April-May 2009



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Take Ginger to quell nausea from chemotherapy


70 per cent of chemotherapy patients experience nausea, even when they take an anti-sickness drug. That’s according to the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, which is why they looked for something that worked.


600 patients participated in a clinical trial involving an anti-nausea drug. (90 per cent were women; two thirds had breast cancer). Some also took ginger, others took a placebo. The group taking the ginger reported 40 per cent less nausea. Apparently 1 gramme (or half a teaspoon) was the best dose.


Ginger is a root from South East Asia. It is an antioxidant and has been known to have a calming effect on the stomach for centuries.”All those home remedies involving ginger were the right thing to do”, said Douglas Blaney, President-elect of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.


(Ed: The next step presumably is to run a clinical trial with ginger and the drug or ginger and a placebo. Maybe ginger works without the drug?)


Crucial role of fibre and beneficial bacteria in cancer fight shown


Scientists at the American Medical College of Georgia (MCG) have discovered how fibre works in the fight against cancer: It works with beneficial bacteria in the colon to activate a receptor in the body that can kill cancer. The beneficial bacteria produce butyrate from the fibre and this activates a receptor (GPR109A), which in turn has two effects: Firstly, it blocks the CoX-2 protein that causes inflammation; and secondly it sends signals out to cancer cells telling them to self-destruct. 
"We know the receptor is silenced in cancer but it’s not like the gene goes away," Dr. Vadivel Ganapathy, corresponding author and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the MCG School of Medicine, said in a statement to media. Cancer shuts down the gene by a process called DNA methylation.


"Colon cancer does not want butyrate produced by bacteria to come inside so it silences the transporter. It also does not want butyrate to act on the cell from the outside so it silences the receptor," Dr. Ganapathy explained in the media statement. "It does not want to have anything to do with butyrate. We think receptor activation by butyrate suppresses inflammation, thereby suppressing progression of inflamed cells into cancer cells."


(Ed: Naturally, the scientists have concluded that patients may benefit by taking high doses of butyrate - It tastes terrible. An alternative according to Dr. Ganapathy is to take large amounts of niacin, a B vitamin, which could have the same effect.
The only problem facing cancer patients is that the whole concept of high fibre helping to beat cancer is flawed if you have an important ingredient missing – the beneficial bacteria. And from the moment you take your first drug, you start to destroy these important helpers.)


Cancer rates to soar


M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has just concluded a study portraying a virtual epidemic of cancer is headed our way. The Center’s scientists say over the next two decades, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. will increase by 45 per cent.


The study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first to develop this kind of specific long-term cancer incidence projection. "Also alarming is that a number of the types of cancers that are expected to increase, such as liver, stomach and pancreas, still have tremendously high mortality rates," said a spokesman. He also warned that unless specific prevention and treatment methods are discovered, the rate of deaths from cancer will also rise dramatically.


Breast cancer - strong family history increases risk fourfold


Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer are over four times more likely to develop the disease than the general population, according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada.


The lifetime risk of breast cancer in the general population is one in nine. This research looked at women without a faulty BRCA gene but who had either one first-degree relative under 50 with breast cancer plus at least one other relative with the disease, or simply three relatives of any age with breast cancer. For these women the risk increased to just over one in three.


Dr Steven Narod leading the research concluded that a significant family history of breast cancer alone could be strong enough grounds for doctors to offer preventative treatments – such as tamoxifen, which is given to most women with breast cancer to help prevent the disease from returning. Professor Jack Cuzick, Cancer Research UK’s epidemiologist who leads on clinical trials to prevent breast cancer, added: “Looking at ways to prevent breast cancer is an exciting field, particularly in those who are at an increased risk of the disease. We’re also learning more about which women will respond to preventative treatments, which takes us ever closer to tailoring cancer treatment to each patient. Around 15 per cent of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease, so around 7,000 women a year in the UK could benefit from this research.”


(Ed: This is actually a very important piece of research because it looks at those women without a known genetic fault. And it makes the conclusion there is ‘something’ that is running in families. The rest of the conclusions are less impressive. Suddenly we are talking about 15 per cent of all women with a cancer line running in their family, when most previous studies drew the line at 7 per cent. Also 15 per cent of 42,000 is 6,400 not 7,000 and I worry a little that there is an accidental element of scaremongering here. I’m not sure where this higher figure suddenly comes from. Then there is the lack of evidence as to what the ‘something’ is. If one person smokes in a family, there could be a higher incidence of smoking. Or maybe, being overweight is a familial factor. It doesn’t necessarily follow that this is definitely a genetic issue. Then there’s the ‘We could always throw Tamoxifen at it’ idea. This actually runs counter to two other important recent Cancer Research UK studies: One concluding that ‘no longer could we think that one size would fit all when it came to cancer treatments’, and the other the finding (on top of previous studies linking Tamoxifen to increased risk of some cancers like endometrial cancer) that Tamoxifen can cause genetic mutation. Why don’t Cancer Research wake up to the sort of research that Harvard is doing? Preventing cancer – avoiding oestrogen mimics and toxic chemicals, taking vitamin D or adequate sunshine, and fish oils, and daily light exercise – these have all be shown in quality research to provide increased prevention in breast cancer. Who needs a drug? Interesting research. Shame about the conclusions!)


Breast Cancer – developing new options


The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas is about to take new PARP drug options to clinical trial phase III. PARP inhibitors is a new class of drug being tested in women with "triple negative" breast cancer (i.e. tested negative for expression of the oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and HER-2/neu). In tests the drug was given in combination with gemcitabine and carboplatin, and showed not only an improvement in progression-free survival but also overall survival.


A different, oral PARP inhibitor was also tested in women with metastatic breast cancer and known deleterious mutations in the BRCA 1 or 2 genes. In this highly specific cohort of women, the agent showed efficacy and was very well tolerated.


Further studies using these new agents are under way, with Phase III trials being planned.


Breast cancer – can radio and chemo bring it back?


In a surprising finding by researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, young women who receive radiation treatment or certain chemotherapy drugs after breast cancer surgery are significantly more likely to later develop cancer in the other breast than women who did not undergo such treatments (Journal of Clinical Oncology). Hitherto the argument has always been that the severity of factors that developed the first cancer precipitated a second cancer in the other breast.


The study involved 7,000 women, all diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 71 and who were treated for breast cancer in Netherlands between the years of 1970 and 1986.


Researchers found that women under the age of 45 who received radiotherapy after a lumpectomy were 1.5 times more likely to develop cancer in the other breast than women who received post-mastectomy radiation treatment.


Anyway, the risk of a second breast cancer among all patients under the age of 45 increased by 9 percent if they had received any radiotherapy. This increased to 78 per cent if they were under 35.


A further analysis concerning the chemo agents cyclophosphamide, fluorouracil and methotrexate revealed that they increased the risk of cancer in the other breast, but only after five years.


(Ed: I’m not at all sure about this research. I can’t see how they ruled out the effects of more aggressive cancers likely amongst the 35 or 45 age group. So we pass this on for information and urge caution about accepting the results at face value. Also I think radio and chemotherapy has improved a bit since 1986).


Mammogram dangers cited by whistleblowers


Nine American scientists have been writing to President Obama blowing the whistle on what they feel are distinctly dodgy practices at the Federal Drugs Agency, (FDA), the foremost approval body in the world and the one that sets the tone for approvals in the UK. Their letters said that there was a strong element of fear and that speaking out put honest scientists in danger of disciplinary action. One of their causes for concern was the FDA’s silence over the increasing knowledge of risks with mammograms. The whistleblowers also asked for protection from dismissal for the letters.


Falling breast cancer rates – decline in mammograms or HRT responsible?


Hot on the heels of the Cancer Research UK Press Release claiming that declines in breast cancer rates was all down to earlier diagnosis and better drugs comes a study from researchers at Stamford University (New England Journal of Medicine). Following on from the recent dramatic declines in the US breast cancer rates seen after the very public controversy over mixed synthetic HRT (oestrogen and progestin) during the American Women’s Health Initiative study in  2003 led to many women refusing to take it anymore, the researchers decided to look into this in more detail. 
  The researchers monitored breast cancer rates among 15,000 women who had participated in the original study, but had ceased taking the synthetic supplements. These women were then compared to another group who had continued to take HRT.


In the years leading up to 2003 a doubling of risk from mixed HRT had been observed. After the HRT was stopped, rates plummeted by more than a quarter (28 per cent). Women who had not been part of the original study yet had still taken HRT experienced a 48 per cent decline in breast cancer rates when they stopped taking HRT. Women who continued taking HRT experienced a doubling of risk every year!


"This is very strong evidence that oestrogen plus progestin causes breast cancer," said researcher Marcia Stefanik. "You start women on hormones and within five years their risk of breast cancer is clearly elevated. You stop the hormones and within one year their risk is essentially back to normal. It’s reasonably convincing cause-and-effect data."


Some people have tried to muddy the waters suggesting that the declines in breast cancer rates were due to the declines in mammogram usage. The new research showed the same results whatever the mammogram usage.
(Ed: As we continually say, ‘If HRT were a vitamin supplement it would have been banned by now’. Look at the front page controversy that occurred when taking daily doses of synthetic vitamin E ‘may even increase death rates by 10 per cent’. How does this lifetime risk compare to an annual doubling of risk? Failure to ban HRT in the light of all this negative evidence is tantamount to negligence.)


How to avoid leaving your fingerprints at the crime scene!


In a letter published in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology, Dr Eng-Huat Tan, a cancer specialist at the National Cancer Centre in Singapore, reported on a story concerning his patient Mr. S, who was suffering from a head and neck cancer that had spread. The patient was being treated with the drug capecitabine. Its recorded benefits include stopping cancer cells growing and reducing the size of tumours. There are side effects – like tiredness, upset stomach, bleeding and hand-foot syndrome. What’s that? Inflammation of the palms and soles, causing bleeding and even ulcers.


Mr S had been on the drug for three years and thought he had escaped the side-effects until he turned up at immigration in the USA. There the alarm bells rang! He had no fingerprints. He was locked up for 4 hours while Immigration authorities tried to work it all out!


Patients on the drug are now advised to travel with a letter from their oncologist.




Radiotherapy – more accurate, faster treatment planning


New Fast and Precise Treatment Planning System among Varian Medical Systems Highlights at American Brachytherapy Society 2009 Meeting
BrachyVision Acuros, Enabling Superior Dose Calculation with Unmatched Speed, Unveiled at ABS 2009 in Toronto, Canada, May 31-June 2 
Varian Medical Systems have introduced a new range of radiotherapy treatment equipment including software that a significantly more accurate and faster way of calculating the dosimetry of cancer treatments.
Launched at the GEC-ESTRO Show in Portugal in May, BrachyVision Acuros enables clinicians to rapidly calculate patient doses for brachytherapy treatments with greater accuracy.
This is a quantum leap forward in terms of accuracy with timeframes that were previously unimaginable,” says Sophie Wetherall, Varian BrachyTherapy software product manager. “BrachyVision Acuros offers an improvement in dose calculation that will help clinicians make better decisions about dose to their patients and further their knowledge to make treatments more accurate.”
is among the institutions that assessed BrachyVision Acuros during its research phase, and publications on the subject have been submitted for peer review. Dr. Panos Papagiannis and his team were most impressed by the speed of the system.
Being able to have a representation of the dose distribution in an inhomogeneous, bounded geometry in a matter of several minutes just didn’t seem plausible until now,” says Dr. Papagiannis  of the Medical Physics department at the University of Athens in Greece. “We are confident that Acuros marks a significant improvement over current treatment planning systems.”
BrachyVision Acuros calculation times tend to average between three and eight minutes depending on the applicator used,” adds Ms. Wetherall. “By comparison, the same calculations could take hours or days using the standard, historical Monte Carlo method.”


Prostate cancer? Think pomegranates


Apparently prostate cancer patients have a new weapon in their armoury. According to the results of a long-term study presented at the 104th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA), Maryland, pomegranate juice may effectively slow the progression of the disease, even when regular treatment has failed. (Journal of Urology; Pantuck et al; suppl. 2009: 181, 4, abstract 826)


The two step clinical trial followed 48 men over six years. Each research subject had a rising prostate specific antigen (PSA) level after surgery or radiation therapy greater than 0.2 ng/ml and less than 5 ng/ml. The study participants were given eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily. These patients were then compared to those not taking the juice.


Despite all the men having similar PSA scores at the outset, after 56 months. There was a significant difference and progression had slowed down dramatically in the men who regularly drank pomegranate juice.


"This study suggests that pomegranate juice may effectively slow the progression of prostate cancer after unsuccessful treatment," said Christopher Amling, MD, an AUA spokesman. "This finding and other ongoing research might one day reveal that pomegranate juice is an effective prostate cancer preventative agent as well."


Aspirin can cut cancer risk


Taking aspirin in your 40s could cut the risk of cancer developing later in life, according to research published in the Lancet Oncology Wednesday 29 April 2009.
In a detailed review of all the available evidence, Cancer Research UK scientists suggest that taking aspirin at an age before cancer begins to develop – and for at least 10 years – would maximise the drug’s potential to prevent cancer.
Previous research suggests that people who take aspirin are less likely to develop bowel, breast and possibly some other types of cancer. Aspirin blocks the effects of the COX enzymes, proteins involved in inflammation and found at unusually high levels in several types of cancer.
But regular use of the anti-inflammatory drug specifically for cancer prevention is not currently recommended as it has been linked to a number of side-effects including, gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers.
Common cancers, such as prostate, breast, lung and bowel, tend to develop after the age of 60. And the chances of aspirin causing bleeding in the abdomen are much higher in people over 60.
Study author, Professor Jack Cuzick, from the Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Taking aspirin regularly in your mid 40s could maximise the effect this drug has on preventing cancer. Taking aspirin at this age, which is about the time pre-cancerous lesions usually begin to develop, may be the best time to stop the disease from progressing to actual cancer.
For older patients – who are already taking aspirin for cardiovascular disease – the drug may also provide additional protection against some cancers, but it not yet known whether the ‘baby aspirin’ can achieve this, or if the full standard dose of 300mg/day will be needed.”


(Ed: Natural salicylin is an ingredient of willow bark and was chewed in the Middle Ages, for all manner of ailments. Inflammation is a known precursor of a number of cancers like prostate, breast, colon and so on. The original research won a British Scientist John Vane a Nobel Prize back in 1992. Moreover, the Mayo Clinic said all this and more in 2002 when recommending an 81 mg dose of aspirin a day. But there are many more natural anti-inflammatory agents if you wish to avoid the side effects of synthetic aspirin, such as ginger, garlic, turmeric (curcumin), aloe vera, and fish oil omega 3. Research has since been conducted on all of them, and much has been covered previously in icon. The next article amplifies the anti-inflammation story even more.)


Tackling inflammation in Prostate cancer


Inflammation is clearly implicated in the development of prostate cancer in a number of research studies. Conversely there is a decreased risk of prostate cancer in men on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Numerous phytochemicals have been reported to interfere with specific stages of the carcinogenic process [1. Some of these phytochemicals like curcumin induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in prostate cancer cells [2 while green tea has been shown to inhibit prostate cancer development and distant site metastasis in mice [3. Similarly, resveratrol has also been associated with inhibition of various cancers.
Based on the premise that a wide range of phytochemicals in a single formulation are likely to demonstrate greater reduction in cancer cell proliferation than individual molecules administered alone, Dr Red Nutraceuticals Pty Ltd have brought out a Blueberry Punch (blueberry, red grapes, raspberry and elderberry juice concentrates), grape seed and skin extract, citrus skin extracts, green tea extract, olive leaf/olive pulp extracts, tarragon, turmeric and ginger.
Independent research studies sent to the icon offices on in vitro and in vivo show a dose dependent anti-inflammatory benefit along with the observation that “At two weeks of treatment the tumour size in diseased mice decreased by 25% compared with mice (n = 8) that were administered regular tap water as control” More research is planned and we will keep you informed.
1. Surh YJ (2003) Nat Rev Cancer, 3; 768-780
2. Khor et al (2006) Cancer Res, 66; 613-21
3. Gupta (2001) PNAS, 98; 10350-10355


First ‘Nano Treatments’ to target cancer cells


CANCER RESEARCH UK scientists have for the first time developed a treatment that transports ‘tumour busting’ genes selectively to cancer cells, according to a study published online in Cancer Research.


Using nanotechnology, the researchers were able to package anti-cancer genes in very small particles that directed the treatment selectively to tumours in mice so that it was only taken up by cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed.


Once taken up by cancer cells, the genes enclosed in the nano-particles force the cell to produce proteins that can kill the cancer.


In this study the cells were forced to make a protein which was then visible in whole-body scans of the mice revealing that healthy cells were not affected by the treatment. Previous studies showed that the type of gene therapy used in this study can shrink tumours and even cure around 80 per cent of the mice given the treatment. This type of technology is particularly relevant for people with cancers that are inoperable because they are close to vital organs, like the brain or lungs. These cancers are often associated with poor survival.


Now scientists have found a particle that can be used to selectively target cancer cells, they hope nanotechnology can be extended to treat cancer that has spread.


Study author Cancer Research UK’s Dr Andreas Schatzlein, based at the School of Pharmacy in London, said: “Gene therapy has a great potential to create safe and effective cancer treatments but getting the genes into cancer cells remains one of the big challenges in this area. This is the first time that nano-particles have been shown to target tumours in such a selective way, and this is an exciting step forward in the field.


Once inside the cell, the gene enclosed in the particle recognises the cancerous environment and switches on. The result is toxic, but only to the offending cells, leaving healthy tissue unaffected. We hope this therapy will be used to treat cancer patients in clinical trials in a couple of years.”


Cancer has a ‘cunning plan’


As if anticipating that scientists would try to kill it, cancer developed a Baldrick style ‘cunning plan’.


Apparently scientists trying to deliver gene therapy via an adenovirus to cancer cell nuclei were originally thwarted (Journal of Clinical Investigation 2009). They found for the first time that CEACAM6 overactivity can prevent a specially constructed gene transporter - called an adenovirus vector - being able to ‘infect’ cancer cells with corrective gene therapy molecules. Their experiments showed that, rather than preventing the virus from entering the cell – to deliver the gene therapy - CEACAM6 blocked the transport of virus particles.


Not to be outdone, the research team based at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry part of Queen Mary, University of London, ‘blocked’ the activity of this CEACAM6 gene, which is often hyperactive in a range of human tumours including breast, pancreas, liver, prostate, bowel and non-small-cell lung cancers.


They then found that blocking CEACAM6 increased the survival of cancer-carrying mice treated with an anti-cancer adenovirus.Their research suggests that cell signalling pathways activated by overactive CEACAM6 could become targets for the development of better gene therapy. They believe that tests could be developed to predict patient response to genetic therapy delivered by adenovirus vehicles.


Gall Bladder and bile duct cancer – two drugs better than one


Combining two chemotherapy drugs for advanced gallbladder and bile duct cancer improves mean survival by three months, according to results from a Cancer Research UK funded trial presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference, June 2009.


The trial, run by the Cancer Research UK & UCL Cancer Trials Centre, was the largest ever phase III clinical trial for these cancers. They found that for patients receiving both gemcitabine and cisplatin it reduced the chance of the cancer growing by 28 per cent and improved survival times - on average patients lived 11.7 months compared to 8.3 months for those on the trial receiving gemcitabine alone.


The trial, called ABC02, recruited over 400 UK patients with advanced gallbladder and bile duct cancer which can’t be operated on. One group had a combination of gemcitabine and cisplatin and the second group were treated with gemcitabine alone. The treatment lasted for 24 weeks for both groups of patients.


Gallbladder and bile duct cancers are rare and very difficult to treat in the advanced stages. Of those diagnosed with the disease only around one in 10 will survive for more than five years.


Dr Juan Valle, consultant oncologist at The Christie in Manchester and co chief investigator for the trial, said: “This important trial has shown that adding cisplatin to gemcitabine slowed cancer progression and extended survival for these rare but hard-to-treat cancers, with minimal side effects. This establishes the combination treatment cisplatin and gemcitabine as an international standard of care for patients with advanced gallbladder and bile duct cancers.


“If gallbladder cancer is picked up early, the best treatment is an operation to remove it. But often the disease isn’t detected in time as there are few symptoms in the early stages. This makes it vital to find the best chemotherapy treatment for people in this situation.”


The trial started in May 2005 and finished in September 2008.


NICE approves use of cetuximab for UK bowel cancer patients


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today published a Final Appraisal Determination (FAD) recommending the use of the drug cetuximab (Erbitux®) in combination with chemotherapy as a 1st-line treatment for patients with metastatic (advanced) colorectal cancer .


The treatment is recommended for patients in whom the cancer has spread only to the liver and who have ‘wild-type’ (unmutated) KRAS‡ tumours. Up to 65% of patients have wild-type KRAS tumours.3
In June 2008, NICE issued a recommendation for cetuximab use in the treatment of locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. Bowel cancer (Colorectal cancer) is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, after lung, breast and skin cancers, with more than 36,000 people diagnosed each year.


Inhibiting protein kinase in cancer


Scientists at M.D. Anderson in collaboration with those at Cancer Research Technology Ltd (CRT) have presented new research showing that a potent and selective inhibitor of protein kinase D called CRT0066101, inhibits the growth of pancreatic tumours.
These results show for the first time that an inhibitor of PKD can slow the growth of tumours in pancreatic cancer models. In addition, experiments carried out by CRT have shown that CRT0066101 is also effective at inhibiting the growth of tumours in a lung cancer model. The scientists believe that the drug has the potential to treat other cancers too.
PKD is a relatively newly identified family of serine/threonine kinases comprising PKD1, PKD2 and PKD3. The potential of PKD as a new drug target was discovered by Enrique Rozengurt, Doreen Cantrell and Peter Parker. Now PKD has been identified as playing a central role in the development of a number of cancers. In addition to its role in the growth of tumour cells, PKD has also been shown to play a pivotal role in cell survival and angiogenesis - a process by which tumours form new blood vessels - which is central to tumour growth and spread.
Dr Sushovan Guha who leads the laboratory at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, said: “We are very optimistic about CRT0066101’s pharmacological potential. We believe this is the first orally administered small-molecule inhibitor of PKD with significant biological efficacy in pre-clinical animal models of pancreatic cancer. My conviction is that we will show the drug can also prevent the proliferation of cancer cells by blocking their supply of blood - through neo-angiogenesis. This would mean it offers a double action treatment but this needs to be proved through further work.”


Scientists shown dormant virus causes cancer


Hot on the heels of the virus that can cause pancreatic cancer covered in the last edition of icon comes another that can trigger Burkitt’s lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This cancer affects around 200 young adults aged between 13 and 24 each year in the UK but is more common in children living in equatorial Africa. Doubtless the next step will be to develop a highly expensive vaccine and force all school children to have a shot.


The cancer is triggered by a genetic accident in cells of the immune system, called B lymphocytes. Once that accident has happened, the chances of the cancer developing are greatly increased if those same cells are infected with a common virus, called the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).


The research, published in PLoS Pathogens, undertaken by scientists at the University of Birmingham have thus identified a subset of Burkitt’s lymphomas in which EBV triggers a viral protein that keeps the tumour cells alive. Interestingly, this EBV protein behaves like a cellular protein, called bcl2, whose job is to keep normal cells alive.


Professor Alan Rickinson, lead author based at Cancer Research UK’s Institute for Cancer Studies at the University of Birmingham, said: “EBV is carried by most of us as a ‘dormant’ virus – but in a very small proportion of people it can have devastating effects. Precisely how EBV helps to cause Burkitt’s lymphoma has remained a mystery. Now our study suggests that in some tumours it does so by switching on a protein that is usually inactive when the virus is dormant.”
Around 90 per cent of adults in the UK are infected with EBV, most of them as young infants. Most infected people show no ill-effects, although a minority will develop glandular fever. Very rarely, the virus can trigger cancers, such as Burkitt’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Cancer Research UK scientists have played a leading role in EBV research – from the discovery of the virus to immunotherapy for EBV-related lymphoma – and this is another first for us."


Lymphoma vaccine boosts immune system action


A lymphoma vaccine uniquely made for each patient has been shown to extend time in remission during a Phase III clinical trial, scientists reported at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Orlando.
"This is the first vaccine in lymphoma that’s shown a positive result, improving time to relapse," said Sattva Neelapu, M.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma. He is also principal investigator for M. D. Anderson’s portion of the multicenter clinical trial. The vaccine, derived from a patient’s cancer cells, sparks an immune system response against the disease.
A likely key to success, Neelapu noted, is that only patients in complete remission or with minimal residual disease after chemotherapy were vaccinated.  Two other recent Phase III vaccine trials that vaccinated patients who were in partial remission or with stable disease were negative.
"With lymphoma, you can get patients to a minimal disease state with chemotherapy and then bring in the vaccine to mop up remaining cancer cells.  That’s the strategy, and it should work for other cancers," said Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., who invented the vaccine while at the National Cancer Institute and now chairs M. D. Anderson’s Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma.
The 234 patients enrolled in the trial were first treated with a chemotherapy combination known as PACE.   The 117 patients who were in complete remission or had a complete response (unconfirmed) for at least six months then received either the vaccine or a placebo.  Median time to relapse for the 76 vaccinated patients was 44.2 months, compared with 30.6 months for the 41 who received placebo.  Follicular lymphoma is a slow-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"Immunology shows us that there’s a weak immune response at the onset of cancer but it’s somehow shut down very early," Kwak said. "The next generation of vaccines probably will be combined with therapy that interferes with mechanisms that shut off immune response."
The crucial component of Kwak’s vaccine is a receptor protein extracted from the patient’s malignant B cell lymphocytes and purified in large amounts.  The protein is combined with a delivery agent and an adjuvant growth factor and the whole cocktail is injected back into the patient.  "It’s the ultimate in personalised therapy," Kwak said.  "Even if two patients have the same type of lymphoma, their tumours will still have different proteins."


Immune vaccine boosts cancer antibodies


British scientists have discovered that linking a molecule which initiates antibody production, to a ‘saboteur’ molecule, triggers the immune system to selectively destroy faulty cells. These findings published in the journal Blood, could potentially be used to selectively destroy tumour cells while ignoring healthy cells.
Mice were immunised with an antigen linked to a CpG ‘saboteur’ molecule. The antigen smuggled the CpG into specific cells to trigger the immune response system to produce antibodies that could potentially seek and destroy cancer cells.
The scientists demonstrated that mice immunised with different antigen-CpG complexes had boosted antibody responses when compared with immunisation with the same antigen not linked to CpG. This demonstrated that the antigen was able to sneak CpG into the immune response hub of the cell. CpG is a tiny saboteur molecule (derived from microbial DNA) which is able to cross a B-cell membrane. Once inside it triggers B cells to produce specialised antibodies by activating an internal receptor called Toll Like Receptor 9 (TLR9).
This new strategy could be used for future cancer vaccination strategies – either through preventative medicine or cancer treatment - to stimulate specific immune responses against faulty proteins in tumour cells. The technique in effect supercharges the body’s immune system to help it fight cancer.


‘Vitamin D improves colon cancer survival’ study


The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, has produced a study (Journal of Clinical Oncology - June 20, 2008 showing that high blood levels of vitamin D increased survival rate in colon cancer patients by 48 percent.
In the study, Dr. Kimmie Ng and her team collected data on 304 patients who had been diagnosed with colon cancer between 1991 and 2002. Everyone in the study had their vitamin D blood levels measured a minimum two years before being diagnosed. Dr. Ng and her team found that the patients with highest vitamin D levels were 39 percent less likely to die from colorectal cancer, compared to the patients who had the lowest levels.


Dietary study shows importance of vitamin E against lung cancer


A higher intake of natural vitamin E can cut the risk of lung cancer by 55 per cent. (University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center - International Journal of Cancer)


The study was unique in that it looked at dietary levels of natural vitamin E, rather than the usual tests that involve supplements. Although natural vitamin E contains 4 forms of tocopherol, and 4 of tocotrienol, the research only followed the tocopherols. People with the highest tocopherol intake were found to have a 55 percent lower risk of lung cancer than people with the lowest intakes. The average intakes of the two groups were more than 12.95 milligrams per day and less than 6.68 milligrams per day, respectively.


A powerful protective correlation also showed up for just the alpha-tocopherol, form with those consuming the most having a 53 percent lower risk of lung cancer than those with the lowest intake. Vitamin pills in Europe contain mostly synthetic alpha-tocopherol, about which there have been some concerns.


More can be found on vitamin E, click here.


Alcohol link to pancreatic cancer shown


A research study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention has found that drinking two alcoholic drinks every day can increase one’s risk of getting pancreatic cancer.


The study team at Georgetown University, Washington, DC examined the findings of 14 previous studies involving 863,000 men and women, of whom 2,187had the cancer, on the subject of alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.  The researchers concluded that people who consumed two or more alcoholic drinks per day had 22% increased risk of the disease.
Two or more drinks a day raised women’s risk by 41%, while only elevating men’s risk by 12%. However at three drinks a day, the increased risk for the most common type of pancreatic cancer, an adocarcinoma, jumped to 60 per cent. 
The effects seem more pronounced where the person was of normal weight rather than obese. There was no difference by alcohol type.


Trans-fats linked to increased colorectal cancer


In a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology a higher consumption of trans- fatty acids can increase a person’s risk of pre-cancerous colorectal abnormalities such as polyps by 86 per cent.


It used to be thought that trans-fats (the product of the hydrogenation of  vegetable oils with the result that they are more stable on a supermarket shelf, but have virtually nothing of the original vegetable remaining in them) were simply inert – good for nothing but harmless. That has since been refuted by several studies showing their dangers. Leading food health expert Walter Willett of Harvard Medical School has called trans fats the "worst single specific problem" facing health in the United States today. As a result packaging in the USA has to show trans-fat levels. MacDonald’s has been fined for failing to cease usage. We have covered the concerns before in icon. Cities such as New York and Philadelphia have banned their use in restaurants, and other major cities are due to follow. A ban on the use of trans-fats by all food outlets starts in California in 2010. Meanwhile the only thing inert about trans-fats is the British Government, who seem to say nothing.


In 2001 and 2002, researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill interviewed 622 people about their diet, lifestyle and demographic information and then gave them a full colonoscopy. The participants with the highest intake of trans-fats were 86 per cent more likely to have colorectal abnormalities than the lowest consumption group.


Trans-fats raise are also known to raise blood levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol while lowering levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.


Melanoma responds to selenium and a natural plant compound


Melanoma is one form of skin cancer that is hard to ‘cure’. Previous research in icon has linked it to higher levels of oestrogen, the female sex hormone, and melanoma can be hard to treat if it has spread to other parts of the body. It responds poorly to the current drugs on offer and there are currently no drugs that can shut down the Akt3 protein which causes the cancer to develop.


Now research published in the March edition of the journal Clinical Cancer Research suggests there is a strong alternative: A natural compound derived from vegetables, especially when combined with the micronutrient selenium, seems to deliver the anti-melanoma goods.


Penn State College of Medicine scientists have discovered that natural compounds called isothiocyanates found in cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels spouts) target this protein. The researchers went on to conclude that the isothiocyanates were even more potent when used in combination with small doses of the mineral selenium.


"Selenium deficiency is common in cancer patients, including those diagnosed with metastatic melanoma," explained lead researcher Gavin Robertson, associate professor of pharmacology, pathology and dermatology at Penn State, in a statement to the media. "Besides, selenium is known to destabilise Akt proteins in prostate cancer cells."


To study the effectiveness of the isothiocyanates-plus-selenium compound (dubbed isoselenocyanate) the scientists injected laboratory mice with 10 million cancer cells. After six days, the rodents developed large tumors. Then half were treated with the vegetable compounds and the others were treated with the same naturally occurring chemicals supplemented with selenium. When combined with selenium, the compounds resulted in a 60 percent reduction in the rate of growth of the cancerous tumors, compared to the vegetable-only compounds. The researchers also tested three different human melanoma cell lines with the two versions of the compounds and determined the selenium-enriched version was 30 to 70 percent effective in inhibiting the human cancer cells.


"We found that the selenium-enhanced compounds significantly reduced the production of Akt3 protein and shut down its signaling network," Robertson, who is associate director of translational research and leader of the experimental therapeutics program at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, said in the press statement. "We have harnessed something found in nature to target melanoma. And since we only need tiny amounts to kill the cancer cells, it means even less toxic side-effects for the patient." (http://live.psu.edu/story/37998)


You can find out about the powers of Natural Compounds in my book ‘The Rainbow Diet – and how it can help you beat cancer’


Bad science on vitamin C and chemo exposed


Many patients are routinely warned not to take antioxidant supplements when having chemotherapy for fear that somehow it will stop the drugs working. We have published detailed research before in icon that shows this is twaddle.


Now comes a study published in Cancer Research (2008; 68:8031-8038) warning that high doses of vitamin C could harm cancer patients by making chemotherapy drugs ineffective.


However a review of this research has exposed it as junk too. In a report in the March issue of the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies it explains that the anti-vitamin C study was not only flawed but didn’t actually use a form of vitamin C of any benefit to humans!


American nutrition expert Jack Challem has highlighted the basic flaws in the Cancer Research study which concluded vitamin C given to mice or cultured cells treated with common anti-cancer chemotherapy agents hampered those drugs’ anti-tumour effects. In a statement to the media, Challem pointed to two main problems with the study. First, the researchers did not use vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. Instead, they used an oxidised form of vitamin C known as dehydroascorbic acid -- a compound that is not used as a dietary supplement in people.


Worse, the high levels provided to the rodents are actually known to be toxic!  "This study and the subsequent headlines were a grievous disservice to physicians and patients with cancer," Challem said in the press statement, adding that "considerable positive research...has shown striking benefits from high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in cancer cells and animals -- and in actual human beings. The ideal therapeutic approach would be to tailor individual treatment, including IV vitamin C, from a menu of options."


We have covered High-Dose Vitamin C therapy on our web site. It is used as both an alternative and a complementary therapy by cancer patients. According to Challem, the vitamin is believed to help treat cancer by increasing the oxygen levels inside the cancer cell, thus killing it. Vitamin C can also neutralise carcinogenic aflatoxins, protect healthy cells from metastatic activity and help the healing process after surgery. Increased survival times have been noted in several research studies using the correct form of vitamin C, which should be natural where possible as the co-factors help its natural action.


Do Vegetarians live longer?


Ed:  Never say that I don’t have an open mind. Following my comments that I have seen research that shows vegetarians get less cancer, but that they also smoke less and drink less alcohol so is it the lack of meat that is having all the effect; and that Vegetarians do not seem to live longer as they still eat salt and other life limiting foods, I have been sent the following:


Vegetarians and Malnutrition Research by a team led by Professor Ibrahim Elmadfa at the University of Vienna found a much better than average intake of Vitamin C, Carotinoides, Folic acid, fiber and unsaturated fats. Where shortcomings may arise is for Vitamin B12, calcium and Vitamin D in a vegan diet. Astoundingly, however, study participants did not suffer from diseases, such as osteoporosis, typically related to inadequate intakes of these micro-nutrients.


I accept all of this – no problem. The missive to me continues...........


In a study of 1904 vegetarians over 21 years by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum), vegetarian men reduced their risk of early death by 50 per cent, women vegetarians benefit from a 30 per cent reduction in mortality.
The participants of the German Cancer Research Center study included 60 vegans (no animal products consumed), 1165 vegetarians (eating eggs, milk but no meat) with the remainder described as "moderate" vegetarians who occasionally ate fish or meat. The health of these study participants was compared with the average German population. Living longer seems not to be exclusively related to eating meat, though, as the results for moderate vegetarians was not statistically different from those for vegan or strict vegetarian diets.
Now, far be it from me to be picky, but this does not say that Vegetarians live longer, it says less men die an early death and that women benefit from a 30 per cent reduction in mortality (over what time? At what age?)


Indeed the second paragraph says clearly that ‘living longer seems not to be exclusively related to eating meat’ – all the groups lived the same. And that, I think, supports my point. Vegetarians are 80 per cent less likely to smoke. I would have thought that alone should help them live longer than the norm.


However, the research piece continues....... To the argument that it is not vegetarianism but a general interest in a healthier lifestyle which leads to such notable results, scientists reply with evidence that the majority of vegetarians do not cite health reasons for their lifestyle, but make their choice based on ethical commitment, environmental concerns or simply personal taste.
I’m sorry but this is a complete non-sequitur. They seem to be suggesting that Vegetarians do not have a healthier lifestyle. I don’t care what the reasons are for being a vegetarian, the question is, ‘Do they live longer? And, if so, what’s the biochemical reason?’ This is what cancer patients want to know as so many rush off to give up meat eating.


Surely there must be a good epidemiology study that disproves my theory that they don’t live longer simply as a result of not eating meat?


I am very happy to acknowledge that vegetarians are highly principled people. And I note that red meat causes inflammation in the body and that must increase the risk of cancer. But I am an advocate of metabolic typing – that we all have different biochemistries and that some people thrive on meat. I also deal in research evidence. And at the moment I have none.


Garlic’s anti-cancer benefits shown in more research


Garlic (Allium sativum) is anti-bacterial and anti-viral, it actively boosts the immune system and there are several large-scale research studies which show people who eat the largest volumes of garlic contract less cancers. Several studies show that it can halt cancer cell proliferation, and another important action seems to be that garlic can prevent blood vessels forming to support tumours. Onions, chives and leeks also have similar, but lesser, benefits.
Garlic is probably most talked about for its ingredient allicin, which offers the most potent medicinal benefits. At a first level, Allicin has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, being known to kill moulds and yeasts. Research has shown it can also kill carcinogenic aflatoxins Research (Soni KB 1997) has shown that garlic enhances a liver enzyme that helps to detoxify aflatoxins before they cause damage. It can be used for fungal infections such as athlete’s foot but can cause a burning sensation on your skin when chopping newly grown garlic.


Several important studies show that natural compounds in garlic can restrict the formation of blood vessels required by tumours for growth, while there are general health benefits too. Research on garlic has shown an effect in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


Scientists from the Republic of China have shown that garlic increases levels of cytokines and both defensive and attacking lymphocytes. All four cytokines were enhanced in humans given 100 mgs per kilo of weight per day.


Allicin is released when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. (Do you own a garlic crusher?) However the allicin produced denatures very quickly, and cooking (particularly in a microwave) destroys the benefits.
Garlic contains good levels of tryptophan, the precursor of seratonin, which is the precursor of melatonin.


Few people mention its selenium and germamium contents, when both are such good strengthening agents in the fight against cancer. They mop up free radicals and can also neutralise carcinogens. Germamium appears to help transport oxygen into cancer cells, thus increasing the chances of killing them. It also helps the body produce higher levels of interferon, a powerful anti-cancer force.


Several new studies have shown the benefits of other natural compounds in garlic. Particularly the sulphur containing compounds like S-ally cysteine and diallyl disulfide (DADS). One study from the Republic of Korea in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology looked at DADS. This oil-soluble sulphur-containing natural compound was shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. The Korean scientists showed that DADS can re-activate a weakened p53 gene. Normally this repairs genetic faults. But, after 24 hours, the exposure to DADS seemed to encourage the p53 gene to increase levels of free radicals in the mitochondria and shut them down.


DADS has also been shown to improve blood flow, circulation, lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, heighten ‘good’ cholesterol, while it is a strong booster of the immune system. Another sulphur containing natural compound SAMC also restricts cancer cell growth. Prostate cells exposed to the garlic chemical SAMC grow at only 25 per cent the normal rate. Garlic has been shown to inhibit cancer in all tissues including breast, liver and colon. People who eat garlic more than once per week have half the rate of colon cancer in a study of 42,000 older women in Iowa. 


Garlic has been shown to have preventative action too. One study (March 2009 Mutation Research) outlined the process whereby garlic decreases genetic mutations and reduces the number of small and large papillary lung tumors. There is research showing that doses of garlic seem to directly inhibit bladder and stomach cancer tumour growth.
Garlic contains important polysaccharides and is also an important prebiotic.


Finally, garlic also seems to have an effect in protecting the body against the side effects of radiotherapy, particularly from DNA and chromosome damage.


New, young garlic oozes its oil. Old garlic has a green shoot in the centre, is less powerful, but more smelly! Garlic oil supplements, taken with cold liquids, can offer most of the benefits of the natural raw bulb.


Organic Soya?


A recent ‘Consumer Report’ on organic soya milk in the USA has caused a bit of a stir. Notwithstanding that soya milk can be extracted using all manner of chemicals, which turned up in some of the brands under test, it then transpired that the origins of the soya were not always transparent. Some brands owned up to sourcing in China, some brands were unclear as to GM content, some couldn’t show what quality checks were made on the sources in the foreign country. Critics are milking the story for all its worth.


Synthetic Madness


Sometimes I want to cry. Here’s this month’s stupid story – no, it’s not April 1st.


Someone in their infinite wisdom at GlaxoSmithKline decided to release a synthetic version of omega 3 in 2005. You may ask why anyone would need a synthetic version. All we need to do is tell people to eat more oily fish and take fish oils and flaxseed daily. (Fish oil consumption has declined from 70,000 tonnes per annum ‘when I were a lad’, to about 12,000 now, despite research showing all manner of benefits from being an anti-inflammatory to improving the IQ of your children).


Daily fish oil consumption can also reduce cholesterol levels and high triglyceride levels. All we need to do as responsible health professionals is tell people.


But there’s money to be made. Cue Lovaza. It is a patented drug of ’Omega-3-Acid Ethyl Esters’ and is FDA approved for lowering high triglyceride levels. When doctors find you have high cholesterol or high triglyceride levels, they need to prescribe something – commonly a statin, nowadays. A synthetic version of omega 3 might just be an alternative. (Yes it does beg the question, ‘Why don’t they just tell people to take fish oils, especially when some research studies show they work just as well as statins?’ But that opens a whole can of worms about doctors’ lack of nutritional training).


At the outset Lovaza was prescribed in cases where triglyceride levels were considered ’moderately’ high, 200- 499 mg/dl and GlaxoSmithKline pulled in close to $1 billion in 2008 from the drug!


Unfortunately, like many synthetic supplements, it’s not quite as good as the real thing. Several research studies show that while Lovaza, lowers triglyceride levels, it actually raises ‘bed cholesterol’ levels by up to 20 per cent.


Please can we teach doctors about nutrition. Please will someone in authority start complimenting natural supplements and querying the new patented synthetic ones. For the record we have new ‘drugs’ on the way for vitamin D, resveratrol, indole-3-carbinol and a dozen other natural ingredients. The world’s gone mad. (www.naturalnews.com)


Bisphenol A can be harmful to primates


Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical used as an ingredient in the resins that coat cans of food or infant formula. It is also used to harden plastics and make them transparent, for example in water and baby bottles. Although there have been many studies about the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA), particularly as a hormone disrupter with mice and rats, none has to date shown genuine harm in the human body. Previous studies have also implicated it in reproductive and developmental defects, including abnormalities of the brain and prostate


Now, in a genuine first, researchers from Yale School of Medicine (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) have shown BPA to be harmful to primates: The chemical was observed to produce neurological problems in monkeys.


"Our findings suggest that exposure to low-dose BPA may have widespread effects on brain structure and function," the researchers wrote. They had used levels detailed by the FDA to be safe.


The monkeys went on to develop mood disorders and irregular brain function.


This research follows recent concerns by the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program in America which endorsed research supporting concerns over BPA’s effects on the developing brains and endocrine systems of young children. Despite this, the official American Health regulating body, the FDA, continues to classify BPA as safe, basing its ruling only on the findings of two industry-funded studies.


"Unfortunately the regulatory agency charged with protecting the public health continues to rely on industry-based research to arrive at its conclusions, rather than examining the totality of scientific evidence," said Rep. John D. Dingell, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the FDA’s treatment of the BPA issue. (Source: www.washingtonpost.com)


Bisphenol A stays in the body


A second study (from the University of Rochester and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives) concludes that Bisphenol A remains in the body significantly longer than scientists had previously believed.


While scientists have known for some time that the chemical accumulates in the body, they believed that it was water soluble and so passed out quickly through the urine. The latest study shows that this is not the case. Lead researcher, Richard Stahlhut said, “If it leaves the body quickly, then it reduces the amount of time when it can cause problems. If it does cause problems, obviously if it stays around much longer, then that changes the game," he said.


Previous research studies have found links to a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver problems. (uk.reuters.com)


BPA is perfectly safe – but we’ll remove it


Six companies have agreed to stop using BPA in baby bottles (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy) even though they have repeatedly stated that it is safe.


After being contacted by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (who asked most of the companies to stop using the controversial chemical) six are now taking action. In the USA these are Gerber, Avent America Inc, Evenflo Co. Disney First Years, Dr. Brown and Playtex Products, Inc. Another (BornFree) has been selling BPA free bottles for two years.


However, if you try to buy these BPA free bottles outside of the USA, you may be disappointed. Just as with the pesticides Lindane and DDT which were banned for use in the Western World and so the unscrupulous manufacturers simply sold them for use in third world countries, the same fate seems set to befall BPA baby bottles.


For example, baby bottle manufacturer Philips Avent, having decided to stop selling BPA bottles to U.S. consumers, has apparently continued to ship baby bottles made with BPA to other countries. I’m sure they are not the only ones, and may quickly reconsider this strategy. If they do, and let us know, we will be the first to change our web article.


Bisphenol A now turns up in canned drinks!


Health Canada (Canada’s national health regulatory agency), has discovered Bisphenol A in 96 percent of canned soft drinks. In October 2008 Canada took a worldwide lead and banned BPA from baby bottles.


The agency tested 72 drinks purchased in Ottawa stores in Spring 2007, and representing 84 per cent of all soft drinks sold in Canada. These included diet and non-diet drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, fizzy drinks etc.
In general, energy drinks had the highest levels of the chemical, although one seemed completely free of contamination.


The average soft drink contained BPA levels of approximately 0.5 parts per billion, 500 times less than the ‘safe levels’ set. However the chemical is known to be cumulative. (www.theglobeandmail.com; www.cbc.ca).


Organic Solvents increase risks of lymphoma


A study conducted by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut has revealed that women who are exposed to organic solvents while at work have a higher risk of getting non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Incidence has increased by about 3 to 4% annually since the beginning of the 70’s.


Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, with tumours appearing in the lymphocytes, defender white cells.


originates from one’s lymphatic system, the core disease-repelling system in the human body. In this condition, tumors arise from lymphocytes, which are a kind of white blood cell. In its initial stages, symptoms of the ailment may only be the presence of swollen lymph nodes in one’s neck, armpit or groin areas; these are usually painless. Symptoms include swellings in the lymph nodes (neck, armpits, groin), fever, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal swelling or pain, difficulty breathing, and very itchy skin.


The study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, had involved 601 Connecticut women who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma between 1996 and 2000. 717 healthy women without the condition were used as the control group. The women’s occupational exposure to organic solvents was analysed and compared with their cancer risk.


Organic solvents are any solvents which contain carbon. Many of these chemicals, for example formaldehyde and benzene, are established carcinogens. Others like chlorinated solvents are organic solvents which also contain chlorine. These solvents are known to be harmful to the environment and humans alike.


The study found that exposure to carbon tetrachloride increased cancer risk by an enormous 130 per cent, while exposure to formaldehyde increased the women’s risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 30 per cent and chlorinated solvents increased risk by 40 per cent. The more a person is exposed to these chemicals, the higher the risk.


Occupational risks are higher for people involved in dry cleaning or spraying pesticides.Even embalmers have increased risk. (Rong Wang et al. Occupational Exposure to Solvents and Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Connecticut Women. American Journal of Epidemiology 2009; 169(2):176-185)


Common skin care products may increase skin cancer risk


In a rather bizarre accident, researchers from Rutgers University (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, March 2009) have discovered that all skin creams seem to increase the risk of skin cancer in tests on rats – and they tried quite a few. The researchers had originally planned a study on the benefits of topically applied caffeine to see if it could reduce skin cancer risk, and were looking for a safe skin cream to act as a carrier.
When trying to ascertain first that the skin cream was safe, they continually got increased cases of squamous cell carcinoma, a slow growing and curable form of skin cancer..
The researchers could not say what ingredient was causing the heightened effect, suggesting it was possibly the mineral oil or the sodium laurel sulphate.


"We’d like to understand the mechanism," said lead researcher Conney. "What is most important is to see whether these moisturising creams are tumorigenic in people.” Unfortunately Rutgers does not have the facilities to continue the studies. (www.naturalnews.com and uk.reuters.com)


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