The latest information and news about childhood cancer treatments and research is shown below.
Click on the title to read the article.
Child Leukaemia - three quarters are cured
Around three-quarters of children diagnosed with leukaemia today will be cured of their disease, according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Scientists have developed a formal method for estimating the number of children diagnosed with leukaemia in the UK who are cured meaning they have no greater risk of dying prematurely than children who never had leukaemia, rather than using the almost meaningless 5-year survival approach.
The cure rate has increased from 25 per cent in the early 1970s to 68 per cent in the early 1990s and this figure is predicted to rise to 73 per cent for children diagnosed more recently. The success of leukaemia treatment has previously been judged on five-year survival rates, which increased from 33 per cent to 79 per cent during 1971-2000. For some types of leukaemia, five-year survival is as high as 83 per cent.
The team examined how survival has changed over the years and they defined ´cure´ as the point when the life expectancy of children diagnosed with leukaemia returned to normal for their age and sex.
First author Dr Anjali Shah, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, whose study was funded by charity ´CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA´ said: It´s great that children diagnosed with leukaemia can be told that the numbers cured of this terrible disease are increasing.
Child Leukaemia - interaction with other children reduces risk
UCLA Berkeley have reported on their findings that attendance at a play group reduces child leukaemia risk (of the ´variety´ ALL) by as much as 33 per cent. The researchers reviewed 14 worldwide studies and concluded that infection from other children is a necessary part of developing the immune system early in life. And a strong immune system affords more protection against leukaemia.
ALL accounts for about 80 per cent of child leukaemia and typically appears in the 2 to 5 age group, said the American team.
In some of the studies, the figure was as high as 40 per cent.
Obese Children? Let them take statins
Incredibly, the wonder drug is now being recommended by the American Society of Paediatrics for obese children, starting from age 8.Apparently being obese at that age means statistically you are more likely to die of an obesity related illness in mid life. Only recently in the USA approvals were given for statins to be used in children.
(Ed: This development is more than a little concerning. Why can´t Governments direct funds into child/parent education on eating, on why your children should not be allowed to become overweight, have lessons in schools, increase sports and so on? We have already covered research in icon that shows that the effects of taking statins even for a short while are long lasting, so what long scale research has taken place if 8 year olds start taking them? What happens at age 40? And where do you draw the line? Will kids need cholesterol readings? Who knows accurately what a ´proper´ level of cholesterol is - remember that low levels of cholesterol mean lower levels of vitamin D, more Alzheimer´s and greater cancer risk).
The UK is ´top´ for junk food
We may not be ´the best´ at many things in Europe anymore, but when it comes to eating junk food, we have few rivals.
The retail analysts Datamonitor have looked at the confection chomping and fizzy drinks guzzling habits of children around Europe. Not only are we about 50 per cent ´worse´ than the next European country, but the problem itself is becoming worse.
Children aged 10-13 consume over 128.4 of confectionery and 149.0 of fizzy drinks in the UK - about double the average of Europe. But for children aged 5-9, at 106.2 and 106.7 respectively, consumption is about 112 per cent more than average.
As usual, our next-to-useless Food Standards Agency is merely ´warning´ that today´s children may be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Confectionery (spending per child: 2005) Fizzy Drinks (Spending per child: 2005}
Aged 5-9 Aged 10-13 Aged 5-9 Aged 10-13
UK 106.2 128.4 UK 106.7 149.0
Netherlands 62.9 80.5 Spain 73.8 106.6
France 61.7 80.5 Germany 54.8 77.6
Germany 51.6 63.1 Italy 49.0 70.7
Spain 45.6 57.1 Netherlands 38.8 57.3
Italy 31.7 39.7 France 32.6 49.1
High child cancer cure expectations lead to suicides later.
A study in J. Clin. Oncol 2006 24: 3852-57 shows that survivors of childhood cancers have higher rates of suicide than the norm. The Dana Farber Cancer Centre Boston have analysed the situation and say, Cancer differs from most chronic illnesses because there is an expectation that you´ll be cured. Then you realise that it´s not gone and that there are real and serious physical problems left over from both the disease and the treatment.
The study took place 15 years after diagnosis and involved 226 survivors of childhood cancer. Important factors linked to suicidal concerns were cranial radiotherapy, leukaemia diagnosis, depression, pain and physical appearance.
This is the first study to state such concerns and it has been criticised in America.
Children, second hand smoke and Bladder cancer
Children and adolescents may be even more susceptible to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke than adults, according to new research into bladder cancer published in the International Journal of Cancer 2006; 119(10): pp 2412-2416.
Results from the study, part-funded by Cancer Research UK, suggest that exposure to second hand smoke at a young age increases the risk of bladder cancer in later life. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting men and the tenth most common affecting women in the UK. Over 10,000 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year.
The research team looked at data from nearly 430,000 people** and found that exposure to second hand smoke during childhood was associated with an almost 40 per cent increased risk of bladder cancer in later life compared to no exposure.
They also found that for every five years later in life that people started smoking, their risk of developing bladder cancer was reduced by 19 per cent. This suggests that the younger a person is when they take up smoking, the greater their risk of the disease.
The team also found that for smokers, who were overall four times more likely to develop bladder cancer, both the intensity and duration of smoking affected their risk. Every five cigarettes a day increased risk by 18 per cent and every five years of smoking increased risk by 14 per cent.
Survivors Of Child Cancers Have Poorer Quality Of Life Than Their Peers
The Journal of Clinical Oncology 2006 24; 2536-43 reviews a study from the Children´s Hospital of Western Ontario, Canada, in which 800 randomly selected survivors (all under 16) were compared with a matched sample of normal children.
The cancer survivors had significantly lower scores for physical and psychosocial health than the controls. Included were children who had survived lymphoma, leukemia, soft tissue sarcoma, CNS tumours and Wilms´ tumours.
Puppy Fat Is Not Funny
´Oh it´s just puppy fat; it will go´ is a myth. More than a quarter of school children are overweight or obese by the time they are 11, and this leads to a lifetime of problems including cancer, according to CRUK. The rate is highest amongst girls (29 per cent) and especially black girls (38 per cent).
Children from deprived backgrounds was 31 per cent. Only a very few children who were overweight by 11, dropped out of this category by age 16. Cancer Research´s conclusion was that education needs to take place at a very early age. ´It is essential to educate parents too´.
Child Leukaemia - Cell Transplantation More Effective
The Lancet (Aug. 4 2005) reports that children with very high-risk lymphoblastic leukaemia benefit more from cell transplantation (from a related donor) than they do from chemotherapy.
Five-year survival rates increased from 40.6 per cent to 56.7 per cent.
Household Insecticides May Double Child Leukaemia Risk
A study by French doctors at Inserm published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine supports previous questions about toxic insecticides used in homes and gardens. These include houseplant sprays, medicated shampoo, mosquito repellents, insecticides used on plants and lawns, head lice treatment and flea collars.
In a study using a matched sample of over 550 children the risk of developing acute leukaemia more than doubled in the homes where the insecticides were used. This exposure risk could even occur before birth. The offending ingredients appear to be carbamates, three of which - carbaryl, carbofuran and carbosuflan - are regular used in the UK.
Leukaemia accounts for about a third of all cancer in children and the incidence has doubled over the last 25 years.
England´s Overweight Teenagers
The European Conference on Obesity in Athens has heard that 25 per cent of England´s 13-17 year olds are overweight or obese.
Next comes Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Ireland at 23 per cent but Germany has only 11 per cent and Holland just 9 per cent. Type 2 diabetes, also called late-onset diabetes because it typically occurs in people in their 50´s, is rising rapidly in England´s teenagers.
In the USA 30 per cent of teenagers are overweight and 16 per cent of under 12´s have late onset diabetes. (Ed: When you read the next piece you´ll understand why!!!)
Boys Don´t Eat Their Greens
Recent research has shown the real importance of vitamin K in liver and lung cancer. But at levels far higher than the RDA which is currently small at 65 micrograms. One helping of greens will provide this RDA but this falls far short of the anti-cancer levels being used in research in Washington and Japan. Worse, our children are not even eating that much, with boys far worse than girls.
Lucy Cooke of CRUK has shown that girls eat fruit and vegetables far more than boys. Mums, schools - watch out for this!!
Sadly the current young person´s diet is awful.
Top Ten Foods
Is there any hope?
Power Lines Could Cause Leukaemia
In a new study by Gerald Draper (Oxford - BMJ 2005, 330, 1290) and his colleagues, living within 200 metres of high voltage power lines could cause a 70 per cent increased risk of developing leukaemia amongst children.
"The finding is not likely to be explained by magnetic fields but by some other direct consequence of power lines", he says. The study involved 29,083 children in England and Wales between 1962 and 1995 and for each cancer patient, a controlled, matched equivalent was taken. Sander Greenland (UCLA) believes that the study "simply adds to the evidence that the association is real".
According to Heather Dickenson (Newcastle University, UK), the study is the largest case-controlled study of childhood cancers ever conducted in the world.
Petrol Station Risk For Children
The French Institute of Health and Medical Research have reviewed 280 cases of childhood leukaemia and found a four-fold risk amongst children living near petrol stations. The risk was even greater for acute nonlymphoblastic leukaemia. The longer a child lived in the proximity, the greater the risk.
Insulin resistence/intolerance found to increase cancer risk
A while ago, at CANCERactive we told you all about Insulin Resistance. ´Do you have trouble losing weight?´ This is a common sign, as are low levels of HDL, high triglycerides, high blood glucose levels and more. And while you are not a true diabetic, the principles seem the same for an estimate of up to 70 per cent of the population, who (frankly) just eat badly. We have also given you a number of research studies showing glucose drives cancer.
Not surprisingly, insulin resistance is a step along the road to diabetes and heart disease. Now it has been shown to be a step along the road to cancer too.
New research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, concluded that ´there is a strong link between insulin resistance and the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer.´ Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York have concluded that the elevated insulin levels linked to insulin resistance result in post-menopausal women having a higher risk of breast cancer.
The researchers also found that elevated blood glucose and triglyceride levels raised the risk of breast cancer by 1.7 times. Increased diastolic blood pressure (the second number when you have your blood pressure measured ) raised the risk of breast cancer 2.4 times.
Two factors are important here:
Although this research was conducted looking at breast cancer, you can bet this is true for many cancers, male and female.
Yet again it highlights the point we consistently make about the daft sugar-laden diets given to cancer patients in UK Hospitals.
We have complained that the NHS booklet on ´a diet for chemotherapy´ shows little drawings of cheese burgers, milk shakes and sticky doughnuts on every page. My daughter was given ice cream and Ribena endlessly in her oncology unit.
Of course the good news for everyone preventers and people with cancer - is that insulin resistance and blood sugar levels are controllable and reverse-able. Just change your diet!!!
I will list here for everyone´s benefit some of the tips from my book ´The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer´:
Eat six small meals a day, not one or two big ones
Eat whole foods and whole grains (never refined, processed or fast foods)
Avoid alcohol, fizzy soft drinks, sweets, cakes, white bread, white pasta, biscuits, chocolate. Diet drinks are especially bad! As are smoothies and purchased fruit juices; even many so-called health drinks.
Eat raw most days, on an empty stomach if possible
Eat your fruit first thing in the morning on an empty stomach
Eat steamed or grilled never fried
Avoid Dairy (lactose is a sugar)
Take probiotics in several strains
Ensure you have no yeast excesses in your body (take cinnamon, oregano, Pau D´Arco and wormwood).
And eat fresh raw garlic.
Remember, research from North Western shows that if you lose excess weight you reduce risk and even improve survival times.
The book contains far more detailed advice.
Being overweight increases cancer risk fact
Cancer Research UK have just researched 4,000 people and come up with the staggering fact that 97 per cent of people have no idea that being overweight is a significant cancer risk. Of course, had they read our report on the research we conducted 4 years ago they would have known that people haven´t much a clue what does cause cancer anyway. Indeed we went into all the key issues in our 2004 Cancer Prevention Conference, which was poorly attended by the ´major´ charities.
As we have been telling people for seven years, it all depends which report you read, and how much overweight you are, but to be just 7 kgs overweight knocks over 5 years off your life expectancy, and a whopping 13 years if you smoke as well. .All this is well documented in my book, ´Everything you need to know to help you beat cancer´ indeed it has been there since the first edition some 7 years ago.
All this comes in parallel with new Swedish research showing overweight women tend to be diagnosed with higher grade cancers than ladies who have restrained their weight.
One of the real issues is that many overweight people are in denial. We have had ladies write to us with breast cancer and they are 13 kgs over normal weight for their height. One described herself as ´cuddly´, another as ´being a bit chunky´.
In our original 2004 prevention research, people stated that giving up smoking was important, as was avoiding excess alcohol, and staying out of the sun. As we pointed out at the time, ´Burning is bad, sunshine is sensible´. 4 years ago there was too much bad science coming from cancer charities suggesting sunshine was carcinogenic. In fact there is actually a great deal of research that suggests that a daily dose of sun shine promotes vitamin D synthesis in the body, and reduces cancer risk. A few people also knew that exercise was a risk reducer. But, in all, few people knew any information about preventing cancer (unlike Heart disease or AIDS) and blame for this lack of information can only be laid at the doors of the Government and the cancer charities. It was in response to this research finding that CANCERactive decided to adopt the Precautionary Principle (that where there is expert research expressing concern, we will pass on that research information so that the people of Britain can make more informed choices). As a result just compare the volume of Prevention Topics we cover against those listed on the major charities web sites. Pesticides? EMF´s? Melatonin? Toxic Chemicals, from dioxins to oestrogen mimics in plastic bottles and preservatives?
Anyone who is unsure of the factors that may increase cancer risk should go to the prevention part of our web site where they will find more information on more possible causes than on any other UK charity web site. As you will see, we have given some weight to the issue of cancer prevention!
Men more likely to get cancer the issue is why?
Men are almost 40 per cent more likely than women to die from cancer, reveals a report published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN).
And they are 16 per cent more likely to develop the disease in the first place.
After excluding breast cancer and cancers specific to one or other sex from the analysis, the difference is even greater with men being almost 70 per cent more likely to die from cancer and over 60 per cent more likely to develop the disease.
The researchers then looked at the figures, excluding lung cancer as well, because the disease and its main risk factor, smoking, is known to be more common in men.They expected to see that, across the broad range of remaining cancer types, men and women were just as likely as each other to die from and get the disease. But they found that for all of these cancers combined, men were still 70 per cent more likely than women to die from cancer and 60 per cent more likely to get cancer.
Experts suggest that a possible explanation for the differences seen for some types of cancer could be down to stereotypical male behaviour like down-playing important early symptoms and having an unhealthy lifestyle.
Even rogue cancer DNA repairs itself
CRUK scientists (Nature) have discovered a sensor which exists even in cancer cells. Some drugs try to damage cancer DNA. This sensor system is actually a family of proteins (alkyltransferase-like proteins or ATL´s) warns the cell and activates the DNA repair systems and so the drugs lose their effect.
Organic foods are better ignore the UK Food Standards Agency
All over the UK papers comes news of the ´ruling´ from the FSA that ´organic food is no more nutritious than other foods´. According to that well known medical journal, the Daily Mail, ´watchdogs´ have declared this to be true.
Claiming to be the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine´ trawled through more than 50,000 studies on the value of foods since 1958.´ The results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dr Alan Dangour (a public health nutritionist, no less) who was the lead researcher stated that, ´Currently there is no research to support the selection of organically produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority´.
Spokesperson Gill Fine from the FSA burbled on about, ´Ensuring people had accurate information´ and ´no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic foods´.
What staggers us at CANCERactive is that in order to resolve this very same question the EU has just spent 12 million of tax payers´ money conducting as near as can be, the definitive Clinical Trial, growing fields of organic food in parallel with normal pesticide and fertiliser-grown crops and then employing top scientists to give us the results. The FSA, which is after all a Government funded unit, ought to know this and use the data. And be clear, Gill: The ´accurate information´ is that there is a considerable difference. And this is just from early assessments. The project will continue for a few more years yet, as that is how long it takes to be sure. Professor Carlo Leifert, one of the CANCERactive patrons, is a lead member of the team.We covered the early conclusions in this very magazine.
The Daily Mail falls into the usual ´bad science´ trap too, meandering on about 50 years of research and 50,000 studies. But, the researchers didn´t use 50,000 studies, they used, sorry selected, 55 that ´met their criteria´, whatever they were. So one concludes therefore they left out a mere 49,945 studies from their conclusions. Perhaps one was the definitive EU study?
Then there is Dr Alan ´no evidence to support nutritional superiority´ Dangour. I quote about 10 - 15 such studies in my book ´The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer´. Leifert and his team have a hundred more! What planet do these people live on? Al, old chap, there is rather a lot of scientific evidence actually; I cannot believe you think there is none..
But for the last word we will return to Gill ´no additional health benefit´ Fine. All I can conclude is that she finds pesticides tasty and of absolutely harmless. Of course that view would put her directly at odds with the EU, which recently concluded that there were ´deep concerns´ and cited health hazards including cancer as a need for more regulation. It is puzzling that Gill ´ensuring people have accurate information´ Fine does not seem to be telling you all about research studies showing that farmers using pesticides develop more multiple myeloma, and another that this is due to the pesticide making pre-cancerous MGUS proteins in the blood, or (for example) that some third world suppliers to British retailers still use the banned pesticides of DDT and Lindane, each linked to higher rates of Breast Cancer. (If she is unsure, she could always trawl through back issues of Cancer Watch for more ´accurate information´.)
For the record, there is concern that organic foods grown on depleted soils offer little in additional mineral content over mass-farmed foods. How could they? On basic vitamins there is quite a lot of evidence that organic food is superior, but sometimes not by much. The real advantage seems to come in the area of complex natural compounds (like resveratrol, quercitin, omega 3 or polyphenols) where organic foods score much more highly. For example, the use of fungicide negates the need for grapes to produce fungus fighting resveratrol of their own several studies have measured this. And even 10 years ago researchers didn´t know too much about these compounds or their health benefits, and so did not research for them. How many such studies were in the ´selected´ group?
Personally I don´t think everybody should rush off and buy everything organic we have told you which foods research studies show are more likely to hold their pesticides, and which do not. So in a number of cases there is not a lot to worry about. But red fruits like strawberries and greens like broccoli do need extra caution before using the sprayed versions.
It is all very sad really. I think that the people, and especially the patients who want to beat cancer deserve better than this. But then, that´s why we set up CANCERactive.
Need to prevent thousands of older people dying from cancer, prematurely
As many as 15,000 people over 75 could be dying prematurely from cancer each year in the UK, according to research presented today at the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference.
These premature deaths could be prevented if cancer mortality rates in the UK dropped to match countries in Europe and America which have the lowest rates.
The researchers from the North West Cancer Intelligence Service (NWCIS) in Manchester compared cancer death rates in the UK with Europe and America.
They found that over the past decade the numbers of people dying from cancer in the under 75s has significantly dropped in the UK. But, little progress has been made in the over 75s and the gap in death rates with other countries is getting wider.
Dr Tony Moran, lead researcher from NWCIS, said It´s worrying that so many older people die from cancer in the UK compared with other countries. But, it´s not clear why this is. Research is urgently needed to understand the reasons for the extra deaths so that steps can be taken to prevent them.
New scientific study reveals flaws, even fraud, in Clinical Trials
Scientific study. Clinical Trial, Gold Standard. Non Sequetor. Well, at least according to Dr Daniele Fanelli at the University of Edinburgh. In a recent study Fanelli lists findings such as
Most clinical results are misleading
Fanelli´s report states that the misconduct is more prevalent in clinical, medical, and pharmaceutical research. So much for the ´gold standard´; but then he goes on to refer to the high profits at stake where a few word changes can make all the difference, even if it´s not fraud but ´presentation´.
He also comments on studies that criticise vitamins suggesting that all too often, doses used are too low to have an effect, or the where vitamin tested is known not to have an effect on a particular disease whereas another, untested one, is.
All this coincides with a USA FDA report that reports deficiencies and flaws in up to 20 per cent of US drug clinical trials.
Childhood cancer survivors: 3 times normal rate in adulthood
We have covered research like this before. Now another study, this time from the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark, shows that childhood cancer survivors run a threefold greater risk than normal of developing another cancer in adulthood (the Journal of the National Cancer Institute).
Tracking 47,679 people from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden who had been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20 scientists concluded that childhood chemotherapy is the most likely culprit for the increased risk of adult cancers ( news.bbc.co.uk.)
Household pesticide link to child leukaemia and child brain cancer
A finger is firmly pointed at pesticides used inside the house in a research study in urban Washington and published by Lombardi and Childrens National Medical Center in the American magazine, Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.
41 pairs of children with a form of leukaemia termed ALL, and their mothers were matched with an identical group of healthy participants. The researchers analysed urine samples and found significantly higher levels of two common organophosphate metabolites, diethylthiophosphate (DETP) and diethyldithiophosphate (DEDTP) in the urine of the cancer patients than the healthy children. Not surprisingly in the questionnaires completed by the mothers, those households used significantly more pesticides in home.
Worryingly, even the healthy children had some evidence of pesticide organophosphates.
In a second study, reported in the American magazine Environmental Health Perspectives, children living with parents who use in-home pesticides are more likely to develop brain cancers. This time researchers matched 400 fathers and 250 mothers who all use fungicides, insecticides and herbicides around their homes (for example in garden or lawn care use), with identical non-users.They then looked at the level of exposure two years prior to birth!
The researchers found that children whose parents had been exposed to pesticides were significantly more likely to develop brain cancer. The risk of astrocytoma was especially increased by the use of herbicides.
Among the exposed fathers, those who wore protective clothing or who washed immediately after pesticide use were significantly less likely to have children who developed a brain tumour.
No explanation was given for the method of developing the cancer, but it is known that developing babies and foetuses are especially vulnerable to pesticides.