US Pharm. 2007:32(7):HS-39-HS-40.

Childhood Cancer Survivors Have Higher Health Risks as Adults
While more effective treatments for childhood cancers have dramatically improved survival rates, children who had been treated for cancer could to be at a higher risk of health problems as adults.

According to a study published in the June 27 issue of JAMA, the treatments used on children with cancer have shown their effects later in life, with complications such as second cancers, organ dysfunction, and psychosocial and cognitive problems. Researchers conducted the study by following childhood cancer patients and evaluating treatment-related risk factors. Huib N. Caron, MD, PhD, of Emma Children's Hospital/Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, and colleagues found that of the 1,362 survivors they followed, 19.8% had no adverse events, 74.5% had one or more events, and 24.6% had five or more events. Additionally, 36.8% of the childhood cancer survivors had at least one severe or life-threatening or disabling disorder, and 3.2% died due to an adverse event.

More than half of the patients who were treated with only radiotherapy as a child had a high or severe burden of events (at least two severe events or one or more life-threatening or disabling events), compared with 15% of patients treated with only chemotherapy and 25% of patients who had surgery alone. Survivors of bone tumors most often had a high or severe burden of events (64%), while survivors of leukemia or a tumor of the kidney were least likely to have a high or severe burden of events (12%).

Hormone May Reduce Visceral Fat in HIV Patients
A report presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections disclosed that a growth hormone–releasing analog TH9507 reduced visceral fat by about 20% compared to placebo.

According to Steven Grinspoon, MD, of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues, the net change of 20% in just six months, which represents about a 3-cm (about 1.2 inches) change in waist size, is "a very potent effect." The compound was safe and "generally well tolerated," with little effect on subcutaneous fat or glucose transport, and lipid metabolism was improved. Major adverse effects include headache and arthalgia.

Flaxseed Beneficial in Slowing Prostate Cancer Growth
A preliminary report by researchers at Duke University, which was based on a multicenter study, revealed that flaxseed supplementation significantly reduced cancer cell proliferation rates in men with prostate cancer.

According to Wendy Denmark-Wahnefried, PhD, of Duke University, flaxseed (alone or combined with a low-fat diet) slowed cell growth rates compared with diet alone or a control group. Addressing attendees at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, she cautioned that other biomarkers of prostate cancer activity were unaffected by the supplement. She said flaxseed is one of the richest known sources of ligans, which affect androgen metabolism and have antimitotic, antiangiogenic, antioxidant, and estrogenic effects. It is also the richest source of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids, which influence cell membrane synthesis, circulating levels of protein kinase C and tyrosine kinases, and levels of natural killer cells.

Lung Cancer Risk in COPD May Be Lowered with Inhaled Corticosteroids
A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine indicates that high doses of inhaled corticosteroids may reduce the risk of lung cancer in men with chronic pulmonary disease (COPD).

According to David Au, MD, of the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System, and colleagues, a cohort study of 517 mostly male patients who used inhaled corticosteroids with a dose of more than 1,200 mcg a day led to an impressive 61% drop in the risk of lung cancer compared to nonusers. Men with COPD who used less than 1,200 mcg a day had a slightly elevated risk of lung cancer.

The researchers agreed that this relatively small study cannot come to any conclusion about cause and effect, and while they admit that the data are "certainly not definitive," the researchers maintain that the findings have "potentially important implications for lung cancer pathogenesis and chemoprevention" and warrant further investigation.

Breast Radiation Raises Risk of Heart Disease
Researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute reported that irradiation of the breast and internal lymph of cancer patients puts them at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

According to researcher Flora E. van Leeuwen, PhD, and colleagues, among more than 4,400 women who were 10-year survivors of breast cancer, those in the 1980s who had radiation treatments to the internal mammary chain had an increased risk for congestive heart failure. The researchers said that the combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy nearly doubled the risk for congestive heart failure. The researchers said that the combination of smoking and radiotherapy was a particularly unhealthy mix, with smokers having a threefold risk for myocardial infarction.

Statins May Protect Against Prostate Cancer
It has been well documented that statins have proven very effective for lowering cholesterol and thus reducing the risk of heart disease over time. Now an analysis of data on lipid use for coronary prevention and prostate cancer occurrence has revealed a connection between the two. According to Teemu Murtola, MD, and researchers at the University of Tampere School of Public Health in Finland, there is a dose-dependent reduction in prostate cancer risk among statin users compared with nonusers.

During a presentation at the American Urological Association meeting, Dr. Murtola said that the cancer risk reduction was not seen in men with a history of treatment with other types of cholesterol-lowering drugs, suggesting a possible nonlipid effect of statins on prostate cancer biology and etiology. It was shown that the overall occurrence rate of prostate cancer was 4% in statin users, a 50% reduction compared with 8% among nonusers. Patients in the lowest statin-dose quartile had a 6.2% occurrence rate of prostate cancer, which translated into a relative risk of 0.76 compared with nonusers. Those in the highest quartile had a prostate cancer rate of 1.8 or a relative risk of 0.21 compared with nonusers.

Get Serious About Cancer--It May Save Your Life
A report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reveals that Americans who do not take cancer seriously are significantly more likely to become a statistic. According to Jeff Niederdeppe, PhD, from the University of Wisconsin, and Andrea Gurmankin Levy, PhD, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health, people who believe there is not much they can do to prevent cancer may be raising their risk of a malignancy by not even trying. "Many Americans seem to feel afraid and helpless in regards to cancer, which may be exacerbated by conflicting news reports and a general lack of education on the causes and prevention of cancer," said Dr. Niederdeppe. "They say, ‘well, there is nothing much you can do about,' and, as our survey shows, they indeed do nothing about it."

Testosterone and PSA Related in Risk of Prostate Cancer
A new study confirms that there is a relationship between testosterone levels and PSA readings.

According to Al Barqawi, MD, of theUniversity of Colorado in Denver, higher PSA values had a near-linear association with rising testosterone levels. "PSA value by itself is not perfect," said Dr. Barqawi. "The correlation between PSA and testosterone is very much indicative of a testosterone level that may actually improve our protection against prostate cancer. It may improve the meaning and intepretation of the PSAvalue."

Dr. Barqawi cautions that the impact of testosterone levels in the setting of PSA screenings still remains controversial. More research needs to be done before a decision is made to measure testosterone levels along with PSA screening.

Signs of Ovarian Cancer Should Not Be Ignored
Women who observe a specific set of symptoms should be checked by a physician for ovarian cancer.

Often, ovarian cancer is not diagnosed until it is in its last stages, because no disease-specific signs or symptoms had been previously identified. It is believed that some warning signs may become evident earlier in the cancer's development.

These signs include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms such as frequency or urgency.

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