Thursday, April 27, 2017

A warning about pills, ointments, drops, teas

Federal agency's order targets 14 companies for phony claims about curing various cancers

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on bogus claims about cancer cures.

According to a story by Laurie McGinley in The Washington Post this week, the FDA has ordered 14 companies to stop making such claims about "asparagus extract, exotic teas and topical creams for pets."

The order says if they don't stop, they may "face possible product seizures and criminal prosecution."

Or, at least, court injunctions of their products.

More than 65 unapproved products are covered in the order, "products that the companies touted as preventing, treating or curing cancer, a violation of federal law, the agency said."

Those items, the story notes, "include pills, ointments, oils, drops, teas and diagnostic devices."

Douglas Stearn
McGinley's piece quotes Douglas Stearn, director of the FDA's Office of Enforcement and Import Operations, as warning that "consumers should not use these or similar unproven products because they may be unsafe and could prevent a person from seeking an appropriate and potentially lifesaving cancer diagnosis or treatment."

The agency, the article continued, "gave the companies 15 days to correct the violations or provide a plan on how they will correct them."

FDA officials said they've "issued more than 90 warning letters in 10 years to companies marketing hundreds of fraudulent products making cancer claims on websites, on social media and in stores."

They acknowledged, however, that "while the warnings sometimes stopped the sales, the companies sometimes just moved the products to new websites."

A disturbing trend, the agency indicated, is "a rise in phony cancer treatments for pets" — dogs and cats mainly.

Want to learn how the FDA has dealt with other cancer claims? Check out "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

30-year disease hikes found in 7 ethnic groups

Asian-Americans' breast cancer rate continuing its steady rise in California, study indicates

The breast cancer rate among Asian-Americans in California keeps climbing.

In fact, it's been increasing for nearly 30 years.

According to a story by Tracy Seipel of the Bay Area News Group published this week in the Marin Independent Journal, a new study shows the jumps are true for all seven groups examined by the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.

The biggest increases occurred among Koreans and Southeast Asians (Cambodians, Laotians, Hmong, Thai). 

And although Japanese-Americans showed the slowest increases, they suffered the highest breast cancer rates among those examined.

The study, which covered 1988 to 2013 and was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, looked at — in addition to the three aforementioned groups — Chinese, Filipinos, Vietnamese and South Asians (Asian Indians and Pakistanis).

CPIC's study focused, naturally, on the state with the "largest population of Asian-Americans in the country" — 15% of California's 5.7 million.

Scarlett Lin Gomez
Scarlett Lin Gomez, the research's lead author, while pleased to note that the findings were "the first to evaluate patterns [among these ethnic groups] by age and stage of cancer," contends that "aspects of the Asian culture could be contributing to the growing numbers, including a tendency to consider cancer a stigma — and to keep quiet within a family."

Grace Yoo, a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State who's written extensively on the subject, maintains, meanwhile, that there's a misperception among some Asian-Americans "that breast cancer is 'a white woman's disease.' It's just not on their radar."

Risk factors among Asian-Americans, according to the IJ article, might include delays in childbirth, changing diets, a rise in obesity and alcohol consumption. 

Better screenings, some believe, are another reason the increases have shown up.

But Lin Gomez thinks the immigrants' cancer risk "increases with acculturation — this is, adoption of Western lifestyles."

Grace Yoo
The IJ story also indicates Yoo is convinced that because many Asian-Americans arrive in the U.S. with no family history of the disease, there's little or no "intergenerational communication" around the importance of breast cancer screenings — and, therefore, diagnosis is postponed until the disease isn't discovered until advanced stages.

Some of the women then "face greater mortality than their white counterparts," Yoo says, and because many "equate the diagnosis as a death sentence…they may not aggressively pursue treatment."

The value of early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer is laid out in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Risks determined after 200 studies are reviewed

Is fat the worst cancer-causing agent of all? British journal review leads writer to say 'yes'

Being overweight, according to a story in the Marin Independent Journal recently, can be the worst carcinogen.

The condition, proclaims the article by Dr. Salvatore Iaquinta, surgeon at Kaiser Permanente San Rafael, "greatly increases a person's chance of getting cancer."

Dr. Salvatore Iaquinta
A woman "50 pounds overweight," he continues, "has a greater risk of developing breast cancer than a soldier who was exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War devoting prostate cancer."

Iaquinta, who writes a regular column under the rubric "Highway to Health" and who is the author of the book, "The Year They Tried to Kill Me," cites as the source for his belief a recent review in the "British Medical Journal." He notes that the authors had checked out more than 200 studies before determining their findings.

"Some of the associations between weight and cancer were gender specific," Iaquinta reports — such as breast cancer in postmenopausal women as well as cancer of the uterus lining.

Or colon and gallbladder cancers in men.

Other cancers "with increased risk related to body mass index," he indicates, include cancers of the kidney, stomach and pancreas as well as esophageal adenocarcinoma and multiple myeloma.

One of the doctor's main conclusions is that "rather than spending so much time and money to circumvent potential chemical exposures, we should be focusing our energy into staying in shape."

Details of other tests on the risks of contracting cancer can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Vaccine can prevent most HPV cancers

Over one-fifth of U.S. adults are infected with cancer-causing virus, federal report says

More than 20 percent of U.S. grown-ups are infected with a cancer-causing virus, a federal agency has reported.

A story by Jia Naqvi in The Washington Post today says that a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed almost 23 percent of American adults between the ages of 18 and 59 had one particular type "of genital human papilloma virus (HPV) that put them at high risk of certain cancers."

The percentage almost doubled — to 42 percent — "if any type of genital HPV was included."

Prevalence, the study of 2013 and 2014 showed, "was higher in men than in women, and it was sharply higher among blacks compared to other racial and ethnic groups."
Geraldine McQuillan
Geraldine McQuillan, lead author of the report and a senior infectious disease epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, is quoted as saying, "People really need to realize that this is a serious concern."

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, the story states, with nearly 80 million people currently infected and about 14 million new infections occurring "annually among teenagers as well as adults."

Each year, the Post article adds, "31,000 men and women are diagnosed with cancers caused by HPV — which, in most cases, would have been preventable with the HPV vaccine, according to the CDC."

Studies of cancer-causing agents are detailed in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.