May 2008

CANCER WATCH MAY 2008


LATEST WORLD CANCER NEWS


LATEST NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE FINDINGS


CHEMICAL WORLD


LATEST WORLD CANCER NEWS


EMF’s reduce the effectiveness of Tamoxifen in Breast Cancer treatment


Not for the first time (actually it’s about the eighth such study) research has shown that EMF’s can interfere with the effectiveness of Tamoxifen.

We have covered the increased risks of breast cancer linked to EMF’s several times. There is now serious concern about their effects on treatment as well.

A very large number of breast cancer patients are treated with the ‘anti-oestrogen’ Tamoxifen. However Tamoxifen resistance is known to develop in some women and no one seems to fully understand why.

In a research article from a study by three German Universities, Rainer Girgert of the University of Gottingen and team leader, stated that electromagnetic fields reduce the efficacy of tamoxifen, similar to tamoxifen resistance. You may not understand the rest of their press release, but they are all pretty convinced - and no one is doing anything for breast cancer patients who might be affected - not even warning them!

In the study researchers investigated the mechanism by which electromagnetic fields influence the sensitivity to tamoxifen. In cells exposed to 1.2 µT of a 50 Hz electromagnetic field gene expression of cofactors of the oestrogen receptors was compared to sham exposed cells. Using a gene array technology several cofactors were found to be differentially expressed. The expression of the coactivators, SRC-1 and AIB1, and of two corepressors, N-Cor and SMRT, was quantified by RT-PCR. Both coactivators were expressed more strongly in the exposed cells while the expression of two corepressors decreased. The RNA analysis was confirmed by Western blots. The contradirectional changes in gene expression of coactivators and corepressors by electromagnetic fields results in a lower sensitivity to tamoxifen. Electromagnetic fields may contribute to the induction of tamoxifen resistance in vivo. (Bioelectromagnetics 29:169-176, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc). See, I said you wouldn’t understand it!


Another Breast Cancer Wonder Drug arrives on our shores


As you probably know already I get disheartened by the contents of many of the PR releases I receive from Pharmaceutical Companies. Most just give a glowing account of the new drug - and the detail follows six weeks later, if at all.

Last year we covered a story that Doctors in Australia received virtually all their knowledge on new treatments via the Pharmaceutical Company PR departments, or by reading the press,; and these often amount to the same thing. Allow me to simply present what Sophie Goodchild reported in the Evening Standard:

“ A NEW tumour-busting wonder drug could bring hope to thousands of women with breast cancer, it was revealed today (17 April 2008). US researchers from the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Centre in Houston found that the drug helps eliminate tumour-causing breast cancer stem cells.

This is being heralded as a breakthrough because these cells are known to be resistant to conventional chemotherapy. The findings, based on a study of 45 patients with advanced breast cancer were presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Berlin. Lapatinib has not yet been given approval by the UK drugs regulator, NICE. This means that health trusts are not obliged to fund treatment so patients are left to go without or pay for the drug privately.
The results will put pressure on the Government to end the Postcode Lottery that exists with life-saving cancer drugs. Scientists predict that the drug could be used to beat other forms of cancer.”

According to Dr Angel Rodriguez, who led the research the drug could be ‘crucial to the eradication of cancer’. Apparently, ‘targeting stem cells may be more effective and also prevent some of the unpleasant side-effects associated with conventional chemotherapy.’

(Ed: Clearly the rest of the cancer research community can now pack up their Petri dishes and go home. But just 45 people? Is that 23 given the drug matched with 22 given a placebo? What happened to double blind matched sample clinical trials, or was that only last year?  No mention of what the side effects were or how the drug manages to only knock out the breast stem cells? (The drug is delivered all round your body, and stem cells are all over your body, and you need them to make new tissues. Does it ‘eradicate’ those too?) What about side effects? And note the ‘NICE is already naughty’ if it doesn’t let thousands of women have this life-saving drug.  I just love the phrase ‘tumour-busting wonder drug‘. Hardly an overclaim, I’m sure - but shouldn’t journalists be asking questions of drugs like this? Isn’t that our role in the Health community on behalf of our readers?
Lapatinib could well save the entire human race and I will be very happy for cancer patients if it is a true wonder drug, but that shouldn’t stop we journalists asking what the side effects are; or, given the 38,000 women every year who develop breast cancer and are seemingly treated successfully with Tamoxifen, Arimidex or Herceptin, what proportion develop a stem cell-driven breast cancer that doesn’t respond to these existing drugs? I actually feel sorry for NICE, who have a defined budget to allocate to the drugs that are proven to help people the most. They can do without being attacked in advance of making a decision. Especially and blatantly by a PR machine
.)


Genes can increase Lung cancer risk


CANCER Research UK funded scientists have pinpointed an area of the genome containing one or more genes that can put smokers at even more risk of developing lung cancer. Their findings were published online in Nature Genetics.

The international team of researchers, led by Professor Richard Houlston at The Institute of Cancer Research, carried out a ‘whole genome search’ for faulty genes that increase lung cancer risk. They studied the DNA – the genetic material that makes us unique – of thousands of men and women in the UK and the US. All of the people involved in the study were current or former smokers. Around half were lung cancer patients and the other half were healthy.

Initially they studied more than 300,000 ‘tags’ – parts of our DNA that act as a ‘roadmap’ to our genes – in the patients and healthy people. Eventually they narrowed the search down to two ‘tags’, or genetic variants – within the region of the genome called chromosome 15 – which were more common among the lung cancer patients than the healthy people. These genetic variants have previously been implicated in lung cancer risk and roughly half the population carries either one or two copies of each.

Current or former smokers who carry one copy of each genetic variant increase their risk of lung cancer by 28 per cent. Current or former smokers with two copies of each variant increase their risk by 80 per cent. People who carry these variants, but have never smoked, are not at increased risk of the disease.

Professor Houlston said: “We’ve found that these genetic variants are strongly associated with lung cancer. Both smokers and non-smokers have a fifty-fifty chance of carrying them but, significantly, they only increase the risk of lung cancer in people who have smoked.” Houlston added: “Although these results need to be confirmed in larger numbers of people, they suggest that the genes in this region of the genome interact directly with tobacco to cause lung cancer.
There are over 38,300 new cases of lung cancer in the UK each year.


Anti-smoking Drug linked to Suicides


The FDA in America has confirmed that ‘there is an increasing likelihood’ of a connection between the drug Champix and serious psychiatric problems.

The anti-smoking ‘wonder drug’, marketed since 2006 as the most effective way to give up smoking and made by Pfeizer, is taken by over 250,000 people in the UK, Concerns were already growing this side of the Atlantic, with reports that 11 people may have died due to the drug and adverse reactions occurring in almost 2000 people in just seven weeks. In the US reports of 37 deaths and over 400 cases of suicidal behaviour have been reported. 

Obviously the Drug company Pfeizer is denying any problems claiming that people giving up smoking often develop mood changes (!) But the FDA has said it has evidence that people taking the drug who also continue to smoke also have these problems.

In trials 16 per cent of people using nicotine replacement are still not smoking after a year. By comparison, the Pfeizer drug use sees 22.5 per cent success. The European Medicines agency has ordered in pack warning leaflets. Pfeizer is only saying that Doctors should  ‘be aware of possible depressive symptoms in patients undergoing a smoking cessation attempt’. (Mail on Sunday - Feb 10 2008)



Scientists use virus to kill off cancer cells and stimulate immune response


CANCER Research UK scientists have used the immune system coupled with a virus found in horses and cattle, to hunt and purge cancer cells through the lymphatic system, a study reveals in Nature Medicine.

Studying mice, the researchers found that the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), carried by a type of white blood cell called T cells acted as a ‘cancer hunter’, tracking down tumour cells in the lymph nodes, liver and spleen, and killed them, leaving normal healthy cells unharmed. At the same time, VSV also helped to trigger an immune response against the tumour, significantly improving the anti-cancer effect.

The team hope the findings will eventually lead to the production of new treatments to target some of the most common forms of cancer, including breast, bowel and prostate, as well as improve the development of future cancer vaccines.

This new technique has been developed as the result of an international collaboration between scientists based at Cancer Research UK’s Clinical Centre in Leeds and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in the US.

As part of their work, the team took the T cells from mice, added a low dose of VSV in the laboratory, and then injected the cells back into mice with cancer. This treatment killed the tumour and stimulated an immune response against the cancer.

 Professor Alan Melcher, a Cancer Research UK clinician scientist at the Leeds Clinical Centre, said: “Viruses that can specifically kill tumour cells are a promising new approach to the treatment of cancer, and some are already being tested in patients. In this laboratory study, we show the VSV can be particularly effective in mopping up tumour cells that have broken away from the primary tumour and spread via the lymphatics. By ‘hitchhiking’ on T cells, the virus can travel through the lymphatic system, hunting down and purging lymph nodes and potentially other sites of cancer cells.”


Vaccine sees response in Leukaemia patients.


An experimental vaccine for patients with leukemia produced an immune response in 60% of patients with myeloid leukemias and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and also extended survival without relapse, according to new clinical trial results taking place at the MD Anderson cancer Center in Texas.

Muzaffar Qazilbash, M.D., an associate professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, presented the results at the 49th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in December, 2007.

The Phase I/II trial involving 66 patients, which ran from 2000 to 2006, used a vaccine made from the PR1 peptide, a small part of a protein found on the inside of leukemia cells.

Clinical responses, ranging from improvements in blood counts to complete cytogenetic (chromosomal) remission, were observed in 36% of the responders, compared with 10% of non-responders.


Brain Tumours - Chlorimipramine seems to boost Gleevec effect


Research published in Int J Oncol. 2008 Apr;32(4):829-39, shows that in experiments with brain tumours in rats, where Gleevec was used, a significantly improved result was noted if chlorimipramine was also added. Gleevec was originally designed and trialled for brain tumours, but results were poor. Chlorimipramine is a long established anti-depressant, that has also been tested for its effects in killing glioma cells. (See www.canceractive.com for more details). This research seems to suggest that there is enhanced activity when they are combined.


Hepatitis B vaccine users sue


Companies making vaccines to prevent Hepatitis B, which in certain cases causes increased risk of liver cancer, are under attack in France. Two managers from the two vaccine makers GlaxoSmithKlein and Sanofi Pasteur are under the threat of manslaughter charges from French authorities as 30 plaintifs (including those from 5 families where someone died) launch a civil action accusing the companies of hiding side effects from the public. Approximately two thirds of the French population and almost all babies were vaccinated in France during the period in question - 1994 to 1997.

The logic of vaccinating babies against this blood or sexually transmitted virus was always unclear  as the vaccine is only really effective for twelve years; hardly a period when they might have sexual activity.

Vaccinating children in general is always a concern. Firstly many of the vaccines use a mercury base, as we have covered in icon before. The FDA, to date, has asked companies to remove it, rather than telling them. Secondly nervous systems, brain and hormone systems are developing all the time and effects of vaccines and carriers are not fully known. ( Dr Mercola)


BBC Health Website Deletes Complementary Medicine


In March 2008, the controllers of BBCHealth (www.bbc.co.uk/health) decided to remove all coverage of complementary medicine!

Although coverage was not enormous (they had about 40 pages on this subject covering all the major therapies, their pros and cons, evidence for their effectiveness, how to find a qualified practitioner, etc), the BBC site is one of the most accessed sites in the world.

Apparently, the site has been sent a deluge of letters and emails in recent months claiming that complementary therapies such as homeopathy and cranial osteopathy should be removed. So at the outset large chunks of this part of the site were simply removed overnight and now, following recent cutbacks, it has been decided that, rather than update sections of the site, it should simply
be removed altogether!

As a public service company the BBC has to listen to your views, rather than merely those of the so-called and highly organised ‘quack-busters’. You can make your views known via http://www.bbc.co.uk/feedback/


Is Chemotherapy any good?


With MD Anderson saying that all the interesting cancer developments are coming in areas other than chemotherapy, the Lancet oncology expressing concerns over the level of side effects in the new breed of the so-called ‘more targeted’ monoclonal anti-body drugs, and real concerns being expressed in the USA against the new ‘Drug Culture’, we have told you before about how distressed we are to receive drug company Press Releases claiming drug X is a ’cancer-busting wonder drug’ or a ‘cure’ for cancer. As we always honestly tell you, apart from certain cases of leukaemia, testicular and Hodgkin’s disease, there are no magic bullet ‘cures’ for cancers. You need to build an integrated programme of activities to increase your personal odds of beating the disease.

We have now been sent the following report. It might be well known to some of you as it is nearly 4 years old:

In 2004, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the most prestigious medical magazine in the USA, published a study on chemotherapy success rates. As is normal, it looked at 5-year survival figures. The report states:
 
RESULTS: ‘The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA‘.

CONCLUSION: ‘As the 5-year relative survival rate for cancer in Australia is now over 60%, it is clear that cytotoxic chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required‘.


US Drugs - crisis looming


To follow up our recent story on the new ‘disease’ that is linked to an increasing number of illnesses and deaths and accounts for 28 per cent of hospitalisations in the USA, (Polypharmacy - the dangerous side effects of taking cocktails of prescribed drugs), what could be more cheery than this little gem?

New research covered in the New York Times suggests that currently 80 per cent of all drugs used in the USA are manufactured elsewhere. This figure includes 560 drugs manufactured in China (who have been having the occasional problem recently). Worryingly, the FDA admits that it inspected only 3 per cent of those facilities in 2007.

We wonder what the equivalent figures would be for drugs used in the UK and what Health body is checking the manufacturing facilities on our behalf? (Dr Mercola)


Super Chemists to treat the UK’s minor ailments.


A new Government Health Blueprint proposes a network of ‘Super Chemists’ across Britain within three years. The centres will have ‘consulting rooms’ and will treat anything from colds, to flu, to eye problems as well as providing vaccinations.

Ministers claim this proposal will save the NHS £300 million.

Health watchers may find this rather similar to the proposals made two years ago. Then only 101 out of 10,000 pharmacies ‘took up the opportunity’ to write prescriptions. Could it have something to do with the cost - after all, someone has to fork out the £300 million and pay for the consulting rooms and the infrastructure; so that’s either the pharmacies or you and me? The difference this time round? Every Private Health Care Trust could be ‘forced to offer’ a ‘super chemist’ in their region.

Coming soon - a new Government proposal to have ‘Super Doctors’ who will be ‘forced to treat’ serious ailments? Just my little joke!

Wouldn’t it just be simpler to adopt the French system where people go first to the Pharmacist, for most illnesses. At least that way you don’t have to make a self-diagnosis as to whether your two day headache is minor or something more serious.


Cancer Patient’s toolkit from MacMillan


Cancer patients will receive financial information as well as medical advice from Macmillan health professionals thanks to a new toolkit designed by Macmillan Cancer Support and funded by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) as part of its National Strategy for Financial Capability.

The toolkit will equip frontline health professionals and social care staff such as Macmillan nurses, GPs, and information specialists with the financial information they need to advise cancer patients, their families and carers on financial issues following a cancer diagnosis.

The toolkit includes the latest information on financial matters including saving & borrowing, pension rights, fuel poverty, prescription charges, hospital travel costs and insurance as well as welfare benefits advice.

Commenting on the new toolkit, Ayesha Owusu-Barnaby, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at Macmillan Cancer Support says: "We know that most cancer patients suffer a loss of income and increased costs as a direct result of cancer and this can be a significant cause of stress. This toolkit will mean health professionals will be able to help patients deal with financial issues following a cancer diagnosis and hopefully empower people affected by cancer to manage their financial affairs with confidence."


Specialist free counselling for cancer patients and those close to them


Few people touched by cancer seem to know that there is a free counselling service available in the UK. The Cancer  Counselling Trust (CCT) offers face-to-face counselling in London, and  specialist telephone counselling anywhere in the country - both services are free of charge. The charity is the only organisation in the UK that offers specialist counselling not only for those with cancer, but for their families, friends or work colleagues.
 
 "Talking to a counsellor experienced in cancer issues can ease the sense of isolation you may feel and help you find ways to face the challenges ahead," explains the charity’s chief executive, Jonathan Lake. "Very  often, for example, the cancer patient finds ’being strong’ for everyone is an exhausting role, and needs to discuss the whole issue with someone who is trained to understand the strain they are under. We help with all aspects of cancer, from diagnosis to treatment, post-treatment,
 recurrences and palliative care. We support people concerned for their children with regard to a cancer diagnosis and have offered one off ’crisis’ sessions to all.
 
We are finding increasing uptake of the telephone counselling service, which provides pre-booked counselling by a dedicated specially trained counsellor who will be the same person each time, just as they would be for face-to-face counselling. Some people prefer the anonymity of talking over the phone rather than coming to Islington to talk face to face - after all, making the decision to opt for counselling and coming to an appointment can seem a giant leap in itself. Some are afraid that it seems a sign of weakness and feel that the good old British "stiff upper lip and determination" will see them through what can be a horrendous period of their life.
 
We are here to provide the ideal form of service for each and every oneof the people who decide they need our specialist input. Every counselling session is tailor-made to the needs of each individual
 client; after all, everyone’s needs are different.
 
 The CCT manages to start counselling remarkably quickly - usually within a fortnight of the initial contact. They provide up to nine sessions of specialist cancer counselling for each client - be they patient or ’supporter’. Each session lasts 50 minutes. (Telephone: 020 7704 1137;
 Email: support@cctrust.org.uk)


LATEST NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE FINDINGS


Yakult helps fight infection


At the annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, in Boston, November 2007, research results on a preliminary study suggested that the administration of Beneficial Bacteria - in this case the Probiotic, Yakult - to patients with cirrhosis of the liver, can restore the immune action and increase the potential to fight liver infection. UCL has previously shown that infection due to an accumulation of endotoxins leaking from the gut, was an important and damaging factor in liver disease. This would provide an inexpensive intervention in liver disease - and a large placebo-controlled trial is now planned.

(Ed: Here is just another piece of evidence of the power of Beneficial Bacteria. Well done Yakult. Unfortunately, we are no longer allowed to ’eat a bit of dirt’ as everything is sterilised and pasteurised. And if you do get ill, the Medical Profession throws antibiotics and other drugs at you, most of which wipe out the beneficial bacteria you do have and thus destroy what semblance of immune system you had. When will the Medical Profession wake up to the importance of a strong immune system - and the thousands, yes thousands of research studies on Beneficial Bacteria - including clinical Trials over the last few years? Read our 20 key points that appeared in the last edition of icon - and take as many strains of probiotic as you can, daily.)


Now Brighton and Sussex Hospitals turn to probiotics


Probiotic yoghurts are the latest weapon being used in hospitals to cut the risk of patients developing superbugs such as Clostridium difficile, health chiefs said.
Free pots of Actimel, containing "friendly" bacteria, are being handed out to patients deemed to be at a higher risk of contracting potentially fatal superbugs.
The trial is being carried out by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
Trust medical director Matthew Fletcher said: "We are providing Actimel probiotic yoghurt to patients on the wards where we have previously had more cases of Clostridium difficile.


US Cancer Research Study on Prevention


A new report released by the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) at its annual meeting in November 2007 provides health guidelines on cancer prevention.

Based on the analysis of more than 7,000 scientific studies by 21 international experts over more than five years, the document suggests that 3 areas are important:

  • Choose healthy foods


  • Be physically active every day for at least 30 minutes


  • Maintain a healthy weight throughout life



Under the healthy foods heading, researchers found that people should eat more plant foods (especially antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits; pulses; and whole grains) and less red meat and especially less processed meats.

Red meat should be treated like more of a small side dish. According to the AICR report, people should closely limit red meat (beef, pork and lamb) to 18 ounces or less each week. Alternatives include fish and poultry.

“We talk to our patients about their red meat consumption,” said  Sally Scroggs, manager of health education in the Cancer Prevention Center, “and we tell them there is new, more-substantiated evidence that limiting red meat helps prevent several types of cancer, especially colorectal cancer.”

Scroggs is quick to point out to patients, however, that the guidelines do not prohibit meat. Meat can be a valuable source of essential nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12.

“It all boils down to portion size, which is something people need to be more conscious of in their diets. A piece of meat, say 3 ounces or so (the size of a deck of cards), is OK several times a week.”

However, the report cautions people to avoid all processed meats, including hot dogs, lunch meats and ham.

Researchers used to think the saturated fat in meat increased the chance of cancer, but current research points to a number of other reasons. Studies have shown, for instance, that red meat consumption increases the production of carcinogens in the colon. Cooking at high temperatures also produces additional carcinogens.

Processed meats, which are preserved by salting, smoking, curing or treating with chemicals, have been found to increase cancer risk. Researchers are studying exactly what causes this to happen.

The same cancer-causing factors in red meat may be responsible, or it may have to do with the chemicals that are used for processing. Researchers do know that carcinogens, specifically N-nitroso compounds, are produced when meat is processed and dyed.


Herbs - a greater potential for success than drugs?


Scientists are increasingly focusing on plants used in traditional medicine in their search for new compounds. About three-quarters of the pharmaceutical compounds used today came from plants used in traditional medicine.

Professor Dr. Thomas Efferth from Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum in Heidelberg, for example, has begun analyzing 76 Chinese medicinal plants that are believed to treat malignant tumors and other growths. Extracts from 18 of the plants were found to significantly suppress the growth of cancer cells.

“With this success rate of about 24 percent, we are way above the results that could be expected from searching through large chemical substance libraries,” Efferth said.
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics January 1, 2008, 7, 152-161


To sleep, perchance to slim


A study by Canadian researchers from Laval University, Quebec, published in the US magazine ’Sleep’ has monitored the weight of 276 adults over a six year period and concluded that those who have seven to eight hours a night lose weight whilst those who have less, or more add weight. Those who get less than six hours were 27 per cent more likely to be obese, and put on 2 kgs on average; those who had more than nine hours were 21 per cent more likely to be obese and put on 1.6 kgs on average. Sleep has a proven influence on hormone levels and too much or too little seems to give free reign to those that encourage us to eat. The researchers want sleep to be include in the list of factors forming the basis for a healthy lifestyle.


Eating Breakfast may make you slim?


‘Teenagers who eat breakfast are slimmer than those who skip it’, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota. They followed 2,216 teenagers habits for 5 years and concluded, ‘While it is best to go for a healthy breakfast option, the evidence seems to suggest that eating anything is better than eating nothing’.


Pesticides and wine - is nothing sacred?


Wines from top French Chateaux are ‘contaminated with pesticides’ according to a report by Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN). An analysis of 34 bottles of French wine showed 33 containing pesticides, including some classified by the EU as ‘Health Threatening’. 6 further bottles tested were organic and, somewhat reassuringly, 5 were found to be pesticide-free. On average, each bottle of non-organic wine contained 4 different pesticides, with 24 identified in all across the 40 bottles. Some bottles had as many as 10 pesticides in them, and going for a more expensive bottle made little difference. A spokesman for PAN said that the use of pesticides ‘was a growing problem’ and warned of the cocktail effect.

You may be surprised to learn that there are no EU safe pesticide limits for wine, only for grapes and, worryingly, these are already way in excess of the limits allowed for other fruits. Rather unreassuringly, a spokesman for the Bordeaux Wine Board said the pesticides were used ‘to fight grape illnesses, rather like taking an aspirin when you get a headache’. Don’t you just love the French?


CHEMICAL WORLD


Mobile Phones criticised again


Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, says an award-winning cancer expert.

Dr Vini Khurana reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a leading scientific journal. Primarily his concern draws on growing evidence that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers –
admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes that "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours". He believes this will be "definitively proven" in the next decade.

Professor Khurana also noted that malignant brain tumours represent "a life-ending diagnosis and the fact that three billion people now use the phones worldwide, three times as many as smoke. Smoking kills some five million worldwide each year, and exposure to asbestos is responsible for as many deaths in Britain as road accidents. His conclusions were that by the time this is proven, it might be too late to act medically.

The Mobile Operators Association dismissed Khurana’s study as "a selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual" adding he "does not present a balanced analysis" of the published science, and "reaches opposite conclusions to the WHO and more than 30 other independent expert scientific reviews". (Independent on Sunday; 30th March)


Don’t drink hot drinks from plastic cups.


Plastic cups can leach toxic Biphenyl A  (BPA) and new research shows that levels increase with temperature. According to Science Daily (Jan 30th) plastic cups or bottles holding boiling water released 55 times more BPA than those holding cold liquids. We have reported on the toxic effects and increased cancer concerns of this hormone disrupter before in icon.

The researchers also concluded that the effects last - so if you put your plastic bottles and cups in the dishwasher, or use them once with hot liquids, they will always leach more BPA into even cold drinks thereafter. (Dr Mercola)

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