Obesity and Cancer

March 23, 2010 by  
Filed under health

There has been a great deal of press written in the last few months on how obesity affects our health as individuals and as a nation. Just yesterday, in the LA Times, I found more on a link between obesity and cancer.
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An increasing number of studies are finding that overweight and obese people are more likely to develop cancer of various kinds. At least half a dozen types of cancer are believed to be directly affected by weight. 

”As time goes on, we’re realizing that obesity is related to more cancers than we originally suspected,” said Dr. Donald Hensrud, an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Researchers are unable to prove that obesity actually causes cancer because requiring people to either gain weight or keep their weight down in clinical trials would be impossible.

Still, the evidence is “convincing” for a cause-and-effect relationship between obesity and postmenopausal breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, kidney and pancreas cancer, according to a 2007 report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research. The report also cited obesity as a “probable” cause of gallbladder cancer.

 Scientists aren’t sure how obesity might affect cancer risk, but “there are some plausible biological mechanisms by which this may occur,” said Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of cancer prevention and control research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
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One popular explanation is that extra weight boosts the body’s production of hormones such as estrogen, insulin and insulin-like growth factor. All of  these have the potential to promote the growth of certain tumors.

Another possibility is that fatness contributes to cancer growth by causing cells to divide more rapidly.

 The suspected higher risk of gallbladder cancer might be explained by the increased tendency of obese people to develop gallstones. These stones cause inflammation that could promote cancer.

No matter what researchers ultimately reveal about the role of weight in cancer, weight control remains an essential part of staying healthy. 

”If body fatness were totally unrelated to cancer, the message would still be the same, because of the importance of weight control for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, joint pain and other conditions,” said Dr. Tim Byers, a professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health.
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One thing is clear, we need to get a better handle on our weight as individuals and as a nation. The better we handle our own weight, the more oomph we can experience in our own lives. If you have more interest, you can read the entire article at:LA Times

The Surgical Tool of the Future

March 3, 2010 by  
Filed under science oomph! videos

This medical science webisode examines a new medical device called PlasmaBlade, which uses pulses of plasma generated around its tip to locally cut and cauterize flesh. The PlasmaBlade, from Peak Surgical, represents a quantum leap in technology, improving the control, bleeding and recovery time of the patient.

The Surgical Tool of the Future from oomphTV on Vimeo.

Cancer, cancer everywhere?

July 27, 2009 by  
Filed under health

A friend of mine just died of cancer last week. He was fifty.

I suppose you get to a certain age, and the disease seems to crawl out from around the corners all around you. You hear the statistics – one out of two men and one out of three women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetimes.  Yet, then I read that “cancer death rates have steadily declined in the U.S. over the past fifteen years, and they are expected to do so again” according to the American Cancer Society. Hard to believe that from the period of 1990 – 2005, cancer death rates decreased by 19.2 percent in men. Women’s rates from roughly the same time period (1991 – 2005) death rates decreased by 11.4%. Much of the decline is due to increased screening (leading to an earlier diagnosis) and then there are improved treatments.

It may be of some comfort to know that about a third of the expected cancer deaths will be linked to behavior-related factors, such as obesity, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity. And then there is the issue of indoor tanning and overexposure to the sun. There also may be more to the element of nutrition, antioxidants, and prevention. (See www.anticancer.com for more information.)

On the other hand,  that is only one third of the story. What about the other two thirds?  My friend who just past away was one of those guys that drank red wine occasionally, ate well, had a balanced and very happy life, and was really in shape. Why him? There was no cancer in his family, and certainly he lead a very healthy lifestyle. Truth is, his oncologist said that some of us will get cancer just because of “dumb luck”.  And that is what makes this (and many other diseases) very scary.

To be optimistic, there is a world of positive forward movement with our battle against cancer. Three cancer vaccines (for prostate cancer, melanoma and lymphoma)have achieved positive results in Phase 3 clinical trials. These vaccines wouldn’t prevent the disease, but they may help people who are already fighting it. Additionally, we currently have two cancer vaccines that have FDA approval and both are strictly preventive as they target viruses that can lead to cancer. One is the vaccination that fights hepatitits B, the other, a vaccine for HPV, which is recommended for adolescent girls. The progress we’ve made is astounding, and the fight against cancer is finally taking center stage.

If you’re feeling helpless and wonder what you can personally do to help the cause, join the grassroots movement of CPS-3, the Cancer Prevention Study-3. The American Cancer is looking for men and women between the ages of 30 and 65  who have no personal history of cancer to join a historic research study. The ultimate goal is to enroll 500,000 adults from various racial/ethnic backgrounds from across the U.S. According to their website, “The purpose of CPS-3 is to better understand the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer and to ultimately eliminate cancer as a major health problem for this and future generations.” Contact your local Relay for Life to see if you can get on-board.

And in the meantime, follow the lifestyle advice given by physicans and be thankful that there is an active research community fighting on the behalf of all of us.

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