none at all.

“This new research looked at the effects of coffee on bowel cancer, and although the results suggest a reduced risk among people who drank the most coffee, it’s only one study, and we’d need more to be able to say for sure whether this effect is ‘real’, or down to chance.”

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Coffee-could-protect-against-bowel-cancer

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Green tea extract eradicates cancer tumours

New anti cancer drugs based on green tea could soon be developed after scientists found an extract could make almost half of tumours vanish.Green tea extract eradicates cancer tumoursThe University of Strathclyde team made 40 per cent of human skin cancer tumours disappear using the compound, in a laboratory study.

Green tea has long been suspected of having anti-cancer properties and the extract, called epigallocatechin gallate, has been investigated before. However, this is the first time researchers have managed to make it effective at shrinking tumours.

Previous attempts to capitalise on its cancer fighting properties have failed because scientists used intravenous drips, which failed to deliver enough of the extract to the tumours themselves.

So, the Strathclyde team devised a “targeted delivery system”, piggy-backing the extract on proteins that carry iron molecules, which cancer tumours vacuum up.

The lab test on one type of human skin cancer showed 40 per cent of tumours disappeared after a month of treatment, while an additional 30 per cent shrank.

Dr Christine Dufès, a senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, who led the research, said: “These are very encouraging results which we hope could pave the way for new and effective cancer treatments.

“When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumours every day, in some cases removing them altogether.

“By contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumours continued to grow.  This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries.”

She added: “I was expecting good results, but not as strong as these.”

Dr Dufès said population studies had previously indicated that green tea had anti cancer properties, and scientists had since identified the active compound as epigallocatechin gallate.

But the Strathclyde researchers were the first to delivery it in high enough doses to tumours to have an effect.

She explained: “The problems with this extract is that when it’s administered intravenously, it goes everywhere in the body, so when it gets to the tumours it’s too diluted.

“With the targeted delivery system, it’s taken straight to the tumours without any effect on normal tissue.”

Cancer scientists are increasingly using targeted delivery to improve results, relying on the many different ‘receptors’ that tumours have for different biological substances.

In this instance, the scientists used the fact that tumours have receptors for transferrin, a plasma protein which transports iron through the blood.

The results have been published in the journal Nanomedicine.

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Unhealthy lifestyle responsible for half of cancers

Almost half of cancers are caused by an unhealthy lifestyle that could be avoided by quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising and drinking less alcohol, the most comprehensive study of its kind has found.Unhealthy lifestyle responsible for half of cancersAround 134,000 cancers each year are the result of a poor lifestyle, Cancer Research UK has found.

In the most wide reaching study yet conducted into the issue, it was found that 14 different lifestyle factors ranging from smoking, to lack of exercise, eating too much salt, not having babies, drinking too much and being overweight contributed to four in every ten cancers diagnosed in the UK.

The findings expose the myth that developing cancer is ‘bad luck’ or down to your genes, the researchers said.

Previous studies had suggested around 80,000 cancers a year could be prevented but they did not take into account occupational exposures to things like asbestos, infections that can cause cancer and sunburn as the latest research has.

In a complex set of research studies, scientists calculated how many cancers and of what type could be attributed to each of the 14 lifestyle factors.

The findings were published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Smoking was the biggest factor, causing nearly one in five of all cancers.

But Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said most people would not know that a quarter of all breast cancer cases could be prevented along with half of colorectal cancers.

He added: “Leading a healthy lifestyle doesn’t guarantee that someone will not get cancer but doing so will significantly stack the odds in your favour.”

Dr Kumar said tackling unhealthy lifestyle factors linked to cancer would also reduce the risk of a host of other killer diseases such as heart disease, respiratory problems, kidney disease and others.

Professor Max Parkin, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist based at Queen Mary, University of London, and study author, said: “Many people believe cancer is down to fate or ‘in the genes’ and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it.

“Looking at all the evidence, it’s clear that around 40 per cent of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change.

“We didn’t expect to find that eating fruit and vegetables would prove to be so important in protecting men against cancer. And among women we didn’t expect being overweight to have a greater effect than alcohol.”

The study found that alcohol was responsible for 6.4 per cent of breast cancers and almost one in ten liver cancers.

Three quarters of stomach cancers could be avoided, mostly by not smoking, eating too much salt and consuming more fruit and vegetables.

Red meat consumption led to 2.7 per cent of cancers, almost 8,500 cases. Obesity was linked to more than five per cent of cancers or almost 18000 cases, including a third of womb cancers.

Lack of breastfeeding was linked to 3.1 per cent of breast cancers and 17 per cent of ovarian cancers.

The study did not examine how many cancer deaths would be prevented with a healthier lifestyle.

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Daily aspirin dose cuts cancer risk

A daily dose of aspirin for over 60s can cut their risk of cancer by up to 40 per cent and may offer protection after just a few years- researchers claim.Daily aspirin dose cuts cancer riskA study of more than 100,000 healthy people found that those who took a dose of aspirin every day were two fifths less likely to develop and die from stomach, oesophageal or colorectal cancer in the following decade.

They also had a 12 per cent lower risk of dying from other cancers, adding up to an overall 16 per cent lower risk of death from cancer of any type.

Although earlier research had found similar results, the new paper adds to the evidence in favour of taking the drug as a protective measure.

Doctors have previously called for low doses of aspirin to be taken from middle age, especially for people with a family history of cancer or heart disease, which it is also thought to protect against.

The authors of the latest study, Can Aspirin Reduce Cancer Risk and Mortality? published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, said: “Even a relatively modest benefit with respect to overall cancer mortality could still meaningfully influence the balances of risks and benefits of prophylactic (protective) aspirin use.”

The researchers, from the American Cancer Society, studied data on more than 100,000 healthy men and women, most of whom were over 60, and questioned them about their use of aspirin at regular intervals over the next decade.

They found that those who used aspirin every day were less likely to die from cancer in the following eleven years, with the biggest effect on cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

Unlike previous research, the study found there was no difference between patients who had been taking the drug daily for less than five years, and those whose use was longer-term.

Referencing a separate study, the scientists said there was “some suggestion” the protective effect of aspirin could begin within three years of daily use.

In an editorial accompanying the article Dr John Baron of North Carolina University said the health benefit of aspirin estimated by the study could be “conservative”, adding: “The drug clearly reduces the incidence and mortality from luminal gastrointestinal cancers, and it may similarly affect other cancers.”

But Dr Eric Jacobs, who led the study, emphasised people should not take aspirin every day before discussing the potential side effects, such as stomach bleeds, with their doctors.

He said: “Although recent evidence about aspirin use and cancer is encouraging, it is still premature to recommend people start taking aspirin specifically to prevent cancer.

“Even low-dose aspirin can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding. Decisions about aspirin use should be made by balancing the risks against the benefits in the context of each individual’s medical history.”

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Diet high in fish and nuts could cut pancreatic cancer risk

Eating a diet rich in fish, nuts and vegetables could reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to two thirds new research finds.Diet high in fish and nuts could cut pancreatic cancer riskResearchers from the University of East Anglia found that people who ate large amounts of vitamins C and E and the mineral Selenium were 67 per cent less likely to develop the condition than people who consumed lower quantities.

If further studies prove that the antioxidants were causing the added protection, the finding could prevent one in 12 cases of pancreatic cancer, the researchers suggested.

The disease is diagnosed in 7,500 people each year and has the worst prognosis of any cancer, with only three per cent of patients surviving for more than five years after diagnosis.

The study, published in the Gut journal- the International Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, used data on almost 24,000 men and women aged 40 to 74, taking into account all the food they ate during a week and how it was prepared.

Results showed that the 25 per cent of people who took in the most selenium – a mineral found in nuts, fish and cereals, had half the risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with those whose intake was in the bottom 25 per cent.

Those who were in the top quartile for consumption of vitamins C, E and selenium together were at 67 per cent lower risk of the disease compared to the bottom quartile.

However, in the cases of vitamins C and E, the people consuming the highest amounts were taking in as much as 16 times the recommended daily allowance stipulated by the NHS.

Vitamin C is found in fruit and vegetables, while vitamin E is in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, margarines and egg yolk.

The authors wrote: “If a causal association is confirmed by reporting consistent findings from other epidemiological studies, then population based dietary recommendations may help to prevent pancreatic cancer.”

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