Posts Tagged ‘breast cancer’

Cancer Death Rates In Europe Drop

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

There will be nearly 1.3 million deaths from cancer in Europe in 2011, according to predictions from a study published in the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology

The estimates, which have been reached after researchers used for the first time in Europe a new mathematical model for predicting cancer mortality, show a fall in overall cancer death rates for both men and women when compared to 2007. But they also highlight some areas of concern, particularly rising rates of lung cancer in women. 

Researchers looked at overall rates in the European Union (EU) and also individual rates in six major EU countries: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK. 

They predicted there would be 1,281,466 cancer deaths in the EU in 2011 (721,252 men and 560,184 women), compared to 1,256,001 (703,872 men and 552,129 women) in 2007. When these figures are converted into world standardized rates per 100,000 of the population, this means there will be a fall from 153.8 per 100,000 to 142.8 per 100,000 in men, and from 90.7 to 85.3 in women — a drop of 7% in men and 6% in women — since 2007.

“Cancer is no longer an immediate death sentence, the vast majority of people today survive,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the leading U.S. trade organization.  The overall downward trend in cancer death rates is driven mainly by falls in breast cancer mortality in women, and lung and colorectal cancer in men.

However, the number of women dying from lung cancer is increasing steadily everywhere apart from in the UK, which has had the highest rates in women for a decade and is now seeing a leveling off. In the EU as a whole, world standardized death rates from lung cancer in women have gone up from 12.55 per 100,000 of the female population in 2007 to 13.12 in 2011. 

Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the first cause of cancer death in Polish women, as well as in women from the UK. The number of women who will die from lung cancer this year in the UK is 15,632 (compared to 14,900 in 2007); this represents a slight drop in the death rate from 20.57 per 100,000 women in 2007 to 20.33 in 2011. In Poland, 6,343 women will die from lung cancer this year compared to 5,643 in 2007, and this represents an increase in the death rate from 15.53 per 100,000 women to 16.60 in 2011. 

Declines in mortality from other major cancers such as stomach, uterus, prostate and leukaemia are likely to be seen in 2011, say the researchers.

Jesse Slome is executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance <a href> http://www.aaltci.org </a> and the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance <a href> http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org </a> leading national trade organizations.  The Association’s Consumer Information Center was voted the #1 source for information by consumer interest group rating and can be accessed at <a href> http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance </a>.

Red Meat Eaters Face Higher Cancer Risk

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Those who eat red-meat may have a greater likelihood of developing certain cancers.

According to a new study, meat lovers face increased risk of cancer of the throat and stomach than people who limit their intake of steaks and hamburgers.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, about 21,000 cases of stomach cancer and 16,640 cases of esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in 2010. 

Researchers found that among nearly 500,000 older U.S. adults followed for a decade, only a small number developed cancers of the esophagus or stomach. However, the risks were relatively greater among those who ate a lot of red meat, or certain compounds generated from cooking meat. 

Overall, study participants in the top 20 percent for red-meat intake were 79 percent more likely than those in the bottom 20 percent to develop esophageal squamous cell carcinoma — a cancer that arises in the lining of the upper part of the esophagus. 

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, do not prove that red meat promotes the two cancers, the researchers emphasize. 

However, the scientists report that the results add to what has been an uncertain body of evidence on the link between red meat and esophageal and stomach cancers. 

A 2007 research review by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, both non-profit groups, concluded that red and processed meats were associated with a “limited suggestive increased risk” of esophageal cancer. 

Researchers followed nearly 500,000 adults ages 50 to 71 over roughly 10 years. At the outset, participants completed detailed questionnaires on their diets — including the methods they typically used for cooking meat, and the usual level of “doneness” they preferred — as well as other lifestyle factors.

Over the next decade, 215 study participants developed esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; that included 28 cases among the bottom 20 percent for red-meat intake, and 69 cases in the top 20 percent.

Another 454 men and women were diagnosed with gastric cardia cancer. There were 57 cases among participants with the lowest red-meat intake, and 113 in the group with the highest intake. 

When the researchers accounted for other factors — like age, weight, smoking and reported exercise habits — participants who ate the most red meat were 79 percent more likely than those with the lowest intake to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.

Cancer Occurs But Deaths Decline

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

According to a report from the American Cancer Society there will be 1,529,560 new cancer cases in the United States in 2010 and 569,490 deaths. 

Death rates for all cancer types fell by 2 percent a year from 2001 to 2006 among men and 1.5 percent per year from 2002 to 2006 in women.  The reduced death rate from cancer was due a decline in smoking, better treatment and earlier detection.

New cases of colorectal cancer fell 3 percent a year in men and 2.2 percent a year for women from 1998 to 2006, while lung cancer rates have fallen in men by 1.8 percent each year since 1991 and finally started leveling off among women.  Cancer remains one iof the primary illnesses impacting Americans according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

The drops in mortality rates have meant that nearly 800,000 people who would have died prematurely from cancer over the past 20 years did not. 

The overall U.S. death rate from cancer in 2007 was 178.4 per 100,000 people, a 1.3 percent drop from 2006, when the rate was 180.7 per 100,000.

Mortality rates have decreased by 21 percent among men and by 12 percent among women, due primarily to declines in smoking, better treatments, and earlier detection of cancer.  Lung cancer remains the No. 1 cancer killer of both men and women in the United States. Breast cancer comes in No. 2 for women, prostate cancer is the second most common killer of men, and colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death for both sexes.

Long Sleep Linked To Increased Health Risks In Older Adults

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Metabolic syndrome is a group of obesity-related risk factors that increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

A person with at least three of these five risk factors is considered to have metabolic syndrome: excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks health conditions impacting the aging American public.

According to a research abstract presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies participants who reported a habitual daily sleep duration of eight hours or more including naps were 15 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome. 

This relationship remained unchanged after full adjustment for potential confounders such as demographics, lifestyle and sleep habits, and metabolic markers. Removing participants with potential ill health from the analysis slightly attenuated the observed association. Although participants who reported a short sleep duration of less than six hours were 14 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome in the initial analysis, this association disappeared after controlling for potential confounders.

Researchers noted that the most surprising aspect of the study was that long sleep – and not short sleep – was related to the presence of the metabolic syndrom.

The study involved over 29,000 adults, making it the largest study to assess the relationship between sleep duration and the presence of metabolic syndrome. Participants were 50 years of age or older. Total sleep duration was reported by questionnaire.

We can recommend that long sleepers reduce the amount of overall sleep they achieve, which may in turn have beneficial effects on their health one medical expert noted. Programs can be developed to modify sleep in an attempt to reduce the health burden on elderly populations, who are already at higher risk of disease.

Black Women Wait Longer For Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Researchers from the George Washington Cancer Institute looked at 581 breast cancer patients who were examined between 1997 and 2009 at seven hospitals and clinics in Washington, D.C. and found that insured black women and uninsured white women waited more than twice as long to be given a definitive breast cancer diagnosis than insured white women. 

Lack of health insurance slowed the speed of diagnosis among white patients, but having insurance did not lead to quicker diagnosis among insured black women.

Overall, black patients waited twice as long as white patients to begin treatment after breast cancer diagnosis. 

The findings highlight the need for improved outreach and other types of assistance for black patients.

Black women should be the focus of breast cancer screening outreach and follow-up because they experience greater delays in diagnosis and in treatment than white women, regardless of insurance status. 

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

What To Watch For Early Spotting Of Ovarian Cancer

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

New research from the Cancer Research Center in Seattle shows that women with ovarian cancer are much more likely than healthy women to report symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating and feeling full quickly after eating.  This is especially true if the symptoms are relatively new and persistent. 

While ovarian cancer is fairly rare, the symptoms are relatively common and possibly explained by less serious conditions.  Thus medical experts note that the ability to predict who has cancer based on symptoms alone is limited. 

Researchers found that for every 100 women in the general population whose symptoms matched those in a widely accepted ovarian cancer symptom index, only one would actually have early-stage ovarian cancer. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the disease strikes about one in 72 women.  Last year, 21,550 new cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed among U.S. women; 14,600 deaths were attributed to the disease.  

The study is published in the Jan. 28 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute notes that finding ways to detect early-stage ovarian cancer is an ongoing challenge.

Ovarian cancer sometimes is found during a pelvic exam, but tumors are often too deep within the body for doctors to detect. In addition, the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often missed or misdiagnosed as other less serious conditions, including menopause, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome or even depression. 

While nine of 10 women whose ovarian cancer is caught early are alive five years after diagnosis, only about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found at their early stage, according to the American Cancer Society. 

According to the study findings, women who were diagnosed with cancer were 10 times more likely to experience the symptoms than women without cancer.   Among patients with early-stage disease, about 27 percent experienced the symptoms for at least five months before diagnosis.

Pediatric Cancer Survivors Face Higher Heart Disease Risk

Monday, January 11th, 2010

These risk factors for heart disease are being found at an earlier age than in the general population, according to research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

An estimated 80 million Americans have cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance 2010 Fact Book.  Someone suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds the report notes.

Researchers at Emory University, extracted data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, which included 8,599 cancer survivors and 2,936 of their siblings.  In data previously published from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, pediatric cancer survivors were found to be at almost 10-fold greater risk for cardiovascular disease than their non-survivor counterparts. 

In this study scientists identified whether the predisposing risk factors for cardiovascular disease — obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemea and diabetes — were present at higher rates compared to siblings. If the risk factors could be recognized and treated early it is hoped some of the long-term cardiac side effects could be averted. 

They found that cancer survivors were nearly twice as likely as their siblings to take medication for high blood pressure, 60 percent more likely to take cholesterol medication and 70 percent more likely to have diabetes. 

Radiation treatment may be playing a role in the development of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.  Total body irradiation was linked with a 5.5-fold increased risk and chest and abdomen radiation a 2.2-fold increased risk of cardiovascular risk factor clustering, which when present is associated with subsequent cardiovascular disease. 

Researchers examined the presence of cardiovascular risk factors and found that physical inactivity among cancer survivors was linked with a 70 percent increased risk for cardiovascular risk factor clustering. Older age at the time of the study was linked to an 8.2-fold increased risk for cardiovascular risk factor clustering among survivors compared with children who had never had cancer.

Increased Diabetes Risk For Those Who Quit Smoking

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that smoking is a well-known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  New research points out that elevated diabetes risk is related to the extra pounds people typically put on after renouncing cigarettes. 

Type 2 diabetes is a common disease that interferes with the body’s ability to properly use sugar, and to regulate and properly use insulin, a substance produced by the pancreas that normally lowers blood sugar during and after eating.

“No one should use the study’s results as an excuse to keep smoking, which is also a risk factor for lung disease, heart disease, strokes and many types of cancer,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

The study which was published in the January 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine reported that people who quit smoking have a 70 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the first six years without cigarettes as compared to people who never smoked. 

The risks were highest in the first three years after quitting and returned to normal after 10 years. Among those who continued smoking over that period, the risk was lower, but the chance of developing diabetes was still 30 percent higher compared with those who never smoked. 

The study comprised nearly 11,000 middle-aged adults who did not yet have diabetes from 1987 to 1989. The patients were followed for up to 17 years and data about diabetes status, glucose levels, weight and more were collected at regular intervals. 

According to the study, those who smoked the most and those who gained the most weight had the highest likelihood for developing diabetes after they quit. On average, over the first three years of the study, quitters gained about 8.4 pounds and saw their waist circumferences grow by approximately 1.25 inches.

Early Menstruation Linked To Heart Disease Risk

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Researchers have found that among nearly 16,000 middle-aged and older women followed for more than a decade, those who’d started menstruating before age 12 were 23 percent more likely to develop heart disease and 28 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular causes like heart attack or stroke. 

These women also had a 22 percent higher overall death rate and a 25 percent higher risk of dying from cancer, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 

Previous studies have found evidence that early menstrual periods can affect health later in life.  A large study of Norwegian women, for instance, found that those who began menstruating before age 12 were slightly more likely to die during the 37-year study period than their peers who’d begun menstruating at age 14. 

Another study linked earlier menarche to a higher risk of diabetes in adulthood — a connection that appeared to be explained by higher body mass index (BMI) among women who’d begun menstruating earlier. 

Early menarche remained linked to higher risks of coronary heart disease and deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer after the researchers accounted for a number of other factors — such as age, BMI, smoking, exercise habits and education. 

A number of studies have linked early menarche to an increased risk of breast cancer — possibly due to greater lifetime exposure to estrogen.  Women with an early menarche also had higher rates of cardiovascular disease risk factors, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol — but the reasons for that are unknown. 

Posted by American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Breast-Feeding May Help A Woman’s Heart

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Researchers found that those women who had not breast-fed were much more likely to have calcification or plaque in their coronary artery, aorta and carotid artery. When calcifications and plaque build up in the arteries, blood flow can be reduced, and, if enough of these deposits build up, they can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Health Care had previously looked at breast-feeding’s effect on older women.  Their study found that post-menopausal women who had breast-fed were less likely to report having heart disease.  Another study on breast-feeding from a different research group recently reported in the journal Diabetes that women who breast-fed were less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a clustering of risk factors that indicate an increased risk for heart disease.

The current study included women who had at least one baby. At the time of the study, they were 45 to 58 years old, had never been diagnosed with heart disease and had no known symptoms of heart disease.

The researchers found that 32 percent of the women who had not breast-fed had coronary artery calcification, compared with 17 percent of the breast-feeding moms. The researchers found calcifications in 39 percent of the aortas of women who hadn’t breast-fed, versus 17 percent of the women who had. They also found plaque deposits in the carotid artery of 18 percent of the women who had not breast-fed and 10 percent of those who had.

After adjusting the data for socioeconomic status, family history and lifestyle factors, heart disease risk factors and body mass, the researchers concluded that women who had not breast-fed were five times more likely to have aortic calcifications than women who consistently breast-fed. 

Report prepared by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Check out the website for costs for critical illness insurance coverage.

Scientists Crack Genetic Codes of Two Cancers

Friday, December 18th, 2009

The complete genetic codes of two human cancers have been mapped for the first time. It has been described as the most significant milestone in cancer research in more than a decade.  The findings could herald a medical revolution in which every tumor can be targeted with personalized therapy. 

The research was led by the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge, England.  Medical experts note that the findings could launch a medical revolution in which every tumor can be targeted with personalised therapy. 

Mapping of cancer code is a huge breakthrough and may soon herald blood tests that could detect tumors far earlier than currently possible explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness insurance.  There are 1.4 million cancer cases in the U.S. and well over 500,000 cancer-caused deaths occur annually. 

Scientists were examining which genes go wrong in different types of cancer.  The DNA code for the skin cancer called melanoma reportedly has more than 30,000 errors, mostly caused by too much exposure to the sun. The lung cancer DNA had more than 23,000 errors, most triggered by exposure to cigarette smoke.

The exhaustive genetic maps, which catalogue every DNA mutation found in two patients’ tumours, will transform treatment of the disease. Scientists predict that by about 2020 all cancer patients could have their tumours analysed to find the genetic defects that drive them. This information would then be used to select the treatments most likely to work. 

Physicians and researchers noted that insights will also lead to the development of powerful drugs to target DNA errors that cause cancer and highlight ways in which the disease can be prevented. Cancers would be diagnosed and treated according to their genetic profiles rather than their position in the body.

Radiation From CT Scans May Cause Cancer Risk

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Research findings reveal that Americans who are overexposed to radiation from diagnostic tests, especially from a specialized kind of X-ray called a computed tomography, or CT, scan have an increased liability for incurring cancer.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, about 70 million CT scans were done on Americans in 2007, up from 3 million in 1980.  A chest CT scan exposes the patient to more than 100 times the radiation dose of a chest X-ray.

Medical researchers at the National Cancer Institute developed a computer model to estimate the impact of scans.  They estimated the scans done in 2007 will cause 29,000 cancers. A third of the projected cancers will occur in people who were ages 35 to 54 when they got their CT, two-thirds will occur in women and 15 percent will arise from scans done in children or teens. 

The researchers estimated there will be an extra 2,000 excess breast cancers just from CT scans done in 2007.  They found radiation dosage varied widely between different types of CT studies, from a median or midpoint of 2 millisieverts for a routine head CT scan to 31 millisieverts for a scan of the abdomen and pelvis, which often involves taking multiple images of the same organ. 

By comparison, the average American is exposed to about 3 millisieverts of radiation a year from ground radon or flying in an airplane — a level not considered a risk to health.

Bone Drugs May Cut Risk Of Breast Cancer

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Reserachers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute examined studies to determine whether bisphosphonates may actually prevent disease recurrence through a variety of mechanisms.  Bisphosphonates are already used to treat complications that result from breast cancer spreading to the bones. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance statistics, nearly 700,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with cancer each year.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. 

One study looked at more than 150,000 postmenopausal women who participated in the U.S. government-led Women’s Health Initiative.  The women taking bisphosphonates, namely Fosamax (alendronate), had a 32 percent reduction in their rate of invasive breast cancer compared to women who were not taking one of these drugs. 

When conducting the study, University of California, Los Angeles, researchers were able to control for the fact that women with low bone mineral density are already at lower risk for breast cancer.  

In another study, Israeli researchers found that postmenopausal women taking bisphosphonates for one or more years had a 29 percent reduction in their risk of breast cancer.  And the tumors that did appear tended to be estrogen receptor-positive and thus easier to treat than estrogen receptor-negative tumors. 

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, concluded that zoledronic acid, another bisphosphonate, is safe and effective for use by postmenopausal women with breast cancer who are being treated with aromatase inhibitors. Bone mineral density increased 6.2 percent in women taking zoledronic acid, compared with 2.4 percent in the control group.

Genetic Test Could Help Spot Breast Cancer

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

New research suggests that within the cell nucleus, chromosomes and individual genes occupy specific locations relative to one another. The organization of these bodies can change for many reasons, but one of them is cancer. 

Researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute have honed in on several genes that have a different physical position inside the nucleus in invasive breast cancer cells than in normal breast tissue cells. A change in the position of one gene in particular, HES5, predicted invasive breast cancer nearly all of the time, they found.

The discovery suggests that looking at three-dimensional properties of the cell could one day be used as a new method of diagnosing breast cancer.  Some 1.4 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.

The study published online in the Journal of Cell Biology reports that  while breast tumors are typically detected by a mammogram, which is basically an X-ray of the breast.  The other way of detection occurs when a woman or her doctor feels a lump. To determine if the mass is cancerous or benign, a doctor would order a biopsy, which involves the removal of a small tissue sample that is then analyzed by a pathologist. 

Using 11 normal human breast tissue samples and 14 invasive cancer tissue samples, the researchers identified eight genes that were frequently repositioned in cancer specimens. They found that the repositioning of the gene HES5 indicated breast cancer in nearly all samples. 

Previous research had implicated HES5 with cancer, according to background information in the study. In the new study, the researchers also found that changes in the location of several other combinations of two or three genes also indicated cancer with high accuracy.

Drinking Coffee Reduces Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference revealed that coffee has effects on insulin and glucose metabolism as well as sex hormone levels, all of which play a role in prostate cancer. 

Medical researchers report that that men who drank the most coffee had a 60 percent lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer than men who did not drink any coffee. This is the first study of its kind to look at both overall risk of prostate cancer and risk of localized, advanced and lethal disease. 

Some 745,000 men are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance that tracks critical illness data for cancers, heart attack and stroke.  Approximately 300,000 men die each year of cancer. 

The researchers are unsure which components of the beverage are most important, as coffee contains many biologically active compounds like antioxidants and minerals.  They study examined both regular and decaffeinated coffee intake of nearly 50,000 men every four years from 1986 to 2006. 

Nearly 5,000 men developed prostate cancer over that time. The researchers examined the association between coffee consumption and levels of circulating hormones in blood samples collected from a subset of men in the cohort.  The results do suggest there is no reason to stop drinking coffee out of any concern about prostate cancer, the report adds.

Breast-Feeding Can Help Mom’s Heart Decades Later

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California reported that among women who didn’t have pregnancy-related diabetes, breast-feeding between one and five months lowered the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 39 percent.  Breast-feeding for the same duration lowered the risk of the syndrome by 44 percent in women with gestational diabetes. 

The longer a woman breast-fed, the better it was for her later health the medical researchers noted. Breast-feeding for longer than nine months dropped the risk of metabolic syndrome by 86 percent in women with gestational diabetes. Women without gestational diabetes saw a 56 percent reduction in their risk of metabolic syndrome, according to the study. 

The benefits of breast-feeding for infants are well-documented and include lower risk of ear infections, stomach problems, respiratory illnesses, asthma, skin allergies, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For women, breast-feeding appears to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The researchers recruited some 1,400 women into a prospective, multi-center study designed to assess what factors increase the risk of coronary artery disease. At the start of the study in 1985, none of the women had been pregnant before, and none had metabolic syndrome. 

The women were examined at the start of the study, and again at 7, 10, 15 and 20 years after the start of the study.   While participating in the study, 704 of the women had babies. During pregnancy, 84 women developed gestational diabetes. During the study follow-up, 120 women developed metabolic syndrome.

Of those who developed metabolic syndrome, the average duration of breast-feeding was 2.6 months, while the average time breast-feeding for women who didn’t develop metabolic syndrome was seven months, according to the study. 

The researchers noted that women who would like to reduce their risk of metabolic syndrome should follow health-eating guidelines, get regular exercise, and if having a baby, consider breast-feeding.  The study appeared online in the journal Diabetes.

Report posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon And Breast Cancers

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Two studies strengthen the case for the dangers of secondhand smoke for people exposed to fumes as children and as adults.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, some  17 cancers are now attributed to smoking.  Cancer and heart disease are the major critical illnesses impacting millions of Americans yearly.

Inhaling secondhand fumes may raise a woman’s odds for breast cancer or a child’s lifetime risk for lung malignancies according to the studies.  Another study found that long-term smokers have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer, a finding that factored into the recent decision by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to assert that there is “sufficient” evidence to link the two, up from its previous “limited” evidence. 

In preparing their reports, the researchers adjusted for other colorectal cancer risk factors, such as not getting screened, obesity, physical activity and eating a lot of red or processed meats.   They noted that people who smoke are already more likely to engage in these types of behaviors. 

This study followed almost 200,000 people over 13 years.  According to the medical researchers, current smokers had a 27 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer and former smokers a 23 percent increased risk compared with people who had never smoked. 

People who had smoked for at least half a century had the highest risk — 38 percent higher than never smokers — of developing colorectal cancer.  People who ceased smoking before the age of 40 or who had not smoked for 31 or more years had no increased risk. 

Other studies focused on the risk of secondhand smoke, or passive smoking. In one, children exposed to secondhand smoke had a higher risk of developing lung cancer as adults, researchers from institutions including the U.S. National Cancer Institute found. In another, California researchers found that adult non-smoking women who had spent long periods of time in smoking environments upped their odds of developing postmenopausal breast cancer. 

The breast cancer findings were seen mostly in postmenopausal women, with a 17 percent higher risk for those who had had low exposure, a 19 percent increased risk for those with medium exposure and a 26 percent increased risk for those who had high long-term exposure over their lifetime. 

The studies were published in the December issue of Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention,

Pregnancy-Produced Hormone May Prevent Breast Cancer

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Researchers at the Center for Immunology and Microbial Diseases and in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Albany Medical College, N.Y., report that the protein, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), may serve as a viable, well-tolerated agent for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer.  AFP is a protein normally produced by the liver and yolk sac of a fetus. 

Hormones produced during pregnancy, such as estrogen, all induce AFP, which directly inhibits the growth of breast cancer, noted one of the researchers.  Medical experts explain that the body can produce a natural defense system against breast cancer.  They note this can be developed into a drug that can be used to protect women from breast cancer. 

Recent studies have shown that hormones released during pregnancy, such as estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin, reduce a women’s risk for breast cancer.   Nearly 700,000 women will be diagnosed with cancer this year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Breast cancer affects about 26 percent of female cancer victims.

Researchers’  results showed that treatment with estrogen plus progesterone, estrogen alone or human chorionic gonadotropin reduced the incidence of mammary cancers in rats.   The researchers noted that each of these treatments elevated the serum level of AFP and that AFP directly inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells growing in culture.  While none of these treatments prevented mammary tumors in 100 percent of the rats, it appears to delay mammary tumor formation and prevent breast cancer development in approximately 30 to 50 percent of the rats.

Study: Breast Cancer Cured But Pain Survives

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

According to a report in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association the pain exists even two or three years following treatment.  Almost 60% of the over 3,000 women surveyed experience other symptoms of nerve damage, such as numbness or tenderness, according to a study of women treated for breast cancer in 2005 and 2006. 

The researchers noted that women under 40 and those who have more extensive surgery, such as a mastectomy, and radiation are the most likely to report pain.  Women, they report, also have more pain if surgeons removed many of the lymph nodes in their armpits, a common place for breast cancer to spread.

Most breast cancer patients can ease their symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers.  Every year nearly 700,000 American women are diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  About one in four women are diagnosed with breast cancer and as a result of early detection and improved treatment, most survice.

 

While the medical experts explain that it is not always possible to prevent chronic pain, there are ways women can reduce their risk.

 

Women should choose doctors who perform “sentinel-node” biopsies, one of the experts writing in the Journal noted. In the procedure, surgeons remove and test one or a few key lymph node for malignant cells instead of automatically removing all of the nodes. If the sentinel node is cancer-free, surgeons leave the others in place. The procedure also reduces the risk of lymphedema, a painful swelling in the arm.

Well-educated Women Hardest Hit By Breast Cancer

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

A study undertaken by Australia’s Monash University Medical School’s Women’s Health Program, found that well-educated women and those who live alone are emotionally the hardest hit.  Older women tended to similarly experience lower levels of overall well being compared to women of similar age in the community two years after their diagnosis. 

Nearly 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2010 according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the industry trade group, including almost 180,000 breast cancer cases in women.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. With improvements in detection and treatment of breast cancer, 87 per cent of women affected survive five years or more from the time of detection. 

The researchers found that two years post diagnosis women with breast cancer were not more likely to be depressed but were more likely to experience a lowered sense of control over their life, and lower general health, with lessened vitality being limited to older women. 

One researcher explained that the experience of having breast cancer is a personal one and is often accompanied by very complex emotions due to the fact that it strikes at a woman’s very sense of self, purpose and sexuality.

That women living alone were more likely to have a lower well being is a novel and important finding they noted suggesting that such women may benefit by targeted provision of social support.  More educated women are likely to be the best informed about their breast cancer and treatment, and their lower well-being results may reflect greater anxiety over decision making and their difficulty coping with a sense loss of control over their health. 

The study reported that women’s well being two years out from being treated for the disease was overall only modestly lower than for women in general.  The researchers noted that women who struggling with their emotions following breast cancer treatment may benefit from sharing their feelings with those close to them and discussing their concerns with health professionals or participating in breast cancer support group.

Breast Cancer May Be Developing Earlier

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The findings presented at the 2009 Breast Cancer Symposium, held last week in San Francisco, could potentially affect how women are screened for breast cancer.   

Reserachers reported that women with a high genetic risk of developing breast cancer are being diagnosed sooner than similar women in the past.  They note this may suggest that tumors are being found earlier in the younger generation. 

About 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be connected to a genetic mutation that is also linked to ovarian cancer. Women with the mutations, known as BRCA1 or BRCA2, have an increased risk of developing breast tumors the scientists noted. Over a lifetime, 60 percent of these women will develop the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. By comparison, 12 percent of women in the general population will develop breast cancer. 

Women who have the genetic mutation are advised to be screened for breast cancer starting when they are 25.  The same they note is true for women whose mothers or aunts have the genetic mutation.  A Mammography and MRI are now recommended for these women.

In the new study, the researchers examined the medical records of women with the genetic mutation who took part in the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s clinical cancer genetics program.  The median age of diagnosis in the newer generation was 42, but 47 in the older women. The study authors report that this is worrisome because it could mean that the cancer is developing earlier. 

The findings the researchers noted are concerning and could have implications on the screening and genetic counseling of these women.

Breast Tenderness Linked To Elevated Cancer Risk

Friday, October 16th, 2009

According to researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA they are not certain why breast tenderness indicates increased cancer risk among women on the combination therapy.

The researchers based their findings by examining data on more than 16,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative estrogen-plus- progestin clinical trial.   They speculated that it may be because the hormone therapy is causing breast-tissue cells to multiply more rapidly, which causes breast tenderness and at the same time indicates increased cancer risk.

The UCLA research, published in the Oct. 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, compared the daily use of oral conjugated equine estrogens (0.625 mg) plus medroxyprogesterone acetate (2.5 mg), or CEE+MPA, with the daily use of a placebo pill. 

Of the participants in the trial, over 8,500 took estrogen plus progestin and just over 8,100 were given placebos. Participants underwent mammography and clinical breast exams at the start of the trial and annually thereafter. Self-reported breast tenderness was assessed at the beginning of the trial and one year later, and invasive breast cancer over the next 5.6 years was confirmed by medical record review. 

Women on the combination therapy who did not have breast tenderness at the trial’s inception were found to have a threefold greater risk of developing tenderness at the one-year mark, compared with participants who were assigned placebos (36.1 percent vs. 11.8 percent). Among the women who did report breast tenderness at the beginning, the risk at one-year was about 1.26 times that of their counterparts on placebos. 

Of the women who reported new-onset breast tenderness, 76.3 percent had been on the combination therapy.

Women in the combination therapy group who did not have breast tenderness at the outset but experienced new-onset tenderness at the first annual follow-up had a 48 percent higher risk of invasive breast cancer than their counterparts on combination therapy who did not have breast tenderness at the first-year follow-up.

Women With Breast Cancer Have Low Vitamin D Levels

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

The finding comes from scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center who recommend women should be given high doses of vitamin D.   The U.S. Institute of Medicine suggests that blood levels nearing 32 nanograms per milliliter are adequate.

Vitamin D, obtained from milk, fortified cereals and exposure to sunlight, is well known to play an essential role in cell growth, in boosting the body’s immune system and in strengthening bones. 

In a study of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, nearly 70 percent had low levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco. The analysis showed women with late-stage disease and non-Caucasian women had even lower levels. 

Scientists analyzed vitamin D levels in each woman.  They found the average level was 27 nanograms per milliliter.  More than two-thirds of the women had vitamin deficiency. Weekly supplementation with high doses of vitamin D — 50,000 international units or more — improved the levels, according to the researchers. 

Previous studies have shown that nearly half of all men and women are deficient in the nutrient, with vitamin D levels below 32 nanograms per milliliter.   Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include muscle pain, low energy and fatigue, lowered immunity, symptoms of depression and sleep irregularities.

Some 692,000 American women are diagnosed annually with cancer in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade group.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting 26 percent of women diagnosed with the illness.

Vigorous Exercise Associated With Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

October 8, 2009.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there’s good news for post-menopausal women.  Engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise may result in a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Nearly 700,000 American women are diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  About one quarter (26%) have breast cancer recognized as the most common cancer affecting U.S. women,

Researchers writing the open access journal BMC Cancer investigated the link between breast cancer and exercise.  According to the international team of researchers headed by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, this new study is one of the first prospective investigations to look at the importance of various intensities of exercise at different stages in an individual’s life. 

Over 110,000 post menopausal women were asked to rate their level of physical activity at ages 15-18, 19-29, 35-39, and in the past 10 years. It was found, over 6.6 years of follow up, that women who engaged in more than 7 hours per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise for the last ten years were 16% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who were inactive. 

No link was observed between breast cancer risk and physical activity in women who were active at a younger age.  The findings could help inform the mechanisms of the physical activity-breast cancer relationship.

New Test Assesses Individual Breast Cancer Risk

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

October 7, 2009.  Some 692,000 American women are diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  About one quarter (26%) have breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a new report notes that analyzing individual breast tissue for specific structural characteristics may more precisely determine a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer.

Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers report that the more acini a woman has and the larger her breast lobules, the higher the chance she will get breast cancer.  Acini, the medical experts note, refers to a cluster of cells that in this instance are the sacs that produce milk.

Currently, factors such as family history of breast cancer, number of pregnancies and age at first pregnancy are helpful in predicting how often breast cancer will arise in a larger population. But, reserachers note, these same tools are poor indicators of individual risk.

Other than family history and genetics, the best tool experts have to predict individual breast cancer risk is the Gail model, which takes into account age and number of previous biopsies, as well as family history and pregnancy history.   But, the authors of the report note that the Gail model is “only slightly better than chance alone.

Breast cancer originates in the breast lobules. The lobules are supposed to disappear as a woman ages, reducing her breast cancer risk, but this doesn’t always happen.  The researchers tissue from women with breast cancer (as well as earlier tissue samples taken before they developed the cancer).  The more acini per lobule a woman had and the larger the lobule, the higher her risk for developing breast cancer, the researchers found.   This new technique proved more accurate than the Gail model.

Protect Yourself From Breast Cancer

Monday, October 5th, 2009

According to medical experts, since 1990, more and more women have been surviving breast cancer, largely because of early detection through mammography and improvements in treatment.

Despite the progress, some 1.4 million American women will be diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Breast cancer accounts for 26 percent of cancer in women and is still the second leading cause of cancer death exceeded only by lung cancer.

Mammograms can find breast cancers earlier, when they are easier to treat and the chances of survival are higher. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms and breast exams for women 40 and older.

Medical specialists also recommend eating a healthy diet to help control weight, since being overweight or obese may raise breast cancer risk.  Get regular physical activity. The American Cancer Society recommends 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days a week. Forty-five to 60 minutes a day is even better for reducing breast cancer risk.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than 1 drink per day. Alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

And perhaps most important, be sure to talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts or have any other concerns. That conversation could save your life doctors note.

Asian Spice Could Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

An estimated six million women in the United States currently use hormone replacement therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause.

Taking a combined estrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapy has increased their risk of developing progestin-accelerated breast tumors note medical experts.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance nearly 700,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with cancer this year and over one-quarter will have breast cancer.

University of Missouri researchers have found that curcumin, a popular Indian spice derived from the turmeric root, could reduce the cancer risk for women after exposure to hormone replacement therapy.

The results of the study showed that women could potentially take curcumin to protect themselves from developing progestin-accelerated tumors, researchers noted.  In the study, researchers found that curcumin delayed the first appearance, decreased incidence and reduced multiplicity of progestin-accelerated tumors in an animal model.

Breast Cancer Rates Drop 2 Percent Annually

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Deaths from breast cancer have dropped more than two percent each year since 1990 according to a report, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2009-2010, released by the American Cancer Society. 

In 2009, some 192,370 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, accounting for more than one in four cancers diagnosed according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.

As a result of improved treatments and increased mammography screening rates, the breast cancer death rate continues to decrease in U.S. women.  The death rate from breast cancer peaked in 1989, and rates have dropped nearly 30 percent.  According to the researchers some 130,000 lives were saved. 

Medical experts note the survival rate could be increased further.  Among uninsured women, only 30 percent had a mammogram during the past two years, compared with about 70 percent of insured women.  If breast cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent, but if you catch it late the survival rate is only 24 percent.

Some 40,170 women will die from breast cancer this year.  Only lung cancer kills more women.  From 2002 to 2003, there was sharp decline in breast cancer rates, particularly for women aged 50 to 69. This reflects the drop in hormone replacement therapy by menopausal and postmenopausal women that began in 2002. Breast cancer rates have remained about the same since 2003.

From 1997 to 2006, breast cancer deaths dropped by 1.9 percent a year among white and Hispanic women, 1.6 percent a year among black women, and 0.6 percent annually among Asian-American and Pacific Islander women.  Black women still have a 40 percent higher death rate from breast cancer than white women,   Death rates have stayed the same for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Hispanic Americans Have Lower Cancer Risk

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Hispanic (Latino) Americans are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to develop and die from all cancers combined as well as the four most common cancers (female breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung) according to a new report.

However, Hispanics have higher rates of several cancers related to infections (stomach, liver, and cervix) and are more likely to have cancer detected at a later stage.

The findings come from the latest edition of Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics/Latinos.  Hispanic Americans comprise the largest, fastest-growing, and youngest minority in the United States.  An estimated 98,900 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in Hispanic/Latinos in 2009. Prostate is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, while breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Colorectal cancer is the second-most common cancer in both men and women.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  More than 1.44 million Americans had a diagnosis of cancer in 2008 and some 565,000 died.  According to the National Institutes of Health, cancer cost the United States an estimated $228 billion in medical costs in 2008.

An estimated 18,800 Hispanics are expected to die from cancer in 2009; the top two causes of cancer death among men are lung and colorectal cancer, while breast and lung cancer are the top two in women.

Between 1997 and 2006, cancer incidence rates decreased among Hispanics by 1.3% per year in men and 0.6% per year in women, compared to decreases of 0.8% per year and 0.4% per year in non-Hispanic white men and women, respectively.

 During the same time period, cancer death rates among Hispanics decreased by 2.2% per year in men and 1.2% per year in women, compared to decreases in non-Hispanic whites of 1.5% per year in men and 0.9% per year in women.

The report also finds that compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanic/Latino Americans have a later stage of diagnosis for many cancers, including breast and melanoma and have generally similar 5-year survival, except for melanoma, for which survival rates are lower in Hispanic compared to non-Hispanic white men (79% versus 87%) and women (88% versus 92%).

Written by Jesse Slome from the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance
http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org

Any Lifetime Smoking Ups Breast Cancer Risk

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Women who smoke 100 or more cigarettes may substantially increase their odds of developing breast cancer. 

Researchers report new evidence that a woman smoker can reduce her risk of breast cancer by stopping smoking as soon as possible.    The study compared smoking history and other breast cancer risk factors among 1,225 women who developed breast cancer and 6,872 who did not during the first year after their initial visit to the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic. 

Surveys completed during this visit indicated just over 10 percent were current smokers, almost 9 percent were former smokers, and 81 percent had never smoked.

In addition women who had used oral contraceptives for 11 years or longer had a 200 percent increase in the odds of developing breast cancer. Women who used postmenopausal hormone therapy showed 81 percent increased odds, while aging raised the odds of developing breast cancer by 2 percent per year.

SOURCE: The Breast Journal, September/October 2009

Obesity, Alcohol, Smoking Increase Risk Of Second Breast Cancer

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Survivors of breast cancer have a significantly higher risk of developing a second breast cancer than women in the general population have of developing a first breast cancer.   Breast cancer now has a greater than 90 percent five-year survival rate in the United States, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the industry trade group.

Considering the large and ever-growing number of survivors, scientists noted that little is known about lifestyle factors may make survivors more vulnerable to a second cancer.

A just published study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center finds that obesity, alcohol use and smoking all significantly increase the risk of second breast cancer among breast cancer survivors.

The researchers found that obese women had a 50 percent increased risk, women who consumed at least one alcoholic drink per day had a 90 percent increased risk, and women who were current smokers had a 120 percent increased risk of developing a second breast cancer.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that obesity, alcohol consumption (consuming at least seven drinks a week) and current smoking may be important risk factors for second breast tumors. The research also suggests that current smokers who imbibe at least seven drinks a week may be at particularly high risk of second breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute funded the research that was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Genetic Culprit In Deadly Skin Cancer

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

The National Institutes of Health researchers have identified a new group of genetic mutations involved in the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.

This discovery is encouraging because some of the mutations, those found in nearly one-fifth of melanoma cases, reside in a gene already targeted by a drug approved for certain types of breast cancer.

Melanoma is becoming increasingly more common, the result is thought to be sun exposure that can damage DNA and lead to cancer-causing genetic changes within skin cells.

A team of scientists at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) sequenced the protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) gene family in tumor and blood samples from people with metastatic melanoma.

The study was among the first to use large-scale DNA sequencing to systematically analyze all 86 members of the PTK gene family in melanoma samples.

Though additional work is needed to gain a more complete understanding of these genetic mutations and their roles in cancer biology, the scientists findings open the door to pursuing specific therapies that may prove useful for the treatment of melanoma with ERBB4 mutations.

Protein May Identify Breast Cancer

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

German researchers have identified a protein linked to more aggressive and advanced breast cancer tumors.

The scientists studied samples of breast tissue from patients with cancer and compared them with healthy breast tissue.  Researchers found that those whose tumors had elevated levels of GLI1 (glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1) protein tended to have a more advanced stage of cancer, had an increased number of cancerous lymph nodes and a greater chance of death.

Measurement of GLI1 could be a useful for determining cancer prognosis, according to the study which is published this week in the journal BMC Cancer.

More Women Survive Breast Cancer

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

More women are surviving breast cancer in situ according to a report in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association is welcome news for millions of American women.  There were 610,171 in situ survivors in 2005 and reserachers expect that by 2016 the number will exceed one million.

Breast cancer in situ now accounts for 20 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancers. It is the early stage of the disease, when it is still confined to the layer of cells in the ducts or lobules of the breasts.  Cancer is one of the three primary critical illnesses that strikes Americans resulting in billions of dollars of lost productivity and medical expenses according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison explained that while there were 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States in 2005, the number of breast cancer in situ survivors was unknown.

Women with breast cancer in situ are four times more likely to develop invasive breast cancer compared with the general population, the researchers explained.  The scientists study found that women with ductal breast cancer in situ, one of the more common forms, were more than five times more likely to be survivors compared with women diagnosed with lobular breast cancer in situ.

The researchers also reported that more white women survived than black women and women from other ethnic groups.  “Current epidemiologic evidence regarding predictors of subsequent invasive breast cancer after breast cancer in situ is limited,” the researchers noted in their report. “Guidelines are necessary to help the increasing number of breast cancer in situ survivors choose the best treatment and lifestyle strategies while still maintaining high quality of life.”

SOURCES: Barbara A. Brenner, executive director, Breast Cancer Action, San Francisco; Aug. 26, 2009, Journal of the American Medical Association