A recent study of skin cells, in the journal Science, demonstrated that UV-exposed skin cells harbor a multiplicity of genetic mutations that can develop into cancer.
By sequencing the genes in skins cells obtained at the time of plastic surgery on the eyelids (to remove drooping skin), the researchers were able to demonstrate multiple genetic defects in skin cells, many of which occur within the genes that are associated with skin cancer. This ‘bulbling cauldron’ of genetic variants ultimately give rise to skin cancer, and the UV light is the driver of those mutations.
How does the skin stay effective and cancer free with all of this genetic variations? It’s difficult to say, but the fact that your skin is undergoing massive genetic changes all the time is an amazing proof that things are not quite as calm as they may appear on the outside, when it comes to your skin and sun exposure.
Read more of this breaking research >>>>>HERE<<<<<
Colon cancer has a large preventable component through early screening and detection, and despite the general safety and tolerability of colonoscopy, many people hesitate due to the preparation required, or due to the perceived risk of the test (which is small..but real.)
Other ways we screen for cancers and polyps is through testing for microscopic blood in the bowel movement, either at the time of a rectal exam (for men…during their prostate exam, or for woman, when they have their gynecologic exam). Alternatively, these bowel screenings are done with home kits that allow the collection to be made in private. These are useful screening tools, but they are not quite adequate or equivalent colonoscopy.
Enter Colo-Guard, a new bowel kit that looks for genetic material sloughed off in the bowel movement, genetic material that is found in precancerous polyps and cancerous tissues. The latest study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that this test, combined with the microscopic blood test, improves the value of such testing and has an accuracy that will allow for general use in the future. This is good news in the ongoing attempt to pre-empt a potentially dangerous cancer.
Read more about this study>>>>HERE.
This weeks Sunday New York Times had a great article titled “Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer” and the summary is….as we live longer and reduce the greatest killer of people, HEART DISEASE, Cancer comes to dominate as the major cause of death.
The statistics clearly show reductions in premature death from heart disease and stroke, as well as reductions in death from cancer; only cancer death reductions are less than those seen in heart disease. Why that is, is the source of great interest, but mostly has to do with the great strides in prevention of heart disease with diet, exercise, and cholesterol medications….and improved treatment of acute illness from stenting, balloon treatments, acute management in the intensive care unit.
Cancer deaths have declined since 1990, mostly due to reduced lung cancer cases, but also as the result of great strides in specific types of childhood and adult cancers, as well as incremental improvements in a whole host of common cancers.
So….the statistics clearly show we are making strides in treating cancer. Let’s recognize our success but focus on further improvements in the future.
Vitamin D is riding high these days, as there have been many reports in the medical literature that low levels of Vitamin D are associated with everything from cancer to reduced longevity. As a result, supplementing Vitamin D has become all the rage, with patients actually developing Vitamin D overdose, as it is a fat soluble vitamin that the body will store in excess is taken to an extreme (unlike B vitamins, which are not fat soluble. B vitamins will not build up in the body in an adverse way).
With low Vitamin D being associated with various diseases, it seems obvious that supplementing with Vitamin D will reduce such diseases, but in the latest article to review this topic in THE LANCET, there was not improvement found in health with supplementation.
This points out the error in such presumptions. That low Vitamin D is associated with ill health is due to a variety of different factors, but it does not then mean that supplementing with Vitamin D will resolve such health conditions. This is flawed reasoning of association and cause.
So….like all vitamins, the data to supplement remains more sketchy, and moderation is the order of the day. 400-2000 units of Vitamin D is the maximum I recommend on any routine basis for those are are desirous to supplement. Better yet, get that sunshine as we have always been told…I think that is a better way to keep your Vitamin D high.
VITAMIN D AND HEALTH
Turns out that despite high calories, nuts appear to be a great health food.
A recent NEJM study showed increased longevity in those who ate nuts daily, with a 30% reduction in heart disease and 11% in cancer.
Nut eaters are also more slender than the rest of us….so not to worry about the extra calories apparently.
Read more here: NUTS ARE GOOD
My dentist likes to do xrays once a year, to help in caring for my teeth, but I’m concerned about excessive radiation. What do you think?
This is a great question, and one we should all think about when we are exposure to radiation or xrays. Now that it is so simple to take an xray it is easier to get dosed readily without even thinking about it.
In the old days, taking an x-ray was an arduous task, due to the fact making an x-ray image took a lot of technical know-how and required essentially a photographic lab to develop the images. Now, with computerization, the images are all digital and the pictures can be taken quickly and easily and processed with a standard computer, making it simple to have radiation given to a person without even thinking about it.
The best way to view your radiation exposure is with this classic radiation graphic
In this graphic, you can see that dental xrays are minimal exposure, amounting to approximately 1/2 the normal background radiation you get in a day, or 1/8th the amount you would get on a plane ride across the country.
Most of the excess radiation we get is from medical x-rays, with a standard CAT scan of the lungs providing a similar dose to that radiation you would get today at Chernobyl, standing on the grounds, and 10 CAT scans would give you the maximum radiation dose allowed a nuclear reactor worker.
So…..limit your x-ray exposure to medical -xrays when you can, and ask for ‘low dose’ CAT scans, if possible; particularly for follow-up scans if they are required.
Chantix (varenicline) is a great ‘stop smoking’ medication. It works by stimulating nicotine receptors in the brain, but it was given a black-eye when there were concerns that it caused suicidal thoughts in people and might worsen depression in those who are susceptible.
Now, a new study, shows this medication to be safe, and that the these concerns were overstated. For those who are interested in quitting smoking but concerned about medication safety, this is reassuring news.
Read more HERE
Two large studies have shown that screening for colon cancer is an effective tool in reducing your risk for dying from colon cancer. Both articles appeared in the respected New England Journal of Medicine.
One study looked at colonoscopy, and found a 70% reduction in your chances of dying from colon cancer. A second study showed simply checking for microscopic blood in the bowel movement (like is done at a routine annual exam) reduces the risk by 30+%.
And don’t delude yourself into thinking that ‘you’d know’ if you need to be screened. It is 100% clear that the majority of people to early stage colon cancer and significant polyps have ZERO symptoms….so that excuse is BULL!
Get your copy of COLONOSCOPY FOR DUMMIES today!
Read more about the studies HERE.
OK…that’s an exaggeration. But, his recent passing was the occasion of my reading is obituary in the NYTIMES, and there I discovered that he was another link-in-the-chain in the story of Gleevec, a cancer therapy breakthrough that has cured patients of a form of leukemia that was previously uniformly fatal.
Tony Pawson focused his research on the communication between cells in the body, presuming that this interaction, when not regulated properly, led to illness. Born in England, but doing much of his research in Canada, he discovered something called the SH2 domain, a ‘chemical knob’ on the outside of cells that allows for communication to take place. Adjusting the activity of this SH2 domain, and other similar ‘knobs’ found later by other researchers after his initial discovery, has led to a host of treatments of various conditions from cancer, to diabetes, to rheumatoid arthritis.
Gleevec is a particularly interesting treatment, as it has profoundly altered the lives of CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia) patients, providing a virtual cure of this disease. I have patients myself who take this medication, and I’ve mentioned before in talks, of a person you might be familiar with who has CML and who has been saved by Gleevec…..Kareem Abdul Jabar.
The story of Gleevec and it’s discovery, has recently been made into a best-selling novel this summer THE PHILADELPHIA CHROMOSOME. Check it out at Amazon…it makes for a good read about the trail of research and where it can lead, and in so doing, confirms that basic science in the biological arena yields many practical results and should be supported by all of us through the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and other institutions like my alma maters Johns Hopkins and ASU’s Biodesign Institute.
A recent study in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) has raised questions about the safety of one of our most commonly prescribed blood pressured medications, the CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS.
In a case-control study, the researchers demonstrated at 2.5x greater risk of breast cancer in those women on the medication for 10 years or more.
Although this study is ‘suggestive’ of concern, the method that they used in the study has researchers looking into this questions further and is not definitive enough to warrant a change in our approach. So, the researchers will be doing more studies, and we will keep our eyes on this, but for now, no change in medication has been recommended.
Despite this, if you remain concerned, please come to the office to discuss this further.
<<<<<<<Calcium Channel Blockers include: Norvasc (Amlodipine), Calan (Verapamil), Cardizem (Diltiazem), Procardia (Nifedipine)>>>>>>>