September 2008

CANCER WATCH SEPTEMBER 2008


LATEST WORLD CANCER NEWS


NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE


CHEMICAL WORLD



LATEST WORLD CANCER NEWS


Cancer is a disease of the whole body – way before it emerges somewhere


It’s an argument we have had with a number of oncologists. We are frequently told that people develop cancer and, as a result, they suffer reduced blood oxygen levels, weakened immune systems and the danger of secondaries. However our belief is that BECAUSE you have weakened blood oxygen levels and immune defences, your body’s weakness is more likely to show up somewhere, be it breast or prostate. Chicken and egg?

No longer. New studies (Science Magazine) from Memorial Sloan-Kettering in America have shown that normal breast cells can travel to and ‘live’ in the lungs for up to 16 weeks without expressing any ‘oncogenes’. Only then did a cancer start to develop.

This understanding may help doctors get to grips with the idea of metastasis – and how cancers may appear around the body. Dr Katrina Podsypanina of M S-K, said: "The finding that metastatic disease can arise from untransformed mammary cells in the circulation refines our conception of cancer progression”.

(Ed: What this research also shows is how surgery might not be the ‘cancer stopper’ oncologists claim when they tell you that you have an all clear. People without colons go on to develop secondaries elsewhere – so clearly the ‘seeding’ had taken place prior to colon removal. S-K are correct: Some serious new thinking is required in cancer treatment.)


25 years of Breast cancer cell research seriously flawed


This week, the online life sciences magazine, The Scientist, published an article whose implications for breast cancer research are profound.

Tumour cell lines - living cells taken from tumours and cultured in the laboratory - are the mainstay of cancer research at the most fundamental level, and are used as the model for studying tumour behaviour and response to treatment. For the past 25 years most of the laboratory research into metastatic breast cancer has been based on a single breast tumour cell line known as MDA-MB-435. At least 650 papers have been published on studies involving this cell line.

Yet it has been revealed that this supposed breast cancer cell line may in fact not be composed of breast cancer cells at all. Instead, it appears that the cells are derived from melanoma. For 25 years, therefore, breast cancer research using this cell line – and it is one of the most widely used - has been based on an incorrect model. Melanoma-derived tumour cells are not biologically equivalent to breast cancer cells; they have different molecular and genetic characteristics.

The inferential leap from Petri dish to living human cancer patient is flawed logically anyway – it is simply too large a jump to make. An enormous
number of drugs and experimental techniques show significant activity in cultured cancer cell lines, only to exhibit no benefit whatever when given to human subjects in a clinical setting.

Furthermore, cell lines can degenerate over time, becoming genetically unstable. But these are relatively small concerns compared to the discovery that MDA-MB-435, the cornerstone of US breast cancer research, is not breast cancer at all.

We are constantly being reminded that this is the era of evidence-based medicine. But if the very cell lines which have provided the foundation for
breast cancer research for the past quarter of a century have now been conclusively shown to be melanoma cells, not breast cancer, how solid or
trustworthy is the evidence on which current breast cancer treatment is based?
(Ralph Moss MD: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Megan Scudellari. The Scientist, September 16th 2008)  http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/55013/


Laboratory tests show promise for beating breast cancer


Bisphosphonates are often provided with other treatments to prevent bone loss and protect against pain and weakness associated with cancer, for example in multiple myeloma. 
Funded by Breast Cancer Campaign, Dr Penelope Ottewell, at the University of Sheffield, carried out a unique laboratory study to determine the effects of combining the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin and the bone-protecting drug zoledronic acid on the growth of established breast tumours.  
The treatments were given alone, in sequence and in combination to find the most effective order in which to give them. 
The results of the study, published in the August issue of Journal of the National Cancer Institute, have shown that treating breast cancer using doxorubicin followed 24 hours later by zoledronic acid has a dramatic result; almost complete elimination of breast tumour growth.  If these results are translated into real life the combination could ultimately lead to improved chances of survival for thousands of women currently undergoing breast cancer treatment. 
Project leader Dr Ingunn Holen said “Our work - using a model system - has shown that treatment with the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin followed by zoledronic acid kills breast tumours. These results suggest that a patient may benefit the most if these two drugs are given in this particular order. We eagerly look forward to the results of a large breast cancer trial later this year to confirm our findings. This method of treatment could then quickly be incorporated into clinical practice.” (Ed: Several issues are raised here. These are laboratory, not real life, tests. Do women currently taking the bisphonates alongside their breast cancer drugs have much higher survival rates? Also, given that these drugs are already approved, presumably ‘quickly incorporated into clinical practice’ means that there will be no rigorous clinical trials then? Bish bosh.)



Computer to replace radiologist in mammogram screening


How many experts does it take to read a mammogram? At the moment in Britain, apparently, the answer is two. But if the Cancer Research recent study results are accepted into standard practice this will become one, plus a computer. This will free up the other radiologist to do more readings and thus enable more women to be screened annually in Britain.

The new study, published in early October in the New England Journal of Medicine, monitored the results on 28,000 women and showed that a single trained expert plus a computer is just as effective at detecting breast cancer as the two experts who traditionally read a mammogram in the UK.

The implications for the rest of the world are supposedly even more significant. The Press release states that ‘in the United States and some other European countries only a single expert reads mammograms. This means that single readers using the computer aided detection programme (CAD) will be even more effective at detecting breast cancer’. I wonder if these countries agree with the implication that they had been previously less accurate?

Undeterred the release writer adds “The study has huge international significance,” said Professor Fiona Gilbert of the University of Aberdeen and lead author of the study. “Using CAD is likely to improve breast cancer detection in those countries where only a single reader is used”.

Regular readers of icon will know that we have an excellent overview of the issues (for example, covering safety, accuracy and false positives) click here . This study does not seem to alter the report conclusions we wrote originally.  Again from the Press release Professor Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UK’s professor of cancer screening, said: “this large study means we can now say for certain that this system is as good at detecting breast cancer as the one used as standard practice”


‘Talking Cure’ shows some effect in chronic insomnia


Persistent or chronic insomnia can affect a third of cancer ‘survivors’. New research shows it can be greatly improved through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - known as the ‘talking cure’ - given by cancer nurses (Journal of Clinical Oncology)

A Cancer Research UK-funded trial, run by the University of Glasgow Sleep Centre, analysed the effect of CBT on sleep quality in 150 participants who had completed cancer treatment. They had all reported chronic insomnia lasting an average of two years.

Participants were divided into two groups. One group received CBT from cancer nurses, who were trained to deliver the CBT but had no prior experience in sleep medicine. Cancer nurses were used in this trial to demonstrate that the therapy could be delivered by non sleep specialists. The other group followed their usual clinical practice.

The group receiving CBT reported that it eliminated an average of 55 minutes of wakefulness per night, straight after receiving the therapy. This group also reported less day fatigue, and reduced anxiety and depression. A six-month follow up showed there were still benefits, while those in the control group reported no change.


New test to replace or enhance ‘almost worthless’ PSA screening test?


An international collaboration between researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research and Sloan-Kettering, New York could pave the way for a test to be used to better tailor treatments and hopefully extend the survival of men with aggressive forms of metastatic prostate cancer. In a major study (Cancer Clinical Research - available online Oct 1) involving 231 patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment and sixty-five clinical centres in Europe and the U.S.
analysis of Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) were found to be more effecting as a prognosis of prostate cancer and an independent indicator for overall survival of the disease.

Lead researcher Dr Johann de Bono at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden Hospital says: "CTC testing, used in conjunction with the existing prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, may allow doctors to more accurately evaluate the effect of treatment on a patient’s tumour."

The PSA test has been widely adopted as the benchmark test for prostate cancer in the UK, but it is not always possible to identify a clear relationship between a raised PSA level and the status of the disease. In the USA some experts are even more cautious. Indeed, the PSA test has been increasingly criticised in the USA as little more than indicative of an enlarged prostate, with at least one US Professor stating that it was ‘almost worthless’ as a prostate cancer indicator. A new US study (led by Dr. Eric Singer, chief of urology at the University of Rochester) of 1300 men showed that readings fluctuated wildly if men had been using even the mildest (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin. Worse, another US study (Associated US Press) showed that where a high PSA reading had been used to send the patient for a needle biopsy (known to be capable of even spreading a cancer), the majority of biopsies proved negative.

Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are cancer cells that have broken away from an existing tumour and have entered into the bloodstream. The presence of these cells in the blood provides valuable insights into disease progression.

The test has been cleared by the FDA in the United States to determine the prognosis of patients with metastatic breast, colorectal or prostate cancer. It has already been incorporated into several prostate cancer drug trials that are taking place at The Institute and The Royal Marsden.


Traditional drug Chemotherapy – poor returns?


In a past icon we referred to Australian and US research that had shown the contribution of chemotherapy drugs to survival rates being less than 3 per cent. Several people have asked for the Australian source.

An investigation by the Department of Radiation Oncology, Northern Sydney Cancer Centre into the contribution of chemotherapy to 5-year survival in 22 major adult malignancies, showed the following 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." [Royal North Shore Hospital Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2005 Jun;17(4):294.

The research covered data from the Cancer Registry in Australia and the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results in the USA for the year 1998. The current 5-year relative adult survival rate for cancer in Australia is over 55%, about the same as that in the USA. It is lower in the UK.


Breast fed babies – less breast cancer. Unless you are the first born


Women who were breastfed as infants have a lower risk of breast cancer as adults, (University of Wisconsin at Madison, Epidemiology).

Lead researcher Hazel B. Nichols said they had concluded that "As a general group, women who reported they had been breastfed in infancy had a 17 percent decrease in breast cancer risk. However, we did not observe this reduction when we looked specifically among first-born women."

Researchers interviewed 2,016 female breast cancer patients between the ages of 20 and 69, and 1,960 women who did not have the disease. They found that the women who had been breastfed as infants had a lower risk of breast cancer than the non-breastfed women.

There was also no effect on cancer risk from the mother’s age at childbirth. However, women who were born first had a higher cancer risk than women who had three or more older siblings.

Indeed, when the researchers compared only firstborn women to each other, there was no difference in cancer rates between those who were breastfed and those who were not.

Among women who had not been breastfed, a mother’s older age at childbirth corresponded to a lower cancer risk for the infant. There was no relationship found between cancer risk and birth order.


Two types of Glioblastoma identified


‘The most common type of brain cancer in adults, glioblastoma, should be treated as two diseases not one’, according to reports in the New Scientist September 2008 and on DOI: 10.1126/science.1164382: Those with, and those without, a mutation in a gene dubbed IDH 1. The researchers identified the genetic mutation after sequencing the DNA from 22 human glioblastoma samples.
Glioblastoma patients who have a mutation in the gene tend to be younger than those without (20 years younger on average) and patients with this type of glioma had a median survival time of 3.8 years from diagnosis, compared with 1.1 years for those without it.
Victor Velculescu of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics in Baltimore, Maryland, who was involved in the study. says that no drugs exist to treat this specific mutation as yet, and patients may respond quite differently to existing options.
Scientists isolate three genes in childhood brain cancer
SCIENTISTS have isolated three important genes involved in the development of a type of childhood brain cancer – reveals a study published in the British Journal of Cancer (Rand et al. 2008. British Journal of Cancer; September 2008).

Researchers from the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham, on behalf of the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), have found three genes associated with specific characteristics of ependymoma – the third most common form of childhood brain cancer. Around 35 children are diagnosed with ependymoma each year in the UK, and around half of these will be under three years old. In total, around 300 children under 15 are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year in the UK. Survival for ependymoma is just 50 per cent. And around half the children who are initially successfully treated will suffer a relapse of the disease.
 
Lead author Professor Richard Grundy from the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the Queen’s Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, said: “Understanding the biological causes of cancer is vitally important as it will help us to develop drugs that target abnormal genes in cancer cells but not in healthy cells. More accurately targeted treatments will cause fewer side-effects than conventional chemotherapy and be more effective. So this is an important finding which we hope will lead to the development of new treatments for ependymoma.”


Test for Burkitt’s Lymphoma on way


Burkitt’s lymphoma is often appearently mis-diagnosed.  Now a screen for the cancer, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, will enable all cases to be correctly identified.
 
Researchers have shown that using this screen can detect which patients need the most intensive chemotherapy, and spare those who can be treated with lower doses. Together these findings will ensure that lymphoma patients have the best possible chance of cure, but are not exposed to high intensity chemotherapy unnecessarily.The study – to date the world’s largest trial for Burkitt’s lymphoma – was run by the Medical Research Council Trials Unit and funded by Cancer Research UK. It is claimed the results will change clinical practice for patients with this cancer worldwide.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician also based at the University of Southampton, said: “We are delighted with the results of this important international trial. This study sets the standard for the way we diagnose and treat Burkitt’s lymphoma”.


Cancer Research UK spends record amount on research in 2007/8


I pass on the Press release verbatim: Cancer Research UK has announced that it spent a record £333m on ground-breaking research in the financial year 2007/08, a 6% increase on last year. An additional £11m was spent on cancer information and advocacy. Cancer Research UK continues to be the largest, independent funder of cancer research in the world.
Chief Executive, Harpal Kumar, said: “Over the past year our ground-breaking research has continued to lead the way in the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of every type of cancer. Tens of thousands of lives have been saved in the UK and the improved survival rates we are now seeing for many types of cancer are proof that cancer research delivers results.”
Cancer Research UK is dedicated to research into the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of every type of cancer. It funds over 4,500 research scientists, doctors and nurses throughout the UK.
Some of last year’s achievements included:

  • Critically important work beginning in the charity’s new Cancer Research UK-MRC Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology & Biology in partnership with the University of Oxford and the Medical Research Council. The Institute will help improve and refine radiotherapy treatments for cancer patients.

  • The conclusion of a major international study by Cancer Research UK scientists at its Cambridge Research Institute, which brought together 15 research teams from around the world. This milestone collaboration, led by Professor Sir Bruce Ponder, isolated five regions of the genome containing genes that can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. It is one of a series of genome-wide studies which Cancer Research UK is funding into the UK’s most common cancers.

  • Securing full support from the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, for proposals to develop a world-leading research institute, the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation, in partnership with the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and University College London. The Centre will bring together some of the best scientists in the world to make new breakthroughs in understanding how cancer starts and develops.

  • Working closely with the NHS and Macmillan Cancer Support to launch ‘information prescriptions’ which will equip cancer patients with the information they need during their diagnosis and treatment.

  • Helping around a million people access the information they need through the charity’s award-winning CancerHelp UK information website, and funding mobile cancer awareness units to take information and advice on cancer prevention and early detection to some of the UK’s most deprived communities.

  • Launching the Screening Matters campaign. To date over 110,000 people have signed the charity’s petition and almost 20,000 have emailed politicians. Since the campaign launch the Government has announced a series of measures to expand existing screening programmes for breast and bowel cancer in England


 Harpal Kumar added: “There is still much to be done, and over the past year we have initiated a number of new partnerships that will help us deliver our ambitious plans for the future. We are mindful that the coming year is likely to be very challenging as the economy slows, but remain confident that Cancer Research UK will continue to have unparalleled impact and influence worldwide through its cutting edge advances and pioneering research.”



NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE


Confusion over statins and cancer worsens


According to an FDA statement about preliminary results from a recent clinical trial, "A larger percentage of patients treated with Vytorin were diagnosed with and died from all types of cancer, combined, when compared to treatment with a placebo."

Vytorin is a statin based drug containing simvastatin and ezetimibe and this is not the first time such fears have been raised. Pfizer recently stopped a clinical trial for their anti-cholesterol drug due to a larger-than-expected number of deaths and cardiovascular events among the test group. Of course, this may be due to the statin, or the other ingredient ezetimibe, as we reported last month.  Now experts think the problem could be something much more simple.

Health Authorities in the Western World have this obsession with cholesterol-lowering to ‘reduce’ heart disease. A couple of years back, with little solid research evidence whatsoever, they reduced the limits on the levels of cholesterol they thought you should have in your blood. Not that they were under any lobbying pressure from statin makers, you understand. It is just that the lower you set the bar, the more you ‘need’ statins, of course! But, let’s be clear. You need cholesterol, both HDL and supposedly dodgy LDL too. As we have told you so many times. Low cholesterol has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s and poor nervous function. Now Dr. Daniel Steinberg, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, states that studies show that "persons with the lowest LDL cholesterol…..... show the highest rate from cancer than those with higher LDL levels.

Yet again, here we have a Pharma media frenzy, culminating in the recent suggestion from some top doctor/experts that all men over 50 should take a 5-in-one-pill including statins to keep their cholesterol down. As I told you then, I know one man who will never take one.


Clinical trials shows isoflavone benefit – as good as statins


For all those who incorrectly say that there are no clinical research trials for Complementary therapies – here’s another one.

A dietary supplement containing isoflavone – a chemical found in soybeans, chickpeas, legumes and clovers – can improve artery function in stroke patients according to new research published online in Europe’s leading cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal (Wednesday 24 September).

The study is believed to be the first randomised controlled trial to investigate the effects of isoflavone supplement in patients with established cardiovascular disease. However there are other implications – particularly as the results were as good as those obtained by those wonder drugs, statins.
 
Professor Hung-Fat Tse, William MW Mong Professor in Cardiology and Academic Chief of the Cardiology Division in the Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, The University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, China) and his team found that 12 weeks of isoflavone supplement, at a dose of 80 mg a day, significantly improved arterial problems.
 
The trial was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, involving 50 patients taking the isoflavone supplement, and 52 taking a placebo pill. Prof Tse also concluded “The treatment effect of isoflavone in our study was comparable with lifestyle changes with endurance training or pharmacological interventions with statin therapy.”


Colon cancer linked to trans fats and poor foods


Researchers from the University of North Carolina have discovered that a diet of fast and processed foods can be a major cause of colon cancer. These foods are high in trans-fatty acids, and there seems to be a direct link between them and developing colon cancer.

People who eat 6.5 grams or more of trans fats every day, are 86 per cent more likely to have pre-cancerous colon polyps than those who eat just 3.63 g of the fats. Trans fats originally were thought to be inert but are now known to be harmful. They are found in junk food, crisps, many fast food products, certain packaged foods and even some ‘health bars,
Researchers made the discovery when they carried out colonoscopies on 622 volunteers, who were then interviewed about their diets. (Source: American Journal of Epidemiology, 2008; 168: 289-97).


Alternative treatments do serve a patient’s mind, body and spirit


An article in the newspaper ‘USA Today’ reports that 37 per cent of US hospitals make complementary and alternative treatments available to their patients as the norm. Such treatments include acupuncture, touch therapy, energy therapies and music and art therapy, according to the American Hospital Association. "This is a movement toward ’patient-centered’ care," says Sita Ananth, director of knowledge services for the Samueli Institute, an Alexandria, Vancouver-based non-profit organisation that studies and researches alternative therapies. "Many hospital mission statements are to serve the mind, body and spiritual needs of their patients." (MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Texas)


Stevia approval by FDA as safe alternative to sugar


A lot of controversy has hung around stevia. The sugar, and the synthetic sweetner markets are each very large businesses, so the emergence of a natural alternative which sweetens yet has no calories, was always likely to make enemies in high places. Especially when it has other benefits like the ability to kill rather than feed yeasts and microbes in the body.

Now a brand of Stevia has obtained the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status as defined by US federal regulations. The review of SweetLeaf® Stevia by
GRAS Associates, a leading consulting firm for the food industry headed by two former senior scientists at FDA’s GRAS review branch, involved an extensive review of published research and toxicology studies as well as international standards for the safe use of Stevia in food. FDA regulations allow companies to independently determine through a self-affirmation process that an ingredient is generally recognized as safe by qualified experts. Next stop the UK, hopefully.


FDA makes surprising statement about Selenium and cancer


In a recent announcement, the US body, the FDA, has stated that: "Selenium may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Some scientific evidence suggests that consumption of selenium may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer”Studies on selenium suggest that it increase glutathione peroxidise activity, which protects against, and mops up free radicals. It also seems to increase cellular oxygen, and can positively affect certain cancer protective genes. There is also evidence that it protects DNA. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that daily selenium supplementation in 1,312 patients for nearly four-and-a-half years reduced the risk of cancer incidence – for all cancers.


Omega 3 – three new studies


Three new studies have been published in the American Journal of Nutrition (Sept 2008) on the health and longevity of elderly populations, when taking EPA and DHA omega 3 oils.

The findings of all three showed that low levels of such oils increased risk of death from all causes and accelerated brain function decline.

The findings also showed that the use of these oils needed to be a long-term lifetime habiot, and that short term supplementation was of little benefit.


Eat smaller meals, more often


We’ve told you before – now here’s the latest evidence. People who eat smaller, more frequent meals have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and healthier blood sugar than people who eat fewer, larger meals, according to a study conducted by researchers from the US Agricultural Research Service Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center and the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program.

Researchers had a small group of volunteers consume either one meal per day or three meals per day for eight weeks, then had them switch to the other diet for another eight weeks. The total calories consumed per day were the same in the one-meal and the three-meal groups.

When eating only one high-calorie meal per day, participants lost small amounts of weight and body mass. At the same time, however, they underwent significant increases in both total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and in blood pressure. They had higher blood sugar levels, longer-lasting blood sugar levels after eating, and a delayed response to the sugar-regulating hormone insulin. All of these blood sugar disruptions can be considered precursors to diabetes. Poor sugar control and diabetes are also linked to increased rates of cancer.

The new research follows a 2005 study showing that eating larger portion sizes does not correspond to feeling more full. Researchers from the Penn State University Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behaviour found that over time, people who were served larger portions ended up eating more food, rather than less.


Low vitamin B-12 link to dementia and Alzheimer’s


We have reported before on the links between low vitamin B-12 levels and cancer, and covered studies linking low levels with breast cancer in particular. Our concerns extended to the fact that some women then choose a vegan diet as part of their therapy programme. Vegans have lowered levels of B-12 as a major source is meat.

Now a new study (US News and World Report System Sept 8th 2008; Neurology 71: 826) involving more than 100 volunteers aged 61 to 87 has shown that those people with lower vitamin B12 levels at the start of the research had a greater decrease in brain volume during the study. For those with the lowest levels there was a staggering  sixfold greater rate of brain volume loss compared with those who had the highest levels.
Brain atrophy is associated with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Levels of B-12 are known to decline in the body with age.

As regular readers will know, supplementation with B-12 is possible. However we favour the use of the natural food Chlorella. This is naturally high in a number of vitamins like beta-carotene and B-12 plus enzymes and minerals. You can read more on by clicking here.


Organic Food volume falls 19 per cent as the British tighten their belts


According to the Daily Telegraph and other media in the UK, the spiralling cost of living in the UK has caused people to drop their principles and move away from organic food because of its higher costs.

However, as the cost of oil-derived chemicals like pesticides and fertilisers increases, so the differential between mass market crops and organic may well decline, they note.


CHEMICAL WORLD


 European Parliament Recommends Stricter Safety Limits for Cell Phones


From the University at Albany, Institute for Health and the Environment (Marketwire - September 18, 2008):
The European Parliament has voted 522 to 16 to recommend tighter safety standards for cell phones. In light of the growing body of scientific evidence implicating cell phone use with brain tumours, the Parliament says, "The limits on exposure to electromagnetic fields [EMFs which have been set for the general public are obsolete."
The European Parliament "is greatly concerned at the Bio-Initiative international report concerning EMFs, which summarises over 1500 studies on that topic and which points in its conclusions to the health risks posed by emissions from mobile-telephony devices such as mobile telephones, UMTS, WiFi, WiMax and Bluetooth, and also DECT landline telephones”.
(Ed: It is very worrying – even sad - that we have to find out this important ruling via America! But if you want to read more, try http://new.marketwire.com/2.0/release.do?id=901580)


BPA threat widespread – a ‘health time bomb’


Increasing levels of bisphenol A in ‘modern foods’ are creating a health time bomb according to UK researchers (September 17th Journal of the American Medical Association).
David Melzer, M.B., Ph.D., of Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, and his colleagues measured the BPA found in the urine of 1,455 US adults between the ages of 18 and 74 years, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) which was gathered in 2003 and 2004. Then they looked at the health status of these people whom the scientists note in the JAMA report are "representative of the adult U.S. population".

The results? Dr. Melzer and his team found that average BPA concentrations, adjusted for age and sex, were higher in those diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, even at small levels. Those with the highest BPA concentration had nearly three times the odds of heart disease and 2.4 times the risk of diabetes when compared with those with the lowest levels. Higher levels of BPA concentrations were also associated with abnormally elevated levels of three liver enzymes. Bisphenol A has been associated with cancer several times previously, and to normal development in children. Canada has declared bisphenol A to be a major worldwide pollutant and has proposed a ban.

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program has already released a report on the safety of the chemical and warned BPA could cause health and developmental problems.

In the JAMA editorial that accompanies the research, Frederick S. von Saal, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri, Columbia, and John Peterson Myers, Ph.D., of Environmental Health Sciences, Charlottesville, Va., point out that BPA production has reached about 7 billion pounds per year.
You’ll find it in all manner of plastic packaging and bottles, food and drink can liners and even in US baby formula cans. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) (a non-profit organization comprised of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers etc) all U.S. manufacturers of formula use a BPA-containing lining on the metal part of their containers!


Open letter on supplements goes to EuroMP’s


In an open letter to all members of the European Parliament’s Committee for the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Alliance for Natural Health asks, ‘Food supplements and mobile phones: are their respective risks to public health being managed proportionately?’
Asking EMP’s to consider the reported dangers of both prescription drugs, and mobile phones, yet the far lesser apparent risks of natural supplements, the ANH makes two compelling points
-  if regulatory initiatives, particularly in Europe, are not altered, the maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals allowed in food supplements will be lower than those found in a single junk food meal. 
-  while analysis of food safety data indicates that risks associated with vitamin and mineral supplements are the lowest of any product consumed orally, being  substantially less than that of conventional foods, food supplements, especially within the European Union, are facing regulatory pressure that could see the vast majority of beneficial dosages of nutrients banned. Meanwhile the risks from very low intensity electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by a wide range of wireless telecommunications technologies have been dramatically understated by regulatory and standard setting bodies.
Two ANH petitions have been submitted to the European Parliament Petitions Committee calling for urgent and independent re-evaluation of risk assessment and management approaches affecting both the food supplement and telecommunications sectors, given recent evidence and published science that suggests the models used in both sectors are seriously flawed and not fit for purpose. (Ed: It is hard for independently minded and health concerned individuals not to agree with them, frankly.)


PCF’s found in all mother’s breast milk


Toxic chemicals used in non-stick coatings and stain-resistant fabrics were found in the breast milk of every woman tested in a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Researchers tested the milk from 45 different nursing mothers for two different varieties of perflourinated compounds (PFCs): perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8. PFOA is used in nonstick coatings such as Teflon, while PFOS is an ingredient in stain-resistant fabric.

PFCs were found in the milk of every woman tested, at an average concentration of 131 billionths of a gram of PFOS and 44 billionths of a gram of PFOA per liter.

The researchers said that this concentration would expose infants to PFC levels below the maximum set by the British Food Standards Agency Committee, but noted that infants may also be exposed to PFCs from other sources. (wvgazette.com)


Nursing is a dangerous job!


According to a nationwide survey of 1,500 nurses conducted by the American Nurses Association, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Health Care Without Harm and the Environmental Health Education Center at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, nurses are exposed to a wide variety of toxic chemicals and radiation in the course of their jobs, and the degree of this exposure correlates with their risk of cancer, asthma, miscarriages and birth defects.

The report highlighted exposure to anaesthetic gases, hand disinfectants, cleaning substances, latex, pharmaceutical products including chemotherapy and antiretroviral drugs, mercury, personal care products such as shampoo and soap, sterilization chemicals and radiation.

"Generally, we think the cleaner the better -- the cleaner something is, the safer it is," said Lisa Hartmayer, a nurse from the University of California at San Francisco. "But that’s not always the case. We use everyday cleaners that have chemicals, there’s soap we use on our hands. I don’t believe there’s strong enough research to tell us what happens with constant exposure."

According to Hartmayer, many nurses complain of headaches, runny noses and watery eyes each time they use sanitary wipes to clean off medical equipment, which they must do several times each day.

"I know a woman who had eight miscarriages while she was working in health care," said Lauri Hoagland, a nurse practitioner from Napa, CA. "There haven’t been any studies, but if you work in health care, you know something’s happening.

The children of pregnant nurses who were exposed to chemicals were more likely to have birth defect, especially muscoloskeletal defects. Pregnant nurses who were exposed to anesthetics or sterilizing agents were seven to nine times more likely to give birth to children with such defects than nurses who had not been exposed.

Most nurses are not even aware that they are exposed daily to situations that could result in such serious health consequences. "The biggest problem I see is that nurses don’t know they’re being exposed," Hartmayer said.

Many hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area no longer use latex gloves because of the allergy risk, for example, and some are reducing their use of vinyl on hospital premises due to the toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing of the material. The Stanford University Medical Center and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital now gives a comprehensive physical exam to all nurses upon hiring them, and once per year after that. This exam includes monitoring the chemical loads in their bodies.


US Lawsuits against pesticide usage


According to Abcnews.go.com, in the last year and a half, public interest law firm Earthjustice has filed four federal lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency concerning the use of pesticides. "There are several pesticides on the market that pose extreme risks to human health -- through the water, air and food," said Joshua Osborne-Klein, an attorney for the Earthjustice. "Our lawsuits say that the EPA has not fully assessed these risks." Watch out UK policy makers – they are thinking of opening a branch in Europe!

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