Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Ladies, Don’t Skip Colon Cancer Screening

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

A troubling trend has been revealed by a new study headed by Nisa Maruther of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and published online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. It concerns obese white women. Researchers found that they are less likely to undergo potentially life-saving colon cancer screenings, compared to normal-weight white women or to black persons of any weight or gender. In a news release, Dr. Maruther wrote, "Being concerned about your weight usually is good, but here it appears to be keeping people from a test we know saves lives. Obese white women may avoid screening because they feel stigmatized and embarrassed to disrobe for the tests." Health-fitness professionals should encourage all clients ages 50 to 75 to seek colon cancer screening, which includes periodic colonoscopy tests.

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Obesity and Colon Cancer

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Here at the start of the new year, many of us pledge to exercise more and shed extra, unwanted inches. Recent research provides some added incentive to stick with those resolutions. Reporting on a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, Reuters Health Information has summarized its results as follows: Older persons who are heavy, particularly around the middle, appear to be at higher risk for developing colon cancer than do leaner older adults. There is also evidence that physical exercise plays a significant role regarding that risk, especially in women.

The project followed approximately 120,000 Dutch subjects (ages 55 to 69) for 16 years, during which roughly two percent developed colorectal cancer and most of those were ultimately diagnosed with colon cancer.

For men, the findings were rather straightforward:

  • The risk for men who were obese or significantly overweight at the beginning of the study was 25 percent higher than that for men in normal weight range;
  • Men with the greatest belly girth measurements had 63 percent more risk than those with slimmer waistlines.
  • For women, the findings were more complicated:

  • Women of large girth who exercised little were 83 percent more prone to develop colon cancer than those with trimmer middles who exercised more than 90 minutes a day;
  • However, a large middle was only connected with higher risk in women who also exercised little (fewer than 30 minutes a day).
  • "One of our more intriguing observations," the study’s lead author Laura Hughes told Reuters, "was that abdominal fat was associated with colorectal cancer in women only when combined with low exercise levels."

    Exactly why this may be true is not yet well understood. Hughes noted that calorie balance (that is, one’s dietary caloric consumption versus one’s caloric expenditure via physical exercise) could be important. She recommends that women concentrate on living an overall healthy lifestyle, as opposed to focusing mainly on body weight.

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    Stand Up Against Cancer

    Monday, December 5th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Sitting on the couch or in a chair for too much of the day may increase one’s risk for cancer, according to Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, a service affiliated with the National Institutes of Health. It is not uncommon for people to sit for more than 15 hours per day — on the job, in their cars and/or while watching television. Getting up and moving around more may help to prevent the disease.

    In a recent Canadian study, older women who exercised five days per week for a year appeared to have have less inflammation in their bodies. Less inflammation may be protective against cancer. Researchers believe that becoming more physically active could reduce one’s risk for breast or colon cancer by 25 percent or more.

    The American Institute for Cancer Research offers these easy tips for incorporating more movement into one’s daily routine:

    • Set your watch or computer alarm to sound off every hour as a reminder to stand up and move about for a few minutes;
    • Stand up while talking on the telephone;
    • Instead of calling or emailing a coworker, walk over to his or her office; and
    • If you need to talk with someone for several minutes, take a walk during the conversation.
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    The Immune System

    Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Cancer patients, as well as many others with suppressed immune systems, often have extra trouble fighting off life-threatening infections. Now there is new hope for improving the immune response of these patients, thanks to recent research findings described in this University of Florida news release:

    University of Florida researchers have identified two key steps required to activate the body’s innate immune system, its first line of defense against infection.

    The discoveries offer insight into why some trauma patients survive their initial injuries but die from seemingly less serious causes soon afterward.

    “We’re able to bring them through the trauma with an 80 percent or higher success rate, and then after a few weeks in the hospital they succumb to secondary infections, like pneumonia and urinary tract infections,” said Matthew Delano, M.D., Ph.D., a UF surgical resident.

    Researchers, including Delano and Lyle Moldawer, Ph.D., a professor and vice chairman of research in UF’s department of surgery, say understanding the chemical signals that help direct immunity may lead to improved therapies for patients with suppressed immune systems, such as those with critical injuries, HIV and cancer, who need extra help fighting infections.

    In an article published in the July issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the scientists describe how B cells, a specific type of white blood cell, release a chemical called CXCL10 to trigger inflammation and the deployment of cells designed to fight any pathogens or foreign matter.

    Previously, B cells were thought to be involved only in the body’s adaptive immune response, which recognizes invaders, proliferates and responds more effectively to subsequent encounters. The innate immune response is more generic and wasn’t thought to convey any long-lasting immunity to specific threats.

    “What we showed, which is actually quite revolutionary, is that B cells modulate the early innate immune response,” Moldawer said.

    A review of the paper appeared in the August issue of Nature Reviews Immunology.

    In a separate study published in the July 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, researchers identified a protein called stromal cell-derived factor 1, known as SDF-1, that directs the release of neutrophils, another type of white blood cell, from the bone marrow to the site of infection. Neutrophils will attack any pathogen and are one of the body’s first weapons used to fight infection.

    Bone marrow usually makes SDF-1, but stops production when an infection begins. Tissues at the infection site start making the protein instead, and neutrophils migrate to the areas with the highest concentrations of SDF-1. Once there, they battle the invading pathogens.

    “If we block this increase (in SDF-1 in the infected area), then we don’t see a mobilization,” Moldawer said. “The neutrophils are not recruited to the site of infection and the infection can’t be controlled.”

    Moldawer said SDF-1 also speeds neutrophils’ development from stem cells and increases their “bacteria-killing properties.”

    The identification of SDF-1 and of CXCL10 in activating the body’s innate immune response could pave the way for medicines that stimulate innate immunity in immune-suppressed patients.

    Scientists from the University of California,-Los Angeles, Yale University, Duke University Medical Center, Osaka University, Merck Research Laboratories and the University of Virginia also helped with the studies.

    “The next step is to ask whether giving SDF-1 can improve outcomes in patients that have reduced numbers of inflammatory cells due to chemotherapy, malnutrition, etc.,” Moldawer said.

    The researchers will ask the same question about CXCL10.

    Richard Hotchkiss, M.D., a professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, applauded the researchers’ efforts to find new approaches to fighting infection and preventing and battling sepsis. Sepsis is a serious complication of infection in which the immune system becomes overactive and disrupts normal blood flow. The condition can lead to organ failure. Hotchkiss was not involved in the research.

    “Using drugs which can up- or downregulate host immunity would be a nice accompanying approach to sepsis,” he said. “Rather than just focusing on antibiotics, we should be focusing on drugs which can improve patient immunity and their ability to fight off new, secondary infections.”

    The University of Florida Health Science Center – the most comprehensive academic health center in the Southeast – is dedicated to high-quality programs of education, research, patient care and public service. The Health Science Center encompasses the colleges of Dentistry, Public Health and Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Veterinary Hospitals and an academic campus in Jacksonville offering graduate education programs in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Patient care activities, under the banner UF&Shands, are provided through teaching hospitals and a network of clinics in Gainesville and Jacksonville. The Health Science Center also has a statewide presence through satellite medical, dental and nursing clinics staffed by UF health professionals; and affiliations with community-based health-care facilities stretching from Hialeah and Miami to the Florida Panhandle.

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    Research and Practical Health Care

    Friday, May 6th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    The great universities of the world produce important research findings and provide practical medical care as well. Below are three current news releases from the University of Florida that demonstrate such centers’ value — and that will be of great interest to those involved in older adult health and fitness.

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    Listen to the Quiet Protein

    Friday, May 6th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    As noted in the article below, lung cancer strikes both cigarette smokers and nonsmokers. For new hope in the fight against this form of cancer, read on:

    When a movie character says, “It’s too quiet,” that’s usually a sign something bad may happen.

    Now, University of Florida researchers have discovered that when variations of a certain protein in our cells are too quiet, it may add to the risk that someone will develop lung cancer. When scientists restored the protein to its normal, active self, its cancer-inhibiting properties reappeared.

    These discoveries, published in two reports in the online version of Oncogene, provide evidence that drugs can potentially suppress tumor growth by restoring cellular processes rather than inhibiting cancer-causing genes known as oncogenes.

    “It’s a well-accepted fact that you can inhibit things, particularly oncogenes,
    that drive cancer. Oncogenes are the cancer’s gas pedal,” said principal investigator David Reisman, M.D., Ph.D., a UF associate professor of medicine and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. “What we’ve done is demonstrate the feasibility of reconstituting the cancer brake.”

    The protein, known as Brahma, or BRM, is involved in the regulation of cellular functions like gene expression, DNA repair, cell adhesion and telling cells whether to divide and grow or stop dividing and die. Other studies have found
    “silenced” BRM is present in 10 to 20 percent of all solid tumors. Reisman knew from his own research in mouse models that silencing the BRM gene alone did not cause tumor growth, but when carcinogens were introduced, 10 times as many tumors appeared compared with mice with normal BRM expression.

    “The gene was not a tumor suppressor in the classical definition but a tumor susceptibility gene, and when the expression is lost, it primes you to other events that potentiate the development of tumors, such as tobacco carcinogens,” Reisman said.

    More people die of lung cancer every year than of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate or lymphoma combined, according to the National Cancer Institute. However, only 10 percent of smokers develop lung cancer and as many as 15 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.

    Reisman’s work suggests the presence of two variations within the BRM gene — known as polymorphisms — could potentially be biomarkers for lung cancer and assist doctors in identifying individuals at higher risk, which could lead to more cost-effective screening practices and lifesaving early detection.

    Study investigators sequenced the genes of 160 people and learned that roughly 20 percent carry the gene variants. With collaborator Geoffrey Liu, M.D., a research scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute at the University of Toronto,
    the team then verified the presence of the silenced BRM variants in human lung tumors.

    Reisman and Lui also conducted case control studies on 1,199 people who were
    matched for age, gender and smoking history but in whom 484 individuals had lung cancer and 715 were healthy and cancer free.

    “We found these polymorphic sites were greatly enriched in the population that had developed lung cancer,” Reisman said. “The chance that you would develop lung cancer if you had both polymorphic sites was 220 percent higher. Our analysis demonstrated those odds to be independent of smoking history, sex, race and cancer type.”

    Reisman’s team also studied whether it would be possible to restore the normal expression of the BRM protein. Certain compounds, called histone deacetylase — or HDAC — inhibitors, had been demonstrated by other researchers to reactivate the BRM gene, but did not restore the normal, cancer-suppressing function of the BRM protein.

    By introducing the healthy protein alongside the reactivated gene, the researchers were able to stop the growth of cancer cells. That makes the process a potential target for drug therapies to use in suppressing many tumor types.

    “We know there are a lot of genes that are silenced in cancer, and it’s believed that gene silencing is necessary in order for the cancer to grow and thrive. This research demonstrates — and is really the first example of — an approach that’s led to the reactivation of a specific tumor-suppressing gene,” said Aubrey Thompson, Ph.D., a professor of cancer biology at Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Fla., who was not involved in the research.

    “That’s a really big deal,” he said. “It’s an approach that is widely applicable to a lot of genes and a lot of different types of cancer. I think it’s going to be met with a great deal of enthusiasm and interest from researchers in human cancer therapy.”

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    Scientists have developed a more accurate and less unpleasant method of diagnosing prostate cancer

    Thursday, December 9th, 2010

    Utilizing ultrasound technology, researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology and AMC Amsterdam have been able to trace the path of injected “microbubbles” through the prostate to determine not only the existence of tumors but also their rate of growth. The researchers noted that this information could help doctors to refrain from performing unnecessary operations and thus reduce overall medical costs.

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    Progress on the Cancer Front

    Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Senior health-fitness professionals routinely work with older adults for whom breakthroughs in cancer research may be of vital interest. Therefore, we are pleased to present the following news releases on advances in breast, colon, and lung cancer treatments describing important new initiatives under way at a major US health science center.

    Located in Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida (UF) Health Science Center — the most comprehensive academic health center in the Southeast — is dedicated to high-quality programs of education, research, patient care, and public service. The Health Science Center encompasses the colleges of Dentistry, Public Health and Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Veterinary Hospitals and an academic campus in Jacksonville, Florida, offering graduate education programs. Patient care activities, under the banner of UF & Shands, are provided through teaching hospitals and a network of clinics in Gainesville and Jacksonville. The Health Science Center also has a statewide presence through satellite medical, dental, and nursing clinics staffed by UF health professionals and affiliations with numerous community-based health-care facilities.

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    News on Breast Cancer

    Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    With the snip of scissors during a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the University of Florida Cancer & Genetics Research Complex, a new era in the treatment of breast cancer in Florida began.

    The ceremony debued the Intrabeam system at Shands at UF medical center, an intraoperative radiation technology available at fewer than 20 treatment centers nationwide and the only Intrabeam system in the state of Florida. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a breast cancer survivor and ardent advocate for women with breast cancer, helped cut the orange, blue and pink ribbon.

    The great benefit of Intrabeam irradiation for patients is that it reduces or even eliminates the need for weeks of external radiation treatment following surgery for early stage breast cancers.

    “The Intrabeam will dramatically shorten the duration of radiation treatment for many of our patients,” sai Stephen Grobmyer, M.D., a UF associate professor of surgery and director of the UF Breast Center. “Radiation therapy that would normally require three to six weeks of treatments can now be accomplished in 20 to 25 minutes during the surgery.”

    Twenty years in the making, the Intrabeam system is a mobile irradiation device that can be used in the operating room to deliver precise doses of radiation directly to the tumor site. Because it uses low energy X-rays to deliver the radiation dose, it does not require a specialized, shielded room, as do standard, high-powered radiation technologies. Radiation using Intrabeam is delivered from a rod with a spherical tip, which is placed in the cavity left in the breast tissue following removal of the tumor. The tumor bed is then irradiated for a period of 20 to 30 minutes while the patient is under general anesthesia.

    The FDA-approved Intrabeam procedure, known as targeted intraoperative radiotherapy, was shown as effective as whole breast radiotherapy but with fewer complications in a clinical trial known as TARGIT-A, launched in 2000.

    “The TARGIT-A trial, which is a randomization of standard radiation compared to a one-time dose in the operative theater using Intrabeam, has demonstrated, after four years follow up, that the two are equivalent in their ability to prevent the breast cancer from coming back in the breast,” said Michael Alvarado, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery at the University of California at San Francisco and TARGIT-A investigator. “Not only is the one-time dose of radiation using Intrabeam just as effective as a full course of external radiation, it is more convenient for the patient and there is less risk involved in terms of damage to the heart, the lungs and the skin.”

    Studies have shown that 70 percent of women with invasive breast cancer require radiation therapy to destroy remaining cancer cells. Grobmyer, who is a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center, estimates the majority of patients undergoing lumpectomy, a breast conserving surgery that removes the tumor but leaves healthy breast tissue intact, would be potential candidates for treatment with Intrabeam. With the Intrabeam technology, Grobmyer said many lumpectomy patients at the UF Breast Center will now complete their entire course of radiation during surgery, eliminating the need to undergo weeks of external radiation treatments.

    “Studies suggest that the farther a woman lives from a treatment facility, the less likely she will be to receive radiation treatments,” Grobmyer said. “Some women will choose to have a mastectomy rather than breast conserving surgery because they aren’t able to commit to three to six weeks of radiation treatments, either because of physical disability or because they live too far away from the treatment facility. Intrabeam now makes lumpectomy a more viable option for many of these patients.”

    While Intrabeam irradiation has been shown to be just as effective as external radiation therapy in preventing the recurrence of cancer at the tumor site, it may have an added cancer killing effect that external radiation can’t offer.

    “Surgeons expect most, if not all, of the tumor can be removed, but in some cases microscopic parts of the tumor may remain within the tumor bed or attached to structures such as arteries or nerves that cannot be removed. Even under the best conditions, too often residual disease near the margin of the tumor resection remains,” said Paul Okunieff, M.D., chair of the UF department of radiation oncology and director of the UF Shands Cancer Center. “Historically, we would offer radiation after the patient has had time to heal from surgery, but with the Intrabeam system, with little to no added toxicity, radiation can be immediately delivered to the exactly correct location. Any remaining tumor cells are sterilized and have no time to regrow.”

    Okunieff said the Intrabeam system has been proven to be effective in the treatment of brain and breast tumors, and it holds promise for the treatment of many other cancer types where the tumor may be attached to sensitive tissues that cannot be removed, such as in the treatment of head and neck, pancreatic and rectal tumors. Okunieff was one of the researchers who participated in the early design and engineering of the Intrabeam device, and he was the first to use it in patients during clinical trials to treat brain tumors.

    A $346,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helped pay for the technology. The grant was intended to broaden treatment options for Floridians, which will be even further expanded by UF’s participation in ongoing clinical trials of the Intrabeam to explore its effectiveness in treating more advanced and aggressive breast cancers.

    “Being involved with studies with Intrabeam is an important part of what we do because it allows us to continually assess and refine the uses of the Intrabeam system,” Grobmyer said. “We’re in the era of personalized cancer therapy, tailored to the type and stage of cancer presented by each patient. The Intrabeam system is an important tool in this effort, and it provides excellent results, reduces side effects, and dramatically shortens the duration of treatment.”

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    There’s more good news about regular exercise!

    Monday, November 22nd, 2010

    Leslie Alford, physiotherapist and lecturer at the University of East Anglia, conducted a research review of 40 scientific papers. Her summary of the key findings indicated that regular exercise can reduce the risk of many health conditions including heart disease, dementia as well as some forms of cancer. Ms. Abbott stated that “what is clear from the research is that men and women of all ages should be encouraged to be more physically active for the sake of their long-term health.” Please click below for a report from Science Daily.

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