Tag Archives: cancer prevention

Everyday Choices Can Influence Cancer Risk

More salads, exercise, can keep lung tumors at bay, one study found

While genes and environment can affect your risk for cancer, so can everyday lifestyle choices on things such as diet, exercise and smoking, new research shows.

The findings were to be presented Friday in Philadelphia at an American Association for Cancer Research conference on cancer prevention.

One study found that people who quit smoking can further reduce their risk of lung cancer by eating plenty of vegetables (four or more servings of salad a week or equivalent). The researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center also found that former smokers who get exercise through gardening are 45 percent less likely to get lung cancer than former smokers who don’t garden.

Current smokers who ate three servings or less of salad a week were two times more likely to develop lung cancer than current smokers who ate four or more salads a week. Current smokers who gardened were 33 percent less likely to get lung cancer than current smokers who didn’t garden, the Texas team found.”

Although this is a very preliminary analysis, it give us some important clues about how everyone — smokers and non-smokers alike — might be able to reduce their risk of developing lung cancer,” Michele Forman, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas, said in a prepared statement.

“If you are worried about lung cancer risk, this study shows that you may benefit from eating a healthy diet and being physically active,” she said.

A second study suggests that males may be more prone to developing cancer than females because of gender differences in antioxidant levels and the ability to repair DNA damage.

The Ohio State University study found that the same degree of damaging ultraviolet (UV) light caused more damage to the skin of male mice than to that of female mice. As a result, the male mice developed more squamous cell skin cancers, and these tumors grew more quickly and aggressively than the same type of tumors on the skin of female mice.

The findings may help explain why men develop three times as many squamous cell skin cancers than women and why men are more prone to developing cancer in general, the researchers said.

“Men get more skin cancer than women, and it has classically been thought that the reason for this is lifestyle — men spend more time outside and are less likely to use sun protection,” Kathleen Tober, a research scientist in OSU’s pathology department, said in a prepared statement. “Our data suggests that while that may be a factor, an even more critical reason for this difference is that female skin may be better able to combat the damaging effects of UV exposure.”

“Based on our data, it would be a reasonable hypothesis that one of the underlying mechanisms for this is that men might have less overall antioxidant levels and diminished DNA repair capacity,” Tober said.

SaladA third study found that black Americans may have a more difficult time giving up smoking, because they have much lower levels of an enzyme (glucuronide) that metabolizes nicotine and nicotine byproducts than whites. This means that blacks may experience higher nicotine levels when smoking, which makes it more difficult for them to kick the habit.

“Smokers adjust their level of smoking to maintain blood levels of nicotine, which are determined in part by rates of nicotine metabolism, and, while we can’t say from this study that differences in metabolism definitively account for lower quit rates (among blacks), it could very well have an impact,” Jeannette Zinggeler Berg, an M.D./Ph.D. student in biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics at the University of Minnesota, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer prevention.

Source:  ScoutNews, LLC. /FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) —

Deadly Pancreatic Cancer Needs More Attention

It’s the big four – breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer.

These are the cancers that you always hear about at community fundraising events.

But there are thousands of people suffering from cancers that are often much more deadly and get far less research funding.

Pancreatic cancer is a great example of this phenomenon.

This type of cancer is as common as leukemia, yet most people couldn’t tell you much about it. The disease also has a higher fatality rate than all other cancers – 99 percent, which means just 380 of the 32,180 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States this year will survive.In spite of this shocking statistic, pancreatic cancer research receives just 1 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s more than $4.8 billion budget.

Clearly there is a critical need for more effective drug treatments, early detection and prevention programs. And the only way that can happen is with increased community awareness and more research.

In November, which is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, those of us engaged in the daily battle against this deadly disease have an opportunity to renew our efforts through community education, the best means we know to drive research funding and make progress possible.

Here is just part of the important message that clinicians and scientists working with pancreatic cancer would like to get across.

The pancreas has two important functions in the body: it produces juices that help the body digest food, and hormones that help control blood-sugar levels. Cancerous tumors often form in the area where the bile duct crosses from the intestine into the pancreas.

Tucked deep in the abdomen, the pancreas is difficult to screen because pancreatic tumors cannot easily be felt or seen.

If diagnosed early, however, the cancerous portion of the pancreas can be surgically removed and rerouted. Unfortunately, most cases are diagnosed in advanced stages.

Because of this, it is critically important for people to know the warning signs of pancreatic cancer and proactively seek medical treatment before the disease progresses. Common symptoms include jaundice (yellow color in eyes and skin), chronic abdominal pain, sudden weight loss and extreme body weakness.

People also need to understand their risk factors. Smokers are up to three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than nonsmokers. In fact, 30 percent of pancreas cancers are directly related to a history of smoking. Men are 30 percent more likely to develop the disease than women – especially those over age 60. You’re also at increased risk for the disease if you are obese, diabetic or have a family history of pancreatic cancer.

pancreas picAt the University of Cincinnati Pancreatic Disease Center, we are investigating cutting-edge technologies and therapies that make survival more realistic. Our team is one of just a small handful across the nation focusing exclusively on gastrointestinal and pancreatic diseases.

We’re making progress against the disease, but not fast enough. Recent research has given us a better understanding of pancreas cancer at the molecular level, which has led to newer biologic drugs designed to target specific molecules on the pancreas cancer cells.

These drugs are showing progress in early clinical trials, but until we – as a nation – can make a substantial investment in pancreatic cancer research, we will only make marginal progress.

As we enter the presidential election year, I urge Greater Cincinnatians to contact your senators and push for a national commitment to increase cancer research funding. You can also make a difference in pancreas cancer awareness by spreading the word to your family and friends or getting involved with the Pancreas Cancer Action Network (www.pancan.org.)

Dr. Syed Ahmad is a surgical oncologist with the University of Cincinnati Department of Surgery, UC Pancreatic Disease Center (www.ucpancreas.org).