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Gut Bacteria ‘Boost’ Cancer Therapy

Bacteria living in the murky depths of the digestive system seem to influence whether tumours shrink during cancer therapy, say French and US researchers.

They tested the microbiome – the collection of microscopic species that live in us – in cancer patients.
Two studies, in the journal Science, linked specific species and the overall diversity of the microbiome to the effectiveness of immunotherapy drugs.

Experts said the results were fascinating and held a lot of promise.

Our bodies are home to trillions of micro-organisms and the relationship between “us” and “them” goes far beyond infectious diseases.

The microbiome is involved in digestion, protection from infection and regulating the immune system.

  • Gut bugs ‘help prevent allergies’
  • Parkinson’s disease ‘may start in gut’

Both studies were on patients receiving immunotherapy, which boosts the body’s own defences to fight tumours.

It does not work in every patient, but in some cases it can clear even terminal cancer.

Survival

One study, at the Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus in Paris, looked at 249 patients with lung or kidney cancer.

They showed those who had taken antibiotics, such as for dental infection, damaged their microbiome and were more likely to see tumours grow while on immunotherapy.

One species of bacteria in particular, Akkermansia muciniphila, was in 69% of patients that did respond compared with just a third of those who did not.

Boosting levels of A. muciniphila in mice seemed to also boost their response to immunotherapy.
Meanwhile, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 112 patients with advanced melanoma had their microbiome analysed.

Those that responded to therapy tended to have a richer, more diverse microbiome than those that did not.

And they had different bacteria too. High levels of Faecalibacterium and Clostridiales appeared to be beneficial, while Bacteroidales species were bad news in the study.

‘Game-changing’

Tissues samples showed there were more cancer-killing immune cells in the tumour of people with the beneficial bacteria.

The team then performed a trans-poo-sion, a transplant of faecal matter, from people to mice with melanoma.

Mice given bacteria from patients with the “good” mix of bacteria had slower-growing tumours than mice given “bad” bacteria.

Dr Jennifer Wargo, from Texas, told the BBC: “If you disrupt a patient’s microbiome you may impair their ability to respond to cancer treatment.”
She is planning clinical trials aimed at altering the microbiome in tandem with cancer treatment.
She said: “Our hypothesis is if we change to a more favourable microbiome, you just may be able to make patients respond better.
“The microbiome is game-changing, not just cancer but for overall health, it’s definitely going to be a major player.”

Promising

Mark Fielder, president of the Society for Applied Microbiology and professor of medical biology at Kingston University, said the study showed the importance of understanding the micro-organisms that call our bodies home.

He told the BBC: “It’s really interesting and holds a lot of promise, we need to do more work but there are exciting glimmers here in treating some difficult diseases.
“Some claim the microbiome is the answer to everything, I don’t think that’s the case.
“But once we understand more, it could be that microbiome manipulation is important in changing people’s health.”

Dr Emma Smith from Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s fascinating.

“One of the big challenges for using immunotherapies to treat cancer is understanding which patients will respond, and this research is a step towards helping doctors to identify these people.”

By James Gallagher    Health and science correspondent, BBC News    3 November 2017 
 
source: www.bbc.com
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Relationship Between Sugar And Cancer Is Now Clearer, Scientists Say

Belgian scientists say they’ve made a research breakthrough in the relationship between sugar and cancer.

Researchers found yeast with high levels of the sugar known as glucose overstimulated the same proteins often found mutated inside human tumors, making cells grow faster. The finding, published in Nature Communications on Friday, aims to shed light on how cancer develops.

Johan Thevelein, Wim Versées and Veerle Janssens started researching sugar’s link to cancer in 2008 to try and better understand what’s called the Warburg effect, when tumor cells make energy through a rapid breakdown of glucose not seen in normal cells. That energy fuels tumor growth.

The research “is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness,” Thevelein, from KU Leuven in Belgium, said in a release. “This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more precise and relevant focus.”

While it’s a monumental finding for the research team, it’s not a medical breakthrough. It also doesn’t prove that eating a low-sugar diet could change a cancer diagnosis.

“The findings are not sufficient to identify the primary cause of the Warburg effect,” Thevelein said in a release. “Further research is needed to find out whether this primary cause is also conserved in yeast cells.”

Victoria Stevens, a cancer researcher with the American Cancer Society who was not involved in the study, said this research is great, but it comments only on “about one product made during the breakdown of glucose to produce energy.” In other words, it’s a small step in a long process.

“They are providing a potential way (the Warburg effect) could be a cause of cancer, but they are a long way away from saying this could actually happen,” Stevens said.

VIB, KU Leuven and Vrije Universiteit Brussel researchers conducted the study. VIB is a life sciences research institute that works with five universities, including KU Leuven, and is funded by the Flemish government.\

USA TODAY NETWORK     Ashley May, USA TODAY     Oct. 18, 2017
 


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40% Of Cancers Diagnosed In U.S. Related To Obesity, CDC Says

Add cancer to the many good reasons to strive for a healthy weight

The rates of 12 obesity-related  cancers rose by 7 per cent from 2005 to 2014, an increase that is threatening to reverse progress in reducing the rate of cancer in the United States, U.S. health officials say.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 630,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with a cancer linked with being overweight or obese in 2014.

Obesity-related cancers accounted for about 40 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014. Although the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses has fallen since the 1990s,  rates of obesity-related cancers have been rising.

“Today’s report shows in some cancers we’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said on a conference call with reporters.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, 13 cancers are associated with overweight and obesity.
They include:

  • Meningioma.
  • Multiple myeloma.
  • Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
  • Cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus and colon and rectum (colorectal).

In 2013-2014, about two out of three U.S. adults were considered overweight or obese. CDC researchers used the U.S. cancer statistics database to see how obesity was affecting cancer rates. Although cancer rates rose in 12 of these cancers from 2005 to 2012, colorectal cancer rates fell by 23 per cent, helped by increases in screening, which prevents new cases by finding growths before they turn into cancer.

Cancers not associated with overweight and obesity fell by 13 per cent.

About half of Americans are not aware of this link, according to Schuchat. The findings suggest that U.S. healthcare providers need to make clear to patients the link between obesity and cancer, and encourage patients to achieve a healthy weight.

“The trends we are reporting today are concerning,” Schuchat said. “There are many good reasons to strive for a healthy weight. Now you can add cancer to the list.”

She said the science linking cancer to obesity is still evolving, and it is not yet clear whether losing weight will help individuals once cancer has taken root.

What is clear is that obesity can raise an individual’s risk of cancer, and that risk may be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, Schuchat said Tuesday.

Oct 04, 2017
source: www.cbc.ca   Reuters


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Factors Contributing to Cancer

Eighty percent of cancers are due to factors that have been identified and can potentially be controlled, according to the National Cancer Institute. And not only can we potentially prevent most cancers, we can also improve the survival rates of people who have cancer. Cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon have received more research attention than other forms of the disease, but, as we will see, certain principles apply to many forms of cancer.

Cancer starts when one cell begins to multiply out of control. It begins to expand into a lump that can invade healthy tissues and spread to other parts of the body. But there is a lot we can do about it. Thirty percent of cancers are caused by tobacco. Lung cancer is the most obvious example, but by no means the only one. Cancers of the mouth, throat, kidney, and bladder are also caused by tobacco.

Dietary factors also play a significant role in cancer risk. At least one-third of annual cancer deaths in the United States are due to dietary factors.1 A review on diet and cancer estimates that up to 80 percent of cancers of the large bowel, breast, and prostate are due to dietary factors. 1

In 2008, excess body weight was responsible for over 124,000 new cancer diagnoses in Europe. These results were presented at a major European cancer conference in 2009 and showed endometrial (uterine) cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and colorectal cancer were the most common weight-related cancers. These three cancer types accounted for 65 percent of all cancers due to excess body weight. The effects of obesity also appear to increase mortality from several other types of cancer including gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, and ovary, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in women with the highest BMIs compared to those with a healthy BMI.2  Previous studies including the Adventist Health Study-2 show that following a vegan diet results in the lowest BMI of any group (lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semivegetarian, nonvegetarian), making them less susceptible to obesity-related cancers. 3

The link between diet and cancer is not new. In January 1892, Scientific American printed the observation that “cancer is most frequent among those branches of the human race where carnivorous habits prevail.” Numerous research studies have shown that cancer is much more common in populations consuming diets rich in fatty foods, particularly meat, and much less common in countries eating diets rich in grains, vegetables, and fruits. One reason is that foods affect the action of hormones in the body. They also affect the strength of the immune system and other factors. While fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals to protect the body, by contrast, recent research shows that animal products contain potentially carcinogenic compounds which may contribute to increased cancer risk. 5

In addition to tobacco use and diet, other factors, including physical activity, reproductive and sexual behavior, 4 bacterial and viral infections, and exposure to radiation and chemicals, may also contribute to the risk of certain forms of cancer. 4,6

Estimated Percentages of Cancer Due to Selected Factors 5,6

Diet                     35% to 60%
Tobacco                           30%
Air and Water Pollution 5%
Alcohol                              3%
Radiation                          3%
Medications                     2%

sources:
1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures—1997. Atlanta, GA: 1999.
2. Renehan A. Obesity and overall cancer risk. Presented at the Joint ECCO 15-34th ESMO Multidisciplinary Congress. Berlin, Germany, September 20-24, 2009. Abstract I-327.
3. Tonstad S, Butler T, Yan R, Fraser GE. Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:791-796.
4. Minamoto T, Mai M, Ronai Z. Environmental factors as regulators and effectors of multistep carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis. 1999;20(4):519-527.
5. Skog KI, Johansson MAE, Jagerstad MI. Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in model systems and cooked foods: a review on formation, occurrence, and intake. Food and Chem Toxicol. 1998;36:879-896.
6. Cummings JH, Bingham SA. Diet and the prevention of cancer. BMJ. 1998;317:1636-1640.

source: www.pcrm.org


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Energy Dense Foods May Increase Cancer Risk Regardless Of Obesity Status

Link between high dietary energy density in food and obesity-related cancer in normal weight individuals

Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types of cancer, less is known about how the ratio of energy to food weight, otherwise known as dietary energy density (DED), contributes to cancer risk. To find out, researchers looked at DED in the diets of post-menopausal women and discovered that consuming high DED foods was tied to a 10% increase in obesity-related cancer among normal weight women. Their findings are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

DED is a measure of food quality and the relationship of calories to nutrients. The more calories per gram of weight a food has, the higher its DED. Whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and beans are considered low-DED foods because they provide a lot of nutrients using very few calories. Processed foods, like hamburgers and pizza, are considered high-DED foods because you need a larger amount to get necessary nutrients. Previous studies have shown that regular consumption of foods high in DED contributes to weight gain in adults.

In order to gain a better understanding of how DED alone relates to cancer risk, researchers used data on 90,000 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative including their diet and any diagnosis of cancer. The team found that women who consumed a diet higher in DED were 10% more likely to develop an obesity-related cancer, independent of body mass index. In fact, the study revealed that the increased risk appeared limited to women who were of a normal weight at enrollment in the program.

 

“The demonstrated effect in normal-weight women in relation to risk for obesity-related cancers is novel and contrary to our hypothesis,” explained lead investigator Cynthia A. Thomson, PhD, RD, Professor of Health Promotion Sciences at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in Tucson, AZ. “This finding suggests that weight management alone may not protect against obesity-related cancers should women favor a diet pattern indicative of high energy density.”

Although restricting energy dense foods may play a role in weight management, investigators found that weight gain was not solely responsible for the rise in cancer risk among normal weight women in the study. They hypothesize that the higher DED in normal-weight women may cause metabolic dysregulation that is independent of body weight, which is a variable known to increase cancer risk.

While further study is needed to understand how DED may play a role in cancer risk for other populations such as young people and men, this information may help persuade postmenopausal women to choose low DED foods, even if they are already at a healthy body mass index.

“Among normal-weight women, higher DED may be a contributing factor for obesity-related cancers,” concluded Dr. Thomson. “Importantly, DED is a modifiable risk factor. Nutrition interventions targeting energy density as well as other diet-related cancer preventive approaches are warranted to reduce cancer burden among postmenopausal women.”

Story Source:
Materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Cynthia A. Thomson, Tracy E. Crane, David O. Garcia, Betsy C. Wertheim, Melanie Hingle, Linda Snetselaar, Mridul Datta, Thomas Rohan, Erin LeBlanc, Rowan T. Chlebowski, Lihong Qi. Association between Dietary Energy Density and Obesity-Associated Cancer: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.06.010

source: www.sciencedaily.com    August 17, 2017


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Dogs Detect Breast Cancer From Bandage: Researchers

Dogs can sniff out cancer from a piece of cloth which had touched the breast of a woman with a tumour, researchers said Friday, announcing the results of an unusual, but promising, diagnostic trial.

With just six months of training, a pair of German Shepherds became 100-percent accurate in their new role as breast cancer spotters, the team said.

The technique is simple, non-invasive and cheap, and may revolutionise cancer detection in countries where mammograms are hard to come by.

“In these countries, there are oncologists, there are surgeons, but in rural areas often there is limited access to diagnostics,” Isabelle Fromantin, who leads project Kdog, told journalists in Paris.
This means that “people arrive too late,” to receive life-saving treatment, she added. “If this works, we can roll it out rapidly.”

Working on the assumption that breast cancer cells have a distinguishing smell which sensitive dog noses will pick up, the team collected samples from 31 cancer patients.

These were pieces of bandage that patients had held against their affected breast.
With the help of canine specialist Jacky Experton, the team trained German Shepherds Thor and Nykios to recognise cancerous rags from non-cancerous ones.

“It is all based on game-playing” and reward, he explained.

After six months, the dogs were put to the test over several days in January and February this year.
This time, the researchers used 31 bandages from different cancer patients than those the dogs had been trained on.

One bandage was used per experiment, along with three samples from women with no cancer.

– Saving lives –

Each bandage was placed in a box with a large cone which the dogs could stick their noses into, sniffing at each in turn – four boxes per test.

The exercise was repeated once with each sample, meaning there were 62 individual responses from the dogs in all.

In the first round, the dogs detected 28 out of the 31 cancerous bandages – a 90-per cent pass rate, the researchers announced.

On the second try, they scored 100 per cent – sitting down in front of the box containing the cancerous sample with their muzzle pressed deep into the cone.

“There is technology that works very well, but sometimes simpler things, more obvious things, can also help,” said Amaury Martin of the Curie Institute, citing the many untested stories of dogs having detected cancer in their owners.
“Our aim was see if we can move from conventional wisdom to… real science, with all the clinical and research validation that this entails.”

This was the proof-of-concept phase of Kdog.

The next step will be a clinical trial with more patients and another two dogs, but the team is still in need of project funding.

The team believes that one day dogs may be replaced by “sniffing” machines, possibly armies of electronic diagnosticians dedicated to analysing samples that people far from clinics would send them by the post.

In the meantime, Experton said there is little danger of the trained dogs using their new-found skills to accost cancer sufferers outside the lab.

“These tests happen within a very specific work environment,” he explained. “In a different context, these dogs are unlikely to simply pounce on random people in the street.

The team says it is the only one to work with breast cancer detection from skin-touch samples.
Other research projects are testing canines’ ability to smell different types of cancer in samples of the skin itself, blood or urine, even the air people exhale.

In France, the chances of surviving ten years after a breast cancer diagnosis is about 85 percent, compared to around 50 per cent in poorer countries.

 

AFP                  March 25, 2017


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The Fruit that Protects Against Colon Cancer

While there has been a lot of controversy surrounding resveratrol supplements in recent times, new research from Pennsylvania State University closes the book on fruit containing the compound and its ability to protect against colon cancer. That’s promising news for the 95,500 Americans the American Cancer Society predicts will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year alone.

The new study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found that resveratrol—a plant nutrient known as a phytonutrient—may actually suppress colon cancer stem cells, giving researchers and sufferers of the disease alike hope for a new prevention and treatment strategy. Cancer stem cells are cells that are believed to drive the creation of new cancer cells and cancer tumors. The researchers found that in addition to suppressing colon cancer stem cells, resveratrol found in grapes also significantly reduced the number of cancer tumors—a whopping 50 percent reduction in the number of cancer tumors.

The same researchers also found that resveratrol in food combined with grape seed extract was an even more potent anti-cancer mixture than just resveratrol alone. They found that grape seed extract seemed to increase the potency of resveratrol.

Resveratrol has also shown great promise in the prevention and treatment of brain diseases, due to its ability to protect the brain from damage. In this capacity, resveratrol mops up harmful free radicals and protects against plaque that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

While it remains to be seen whether resveratrol supplements offer the many health benefits of the compound that is naturally found in foods, it is clear that the food sources of this plant nutrient may offer protection against diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Some research even links the nutrient to the protection against damage from the heavy metal cadmium. Cadmium is found in cigarettes, black rubber, burned motor oil, some ceramics, fungicides (like those sprayed on apples, potatoes and tobacco), some refined wheat flour, tires, silver polish, some water and some soft drinks (from vending machines with cadmium in the pipes). It may also protect the kidneys against damage from the antibiotic gentamicin.

The food mixture used in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine study involved a blend of grape skins and grape seeds. This combination offers both resveratrol and grape seed extract. I use a high-powered blender to blend whole purple grapes that contain seeds into a drink so it is easier to obtain the health benefits of grape seeds, without the unpleasant texture so many people dislike. Stir periodically as you’re drinking the grape juice blend to ensure the seed and grape skin pulp are mixed.

Experts have been recommending high amounts of colorful produce in our diet for years. Research like this new study offer greater insight into the rationale for doing so: colorful fruits and vegetables tend to have the highest amounts of phytonutrients. Purple and blue foods tend to have the highest amounts of resveratrol, but the plant nutrient is high in many foods, including: purple grapes, purple grape juice, red wine, raspberries, mulberries, blueberries, peanuts, grape seed extract, eucalyptus and spruce.

While many people tout red wine as the best source of the nutrient, the alcohol (and frequently sulfite) content offset some of its health benefits. Fresh purple grapes and grape juice tend to be the best sources of resveratrol.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook    July 1, 2017
About Michelle    Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook