Tag Archives: smoking lung cancer

Small Changes Can Help Prevent Cancer

Making small changes could make a big difference in preventing cancer.

Avoid preventable risk factors by incorporating these guidelines into of your lifestyle.

Three choices can make a vast difference in increasing your odds for staying healthy and keeping yourself in check.

Don’t Smoke Tobacco

Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body, is linked to at least 15 different cancers, accounts for about 30 percent of all cancer deaths and costs billions of dollars each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

In the United States, cigarette smoking is responsible for about 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer — the leading cause of cancer death. Smoking cigars and pipes or chewing tobacco isn’t safe either.

“The importance of not smoking cannot be over emphasized in the prevention of cancer,” says Dr. Thomas Johnson, oncologist with Sacred Heart Medical Oncology Group. “Quitting is imperative for anyone who uses tobacco. Even people who have used tobacco for many years reduce their risk of cancer by quitting, as compared to people who continue to use tobacco.”

Toss Cigarettes Away“The predisposition for lung cancer does run in families,” Johnson says. “Smokers with relatives who have contracted lung cancer are at extremely high risk for developing cancer themselves, due to their genetic makeup.

You will often see multiple cases of lung cancer in a family that has a history of COPD, emphysema or lung cancer — those family members are predisposed to cancer and should not smoke.

Tobacco use alone increases their risk of cancer by 10 to 20 percent.”

Eat Healthy Foods and Get Regular Exercise

Fully one-third of cancer deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity and carrying excess weight.

The American Cancer Society recommends that you limit foods high in fat, eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day and limit alcohol, if you drink it at all. Include moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week to help achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

“Being overweight increases cancer risk by causing the body to produce and circulate more of the hormones estrogen and insulin, which can stimulate cancer growth,” said Dr. Dee McLeod, oncologist with Sacred Heart Medical Oncology Group. “Studies suggest that people whose diet is high in fat have an increased risk of cancers of the colon, uterus and prostate. Lack of physical activity and being overweight are risk factors for cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney and uterus.”

Avoid Harmful Sun Exposure

Most skin cancer occurs on exposed parts of your body, including your face, hands, forearms and ears. When going out in the sun keep these tips in mind: Avoid peak hours of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., stay in the shade, cover exposed skin with clothes and hats and use sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.Get immunized

Certain cancers are associated with viral infections that can be prevented with immunizations. Talk to your doctor about immunization against Hepatitis B and the Human Papilloma Virus.

Get Health Screenings

“For many types of cancer, by the time that there are symptoms, the cancer is too far advanced to achieve a cure,” McLeod says. “Cancer screenings identify those at high-risk for cancer, and to be most useful, must detect cancers before symptoms would cause a person to seek care. Early detection is so often a key factor in successful treatment.”

Screenings should include tests to detect cancers of your skin, mouth, colon and rectum. If you’re a man, it should also include your prostate and testes. If you’re a woman, add cervix and breast cancer screening to your list. Visit www.cancer.org to find the American Cancer Society Guidelines for Early Detection of Cancer.

For more information on cancer prevention and treatment, visit The SacredHeart Cancer Center.

Smoking’s Effects on Genes May Play a Role in Lung Cancer Development and Survival

Smoking plays a role in lung cancer development, and now scientists have shown that smoking also affects the way genes are expressed, leading to alterations in cell division and regulation of immune response.

Notably, some of the changes in gene expression persisted in people who had quit smoking many years earlier.

These findings by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, appeared in the Feb. 20, 2008, issue of PLoS ONE.

“Smoking, we are well aware, is the leading cause of lung cancer worldwide,” said NCI Director John E. Niederhuber, M.D. “Yet, a mechanistic understanding of the effects of smoking on the cells of the lung remains incomplete. This study demonstrates an important piece of this complicated puzzle. Greater understanding of the genetic alterations that occur with smoking should provide greater insight into the development of cellular targets for treating, and possibly preventing, lung cancer.”

“We were able to look at actual lung tissue, tumor and non-tumor, taking into account the differences by gender, verifying the smoking status by measuring levels of cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, in participants’ plasma, and confirming results in independent samples,” said Maria Teresa Landi, M.D., Ph.D., in NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, the first author of the study report.

To investigate the effects of smoking on gene activity in lung tissue, the researchers examined the gene expression profiles — patterns of gene activity — in early-stage lung tumors and non-tumor lung tissue of smokers, former smokers, and people who had never smoked cigarettes. Gene expression was measured in 58 fresh-frozen tumor and 49 fresh-frozen non-tumor samples from 74 participants of the Environment And Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology (EAGLE) study, a large lung cancer study that was conducted in the Lombardy region of Italy.

Adenocarcinoma tumor samples were evaluated in this study because adenocarcinoma is the most common type of lung cancer, and it occurs in both smokers and people with no history of smoking. The participants were 44 to 79 years of age, and 28 were current smokers, 26 were former smokers, and 20 had never smoked. The researchers also obtained detailed medical information about the participants (for example, whether individuals had previous lung diseases or chemotherapy) and biochemically confirmed participants’ smoking status.

Using microarray techniques, which allow researchers to look at the activity of thousands of genes simultaneously, they identified 135 genes that were differently expressed in tumors of smokers vs. people who had never smoked. Among these genes, 81 showed decreased expression and 54 showed increased expression in tumor tissue.

Most of the genes showing significantly increased expression, e.g., TTK, NEK2, and PRC1, are involved in cell cycle regulation and mitosis. The cell cycle is a step-wise sequence of events in which a cell grows and ultimately divides to produce two progeny, or daughter, cells. During the cell cycle, the chromosomes of the parent cell are duplicated and then, in a step called mitosis, divided equally between the daughter cells, ensuring that each daughter cell inherits a complete set of chromosomes. The cell apparatus responsible for the proper division of chromosomes is called the mitotic spindle.

Picture of Lungs“Our results indicate that smoking causes changes in genes that control mitotic spindle formation,” said Jin Jen, Ph.D., in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, a senior author of the study report. “Irregular division of chromosomes and chromosome instability are two common abnormalities that occur in cancer cells when the chromosomes do not separate equally between the daughter cells. Therefore, changes in the mitotic process are very relevant in the development of cancer.” Several of the identified genes have been suggested in the past as potential targets for cancer treatment.

The researchers also found similar expression of many genes among current smokers and former smokers in tumor tissue. Several of these genes, such as STOM, SSX2IP, and APLP2, remained altered in participants who had quit smoking more than 20 years before the study. Therefore, smoking seems to cause long-lasting changes in gene expression, which can contribute to lung cancer development long after cessation.

Looking at non-tumor lung tissues, the team found decreased activity for 73 genes and increased activity for 25 genes in current smokers. The genes most affected by smoking play a role in immune response-related processes, possibly as a lung defense mechanism against the acute toxic effects of smoking. However, non-tumor tissues seem to be able to recover from the effects of smoking. The researchers did not identify significant changes in the immune response-related genes in former smokers.

To gain a better understanding of the impact of smoking-related changes in gene expression on lung cancer survival, the researchers compared the overall gene expression smoking profile in lung tumor and non-tumor tissues with survival. They found that the altered expression of the cell cycle-related genes NEK2 and TTK in non-tumor tissues was associated with a three-fold increased risk of lung cancer mortality in smokers.

“Our data provide clues on how cigarette smoking affects the development of lung cancer, indicating that the very same mitotic genes known to be involved in cancer development are altered by smoking and affect survival. More studies are needed to confirm that the gene expression changes are due to smoking and affect tumor development or progression,” said Landi. “If confirmed, these genes could become important targets for preventing and treating lung cancer.”

About 90 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and almost 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women can be attributed to smoking. In 2006, approximately 20.8 percent of U.S. adults were cigarette smokers. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing an estimated 438,000 deaths, or about one out of every five deaths each year.

For more information on research in Dr. Landi’s group, please go to http://dceg.cancer.gov/about/staff-bios/landi-maria.

For more information about the EAGLE study, please go to http://dceg.cancer.gov/eagle.

For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI website at http://www.cancer.gov/, or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Landi MT, Dracheva T, Rotunno M, Figueroa, JD, Liu H, Dasgupta A, Mann FE, Fukuoka J, Hames M, Bergen AW, Murphy SE, Yang P, Pesatori AC, Consonni D, Bertazzi PA, Wacholder S, Shih JH, Caporaso NE, and Jen J. February 2008. Gene Expression Signature of Cigarette Smoking and Its Role in Lung Adenocarcinoma Development and Survival. PLoS ONE. Vol. 3, No. 2.

Study: Smokers’ Wives Have Higher Cancer Risk

New study alerts wives who are subjected to second hand smoke.

Sounding a warning over the dangers of passive smoking, a large-scale government study has found that women whose husbands smoke at home have twice the risk of developing a specific type of lung cancer compared with those married to nonsmokers.

The research team of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry that carried out the study, whose results were announced Wednesday, also said that about 40 percent of nonsmoking female cancer patients might not have contracted the disease if they had not been exposed to cigarette smoke at home.

The lung cancer in question, adenocarcinoma, is one type of non-small cell lung cancer that often develops along the outer edges of the lung and under the membranes lining the bronchi. It is the most frequently found type of lung cancer, cases of which have been increasing in the country. Those who have developed the cancer account for 70 percent of female lung cancer patients and 40 percent of male lung cancer patients.

The study was conducted on about 28,000 nonsmoking women who were aged between 40 and 69 over about 13 years from the early 1990s. The research team focused on 82 women who were diagnosed as having developed adenocarcinoma of the lung during the period, examining the relationship between the disease and their husbands’ lifestyle, such as smoking habits.

Smoking husbandsThe team’s study showed that those whose husbands smoke at home have twice the risk of developing the cancer than those with nonsmoking spouses. The risk was 1.5 times greater for those whose husbands had smoked in the past.

The research also found that women whose husband daily smoke a larger number of cigarettes have a higher risk of developing adenocarcinoma of the lung. Women whose husbands smoke fewer than 20 cigarettes a day are 1.7 times more likely to develop the cancer than those married to nonsmoking men. But the figure went up to 2.2 times for women whose husbands smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun

Young Victim of Smoking Leaves Legacy for the Youth

We opened up with a joke on his first name.

With a gentle smile, Erphacksand Kinyua Mureithi explained that the name was handed down to him from his paternal grandfather, although it is biblical.

The challenge of doing this story from an interview that Kinyua gave a month before he died, is that it has to be in the past tense.

Kinyua was one of the youngest lung cancer cases recorded at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.

Had he lived past July 23, he would have turned 30 in August.

Image of Lung CancerWhen Kinyua showed up for this interview, he was a brave young man who agreed to share with the world his experiences with lung cancer.

At the end of the interview, there was no mistaking the passion that he had for the legacy he wished to leave behind.

Leaders of Tomorrow

“If I had a forum, I would tell the youth that every decision they make in life will determine how they end up. I may not have been a smoker for a long time, but who knows, the disease might have caught up with me because of the few years I smoked. There is so much to live for because we are the leaders of tomorrow.”

Kinyua’s story is a point to ponder in light of the consequences of smoking.

The slim, soft-spoken man, seemingly humbled by an experience that came too early in his life, walked with a slight stoop.

However, he declared cheerfully to me that he had been feeling much better since he started treatment.

“It was bad. I could barely walk. I had to bend over because of the pain in my chest. Now I feel as if my lungs are all cleared up and I do not have to struggle to breath,” he said.

He was initially evasive about how he might have contracted lung cancer.

“I know I used to smoke, those years when I was young, playing truant and sneaking out of school for a puff or two. I never thought it was dangerous. Later I became an established smoker, not a chain-smoker. Just a casual smoker of about three or four cigarettes a day,” he said.

Bad Habit

“You never think about it, you just go ahead and smoke, not because you cannot live with the craving. It is just a bad habit that you develop, which becomes very difficult to shake off.”

About a year ago, in October, Kinyua who was then working as a casual labourer in Industrial Area started developing muscle pains on his right arm and back. He explained how the pain would attack him: “The pains could centre on the hands and slightly towards the right side of my chest. With time, they became almost un-bearable and the painkillers did not seem to work.

For almost six months, I was in and out of hospital getting a painkiller after another but with no satisfactory results.

Finally, a doctor that I had been seeing regularly recommended a CT scan to determine what exactly was ailing me. This is when a small growth in the chest was discovered.” Kinyua talked about the strenuous treatment that cancer patients go through.

“Were it not for my strong Christian background and the way the doctors prepared me for the hard news, I don’t think I would have made it. Also. As I later learnt, the tumours had been discovered fairly early and intercepted so I stood a better chance for recovery,” he had said gratefully and with a lot of hope.

His treatment included an operation on the chest to remove the malignant tumour.

Unfortunately the cancer had metastasised, meaning it had started spreading to other parts of Kinyua’s body.

After the operation, he stayed in hospital for one week before starting radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment to ensure that all cancer cells were destroyed.

Radiotherapy took six weeks, with two minute-sessions every day.

Even though radiotherapy has side effects such as nausea and weakness of the body, Kinyua said his worst experience was the chemotherapy treatment.

This involved, a dosage of a combination of six drugs within a certain period of time.

t meant being in hospital for about four to six hours while drugs are administered. ” Chemo is the worst. Excessive vomiting follows the initial treatments and nausea and severe lack of appetite, which can render you extremely weak. A while after every chemo session, you have to go in for yet another CT scan to detect how much of the cancer cells have been destroyed and how much more are yet to be dealt with. It is an exhaustive and tiring encounter,” Kinyua had sighed as he explained.

Also straining was the financial cost of the treatment.

Were it not for his supportive superiors Leonard Sebastian and James Mugambi and employer Laborex Kenya, Kinyua said that he might not have been able to pay the bills.

He was also grateful to his colleague Ann Kinyanjui who picked and dropped him at hospital throughout.

For his wife Helen Njeri, 26, with whom he had a three-year old daughter, Beatrice, Kinyua had only glowing tributes.

“After I had been so sick and I thought I was going to die, it is my wife and daughter who gave me the energy to want to live. It is not easy taking care of a sick person. I thank God for my family”.

Yesterday when notifying Helen about the intention to eulogise Kinyua in this special report, the young widow was overjoyed but saddened too.

“I wish he was here to read it. It is harder now that he is no more. I am alone with my child, it is difficult to even fathom how life is going to be without Kinyua,” she said.

Although Kinyua is honoured in this story posthumously, he becomes the face of a generation that faces challenges but is still determined to rise above debilitating afflictions. May he rest in peace.

Source: Mildred Ngesa, The Reporter,  Original Publication –The Nation (Nairobi)

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