Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Critical Illness Insurance Claims Often Begin Prior To Age 55

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Just under half (47%) of new critical illness insurance claims in 2011 began prior to age 55 according to the 2012 Buyer & Claimant Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and General Re Life Corporation.  This marks a significant increase in claims by younger policyholders compared to the prior year’s analysis.

The percentage of claims that occurred before age 45 grew compared to 2010.  Some 13 percent of male policyholders and 12 percent of female policyholders who received benefits were younger than 45 according to the data from 10 leading critical illness insurers.  “The increase in younger claimants is likely due to an increase in younger buyers of this relatively new form of insurance coverage,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the recently formed critical illness insurance trade group.  “With higher health insurance deductibles and more restrictive plans, critical illness insurance is starting to gain traction among buyers in their 30s and 40s.”
The study found a pronounced year-to-year increase in the number of claims paid to policyholders between ages 35 and 44.  Some 8 percent of new claims by men and 10 percent women occurred at these ages in 2011, versus four percent reported by the prior year’s study.   The greatest decline in claims occurred after age 55.

The study revealed that cancer remains the leading cause for new individual claims accounting for 61 percent of new claims.  Heart attacks accounted for 11 percent and stroke for 18 percent of new claims.

Researchers analyzed data for over 57,000 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies as well as claims reported by leading insurers for the time period January 1 to December 31, 2011. The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.  Free access to the organization’s online learning, marketing and sales center is offered to insurance and financial professionals.  For further information, visit the Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

Light Drinking Boosts Breast Cancer Risk

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

A newly published review of research reveals that even one alcoholic drink a day can boost a woman’s risk of breast cancer by as much as five percent.

Scientists from three leading European countries reported that heavier drinking, which they defined as having three or more drinks a day can increase risk up to 50 percent.

The findings attributed some two percent of breast cancer cases in Europe and North America to light drinking alone, and about 50,000 cases worldwide to heavy drinking.

“The research seems to confirm the expert advice for women to minimize drinking,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.   Critical illness insurance pays a cash, lump sum benefit upon diagnosis of a critical illness such as cancer.

Healthy women at average risk of breast cancer should not consume more than one alcoholic drink a day, the study’s authors said.  The connection between breast cancer and alcohol was first suggested in the early 1980s, the researchers noted. To update the research, they searched for more than 3,400 studies and narrowed their focus to 113 that examined the effects of light drinking on breast cancer risk.

Scientists note that alcohol is thought to increase estrogen levels, in turn, perhaps, increasing the risk of breast cancer. Several studies have found alcohol more strongly linked to cancers known as estrogen receptor positive, which require estrogen to grow.

Seitz said the team’s research controlled for various other factors that might affect risk, such as obesity.

The American Cancer Society guidelines say, for overall health, if you don’t drink, don’t start.  If you do, it’s best to limit your consumption to one drink a day if you are a woman.

For more information on critical illness insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center .

American Association for Critical Illness Insurance
3835 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Westlake Village, CA 91362

Critical Illness Insurance Sales Tend To Be Small

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

More than half (53%) of men and 54 percent of women purchased individual critical illness insurance policies providing benefits of $20,000 or less, according to the 2012 Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and General Re Life Corporation.

For the second consecutive year, researchers analyzed data from 10 leading critical illness insurers, which accounted for over 57,200 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies made between January 1 and December 31, 2011.  “People increasingly understand they have some financial risk as a result of higher health insurance deductibles or lost income resulting from a dread disease and are selecting nominal amounts of CI coverage because they believe it is both sufficient and affordable protection,” explains Jesse Slome, AACII executive director.

According to the 2012 National Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study some 29 percent of male buyers and 31 percent of female buyers purchased benefit levels of $10,000 or less.   Fewer than one in 10 male buyers (9%) and only eight percent of female buyers purchased over $50,000 in protection.

According to the Association’s online Critical Illness Insurance Price Calculator, a 40-year-old male non-smoker will pay about $20 monthly for $20,000 of CI protection.  Females pay less, Slome notes.

Critical illness insurance pays a tax-free, lump-sum cash benefit generally upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke.  Sold in 54 countries worldwide, the first policies became available in the United States around 1996 and today over one million individuals have such protection in the U.S.

The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.   For further information, visit the Association’s Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

For long term care insurance information and costs visit our sister organization, the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance.

Mammograms Cut Breast Cancer Deaths By Half

Friday, December 9th, 2011

According to a new study, women who undergo routine mammograms can lower their risk of dying from breast cancer by nearly half.

Researchers in the Netherlands tracked nearly 800 patients who died from breast cancer between the years 1995 and 2003.  These were compared with some 3,700 or more control patients who were matched by age and other measures.

The study found that women who underwent screening reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 49 percent.  For women between the ages of  70 and 75, the reduced risk of dying from breast cancer was even higher; 84 percent.   For younger women, those specifically between the ages of 50 to 69, the reduction was smaller, though still significant at 39 percent.

Among the women with breast cancer, nearly 30 percent of tumors were found as a result of the screening and about 34 percent were identified between screens. Nearly 36 percent of these women had never had a mammogram.

“Mammography screening, including the best age to begin, is being debated in the United States,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  “Some experts believe women should start getting them at age 40 while others recommend routine screenings begin at age 50.”

The study findings add to the body of evidence supporting the fact that mammography improves detection and survival.  However, medical researchers noted that is was not clear whether the women who died of cancer got less aggressive treatment or refused treatment. That could have affected survival, of course.

“Heart attack, cancer and stroke are the three leading critical illnesses impacting millions of families each year, ” Slome adds, “which is why we have mounted a campaign to educate individuals between ages 30 and 50 about critical illness insurance protection which pays a lump sum cash amount upon diagnosis of a major condition.”

 

For more information on critical illness insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/learning-center/.  For information on long term care insurance, visit the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance’s educational website http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/ – long term care insurance.

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked To Heart Disease

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Individuals with low levels of vitamin D in their blood are at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases.

According to a new study increasing levels of vitamin D with supplements reduced a person’s risk of dying from any cause.  The significant reduction was compared to someone who remained deficient in the vitamin.

Researchers at the University of Kansas analyzed data on more than 10,000 patients and reported that 70 percent were deficient in vitamin D and these individuals proved to be at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases.

The scientists reported that D-deficiency also nearly doubled a person’s likelihood of dying.  The study authors note that when individuals corrected the deficiency with supplements they lowered their risk of death by 60 percent.

“Other studies have discussed the importance of vitamin D to good overall health,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org. “It is very valuable to see that there is such a strong relationship between heart disease and vitamin D deficiency.”

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a range of illnesses, but few studies have demonstrated that supplements could prevent those outcomes.

Among the individuals tested more than 70 percent of the patients were below 30 Nano grams per milliliter, the level many experts consider sufficient for good health.  After taking into account the patients’ medical history, medications and other factors, cardiologists discovered that those individuals with deficient levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have diabetes, 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and about 30 percent more likely to suffer from a diseased heart muscle,  as people without D deficiency.

Previous research has indicated that many Americans don’t have sufficient levels of vitamin D, however. The latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that 25 percent to 57 percent of adults have insufficient levels of D, and other studies have suggested the number is as high as 70 percent.

Nearly one million Americans will have anew coronary attack this year according to AACII and heart attack, cancer and stroke are the three leading critical illnesses impacting millions of families each year.  “Few families are financially prepared for all the uncovered and related expenses,” Slome adds, “which is why we have mounted a campaign to educate individuals between ages 30 and 50 about critical illness insurance protection which pays a lump sum cash amount upon diagnosis of a major condition.”

For more information on critical illness insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/learning-center/.  For information on long term care insurance, visit the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance’s educational website http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/ – long term care insurance.

Women Diagnosed With Cancer Are Less Likely To Die

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Women diagnosed with cancer are less likely to die from the disease than men.  Experts acknowledge that the higher rate for men is due to a higher initial risk and later detection. 

According to research reported by the National Cancer Institute he highest male-to-female mortality rate ratios for cancers are lip cancer, where 5.5 men died for each woman patient, and esophageal, where 4 men died for each woman patient. 

The study examined over 30 different types of cancer examining data from 1977 to 2006.  When examining lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, the scientists report 2.3 male deaths for each female death. 

“Men are more at risk of developing cancer to begin with,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  “The average lifetime chance that a man will develop lung cancer is about 1 in 13, compared to 1 in 16 for a woman.” 

Researchers noted that men are more likely to have advanced disease conditions by the time their cancer is diagnosed.  They noted that 28 percent of men do not visit the doctor regularly.

“Cancer is one of the leading critical illnesses impacting men along with heart disease,” Slome explains.  There were 1.5 million new cancer diagnosis  in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org report.  “Today cancer is survivable but  medical expenses are now a leading cause of financial bankruptcy,” Slome adds.  “Even the best insurance policies no longer cover every cost associated with treating cancers and families face huge expenses.” 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request

form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org or obtain information by calling the Association’s offices.

New Technology Could Identify Prostate Cancer In Body Fluids

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Researchers have developed a breakthrough technology that can be used to discriminate cancerous prostate cells in bodily fluids. 

The scientists note that the new technology is years away from use in a clinical setting.  However, they note that the knowledge will be useful in developing a micro device to further enable understanding when prostate cancer will metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body.

“Prostate cancer is one of the leading critical illnesses impacting men,” according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance and the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance http://www.aaltci.org. “We applaud the significant findings from the U.C. Santa Barbara researchers which could be most helpful for diagnosis and follow-ups during treatment of this disease.” 

Cancer cells found in the blood are thought to be the initiators of metastasis.  Although the primary tumor does not kill prostate cancer patients, metastasis does.   The researchers noted that, “there is a big focus on understanding what causes the tumor to shed cells into the blood. If you could catch them all, then you could stop metastasis. The first thing is to monitor their appearance.” 

The breakthrough made by the researchers is in being able to include more markers in order to identify and study unique tumor cells that are different from the main tumor cells. 

There were 1.5 million new cancer diagnosis  in the United States according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org which tracks health news related to cancer and heart disease. 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Critical Illness Insurance Group Comments On Decline In Lung Cancer Rates

Friday, September 16th, 2011

New lung cancer cases declined among men in 35 states and among women in six states.

According to new research the decline represents the time period between 1999 and 2008. Among women, lung cancer incidence decreased nationwide between 2006 and 2008, after increasing steadily for decades. 

The decrease in lung cancer cases corresponds closely with smoking patterns across the nation according to the report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the West, where smoking prevalence is lower among men and women than in other regions, lung cancer incidence is decreasing faster the CDC noted.  Studies show declines in lung cancer rates can be seen as soon as five years after smoking rates decline.

“The report revealed that states spending funds on effective tobacco control strategies are seeing larger reductions in smoking,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, an industry trade group.  “The longer they invest, the greater the savings in smoking–related health care costs.” 

“Although lung cancer among men and women has decreased over the past few years,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “too many people continue to get sick and die from lung cancers, most of which are caused by smoking.  The more we invest in proven tobacco control efforts, the fewer people will die from lung cancer.” 

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause most lung cancer deaths in the United States.

“Smokers pay significantly more for critical illness insurance because they are at far greater risk of getting cancer,” according to Slome.  “But, without this protection many families will face bankruptcy as a result of uncovered medical and health expenses as well as lost wages while they undergo treatment.” 

From 1999 to 2008 lung cancer rates among men decreased in 35 states and remained stable in nine states.   States with the lowest lung cancer incidence among men were clustered in the West.

After increasing for years, lung cancer rates among women decreased nationwide between 2006 and 2008.

Lung cancer rates decreased between 1999 and 2008 among women in California, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. 

Lung cancer rates among women remained stable in 24 states, and increased slightly in 14 states (change could not be assessed in six states and the District of Columbia).

There were 1.5 million new cancer diagnosis  in the United States according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org which tracks health news related to cancer and heart disease.

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Cancer Patients Benefit From New Lifespan Predictor

Monday, August 29th, 2011

A new scoring system will predict more whether patients with advanced cancers are now likely to survive for days, weeks or months.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, cancer is treatable and millions survive a cancer diagnosis as a result of improvements in medical care and medicines.  The new study that was published online in the British Medical Journal found that patients with advanced cancer often wish to know how long they have left to live. 

The information is also important for clinicians, the study authors pointed out.  The ability to know a more certain date can help them plan appropriate care. Clinician predictions of survival are the mainstay of current practice, but are unreliable, over-optimistic and subjective.

The researchers at St George’s, University of London set out to develop a scoring system for use in patients with advanced cancer in different care settings that was as good, or better, than clinicians’ best predictions.

The study involved over one thousand patients with advanced incurable cancer who were no longer receiving treatment.  These individuals had been recently referred to palliative care services.

Using a combination of clinical and laboratory variables known to predict survival, the team created two prognostic scores to predict whether patients were likely to survive for 0-13 days, 14-55 days or more than 55 days.  They would compare with actual survival and clinicians’ predictions.

The scientists took into account external factors that could have affected the results, such as age, gender, ethnicity, diagnosis, and extent of disease.   According to medical experts, this is the first study to benchmark a prognostic scoring system against current best practice.

There were 1.5 million new cancer diagnosis  in the United States according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org which tracks health news related to cancer and heart disease. 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Drinking Coffee Can Reduce Skin Cancer Risk

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Researchers report that instead of drinking your morning cup of coffee, spread it on your skin as a way of preventing harmful sun damage that leads to skin cancer. 

According to a new study, caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level by inhibiting a protein enzyme in the skin.  The protein is known as ATR.  A report from the American Association for Critical Illness, cancer is a leading critical illness affecting millions of Americans annually.

Based on what scientists learned by studying mice, caffeine applied directly to the skin might help prevent damaging UV light from causing skin cancer.  Earlier research noted that mice fed caffeinated water and exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation were able to kill off a greater percentage of their badly damaged cells and reduce the risk of cells becoming cancerous.

Jesse Slome, director of the critical illness insurance trade group explains that scientists have known that coffee drinking is associated with a decreased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer.  “There now needs to be studies to determine whether topical caffeine inhibits sunlight-induced skin cancer,” Slome states.

In this newly-published study, instead of inhibiting ATR with caffeinated water, researchers at the University of Washington, genetically modified and diminished ATR in one group of mice. They found that the genetically modified mice developed tumors more slowly than the unmodified mice, had 69 percent fewer tumors than regular mice and developed four times fewer invasive tumors.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, sunlight-induced skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States with more than one million new cases each year.

The trade group offers no-cost quotes for critical illness insurance from a designated Association  professional.

New Drug Approved To Treat Deadly Skin Cancer

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the approval of a new drug to treat advanced melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. 

According to the announcement made in Washington, the drug named Zelboraf, was approved for patients with metastatic melanoma, the most life-threatening form of skin cancer and one form that cannot be removed with surgery. 

According to scientists, the drug is the latest in a new generation of cancer-fighting drugs specifically medically tailored to attack genetic vulnerabilities of malignancies.  The FDA explained that Zelboraf was approved only for tumors with a specific genetic mutation. The drug was approved with a test that can determine if a patient’s cancer has this particular mutation. 

The research testing and findings found that the mutation which produces a version of a protein that is normally involved in regulating cell growth is mutated in about half of patients with advanced melanoma. The report concluded that Zelboraf inhibits the activity of the mutated protein. 

Zelboraf, which is marketed by Genentech of San Francisco.  The medication was reviewed under the FDA’s priority review program, which enables the agency to approve drugs quickly. 

In a study involving 675 patients with late-stage melanoma with the mutation, 77 percent of those who received Zelboraf were still living, while only 64 percent of those who received a standard chemotherapy drug known as dacarbazine survived eight months, the FDA said. 

Melanoma is the leading cause of death from skin disease. About 68,130 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed and about 8,700 people die from the disease each year in the United States according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org which tracks health news related to cancer and heart disease. 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Cancer Risk Reduced By Even 15 Minutes Of Exercise

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

New research finds that just 15 minutes of daily physical activity can reduce the risk of cancer.

The current generally accepted exercise recommendations call for adults to do a total of 2.5 hours of physical activity weekly.  That equates to about 150 minutes per-week.

This week, researchers released the results of a study that reports that doing only a quarter-hour of daily exercise or about 105 minutes a week still provides benefits.

Adults who exercised for an average of 92 minutes per week were 10 percent less likely to die of cancer, and had a three-year longer life expectancy, on average.  Every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise beyond the minimum 15 minutes further reduced the risk of all-cause death by 4 percent and the risk of cancer death by 1 percent.

“Over 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year so anything that reduces the risk is most welcome news,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org

The study included more than 390,000 residents of  Taiwan.  Researchers followed these individuals for an average of eight years and, based on self-reported amounts of weekly exercise, placed them into five categories.

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Vitamin D Linked To Higher Risk Of Cancer

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

New research reports that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer.  The levels fall within the normal range of vitamin D levels the researchers report.

People with levels of higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D were more likely to develop squamous cell or basal cell carcinoma the scientists found.  Other factors, including increased exposure to sunlight, likely complicate the relationship.  The news was reported online in Archives of Dermatology.

The relationship between vitamin D and skin cancer is complex and studies have yielded conflicting results acknowledges Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks news related to cancer and heart disease.

“Some research suggests that vitamin D might reduce the risk of basal cell carcinoma, but other studies have had the opposite outcome,” explains Jesse Slome, AACII’s director.  The researchers analyzed data, over an average of 9.8 years of follow-up, from over 3,200 white members of a health maintenance organization who had a high probability of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer.

The researchers found, 240 patients developed nonmelanoma skin cancer, including 49 with squamous cell carcinoma, 163 with basal cell carcinoma, and 28 with both.  Some 80% of the cases occurred in sites frequently exposed to the sun.

When patients were divided into four groups according to their D levels, there was a trend linking the higher levels and skin cancer risk that was significant.

The findings add “to the limited and conflicting epidemiological investigation regarding the relationship between vitamin D and [nonmelanoma skin cancer], the researchers concluded.  They added that, aside from UVB light, the finding might also be confounded by such things as participants’ vitamin D levels over a lifetime and consumption of vitamin D supplements, which they were unable to investigate.

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Early Morning Smokers Face Higher Cancer Risk

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

American smokers who light their first cigarette soon after waking up may be at greater risk for lung, head and neck cancers a new study finds.

“First thing in the morning smokers face a greater risk according to new research,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org, a trade group.  “Those who wait longer before having their first cigarette apparently face a lower risk of cancers.”  There were 1.5 million new cancer cases in the U.S. according to Association data.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Cancer.  Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine explained that early morning smokers have higher levels of nicotine and possibly other tobacco toxins in their body.  As a result, they may be more addicted than smokers who refrain from smoking for a half hour or more. 

Researchers compared nearly 4,800 lung cancer patients with some 2,800 smokers who didn’t have cancer. They reported finding that those who smoked 31 to 60 minutes after waking up were 1.3 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who waited at least an hour before lighting up. 

The study researchers added that those individuals who smoked within 30 minutes of waking up were 1.79 times more likely to develop lung cancer. 

In a separate analysis, the investigators compared over 1,050 smokers with head and neck cancer with nearly 800 smokers without the disease. Those who smoked 31 to 60 minutes after waking up were 1.42 times more likely to develop cancer than those who waited more than an hour minutes to have a cigarette. Smokers who had their first cigarette within a half hour of waking up were 1.59 times more likely to develop head and neck cancer. 

The findings suggest the desire to have a cigarette immediately after waking up may increase smokers’ risk for cancer.  In particular, these smokers would benefit from smoking cessation programs and should focus specifically on this early morning behavior.

Taller Women Face Higher Cancer Risk

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Results of a just-published study report that taller women are at greater risk of developing cancer as compared to their counterparts.

According to findings, taller women are prone to ten types of cancers. Some 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, including nearly 750,000 women according to data from the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks health-related issues pertaining to the three major critical illnesses (cancer, heart attack and stroke).

Oxford University researchers analyzed data collected between 1996 and 2001 from more than one million women who evidenced symptoms of cancer. The women were followed for a period of 10 years and data was collected on women ranging in height from five feet and five inches to five feet nine inches.

The study reports that for every 10 centimeter increase in additional height, the individual’s chance of developing cancer rose overall by 16 percent. However, it was also found that the taller women face a 17 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer and a 19 percent higher chances of developing womb cancer.

Previous research has already shown that some cancers are linked to height, she said, but this latest study looked at 17 different types of cancers, including breast cancer, bowel cancer and leukemia, rather than focusing on just a few. The link between height and cancer risk was present across all cancers with very little variation, the researchers found.

As well, the results showed that the risk was similar across different populations from Asia, Europe and North America. Taller people tend to have been better nourished in childhood the researchers noted. They tend to have better immune systems and they tend to have lower rates of heart disease.

The findings of the study were published in The Lancet Oncology medical journal.

Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study – Part 2

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

More than half (53%) of women purchasing individual critical illness insurance policies last year opted for coverage equal to $20,000 or less.  Among men, some 49 percent purchased that amount according to the 2011 Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and Gen Re.

“The market for individual critical illness insurance sales is definitely consumers looking to secure a reasonably affordable amount of protection,” states Jesse Slome, executive director of the industry trade organization.  “Individuals recognize the value of buying enough protection to pay for one or two years worth of mortgage or rent payments or to pay costs not covered by their health insurance.”

According to the survey, 22 percent of male buyers and an equal percentage of female buyers purchased between $20,001 and $30,000 of protection.  The survey found that 13 percent of men and 11 percent of women purchased coverage equal to $50,001 or more.  

Critical illness insurance pays a lump-sum cash benefit generally upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke notes Barry Eagle, Vice President, Marketing for Gen Re LifeHealth a Berkshire Hathaway Company.   The current version of critical illness insurance policies became available in the United States in the mid 1990s and today over one million individuals have such protection.

Researchers analyzed data for over 20,500 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies made between January 1 and December 31, 2010. The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals. 

Free access to the organization’s online learning, marketing and sales center is offered to insurance and financial professionals.  For further information, visit the Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

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>.

Cancer Costs Will Soar In This Decade

Friday, January 14th, 2011

A new report predicts that by 2020, the annual cost of cancer care in the United States is expected to reach at least $158 billion. 

According to the report from the U.S. National Cancer Institute that’s a 27 percent jump from 2010.  The surge in cost will be largely driven by an aging population that is expected to develop more cases of cancer in the near-term. 

Projected costs could go even higher if the price tag for care rises faster than expected.  Experts described the 2020 cost estimate as “on the low side” according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks medical and health issues impacting aging Americans. 

Cancer is a disease of aging and the population of elderly Americans is expected to rise from 40 million in 2009 to 70 million by 2030 notes Jesse Slome, executive director for the trade group. Improvements in screening mean cancer is becoming more identifiable and treatable, but therapies are becoming increasingly expensive. 

If the trend in survival and costs continue as they have been, then the estimates could be as high as $207 billion by 2020 one reseracher predicted. The report is published online Jan. 12 and in the Jan. 19 print issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

To estimate the cost of cancer treatment, the research team looked at data on 13 cancers in men and 16 in women. Tracking the rate of these cancers and the current costs to treat them in 2010, they were able to project costs in 2020. 

In these calculations researchers assumed that costs would rise by only 2 percent a year.  The largest increases in cost over the period will be for breast cancer at 32 percent and prostate cancer at 42 percent, simply because more people will be living longer with these diseases, the researchers noted. 

For example, while the cost of treating breast cancer remains relatively low (compared to other tumor types), by 2020 this cancer will incur the highest costs — about $20.5 billion — since there are expected to be many more women living with the disease. 

Commenting on the study, Elizabeth Ward, at the American Cancer Society, said that “a big component of the rise in cost is just the growth and aging of the population. We are just going to have more people developing cancer and under treatment for cancer,” she said.

New Study Ties Diet To Less Critical Illness, Longer Life

Monday, December 27th, 2010

December 27, 2010.  According to medical researchers, today’s leading causes of death have shifted from infectious diseases to chronic diseases.  These include cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Both of these illnesses may be affected by diet a study published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reveals. 

Researchers examined data regarding the associations of dietary patterns with mortality through analysis of the eating patterns of over 2500 adults between the ages of 70 and 79 over a ten-year period. They found that diets favoring certain foods were associated with reduced mortality.

By 2030, an estimated 973 million adults will be aged 65 or older worldwide according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks data related to critical illnesses. This study sought to determine the dietary patterns of a large and diverse group of older adults, and to explore connections between these dietary patterns with survival over a 10-year period.

Researchers were able to group the participants into six different clusters according to predominant food choices including healthy foods, high-fat dairy products, meat, fried foods, and alcohol and sweets and desserts.

The “Healthy foods” cluster was characterized by relatively higher intake of low-fat dairy products, fruit, whole grains, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and lower consumption of meat, fried foods, sweets, high-calorie drinks, and added fat. The “High fat dairy products” cluster had higher intake of foods such as ice cream, cheese, and 2% and whole milk and yogurt, and lower intake of poultry, low-fat dairy products, rice, and pasta.

The study was unique in that it evaluated participants’ quality of life and nutritional status, through detailed biochemical measures, according to their dietary patterns.

After controlling for gender, age, race, clinical site, education, physical activity, smoking, and total calorie intake, the “High-fat dairy products” cluster had a 40% higher risk of mortality than the “Healthy foods” cluster. The “Sweets and desserts” cluster had a 37% higher risk. No significant differences in risk of mortality were seen between the “Healthy foods” cluster and the “Breakfast cereal” or “Refined grains” clusters.

Gas Cooking May Increase Cancer Risk

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Researchers in Norway have found that cooking with gas produces more potentially harmful fumes than electric cooking.    In a report published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, they also point out that professional chefs and cooks are more at risk than the average at-home cook. 

The risk to average at-home cookers is low, at least under Norwegian conditions, where most homes have a kitchen exhaust fan, reports the study’s author.   The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cooking fumes from frying at high temperatures as “probably carcinogenic.” The fumes have been found to contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heterocyclic amines, higher and mutated aldehydes, and fine and ultrafine particles. 

But a remaining question has been what role, if any, does the energy source — gas or electric– or type of fat used in frying play in producing the fumes. 

The researchers created a kitchen typical of those in Western European restaurants, measuring 62 square feet and containing both a gas stove and an electric stove with a canopy hood.

They fried 17 pieces of beefsteak, each weighing about a pound, in both margarine and soya bean oil for 15 minutes. The only PAH found was napthalene (now banned, but once found in mothballs), most notably when frying with margarine on a gas stove, according to the report. 

The highest levels of all compounds, including ultrafine particles that more easily penetrate the lungs, were produced while frying with gas. 

In their homes, people can make sure that they have a powerful exhaust fan, preferably one that is vented directly to the outside and does not have a charcoal filter, one of the researchers emphasized. 

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

Drinking Soda Increases Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

New research finds that , new research suggests that adult soda drinkers may also engage in other lifestyle habits, such as smoking, which could contribute to the elevated risk. 

The study was a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and National University of Singapore.

The analysis involved more than 60,000 middle-aged or older Chinese Singaporeans. Researchers calculated how much juice and soda the participants drank on average and followed them for 14 years to see how many developed cancer of the pancreas. 

Those who drank two or more sodas a week were 87 percent more likely to develop this kind of tumor than individuals who didn’t consume any soda. 

Researchers found no link between juice consumption and cancer risk, perhaps because fruit juice has less effect than sugary sodas on glucose and insulin levels, the authors noted. 

Previous research in United States. and Europe has suggested an association between sweetened sodas and juices and pancreatic cancer. This is the first study to examine the association in an Asian population, although the authors feel the findings can be extrapolated to Western nations. 

Drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks has been linked to weight gain, obesity and diabetes. Both obesity and diabetes are associated with higher risk of pancreatic cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. 

The overall number of people developing the malignancy is over 42,000 new cases last year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  The non-profit organization tracks data regarding cancer and heart diseases.

Study Reveals Risk Of Having A Critical Illness Before Age 65

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

 A 25-year-old male non-smoker has a 24 percent chance of having a critical illness (cancer, heart attack or stroke) prior to turning age 65.   The same-aged male who smokes has a 49 percent chance according to the first National Critical Illness Risk Assessment Study published by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

“Cancer, heart attacks and strokes happen at all ages and most people are not prepared for either the emotional or financial cost,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the industry trade organization.  “Nearly two-thirds of U.S. bankruptcies are the result of medical expenses and 78 percent of those filing for bankruptcy had health insurance when they were first diagnosed.”

The national critical illness risk assessment prepared by Milliman, Inc., a leading actuarial firm, reveals the likelihood of incurring a critical illness for men and women at different ages up to age 55.  According to the study’s findings, women face less risk than men at all ages.  Non-smoking women are at significantly less risk than their male smoking counterparts.  While nearly half (49 percent) of 35-year-old male tobacco users will incur a critical illness before age 65, only 35 percent of female smokers will according to the report. 

REPORTERS:  If you would like the complete finding of the study with breakdown by ages, please call the Association at (818) 597-3205 or E-mail Jesse Slome at mailto:jslome @ aaltci.org

The study reveals that 17 percent of non-smoking men and 36 percent of male smokers who reach the age of 55 without having a critical illness will be diagnosed with one prior to turning age 65.  For women who reach age 55, some 12 percent of non-smokers and 23 percent of smokers will face a critical illness before reaching age 65.

INSURANCE PROFESSIONALS:  The complete findings are available to Association members.  Click here for membership information.

“Surviving a critical illness is likely today as a result of advances in emergency treatment and medical care,” states Slome.  “Survival comes with a high cost even for those with health insurance which often is accompanied by co-pays, high deductibles and exclusions for various new treatments.”   Michelle Dyke, actuary with Milliman, adds, “there are substantial non-medical expenses associated with battling a critical illness including travel expenses to see specialists and lost wages that health insurance does not cover.”

Critical illness insurance pays a tax-free, lump-sum cash benefit generally upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness.  The first policies became available in the United States in 1996 and today some 600,000 individuals have such protection.

The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.  The organization is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.

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.

Smokers Double Risk For Heart Disease

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

An estimated 80 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Some 785,000 individuals will have a new coronary attack this year and 1.4 million will be diagnosed with cancer. 

Researchers at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System followed over 12,000 male and female smokers, former smokers and nonsmokers for a three year time period. 

During that time, current smokers were 4.16 times more likely to die of cancer, 2.26 times more likely to die of heart disease and 2.58 times more likely to die from any cause than were former or nonsmokers. Current smokers were also more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

The researchers found that there were no significant differences between former smokers and nonsmokers in the risk for dying from heart disease or any cause.  Former smokers they reported were more likely to die of cancer than those who’d never smoked.  

The findings were published online in Circulation, by the American Heart Association.  The researchers noted provide strong evidence that people with heart disease who continue to smoke take a very high risk of increasing their chances of death in the short term.  They note that the findings should provides impetus for a smoker to stop.  The benefits of risk reduction accrue relatively quickly when someone stops smoking, although the lingering cancer risk is still there, the researchers concluded.

Obesity Causes 100,000 U.S. Cancer Cases

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Researchers estimate that obesity-related diseases account for nearly 10 percent of all medical spending in the United States or an estimated $147 billion a year.  Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease. The American Cancer Society reports that nearl 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year and 562,000 will die of the disease. 

Medical researchers at the American Institute for Cancer Research reported that having too much body fat causes nearly half the cases of endometrial cancer, which is a type of cancer of the uterus.  Too much body fat they note was also responsible for one third of esophageal cancer cases.

The researchers expect the number of cancer cases will likely rise as Americans get fatter.  Nearly a third of Americans are overweight, defined as having a BMI of 25 to 30. 

More than 26 percent of Americans are obese, defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. BMI is equal to weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. A person 5 feet 5 inches tall becomes obese at 180 pounds (82 kg). 

The American Institute for Cancer Research reported the percented of cancer cases that would be prevented if everyone in the United States maintained a healthy weight.  Here are some of its estimates of cancer types that could be prevented annually if Americans stayed slender:

Endometrium – 49 percent of cases or 20,700 people

Esophageal – 35 percent of cases or 5,800 people

Pancreatic – 28 percent or 11,900 people

Kidney – 24 percent or 13,900 people

Gallbladder – 21 percent or 2,000 people

Breast – 17 percent or 33,000 people

Colon – 9 percent or 13,200 people

Article prepared by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Click here for a free quote for critical illness insurance protection.

Race, Income, Marital Status Has No Impact On Prostate Cancer Outcome

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

A study conducted at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that socioeconomic status factors had no impact on predicting the outcome of treatment. All patients did equally well, based on the known prognostic factors. 

The study, presented this week at the American Society for Radiation Oncology meeting in Chicago is unique in that nearly 50 percent of patients in the analysis are African American. 

Prostate cancer affects one in six men in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance and the majority of all prostate cancer are diagnosed in men older than 65.  Most individuals diagnosed with the illness will survive.  Only one in 35 will die of prostate cancer.   Radiation therapy involves administering high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. 

According to the study’s lead researcher, prior studies on socioeconomic status and cancer outcomes done by other groups have had conflicting results.  One study, for example, suggested that African Americans with breast or colon cancer do much worse than white patients because they receive care at hospitals with less expertise.

Another study the medical experts noted show that men with prostate cancer who are married have better outcomes than those who are unmarried or without a partner. And yet other studies suggested that hospitals with large minority patient populations have higher mortality for cancer.

A shortcoming of many of the studies is the fact that they include a relatively small percentage of African American patients.  By comparison, almost half of the Ford study group was African American, which allowed researchers to undertake a more accurate assessment of how socioeconomic status affects prostate cancer outcomes.

Low Cholesterol May Be Sign Of Cancer

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Previously, some medical experts had thought that low cholesterol may have been a cause.  According to researchers reporting this week, findings suggest that men who have low cholesterol actually have a lower risk of developing high-risk prostate cancer.

There were some 1.4 million cancer cases in the United States last year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  The cost of caring for medical conditions caused over 60 percent of the 1.5 million Americans to declare bankruptcy.

A study of more than 5,000 U.S. men conducted by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found a link between low cholesterol and a lower risk of high-grade prostate cancer among men over age 55.

The researchers report that if men had total cholesterol of less than 200 milligrams/deciliter, they had a nearly 60 percent lower risk of developing high grade prostate cancer, the riskiest kind. 

It is not clear whether taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs might help men with prostate cancer. That would need to be studied, the medical experts noted.  The study was reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Cholesterol-lowering Medicines May Be Effective Against Cancer

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Statins lower cholesterol by blocking certain enzymes involved in metabolism.   Medical experts note that  they have also been shown to help proteins attach to cell membranes.  Because many of the proteins that are lipid-modified cause cancer, there are now hopes that it will be possible to use statins in the treatment of cancer. 

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Germany, conducted studies that show statins can have a dramatic inhibitory effect on growth and development.  The researchers note that their results support the idea that statins can be used in more ways than just to lower cholesterol.  Not least that they can prevent the growth of cancer cells caused by lipid-modified proteins, but also that they can be effective in the treatment of diabetes and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s. 

The findings were published in the article Statins Inhibit Protein Lipidation and Induce the Unfolded Protein Response in the Non-Sterol Producing Nematode C. elegans, published in the journal PNAS.  The study is the result of a research partnership between the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology.

 Information on critical illness is gathered and posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization focused on helping individuals understand the importance of protecting their financial futures.

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.

Green Tea May Curb Some Cancers

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

According to a study by Japanese researchers noted that it may take at least  5 cups a day to reduce the risk.

Drinking green tea has been associated with lower risk of dying and heart disease deaths, medical experts have reported.  The just-released study notes that drinking green tea may have a favorable effect “for particular cancers.”

Researchers gathered information on the diets and green tea drinking habits of a large group of Japanese adults aged 40 to 79 years old.  They followed the group for development of blood and “lymph system” cancers. The lymph system is a major component of the body’s immune system.

Some 40,000 men and women who participated in the study had no previous history of cancer.  During 9 years of follow up, 157 blood, bone marrow, and lymph system cancers developed in the study group.

The researchers found that the overall risk for blood cancers was 42 percent lower among study participants who drank 5 or more, versus 1 or fewer, cups of green tea daily.  Drinking 5 or more cups of green tea daily was also associated with 48 percent lower risk for lymph system cancers.

These associations held up in analyses that allowed for age, gender, education, smoking status and history, alcohol use, and fish and soybean consumption.  The report appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology, September 15, 2009.

Skin Cancer Can Be Inherited

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

 Two new studies suggest that skin cancer can be inhereited.

One study found that having an identical twin with melanoma increased a person’s own risk of developing the disease much more than having a fraternal twin with this type of skin cancer.  The other study revealed that having a parent or sibling with one of several different types of non-melanoma skin cancer increased risk as well.

Having an identical twin with melanoma increased a person’s own risk of the disease nearly 10-fold, while melanoma associated with having a non-identical twin with the disease was roughly doubled. 

Prior studies have suggested melanoma and other skin cancers run in families.  But medical experts note it has been difficult to separate the difference between the influence of genes and those caused by other environmental conditions.  Some 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. 

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia looked at twin pairs in which at least one sibling had been diagnosed with melanoma.  After looking at hundreds of candidates, the researchers found that in four of the 27 identical twin pairs, both had melanoma, while three of the 98 fraternal twin pairs had both been diagnosed with the deadly skin cancer. 

In the second study conducted at the University of California Los Angeles, researchers looked at the Swedish Family-Cancer Database to gauge the risk for several types of skin cancer among siblings and children of people diagnosed with these diseases.

They found that people with a sibling or parent diagnosed with some types of skin cancer were more likely to develop skin cancers of various types, not just the ones their relatives had. When tumors occurred at parts of the body more likely to have been exposed to the sun (such as the face, compared to the torso), the familial risk was stronger.  The findings were reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, September 2009.

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.

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.

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.

PSA Test Unreliable Prostate Cancer Screening

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

New research reveals the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test may lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of prostate cancer.

Researchers noted that the inability of the PSA test to distinguish between deadly and harmless prostate cancers makes it unusable as a population-wide screening tool.  PSA is a protein made by the prostate gland. It is found in small amounts in the blood of healthy men, and is often elevated in men with prostate cancer, but also in men with benign prostate enlargement.

Some 745,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the industry trade group.  Nearly 300,000 will die and prostate cancer causes about a quarter of all cancer deaths among men.

The lead author of one study, a urologist with Gavle Hospital in Gavle, Sweden, noted that in addition to PSA, further biomarkers are needed before inferring population-based screening for prostate cancer.  The claim was based on a study of PSA tests of over 500 men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Their PSA was measured several years before being diagnosed. Scientists compared those tests with PSA tests from over 1,000 men without prostate cancer.

Reserachers reported that in men with a prediagnostic PSA level below 1 nanogram per milliliter, only six men [1.2 percent] were later diagnosed with a high-risk prostate cancer. Hence, PSA levels below [that] almost ruled out a future high-risk prostate cancer diagnosis.  They noted that the direct implication of their findings in a screening situation was that no matter which PSA cut-off you adopt for selecting men for further diagnostic work-up, you will either have too many false positives or too many false negatives.

Given the current trend in lowering the PSA cut-off to about 3 nanograms per milliliter, the medical reserachers noted that a large number of healthy men will be subject to painful, stressful and costly diagnostic procedures.  Their report worried that the wide overdiagnosis of slow-growing tumors causing unnecessary medical treatment and anxiety.

Although most agencies providing recommendations on prostate cancer screening, especially those outside the United States, do not recommend routine PSA testing for the early detection of prostate cancer, it continues to be performed frequently medical experts noted.

Exercise May Prevent Protate Cancer

Monday, September 28th, 2009

According to a new study released today by Duke University Medical Center men who were moderately active were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Moderately active was defined as anything equivalent to walking at a moderate pace for several hours a week.

The researchers looked at men who had a prostate biopsy and found that exercise was associated with less aggressive disease in men who did develop prostate cancer.  As the amount of exercise increased, the risk of cancer decreased, the study’s lead author said in a news release.

The majority (58 percent) of the men in this study were sedentary, which means they exercised less than the equivalent of one hour per week of easy walking.

Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of death from cancer in men of all ages and is the most common cause of death from cancer in men over 75 years old. Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 40.

Men at higher risk include African-America men older than 60, farmers, tire plant workers, painters, and men exposed to cadmium. The lowest number of cases occurs in Japanese men and those who do not eat meat (vegetarians).

Prostate cancers are grouped according to tumor size, any spreading outside the prostate (and how far), and how different tumor cells are from normal tissue. This is called staging. Identifying the correct stage may help the doctor determine which treatment is best.

Excess Body Weight Causes 124,000 New Cancers

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Based on estimates from a new modeling study, the proportion of cases of new cancers attributable to body mass index were highest among women and in central European countries such as the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovenia and Bulgaria. 

The lead author of the study noted that as more people stop smoking and fewer women take hormone replacement therapy, it is possible that obesity may become the biggest attributable cause of cancer in women within the next decade.

 Researchers created a sophisticated model to estimate the proportion of cancers that could be attributed to excess body weight in 30 European countries. Using data from a number of sources including the World Health Organization they estimated that in 2002 (the most recent year for which there are reliable statistics on cancer incidence in Europe) there had been over 70,000 new cases of cancer attributable to excess BMI out of a total of nearly 2.2 million new diagnoses across the 30 European countries.

 The percentage of obesity-related cancers varied widely between countries, from 2.1% in women and 2.4% in men in Denmark, to 8.2% in women and 3.5% in men in the Czech Republic. In Germany it was 4.8% in women and 3.3% in men, and in the UK it was 4% in women and 3.4% in men.

 They found that the number of cancers that could be attributed to excess body weight increased to 124,050 in 2008. In men, 3.2% of new cancers could be attributed to being overweight or obese and in women it was 8.6%. The largest number of obesity-related new cancers was for endometrial cancer (33,421), post-menopausal breast cancer (27,770) and colorectal cancer (23,730). These three accounted for 65% of all cancers attributable to excess body mass index.

Aspirin Protects Against Colon Cancer

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Colorectal is the second biggest cause of cancer death in the United States and Europe, where a total of 560,000 people develop the disease each year, and 250,000 die from it according to the American Association for Critical Illness insurance, the national trade organization.

Scientists at the Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University in Britain said the benefits of aspirin were only seen after several years.  The researchers noted that they uncovered a simple way of controlling stems cells that make tumors grow.

The researchers tested over 1,000 people with Lynch syndrome — an inherited condition that predisposes a person to a range of cancers, particularly of the colon.  Some were given aspirins and some a placebo.

Follow-up tests after 10 years showed that although there was no difference in cancer rates after 29 months, a significant difference was detected after four years.  Fewer people in the aspirin group developing colon cancer, the study’s leader noted.

To date, there have been only six colon cancers in the aspirin group as opposed to 16 who took placebo, the study notes.  There is also a reduction in endometrial cancer.

People with Lynch syndrome have an increased risk of many cancers including stomach, colon, brain, skin, and prostate. Women carriers also have a high risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancers.

In low daily doses aspirin has been found to stave off the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as chase away occasional aches and pains.  Other scientists have previously found it can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer and suggested it does so by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase2, or COX-2, which promotes inflammation and cell division and is found in high levels in tumors.

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

Overdiagnosis Of Prostate Cancer In Men Likely

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Over 1 million additional men were likely to have been incorrectly diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

Researchers indicated that over the past two decades, the introduction of prostate-antigen screening, or PSA, has resulted in the overdiagnosis reported in a new study published online by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

 The report notes that overdiagnosis has been associated with early diagnosis in prostate cancer, but there have been no previous national estimates of its magnitude.  Nearly 800,000 American men are diagnosed with cancer each year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  Prostate cancer accounts for 10 percent of all cancer-related deaths.

 

Using data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, researchers at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice examined age-specific prostate cancer incidence rates in American men diagnosed and treated in each year after 1986.   The PSA screening was introduced in 1987.

 

According to the study, an additional 1.3 million men were diagnosed.  These they note would otherwise have never been diagnosed absent screening, and more than 1 million have been treated since 1986.

 

The increased diagnosis has been most dramatic among younger men.  The diagnosis for prostate cancer has more than tripled since 1986 in men aged 50-59 (from 58.4 to 212.7 per 100, 000) and more than a sevenfold increase in men under age 50 (from 1.3 to 9.4 per 100,000).

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

Colon Cancer Screenings Still Too Low

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. There are several types of screening tests available.

Despite highly publicized education campaigns and widespread agreement about the importance of colorectal cancer screening, screening rates still lag.  Rates for minorities, the uninsured and other vulnerable groups are lower still, with only 22 percent of lower-income people screened.

Using data from a Texas health system researchers identified 20,000 men and women ages 54 to 75 who were eligible for colorectal cancer screening.  About 15 percent of the patients lived below the poverty line.

Patients most likely to get screened included those who saw a doctor regularly or who had health insurance.

Those with insurance were almost three times as likely to be screened, and those who saw the doctor regularly were nearly four times as likely to be screened. 

Women were slightly more likely than men to be screened. Hispanics were slightly more likely to be screened than whites.

Surviving Cancer Can Depend On Where You Live

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Researchers with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services analyzed survival patterns in different areas of New Jersey among 25,040 men and women diagnosed with colorectal cancer from 1996 through 2003, and monitored through 2006.

They found that the number of people who lived at least 5 years after being diagnosed and treated was about 84 to 88 percent in high-income white neighborhoods, compared with 80 percent statewide.

Survival rates were much lower – just 73 percent – “in low income, racially diverse neighborhoods,” they found.  Five-year survival was 83 percent among Caucasians compared with 75, 79, and 80 percent among Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders.   These findings are similar to those from other regions in the U.S. and elsewhere. Taken together, the data provide strong support for the theory that health is affected by many factors, such as biological, behavioral, and environmental traits, the researchers note.

SOURCE: International Journal of Health Geographics, July 23, 2009.

Men Who Gain Weight At Risk Of Prostate Cancer

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Men who gain weight as young adults are at heightened risk of developing prostate cancer according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Hawaii reported that obesity is a risk factor for many common cancers, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. However, whether obesity plays a role in prostate cancer risk has been unclear, researchers say.

The new study finds that body mass in both younger and older adulthood, and weight gain between these periods of life, may influence prostate cancer risk. There are some 1.4 million new cases of cancer diagnosed each year in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. Over 565,000 Americans die from cancer each year.

The researchers collected data on almost 84,000 men. The study also examined the relationship between weight and prostate cancer in a multiethnic population including blacks, Japanese, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians and whites. Men who were overweight or obese at 21 had a lower risk of localized and low-grade prostate cancer, the researchers found.

The study findings revealed that when men put on weight seemed to matter, as did race and ethnicity. Higher weight in older adulthood was associated with increased risk of prostate cancer among white and Native Hawaiian men and a decreased risk of prostate cancer among Japanese men.

Younger Men Diagnosed With Cancer

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Men with prostate cancer are being diagnosed at younger ages today than in years past, and the racial disparity in stage at diagnosis has decreased.

Researchers reporting in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute analyzed 2004-2005 data on more than 82,500 prostate cancer patients.  They compared this group with patients diagnosed in 1988-1989 and 1996-1997.

The average age at diagnosis decreased from about 72 years in 1988-1989 to about 67 years in 2004-2005 and the rate of particularly late-stage cases fell from about 53 to 8 per 100,000 among whites and from 91 to 13 per 100,000 among blacks.

The current study is also the first nationwide study to document that the racial disparity in prostate cancer stage at diagnosis has decreased substantially during the period from 1988 to 2005.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, August 27, 2009.

Tobacco Kills 6 Million Annually

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Tobacco use will kill six million people next year from cancer, heart disease, emphysema and a range of other ills.

A new report from the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society estimates that tobacco use costs the global economy $500 billion a year in direct medical expenses, lost productivity and environmental harm.

Tobacco accounts for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide and will claim 5.5 million lives this year alone, the report said. If current trends hold, by 2020, the number will grow to an estimated 7 million and top 8 million by 2030.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched a tobacco center to oversee cigarettes and other related products, after winning the power to do so from Congress in June. On Tuesday it set up a committee of advisers to help guide it.

Over the past four decades, smoking rates have declined in rich countries like the United States, Britain and Japan while rising in much of the developing world, according to the nonprofit research and advocacy organizations.

Some other findings from the report:

* 1 billion men smoke — 35 percent of men in rich countries and 50 percent of men in developing countries.

* About 250 million women smoke daily — 22 percent of women in developed countries and 9 percent of women in developing countries.

* Smoking rates among women are either stable or increasing in several southern, central and eastern European countries.

* The risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 23 times higher for men who smoke than for nonsmokers and 13 times higher for women smokers.

* Tobacco kills one-third to one-half of those who smoke. Smokers die an average of 15 years earlier than nonsmokers.

* Nearly 60 percent of Chinese men smoke and China consumes more than 37 percent of the world’s cigarettes.

* 50 million Chinese children, mostly boys, will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.

* Tobacco use will eventually kill 250 million of today’s teenagers and children.

* Nearly one-quarter of young people who smoke tried their first cigarette before the age of 10.

* Occupational exposure to secondhand smoke kills 200,000 workers every year.

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

Declines In Cancer Deaths

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

The scientists note that younger adults between ages 35 and 45 years old experienced the steepest declines in cancer death rates.  They noted that all age groups showed some improvement.  The findings of the study appear in the journal Cancer Research.

The news has both positive and negative implications some experts note.  Surviving cancer often results in an enormous financial toll on both the survivor and their family.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance the industry trade group, uncovered medical costs are a leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the United States.

While U.S. government estimates suggest there had been little improvement in cancer death rates throughout the 20th century, scientists noted the government reports did not tell the whole story.  Researchers used a different way of looking at cancer death rates that measured improvements in cancer deaths by age.

By comparison, government data tends to average all age groups together to produce a composite rate.

Because most cancer deaths occur in older Americans, the average was weighted toward experiences of older people.   Instead, the researchers looked at improvements in cancer deaths among groups of individuals born in five-year intervals starting in 1925.

 Using this methodology, they found that everyone born since the 1930s has enjoyed a decreased risk of cancer death, at every age.  People in the youngest age group (between 35 and 45) had a greater than 25 percent decline per decade in cancer deaths.

Cancer Survivors Face Tough Road After Treatment Ends

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Cancer survivors are more likely than their healthy peers to suffer serious psychological distress such as depression, even a decade after treatment ends.

According to a study published in the July 27, 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, those who were relatively young at the time of diagnosis, unmarried, had less than a high school education, were uninsured, had other illnesses or had difficulty doing the activities of daily living were at the highest risk of psychological problems.

The United States is home to 12 million cancer survivors, or 4 percent of the population, numbers that are expected to rise as cancer screening improves and Baby Boomers age, according to the researchers, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

To gauge the long-term psychological impact of the disease, they analyzed mental health and medical data on some 4,600 adults who’d survived cancer and over 122,000 who had never had cancer. The data was collected between 2002 and 2006 by the National Health Interview Survey, which is conducted yearly by the U.S. Census Bureau.

During a follow-up period of at least five years and an average of 12 years, about 5.6 percent of cancer survivors were found to have experienced severe psychological distress within the previous month, compared with 3 percent of those without cancer.

Those who are younger, single, have less education and no insurance may suffer more because they have fewer resources to draw from to get through it.   Getting a diagnosis of cancer and going through chemotherapy can be among life’s most trying experiences, said a spokesperson from the American Cancer Society.

The physical and emotional fallout of cancer treatment, including fatigue, pain, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores and hair loss, can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.  While many of these symptoms may subside or disappear after treatment ends, some, including fatigue, can linger for months or years.
Chemotherapy can also cause delayed problems that aren’t apparent until months or years later, including peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain or numbness), infertility, organ dysfunction, hearing loss, muscle atrophy and cardiovascular disease.

In the study, 9 percent of long-term cancer survivors and 6 percent of individuals without cancer reported seeing or talking to a mental health professional within the previous year. One-third of cancer survivors with serious psychological distress reported using mental health services, while 18 percent said they could not afford mental health care.

Tanning Beds Get Highest Carcinogen Rating

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

The International Agency for Research on Cancer moved tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category  (carcinogenic to humans) according to a new report.

Previously, the agency had classified sunlamps and tanning beds as “probably” carcinogenic.  The move puts the devices a notch higher in terms of risk.  It also echoes calls by some U.S. experts to place tougher warnings and restrictions on tanning bed use.

“The use of tanning beds can be deleterious to your health and we hope to encourage governments to formulate restrictions and regulations for the use of tanning beds,” said report coauthor Beatrice Secretan, from the Cancer Monograph Working Group at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. The Agency is part of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The first priority of the WHO is to restrict the use of tanning beds by those under 18, Secretan said. “If controls are put in place it will reduce the risks of the users or deter people from using them,” she said.
One U.S. expert agreed. “This new report confirms and extends the prior recommendation of the American Cancer Society that the use of tanning beds is dangerous to your health, and should be avoided,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.  The report is published in the August issue of The Lancet Oncology.

In June, scientists from nine countries concluded that the risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent when use of tanning beds and sunlamps begins before 30 years of age. In addition, several studies provided evidence of a link between the use of UV-emitting tanning devices and melanoma of the eye.

Young women in particular are the heaviest users of tanning beds, and are at the greatest risk of causing harm to themselves.  This report also puts to rest the argument that tanning with UVA light is safe.

The FDA currently requires tanning salons to direct all customers to wear protective eye goggles and advises consumers to limit their exposure to tanning devices, and avoid them if you have certain medical conditions such as lupus or diabetes or are susceptible to cold sores.

In addition, the FDA requires labels on these devices that warn of skin aging, skin cancer and eye injury. However, in 2007 the FDA began a review of these warnings and is considering strengthening its warnings about the risk of skin cancer and eye damage, according to the agency.

Many Prostate Cancers Grow Too Slowly To Kill

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Men who had surgery for prostate cancer found only a small percentage died from cancer.  Some men might be able to skip surgery to treat the slow-growing tumors.

The 15-year study of more than 12,600 men with prostate cancer who had their prostates removed found only 12 percent died from cancer 15 years later, even though some showed signs of having an aggressive type of cancer.

Many more men — 38 percent — died from causes other than cancer.  The study “shows a remarkably low risk of dying of prostate cancer within 15 years for treated men, and supports the concept that men with slow-growing cancers may not need immediate treatment,” said Dr. Peter Scardino of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, whose study appears in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide after lung cancer, killing 254,000 men a year globally.  Doctors have routinely recommended prostate cancer screening for men over 50 using a blood test for prostate specific antigen, or PSA. The belief was that early diagnosis and aggressive treatment for any cancer is better than standing by and doing nothing.

But many prostate tumors are slow-growing and take years to cause harm. Some studies suggest many men are living with the side-effects of aggressive treatment with surgery and radiation for a cancer that may never have killed them.

“Our results demonstrate the low lethality of these cancers after radical prostatectomy,” Scardino and colleagues wrote.  They said in the United States, fewer than 2 percent of men with under age 65 opt to forgo prostate surgery in favor of regular testing for their cancers. And 73 percent of those ultimately have surgery within four years.

But a separate study in the journal Cancer by researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, found that men with early stage prostate cancer who put off the surgery in favor of regular checkups were not overcome by anxiety.

The team sent questionnaires to 150 men to gauge their comfort levels about their treatment decision, as well as levels of depression and anxiety.  More than 80 percent of the 129 men who returned their surveys scored about the same as those in other surveys who decided to undergo treatment for early prostate cancer.
A large, international trial is under way comparing regular checkups versus radical treatment but that study will not be completed for several years.