The FDA has announced that samples of ranitidine, an H2 Blocker used for upset stomach, reflux and ulcers sold generically and under the brand name of Zantac, were found to have the contaminant N-nitroso dimethylamine (NDMA).  This is one of the chemicals that prompted the generic ARB blood pressure medication recalls last year.

There have been no reports of users becoming ill and no recall has been suggested at this time. In animals, NDMA is known to cause liver and lung cancer.  In humans its carcinogenic risk is unknown, however the CDC states it may cause liver function impairment and cirrhosis.

The FDA writes:

THE FDA IS NOT CALLING FOR INDIVIDUALS TO STOP TAKING RANITIDINE AT THIS TIME; HOWEVER, PATIENTS TAKING PRESCRIPTION RANITIDINE WHO WISH TO DISCONTINUE USE SHOULD TALK TO THEIR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL ABOUT OTHER TREATMENT OPTIONS. PEOPLE TAKING OTC RANITIDINE COULD CONSIDER USING OTHER OTC MEDICINES APPROVED FOR THEIR CONDITION. THERE ARE MULTIPLE DRUGS ON THE MARKET THAT ARE APPROVED FOR THE SAME OR SIMILAR USES AS RANITIDINE.
CONSUMERS AND HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS SHOULD REPORT ANY ADVERSE REACTIONS WITH RANITIDINE TO THE FDA’S MEDWATCH PROGRAM TO HELP THE AGENCY BETTER UNDERSTAND THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM:

The investigation is ongoing and more needs to be looked at when it comes to this manufacturing process suspected to result in these “impurities” being made.

Last year NDEA was also found in the generic  blood pressure medications that were the subject of recall, however has not yet been suggested as being present in ranitidine.

N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA) was the third chemical detected resulting in the latest two recalls of losartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker commonly used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure).  It is believed to have been created during the manufacturing process of the generic drug.

NMBA, according to Toronto Research Chemicals, is a known carcinogen in a wide range of animal species.

Last Fall, ScieGen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recalled certain lots of Irbesartan, a similar angiotensin receptor blocker used in blood pressure management.

The recalls initially began last summer when FDA recalled a number of lots of valsartan due to an “impurity,” N-nitroso dimethylamine (NDMA) that is known to cause cancer in animals.  Weeks later they additionally found traces of N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA).

According to Reuters, earlier last summer, the MHRA, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, located in the UK, said the appearance of the impurity, N-nitroso dimethylamine (NDMA), came after a change in the process for making valsartan at one facility owned by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals, a company in Linhai, China.

With NDEA, data is limited, but due to its classification as a nitrosamine and its prevalence in tobacco smoke it is classified as a probable human carcinogen.

According to New Jersey Department of Health’s website, NDEA has been linked to liver, lung and gastrointestinal tract cancer in animals.

Losartan, valsartan and Irbesartan are medications in the class of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) used for high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

Those taking either tablet for their blood pressure are urged to not abruptly stop their medication but rather check with their medical provider and pharmacy to see if their particular prescription is involved in the recall.

I suspect more recalls will follow as processes may be similar across multiple pharmaceutical facilities and NMBA, NDMA and NDEA are byproducts that may not be individually unique to just one “brand” of medication manufacturing.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health

70 year-old music legend, Edward Mahoney “Eddie Money,” revealed in a video released by his realty TV series “Real Money” that he has stage 4 esophageal cancer.

The episode airs on AXS TV on September 12 and discusses how he went in for a routine screen when he was diagnosed.

He recently underwent heart valve surgery and reports say he also battled pneumonia.

Despite the cancer having spread to his liver, lymph nodes and stomach, he appears optimistic saying cancer has come a long way since the 1950’s and 60’s and “everyday above ground is a good day.”

What is esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere along the gullet/food pipe.  There are different types such as adenocarcinoma (lower portion near the stomach), more commonly seen in Caucasians, and squamous cell carcinoma (middle to upper esophagus) more commonly seen in African Americans.  It’s the 6th common cause of cancer death worldwide and comprises 1% of all cancers diagnosed in the US.

According to the American Cancer Society, estimates for 2019 include:

  • ABOUT 17,650 NEW ESOPHAGEAL CANCER CASES DIAGNOSED (13,750 IN MEN AND 3,900 IN WOMEN)
  • ABOUT 16,080 DEATHS FROM ESOPHAGEAL CANCER (13,020 IN MEN AND 3,060 IN WOMEN)

a-medical-illustration-of-esophageal-cancer-original.jpg

 

What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Early esophageal cancer may not exhibit any signs. However if it progresses, symptoms may include any of the following:

  • abdominal pain
  • heartburn
  • feeling full despite not eating
  • nausea
  • vomiting blood
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • chest pain
  • cough 

What are the risk factors for esophageal cancer?

Although esophageal cancer appears to afflict men more than women, risk factors  include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Frequent imbibing of hot liquids
  • Obesity
  • Chronic GERD or heartburn that may have led to esophagus lining changes such as Barrett’s Esophagus disease
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Drinking liquids that contain lye, an alkaline  chemical present in many soaps
  • Prior radiation to the chest 

What is the prognosis of esophageal cancer?

If caught early and localized, the 5-year survival rate is over 45%. However, if it has spread, the 5 year survival rate can range any where from 5-20%.

How is esophageal cancer treated?

There are a variety of treatments for esophageal cancer including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Published in Health

One of my best friends’ wife has a rare form of cancer.  Just diagnosed.

 

Another one of my best friends has another form of cancer.  Radiation is knocking the crap out of him.

 

Another one of my best friends died of pancreatic cancer a few years back.

 

In the immortal words of a certain Democrat running for his Presidential nomination in the clown show, “it’s a big effing deal”.

 

It is.  And that particular candidate, whatever his level of knowledge and competence is, says he wants to cure it as part of his campaign.

 

Now, in fairness, once you get into the first few minutes of the third period of life (isn’t everybody a hockey fan?), it’s not quite as big a deal as when you are in your 30s, but we live in a world where we simply do not expect a disease to eradicate us. Our expectations are the other way around.

 

Back in 1991, Ervin “Magic” Johnson announced that he had tested positive for the HIV virus which is a precursor for AIDS.  Back then, I was running the basketball radio network for Oral Roberts University in addition to owning a group of Oklahoma radio stations.

 

I vividly remember some young players(several of whom have retired from the NBA now) asking the late coach, Ken Trickey, when they would find a cure for AIDS.

 

“When,” said one of the best coaches and human beings it has ever been my privilege to know, “the research money runs out.”

 

The truth is often unsettling.

 

When President John F. Kennedy launched us in a race to the moon, we, as a nation, got it done inside a decade.  There was little or no political pushback. First, we were in a race with the Russians.  And, second, we had pure research being funded by the Federal government.  Finally, there was a specific goal.  To land astronauts on the moon and bring them back to Earth safely.

 

Over the years, we have not cured AIDS, but it is no longer a virtual death sentence.  For lack of a better term, we have contained it.  And Magic Johnson played a role.  So did George W. Bush, when he was President.  But the major reason is very hard-working scientists and researchers.  And 28 years.

 

One of the reasons that the Federal government can’t do a cancer moon shot today is that the elites in Washington have worked themselves into a position where nobody—literally nobody—trusts them anymore to do the right thing for the right reasons.

 

On one hand you have a President who has the support of what Hillary Clinton calls the deplorables.

 

And on the other, you have all of the Democrat clown show who hates the President and will do almost anything to deny him a crumb.

 

Frankly, if President Trump were to single-handedly cure cancer, on his own dime, the Democrats would accuse him of conspiring to overpopulate the Earth.

 

That said, most of what happens in Washington is designed to make some segment of voting America feel good.  The truth is that most of Congress is focused on first getting elected and then retaining power.  Life amongst the elite is pretty good—for them.

 

Going to the moon, made us—both the idiots in Washington as well as you and me—feel really good.  I remember exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong hopped off the step of the Eagle landing module onto the moon.  Even though I grew up in the town where penicillin was discovered, that discovery never galvanized the whole small city, much less the whole country although it was a great public good.

 

Sadly, the eradication of cancer will never have a big enough political effect to allow us to attack it the same way we got to the moon.

 

That said, it will happen—maybe even during this third period assuming no overtime.

 

It will happen because the researchers working on it are incredibly smart people and don’t need a President to declare war on a disease to be motivated.

 

Government cannot solve all—or even most—of mankind’s problems.  Only smart people can.

 

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Fred Weinberg is a columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. His column has been reprinted in full, with permission. 

 

Published in Opinion

Last month in the United Kingdom, more than 5,000 people stood in line in the rain - for hours, to see if they were a potential stem cell match for a young boy battling cancer. You see, back in December 2018, 5 year old Oscar Saxelby-Lee had been diagnosed with “acute lymphoblastic leukaemia” when the family took him to Birmingham Children’s Hospital over Christmas. Oscar was just feeling, “unwell.” The family was certainly not expecting to hear that Oscar had leukemia.   

But he did. And it was a particularly rare and aggressive kind of cancer, too. Only a few hundred people, in the UK (where all of this took place) per year are afflicted.  Oscar underwent four weeks of successful chemotherapy but then the doctors said he would need a stem cell transplant within a few months. 

Oscar's community and school reached out via social media and told the UK about Oscar and his cause. Tens of thousands of people reached out to help including the aforementioned 5,000 that stood in the rain. Usually in these circumstances, a family member would donate stem cells but neither of the parents were a close match. Thankfully, three people, out of several thousand - were found to be a perfect match for Oscar. 

From the Hand in Hand for Oscar Facebook page: 

"We have the best news to share! Oscar has a match!!!! Absolutely thrilled to announce Oscar has finally got a stem cell match, not just one but three and will be undergoing transplant very soon!! What an emotional rollercoaster it's literally been a journey of heartache and dread continuously, but...WOW!!!  What a feeling of relief and positivity to help Oscar kick cancer's butt!! It's been so so traumatic but we are over the moon with being given a chance to tackle the next step in treatment. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts to all of you out there who have registered, supported and continued to spread the word for our beautiful boy and those in need of wonderous bone marrow cells. We could never have done this without you all!!”

Before the transplant could happen, Oscar needed four days of radiotherapy, which he received, and last week - Oscar was found to be free of leukaemia blast cells. The stem cell transplant is the only thing left. 

I’ll update more on Oscar as soon as I hear.

Published in Health

WSB radio reports hundreds of experts have signed a UN and WHO petition to warn against the cancer risks and medical dangers of AppleAirPods.

The EMF (electromagnetic frequency) radio waves emitted from the Bluetooth technology has been proven to cause health effects in “living organisms.”

And with its close proximity to the human skull, scientists are nervous.

WSB reports:

NOT ONLY DID THE PETITION MENTION CANCER, IT ALSO SAID NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS AND DNA DAMAGE HAVE BEEN LINKED TO EMF EXPOSURE AS WELL.ALTHOUGH HIGH LEVELS OF EMF CAN GENERATE HEAT, CAUSE BURNS AND AFFECT CELL GROWTH IN HUMANS, SCIENTISTS HAVE NOT DETERMINED THE IMPACT OF LARGE AMOUNTS OF RELATIVELY LOW-LEVEL EMF EXPOSURE, PRODUCED BY DEVICES LIKE THE AIRPODS.
ALTHOUGH HIGH LEVELS OF EMF CAN GENERATE HEAT, CAUSE BURNS AND AFFECT CELL GROWTH IN HUMANS, SCIENTISTS HAVE NOT DETERMINED THE IMPACT OF LARGE AMOUNTS OF RELATIVELY LOW-LEVEL EMF EXPOSURE, PRODUCED BY DEVICES LIKE THE AIRPODS.
AND DESPITE THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION’S (WHO) GUIDELINES FOR THE LEVELS OF EMF THAT DEVICES ARE ALLOWED TO EXPOSE, THE SUPPORTERS OF THE PETITION DO NOT THINK THE RECOMMENDATIONS ARE GOOD ENOUGH.

Study Finds Link Between Cell Phones and Cancer

A study from the National Institutes of Health last year reported “clear evidence” that cell phone radiation may be connected to cancer of the adrenal glands and brain.

Tests were performed on mice and rats, using much higher levels of radiation than humans are exposed to. However, only the male rats demonstrated increase risk of brain tumors.

The study performed by Dr. John Bucher and colleagues at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in North Carolina tested radio frequency radiation (RFR) used in 2G and 3G cell phones. The minimum amount of radiation given to the mice would be considered the maximum amount of radiation federal regulators allow on humans. The maximum amount of radiation given to the mice was 4X higher than the maximum allowed in humans.

Hence this was a study that looked at extreme conditions that the average human is not exposed to. However, they cite “clear evidence” that the radiation incited tumors in the rats.

For more on the study see here.

Now in August of 2018, a large study from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain, however, found no clear evidence of brain tumor risk with cell phone use.

Researchers in this study looked at 9000 people from seven different countries, having a range of occupations, and interviewed them on their occupational electromagnetic frequency (EMF) use. Sciencealert.com reports 4000 of these patients had brain tumors (glioma and meningioma) and were compared to the other 5000 who didn’t.

The good news is they did not find a correlation between those who sustained a brain tumor and those with high EMF exposure. However the bad news is they found only a small percentage of those studied actually would be deemed to have “High EMF” exposure hence leaving us still questioning if too much cell phone exposure is still risky.

Study author Javier Villa states, “Although we did not find a positive association, the fact that we observed indication of an increased risk in the group with most recent radiofrequency exposure deserves further investigation,” and suggests, “we shouldn’t worry for now, but we do need to focus future efforts on making sharper tools to analyse any hypothetical risk.”

What do cell phones emit?

Cell phones emit radio waves. These are a form of non-ionizing radiation that provides an energy source through radio frequency.  Ionizing radiation is emitted by xrays, cosmic rays, and radon, and have been linked to cancer as it is a high frequency, high energy form of electromagnetic radiation.  Non-ionizing radiation include radio waves, microwaves, visible light, UV light, infrared, and lasers.  Although UV radiation may cause skin cancer, the other sources are deemed less dangerous than their ionizing radiation counterparts.

Can cell phone use cause cancer?

One of the more recent studies unveiled in May of 2016 reported cell phone radiation caused brain tumors in mice.  Rats exposed to the radiofrequency radiation for 7-9 hours a day, seven days a week, were more prone to develop the malignant gliomas as well has tumors in the heart.  This study was not intended to be translated to human risk, but of course it made headlines and scared us silly.

Prior to this, in 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

However, multiple studies have been done, as descriptively outlined by the National Cancer Institute, and are assuring us that there is no imminent danger by our daily use of cell phones.  The NCI also provides recommendations from the CDC, FDA, and FCC stating not enough evidence exists to establish a link between cell phones and cancer.

Can cell phone radiation injure our body’s cells?

Although arguments continue over cell phone radiation causing cancer, it has been proven that heat is given off. Many people complain their ear gets hot after lengthy cell phone use and studies have yet to determine if cell  phone heat can cause oncogenic changes in cells.  They’ve studied if the radiation affects metabolic activity, and a team led by Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found visible brain activity changes on the side the cell phone was being used. They recommended after this study keeping the cell phone away from the body and using a lower radiation emitting phone.

So now what?

We wait and see. My suggestion is to not overdo it with our phones. Use the speaker setting when practical so as to not consistently hug the phone to your skull. Take breaks in between lengthy calls. Text when appropriate to minimize exposure as well.

The following has been recommended for both children and adults:

  • Keeping the phone away from the body
  • Reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak
  • Reducing the use of cell phones to stream audio or video, or to download or upload large files
  • Keeping the phone away from the bed at night
  • Removing headsets when not on a call
  • Avoiding products that claim to block radio frequency energy. These products may actually increase your exposure.

Or do what I do when I talk to my mother, hold the phone 3 feet away from my head.  I can still hear her…..just fine……

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Published in Health

The 78 year-old iconic game show host has revealed last week that he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, vowing  to “fight this” deadly malignancy.

However, in an interview with Business Insider, he admitted to having a Milky Way and diet soda for breakfast every day, “A Diet Coke or a Diet Pepsi or a Diet Dr. Pepper,” especially on taping days.

A Stage 4 is given to cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Each year over 55,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, whose 5-year survival rate is 5%.  Older individuals who are healthy can do as well as those who are younger when diagnosed with advanced stage of the disease.  However some sources cite the median survival time is between 2 and 6 months if the cancer is diagnosed at a late stage.

What are the risk factors for pancreatic cancer?

Known risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Older individuals
  • Male (though women are affected as well)
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol use
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Genetics
  • African-American descent
  • Ashkenazi Jewish descent
  • Obesity
  • High fat diet
  • Hepatitis B
  • H. pylori infection
  • BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations
  • Can Diet Soda CAUSE Diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners have been linked to diabetes and diabetes is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.  Their relationship to pancreatic cancer, however, still remains controversial.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Published in Health
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Mexican scientist cures HPV (kind of)

Mexican researchers had a major breakthrough in treating HPV (Human Papillomavirus), the most common sexually transmitted disease. In fact, the CDC states that almost 80 million Americans are infected with HPV with approximately 14 million people becoming newly infected per year. Those are just the numbers in the U.S. alone.

 

What exactly is HPV?

 

HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses, named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause. Some other HPV types can lead to cancer. According to the CDC website:

 

“In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.

Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.

 

HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer). Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.”

 

According to, El Universal, a popular Mexican newsite, a research team at Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute led by Eva Ramon Gallegos, was able to eliminate HPV in dozens of patients using a non-invasive photodynamic therapy. Which makes us all ask, what is photodynamic therapy? Well, according to cancer.gov:

 

“Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses a drug, called a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent, and a particular type of light. When photosensitizers are exposed to a specific wavelength of light, they produce a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells.”

 

Sounds like science fiction to me but whatever works! Anyway, according to Ramon’s study, the team was able to eliminate HPV in 100 percent of patients that had no premalignant lesions and in 64.3 percent of subjects with lesions.

 

Now, I know that viral headlines all across the internet screamed the HPV has been cured but, um - not so fast. There are over 100 different kinds of HPV. Some cause health problems, some do not. Some, but not many, cause cancer. One of the reasons cancer is so hard to cure is because each type of cancer will require a completely different cure. Something that cures cervical cancer, for example, will probably not cure breast cancer. And something that cures type 6,11,16 and 18 (most of the problematic HPV types) types of HPV might not work on other types of HPV.

 

As pointed out by Liz Highleyman, the editor in chief at www.cancerhealth.com in her A Cure for HPV, not so fast…, there are too many forms of HPV to claim they have all been cured. Highleyman notes the Mexican  research only focused on two types of HPV. So, while the research is good news, it’s not exactly a full cure. From her article:   

 

It’s not clear how photodynamic treatment might eliminate HPV infection, which would seem to require some type of antiviral therapy. But there’s clearly something going on.  

Despite the unanswered questions raised by the recent reports, the findings from the Mexican study are good news for people with HPV-associated dysplasia. Photodynamic therapy is well tolerated and noninvasive. Using PDT instead of surgery to remove precancerous tissue could help preserve function in people with anal lesions and the ability to carry a pregnancy in women with cervical lesions.

 

The news also presents an opportunity to promote HPV vaccination. The new Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against several of the most common cancer-causing HPV types (16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) and two wart-causing types (6 and 11). It is recommended for girls and boys around age 11 or 12, before they become sexually active. However, the FDA recently approved the vaccine for women and men up to age 45, meaning people who were not vaccinated as teens or young adults may still be able to benefit.”

 

Okay. So perhaps “cures HPV” is too strong a statement. But things seem to be heading in the right direction!

Published in Health

A recent study published in the Lancet finds Millennials to be at much higher risk for cancer than their parents and grandparents ever were.

Those born between 1981 and 1997 appear to be at increased risk of cancer of the:

  • colon
  • pancreas
  • uterus
  • bone marrow
  • gallbladder
  • kidney
  • and more.

Study authors cite obesity as the main culprit.

The CDC reports the prevalence of obesity was 35.7% among young adults aged 20 to 39 years.

In 2016 the International Agency for Research and Cancer listed multiple cancers in which obesity plays a role.  They include the above as well as breast, ovarian, and esophageal cancer.

Why is obesity linked to cancer?

Studies have found obesity to alter hormone levels which could incite cells to rapidly divide. Fat acts as if it's another organ, inducing signals that can affect insulin, sugar and fat metabolism and can induce inflammation when it accumulates around other organs.

Moreover it could be an associative relationship in which those who are obese may have poor diets and exercise habits which are linked to cancer as well.

In the above study, non-obesity related cancer, such as lung, appears to be at less risk for millennials as many are saying no to tobacco products.

However, other causes could be at play such as radiation exposure.  The verdict is not yet out on vaping either.

Study authors state:

IMPORTANTLY, THE FINDINGS SUGGEST THE NEED FOR FURTHER CLOSE EPIDEMIOLOGICAL MONITORING OF CANCER INCIDENCE TRENDS IN YOUNGER ADULTS AND HIGHLIGHT THE NEED FOR RIGOROUS AETIOLOGICAL STUDIES OF EXPOSURES THAT COULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TRENDS.
Published in Health

Let’s face it… Pap Smears aren’t fun. The only test to sample tissue for cervical cancer just happens to be one of the most embarrassing and awkward but it can be one of the most life saving and simple.  So what is it and how does it work?  Here’s your questions answered.

What is the cervix and what is cervical cancer?

The uterus looks similar to a light bulb.  The larger top portion being where the fetus develops, and the bottom, narrower area, the cervix.  The cervix thins and dilates during childbirth, as you’ve heard in the movies “she’s only 7 cm!” and then after childbirth becomes narrow again.  It affects nearly 13,000 and kills 4,100 women each year, rising each year.  It can affect women of any age but is more common between 20 and 50.

What causes cervical cancer?

The most common cause is HPV (Human Papillomavirus), especially HPV-16 and HPV-18.  This is acquired through unprotected sex, so condom use is encouraged. Thus it's one of the most preventable causes of cancer.  Additionally, there are 3 vaccines for HPV currently approved by the FDA, Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Early cervical cancer may not be symptomatic but as it develops it may cause an odor, pain with urination, pelvic pain and bleeding. This bleeding may occur after sex, a pelvic exam, or intermittent bleeding not associated with a menstrual cycle.

Is cervical cancer treatable?

Yes. Early detection is key and can be done by a Pap Smear, explained below.  Multiple treatments are available including surgery, chemotherapy,  radiation therapy, and targeted therapy such as Bevacizumab (Avastin®) which prevents new blood vessel growth that can feed a tumor.

Who should get screened for Cervical Cancer?

The USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) recommends the following:

Screening for cervical cancer in women age 21 to 65 years with cytology (Pap smear) every 3 years or, for women age 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, screening with a combination of cytology and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years.

What is a Pap Smear?

It is the cytology (cell analysis) of the cervix.  Years ago, a cytobrush would collect the cells and the medical provider would “smear” it onto a slide, place fixative, and then send it to the laboratory for the pathologist to analyze it.  Now ThinPrep® Pap tests are used more commonly as the cells from the brush are placed into a container with fixative, and this vial is sent to the pathologist to spin down and analyze.

In order to obtain the cells from the cervix, the medical provider needs to use a speculum to open the vaginal canal and allow access to the uterus.  A woman may be in the lithotomy position…lying on one’s back on the exam table with her feet in stirrups and knees bent. During the speculum exam, the medical provider may take cultures to test for common vaginal infections such as yeast, bacteria vaginosis, or sexually transmitted illnesses such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.  After the speculum exam, the provider may perform a pelvic exam with her gloved hand to examine the uterus and ovaries, evaluating for tenderness, shape, size and masses.

How is an HPV test done?

An HPV test can be done with the cells obtained during the Pap Smear. The laboratory evaluates the cells to see if the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer is present.

In summary the thousands of deaths that occur each year to cervical cancer can be prevented with simple testing, such as the Pap Smear. Discuss with your medical provider when cervical cancer screening is best for you.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Published in Health

Breast cancer affects thousands of men and women each year and screening is unfortunately overlooked all too often.

Many women find mammograms painful and embarrassing hence hesitate when urged to get screened.

And some men may not realize they too have breast tissue and are at risk for breast cancer.

mcdc7_gynecomastia-8col.jpg

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and #ShirtsOff reminds us to examine ourselves, get screened, and look for changes in our breasts.

Signs of breast cancer include

  • A lump inside the breast or under the arm
  • Breast pain
  • Change in breast shape
  • Dimpling
  • Nipple discharge
  • Nipple bleeding
  • Rash
  • Sore on the breast
  • Discoloration
  • Change in skin texture

How common is breast cancer?

 

1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US with 63,960 cases of non-invasive breast cancer, a rise from last year.

40,920 women and 480 men are expected to die this year of breast cancer.

 

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

 

Risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Age greater than 50
  • Family History
  • BRAC1 and BRAC2 genetic mutations
  • Alcohol use
  • Never been pregnant or becoming pregnant for the first time over 35 years old
  • Early menarche at age 11 or younger
  • Obesity, especially after menopause
  • Dense breasts
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Previous “precancerous” tumors such as atypical hyperplasia
  • DES exposure
  • Previous radiation therapy

How is breast cancer staged?

 

Breast cancer is staged based on size of the tumor, if lymph nodes are affected and whether the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body.  Prognosis varies greatly on the stage.

 

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IMAGE ABOVE FROM JOHNSTON HEALTH

 

Is family history a huge factor?

 

85% of breast cancer cases occur in women with NO family history.

 

Screening of breast cancer

 

Mammograms are the first line screening tool for breast cancer and are currently recommended biennial for women aged 50-74.  However for those at higher risk, mammogram screening should start earlier, with possible follow-up ultrasound, and be performed more regularly.

 

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3-D MAMMOGRAM IMAGE

 

3-D Mammograms use some of the most sensitive technology in screening.

Dr. William Boren, owner of West Valley Imaging in Las Vegas, Nevada, states “3-D Mammograms reportedly find up to 40% more cancers, allowing a topographic view of the tissue.”

Dr. Boren also recommends to “not leave big gaps between screening.  If you start screening at age 40, then continue yearly screens.”

 

mammogram 2018.jpg

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

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