Cancer Watch - Issue 3 2005

Originally published in Issue 3 2005 icon

Cancer Watch eye




Latest World Cancer News

Nanotechnology To Fight Cancers

A new technique, published in Nature by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology involves combining two methods of combating cancer (poisoning the tumour whilst cutting off the blood supply) uniquely delivered by nanotechnology.

These particles are so small they can invade cells easily, and the nanocells can also be wrapped in a special coat to avoid detection by the body’s immune system.

Tests in mice with melanoma tripled their life expectancy. The tests with lung cancer did not work as well, leading the team to consider other drug combinations. Lead researcher Professor Sasisekharan says that this is just the beginning.

Ultrasound More Widely Used

Our recent reports on the use of Ablation, (the use of radio-frequencies to liquify prostate tumours), may have been specific to prostate cancer treatment in the UK but other cancers have also used it successfully. Take Professor Andy Adam at Guys and St Thomas who uses it on kidney tumours. The technique is only used when surgery cannot be, since in wonderful "catch 22" fashion, there are quite large numbers of kidney surgeries and hence data on survival rates, but little knowledge of survival for ablation. However, already some 80 per cent of kidney tumours appear to be destroyed by the technique. (Ed: the figure was much the same for prostate cancer).

Oesophageal Cancer Test

Professor Gareth Williams and Dr Kai Stoeber of UCL’s Wolfson Institute for Biomedical research have developed a test that is 85 per cent accurate at diagnosing oesophageal cancer in its early stages.

General oesophageal tests are nonspecific and the cancer is rarely caught at an early stage resulting in low levels of survival (8 per cent in the UK).

When diagnosis catches it early and chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used, claims of 80 per cent are being made for 5-year survival.

The new test takes fluid samples from the oesophagus and is claimed to be simple enough to encourage regular cancer screening.

Carboplatin Use In Testicular Cancer

Professor Tim Oliver of Barts’ Hospital has completed a large research study over the last 20 years on testicular cancer across 14 countries and concluded that one dose of carboplatin is as effective as three weeks of radiotherapy in treating testicular cancer.

Radiotherapy is known to have serious side effects with testicular cancer patients, like temporary infertility and even heart disease. Patients on carboplatin were also less lethargic and returned to work earlier.

Breast Cancer Gene Research

Scientists at Cambridge University led by Professor Carlos Caidas have pinpointed four new genes likely to be involved in the development of breast cancer. The overwhelming majority of breast cancers are apparently known to be caused by damage to genes during a woman’s lifetime.

Identifying the genes is apparently the next step. The research published in Oncogene uses ’DNA microarrays’.

Breast cancer rates now exceed 41,000 cases per year in the UK - it accounts for a third of all female cancers.

New Study On Mobile Phones And Cancer

Professor Lawrie Challis, Chairman of the Mobile Telecommunication Health Research programme committee feels more research is needed on phones and health particularly with children and cancer, which he says could take up to ten years to develop after first exposure.

Ten million pounds of government funding is being provided and the study will link into a WHO study comprising 250,000 people in Sweden, Germany, Finland and Britain. Only recently a study at the University of Western Australia concluded that mobile phones damage male fertility. Leigh Simmons the lead biologist said, "After other lifestyle factors have been accounted for, storage of mobile phones close to the testes had a significant negative impact on sperm concentration and the percentage of mobile sperm".

Cancer Therapies Can Cause Cognitive Defects

A new study comparing twins where one was a cancer survivor, shows that the survivor is likely to develop long-term cognitive defects (J Nat Cancer Inst 2005, 97, 854-56).

No one is exactly sure why, although more research is now being conducted to look for particular drug or radiotherapy links. Another possible cause could be chronic stress caused by having cancer.

Finsteride Can Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

We’ve covered this before in icon . Localised oestrogen causes prostate cancer; there are lots of studies confirming this.

Finsteride, an anti-oestrogen drug, can reduce the occurrence of prostate cancer by 24.8 per cent (Cancer, Feb 28, 2005), as it can reduce the size of the prostate and also cut localised oestrogen levels. However in some unexplained and extremely rare cases it can cause high-grade prostate cancer. This new research says benefits outweigh risks. (Ed: See our special feature on Prostate cancer drugs)

Harvard Professor Confirms Sunshine Benefits

Dr Giovannucci is a Harvard Medical School Professor keen to debunk the "sunshine is bad for you" myth. Whilst acknowledging the dangers of melanoma, in a recent speech (L.A Times June 20th 2005) Giovannucci said that staying out of the sun increases cancer deaths by 70 per 100,000 people per year.

He challenges anyone to find an area or a nutrient that has such clear and consistent anticancer benefits. (Ed: We’ve debunked this myth before with articles on Vitamin D, and the work of Professor Hollick - avoid burning but for goodness sake do not stay out of the sun. The advice of some charities is positively loony).

Protein Cause In Liver Cancer

Professor John Mayer, form Nottingham University, working in conjunction with a team from Kyoto Japan, has been studying a protein called gankyrin.

The protein seems to act in two ways. Firstly, it encourages DNA synthesis so cells can grow and divide unchecked. Secondly, it binds to an enzyme called mdm 2, which causes the p53 gene (the gene that normally repairs the cell DNA, or causes death in defective cases) to be broken down. This allows the cell to grow unchecked. Next step is to work out a structure for gankyrin and then try to make a drug to block it. Currently there are few drugs for liver cancer and no orthodox cure.

HPV Infection Depends On Your Immune System

Cancer Research scientists at the University of Birmingham have shown that some people can prevent HPV causing them cervical cancer by developing a natural immune response.

Those people who developed full cervical lesions had far less T-cell activity. The theory now is to develop vaccines to boost -cell activity (Ed: But I thought that’s what polysaccharides and vitamins did anyway. See previous reports on research into Ellagic acid).

Ovarian Cancer - New Diagnostic Tests

Yale Medical School has developed a new test, which is 95 per cent accurate and measures four key proteins - leptin, prolactin, osteopontin and insulin-like growth factor II. All are associated with ovarian cancer.

Yale found that although each protein had been previously associated with the disease, using any single one as a marker simply was not accurate enough. Lead researcher is Dr Gil Mor.

Latest Nutrition Findings

Red Meat Increases Risk Of Colorectal Cancer...

A study involving 148,610 men and women in the USA aged 50-74 and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has confirmed that the group that ate the most red meat had a thirty to forty percent increased risk of cancer of the distal colon or rectal cancer, compared with the group whose consumption was lowest.

...BUT Magnesium-Rich Foods Reduce Risk

A study from the Karolinska Institute of Sweden involving 61,000 women has shown that the higher the magnesium consumption the less the risk of colorectal cancer. (Magnesium sources include whole grains, nuts, jacket potatoes, greens, pulses and some fish).

Fruit And Vegetable Consumption And Breast Cancer Risk

In another very large study, this time with 285,526 European women and published in JAMA, researchers from the University Medical Centre in Utrecht, Netherlands looking at women aged 25 to 70 exploded the myth that lots of fruit and vegetables afforded protection for breast cancer. The risk was no different between those who ate a lot and those who ate a little.

Prostate Cancer Risk Outlined

In May 2005 the Fox Chase Cancer Centre in Philadelphia published a study on prostate cancer, calcium and dairy (3,600 men).

Men having the highest dairy consumption were 2.2 times more likely to develop cancer than those who consumed the least.

Men with the highest intake of dietary calcium were also 2.2 times more likely than the lowest consumers, to develop the disease. (Ed: We have already run articles and research studies on the link between IGF-1, found in dairy, and cancers like breast and prostate. For example, Swedish research in 2001 showed a direct line graph link between volume of dairy consumed and risk of prostate cancer)

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


Ice Cream
Chocolate biscuits
Fruit juice
Ice lollies
Fizzy drinks

Fruit juice
Ice Cream
Ice lollies
Chocolate biscuits

Is there any hope?

Trans-Fats To Disappear From US Foods

After January 1st 2006, trans-fats (actually proven to be worse for you than saturated fats) have to be declared on packaging and labels.

Various crisp, snack and fast food products plus baked, microwave and processed foods contained the fats created when vegetable oils undergo a chemical process called hydrogenation.

Currently manufacturers are rushing to add "zero trans-fats" to their labelling.

So what are we doing about this in the UK?

Chemical World

Environmental Toxins Affect Your Health Significantly

Washington State University (Science magazine) has shown that, sadly, exposure of your parents or even grandparents to environmental toxins may be currently affecting your health.

Dr Michael Skinner of Washington feels that such toxins may have even altered DNA lines. The evidence is irrefutable, he says, calling it a "chemical modification of DNA". (Ed: Dr Vyvyan Howard will be speaking on this at our Cancer Prevention Conference on November 17th - have you got your ticket yet??)

Chromosomal Damage From Plastic Coatings

Nagoya City University Medical School in Japan has been researching bisphenol A (BPA) Levels in pregnant women.

Their findings were very clear. Women with a history of miscarriages had three times as much BPA in their blood as women who’d never had a miscarriage. BPA is used to make plastic coatings on the inside of food and drink cans, and even babies’ bottles.

WWF have called for a ban on the use of BPA, which the Japanese research showed could lead to chromosomal damage.

Chemical Link To Breast Cancer

Scientists in Texas and South Carolina have found that one chemical, 4-Nonyphenol, can trigger breast cancer in mice. 4-Nonyphenol is similar to bispherol A in structure. Both are hormone disrupters. 4-Nonyphenol seems to stimulate oestrodiol production, and then binds to receptor sites on breast cells and stimulates cancer growth.

Male Breast Reduction Operations Increase

The number of men using cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of their breasts has jumped in the UK. (Ed: No, this is not April 1st)

A number of Harley Street surgeons are witnessing the same phenomenon. The cause is being centred on the increase in the level of female hormones in the environment. Hormones in fast food, in drinking water and oestrogen mimics were all named by these surgeons as possible causes.

American Groups Link Teflon To Cancer Risks

The US Environmental Protection Agency has now ruled that exposure to perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used to make Teflon non-stick coating, by Dupont, could induce human cancer risk (Dr Mercola).

Even that ruling is too weak for the EPA Scientific Advisory Board who say that it is highly carcinogenic to humans, and risk assessment studies are urgently required. (Liver, breast, pancreatic cancers plus immune system weakness are to be studied).

A Kick In The Teeth For Fluoride

Scientists at the Harvard School of Medicine have shown that boys between ages 10 and 18 have increased risk of bone cancer if they are exposed to fluoridated water before the ages of five and ten.

Apparently there is no such effect with girls. Dr Vyvyan Howard, a senior ’toxicologist’ at Liverpool University, felt the research evidence was "pretty strong".

Are you listening Mr Blair?

US Research On Ibuprofen And Breast Cancer Risk

We have covered the use of salicylin (aspirin - willow bark - aloe vera) to reduce risk of inflammation, which is often a precursor to tumours.

Unfortunately, all such anti-inflammatories (especially the synthetic ones) do not appear to have been created equal. Research at the University of Southern Carolina concludes that ibuprofen, often taken for conditions such as headaches or arthritis, may increase the risk of breast cancer. The study involved 100,000 women aged 20-85 all of whom were cancer-free in 1995, when the research began.

Further research has been recommended.

Phthalates Should Be ’Eradicated’ Says Professor

Professor Shanna Swan, at the University of Rochester has been studying how phthalates, (found in liquids from plastic bottles, like drinking water, shampoos or liquid soaps) give rise to new born boys with "less masculine" characteristics. Study leader Swann says, "we need to eradicate these chemicals," but fears it will be a slow process.

Phthalates are produced as a result of the plasticisers used to make the plastic bottles and the thickness or thinness of the plastic bottle is irrelevant. Previous work at the Athlone Institute of Technology, Ireland has shown the same effects in animals and fish, while Swedish and US research has also confirmed the negative and dangerous effects of phthalates in humans.

Scientists have long studied the effects of these gender bender hormone disrupters but little action has been taken by European governments. A spokesman for WWF has called the industry regulation in these chemical, "woefully inadequate".

A bill has now been tabled in California seeking to ban BPA and phthalates "in toys and childcare products for infants and children under three years of age".

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.

Triclosan Dangers Accented

A study by Virginia Polytechnic University showed that washing dishes by hand and using a liquid with anti-bacterial properties and the ingredient Triclosan, could cause a reaction with the chlorinated water and produce chloroform, which is easily inhaled and highly toxic.

Triclosan is in many products, from toothpastes to detergents, from deodorants to cosmetics.

Triclosan also "sticks" to the skin and is not easily washed off. Chloroform is a Trihalomethane (TTHM) and a chlorophenol. Chlorophenols have been linked to cancers and there is also extreme concern about their effect on aquatic life after they are washed down the sink.

Aspartame Doubts - This Time It’s Cancer!

A report by Italian researchers in the European Journal of Oncology (2005) shows that 8-week old rats fed a diet of aspartame at the levels most mere mortals consume produced leukaemia and lymphomas in some females and brain tumours in some rats of both sexes.

Aspartame is now in approximately 6500 products: From low-fat yoghurt to sugar-free gum; in diet cola and even some vitamins.

The European Food Safety Authority has ordered a thorough and expert assessment of the aspartame research "as a matter of high priority".

The same authority recently stated that aspartame had been considered safe.

Cancer Watch - Issue 4 2005
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