News in brief


Anti-tumor drug extends lung cancer patients’ lives

A cancer therapy that was approved last year to treat colon tumors, called Avastin, is also effective in prolonging life in lung cancer patients, according to the National Cancer Institute. Avastin, made by Genentech, belongs to a class of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors. It starves tumors by cutting off the blood supply they need to grow and spread. Doctors say that since lung cancer is so common, Avastin has the potential to help tens of thousands of patients. Source: USA Today


Second hand smoke causes breast cancer, study says

A study by the Air Resources Board, found that second hand smoke causes breast cancer, especially in younger women. The study was based on long-term exposure and concluded that women who are exposed to second hand smoke are at a 90 per cent higher risk of getting the disease. The risk though was not based on doses of second hand smoke. The implications of this study on tobacco control and breast cancer control could be powerful. Source: USA Today

Heart risk is cut in radiation for breast cancer

A new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that women receiving radiation for breast cancer may no longer face an increased risk of heart damage from the treatment. Studies in the 1970s indicated that radiation for breast cancer therapy also exposed the heart to radiation, which increased a woman’s chance of cardiac disease. Heart risk has been sharply reduced, or eliminated, since radiation therapy has been improved to deliver doses much more accurately. Source: Associated Press


High cholesterol drives prostate cancer

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found a link between the rate that prostate cancer tumors grow and high blood cholesterol. The study also reported that cholesterol-lowering drugs may be effective in preventing prostate cancer. Being the most common cancer in men, this could prove to be an effective way to reduce the number of cases as well as deaths of men from the disease. Source: Reuters


Alert issued on fried food chemica

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently said that people should eat less food containing acrylamide, which is a chemical associated with fried foods, because it has causes cancer in lab rats. WHO has asked governments to urge the food industry to significantly lower the amount of acrylamide in foods like, French fries, potato chips, coffee and grain-based products, including bread. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it is reviewing the WHO report and plans to release new data on acrylamide levels in the American diet. Source: Reuters

FDA cautions doctors on eczema treatment

The Food and Drug Administration has advised doctors to be cautious about prescribing Elidel and Protopic, two drugs used for eczema, because they could raise the risk for cancer. These drugs are applied to the skin and they suppress the immune system to control eczema. A small number of children and adults who used the drugs are reported to have cancer, and some animal tests showed an increase in cancer risk. More testing will be done on the drugs, to determine the risks involved with using them. Physicians should only consider prescribing these drugs when patients do not respond to or tolerate other treatments. The two drugs should not be prescribed to children younger than two years old and they should be used only short-term. Patients should be advised that they need to use the minimum amount needed to controlsymptoms. Source: The Associated Press

New drugs may help you quit smoking

In the United States there are approximately 50 million smokers. Pharmaceutical companies are working on a number of drugs to block or mimic nicotine’s chemical reactions with the body. Pfizer Inc. designed a drug and is almost ready to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration. They hope that the drug will attach to nicotine receptors in the brain, preventing cravings from setting in when someone quits smoking. Sanofi-Synthelabo will also ask for approval of a drug that could block the body’s chemical reward system so smoking would be not as pleasurable or as addictive. This drug could also treat alcohol and drug abuse. Source: The Associated Press