Icon Volume 5

AN IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR READERS:  As you can imagine, we receive a large number of press releases about new drugs.  Invariably these state that drug X ‘increases survival’.  We are concerned that this phrase misleads and creates an over-expectation in many of our readers, being viewed as implying somehow a ‘cure’ or a success in surviving at least five years when neither is, in fact, true.  Our policy from now on is to refer to ‘an increase in life expectancy’ and, where provided, to state the actual increases from the research.  We believe this is in the best interests of our readers who are almost always patients. It reduces the often-criticised elements of euphoria and over-claim whilst reporting accurately on new and improved developments.














New breast cancer risk gene discovered


A new gene, dubbed BRIP 1 has been discovered by scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research, amongst patients with a family history yet lacking BRCA1 and BRCA2 faults.


Carrying a faulty BRIP 1 gene doubles risk.


Scientists feel that up to 25 per cent of familial breast cancer cases may be due to inherited genetic faults.


(Ed: Please be clear.  Only 0.1 per cent of the UK population carries a damaged BRIP 1 gene.  Overall inherited risk of breast cancer is statistically about 6-7 per cent.  However, with a faulty gene, the statistical likelihood of developing cancer has increased over the last 30 or more years from about 40 per cent to about 70 per cent, probably due to environmental and lifestyle factors.  In other words you can cut your risks, even if you have a faulty gene, by paying attention to a variety of factors from diet, to lifestyle, to toxins, environmental pollution, EMF’s and so on).


Breast cancer prevention – or another drug trial?


A press release from CRUK headed ‘Breast Cancer Prevention Trial’ increased our excitement.  But then we found it was a drug trial.  CRUK want more women to participate in a trial using anastrazole, to see if it prevents breast cancer in ‘at risk’ women.  If you are between 40 and 70 years of age, you qualify, but we think they mean prevention of the cancer returning once you have had surgery for DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ)


Delays in breast reconstruction suggested.


Analysis of 110 women at the MD Anderson Center in Texas, all of whom had breast reconstruction immediately as part of their breast cancer operation, shows that subsequent radiotherapy delivery is compromised and coverage was reduced from 100 per cent to only 79 per cent.


However, although these patients received less radiotherapy than was planned, the study provided no results or conclusions on overall survival and whether that was compromised.


The death of Mammography?


A new book, The Death of Mammography (Jackson and Righi, Caveat Press) has emerged in the US.  A number of reviews have praised its readability and content.  The key thrust is that, whilst mammography remains the best available diagnostic method for determining breast cancer, too much litigation, over-promotion and high insurance premiums are all working against it.  Errors in readings and consequent medical litigation are ever increasing in the USA.  As a result, insurance premiums have jumped.  The authors fear such concerns will arrive in Europe shortly.  (Ed: The European Breast Cancer Symposium 2004 concluded that mammography was accurate in only 59 per cent of cases where women had dense breast tissue.  Thermography  – although usually at a cost to the individual of about £100 – is almost 100 per cent accurate).


Cyber patients, queue here


A team from Nottingham University, working with the Institute for Medical Biomathematics in Israel, have studied 33 patients with advanced breast cancer.  As a result, they have developed a ‘virtual cancer patient’ and can predict the outcome of drug treatment with a 70 per cent accuracy.  The scientists state that technology like this could help doctors ‘tailor treatment more accurately’.  There are no plans to incorporate factors such as exercise, complementary therapies or supplements in the model.


Finasteride and Prostate Cancer


As we have reported in these columns before, research from Monash and Concorde in Australia, Singapore and Japan and then from the University of Texas has all shown that, to develop prostate cancer, a male must have both testosterone and oestrogen present (oestradiol).  The oestrogen converts ‘safe’ testosterone into ‘dangerous’ DHT and it is the latter that ‘causes’ the cancer development.


Several studies in the past have shown that anti-oestrogen drugs such as Finasteride could play a significant role by reducing the aggressive oestrogen.  However, in a 2003 trial there was a report, again covered in icon, that in some cases the use of Finasteride sparked a very aggressive form of the cancer, despite the positive results in the majority of cases.


Now come clearer results from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 2006 98: 1128-33); a much larger study.


Both Dr. Ian Thompson of University of Texas and Dr. Jeffrey Holzbeierlein (University of Kansas) have noted that Finasteride seems to have a double action: Lowering the PSA levels in males where oestrogen has resulted in an enlarged (but not malignant) prostate, and increasing PSA levels where malignancy is present.  This serves to make detection far easier.


Finasteride may affect sexual dysfunction.  (Ed: Quite where this takes us in practice is unclear).


Lung cancer drug improves life expectancy


A new drug (AS1404), originally developed by a company in New Zealand, has been taken into phase II Clinical Trials by Cancer Research UK and results have already proved promising.  In a small-scale study, patients with non-small cell lung cancer showed improved life expectancy.  Those patients treated with AS1404 on top of standard chemotherapy showed an increase in life expectancy from 8.8 months to 14 months on average.  CRUK now plans a larger phase III trial. AS1404 is a world leader among a new class of drugs called Vascular Disrupting Agents (VDAs).  These work by selectively destroying established tumour blood vessels.  AS1404 reportedly can distinguish between a normal healthy blood supply and that of a tumour.  The drug has also received positive results in phase II trials for ovarian and prostate cancers.


Increases in Canadian lung cancer despite lowered smoking.


A new report, based around observations by leading experts at Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, shows rises in lung cancer in non-smokers who have never smoked and do not even frequent smoky places.  Initially, Doctors were puzzled – the figures seems to be around 65 out of 437 Canadians diagnosed on average every week.


“Many of these people are young and female”, said Dr. Natasha Leighl. In California they believe the number of people with lung cancer who have never smoked may now be as high as 30 per cent”.


Specific reasons are thought to include radon or even asbestos exposure.  But it looks increasingly likely that a combination of hormone changes (natural and chemical) plus a host of airborne chemical pollutants may be the real reason for the increases.


(Ed: The study also confirmed, as we have told you before, that women are more susceptible to these other influences than men.  Lung cancer is a bigger cause of death in women in Canada than breast cancer)


Erlotinib improves quality of life for lung cancer patients.


Patients – especially those with non-small-cell lung cancer – report improvements in overall symptoms like shortness of breath, pain and coughing when using Erlotinib for advanced lung cancer (J. Clin Oncol 2006 24: 3831-5).


The drug inhibits tyrosine-kinese epidermal-growth-factor-receptors and improves one year survival rates.  Quality of life data was extracted from the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) research questionnaire.


The drug is now routine in advanced cases of NSCLC says Dr. David Ettinger of John Hopkins, Baltimore.


Drug to reduce polyps and prevent CRC


Scientists from Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute have found
that a new drug, called AZD2171, can reduce the number and size of pre-cancerous growths, or polyps, in the bowels of mice. These can progress to bowel cancer if left untreated. (Goodlad et al. Carcinogenesis, October 2006; 27: 2133 – 2139)


The researchers gave the drug to mice genetically pre-disposed to developing pre-cancerous polyps in the bowel.  All of the mice were treated with the drug for a period of 28 days.  Half of the mice began receiving the drug at 6 weeks old, and the other half at 10 weeks – to examine the effects of early or late treatment.


The drug AZD2171 interferes with a molecule called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which acts as the signal telling cells to grow new blood vessels. In order for polyps to grow and progress into cancer, they need to grow their own blood vessels – a process called angiogenesis.  By disrupting the VEGF signalling, the drug can stop blood vessel formation and therefore restrict tumour growth.


Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers – around 35,000 people in
the UK are diagnosed with the disease each year.  Most bowel cancers develop from pre-cancerous polyps that grow on the bowel wall.  These polyps are fairly
common and it is estimated that around 40 per cent of people over the age of
50 have them.  However, only between 5 and 10 per cent of these polyps will
go on to develop into cancer. (Ed:  Aspirin, Ginger, Aloe Vera, Garlic, Fish oils/Omega 3 are amongst a number of natural compounds which also have been shown to ‘restrict’ polyp growth)


Bowel cancer trial minimises recurrence


The Medical Research Council has conducted a trial using data from 1,350 patients around the world.


Traditionally, surgical removal of cancer found in the lower 15cms of the bowel (the rectum) has been the recommended treatment.


However, re-growth is possible and, where this happens, the majority of patients are incurable.


The MRC trial used either pre-operative or post-operative radiotherapy.


The pre-op group had only five per cent recurrence levels, and a 75 per cent 5-year survival.  The post-op group recorded figures of 17 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.


(Ed: There are a number of complementary therapies – for example the use of certain supplements and probiotics – that may provide additional benefits.  All have been covered in icon)


Ovarian Cancer Survival – little to do with orthodox treatment?


Younger women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a greater chance of surviving the disease for five years or more, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer. (Chan et al: British Journal of Cancer Vol 95 Issue 10).


Researchers at Stanford University, California looked at the records of more than 28,000 American women diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer between 1988 and 2001. They found that women diagnosed under the age of 60 were more likely to survive for at least five years than women over 60. Women diagnosed under 30 generally had even better survival rates, although the disease is rare in this age group.


The researchers admitted that ovarian cancer can be difficult to treat unless it is detected early, and the disease is very hard to detect. Worse, while treatment for the disease has advanced over the last 20 years, long term survival rates have shown only moderate improvement in that time.


The study also found there was no significant difference in survival for women aged between 16 and 40 – i.e. of childbearing age – treated with uterine-sparing surgery and for those who underwent standard surgery, which includes removing the womb and therefore leaves the patient unable to have children. (CRUK)


Topotecan – no extra benefit in ovarian cancer


The Journal Nat. Clin Inst 2006 988 1036-45 carries research results of a randomised phase II trial where topotecan was used in addition to carborplatin and paclitaxel. 


No improvement in overall response, or progression-free or overall survival was noted.  Median progression-free survival changed from 18.5 to 18.2 months, but overall survival was reduced from 44.5 months to 43.1 months.  (University Hospital, Mannheim, Germany).


Beth Kaplan of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles feels that this merely shows topotecan, whilst not being a ‘cure’ (sic) for women with advanced stages of ovarian, is still a good agent for recurrent ovarian cancer.  She suggests that researchers might now consider more targeted treatments such as angiogenesis inhibitors or tyrosine-kinase inhibitors.


Cervical screening and vinegar


We have covered the effectiveness (and cheapness) of gool ol’ acetic acid with cervical cancer before in these pages.  It was interesting to see it covered by the Lancet Oncology Vol 7, Issue 8, page 627.  Using acetic acid allows simple visual screening and is almost 100 per cent accurate.  In a trial across 142,701 women in India of whom 72-74 per cent were screened, various groups reported between 7 per cent and 14 per cent detection of cervical cancer and HPV.


Is chemotherapy an advantage for advanced cervical cancer?


The same issue of Lancet Oncology (Vol. 7, Issue 8, p. 607) reports that Slobodan Cikaric and co-workers from Serbia and Montenegro have found no benefit from the addition of chemotherapy to radiotherapy in the treatment of advanced cervical cancer.  Across 184 patients, the radiotherapy group had a 4-year survival of 63 per cent.  Adding chemo pushed this up to 66 per cent, a non-significant increase.  However, side effects were greatly increased.  Relapse rates were identical


Mab Thera increases Non-Hodgkins lymphoma life expectancy


Mab Thera (rituximab), launched on 26th September 2006, has been shown in an EORTC study to increase survival times for patients on a maintenance therapy from 14.9 months to a median of 51.5 months.


NICE has approved the treatment as a first line option in combination with CVP chemotherapy.  Mab Thera is reportedly well tolerated and “does not cause the unpleasant side effects associated with chemotherapy, such as nausea and hair loss”.  (www.bloodjournal.org July 2006, Van Oers et al)


High child cancer cure expectations lead to suicides later.


A study in J. Clin. Oncol 2006 24: 3852-57 shows that survivors of childhood cancers have higher rates of suicide than the norm.  The Dana Farber Cancer Centre Boston have analysed the situation and say, “Cancer differs from most chronic illnesses because there is an expectation that you’ll be cured.  Then you realise that it’s not gone and that there are real and serious physical problems left over from both the disease and the treatment”.


The study took place 15 years after diagnosis and involved 226 survivors of childhood cancer.  Important factors linked to suicidal concerns were cranial radiotherapy, leukaemia diagnosis, depression, pain and physical appearance.


This is the first study to state such concerns and it has been criticised in America.


Cambridge scientists help clarify DNA replication.


A team of scientists at Cambridge have been studying ‘junk RNA’ molecules.  Hitherto, DNA was known to send its messages out from the nucleus via perfect copies as RNA.  But some pieces of RNA seemed to be not connected to this process.  Now some of these pieces have been found to be crucial to the actual replication process.


“Surprisingly, despite decades of intense research around the world, the full list of molecules involved in DNA replication remains incomplete”, says team leader Dr. Torsten Krude.  The ‘junk RNA’ seems to react with certain proteins to control the DNA replication.


Red Meat may increase risk of Breast Cancer


Researchers at Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston studying women who were part of the Nurses Health Study II from 1989 to 2003, have concluded that those consuming one and a half helpings of red meat per day had twice the hormone receptor-positive breast cancer risk of those consuming only 3 helpings per week.


The possible causes included hormones used in US cattle (not permitted in UK meat), heterocyclic amine carcinogens produced by the cooking process, IGF-1 and even haem-iron a known link to hormone induced cancer. 90,000 women featured in the study, which is recorded in the Archives of Internal Medicine.


Greens keep cancer at bay.


So said another press release into our offices, as if we didn’t know already.  This time, scientists from Leicester University studied the impact of Indole 3 Carbinol  on four different types of breast cancer cells.  It altered receptors in three of them.


Scientists then concluded that this could make the receptors ‘more vulnerable to anti-cancer drugs which target those receptors’.


(Ed: We suggest scientists start using our website where, under ‘nutritionals’ they will find chapter and verse, complete with scientific references, on the benefits of greens – all this may then come as less of a surprise to them in future. For more information they can see also ‘It’s only Natural’ in this very issue).


Children, second hand smoke and Bladder cancer


Children and adolescents may be even more susceptible to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke than adults, according to new research into bladder cancer published in the International Journal of Cancer 2006; 119(10): pp 2412-2416.


Results from the study, part-funded by Cancer Research UK, suggest that exposure to second hand smoke at a young age increases the risk of bladder cancer in later life. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting men and the tenth most common affecting women in the UK. Over 10,000 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year.


The research team looked at data from nearly 430,000 people** and found that exposure to second hand smoke during childhood was associated with an almost 40 per cent increased risk of bladder cancer in later life compared to no exposure.


They also found that for every five years later in life that people started smoking, their risk of developing bladder cancer was reduced by 19 per cent.  This suggests that the younger a person is when they take up smoking, the greater their risk of the disease.


The team also found that for smokers, who were overall four times more likely to develop bladder cancer, both the intensity and duration of smoking affected their risk.  Every five cigarettes a day increased risk by 18 per cent and every five years of smoking increased risk by 14 per cent


Vitamin D cuts pancreatic cancer risk


Science Daily (September 12, 2006) and Dr. Mercola both report on a study which examines data from two large scale research projects.  One project reviewed 45,000 men aged 40-75; the other, 75,000 women aged 38-65, in the USA.


The study concluded that people taking 400 IU’s of Vitamin D  every day can reduce their risk by 86 per cent.  (Ed: Pancreatic cancer is apparently the fourth largest cause of cancer deaths in the USA.  There is no known cure, although the work of Gonzalez in New York offers treatment hope over orthodox medicine in FDA monitored clinical trials, using his nutrition and supplements therapy).


Trans Fats – UK lags behind USA in bans.


The New York Times (Oct 10th 2006) covers the proposed bans in Chicago and New York restaurants from using Trans Fats. Trans fats are known to increase harmful LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol whilst decreasing helpful HDL ‘good’ cholesterol. Both are implicated in a variety of health conditions from heart disease to diabetes to cancer. Readers will remember the previous article that McDonalds had agreed to pay several million dollars because it had not removed Trans fats from its food as promised. The bans would remove McDonalds from Chicago and New York.


The U.S. National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine has stated that the optimal intake of trans fats is zero. Trans fats levels have to be listed on US products by law since January 2006. They have been banned in Denmark, and Canada may soon do so as well. (Ed: So where is the UK Government in all this? At the moment it is being left to individual companies. KFC has just announced they are kicking the oil out of their food)


Brown seaweed may fight the flab.


According to the BBC (September 11th 2006), brown seaweed (used as a flavouring for a number of Asian dishes) contains fucoxanthin, the pigment that provides the brown colour.  In tests with 200 mice and rats it was shown to fight the fat in two ways.  Firstly, it stimulated a protein, UCPI, which causes fat oxidation; secondly, it causes the liver to produce DHA, a version of Omega 3  that cuts bad cholesterol (LDL).


The seaweed is used to flavour dishes like Miso soup.  The pigment is tightly bound and, as yet, no one has produced a natural extract.


Americans find organic food harder to come by.


We previously reported the relaxation to the US Government ‘rules’ on what constitutes organic.  Now come reports that it is becoming harder to find untainted foods in the USA.  There simply are not enough organic cows or non-GM foods to feed them.  So some organic companies are forsaking the fields and keeping their cows in ‘industrial-scale feed lots’.


Another interesting development is the argument that, because organic produce requires more farm land, it comes as a cost to the environment.  (Ed: What will the critics think of next?)




Sir Richard Peto causes a storm in a B-cup.


In an article in the Independent Newspaper, Sir Richard Peto (Professor of Medical Statistics & Epidemiology at the University of Oxford) dismissed the environment risk to breast cancer as ‘rubbish’.  The letters page was flooded for days.


Most letters received commented in the same way:


· That the UK Government has remained focused on lifestyle – and that this strategy has resulted in a doubling of cancer in 30 years;
· That we are surrounded by thousands of chemicals, some of which mimic oestrogen in the body;
· That two reviews – by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and by the University of Liverpool – have looked at a wealth of research studies and pointed to links between chemicals and cancer;
· That Governments in Sweden, Denmark and Japan have all warned on, or banned, chemicals currently permitted in our daily lives in the UK, whilst those in Ontario and California are bringing in quite widespread legislation against such chemicals.


(Ed: Of course, it could all be rubbish, but somehow we doubt it!)


Nitrate, nitrite and bacterial cancer links to stomach, oesophageal and brain cancers


Scientists from 19 countries, at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon (IARC) have concluded that high nitrite levels (especially in conjunction with low vitamin C levels) are linked to carcinogenicity.  Links with stomach cancer, oesophageal cancer and brain tumours were especially noted.


The working group were especially concerned with the run-off of fertilisers into surface and well water.  Nitrites and nitrates may have a direct cancer effect or promote the by-products of cyanobacteria in the soil and water.  By-products such as microcystins and nodularins are cyclic peptides and are toxins produced when the bacteria die.  These toxins accumulate in fish and shellfish, for example.  Significant evidence linking these toxins to liver cancer was found.


Lead in the workplace link to brain tumours.


Lead is known to be capable of crossing the blood brain barrier and also seems to aid carcinogenesis.  Previous research with rats fed lead indicates increased rates of brain cancer; one mechanism seems to be that lead can inhibit accurate DNA synthesis.


Now researchers from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York, using a census sample of 317,963 people, have concluded that those with regular lead exposure in the workplace are 50 per cent more likely to die from brain tumours than those not exposed.  (Int. J. Cancer 2006; 119: 1136-44).  Painters and motor mechanics were found to be at highest risk.


Living near mobile phone base stations – research worries.


In Neurotoxicology (18th July 2006) research from the Faculty of Medicine, Menoufiya University, Egypt (G. Abdel-Rassoul et al) studied the concerns of possible hazardous effects of exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RFR) emitted from mobile phone base stations, on the human nervous system.  A group of people were chosen living near Egypt’s first mobile phone base station, and compared with a control group under no such influences.


The prevalence of neuropsychiatric complaints were significantly higher amongst the exposed group (headache 23.5%, memory changes 28.2%, dizziness 18.8%, tremors 9.4%, depressive symptoms 21.7% and sleep disturbance 23.5%).  In problem solving tests, visuomotor speed tests, attention tests and short-term auditory tests, the local residents all performed significantly worse than the members of the control group, despite the phone base station RFR measures being well within guidelines.


So you think your air indoors is clean!


According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air on average.


The EPA states that 1500 hazardous substances are found in the average US home.  Typically these include airborne pollutants from cleaning and personal care products, second hand smoke, radon, formaldehyde from pressed wood products, biological agents such as fungi, mites and bacteria, and nitrogen oxide from gas appliances.  The EPA also states that many homes have airborne pollutant levels 25 to 100 times that of the air outside the home and that ‘airborne pollutants from cleaning and personal care products used in the home are three times more likely to cause cancer than pollutants from outside.


The EPA estimates that 50 per cent of all illnesses are caused, or aggravated, by indoor pollution – including allergies, asthma and a variety of cancers.  (see also As Safe As Houses )


Denmark alerts mothers on potential toxins in nine-point warning


The Danish Environmental Ministry has issued a nine point set of guidelines suggesting that pregnant women and nursing mothers use cosmetics and skin creams as sparingly as possible, avoid spray cans and paints and refrain from dyeing their hair.  It even refers to hazards in toys and their chemicals.  (Ed.  This is in contrast to the UK Government’s none-point warning).


Pesticides – UK Government behind the pace again - taken to Court


Leading pesticides campaigner, Georgina Downs has lodged amended grounds in the High Court to continue her Judicial Review challenge regarding the Government’s fundamental failure to protect rural residents and others in the countryside from exposure to agricultural pesticides. For the last 5 years, Ms. Downs, who runs the UK Pesticides Campaign (www.pesticidescampaign.co.uk), has been presenting a case to the Government to highlight the lack of regulation, including the lack of any risk assessment for residents, and the serious inadequacies of the so-called “bystander risk assessment.”
Ms. Downs’ campaign led to considerable political activity including further consideration of the issue by the Government’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) and the Government regulators the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD); two DEFRA Consultation’s on crop-spraying, followed by a year long investigation by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP).
The RCEP’s conclusions overturned previous Government assertions over the safety of pesticides, as the RCEP concluded that the current policy is completely inadequate.
However, despite the fact that DEFRA Ministers had requested the RCEP inquiry in the first place, the Government subsequently dismissed all the criticisms of the existing policy, refused to acknowledge the health risks inherent in the spraying of agricultural chemicals and dismissed any link between pesticides and chronic ill-health conditions.
This is in stark contrast to the statement recently made by the European Commission on 12th July 2006 in relation to the new EU Thematic Strategy on pesticides, which acknowledged that, “Long term exposure to pesticides can lead to serious disturbances to the immune system, sexual disorders, cancers, sterility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system and genetic damage.”
Georgina Downs states, “The Government’s response to this issue has been of the utmost complacency and is completely irresponsible. It also appears incompatible with EU legislation on a number of counts and this is the reason I am bringing these proceedings, as the Government must be challenged over its failure to act to protect public health, especially in relation to babies, children and other vulnerable groups.”


In relation to the Government’s rejection of all the key regulatory recommendations of the RCEP report Michael Fordham QC (Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2005), who with Emma Dixon represents Ms Downs, argues in the amended grounds that, “The Secretary of State’s reasons given for rejecting the conclusions and recommendations of the Royal Commission were not consistent with the legislative standards of protection and proactivity. They betrayed a misappreciation of those legal standards…” Mr. Fordham concludes that the Secretary of State’s approach “…is unlawful and unjustified.”


Prior to the Government’s response to the RCEP report Ms. Downs approached both the DEFRA Secretary of State, David Miliband and Lord Rooker, the DEFRA Minister responsible for pesticides, to request a meeting to be able to present the case regarding the lack of regulation for residents, in the same way she had with previous DEFRA Ministers before them.
However, despite the fact that David Miliband had previously stated in writing to Tony Blair that “We also need to maintain the confidence of people in rural areas that the Government understands their concerns,” Ms. Downs’ request for a meeting prior to the Government’s response was declined. “This meant that prior to and on taking the decision regarding the Government’s response to the RCEP report, neither Minister had heard directly from the very person who had raised the issue regarding the lack of regulation for residents, in the first place”, says Ms. Downs.
(Ed:  Apparently Pesticides were not even mentioned in the recent UK Government White Paper on Cancer. We will keep you posted)




Dramatic fall in Breast Cancer rates points finger at HRT again


In a startling new analysis, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December 2006, breast cancer rates in the USA have plunged 7 per cent in just one year, 2003; the year after millions of women stopped taking menopause hormones following a major study showing the dangers of synthetic oestrogen HRT and especially mixed synthetic oestrogen/progesten HRT. The well-documented 2002 study had shown increases after just 5 years on HRT of 27 and 100 per cent respectively for breast tumours, further worsened by data showing risk of heart problems. Many post-menopausal American women simply stopped taking the drugs.


The 7 per cent annual decline is massive when taken in the context of a normal 2 per cent annual increase in the USA in breast cancer – a similar figure to the growth rate in the UK, where 2.2 million women were taking HRT in 2002.


Lead Researcher, David Berry, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston said, ‘When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it’. Yet cases dropped most dramatically in the 50+ age group, the prime target for HRT business, and the decline was biggest for tumours where growth was fuelled by oestrogen, the type most affected by hormone use. The decline was universal in every single cancer registry across America.


‘There is absolutely no question of statistical fluke or error. It’s a big deal – amazing really’, said another member of the research team, this time from UCLA Medical Center.


The decline means that 14,000 less women developed breast cancer out of a usual total of 200,000 in the US. In the UK the figures would be approximately 3,000 out of a current annual total of 42,000.


The results have also been confirmed in a separate study, this time by the American Cancer Society, where at least two thirds of the decline was attributed to lowered HRT usage. 2004 data will be released in April 2007.


(Ed: We reported the 2002 study, and the introduction of on-pack health warnings for HRT in the USA. We reported the Boston Nurses Study, which finished almost 10 years earlier involving 177,000 women, where HRT had been linked not merely to Breast cancer increases, but to other oestrogen-driven cancers such as cervical. Although some mischievous people do try to put a positive spin on these hormone drugs, we are quite clear. None of our staff would take HRT at any cost. In our opinion, it is madness. We totally agree with the German Health minister who described HRT as the ‘new thalidomide’. One day in the future, cancer experts will be turning round to doctors exclaiming ‘ you mean once upon a time you gave women extra cancer fuelling hormones and you were surprised when they developed more cancers?!’ Oestrogen is a known driver of cancer; taking more is rather like pouring petrol on a lighted match. Of course, there are other ways of increasing your oestrogen levels – but you can cut most of those out too – see our book ‘Oestrogen – the killer in our midst’  for more details).


Issue 4 - 2006
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