The Washington Post just released an article (https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/28/coronavirus-cancer-deathrates/) about a study from Wuhan correlating COVID-19 deaths with prior cancer diagnoses--typek, stage, and so on. The finding showed that patients with lung cancers, metastatic disease, and blood cancers were most vulnerable. It's worth a look.
Delayed treatments. Cancelled surgeries. Closed clinics. Join the American Cancer Society live on Facebook at 7:30 pm ET 4/23 to talk about results of a survey of cancer patients asking how #COVID19 has affected them & learn what you can do to make sure they get support they need.
This article highlights the vulnerability of cancer patients to this new virus pandemic-- All the stuff that you wish you didn't need to know::
The MA attorney general is tightening the screws on Juul for its targeting of kids as vaping customers. Her office has uncovered new info about how JUUL targeted and sold its addictive products to kids.
This company created the youth vaping epidemic. They cannot profit from it. We are suing JUUL. https://t.co/JfQR6Qz9PP
My research, as I was writing my books, told me that complementary therapies were exactly that--designed to be used alongside, NOT instead of, tradtional therapies. They do not offer curative effects. That message iss explained in a recent article from NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna892841. Researchers who studied nearly 2 million medical records concluded that complementary therapies (herbs, homeopathy, and so on) neither cure cancer nor prolong life. In fact, reliance on them instead of treaditional therapies leads to a shorter life expectancy. If you're considering complementary therapies, please read this article and click on the link for the research study that's referenced. This is a matter of life and death.
Sad but true: The Administration is pulling back on its commitment to curtail sales of flavored tobacco products, including menthol in particular, and is allowing continued sale of vape cartridges, which are known to have played a key role in the many vaping illnesses and deaths to date. Please don't let this decision, made for admittedly political purposes, take your attention off this important issue:
A rock band has started a foundation to help families of pediatric cancer patients handle the costs they face beyond the direct costs of treatment. The Tyler Robinson Foundation has raised nearly $10 million for grants to families to help them with housing, energy and utility expenses, treatment travel costs, and funeral and burial expenses.
This Washington Post article makes for good reading and may steer you to a source of help.
New news: If you care about your child's future health, don't smoke around your pregnant partner:
Michigan's governor ganned flabored cigarettesb by executive order to curtail an epidemic of serious lung illnesses among teens The products have been flavored and packaged like candy, but they can kill. Good news for all.
We're learning more about the dangers of vaping for human health:
Teen health risks are itemized here: https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/teen-vaping/.
The CDC is investigating 192 cases of mysterious lung illnesses in 22 states as of late August.
The Washington Post reported on September 6 on an increased number of deaths attributed to vaping: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/09/06/lung-illness-tied-vaping-has-killed-third-person-may-be-new-worrisome-disease-officials-say/?wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1
Vaping used to cut back on smoking increases relapse risk:
So if you're trying to stop smoking, try to avoid vaping too, and certainly keep your kids away from it as well!
Here's some good news in terms of Medicare coverage for new gene therapies for patients diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma.
This article speaks for itself: Vaping is as dangerous as smoking, especially if you're pregnant.
Chewing gum, anyone?
This is a curious but important finding:
Senate leader Mitch McConnell favors the tobacco industry and prefers to help Kentucky tobacco companies over saving lives. He's introduced a bill that ostensibly, by name, looks like a good idea (restricting tobacco purchases under age 21), but buried in the bill are provisions that provide enormous loopholes for tobacco purveyors. You might want to tell your legislators you don't favor this bill, as described below in this link from a friend in Kentucky:
This is a striking message: It's not just maternal smoking that damages embryos.
Jan and her husband Pierre had relocated to a small non-commercial community from Europe, where they both held powerful corporate jobs. Before either had gotten re-established into the American job market or gotten robust health insurance in place, he was struck with a brutal cancer.
Jan cared for him for about a year before he died, trying to set up her own consulting business during that difficult period to sustain the family's finances. At the time, they had a three-year-old daughter, and Jan was pregnant with their second child, who was born 10 days after Pierre's death.
Needless to say, Jan's formerly ideal life immediately fell into personal and financial chaos. As a single mother, she struggled to establish a steady income while caring for her two young children, one of whom developed a costly chronic health condition. After 8 years, Jan decided to move out of the family house and moved into a rented high-rise condominium that had on-site recreational facilities for the children. Her business was getting traction, and she was beginning to heal from what had been a multi-faceted ongoing trauma. Their life was stable. In light of her history, stable looked pretty good.
Then, lo and behold, she met Dirk, a widower who had never had (and always wanted) children. Before long, they all bonded, and three days ago Jan and Dirk were married. The most moving moment was when her nine-year-old son reflected on the marriage and declared with delight that he'd "finally have a father, just like everyone else." The first weekday after their wedding, the happy couple filed adoption papers so Dirk would legally become the children's father. All four family members are now over the moon with joy.
Healing for Jan was a long haul. that took time, vision, and psychological strength. It's a miracle that PTSD didn't take her down at several stages of the process. Now, her joy as she has reached the other side, is palpable and contagious. Hers is an inspiring story of taking control in the aftermath of cancer caregiving.
STAT News has reported an FDA warning about the use of robot-assisted surgeries in cancer surgeries. Surgeons may suggest them as allowing smaller incisions and potentially faster recovery, but the FDA reports that both safety and effectiveness may be compromised. Check out the FDA warning before agreeing to have your surgeon mobilize a robot on your behalf.
If you have experienced persistent multi-year hot flashes upon reaching menopause, you might be facing a significant elevated breast cancer risk, according to recent research at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. The study was described in a January 2019 Medscape article. This finding makes ongoing cancer screenings particularly important for menopausal women.
If you have a young smoker in your household, heads up: Despite information about the toxicity and addictive potential of all forms of smoking, the Centers for Disease Control report that youth smoking is on the rise, particularly in terms of e-cigarette usage. Around 40% of youth smokers are using more than one smoking product (that is, cigarettes plus vaping, for example). Youth smoking has risen fast enough in the past few months that the FDA has declared it to be an epidemic and is considering taking vaping products off the market.
According to STAT News (January 9, 2019), the most recent data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) reveal that the U.S. cancer death rate declined 27% between 1991 and 2016. While cancer still remains as the second highest cause of death, reduced smoking and gains in early detection have combined with new treatments to fuel that drop.
The good news includes a narrowing in racial disparities. Yet the ACS anticipates over 1.7 million new U.S. cancer cases in 2019, with more than 600,000 deaths. Mortality associated with cancers that relate to obesity (pancreatic, liver, and uterine) have risen, and lung and pancreatic cancers continue to have high mortality because of problems detecting them early. Liver cancer incidence early in this period was triggered by opiod abuse and hepatitis C infections, but obesity has become the prmary driver of this particular cancer.
For men diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer that hasn't spread, the choice of whether to watch-and-wait, have surgery, or implant radioactive seeds can be a real dilemma. A relatively new online tool can help understand the choices that many other men have made. The tool is based on medical records of over 5,000 men and was validated with more than 2,500 patients with new diagnoses. It was demonstrated to have remarkable accuracy and to be a productive tool to help men prepare for the treatment choice discussion with their urologist. The highlighted article provides more information and a link to find the tool.
A breast cancer diagnosis is disturbing enough, but when you're told you have the BRCA1 gene, it's nothing short of terrifying. Apparently Myriad Genetics has had a huge BRCA1 data base for years and refused to share its contents with other researchers. Now a breakthrough study at the University of Washington has revealed that among all of the possible BRCA1 mutations, certain ones are far more risky than others and are more likely to warrant prophylactic surgery. If your family history gives you concern, take a look at this study and use it in conversation with your medical team. In particular:
"By deliberately causing every possible mutation of the kind that occurs most commonly in BRCA1, and tracking how cells growing in lab dishes respond, scientists at the University of Washington determined which mutations are pathogenic and which are benign, they reported on Wednesday in the journal Nature. They also made that call for more than 2,000 variants whose health consequences have been unknown, a breakthrough that promises to spare thousands of women the anxiety of not knowing if their BRCA1 variant is a ticking time bomb or nothing to worry about."
Take a look!
The FDA announced in September its commitment to force manufacturers of E-cigarettes to control youth access to their products, which are becoming almost epidemic in their impacts on teens. That action includes both financial penalties on manufacturers and retailer point-of-purchase controls, as well as inclusion of E-cigarettes in FDA youth tobacco control plans.
The press release says, in particular: "One aspect of the agency’s plan will entail increased enforcement. The more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers announced today were part of a large-scale, undercover nationwide blitz to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors at both brick-and-mortar and online retailers, which was conducted from June through the end of August. The vast majority of the violations were for the illegal sale of five e-cigarette products – Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL, and Logic. These five brands currently comprise over 97 percent of the U.S. market for e-cigarettes."
This is an important milestone in the control of nicotine-delivery devices.
There are lots of resoruces about smoking cessation that can be helpful. The challenge today is to stop smoking and prevent nicotine addiction as early as possible, among teens and young adults. I've come across a new resource available online through a private faith-based university, Maryville University, which is offered as part of their health professions curriculum. The pamphlet focuses on smoking among college students. Posting the document here does not in any way represent an endorsement of their educational offerings, but it represents a sharing of a useful document that they have produced.
Recently research (summarized in the New England Journal of Medicine) has revealed that less invasive cervical cancer surgery is not a good idea. Rates of recurrence are significantly higher than those for the total hysterectomy surgery that has been the recommended approach for many years. In addition, survival rates are significantly lower. If you're dealing with even an early cervical cancer diagnosis, it's worth reading up on the options and their implications.