Tag Archives: colon cancer

Prostate cancer risk 24% higher among 9/11 first responders

First responders are at a much greater risk of cancer. (Photo: Pixabay)

Research published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine has found that 9/11 rescue and recovery workers had a 24% higher risk of prostate cancer, with the highest risk being among the earliest responders. While there are some caveats which the researchers include, it’s not the first study to come to the same conclusion.

Exposure levels to “toxic dust” — cancer-causing agents, such as asbestos, sulfuric acid, benzo(a)pyrene, benzene, and arsenic — at Ground Zero twenty years ago created a dangerous environment to those who responded to the call to assist in rescue and recovery. Unlike prior studies, this latest report also wanted to tell if there were specific time periods after the attacks during which prostate cancer risk might be significantly higher.

“The increased hazard among those who responded to the disaster earliest or were caught in the dust cloud suggests that a high intensity of exposure may have played some role in premature oncogenesis,” explain the researchers in their report.

The researchers tracked the health of 69,102 first responders from three groups: the New York City Fire Department, the General Responder Cohort and participants from the World Trade Center Health Registry. Their findings indicate a shorter latency period from occupational exposure to cancer development than that reported from other studies of men not involved in 9/11 rescue work.

The study compared the front-line workers to a sample of men in New York State during the same period, using the same inclusion criteria, though weren’t involved in work at the WTC following the attacks. Relative to rates among these men, the risk of the disease among World Trade Center rescue/recovery workers was 24% higher, from 2007 through to the end of 2015, after accounting for potentially influential factors, such as smoking. Further analysis revealed a dose–response trend in both the early (2002–06) and later (2007–15) periods of monitoring, with the largest risk estimated in the early period.

Researchers concentrated on the time of arrival at the WTC site: on the day of the attacks when there was the greatest dust cloud resulting from the collapse of the twin towers, the following day and any other time from Sept. 13, 2001 to June 30, 2002. The study consisted of 54,394 men, 1,120 of whom were diagnosed with prostate cancer between Mar. 12, 2002 and Dec. 31, 2015. The average age at diagnosis was 60.

While unclear how much of an impact it had on the outcome, current or former smokers were the most likely to develop cancer. They were also more likely to have any other type of cancer diagnosed within the study period. The average latency period from exposure until they were diagnosed with prostate cancer was 9.4 years, with two-thirds of cases (734) diagnosed between 2009 and 2015.

Though the length of time of exposure to the toxins at the disaster site for each person cannot be quantified, the study did conclude that more than three out of four prostate cancer cases (867; 77%) were early stage and localized; just over 15% (171) had spread locally; and 2.5% (28) had spread to other parts of the body. Cancer detections were tracked via linkage with 13 state cancer registries across the nation up to the conclusion of the study period in 2015.

However, the researchers note that the study is purely observational, and as such, can’t establish specific causes. They give the caveat that while the cancer rates are higher, it is possible that statistics could be skewed if first responders had a higher-than-average screening rate

Nor were they able to determine the extent to which other behavioral, occupational, and environmental exposures other than cigarette smoking might have contributed to prostate cancer risk.

Nevertheless, their “evidence suggests a relationship between [World Trade Center] exposure and prostate cancer not fully explained by random or systematic error,” and that their findings support the need for continued research evaluating prostate cancer in WTC responders.

According to the CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, of the 104,223 enrollees in the World Trade Center Health Program, a federal benefits plan for survivors and responders, 58% of all program members contracted at least one illness associated with the Sept. 11 attacks as of last year. Cancers related to 9/11 among members increased by more than 1,000% from 1,870 confirmed cases in 2013 to 20,612 cases in 2020.

Recents studies show how coffee is good for your health

Steaming hot, iced, blended, black, creamy. Coffee! It comes in many forms, and it’s part of my daily routine. It’s part of many others’ too. Last week several established publications’ websites were running coffee-related articles, touting this beverage’s health benefits. Scientists have remarked on this drink’s healthful qualities in the past. The idea that coffee is good for you is not a new one.

The Relationship with Diabetes

The delightful drink seems to help in warding off type 2 diabetes. The sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG for short, is a protein which controls the sex hormones in the human body: testosterone and estrogen. It has also been considered to have a key role in the evolution of this specific type of diabetes.

It has been observed that drinking coffee will increase the amount of plasma of SHBG. A few years ago, a study showed that women who ingested a minimum of four cups each day were slightly less likely to develop diabetes as opposed to those who didn’t drink it at all.

Help in Other Areas

The Best Way to Start the Day Right. Source: Pixabay.

Coffee, primarily the caffeinated kind, has been known to prevent as well as alleviate Parkinson’s disease. The consumption of caffeine has been found to significantly decrease the number of Parkinson’s cases. In fact, it may even aid in simple movement in individuals afflicted with the disease.

It provides some benefits for those who are concerned about their heart. Small daily doses can assist in preventing heart failure. In one study, it was shown that the risk of heart failure in people drinking four European cups of coffee per day was reduced by 11%.

Newer studies show that the regular intake of a relatively small amount of coffee can bring down the chances of premature death by 10%. Additional benefits could possibly include preventing cirrhosis, decrease the likelihood of multiple sclerosis (MS), and prevent the onslaught of colon cancer. However, to be certain whether these benefits are actually present in coffee more tests are needed. It is also one of the very best sources of antioxidants which protect the human body against destructive molecules called free radicals. This is good since free radicals are believed by many scientists to bring about cancer, blood vessel disease, and other serious ailments.

The Biggie: Coffee and Liver Health

From Pot to Cup. Source: Pixabay.

Perhaps the biggest health factor it basks in being associated with is liver health. Marc Gunter, head of a recent large-scale European study noted by National Geographic, has stated coffee drinking is linked to good health in the liver and circulatory systems. He also says it can account for lower inflammation levels in those who drink it as opposed to those who don’t.

The discoveries this study has led to supply the strongest defense to date for the healthful qualities of coffee. Gunter informed the scientific community and the public that he plans to examine the beverage’s chemical compounds in an attempt to know what makes it healthful.

We have actually seen how it can aid in liver conditions for several years. For instance, it was found that consuming three cups of coffee on a daily basis reduced the chances of getting liver cancer by 50%! Decaf also decreases the number of enzymes located in the liver. Thus, it is seen that caffeine is not always the prime healthy aspect provided in coffee. Drinking the beverage frequently has been associated with decreasing the risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) which is a rare disease infecting the liver’s bile ducts.

As we’ve seen, coffee has quite a few benefits when drunk regularly and moderately. The important thing to recognize now is that many specific studies need to done on coffee itself and how it relates to treating various illnesses.

Activating a single gene could reverse colon cancer growth

A new study on mice shows great promise for treating colon cancer – a simple genetic tweak can turn colorectal cancer cells into healthy tissue in a matter of days.

Image via Wikipedia.

Anti-cancer strategies generally involve killing off tumor cells, but a group of US researchers have tried a different approach – they coaxed the cells to turn back into healthy ones by reactivating a single gene. Remarkably, in only 2 weeks, the cancer cells were gone – regaining their initial function. Six months later, there was still no sign of cancer.

“Treatment regimes for advanced colorectal cancer involve combination chemotherapies that are toxic and largely ineffective, yet have remained the backbone of therapy over the last decade,” says senior study author Scott Lowe of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The gene they reactivated is called denomatous polyposis coli (Apc), a tumor suppressor gene. Tumor suppressor genes prevent the uncontrolled growth of cells that may result in cancerous tumors. The protein made by the Apc gene plays a critical role in several cellular processes that determine whether a cell may develop into a tumor. Apc is turned off in 90% of all colorectal cancers, so researchers thought if they could turn it back up, they could eliminate cancer cells – and it worked. Furthermore, Lowe and his team managed to reactivate the gene without causing noticeable side effects.

“The concept of identifying tumor-specific driving mutations is a major focus of many laboratories around the world,” says author Lukas Dow of Weill Cornell Medical College.. “If we can define which types of mutations and changes are the critical events driving tumor growth, we will be better equipped to identify the most appropriate treatments for individual cancers.”

However, there’s a problem when it comes to implementing this treatment to humans: we can’t edit human genes the same way we edit mice genes. Researchers will have to find a way to have the same effect without actually turning on the gene.

“It is currently impractical to directly restore Apc function in patients with colorectal cancer, and past evidence suggests that completely blocking Wnt signaling would likely be severely toxic to normal intestinal cells,” said Lowe. “However, our findings suggest that small molecules aimed at modulating, but not blocking, the Wnt pathway might achieve similar effects to Apc reactivation. Further work will be critical to determine whether Wnt inhibition or similar approaches would provide long-term therapeutic value in the clinic.”

We’re still years away before this actually becomes a viable option for treatment, but there are reasons to be optimistic.

Journal Reference: Lukas E. Dow, Kevin P. O’Rourke, Janelle Simon, Darjus F. Tschaharganeh, Johan H. van Es, Hans Clevers, Scott W. Lowe. Apc Restoration Promotes Cellular Differentiation and Reestablishes Crypt Homeostasis in Colorectal Cancer. Cell, 2015; 161 (7): 1539 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.05.033

At home test for colon cancer screening receives unanimous support from FDA advisors (10-0)

Improving colon cancer detection is crucial; it can prevent colon-related cancer deaths by as much as 60 percent in adults who are at least 50-years old – simply through routine scanning. However, traditional screening methods are associated with significant discomfort; this at home test solves this issue, and provides many advantages.

colon-cancer

This screens for colon cancer using DNA, so you don’t have to wait until you get a lesion or cancer for the doctor to notice – you can find it before any of this happens. Also, it uses a stool sample, as opposed to a blood sample, and it eliminates all the discomfort associated with a colonoscopy.

In order to take a colonoscopy, the patient has to follow a low fiber or clear-liquid only diet for 1-3 days – you’re essentially drinking lots of liquids which will give you diarrhea. The day before the colonoscopy, the patient is given a laxative preparation, and the procedure itself is… let’s just say it’s unpleasant. It’s nowhere nearly as bad as it used to be years ago and you are sedated during the procedure, but people still tend to avoid it, even though they shouldn’t, as the disease poses a major threat.

But this development could change things significantly. Cologuard, a colon cancer screening test that analyzes DNA found in the stool is set for approval – it hasn’t been approved yet by the FDA, but they almost always follow the advisors.

“Exact Sciences Corp. (Nasdaq: EXAS) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Molecular and Clinical Genetics Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee determined by a unanimous vote of 10 to zero that Exact Sciences has demonstrated safety, effectiveness and a favorable risk benefit profile of Cologuard, the company’s stool-based DNA (sDNA), non-invasive colorectal cancer screening test,” Exact Sciences announced on its website.

Symptoms of colon cancer do not often show up until the disease is already in its later stage. Health experts recommend screening so the disease can be detected in its early stages, when it still have a very good chance of being cured. The disease is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States.