Monday, October 14, 2019

Once you hit 80, odds say you'll live past 90

Risk factors for another cancer jump up if you've already had one kind — or if one of your kin has

Is it possible to live cancer-free?

The answer is a resounding yes, at least according to a recent non-bylined article in the AARP Magazine, whose subhead reads in part, "Age is a risk factor for cancer, but the chances of developing a fatal cancer may actually begin to decline at age 70."

It also contends that "once you hit 80, our chance of living to 90 and beyond goes way up."

The article isn't totally positive, however.

It says, for instance, that "women who have had breast cancer are more at risk for another type of breast cancer, and other cancers."

And it notes that "a Stanford University study showed that people diagnosed with six or more basal cell carcinomas have more than three times the odds for developing future cancers, such as breast, colon and prostate cancer as well as leukemia and lymphoma — likely due to an underlying  problem in genes that repair DNA."

In short, having one kind of cancer makes a woman or man prone to other kinds. 

And if you smoked, it says, "you're at increased risk for not only lung cancer but also a dozen other cancers, including oral, cervical, bladder and pancreatic."

Your family medical history can also increase your risk.
Heather Hampel
The AARP piece quotes Heather Hampel, associate director of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, as saying that if you have a family history of cancer you should coordinate with a genetic counselor who can put your results in perspective and recommend an action plan.

"Women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, for example, have up to a 72% chance of developing breast cancer and 44% chance of ovarian cancer by age 80," the article states.

But, even though in the general population women have only about a 12% lifetime risk of breast cancer, and "though those statistics sound scary, genetic testing can help doctors guide you on the best ways to prevent cancers, or diagnose this earlier, when they are treatable," the AARP mag further   quotes Hampel.

More information about risks 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, October 8, 2019

Diet change can slice chance of death by 21%

Cutting down on fat while eating more veggies and fruits might save you from dying of breast cancer

Eating more fruits and veggies, and less fat, can cut women's risk of dying from breast cancer, a new study says.

According to a recent story by Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press, a test involving 49,000 breast cancer-free women between the ages of 50 and 79 over two decades shows that those "who modified their diets for at least eight years and who later developed the cancer had a 21% lower risk of dying of the disease compared to others who continued to eat as usual."

Marchione's piece explains that results of the large, rigorous experiment are notable because, for the first time, researchers didn't merely "try to draw health conclusions from observation about how people eat."

But because the "risk was small to start with and diet's effect was not huge…it took 20 years for the difference between the groups to appear."

The diet change, the AP story continues, "also did not lower the risk of developing breast cancer, which was the study's main goal."

Dr. Rowan Chlebowski
Results, which stemmed from the Women's Health Initiative, a major federally funded study that previously overturned longtime advice on hormone therapy for menopause symptoms, were announced by Dr. Rowan Chlebowski of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in a telephone news conference held by the American Society of Clinical Oncology prior to its annual meeting.

Chlebowski, the AP story reports, "is working on another study to see whether women who are obese or have certain other health risks get the biggest benefit from trimming dietary fat. Results from this study suggest they might."

Marchione's article adds that Dr. Lidia Schapira, a breast cancer expert at Stanford University and a spokeswoman for the oncology society, says that because of the quality of the study, "we need to take this very seriously. What we eat matters." 

More information about research into possible disease preventions 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, October 2, 2019

Medical risks expanding along with waistlines

Cancer dangers from obesity are growing exponentially, article in The Washington Post indicates

Obesity may overtake smoking as the No. 1 preventable cause of cancer.

According to a story by Laurie McKinley in The Washington Post a while back, the change is due to waistlines continuing "to expand while tobacco use plummets."

McKinley notes that Dr. Otis Brawley, ex-American Cancer Society (ACS) chief medical officer who's now a Johns Hopkins oncologist, says the switch may take five to 10 years.
Dr. Jennifer Ligibel
What's happening, she quotes Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, a breast oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as saying, is that "a complex interplay of metabolism, inflammation and immunity…creates an environment that is more permissive for cancer."

The Post also quotes Dr. Jonathan Wright, a urologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research, to the effect that "it does appear that the risk is greater the more obese you are."

Only about half the American public purportedly is aware of the link between excess weight and cancer. 

The deadly combo has long been known to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes — and now is being associated, according to the Post, "with an increased risk of getting at least 13 types of cancer, including stomach, pancreatic, colorectal and liver malignancies, as well as postmenopausal breast cancer."

ACS researchers contend that "excess body weight is linked to about 8 percent of all cancers in the United States and about 7 percent of cancer deaths," McKinley reports.

She also writes that "compared with people of normal weight, obese patients are more likely to see their cancer come back and have a lower likelihood of survival. Perhaps more alarming, young people, who as a group are heavier than their parents, are developing weight-related malignancies, including colorectal cancer, at earlier ages than previous generations, experts say."

An article in JAMA Internal Medicine (the journal of the American Medical Association) several years ago maintained that "seven in 10 Americans are overweight or obese." But the obesity rate has been rising exponentially since that piece was published.

The type of cancer most associated with obesity, McKinley writes, "is endometrial, which develops in the lining of the uterus. Obese and overweight women are two to four times as likely to develop the disease as women of normal weight, and the risk rises with increased weight gain, according to the National Institutes of Health."

Statistics from that source also indicate that "people who are overweight or obese are twice as likely to develop liver and kidney cancer, and about 1.5 times as likely to develop pancreatic cancer than normal-weight people, according to NIH."

Several researchers, McKinley says, "are running clinical trials to prove what many already believe — that losing weight reduces the odds of developing cancer or having a recurrence." 

If studies show that to be true, she adds, "doctors could prescribe a weight-loss program as standard therapy for breast cancer patients — much as cardiac rehabilitation is urged for heart-attack patients. That could pave the way for insurance coverage."

More details on health risks 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.