Sitting and Cancer Risk

How Sitting Increases Cancer Risk

How Sitting Increases Cancer Risk

Modern man spends a lot of time sitting down, either while relaxing or at work.  Some jobs involve long stretches of sitting down at a desk with little physical activity.  Many people have recreational activities that also involve a lot of sitting — like watching television or using the Internet.

Researchers are just starting to understand the health ramifications of sitting down for many hours each day.  Unfortunately it’s not good news, with a number of serious health risks associated with sitting.  This article will out line some of the recent research into sedentary behavior and the health problems associated with it.

Cardiovascular Health

One research paper looked at the effect of sedentary behavior on rodents.  One group of mice were allowed to perform exercise on gym equipment while the other were not.  Researchers found that the mice who did not undertake exercise had structural changes in the neurons in their brains.  Those neurons were responsible for regulating cardiovascular function.  It is thought that the changes to these neurons contribute to  cardiovascular disease (Mischel NA, Llewellyn-Smith IJ, Mueller PJ, 2014).

Cancer Risk

In a meta-analysis of 43 observational studies involving more than 4 million people, it was found that sedentary behavior greatly increased cancer risk (Schmid D,Leitzmann MF, 2014).  Researchers found that the risk of lung, colon and endometrial cancers was significantly increased by sedentary behavior.  The more a person sat down, the more their cancer risk increased.  For every 2 hours of sedentary activity per day, lung cancer risk increased by 6%, colon cancer risk increased by 8% and endometrial cancer risk increased by 10%.

The Canadian cancer society suggests that the health impacts of sedentary behavior create other problems that lead to cancer (Cancer.ca, 2014).  For example, most people who spend long periods sitting down gain weight.  That weight gain can substantially increase the chances of getting cancer (Cancer.gov, 2014). 

Sedentary behavior changes hormone levels which can also lead to some forms of cancer (Lynch BM, 2010).  Sex hormones estrogen and androgen increase, which is linked to breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.  Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels decrease because of inactivity.  The decrease in SHBG is thought to play a role in breast cancer (Moore JW, Key TJ, Bulbrook RD, Clark GM, Allen DS, Wang DY, Pike MC, 1987).

Diabetes

The less active you are, the more likely it is that you will have high blood sugar, increased insulin levels and eventually insulin resistance.  Some research has even indicated that regular exercise might not be enough to shield you from diabetes, if you spend a lot of time sitting down (Endocrineweb.com, 2011). 

The production of enzymes that burn fat also drastically slow when you are sitting. One study found that there were 90% less fat burning enzymes in people sitting for an hour or more (NYTimes, 2012).  Your metabolism also slows while sitting, potentially leading to weight gain and obesity.    

Brain Function

Research has shown that the human brain performs better if it has a supply of fresh oxygenated blood (MedicalNewsToday, 2014).  While sitting, your body is at rest and there is less fresh blood and oxygen reaching your brain.

One study demonstrated that people have better neuronal function within the brain while standing, as opposed to sitting (Ouchi Y, Okada H, Yoshikawa E, Nobezawa S, Futatsubashi M, 1998).  Put simply, your brain is more alert when you are in standing instead of sitting.

Muscle and Bone Degeneration

Sitting down for long periods can lead to muscular degeneration, because you aren’t using many muscle groups while in that position.  Your abdominal and back muscles are essentially unused while seated, worsening any back problems you may have.  You leg muscles are mostly unused in the position also, leading to muscle loss there.     

One study noticed that people who spent many hours sitting had a greater risk of  osteoporotic hip fracture (Weiss M, Yogev R, Dolev E, 1998).  This was due to low mineral density in the bones of people who spent a great deal of time sitting. 

Sitting can also damage your posture and can change the natural curve of your spine (Mashable, 2012).  Slipped discs are a common injury in people who spend a great deal of time seated.  Some doctors suggest people should only be seated for a maximum of 20 minutes, to avoid back damage.

The research is clear — prolonged sitting can have a negative health impact which can shave years off your life.  For people who are sitting all day, then going home for more sedentary activity like watching television, the problem is even worse.  To enjoy a healthy life and avoid some particularly nasty health issues, stand as much as possible and keep moving!    

Sources

Cancer.ca (2014). Sedentary behavior.  cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/what-is-a-risk-factor/sedentary-behaviour/?region=on

Cancer.gov (2014). Obesity and Cancer Risk.  cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/obesity

Endocrineweb.com (2011).  Sedentary lifestyles connected to type 2 diabetes.  endocrineweb.com/news/type-2-diabetes/6750-sedentary-lifestyles-connected-type-2-diabetes

Lynch BM, (2010).  Sedentary Behavior and Cancer: A Systematic Review of the Literature and Proposed Biological Mechanisms.  cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/19/11/2691.full

Mashable (2012).  Why Sitting Too Much Is Dangerous.  mashable.com/2012/06/18/too-much-sitting/

MedicalNewsToday (2014).  Sedentary behavior ‘may counteract brain benefits of exercise in older adults’.  medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282745.php

Mischel NA, Llewellyn-Smith IJ, Mueller PJ (2014). Physical (in)activity-dependent structural plasticity in bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons of rat rostral ventrolateral medulla.  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24114875

Moore JW, Key TJ, Bulbrook RD, Clark GM, Allen DS, Wang DY, Pike MC (1987).  Sex hormone binding globulin and risk factors for breast cancer in a population of normal women who had never used exogenous sex hormones.  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001893/

NYTimes (2012). Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/business/stand-up-desks-gaining-favor-in-the-workplace.html?_r=0

Schmid D,Leitzmann MF (2014).  Television Viewing and Time Spent Sedentary in Relation to Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis.  jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/7/dju098.full

Ouchi Y, Okada H, Yoshikawa E, Nobezawa S Futatsubashi M (1998).  Brain Activation During Maintenance Of Standing Postures In Humans. brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/122/2/329.full

Weiss M, Yogev R, Dolev E (1998).  Occupational sitting and low hip mineral density.  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9405733

Gene Flaws Raise Breast Cancer Risk in Black Women

Breast Cancer Mutated Gene

Breast Cancer Mutated Gene


A new study into breast cancer and race has determined that gene flaws are surprisingly common in black women with breast cancer. The study was one of the first comprehensive race specific studies into breast cancer. Nearly one-fifth of these women have BRCA mutations, a problem most commonly associated with women of Eastern European descent.

The study goes some way to helping doctors understand why the rates of breast cancer are so high in black women, even at a young age. The good news is that through genetic screening, women may be able to identify their level of risk for breast cancer, and can look at preventative options including hormone blocking medications and breast removal. Actress Angelina Jolie, who is of Eastern European descent, was recently in the news for her decision to remove her breasts, given her family history showing a prevalence of breast cancer.

The leader of the study, Dr. Jane Churpek said they were “surprised by the results” which highlighted the prevalence of the gene flaw in black women. In the past not enough women had been included in genetic studies looking at cancer prevalence so the results from this study are a significant step forward in battling breast cancer.

The results of the study were presented on Monday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference. One of the researchers who worked on the research paper was Mary-Claire King who first discovered the gene that gave women a predisposition to breast cancer, gene BRCA1. BRCA1 is the gene carried by Angelina Jolie and gave her a significant increased risk of getting breast cancer, in her case 87% risk of breast cancer and a 54% risk of ovarian cancer. Cancer is prominent in the women in Jolie’s family with a number of her relatives having either or both ovarian and breast cancer.

If a women has the BRCA gene mutation, there is a 50% chance they will pass the gene mutation on to their children. The gene mutation is thought to be responsible for as many as 10% of the cases of breast cancer in the United States every year and are carried by 5% of white people and 12% of Eastern Europeans. Research has to uncover the exact rates in other races but we know from this recent research that it is fairly common in black women.

In the study, 249 black women were tested for all 18 gene mutations that increase breast cancer risk. Gene flaws were found in 22% of participants and most of those (56%) had the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations.

They were given complete gene sequencing for all 18 known breast cancer risk genes rather than the usual tests that just look for a few specific mutations in BRCA genes.

Gene flaws were found in 56, or 22 percent, of study participants; 46 of them involved BRCA1 or BRCA2 and the rest were less commonly mutated genes.

The research solves an important piece of the puzzle as researchers try to understand why so many black women contract breast cancer at a young age.

Vinegar to Prevent Cervical Cancer Deaths

Vinegar Cervical Cancer Test

Vinegar Cervical Cancer Test


In developing countries, many people don’t have a great deal of money for expensive medical tests to check for cancer. This is true in India where many women cannot afford to have a pap smear to check for cervical cancer. However, in a medical breakthrough that took many years to achieve, doctor Surendra S. Shastri has decided to use a technique to check for cervical cancer using common household vinegar.

Cervical cancer is somewhat rare in developed countries because of testing procedures – for most people anomalies are found before becoming a serious life threatening cancer. Cervical cancer deaths in the United States amount to 4000 every year. In developing countries however, more than 200’000 women die every year from cervical cancer. Doctor Shastri considered it his lifetime goal to develop a simple testing procedure that could be used throughout the developing world to catch the illness early.

Cervical cancer first starts as a pre-cancerous lesion that grows into cancer. Spotting that lesion before it turns cancerous is why so many lives have been saved in the United States. The pap smear test was invented in the 1920s and has been used with great success to test for lesions in the cervix. The pap smear takes cells and sends them to the laboratory for testing – a simple procedure, but somewhat expensive for people living in the developing world.

Dr Shastri explains why widespread pap smear testing regimes would be difficult to achieve in India: “We don’t have the kind of laboratories or the kind of trained manpower needed for having a Pap smear. The Pap smear has succeeded in the countries where it has because of good quality control and frequency of screening”

So Dr Shastri decided to use a simple test that doctors perform after a suspicious pap smear result is returned – using a vinegar solution on the cervix and a magnifier to check the condition of cells. If a lesion is present the cells have a less “gooey” consistency and turn white. Healthy cells remain pink under the acetic acid solution.

The doctor didn’t stop there and decided to train health care workers in how to administer the test, so women across India didn’t even have to visit a doctor to have a test for cervical lesions performed.

Dr Shastri received funding from the National Cancer Institute to perform a clinical trial to check how effective the procedure could be. The results are nothing short of extraordinary, with cervical cancer reduced by 31% in the women screened every 2 years with the vinegar test. The results are to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology later today.

By conservative estimates, widespread use of the vinegar testing method could prevent more than 20’000 deaths from cervical cancer annually in India. If used in other developing countries that would be more than 70’000 lives saved every year.

Based on those results, the Indian government is rolling out the program to more parts of the country. Health workers are also using technology to further improve the results with digital cameras being used to train Health workers and to examine the results of the tests. The test itself is very low tech but with some simple and cheap technological tools it could be even more effective.

The developed world is even moving on to a more advanced method of testing for cervical cancer, with tests for the human papilloma virus DNA in women, the most common cause of the lesions that lead to the cervical cancer. Those viral DNA tests are very expensive however, and may be years off from widespread usage.

Low Dose CT Scans for Detecting Lung Cancer

Lung CT Scan

Lung CT Scan


Healthday has reported that a new study has found a new way of detecting lung cancer early. The study has found that by using low dose CT scans on high risk patients, lung cancer can be spotted much early than with previous detection methods.

CT scans are able to detect anomalies in the lungs earlier than x-rays, which can give patients a significant advantage from starting treatment earlier than normal. The scans were used on patients with high risk factors, either from environmental exposure to hazardous chemicals that cause lung cancer or family history.

There is a radiation risk associated with CT scans, but new computerized tomography technologies are limiting that level of exposure. In high risk patients that downside is offset by the benefit of early treatment and avoid unnecessary biopsies that the CT scan can determine are non-threatening.

Dr. Stephen Machnicki of Lenox Hill Hospital suggests that this method for detection will someday be very commonplace: “It may someday be like using mammograms,”. Dr Machnicki suggests that the study only confirms what many radiologists have suspected for a long time, that low dose CT screening can be very effective in spotting lung cancer in it’s early stages.

The study was based on results from the National Lung Screening Trial, which included more than 50’000 heavy smokers, so patients in the high risk category for lung cancer. The study concluded that by early screening with low dose CT scans, risk of death from lung cancer was lowered by as much as 20% compared to standard detection methods.

Lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States with more than 200’000 new cases diagnosed every year and almost 160’000 deaths recorded every year. Most of the cancers occur from tobacco use, but exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace is also a prominent cause of lung cancer.

The researchers in a second study used people who had been very hardcore smokes (a pack a day for 20 or 30 years), had an occupation with high lung cancer risk, a family history of lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They gave these high risk patients low dose CT scans and looked for nodules or other abnormalities in the lungs. Once a nodule or abnormality was spotted, patients were advised to get a biopsy. They found that 4% of patients were determined to have lung cancer in it’s early stages, detected with the assistance of the CT scan.

Sometimes the CT scan in inconclusive and small nodules may not always be a cancer beginning to form. Often nodules are just inflamed or there is scarring on the lungs which looks like some kind of abnormality. So there still needs to be some research into how best to use the low dose CT scans and finding which nodes are of real concern.

At this stage, researchers are considering regular low dose CT scans as an option for patients in the high risk category for lung cancer. Patients who have been life long smokers would probably benefit from an annual scan to look at the condition of their lungs, and doing more regular scans increases the radiation risk from the CT scan. However, aggressive cancers may develop so quickly that they can develop in between scans, making this approach ineffective.

Of course as technology progresses we will see more effective use of CT scans and hopefully lower radiation risk from the devices. Eventually we may be use CT scans to check for many more forms of cancer in their early stages, and researchers continue to look at all of the potential uses.

Bone Cancer Fundamentals

Bone Tumor

Bone Tumor

Bone tumors are a neoplastic growth (abnormal growth) of tissue inside your bones. The abnormal growths can be found to be either benign or malignant, so don’t always mean that cancer is present.

Bone tumors are placed into two categories, “primary tumors” and “secondary tumors”. Primary indicates that the tumor originated in the bone of cells and tissues derived from the bones. Secondary tumors may have originated in other tissues like the lungs or prostate, then moved (metastasized) into the bones. Some cancer regularly metastasize into the bones, including cancers of the lungs, breast, kidneys and thyroid.

Secondary malignant bone tumors are by far the more common, presenting 100 times more often than primary bone tumors.

Primary tumors are either benign tumors of cancerous (malignant). The benign bone tumors can develop for a number of reasons including injuries to the bones, neoplasms (abnormal growth), infections, developmental issues with the bones or inflammation. Primary tumors often appear in the femur and tibia.

Common benign primary bone tumors include osteoblastoma, enchondroma, fibrous dysplasia of bone, aneurysmal bone cyst and giant cell tumor of bone. Benign primary bone tumors do not metastasize. Malignant primary bone tumors can include fibrosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma.

Secondary malignant bone tumors most commonly originate as carcinomas of the breast, lung, or prostate. However it is somewhat difficult to obtain the real statistics as to how cancers spread to the bone and metastasize, because by that stage the cancer has often already killed the patient.

Bone tumors are very painful and affect the movement of the patient dramatically. As the tumor grows, so does the level of pain that the patient experiences and putting weight on the joints and moving because difficult. In addition, patients often experience fatigue, weight loss, anemia, and bone fractures. However in rare cases, some patients do not experience much pain and just notice a bone mass building up on their body.

Treatment of Bone Tumors

The treatment will vary greatly depending on the type of tumor and if it is benign or malignant.

Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy are often used in treating some malignant bone tumors like Ewings Sarcoma with good success. A number of forms of chemotherapy treatment are available as well with good survival rates attached to that as well. Surgery is used to treat bone tumors that are well advanced. One of the great concerns with these procedures is bone loss and impact on bone density, so great care is taken when looking at the impact of treatment on the health of your bones.

Some medications can help with the bone loss and bone density issues associated with the radiological, chemotherapy and surgical treatments. Drugs like Metastron are also given to help with the pain of bone turmors.

Amputation is also an option to treat bone cancers that have reached an advanced level of progression. Sometimes “limb sparing surgery” can be used, where a significant section of bone is removed, but replaced by bone from another part of the body, allowing you to retain the limb. That may be in combination with radiological and chemotherapy treatment.

Bone Tumor Prognosis

The prognosis varies greatly depending on the type and location of the tumor, and of course on it’s benign or malignant status. If it is a secondary tumor, quite often the main threat to the patients life is the origin of the malignancy.

For benign tumors the outlook is said to be very good, however some benign tumors can become cancerous. Even with malignant bone tumors the outlook is good, however that depends upon the level of progression, if the cancer has spread, the location of the tumor, the type of cancer and the size of the tumor.

Green Tea and Cancer Prevention

Green Tea Cancer Reduction

Green Tea Cancer Reduction


There have been numerous reports in the media about the health benefits of drinking green tea. From cancer reduction, to weight loss, to general health, green tea has been promoted as an all round wise health decision. But let’s drill a little deeper and look at the role of green tea in cancer prevention if any.

What is Green Tea

Green tea is simply leaves of Camellia sinensis plant that have undergone minimal oxidation during their harvesting and packing process. The tea has been popular in China and throughout many Asian countries for many thousands of years and has become more commonly drunk in Western countries in recent years, largely because of the oft-mentioned health benefits.

Green tea and green tea extracts can also be used in other food products and cosmetics where it has a potential positive effect also. The extracts from Green tea can be found in many commercial products, but sometimes the product is so diluted and processed that the mention of Green tea is more of a marketing exercise than it is a legitimate additive for health reasons. Rates of cancer are lower in many Asian countries than they are in the West, and many researchers and health specialists suggest this is largely because of the role green tea plays in the Asian diet.

Green Tea’s Health Benefits

Some of the often mentioned benefits of Green tea include:

  • A boost to the human immune system
  • A way to remove toxins in the body
  • Assists in the treatment of existing cancers in combination with traditional medicine
  • Improves energy levels and overall health
  • Can help you lose weight
  • Is a viable alternative therapy for cancer treatment

But are these benefits accurate?

At this stage there is some evidence that Green tea might reduce the risk of getting cancer, but there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that green tea can cure existing cancers.

What research has told us is that green tea can reduce the risk of heart disease and only certain types of cancer. When researchers looked at the weight reduction properties of green tea they found that while it does not raise the metabolic rate in humans, some green tea extracts with polyphenols have been shown to increase the rate of fat oxidation.

Green tea is packed full of flavinoids, much more so than many other foods that are considered extremely healthy. Flavinoids have a well documented anti-oxidative and anticarcinogenic function in the human body which is a good thing, but the levels of flavinoids can vary dramatically depending on the quality of the green tea.

Researchers have also identified an extract in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). That extract is also of great interest in cancer research and it’s exact role is still being established.

In the laboratory, cell studies have shown that some green tea extracts can prevent cancer cells from growing. The polyphenols and another substance called catechins have anti-oxidant properties and prevent the cancer cells growing. Keep in mind that these kinds of cell studies are very different to human studies which see if the chemicals in their diluted form can still play a role in stopping the growth of cancer.

The human studies we have seen so far are a mixed bag. In a meta study (which looks at the results of many other studies) in 2006 discovered that green tea can lower the risk of breast cancer. However other meta studies have not found enough evidence to back this up.

The same is true for bowel cancer, with one study suggesting that green or black tea played a role in the reduction of risk of bowel cancer, then another study finding no such link.

One Chinese study found that men who drank green tea on a daily basis had half the risk of stomach cancer as those who did not. A 2008 meta analysis which reviewed 43 of studies suggests that the evidence of reduced risk is only small. Many studies suggest it reduces risk while many claim to have found no link between green tea consumption and the reduction in risk of stomach or digestive tract cancers.

Other forms of cancer have no apparent link, with studies into prostate cancer seeing no link between green tea consumption and reduced risk.

One problem with the studies is that many don’t factor in lifestyle factors and investigate the affects of green tea on a narrow section of population. Additionally, in many cases the studies don’t detail the amount of green tea taken, nor the quality of the green tea (which plays a substantial role).

Some trials have shown more positive results though, and none of the trials have shown negative effects shown with the moderate consumption of green tea. Green tea in large quantities has the same negative and positive effects associated with the consumption of caffeine – an increase in anxiety or nervousness, trouble sleeping.

One of the trials that has shown more positive results was a 2012 study into the ability of a green tea extract to help treat cancer. Polyphenon E was given to 45 chronic leukemia patients who were not taking any other treatment for the disease. 30% of patients had a positive effect from the green tea and saw their lymph nodes shrinking and a reduction in the number of cells with leukemia. A small trial yes, but it shows some promise with green tea extracts.

Drinking Green Tea

Green tea is a very safe drink to consume. The only drawback with consuming green tea is the small amount of caffeine present that causes irritability, nervousness and more frequent urination.

Many health specialists suggest that you drink between 3 and 5 cups of green tea per day to obtain a health benefit. The level of caffeine is about 30% of the caffeine content of a cup of instant coffee. So 3 cups a day is the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee in the morning. You can obtain decaffeinated green tea, but some experts suggest that the additional processing to remove the caffeine may have a negative effect.

Green tea capsules are also available and you can even add green tea to food!

Before consuming green tea, if you are on any medications consult with your doctor to determine side effects. Green tea is mostly harmless, but for people with heart conditions, the additional caffeine may be a factor. Always consume green tea in moderation to avoid any issues with excessive caffeine.

In very rare cases, green tea can affect how well you absorb certain medications, so that is worth looking into before you begin consuming it.

Green Tea Claims

So there is the evidence. It may be helpful in preventing cancer, and green tea extracts may have a role in treating cancer, but the research is far from clear.

Be wary of any websites that are selling green tea as a cure for cancer or some kind of magical tool for weight loss. This is inaccurate.

The evidence that green tea consumption is a great source for anti-oxidants is much more clear and if you want to maintain good overall health as well as potentially reduce cancer risk, it is a great choice.

Cancer Prevention with Whole Grains

Whole Grains Cancer Reduction

Whole Grains Cancer Reduction

One of the best ways to reduce your cancer risk is to maintain a healthy diet with a diverse intake of foods. Generally, consuming foods that haven’t been processed is best, so fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. Research has revealed that whole grains are a particularly important form of food for the reduction of risk in certain types of cancer. This article will take a look at which types of cancer whole grains can help prevent and how to choose whole grain foods!

Whole grains are cereal grains that contain cereal germ, endosperm, and bran. They are close to their natural form as opposed to refined grains that have been processed to make them more easily used in processed foods or to improve the aesthetics of the food. Refined grains only contain the endosperm because the milling process removes the cereal germ and bran. The bran is the outer protective layer of the grain kernels and the endosperm is the starchy carbohydrate inside the bran husk. The germ is a very healthy part of the grain because it contains vitamin B, minerals, protein and healthy fats. Unfortunately processing the grain will remove the germ and you lose all of those benefits.

You can refer to the image above to see the different parts of a wheat grain. The next time you are shopping you can also compared brown rice and white rice to see the difference between unprocessed and processed rice. The brown rice is the natural state of rice, before the germ and bran have been removed in the processing. After the rice is processed it is white and faster to cook. That makes it more convenient but you also lose many of the natural nutrients in the rice.

Health Benefits of Grains

Many of the plant compounds in whole grains are very nutritious and contain compounds that can help protect your cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Whole grains are also high in fiber which helps maintain good overall health as well as reducing the risk of cancer of stomach, colon and rectum (amongst others). In addition to the fiber there are various antioxidants, phenols, lignans and saponins (organic compounds). Let;s take a closer look at these components.

Antioxidants are compounds that help minimize cell oxidization from free radicals. Anti-oxidants can help prevent aging, help you remain healthy and help prevent cancer.

Phenols are fragrant organic compounds in oils that also have interesting antibacterial properties and help your immune system. Lignans are a plant based form of estrogen that can help protect damaged cells. Saponins act as natural anti-biotic within the body as well as playing a role in fighting cholesterol and protecting against cancer.

Cancer Research Findings

Many studies have been performed into the possible link between whole grains and cancer prevention. A meta-analysis of 19 studies into the link between whole grains and reduction of risk of colo-rectal cancer and gastric cancer found that in 16 of the studies, the cancer risk reduction from whole grains was “high” compared to a diet with only refined grains.

A separate meta-study saw 45 from 50 studies mention that whole grains have an associated decrease in cancer risk. Whole grain consumption mostly reduces risk in gastro-intestinal cancers with analysis showing a 20% reduced risk of colon cancer, 28% reduced risk of pancreatic cancer and a 40% lower risk of gastric cancer.

Other research papers have linked the consumption of whole grains to a reduction of risk for 18 types of cancer. That includes reduced risk of stomach, colon, gallbladder, liver, rectum and pancreatic cancers.

Eating More Whole Grains

It’s very easy to start eating more whole grains and get the great cancer prevention and health benefits. Stop buying white bread and choose a healthier brown or grain bread. Remove white rice from your diet and start using brown. You can also switch to whole grain cereals instead of processed cereals like your standard corn flakes. Some whole grains are fun to eat, like pop corn! Switch to wholemeal crackers, brown flour and look into the ingredients of ready to eat meals – are their better alternatives.

Once you make the switch you will not only find that you are reducing cancer risk, but you will also have increased energy and fell better. The extra nutrition in whole grains will have an impact on your overall health. Try it out!

Lymphoma Symptoms

Lymphoma Cancer

Lymphoma Cancer


Lymphoma is a form of blood cancer that happens when white blood cells begin behaving abnormally. White blood cells are a part of the immune system and normally help protect the body from disease and infection.

The abnormal white blood cells, which are B or T lymphocytes, start dividing much faster than normal cells and live longer than a normal cell would. Lymphoma cancer may develop in many areas of the body including the bone marrow, lymph nodes and other organs, with the white blood cells eventually forming tumors. The tumors go on to damage the surrounding tissue by depriving it of nutrients and oxygen.

Usually lymphoma is not spotted until a solid tumor of lymphoid cells has developed.A number of treatment types are utilised to combat this form of cancer, including bone marrow transplantation, radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy. Lymphoma often presents first in the lymph nodes as a tumor before moving on to other parts of the body as varied as the brain, the bowels and the skin. Lyphoma shares some similarities with lymphoid leukemias which also form in the blood and bone marrow. However unlike leukemia, lymphoma commonly forms tumors.

Lymphoma Symptoms

Unfortunately the early stages of lymphoma present a wide range of non-specific symptoms which may be confused with other conditions. If these symptoms continue on for an extended period, medical treatment should be sought and tests should be performed to detect if lymphoma is present.

A swelling of the lymph nodes is the first symptom, however it can be confused with the common cold and other immune system issues.

For lymphoma affecting the B lymphocytes some other symptoms include fever, night sweats and weight loss. Patients may also experience a loss of appetite, itching, fatigue and respiratory problems.

Lymphoma Diagnosis

Lymphoma is diagnosed by a lymph node biopsy or a fine needle aspiration cytology. A process called Immunophenotyping is also used to help determine which type of lymphoma may be present, which helps determine treatment.

There are many types of lymphoma, ranging from aggressive forms with a poor prognosis all of the way through to forms of lymphoma that are indolent and can ignored without treatment.

Most types of lymphoma are somewhere between the aggressive and passive forms, and respond well to timely treatment. Prognosis largely depends on how early the disease is diagnosed and making certain the correct form of lymphoma is diagnosed.

Classification of Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is probably the form of the disease that most people have heard about, name after the researcher Thomas Hodgkins. Hodgkins described lymphoma for the first time in 1832. Many forms of lymphoma have been discovered since then, leading to a complex classification system, broadly divided into Hodgkins Lymphoma and an initial 16 non-Hodgkin lymphoma varieties. However new forms of classification are being developed to further help doctors understand the new forms of lymphoma more easily – there are now 61 varieties of non-Hodkin’s lymphoma.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
In the current classification system, there are 6 types of Hodgkin Lypmhoma (HL). Split into 4 histological subtypes: lymphocyte predominant, mixed cellularity, nodular sclerotic and lymphocyte depleted with nodular sclerotic being the most commonly found. Hodgkin Lymphoma involves the lymph node and the presence of B lymphocyte symptoms (fever, unexplained weight loss and/or night sweats). The prognosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma is usually good.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is currently used to classify 61 types of lymphoma. At the moment, any lymphoma that does not involve Reed-Sternberg cells is called a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. NHL range from rare to somewhat common and have a large variance in prognosis.

Lymphoma Prognosis

The prognosis for lymphoma varies greatly depending on the form of lymphoma found and how early it was found. Radiation and chemotherapy are used to great success on low grade lymphoma to lessen the symptoms, but not cure the disease.

For more aggressive varieties of lymphoma, these treatment therapies can also work, but must be much more aggressive and if the lymphoma does not respond the prognosis is markedly worse. Treatment for aggressive lymphoma is usually centered around large amounts of chemotherapy with radiotherapy only used if the cancer is localised.

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer


The thyroid gland is a large endocrine gland found in the neck below the thyroid cartilage that forms the adams apple. The gland controls how rapidly the body uses energy, how the body responds to hormones and it makes proteins. The thyroid gland does these things by producing thyroid hormones including triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine (T4). These hormones affect the growth rate and function of many parts of the body and manipulate the rate of metabolism within the body.

Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

The technical description for Thyroid cancer is a malignat thyroid neoplasm with comes from parafollicular or follicular cells. Typically the thyroid cancer is often first detected as a nodule in the thyroid which can found by an examination from your doctor. Nodules are somewhat commonplace though, with 95% of nodules not malignant. Other early symptoms include an enlarged lymph node, pain in the neck and possibly a change in voice.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can sometimes be associated with a large metastatic tumor. Nodules in the thyroid are more serious for younger patients because they are less common in people below 20. If a young person has nodules it is far more likely to be malignant.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer

After a general practitioner locates a thyroid nodule during a physical exam, the patient is usually forwarded to an endocrinologist or thyroidologist who normally perform an ultrasound to confirm the presence of the nodule. They then assess the condition of the thyroid and do tests on the strength of thyroid hormones and anti-thyroid antibodies. That helps them determine if a thyroid disease is present and has caused the nodule.

To finally determine if cancer is present, a fine needle aspiration cytology test is performed.

Thyroid Cancer Classification

Thyroid cancer is classified into the following categories:

  • Papillary thyroid cancer – The most common form of thyroid cancer usually found in young females. Makes up about 75%-80% of cases, it has a very good prognosis
  • Follicular thyroid cancer – makes up 10% to 20% of cases
  • Medullary thyroid cancer – makes up 5% to 8% of cases
  • Poorly differentiated thyroid cancer
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer – makes up less than 5%

The follicular and papillary types of thyroid cancer have a much better prognosis than medullary and undifferentiated thyroid cancer types.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Thyroid cancer is similar to prostate cancer in that it is very common in older adults, is slow growing and often doesn’t even require treatment. Slow growing thyroid cancer may not even produce any symptoms, so the patient isn’t aware of any problems and can pass away from another illness before the thyroid cancer becomes a concern. For this reason, a slow growing thyroid cancer is rarely treated.

For faster growing thyroid cancer there are a number of options. Surgery is sometimes used with the thyroidectomy and lobectomy procedures being two of the most common approaches.

Radioactive Iodine-131 is often used post-surgery to treat patients who have papillary or follicular thyroid cancer. It is used for ablation of residual thyroid tissue after the surgical work has been performed. Some types of thyroid cancer, including medullary, anaplastic, and many Hurthle cell cancers do not benefit from radioactive iodine-131 treatment.

Occasionally external radiation is also used to help relieve pain or when the cancer is unable to be removed by surgery.

Some new drugs including Sorafenib and Sunitinib have shown promising results for the treatment of thyroid cancer.

Prognosis for Thyroid Cancer

For the most common form of thyroid cancer, papillary, the prognosis is very good with an overall 5 year survival rate of around 97%. There are 4 stages of development of thyroid cancer and if caught at stage I or stage II, papillary thyroid cancer has a 100% 5 year survival rate. At stage III that shortens to 93% and at stage IV that becomes 51%. There is currently a greater trend towards early detection of thyroid cancer, which has led to a boost in the survival rates.

The follicular and medullary have similar 5 year survival rates, however stage IV medullary thyroid cancer patients have a much lower 5 year survival rate ay 28%.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is always stage 4 and has a poor 5 year survival rate at 7%. This relatively rare form of thyroid cancer is very aggressive and has shown resistance to the traditional forms of thyroid cancer treatment. Anaplastic thyroid cancer usually spreads into the surrounding tissue rapidly, also explaining the poor survival rate.

Thyroid cancer is much less common in men than it is in women, with women being three times more likely to be afflicted.

Stomach Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer is responsible for nearly a million deaths each year and is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Unfortunately because the symptoms are often confused with other illnesses, the diagnosis of stomach cancer is sometimes delayed, leading to patients presenting with stomach cancer that has progressed to an advanced stage. Prognosis is poor with a 5 year survival rate of between 5% and 15%.

Very often, in it’s early stages, stomach cancer produces no noticeable symptoms or it may show symptoms that are commonly seen in other less serious illnesses. When the symptoms of stomach cancer become easily noticed, often the disease is at an advanced stage and has metastasized to other parts of the body leading to a poor prognosis.

Stomach Cancer Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of stomach cancer at the three stages:

In the early stages of stomach cancer, if any symptoms are present they could be as simple as a loss of appetite (especially for hard to digest foods like meat), indigestion or heartburn, and abdominal discomfort. Those symptoms are frequently found in the general population and usually don’t signify the presence of stomach cancer, leading to most people ignoring those common symptoms.

In stage 2 (medium stage) the symptoms become slightly more worrisome, but are still not significant enough for most people to warrant a trip to the doctor. At this stage some weakness or a general feeling of fatigue may be experienced. In addition, some bloating of the stomach may be observed after meals.

In stage 3 (late stage stomach cancer) the symptoms become much more serious and easily noticeable. Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding which can be seen in the stool. Also this bleeding can lead to anemia
  • An illness caused dysphagia that is triggered by a gastric tumor

The problem with stomach cancer is that even the advanced stages of the disease show symptoms that may also be a gastric ulcer or stomach virus.

Stomach Cancer Causes

Most cases of stomach cancer are caused by a bacterium found in the stomach, called Helicobacter pylori.

Surprisingly, diet is not a consideration in most cases of stomach cancer, but some foods like pickled vegetables have been linked with a higher incidence. Cured meats are high in nitrates and nitrites that can be converted to bacteria that has been shown to promote stomach cancer in animals.

Cancer organizations suggest that a varied diet high in fruits and vegetables can help avoid stomach cancer, and in general a healthy diet is a great idea to avoid a number of cancers and heart disease.

Smoking is once again a promoter of cancer with a 40% increased risk for casual smokers and an 80%+ increased risk of stomach cancer for heavy smokers. Smokers tend to get stomach cancer in the upper regions of the stomach, especially the esophagus. Significant alcohol consumption is tentatively linked with stomach cancer, so once again moderation with alcohol is a good thing.

About 10% of stomach cancers show some kind of link to genetic factors and genetic testing is now available for families with a history of stomach cancer.

The Helicobacter pylori bacterium is responsible for between 65% and 80% of stomach cancers, so apart from maintaining a healthy diet and not smoking or drinking excessively, not a lot can be done to avoid this form of cancer.

Males are much more likely than females to contract stomach cancer with some studies suggesting that estrogen plays a role in protecting women from stomach cancer. You are three times more likely to develop stomach cancer if you are male.

Stomach Cancer Detection

In it’s early stages, it is unlikely that a general practitioner would advise tests for stomach cancer because the symptoms are so commonplace. If you have a family history of this type of cancer, it is advised that you get tested early and be vigilent as to the symptoms of this form of cancer.

After the doctor has performed an initial examination to eliminate other causes of the symptoms, lab studies will need to be ordered to confirm stomach cancer.

The other examinations a patient may be asked to do to confirm stomach cancer include:

  • A CT scan of the abdomen to determine the location of tumors.
  • A Gastroscopic exam which involves the insertion of a fiber optic camera into the stomach
  • An upper gastro intestinal series, which involves x-rays of the stomach and surrounding areas

Any abnormal tissue found during a gastroscopic exam may also need to be biopsied to determine if it is cancerous.

Blood tests can also help form a diagnosis and the blood is checked for anemia.

Stomach Cancer Treatment

Unfortunately stomach cancer is difficult to treat, particularly in the late stages. Treatment generally consists of surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. New forms of treatment are being trialled which may lead to better outcomes, but at the moment prognosis is usually not very good with this form of cancer.

Surgical treatment usually involves removing part of the stomach and possibly the surrounding lymph nodes. If the cancer has spread, the surgery may also involve the removal of part of the pancreas or intestines.

If the cancer has spread, the surgical option is often just a palliative solution and aims to extend life instead of curing the disease.

Chemotherapy is unfortunately not very effective in the treatment of stomach cancer and is usually only useful in palliative care and to reduce the size of any tumors. Sometimes chemotherapy is used prior to surgery to reduce the size of the tumors, then used again after surgery to help restrict any remaining cancer growth.

Radiation therapy is also used in combination with chemotherapy and/or surgery to help relieve pain and reduce the size of any tumors. Radiation therapy is also usually used as a palliative measure.