Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Rare, aggressive, often-fatal cancers cured

Immunotherapy puts ovarian cancers in 4 countries into remission despite docs' qualms

Although physicians declared that immunotherapy couldn't cure their ovarian cancer, the docs were mistaken.

According to a recent story by Gina Kolata in The New York Times, four young women — living in different countries — "had an extremely rare, aggressive and fatal form of ovarian cancer" and weren't expected to live much longer.

All four managed to get immunotherapy and their cancers, in total contrast to conventional wisdom, went into remission.

Dr. Jedd Wolchok
Kolata quotes Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of the melanoma and immunotherapeutics service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, as saying, "What we are seeing here is that we have not yet learned the whole story of what it takes for tumors to be recognized by the immune system."

He contends that researchers and medical personnel "need to study the people who have a biology that goes against the conventional generalizations."
Dr. Drew Pardoll

Dr. Drew Pardoll, who directs the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, notes that although four women hardly constitutes a clinical trial, "it is the exceptions that give you the best insights."

The cancer that had struck all four was hypercalcemic small cell ovarian cancer, which, Kolata writes, "occurs in a woman's teens or 20s [and] is so rare that most oncologist never see a single patient with it."

Immunotherapy drugs have been successful in treating lung cancer, a genetic type of colorectal cancer and melanoma but cancers of the prostate, pancreas, breast and ovaries have rarely responded.

More details about cancer research and trials 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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Carcinogenic chemical in java? Lawsuit may tell

Longstanding suit against possible cancer perils in coffee may be resolved by year's end

Will coffee labels in California soon warn about cancer risks?

Perhaps — at least if Long Beach attorney Raphael Metzger has his way.
Raphael Metzger

Metzger, according to a recent story by Hoa Quách on the Patch website, has "sued restaurants, stating that the warning is needed as coffee contains acrylamide, a carcinogen."

A judge finally is expected to rule before the end of the year on the lawsuit he filed way back in 2010 — against companies such as Starbucks and 7-Eleven, based on Proposition 65, a 1986 law that requires items containing the chemical to have warning labels.

That suit, not incidentally, followed another by the attorney and his Metzger Law Group, one that he filed against fast-food companies in 2002 "contending that french fries also contained the hazardous ingredient," the story notes.

The current suit, on behalf of the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, offers an alternative request to the java labels — have the manufacturers "reduce the acrylamide content of their coffee products to safe levels."

But the National Coffee Association offers this defense: "There is no evidence that coffee causes cancer."

On its website, it says coffee "is a complex beverage (both compositionally and culturally) — and it's much, much more than just one of its elements. Pretending otherwise does not serve public interest in any way."

Meanwhile, CNN writer Jen Christenen has reported that at least 13 of the defendants have settled and agreed to give a warning, most recently 7-Eleven.

Private mediation with some of the remaining retailers, she contends, has been slated.

At a bench trial last fall, Christenen writes, "the coffee companies argued that the level of acrylamide in coffee should be considered safe under the law and that the health benefits of coffee essentially outweigh the risk."

Her story quotes Metzger on a personal level: "I'm addicted to coffee, I confess, and I would like to be able to have mine without acrylamide."

Christenen also points out that "in addition to coffee, acrylamide can be found in potatoes and baked good like crackers, bread and cookies, breakfast cereal, canned black olives and prune juice, although its presence is not always labeled."

A Bloomberg article indicates that the lawyer's initial complaint "grew to include about 90 coffee producers, distributors and retailers, from mom-and-pop roasters to multinationals such as Nestle."

That piece also stated his complaint had "alleged that a 12-ounce cup of coffee contains about 10 times more acrylamide than the state's 'no significant risk level.'"

Metzger's nine-attorney law group, according to its website, was founded in 1987 and "is a boutique firm whose practice is concentrated on the litigation of toxic tort and environmental exposure cases in the state of California."

A multitude of products has previously been linked to the disease. To check out many of these, pick up a copy of "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Half of cancer deaths may be preventable

Even small lifestyle changes can sharply cut your cancer risk, NY Times columnist claims

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll
Evidence, writes a medical columnist in The New York Times, "has increasingly accumulated that cancer may be preventable."

Especially if potential patients stop drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, alter their diets, exercise and lose weight.

In a recent Aaron E. Carroll-bylined column under the rubric of The New Health Care received recently from The New York Times' online service, it's stated that "simple changes to people's behaviors have the potential to make sure many cancers never occur."

And they have "a side benefit of preventing health problems in many other areas, too," Dr. Carroll maintains.

The website headline indicates that "quite a bit is in your control" regarding the prevention of cancer, and the column, originally printed in 2016, cites a study published in Nature to the effect that "there is a lot we can do" to reduce our risk of cancer by changing our behavior.

That study contradicts research published in Science magazine in 2015 that many apparently took to mean that "cancer is much more because of 'bad luck' than because of other factors that people could control."

Carroll's piece contends that "many studies have shown that environmental risk factors and exposures contribute greatly to many cancers. Diet is related to colorectal cancer. Alcohol and tobacco are related to esophageal cancer. HPV is related to cervical cancer, and hepatitis C is related to liver cancer. And you'd have to be living under a rock not to know that smoking causes lung cancer and that too much sun can lead to skin cancer."

But, the professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine notes, "using sophisticated modeling techniques, the researchers argued that less than 30 percent of the lifetime risk of getting many common cancers was because of intrinsic risk factors, or the 'bad luck.' The rest were things you can change."

According to the study, "about 82 percent of women and 78 percent of men who got lung cancer might have prevented it through healthy behaviors. About 29 percent of women and 20 percent of meant might have prevented colon and rectal cancer. About 30 percent of both might have prevented pancreatic cancer."

Over all, it said, "about 25 percent of cancer in women and 33 percent in men was potentially preventable. Close to half of all cancer deaths might be prevented as well."

More information about how to cut down the risk of diseases 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.