Cancer Watch August 2010

2010 Research
Just click on the title to read the article


Diabetes drug keeps sugar from driving tumours


A drug commonly used for type-2 Diabetes has been shown to block lung tumours in mice, by a team from the National Cancer Institute in the USA. Mice were exposed to cancer-forming agents for 13 weeks and divided into two halves. The half taking metformin had 50 per cent less lung cancer tumours if they took the metformin orally, but 72 per cent less if they received it by injection. 


This research followed observations that humans with type-2 diabetes on metformin had less cancers. Metformin is known to reduce blood glucose levels. There are indications that it may also block a protein called mTOR, known to drive tumour growth. Although this study was conducted for lung cancer the implications are clear for cancer in general. Further research from the University of Texas is now proposed.


(Ed: In the past six or seven years we have covered many research studies where glucose and common sugars have been shown to drive cancer. For example, in the last icon we covered research that showed glucose was the driver in certain brain tumours. We have even questioned the NHS Dietary recommendations for patients on chemotherapy their booklet encourages patients to eat sugary buns, sugary tea, milkshakes and cheese burgers amongst other cancer friendly foods! This research if repeated with cancers in general is potentially huge. Metformin is a well-tolerated drug.) 
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Avastin ’not for breast cancer’?
A Food and DRUG Administration (FDA) panel of cancer experts in the USA has voted 12-1 in favour of removing the approval for use of Avastin with breast cancer. ’Their study showed that there is very little benefit to patients with significant toxicity risks and no clear survival benefit’, said Natalie Potis, the panel patients’ representative.


Worse, the panelists also worried that the drug did more harm than good because of ’serious side effect, including high blood pressure, fatigue and abnormal levels of white blood cells.’ Dr Wyndham Wilson of the NCI added ’We have definitive evidence that Avastin causes harmful side effects and we’ve now seen a number of well done studies that show no advantage to lifespan’. 


Avastin, was heralded as the ’blockbuster, wonder drug’ when launched it is a genetically engineered protein grown from hamster ovary cells and supposedly stops nutrients feeding a cancer tumour.  Roche sales of Avastin last year were $5.9 billion; Roche acquired the drug when it bought the American company Genentech last year.


The drug is also approved for use with colon, lung, kidney and brain tumours, not just breast cancer. However, this new study does not report on these other cancers. 


In 2008 the FDA approved the drug for use based on a trial showing that it extended the time before the cancer worsened by more than five months. At the time many cancer experts said that the drug had not been shown to extend survival times.


As a condition of the approval, Roche had to submit further studies and these did not show the same degree of delay when used with chemotherapy, nor did they show any significant survival time increases.


This comes in the same month that NICE stated that Avastin wasn’t cost effective for bowel cancer patients with advanced stages of the disease, providing, on average, just 6 weeks more survival and at best a few months. A course of Avastin costs 21,000.


(Ed: There is more about this on our web site. Unfortunately it highlights a serious problem with monoclonal antibodies; namely they are not designed to work for everyone, so producing averages across the board is almost meaningless. If more monoclonal antibody drugs were like Herceptin, where there is a test to indicate the 20 per cent of women who might benefit, avoiding the wastage on the other 80 per cent, patients, doctors and health bodies could act with more confidence.)




NICE responds on drug approvals to ’factually inaccurate’ newspaper
The Chairman of NICE, Sir Michael Rawlins, has sent the following letter to Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Health; Andrew Lansley; Shadow Secretary of State for Health; Norman Lamb MP, Shadow Health Secretary; and Paul Dacre, Editor of the Daily Mail


Daily Mail: 9 April 2010


You may have read, in today’s Daily Mail, a story about a Mrs Nikki Phelps who has multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN1) and who has been denied treatment by her PCT with Sutent. I have no knowledge of Mrs Phelp’s circumstances but Sutent, for this indication, has never been referred to us for appraisal and has no Marketing Authorisation for this indication.


The Daily Mail, in the same article, also states that that NICE has delivered 15 rejections of cancer treatments in the past 18 months and provides a list. This list is factually inaccurate. The situation, for the drugs mentioned, is as follows:


Yondelis: Recommended Feb 2010


Hycamtin (lung cancer): Recommended Nov 2009


Hycamtin (recurrent cervical cancer): Recommended Oct 2009


Sutent (gastrointestinal stromal tumours): Recommended Sept 2009


Alimta (non-small cell lung cancer): Recommended Sept 2009


Erbitux (colorectal cancer): Recommended Aug 2009


Avastin (advanced renal cell cancer): Rejected Aug 2009


Nexavar (advanced renal cell cancer): Rejected Aug 2009


Sutent (advanced renal cell cancer, second line): Rejected Aug 2009


Torisel (advanced renal cell cancer): Rejected Aug 2009


Mabthera (CLL): Recommended July 2009


Erbitux (head and neck cancer): Recommended June 2008


Revlimid (myeloma): Recommended June 2009


Sutent (advanced renal cell cancer, first line): Recommended Mar 2009


Tarceva: (non-small cell lung cancer): Not appraised (no guidance)


In summary, of the 15 products allegedly rejected by NICE:


10 were recommended 


4 were rejected 


1 no appraisal has been published. 


In the case of the one product where no appraisal has been published (Tarceva), the manufacturer withdrew their application because they had very significant additional information which wished to incorporate in their submission. This resubmission is currently under review by NICE.


I hope this clarifies the position but please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need further information.


Best wishes


Professor Sir Michael Rawlins FMedSci, Chairman, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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New Drugs for old


The government has announced a 50m fund which should give very sick cancer patients access to drugs sooner.

It will mean that from October 2010, rather than next year, doctors in England can offer drugs which have not been approved by the rationing body NICE.

The announcement was made at the launch of a study showing that the UK lags in providing the newest cancer drugs. 

The fund will be financed by ditching the former government’s plan for free personal care for the old.

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New PARP drug for breast and ovarian cancers


Researchers at King’s College London have been studying a new drug Olaparib, known as a PARP inhibitor. PARP inhibitors have been developed for women who are triple negative (Oestrogen, progesterone and HER-2). In this case the study looked at women who had inherited a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Inherited genes account for about 3 per cent of breast cancer cases and 10 per cent of ovarian cancers. The genes do not actually cause cancer; one controls DNA repair, the other influence the immune response to rogue cells. Patients were given ’strong doses’ of the drug and this inhibited tumour progression resulting in ’dramatic reduction’ in tumour size according to the Lancert. 

The drug is in early stages of development and Clinical Trials are needed.

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Breast feeding especially important to ’at risk’ women


Women with a history of breast cancer in their immediate family have a 59 per cent lower risk of breast cancer if they have breastfed their babies than women who had not. This decreases their risk rate to that of a normal and not genetically ’at risk’ woman. (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Archives of Internal Medicine).


Researchers examined the health records of 60,075 nurses in the second Harvard Nurses’ Health Study in 1997. Breastfeeding history was compared with cancer risk after eight years, in June 2005.


A general benefit of reduced risk amongst mothers who breast feed was noted. But this conclusion has been found in other studies previously.


The lead researcher, Dr Alison Stuebe, said that breastfeeding may reduce cancer risk as effectively as the drug Tamoxifen, which is often prescribed to women with a family history of cancer.

(Ed:  Whilst I am sure this will be reassuring to mothers that have breast feed in the past and especially to those who are in the ’at risk genetic issue’ group, I’m not too sure what use this research is if you are 75 years old and worried about breast cancer. I think all pregnant women should be given leaflets with this sort on information. That’s the time to act and breast feed rather than pop the bottle of cows’ milk into the microwave.)



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Fish oils cut breast cancer risk (again!)


It’s that time of year again, when another major cancer centre discovers that fish oils cut cancer rates. This time it is researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. This time a study on 35,000 women found that those who regularly use fish oil supplements develop a third less breast cancers. Researchers from Harvard to Perth have shown similar results in the past. Below you will see another study from UCLA, San Francisco that showed fish oils extend the life of cells. (Ed: You can take fish oil supplements, many of which will also give you some vitamin D, every day. Or you can eat oily fish two to three times per week. But do not overdo the cod liver oil, which may result in you receiving too much vitamin A causing liver problems.) 


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Radiation risks to girls for breast cancer


Researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York (Annals of Internal Medicine) have countered previous claims that somehow girls who had chest radiation had lowered risks of breast cancer. Reviewing 12 previous studies looking at breast cancer rates in women who had suffered childhood cancers they showed the risks were in fact higher. The new cancers arose as soon as eight years later.


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Rainbow Diet may reduce breast cancer risks


New research (Trichopoulou A, Bamia C, Lagiou P, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jul 14) suggests that the Mediterranean diet (high in colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts, vegetables, seeds, olive oil and fish, with added sunshine and little meat and cows’ dairy products) may be linked to a lower risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. 

Several cancers, including colon cancer and breast cancer, are less common in Mediterranean countries compared to northern Europe. In this study 14,807 women from Greece answered questions about their diets, lifestyles and demographics and their adherence to the Mediterranean diet. The researchers then took account of other known breast cancer risk factors (for example, age, weight and smoking).

They then found that post-menopausal women who adhered best to the Rainbow Diet were 22 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than women who adhered least. This association did not appear with pre-menopausal women, indicating their breast cancers might be less diet-related. (Ed: We have recently covered research that virgin olive oil consumption reduces breast cancer risks too.)


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Rainbow Diet also helps beat stomach cancer


A study conducted by the Catalan Institute for Oncology in Barcelona reports that the Rainbow Diet reduces the risks of stomach cancer significantly (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

Dr. Carlos Gonzalez and his colleagues evaluated a European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study of over 485,000 people from ten European countries. Those people eating the Mediterranean Rainbow diet were a third less likely to develop stomach cancer than those who fell on the opposite end of the diet spectrum. 

Researchers concluded the diet was an excellent start in helping to stave off stomach cancer. (See Chris’ revised new version of ’The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer’ click here)


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Brain tumours two proteins involved


Memorial Sloan-Kettering are trying to shed light on why many brain cancers do not respond well to drugs that target epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). In the current work, published in April in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Mellinghoff’s team determined how the two proteins PTEN and EGFR interact. 

The protein EGFR is frequently over-expressed or mutated in glioblastoma, yet studies have shown that only a small percentage of glioblastoma patients (less than 10 percent) respond These drugs, erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa) are used to treat certain forms of lung cancer that also are characterised by EGFR mutations. Mellinghoff has demonstrated that PTEN plays a key role in the down-regulation (reduction) of EGFR inside cells. This means that when PTEN is lost, EGFR becomes more abundant and stable, over-produces and is harder to block with targeted drugs. The research was done in cultures of human cells and glioblastoma tumor samples.

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Sigmoidoscopy reduces bowel cancer rates
Despite Government promises about two years ago to bring in colorectal screening annually for the over 50’s nothing much has happened to date. Now new research should cause some action. 
A five minute ’flexi-scope’ examination called sigmoidoscopy has been found in Clinical Trials to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer by a third and deaths from the disease by 43 per cent.
The prevention technique looks for inflammation and the formation of polyps which can lead to a cancer. These can easily be removed if caught early.
The research involved 170,000 men over 11 years and was published in the Lancet.
The figures suggest that this test if performed annually, might prevent around 10,000 cases per year and 6,000 lives. Recent Canadian research on these tests and covered in Cancer Watch suggested however that they missed certain areas of the colon.
Currently testing focuses on the over 60’s and involves a stool test looking for signs of blood every two years. Cancer Research has dubbed sigmoidoscopy, a ’Breakthrough’.

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Prostate cancer treatments may have other side effects


The Lancet Oncology reports that men with prostate cancer, and men on orthodox prostate cancer treatments are more likely than healthy men to suffer a blood clot.


The study involved 76,000 Swedish men who were evaluated based on the number of cases of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism and arterial embolism that occurred. Participants on hormone therapy were twice as likely to suffer a pulmonary embolism and two-and-a-half times more likely to have DVT than those who did not receive the treatment.


Similar results were observed for those receiving curative prostate cancer treatments. Pulmonary embolism risk doubled as a result of the treatment while DVT risk increased by 173 percent.


Scientists cannot explain how having prostate cancer alone increases the likelihood of a patient suffering from a blood clot, but they do know that conventional treatments increase the risk even more. Some even suggest that the treatments themselves are fully responsible for causing clots. 


According to reports, up to 50 percent of all patients treated in a hospital are at risk of developing a blood clot in their legs. The clots can spread throughout the body and end up in places like the lungs where they can cause serious damage. 


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Aggressive prostate cancer and genetic mutations


BRCA1 and BRCA2 were originally thought to be breast cancer mutations contributing to the 7 per cent of women where breast cancer is hereditary. They have since been shown to be genes that control DNA reproduction, and immune response. Recent Memorial Sloan-Kettering research has shown that in about 2 per cent of cases of prostate cancer, where the cancer is aggressive and dangerous, BRCA mutations are an important factor. In these the tumours grow and spread quickly, and can be life threatening. Because clinicians lack tools to make precise predictions of a patient’s prognosis, it is often difficult to estimate from which treatment, if any, a man will benefit.

The team of Memorial Sloan-Kettering researchers, led by Kenneth Offit reports that the disease often takes an aggressive course in patients who have inherited mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2.

For two decades, the investigators collected anonymous DNA samples and clinical data from close to 900 prostate cancer patients complete with ancestry information. The researchers showed that patients who carry BRCA mutations have an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer or having their disease recur after treatment. "Strikingly, we also found that tumors were of more advanced grade in BRCA2 mutation carriers," Dr. Offit said. He and his colleagues are hopeful that the patient group will benefit from a new class of drugs called PARP inhibitors, which are being developed for treatment of BRCA-related breast and ovarian cancer


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Second string Leukaemia drug outperforms Gleevec

Patients using the second-line drug dasatanib (also known as Sprycel) as the first line of defense against chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) experience more positive results compared to patients who use the current approved initial therapy. A multinational Phase III study proved that dasatanib produced faster, better responses in 11% more of CML patients than the current first-line drug imatinib also known as Gleevec. (New England Journal of Medicine, June 17)

CML is caused by the abnormal Philadelphia chromosome, which produces the aberrant protein Bcr-Abl. This protein creates an overproduction of a type of white blood cell that feeds the cancer.

Dasatinib inhibits the action of the Bcr-Abl protein. It is currently given to patients who either cannot tolerate imatinib or whose CML resists imatinib.

The drug imatinib, is currently the first line of therapy for CML patients. It has increased the five-year survival rate for the disease from 50% to 90%.

However, after one year, only 30% to 40% of patients using imatinib achieve a state of complete cytogenetic response (CCyR), or the absence of the Philadelphia chromosome that causes the disease.

According to MD Anderson, patients who achieve CCyR within a year of treatment have a more favorable long-term survival rate.

The Phase III study involved 519 newly diagnosed CML patients who had received no prior treatment for the disease. Participants were randomly split into two groups: 259 patients received 100 milligrams of dasatinib once daily and 260 patients received 400 milligrams of imatinib once daily.

After a minimum one-year follow-up, rates of confirmed CCyR were:

77% for those taking dasatinib 

66% for those taking imatinib

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Cisplatin side-effects with Testicular cancer
Chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer is highly successful. Indeed Testicular cancer and child leukaemia are both held up as examples of cancers that modern medicine can cure.


However, as with recent findings on childhood leukaemia, side-effects in Testicular cancer patients may occur long after the treatment is over.


According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Oslo (published in BJUI) which reviewed 40 case histories of patients between 1990 and 2008, 30 per cent of patients undergoing cisplatin-based chemotherapy suffered damage to their sensory nerves, 20 per cent of testicular cancer survivors suffered hearing loss or ringing in their ears; 17 per cent suffered chronic fatigue (twice the rate of the general population); and 25 per cent suffered long-term damage to their circulatory systems. Testicular cancer survivors also have 1.8 times normal risk of developing cancer in the future.


The best way to reduce the risk of dangerous side effects, said the lead  researcher, is to maintain an active lifestyle and healthy weight, avoid tobacco, and for doctors to ’provide adequate follow-up for patients who could develop life-threatening toxicity’.

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Ovarian Cancer risk and a rising CA-125 score

CA-125 is a protein found in the blood. In the 1980s, Dr Robert Bast Jr. from MD Anderson, discovered CA-125 to be a valuable tool in detecting ovarian cancer recurrence. However, CA-125 may also become elevated for other reasons, leading to false positives in screening.

In a new study the same doctor has found that a rising CA-125 is a much more specific test, particularly when combined with ultrasound.

"CA-125 is shed by only 80% of ovarian cancers," Bast explains. "At present, we’re planning a second trial that will evaluate a panel with four blood tests including CA-125 to detect the cancers we may otherwise miss with CA-125 alone. The current strategy is not perfect, but it appears to be a promising first step."

Although these findings are not definitive, nor will they immediately alter cancer treatment, the results are encouraging.

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Oesophageal cancer rising ’sharply’, especially in men


Oesophageal cancer cases have doubled in the last 25 years according to researchers from the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. The biggest rise has been seen in men in their fifties where they have risen by two thirds. Researchers, supported by comments from a Cancer Research UK spokesperson, claimed to have little idea what lay behind the sharp rises and blamed obesity and bad diet. The situation is far worse in men. In women the overall rate has only risen 8 per cent in these last 25 years. Difficulty in swallowing is one sign of possible disease. Only recently researchers from Australia linked alcohol-based mouthwash to a higher incidence of throat cancers, saying it should be banned. Risk was especially noted if the person also smoked, or drank alcohol. 

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Omega-3 may help you live longer!


Telomeres are protective proteins that sit on cells and gradually shorten over time as your cells divide and repair themselves. This shortening process is thought to be linked to ageing. 

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, have found that omega-3 fatty acids prevent the shortening process (Journal of the American Medical Association). In a study of 608 patients across a 5 year period, those with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood experienced a slowing of the shortening of their telomeres, indicating that the fatty acids help to slow the aging process. The study did not differentiate between the specific sources of omega-3s, (whether from fish or flaxseed or from supplements). Telomeres have been likened to the plastic end caps on shoelaces that keep them from unraveling, indicating that they maintain the integrity of cells. Problems with telomeres have been linked to a number of diseases.

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Vegetables and fruit and breast cancer prevention

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help lower the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers analysed 34,000 Chinese women (age 45-74) who participated in the Singapore Chinese Health Study (SCHS).None of the participants had histories of breast cancer. 

The women were divided into two groups the dim-sum diet group (meat, starch and dim sum) and the vegetable-fruit-soy diet group (cruciferous vegetables, fruit and tofu eaters)

The vegetable group beat the dim sum group by a third in preventing breast cancer.

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Milk Thistle may help protect liver during chemo
Milk thistle is a herb that has been used for thousands of years in connection with liver problems. New studies suggest that it may help prevent toxins accumulating in the liver, through an ingredient (silbin) which stops toxins crossing cell walls. (Cancer) 
In research conducted by Columbia University Medical Centre, two groups of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) were given either Milk Thistle or a placebo during chemotherapy treatment. Normally at least two thirds of patients undergoing chemotherapy experience liver toxicity and there is currently no known treatment. However, in this study, the children taking milk thistle had significantly lower levels of liver toxicity. 

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Nuts provide unique form of vitamin E and may prevent cancer

Pistachios are known to be high in a form of vitamin E known as gamma-tocopherol. Now researchers from the University of Texas and Texas Women’ University have concluded that ’Making pistachios a regular part of your diet could reduce your risk of cancer’ (Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Houston).

Lead researcher, Ladia M. Hernandez said, "It is known that vitamin E provides a degree of protection against certain forms of cancer’ adding ’and higher intakes of gamma-tocopherol  may reduce the risk of lung cancer."


All nuts, although high in fat, contain good levels of gamma-tocopherol. Researchers split the study group into two halves and gave one group two ounces of pistachios a day. This group had much higher blood levels of gamma-tocopherol within two weeks.

(Ed: Frankly all this study showed was that eating nuts, which are higher in gamma-tocopherol, raises blood levels of the vitamin. That’s really all.The researchers then claimed there was a body of evidence already available which shows this vitamin prevents lung and other cancers.

There are two points I take out of this study. Firstly, nuts are healthy. They provide unique vitamins and good fats, but I have told you all this in my book, ’The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer’. Secondly, these expert researchers believe there is a body of evidence showing gamma-tocopherol can prevent cancer. As my regular readers will know, I have long argued that so called health experts jumble up the 4 tocopherols and the 4 tocotrienols that are cousins in the family called vitamin E. People who wish to supplement should ensure that they are taking an all natural version containing all 8 cousins. Meanwhile ’experts’ from the EU to Sloan Kettering confuse ’vitamin E’ with a single variant (alpha-tocopherol), which is usually synthetic and can be bought on the high street. Then they claim that it doesn’t work very well. I think it is time we called the cousins by 8 different names. The EU resolutely refuses to approve seven of them for general sale yet here are expert scientists, yet again, saying one prevents cancer.)


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Indole3Carbinol action against breast cancer


Researchers at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, at Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and the Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) have shown that Indole 3 carbinol (I3C) typically in broccoli but also found in Brussels sprouts and some other cruciferous vegetables, blocks the growth of cancer cells in animals (Cancer Prevention Research, June 29th)


The research showed I3C can cause the destruction of the Cdc25A molecule that controls the rapid division of cells. Cdc25A occurs at abnormally high levels in cancers of the breast, prostate, liver, oesophagael, colorectal and womb cancers and in non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I3C caused breast cancer cell growth to halt in the tests.


’Cdc25A is present at abnormally high levels in about half of breast cancer cases, and it is associated with a poor prognosis’, according to Xianghong Zou, assistant professor of pathology at the Ohio State University Medical Center. Drugs previously developed proved too toxic. However, I3C was non-toxic and effective in tests with mice. Tumour size declined 65 per cent. Supplements of the natural compound were taken orally.


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Phenols from plums and peaches kill breast cancer cells


Two natural phenol compounds, common in colourful fruits, particularly those with stones like plums and peaches, have been shown to stop breast cancer cell growth. The two groups of phenols (called chlorogenic and neochlorogenic compounds) were shown to do this in research (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry) by AgriLife food scientists Dr. Byrne and Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos. 


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Frankincense a selective cancer cell killer?


According to a BBC report, Frankincense, a sap derived from the tree Boswellia Sacra and sold in the Dhofar region of Oman for nearly 10,000 years, contains an ingredient that separates the nucleus of a cancer cell from its surrounding cytoplasm. In effect, this stops the cancer cell reproducing and dividing. The Frankincense has been shown to have absolutely no effect on a healthy cell.  

Scientists are currently analysing the compound to discover exactly which ingredient is responsible for this action. 


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Ditch the bacon sarnie, guys


Researchers from the World Cancer Research Fund have found that men in the UK consume roughly 50 gms of processed meats per day; while women consume just 24 gms. 

The report identified such meats as bacon, sausages, ham and salami, and linked consuming just 50 gms to an increased risk of Colorectal cancer of 20 per cent. The report went on to mirror the CANCERactive study a few years ago finding that only 63 per cent of people know that poor diet can increase the risk of cancer, while only 60 per cent knew that being overweight had that risk. Few knew about the risks of processed foods.

Rachel Thompson of WCRF said. "If you do not want to give up processed meat altogether, you can still make a real difference to your cancer risk by cutting down from, for example, having a bacon sandwich every day to only having one a couple of times a week." She obviously doesn’t play golf!


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Niacin outperforms heart drug

Cholesterol beating drugs are all the rage. Statins are routinely dished out to reduce heart attack risk blah, blah. There have even been claims that statins reduce lung cancer risk subsequently shown to be false. Now, with more than a hint of embarrassment, Clinical Trials have been halted in the USA because an anti-cholesterol drug, was outperformed by a B vitamin, niacin. 

The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that niacin out-performed Merck’s drug Zetia for preventing the build-up of arterial plaque, a symptom of cardiovascular disease. Patients taking niacin showed a "significant shrinkage" in artery wall thickness, while those on Zetia showed no such improvement. The rate of ’cardiovascular events’ (that’s heart attacks to you and me) in the niacin group was only one-fifth that in the Zetia group. 

Leave the drugs behind; eat whole grains.


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Vitamin D boosts your immune defences


Researchers (Nature Immunology) from the University of Copenhagen have found evidence on the crucial role vitamin D plays in enhancing your immune system. Apparently, when a T-lymphocyte cell meets with a toxin or pathogen in your blood stream it extends a receptor in search of a vitamin D.molecule. This combination ’activates’ the T-cell to do its protective job.

The researchers also showed the difference between an ’active’ and ’inactive’ T-lymphocyte.

(Ed: For six years we have been telling regular readers just how important vitamin D is in the fight against cancer. Happily, according to the well known medical journal, the Daily Mail, it seems Cancer Research UK are about to change their stance to our way of thinking. Sunshine - essential in providing vitamin D is sensational; burning is bad )


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Selenium offers lung cancer patients nothing

According to a new research study from MD Anderson Cancer Center, lung cancer patients taking selenium daily to prevent recurrence or second primary malignancy of the disease likely will not benefit from taking the mineral supplement.

Results from a 10-year international Phase III clinical trial showed that patients who took selenium showed no signs of preventing the development or recurrence of lung cancer compared to patients who took a placebo. Rather, those who took the placebo had statistically better results.

Daniel Karp, M.D., professor in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology at MD Anderson, presented these findings in June at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.


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Dash it; someone is copying the Rainbow Diet


A ’New Diet’ involving a high intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, poultry fish and nuts combined with relatively low fat dairy products, and less sugar and red meat would help decrease the levels of cholesterol in the body according to Dr Marilyn Granville, a nutritionist.  ’People should try as many different colours as possible; they need to eat a rainbow’. Apparently, sugar enters the blood stream quickly causing high blood glucose and cholesterol, and this causes a problem when it oxidizes. High intakes of fruit and vegetables prevent this oxidation.

The ’New Diet’ has been called the Dash Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and follows research in the American Heart Journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, which showed that eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables reduced the risk of suffering heart disease by 18 per cent, and a reduction in LDL, or bad cholesterol, by 8 per cent. (Source: The Independent, Sept 2010)

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Yet again, BPA shown to cause genetic damage

Men with the highest levels of the chemical Bisphenol A in their blood streams had sperm counts more than a fifth below those with low levels. One in 10 seemed to have some evidence of DNA damage. This time the findings came from the University of Michigan. 

Over 90 per cent of adults have detectable levels and Canada, Denmark have banned the chemical, whilst states like California have brought in partial bans.

Over 2 million tons are produced each year. It is used as a plasticiser and is found in the white linings of cans, babies bottles, plastic cups and utensils, and even in  children dummies and toys. Earlier this year it was inexplicably found in 15 out of 16 soft drinks analysed by Canadian researchers.

No action has been taken in the UK, though you can buy BPA-free babies bottles now.

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Are nurses falling ill from cancer drugs?

The Seattle Times reports the following: "A just-completed study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) -- 10 years in the making and the largest to date -- confirms that chemo continues to contaminate the work spaces where it’s used and in some cases is still being found in the urine of those who handle it."


The article also covers people, from nurses to pharmacists, dead or dying from chemotherapy exposure: One was Sue Crump, a veteran pharmacist for more than 20 years dispensing chemotherapy drugs. Sue died of pancreatic cancer, and one of her dying wishes was that the truth would be told about how her on-the-job exposure to chemotherapy chemicals contributed to her own cancer. But the crux of the article is a 2009 Danish study which followed 92,000 oncology nurses and found an elevated risk for breast, thyroid, nervous-system and brain cancers

This followed an extended epidemiology study in Denmark which used  cancer-registry data from the 1940s until the late 1980s and first showed a significantly increased risk of leukaemia among oncology nurses and even doctors.. 


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Talcum powder linked to increased risk of womb cancer


Scientists from Harvard Medical School have been analysing data from the 130,000 person Boston Nurses Study and found that the use of talcum powder in the genital area just once per week is linked to a 24 per cent increased risk of endometrial (womb) cancer later in life. (Cancer Epidemology, Biomarkers and Prevention)


Previous research has linked such use to a 41 per cent increased risk of ovarian cancer (Ed: Please note all those of you who think such cancer is all caused by HPV and prevented by vaccines!)


Talcum powder (magnesium silicate) is the cousin of asbestos and particles applied to female (or even male) genital regions have been found to penetrate the female reproductive system. Some brands even have an on-pack warning against using the Talc near a baby’s nose or mouth.


(Ed: As with asbestos in the lungs, the particles of talcum powder can last in the body for decades. Other known risk factors for endometrial cancer include being overweight, smoking and the drug Tamoxifen.)


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Smoking linked to lower IQ


Researchers from the University of Tel Aviv have studied 20,000 men between the ages of 18 and 21 in the Israeli Army and shown that the smokers tend to have lower IQs. Roughly a third of the sample smoked. 

While normal IQs fall in the range of 84 to 116, the smokers had an IQ of 94, compared to the average of the non-smokers at 101. 

It is not known whether smoking diminishes your IQ, or whether people with a lower IQ smoke.



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Corruption endemic in medicine chain, according to WHO


’Corruption in the pharmaceutical sector occurs throughout all stages of the medicine chain, from research and development to dispensing and promotion’. 


’A lack of transparency and accountability within the medicines chain can also contribute to unethical practices and corruption’.


Unethical practices such as bribery, falsification of evidence, and mismanagement of conflicts of interest are ’common throughout the medicine chain.’ 


These statements are all contained in a fact sheet from the World Health Organisation. The medicine chain refers to each step involved in getting drugs into the hands of patients, including drug creation, regulation, management and consumption. The report suggests a number of other concerns, for example: Clinical trials may be conducted without proper regulatory approval, royalties may be collected through manipulation or disregard of the patent system, corruption can also occur during the drug inspection process, products may be registered with incorrect or insufficient information and drugs may be produced through substandard or counterfeit methods. (; )

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Herbal essences, California and dioxane


A press conference hosted by the Green Patriot Working Group (GPWG) has announced that Procter and Gamble (P&G) will reformulate eighteen different Herbal Essences products to meet the guidelines established by California’s Proposition 65, which requires that consumer products contain no more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of 1,4-dioxane.


David Steinman, head of GPWG, together with the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), an 850,000-member watchdog group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Clean Water Action California, announced the agreement after threatening to file against P&G. 


1,4-dioxane is a highly toxic petrochemical carcinogen caused by a process called ethoxylation. As such it is not an ingredient and so is not mentioned on pack. According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, 1,4-dioxane is known to cause cancer and may cause kidney, respiratory, and neurological toxicity. 


During the press conference, Steinman explained that his organisation targeted the Herbal Essences line of products particularly because it is marketed as ’natural and organic’ but this was in conflict with the finding that Herbal Essences products actually contained more than twice the levels of dioxanes of other brands in California. (


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HRT the first breast cancer court claims


In America one HRT drug, called Prempro, has been the subject of a several lawsuits. In one case the current makers, Pfizer Inc, have been found guilty by a Philadelphia Court of deliberately ignoring evidence that the drug increased women’s risk of breast cancer, ordering it to pay unspecified damages to former user Connie Barton.


We covered the American Women’s Health Initiative study and the UK Million Women Study in icon, and we have repeatedly warned women of the dangers of HRT found there and in other studies.

Studies indicate that women taking HRT have a higher risk of cancer, along with a higher incidence of heart problems. As with early cases against cigarette companies, this action was about the suppression of research indicating dangers, and a lack of warning to the public.


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Triclosan may disrupt your hormones and grow ’superbugs’!

Triclosan was originally produced for use as a surgical scrub to kill bugs in hospitals. Now it can be found in a host of everyday toiletry products. Concern is growing after a number of new research studies have shown that Triclosan could well be a hormone disrupting chemical and may even lead to the growth of drug resistant ’superbugs’.

Triclosan is an antifungal and antibacterial germ killer. However research has shown it may disrupt thyroid function. It is also known to form highly dangerous chemicals called dioxins when in the presence of water and that’s not too clever for a chemical found in toothpastes, soaps, detergents and  even some children’s toys.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that traces of triclosan can be found in the urine of about 75 percent of the population.

All the more worry, for a chemical that may not even deliver: A 2005 advisory panel to the FDA agreed, stated that there is no evidence that antibacterial soaps with triclosan work any better than plain soap and water.


Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts has been urging federal regulators to re-evaluate the safety of triclosan in consumer products and bodies such as the US Natural Resources Defense Council want to see it restricted. The FDA are now involved and there are fears that the Thyroid interference may even be the result of genetic change. (Source: Natural News)


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GM crops cause internal damage to animals


A legal challenge issued against Monsanto recently forced the multi-national agriculture giant to release raw data on animals fed its patented GM corn.

Using that data, in the International Journal of Microbiology, Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, an independent French researcher from the University of Caen, concluded that chronic negative effects were apparent in animals fed GM foods from Mosanto and that there were "statistically significant" indications of kidney and liver damage.All this after just three months consumption.


Dr. Seralini warned that there was no telling what the long-term effects of consumption will be on people, as GM foods are essentially new ’foreign’ foods to us all. What is most worrying is that across a number of different animals the effects are quick to occur!


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