Friday, July 12, 2024

Because of uptick in cancers following pandemic, physicians are now asking if covid is to blame

A rise in cancers after the pandemic has been causing doctors to study whether Covid-19 is at fault.

A story by Ariana Eunjung Cha in editions of The Washington Post recently indicated that the "uptick in aggressive, late-stage cancers since the dawn of the pandemic is confirmed by some early national data and a number of large cancer institutions."

The article goes on to say that although "the idea that some viruses can cause or accelerate cancer is hardly new, [since] scientists have recognized this possibility since the 1960s, today researchers estimate 15 to 20 percent of all cancers worldwide originate from infections agents such as HPV, Epstein-Barr, and hepatitis B."

It will "probably be many years before the world has conclusive answers whether the coronavirus is complicit in the surge of cancer cases," Cha's story continues, but "concerned scientists are calling on the U.S. government to make this question a priority knowing it could affect treatment and management of millions of cancer patients for decades to come."

Douglas Wallace
The story quotes Douglas C. Wallace, a University of Pennsylvania PhD geneticist and evolutionary biologist, to the effect that "we are completely under-investigating this virus. The effects of repeatedly getting this throughout our lives is going to be much more significant than people are thinking."

Cha's piece also quotes David Tuveson, director of the Cancer Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and ex-president of the American Association for Cancer Research, as saying that "a number of small and early studies — many of which have been published within the past nine months — suggests that coronavirus infection can induce an inflammatory cascade and other responses that, in theory, could exacerbate the growth of cancer cells."

Covid "wrecks the body, and that's where cancers can start," he said, "explaining how autopsy studies of people who died of covid-19 showed prematurely aged tissue."

The story notes further that a paper "published in 2023 in the journal Biochimie explored mechanisms the coronavirus could exploit to aggravate several forms of cancer, including lung, colorectal, pancreatic, and oral."

Information about cancer not being monolithic can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at caregivers.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Biotech giant Bayer pushing House Republicans to help it fight lawsuits linking Roundup to cancer

Bayer, a giant in the biotech industry, has been lobbying Congress to help shape a provision that could aid in the corporation's battle with lawsuits that tie its weed-killer Roundup to cancer.

The provision in the House's sweeping agricultural bill, according to a story by Tony Romm in last week's editions of The Washington Post, was drafted by Republicans with Bayer's help. Critics say it would undo nationwide pesticide protections.

Romm's piece says the farm bill "threatens to make it harder for farmers and groundskeepers to argue that they were not fully informed about some health and safety risks posed by the popular herbicide."

The focus is on glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which plaintiffs in thousands of cases have claimed regular exposure to which "could cause them to develop debilitating or deadly diseases, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma."

Although Bayer, a German firm that acquired Roundup in 2018 as part of its purchase of Monsanto, has agreed to pay $10 billon in a landmark settlement that ended thousands of claims in  2020 without any admission of wrongdoing, it still faces nearly 60,000 additional claims.

Daniel Savery
The Post story quotes Daniel Savery, a senior legislative representative for Earthjustice, a climate advocacy group, as saying Bayer has been losing so it's "coming to Congress with hat in hand trying to change the law."

Currently, the article continues, "the Environmental Protection Agency does not treat the underlying chemical in Roundup as a carcinogen. While the agency plans to reevaluate its stance on glyphosate in 2026, its views are at odds with some global health experts, including the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, which identified glyphosate as 'probably carcinogenic' in 2015."

Bayer apparently has spent about $9.6 million to lobby federal policymakers on the legislation and other issues since the start of 2023.

More information about Monsanto and Bayer's legal woes can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male  caregivers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Celebrants need to pay attention to Nancy Fox's legacy and spirit, her creativity and kindness

The two big celebrations of Nancy Fox's life are done — the warm 'n' fuzzy in-person open house at her daughter's Novato home and the successful Zoom session that drew friends from all over the country (and Portugal), only a few of whom were digitally-challenged.

Now the task for celebrants is to pay attention every day to the fact that Nancy Fox's spirit and legacy will always be here.

She made it easy to remember her creativity, her humor, her intelligence, her musical genius, her lighthearted snarkiness, her kindness, her inner and outer beauty, and the countless anecdotes that illustrate each of those attributes. 

Her physical form will be missed every minute, but if we let it, her soul can envelop each of us and help mold us into a better, more giving person.

Sorry about that gushiness, sweetie, but you deserve it. You epitomize what everyone dreams they'd want in a partner, mom, grandmother, daughter, friend, and neighbor.    

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Upbeat Zoom tribute to Nancy Fox's life set for this Sunday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Pacific time.

The second celebration of Nancy Fox's life will take place this Sunday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Pacific time, 7 to 8:30 Eastern, via Zoom. 

Nancy and Woody in Montreal
The format will be loose, with whomever wants to talk or do music doing just that, but with no speaking over another participant.

I'd prefer, as I did with the first celebration, that Nancy's life be the focus, not her death.

The link to get on will be:
Meeting ID: 997 614 7615
Passcode: 694840

The successful in-person, open-house celebration at the Novato home of Laura Schifrin, Nancy's daughter, last Sunday drew 60-plus loving friends — and Kevin, the wild turkey who apparently insisted on personally greeting each guest. Hannah Schifrin, our granddaughter, continuously corralled the big pecker and directed traffic.

Laura and her partner, Adam Fox (no relation to Nance), spent four days preparing their home and the food to be served at the tribute to my partner of 36 years. 

Charlie Hickox schlepped his keyboard from Fairfax so he could play throughout the event (including a medley of Nancy's favorite tunes).

As for me, I reveled in receiving more hugs in one day than ever before — as well as the sensation that my recently departed spouse's spirit was present the entire time. She'll undoubtedly be there this Sunday as well.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

In-person celebration of Nancy Fox's life slated for June 2 in Novato at her daughter's home

Nancy Fox, my wife/friend/concertmaster and collaborator for 36 years plus, died May 2. I will never forget her intelligence, charm, loveliness, and incredible sense of humor. 
An in-person, open house, celebration of her life will be held in a week — from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Pacific time Sunday, June 2 at the Novato home of her daughter, Laura Schifrin, and her granddaughter, Hannah Schifrin.
Obviously, I will be there, too.
The tribute to Nance will be free form, meaning there will be no rigid structure, but attendees may choose to relate anecdotes about her that evoke smiles or to perform some music in her honor. No one is required to do anything or stay for the entire time.
Food and drinks will be available.
Neither the Schifrins nor I expect anyone to travel a long distance for the event.
To get her address, you can reach Laura at 415-515-9988 or lschifrin@comcast.net
Although an rsvp isn’t required, it would be helpful — to allow the right amount of food to be ordered.
The following Sunday, June 9, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Pacific, 7 to 8:30 Eastern, a Zoom celebration will be held. Just click on this link:
Meeting ID: 997 614 7615
Passcode: 694840
I can be reached at 415-459-3434 and voodee@sbcglobal.net

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Maker of Roundup weedkiller solicits help from lawmakers to protect it from suits about cancer

Bayer, manufacturer of Roundup, the country's best-selling pesticide, is seeking help from legislators to protect it from claims that it failed to warn buyers about cancer risks.

According to an Associated Press story by Hannah Fingerhut and David A. Lieb in yesterday's editions of the San Francisco Chronicle, chemical giant Bayer, "stung by paying billions of dollars for settlements and trials, has been lobbying lawmakers in three states to pass bills providing it a legal shield from lawsuits that claim its popular weedkiller Roundup causes cancer."

Legal experts warn that identical bills introduced in Iowa, Missouri, and Idaho this year, with wording supplied by Bayer, could have even broader consequences — "extending to any product liability claim or, in Iowa's case, providing immunity from lawsuits of any kind," the article contends.

Matt Clement
The piece quotes Matt Clement, a Jefferson City, Missouri, attorney who represents people suing Bayer, to the effect that "it's just not good government to give a company immunity for things that they're not telling their consumers. If they're successful in getting this passed in Missouri, I think they'll be trying to do this all over the country."

Some 167,000 legal claims against Bayer, the Fingerhut/Lieb story says, contend that Roundup causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The corporation already has "suffered several losses in which juries awarded huge initial judgments," the article goes on, and "has paid about $10 billion while thousands of claims linger in court."

Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, is derived from phosphate mined in Idaho. 

The debate over whether glyphosate is truly a demon in the weedkiller equation "escalated when a 2015 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, said it's 'probably carcinogenic to humans,' a decision that was based on some evidence of cancer in people as well as evidence in study animals."

The federal Environmental Protection Agency, on the other hand, had regularly concluded that it's not likely to be carcinogenic to humans "when used as directed," the AP story contends. A federal appeals court panel in 2022, on a third hand, ordered the EPA to further review the situation after ruling that the agency's decision "was not supported by substantial evidence," the Fingerhut/Lieb piece continues.

The story ends by quoting John Gilbert, an Iowa Falls farmer who's used Roundup only in a limited fashion. He calls local Republicans hypocritical for attempting to protect corporate interests after campaigning on standing up for Iowans' interests.

The final paragraph of the story: "The bill 'invites a lot of reckless disregard,' said  Gilbert, who is on the board for the Iowa Farmers Union. 'No amount of perfume's gonna make it anything but a skunk."

More information about politics surrounding the risks of disease can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten,  aimed at male caregivers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Patients already using new experimental blood tests to detect cancer, Washington Post reports

Some patients may be using blood tests to detect cancer that haven't been cleared by the FDA.

A story by Marlene Simons in today's editions of The Washington Post reports that Galleri, a new multi-cancer detection test, is but one of 20 tests in various stages of development that analyze substances in the blood that might indicate cancer. 

Those tests, the article says, "may be especially useful finding 'silent' cancers — such as pancreatic or ovarian cancer — which often don't cause symptoms until the disease is advanced and more difficult to treat."

On the flip side, Simons' piece indicates, "while these findings are promising, experts warned of drawbacks. So far, there's no evidence that finding cancer via a blood test translates to longer survival and fewer deaths, or even a cure, experts said."

Dr. Lori Minasian
The WashPost story also quotes Dr. Lori Minasian, deputy director of the National Cancer Institute's division of cancer prevention, as warning that "people want to believe there is one test that can pick up all the different kinds of cancers, and if it's negative, they can go on their way. But it's not that simple.

Several experts, the piece continues, "pointed out that multi-cancer detection tests don't find every cancer at its earliest stage, in part because certain cancers spread quickly."

These tests, which aren't covered by Medicare or other insurance, have yet to be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for final approval — but are available as "lab-based" tests under federal guidelines that "permit their use in certain settings."

Caveats include many unanswered questions, the story says, "such as whether use of the tests should be based on age, risk factors, or family history." Along with the notion of how frequently people should take the blood tests, the remaining issues make it almost certain that they "probably are several years away from widespread use."

More information on research into various diseases can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Biden administration limits pollutants from chemical plants in hope of cutting cancer risks

A federal agency has put restraints on more than 200 chemical plant pollutants.

The action by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a story by Lisa Friedman in editions of The New York Times this week, was aimed at shielding people who live close to plants that release toxic chemicals into the air.

Friedman's story indicates that this is "the first time in nearly two decades that the government has tightened lies on pollution from chemical plants."

The new rule specifically targets ethylene oxide, a chemical used to sterilize medical devices, and one used to make rubber in footwear, chloroprene. Both, now classified as carcinogens, are considered "as a top health concern in an area of Louisiana so dense with petrochemical and refinery plants that it is know as Cancer Alley," according to the article.

Most of the 200 facilities are in Louisiana, Texas, and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, as well as in the Ohio River Valley and West Virginia.

Michael S. Regan, EPA administrator, told the Times that the new regulation — which requires the plants to monitor vents and storage tanks for the two chemicals and plug any leaks — would reduce emissions by 80 percent.

The plants, Friedman's piece asserts, "will also be required to reduce emissions of four other toxic chemicals: benzene, which is used in motor fuels as well as oils and paints; 1,3-butadiene, which is used to make synthetic rubber and plastics; and ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride, both of which are used to make a variety of plastics and vinyl products."

Patrice Simms
Patrice Simms, vice president for litigation for healthy communities at Earthjustice, an environmental group, is quoted to the effect that "in a very real sense this is about life and death," further contending that it's impossible to overstate the importance of the new regulation to families that live next to large polluting facilities.

Not everyone agrees. The Times says Republicans and industry groups insist the new Biden administration rule is "onerous, and they questioned the EPA's scientific assessment of the chemicals."

More information about risks of disease can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.