Category Archives: Cancer

Cancer: Another reason to loathe the TPP


The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multinational Pacific Rim trading pact, negotiated in secret under the sway of corporate lobbyists and signed today in New Zealand, must be approved by Congress in order to take effect.

Hillary Clinton loves it, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren  don’t.

There are many reasons to loathe the TPP, including its secret tribunal capable of fining nations huge sums for enacting environmental, public health, and other barriers to protect citizens from unalloyed corporate rapacity.

Now comes another good reason, cancer.

From RT’s The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann:

What Today’s TPP Signing Means

Program notes:

Melinda St. Louis, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch & Zahara Heckscher, Writer/Educator/Social Justice Advocate join Thom. Representatives from 12 countries are gathering in the world’s most remote capital to finally sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership. What effect will this have on the effort to block the deal here in the US?

Charts of the day: Cancer deaths in Europe


From Eurostat [PDF], first the mortality rates by nation [and click on the images to enlarge]:

BLOG EU Cancer rates

And cancer death rates by sex:

BLOG EU Cancer types

Headline of the day: Medical complications


From The Independent:

Cancer screening has never been shown to save lives, experts claim

Researchers say false results causing deaths from needless treatments are not being taken into account

High sugar diets linked to breast, lung cancers


More bad news for folks who indulge a sweet tooth.

That stuff you love may cause breast cancer and increase the speed of lung cancer spread.

From the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center:

The high amounts of dietary sugar in the typical Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs, according to a study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The findings, published in the Jan. 1 online issue of Cancer Research, demonstrated dietary sugar’s effect on an enzymatic signaling pathway known as 12-LOX (12-lipoxygenase).

“We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet,” said Peiying Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. “This was due, in part, to increased expression of 12-LOX and a related fatty acid called 12-HETE.”

Previous epidemiological studies have shown that dietary sugar intake has an impact on breast cancer development, with inflammation thought to play a role.

“The current study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in multiple mouse models, along with mechanisms that may be involved,” said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. “We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors.”

Cohen added that the data suggested that dietary sugar induces 12-LOX signaling to increase risks for breast cancer development and metastasis.

Identifying risk factors for breast cancer is a public health priority, say the authors. The researchers state that moderate sugar consumption is critical, given that the per capita consumption of sugar in the U.S. has surged to over 100 lbs. per year and an increase in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been identified as a significant contributor to an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and cancer worldwide.

There’s more after the jump. . . Continue reading

Genetic links discovered in 12 cancer types


A new study sheds light on the inherited components of 12 cancer types. The research confirmed the well-known heritability of breast and ovarian cancers and found a surprising inherited component to stomach cancer. In the graphic above, Lung 1 is lung squamous cell carcinoma, and Lung 2 is lung adenocarcinoma.

A new study sheds light on the inherited components of 12 cancer types. The research confirmed the well-known heritability of breast and ovarian cancers and found a surprising inherited component to stomach cancer. In the graphic above, Lung 1 is lung squamous cell carcinoma, and Lung 2 is lung adenocarcinoma.

From Washington University in St. Louis, via Newswise:

Researchers long have known that some portion of the risk of developing cancer is hereditary and that inherited genetic errors are very important in some tumors but much less so in others.

In a new analysis, researchers have shed light on these hereditary elements across 12 cancer types — showing a surprising inherited component to stomach cancer and providing some needed clarity on the consequences of certain types of mutations in well-known breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2.

The study, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, appears Dec. 22 in the journal Nature Communications.

The investigators analyzed genetic information from more than 4,000 cancer cases included in The Cancer Genome Atlas project, an initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to unravel the genetic basis of cancer.

“In general, we have known that ovarian and breast cancers have a significant inherited component, and others, such as acute myeloid leukemia and lung cancer, have a much smaller inherited genetic contribution,” said senior author Li Ding, PhD, associate professor of medicine and assistant director of the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University. “But this is the first time on a large scale that we’ve been able to pinpoint gene culprits or even the actual mutations responsible for cancer susceptibility.”

The new information has implications for improving the accuracy of existing genetic tests for cancer risk and eventually expanding the available tests to include a wider variety of tumors.

Past genomic studies of cancer compared sequencing data from patients’ healthy tissue and the same patients’ tumors. These studies uncovered mutations present in the tumors, helping researchers identify important genes that likely play roles in cancer. But this type of analysis can’t distinguish between inherited mutations present at birth and mutations acquired over the lifespan.

To help tease out cancer’s inherited components, the new study adds analysis of the sequencing data from the patients’ normal cells that contain the “germline” information. A patient’s germline is the genetic information inherited from both parents. This new layer of information gives a genetic baseline of a patient’s genes at birth and can reveal whether cancer-associated mutations were already present.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Maps of the day: Major cancer rates by state


Just released by the Centers for Disease Control, a look at cancer prevalence rates for U.S. states and territories for the latest year available, with rate per 100,000 of population [click on the image to enlarge]:

Age-adjusted rate* of invasive cancer by cancer site and jurisdiction — National Program of Cancer Registries and Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, 50 States, the District of Columbia (DC), and Puerto Rico (PR), 2012

Age-adjusted rate of invasive cancer by cancer site and jurisdiction — National Program of Cancer Registries and Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, 50 States, the District of Columbia (DC), and Puerto Rico (PR), 2012

Cosmetic chemicals linked to cancer, obesity


One of our ongoing concerns here at esnl has been the flooding of the environment of daily living with a host of chemicals about which we known comparatively little.

First, these chemicals used in our foods, clothing, and cosmetics, and our our lawns, furniture, and cookware [to name just a few of their applications] have received little testing, and virtually known in the way they interact with each other both within and without that complex ecosystem that is the human body. [Consider, for instance, the growing knowledge about the role the microbes dwelling within out guts may directly impact our moods.]

A special concern has been with the class of chemicals that mimic the actions of the endocrine system, that network of glands performing key roles in regulating the mechanisms of both body and mind.

Today’s post focuses on new revelations about two groups of endocrine-disrupting compounds.

Parabens linked to breast cancer

Parabens, short for parahydroxybenzoates, are chemicals widely used as preservatives in cosmetics, including sunscreens and shampoos.

But there’s a problem.

Parabens, you see, mimic the action of estrogen, and that’s particularly bad news for women, because parabens have now been conclusively linked to increased risk of breast cancer.

The chemicals had long been suspected of a role in breast cancer, as Medscape reported three years ago:

[R]esearchers in the United Kingdom examined 160 breast-tissue samples obtained from 40 patients who had undergone a mastectomy for primary breast cancer. They found that 99% of samples had traces of at least 1 paraben, and that 60% had traces of 5 different parabens.

Importantly, 7 of the women reported never having used underarm products. This suggests that the parabens originated from another source, note the authors.

The source of the parabens measured in this and in previous studies cannot be identified; it is also not clear if the paraben traces come from long-term accumulation, current exposure, or a combination of both.

But the link has grown much stronger, as Robert Sanders of the UC Berkeley News Center reports:

“Although parabens are known to mimic the growth effects of estrogens on breast cancer cells, some consider their effect too weak to cause harm,” said lead investigator Dale Leitman, a gynecologist and molecular biologist at UC Berkeley and an adjunct associate professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology. “But this might not be true when parabens are combined with other agents that regulate cell growth.”

Existing chemical safety tests, which measure the effects of chemicals on human cells, look only at parabens in isolation, he said. They fail to take into account that parabens could interact with other types of signaling molecules in the cells to increase breast cancer risk.

To better reflect what goes on in real life, Leitman and his colleagues looked at breast cancer cells expressing two types of receptors: estrogen receptors and HER2. Approximately 25 percent of breast cancers produce an abundance of HER2, or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. HER2-positive tumors tend to grow and spread more aggressively than other types of breast cancer.

The researchers activated the HER2 receptors in breast cancer cells with a growth factor called heregulin that is naturally made in breast cells, while exposing the cells to parabens. Not only did the parabens trigger the estrogen receptors by turning on genes that caused the cells to proliferate, the effect was significant. The parabens in the HER2-activated cells were able to stimulate breast cancer cell growth at concentrations 100 times lower than in cells that were deprived of heregulin.

The study demonstrates that parabens may be more potent at lower doses than previous studies have suggested, which may spur scientists and regulators to rethink the potential impacts of parabens on the development of breast cancer, particularly on HER2 and estrogen receptor positive breast cells.

The findings also raises questions about current safety testing methods that may not predict the true potency of parabens and their effects on human health.

“While this study focused on parabens, it’s also possible that the potency of other estrogen mimics have been underestimated by current testing approaches,” said co-author Chris Vulpe, a toxicologist formerly at UC Berkeley but now at the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

Their study is posted online here [PDF]

Triphenyl phosphates, or is your nail polish making you fat?

Another widely used endocrine disruptor has also become the focus on new concern, as Treehugger reports:

A compound used as a plasticizer and furniture fire retardant, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), which has been linked to hormone and reproductive irregularities, obesity, and other health issues, is also found in some nail polishes. And while painted nails may not seem like an easy pathway to exposure for potentially toxic chemicals (as opposed to ingesting or inhaling the substances), a recent study from researchers at Duke University and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) indicates otherwise, and suggests that TPHP directly enters the body during and after the polish is applied.

TPHP has been used as a replacement fire retardant compound in furniture, especially foams, following the phaseout of the previous generation of fire retardant compounds, the polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) group. However, recent studies have found troubling links to increased health risks, especially hormone-related issues, with exposure to TPHP as well, and because it’s an ingredient in a common beauty product, nail polish, and is not always disclosed on the label, painting your nails with certain brands of polish can carry a health risk with it.

The new study, Nailed, conducted by Dr. Johanna Congleton, a senior scientist at EWG, and Dr. Heather Stapleton, associate professor at Duke University, first tested 10 nail polishes for the existence of TPHP, none of which disclosed the chemical on their labels, and found it in 8 out of the 10. EWG has a listing of more than 3,000 nail polishes and treatments in its Skin Deep database, of which 49% list TPHP on their ingredients, but this recent finding of undisclosed TPHP in polishes suggests that it may be in more personal care products than was originally thought.

So next time you hear corporations and their scientific front men [yes, they are usually males] proclaim the safety of their latest nostrum, bear in mind all their other past proclamations about the safety of cigarets, leaded gasoline, DDT. . .well, you get the idea.