Thursday, July 28, 2016

Alcohol causes 7 types of cancer - at least

(Photo: Doug McSchooler, AP)
(NEWSER) – Health experts are calling for warning labels on booze, like those on tobacco products, based on a new study that finds alcohol is a direct cause of at least seven forms of cancer. Drink only a little? You're still at risk, scientists write in the journal Addiction.

After reviewing 10 years' worth of data from agencies including the World Cancer Research Fund, researchers conclude drinking is a direct cause of not just liver cancer, but also cancer of the colon, rectum, breast, oropharynx, larynx, and esophagus, reports the Guardian. "The highest risks are associated with the heaviest drinking but a considerable burden is experienced by drinkers with low to moderate consumption," says study author Jennie Connor. She tells the Telegraph there's actually no safe level of drinking in reference to cancer. As CNET puts it, "you booze, you lose."

Drinking 50 grams of alcohol per day—about 2.6 beers or roughly three 6-ounce glasses of wine—results in a four to seven times greater risk of cancer in the oropharynx, larynx, and esophagus, and a 1.5 times greater risk of the others, compared to consuming no alcohol at all, reports Live Science. Alcohol may also cause skin, prostate, and pancreatic cancer, says Connor, adding the purported benefits of alcohol are "seen increasingly as ... irrelevant in comparison to the increase in risk of a range of cancers."

Scientists aren't sure how alcohol causes cancer, but acetaldehyde—the compound formed when alcohol breaks down—damages the DNA of cells in the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver. The good news: Those who stopped drinking reduced their risk of cancer in the larynx, throat, and liver, with the risk continuing to fall the longer they steered clear of booze. (Good thing we're drinking less.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Shannen Doherty completely shaves off her hair in breast cancer battle

Shannen Doherty with mother Rosa and friends (c) Instagram
Shannen Doherty has completely shaved off her hair during breast cancer battle. The 45-year-old 'Charmed' actress - who has been battling the life threatening illness for over one year after being diagnosed in March last year - has taken to social media to document the process of her shaving off her head with a string of photographs showing the process.

Alongside a black and white picture of the star posing with her mother Rosa and her friends, which sees Shannen with her bald head, she thanked her family and friends for their support during her fight against the illness. She wrote on her Instagram account on Monday (07.25.16): "Thank you to these three who helped me thru an impossibly tough day and continue to be there every minute supporting and loving me. @kurtiswarienko was in Mexico working but knew he left me in good hands. @annemkortright @chriscortazzo #mamarosa I love you. #mycrew #thisisasquad (sic)."

The '90210' alumni - who starred in the series for four years in 1990 - also shared pictures of her trimming her dark locks captioning each image by steps with friend Anne Kortright-Shilstat by her side. Shannen - who is currently married to her third husband Kurt Iswarienko - revealed she had been diagnosed with cancer in August 2015 after she filed a lawsuit against her former management and accounting firm, Tanner, Mainstain, Glynn & Johnson, who she took action against for allegedly failing to pay her SAG [Screen Actor's Guild] medical insurance without her knowledge.

In court documents, the actress accused the firm of ignoring an invoice to pay her insurance premium in early 2014. Shannen re-enrolled in the program this year shortly before doctors discovered she has "invasive breast cancer metastatic to at least one lymph node." Her medical team believe the cancer spread last year and would have been easier to treat if it had been detected earlier, but she failed to get a check-up at the time due to her lack of insurance.

During this time Shannen claimed the disease spread because she didn't have up to date health insurance and consequently didn't receive thorough care to help combat the disease from spreading. Meanwhile, in February this year Shannen was torn between having a mastectomy or a lumpectomy to remove the tumour. Speaking previously she said: "Ultimately, they're just breasts, right? I mean, I love them, they're mine, they're beautiful, but in the grand scheme of things, I would rather grow old with my husband [Kurt]."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Problems After Using Hair Conditioner Prompt An FDA Warning

Hair products aren't at the top of most people's health worry list, but the Food and Drug Administration is investigating a surprisingly high number of reports of problems after people used a particular cleansing conditioner.

As of July 7, the FDA had received 127 complaints of "hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching, and rash" after people used Wen by Chaz Dean cleansing conditioner products — more reports than the agency has ever received for a cosmetic hair product. "This kind of report is very rare," says Paradi Mirmirani, a dermatologist in Vallejo, Calif.

"For the most part, shampoo products out there are all very safe." The agency's safety alert says it has not determined a possible cause for the problems reported. Late last year, mediation began for a class-action lawsuit in California against Guthy-Renker, the company that markets and manufactures Wen. The FDA doesn't approve cosmetics before they go on the market, though it does set upper limits for bacteria in cosmetics and hygiene products.

Instead, says Linda Katz, director of the FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors, the agency monitors consumer complaints for many factors to decide whether to investigate a product. In this case, the sheer number of complaints played a role in the decision. The agency says it is investigating more than 21,000 complaints reported to Chaz Dean Inc. and Guthy-Renker. (Gianna Cesa, a PR representative for Chaz Dean, says the company did not receive this number of complaints.) Katz says she can't discuss any working hypotheses associated with the investigation, though she did say investigators have no reason to believe the product was contaminated with something foreign, like microbes. For now, the FDA is still gathering information.

Officials will look at the product's quality testing and whether there have been any changes to how the product is made. In an email, a spokesman for Chaz Dean said the company stands behind its products and that "the brand has consistently cooperated with the FDA and will continue to do so." Dermatologists say hair care products can cause these sorts of symptoms. One common reason is allergy. "There are thousands of ingredients that are in personal hair products," says Bruce Brod, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. "While most people in the population won't react to them, there's a small subpopulation that will."

Common allergy triggers include surfactants, the ingredients in shampoos and conditioners that make them sudsy, as well as preservatives that increase shelf life and chemicals used to create fragrances. These allergic reactions can occur regardless of whether a product is "all natural," says Mirmirani. "Lots of plants give people a reaction as well," she says, citing poison oak as an example. And because allergic reactions can take a while to occur, people may not immediately realize a hair product is causing issues.

But there are also causes of scalp problems that have nothing to do with cosmetics, says Nicole Rogers, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane Medical School. For example, she says, male-pattern or female-pattern baldness are both common causes of hair loss. Or a patient could suffer from alopecia areata, a disease in which the immune system attacks hair follicles. She says she believes it's unlikely the consumers' complaints are tied to Wen. Stress, changes in diet and pregnancy can cause hair loss as well, says Anthony Rossi, a dermatologist who serves as a consultant to Chaz Dean's PR firm. That said, all the doctors told Shots that people with scalp problems should visit a dermatologist and discuss hair products, along with other possible factors.

Doctors can do allergy tests on patients to analyze as many as 55 potential allergy triggers. It's important, says Brod, to look at all potential causes of symptoms, rather than looking at Internet chat rooms alone. "Often, there's a suggestive herd effect," he says. "If somebody says, 'I'm using something and it itches my scalp,' the person next to him will say, 'You know what? Me too.' " Katz of the FDA also urges people to visit doctors in addition to reporting complaints to the FDA. And if someone decides to switch from Wen to a different conditioner, Mirmirani says, "There's plenty more out there."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

New Report Says Stress Can Cause Hair Loss in Men

It turns out that the long-held belief that bald men are simply victims is only partially true. A new study by Dove Men+Care Hair confirms there are things men can do to prevent hair loss, and according to 90 percent of the hundreds of dermatologists polled, they don’t even know it. According to the American Hair Loss Association, by the age of 35, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss, and by the age of 50, approximately 85 percent of men have significantly thinning hair.

“Male pattern hair loss is mainly genetic and hormonal,” confirms Matthew Gass, spokesman for the British Association of Dermatologists. That said, lifestyle factors do contribute to hair loss, with the biggest one being stress — but not the kind you think. The vast majority of dermatologists consulted for the Dove study say that physical and environmental stresses are also to blame for hair fall. Related: Here’s What Fatherhood Looks Like When Men Get Generous Paternity Leave According to the study, these stressors include combing (75 percent), heat styling tools (66 percent), overstyling (60 percent) and pulling (57 percent).

In other words, typical components of everyday life. To demonstrate how life’s ups and downs can cause hair loss, Dove Men+Care released a video starring professional skateboarder Andy Shrock, who is seen swimming, playing sports, roughhousing with the family dog, and having his hair playfully pulled by his young son — ordinary activities that can slowly damage hair follicles. “I would never tell my patients they need to stop swimming in pools or playing with their kids who tug on their hair, but there are simple ways to protect against these elements’ contribution to his hair fall,” said board-certified dermatologist Glynis Ablon in a press release from Dove.

The company claims its new Dove Men+Care Fortifying shampoo and conditioner will keep a man’s hair “stronger and more resilient.” There are also lifestyle changes a man can make to ensure his hair stays healthy — and stays put. “Eat well, and include plenty of biotin and B complexes in the diet,” says Sharon Wong, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokeswoman. She recommends plenty of green leafy vegetables, eggs, protein-rich foods, soy, and fish, which contains omega 3 oils. “Avoid overstyling especially using products that contain heavy fragrances, which can cause scalp irritation and are wax-based, which can block the hair follicles, adds Wong.

Another interesting piece of advice? “Avoid too much meat,” Wong says. Gass adds: “Hair loss can cause psychological distress. If you feel hair loss is affecting you in this way then you should talk to your general practitioner about it.” He confirms that one important element balding men often overlook is the sun. “If you are losing your hair it is very important to protect your scalp from sun damage with either a hat or with a minimum of SPF 30 sunscreen.” In the Dove study, 49 percent of dermatologists agree that UV rays can affect hair loss. And, yes, psychological and emotional stress can play a role in hair shedding too. “De-stress through regular exercise and meditation,” Wong recommends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Preventing hair loss from chemo

Breast cancer treatment can be uncomfortable, but a newly approved product may allow some patients to avoid one unpleasant side effect to chemo treatment. A new cooling cap may help some patients save their hair.
“I feel like having long hair has always been a big part of who I am,” said Heather Chemtov.
She's half way through her chemotherapy for breast cancer and she still has her long, flowing hair. She wears the new DigniCap during chemotherapy.
She says, “I can rest. I can have a conversation. I can watch a movie, whatever I want to do to help pass the time.” 
Chemo patients lose their hair because blood flow delivers the toxins throughout the body, including to the hair follicles.
Elisa Krill-Jackson, M.D., a medical oncologist at Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, Florida explained, “If we put a frozen cap on somebody’s head, it slows the blood flow down significantly.” 
That means the hair follicles get less chemo. During the procedure, a machine circulates 32 degree gel into the cap.  FDA trials show the new cap works. Seventy percent of early stage breast cancer patients kept at least 50% of their hair, like  Heather, who’s grateful to recognize herself when she looks in the mirror.
“It makes this whole process so much easier and more comfortable at a time when really nothing is easy or comfortable,” Heather says.
An older gel-filled cap used to be an option for some patients, but that cap had to be replaced when it thawed. For Heather, the old cap had to be replaced up to 18 times a session. The new cap was FDA approved December 2015.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Most Aggressive Form of Prostate Cancer on the Rise

For decades, experts have said the diagnostic used to screen patients for prostate cancer is too unreliable to use routinely because it produces high rates of false positives and often results in additional unnecessary and invasive tests, as well as overtreatment. However, a new study suggests efforts to limit the use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test may be partially responsible for a rise in incidences of the most aggressive form of the disease.

The study, published Tuesday in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, suggests doctors may want to reconsider their approach to screening and monitoring the disease, since rates of metastatic prostate cancer have increased 72 percent in the past decade. The researchers also found rates of the this form the disease surged 92 percent in men 55 to 69 years old compared with men in other groups.

“These recent trends highlight the continued need for nationwide refinement in prostate cancer screening and treatment to prevent the morbidity and mortality associated with metastatic prostate cancer,” the researchers write in the study.

For the study, the researchers looked at data from the National Cancer Database (a registry jointly sponsored by the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society). The data accounted for more than 700,000 men who had received a diagnosis of prostate cancer between 2004 and 2013. The researchers say addressing this trend should be a health care priority, since treating late-stage prostate cancer is far costlier than PSA testing and additional screenings measures, such as biopsy, that are used to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis. Some experts suggest this form of prostate cancer is also becoming more aggressive, which is contributing to the rising number of cases. Others say it could be a combination of both factors.

PSA testing provides a measure of proteins produced by cells of the prostate gland. An elevated level of these proteins is typically found in men with prostate cancer. However, the test can be misleading because the protein level often rises as men age. In 2008 and 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force—an expert panel composed of independent physicians and supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—updated its PSA testing guidelines to promote a more judicious use of the test. Doctors have been quick to pick up on these recommendations.

The task force drew up these guidelines after reviewing current research that suggests only about one in every 1,000 men who opt for PSA testing averts death because of this screening. They also found that only one in about every 3,000 men tested dies from prostate cancer complications and many more are harmed due to subsequent tests performed as a result of PSA testing.

Biopsy—used to confirm and stage a prostate cancer diagnosis—poses short- and long-term risk for urinary and sexual dysfunction and can cause infection. Most men diagnosed with cases of prostate cancer don’t require immediate treatment. Instead, physicians are likely to recommend “watchful waiting,” meaning the cancer is monitored and only treated if it progresses significantly.

Early-stage prostate cancer has a survival rate of about 100 percent, but a late-stage metastatic form of the disease has only a five-year survival rate of about 28 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in the U.S.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Acupressure Helps Breast Cancer Survivors Reduce Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of cancer treatment that can persist long after treatment ends, but a new study has found that acupressure, a derivative of traditional Chinese medicine that puts pressure on Qi points using thumbs or devices, may provide women with some much-needed relief. Researchers found that the technique reduced fatigue by 27 percent to 34 percent over six weeks. In addition, two-thirds of women in the study who performed relaxing acupressure reported having normal fatigue levels.

The study findings were published in the journal JAMA Oncology. Researchers tested two types of acupressure — relaxing acupressure (used to treat insomnia) and stimulating acupressure (used to increase energy) — and compared these approaches with usual care involving typical sleep-management techniques. The study followed 270 women recruited from the Michigan Tumor Registry who had survived stage 0 to 3 breast cancer and had completed treatment at least 12 months earlier. The participants were randomized to relaxing acupressure (94 patients), stimulating acupressure (90 patients) or usual care (86 patients). Those chosen to do acupressure were taught within 15 minutes how to locate and stimulate the acupressure points with the correct amount of pressure.

Participants were instructed to perform it at home once a day for six weeks. By the end of the six weeks, more than half of participants using acupressure achieved normal fatigue levels: 66.2 percent in the relaxing acupressure group and 60.9 percent in the stimulating acupressure group. Relaxing acupressure also improved measures of sleep quality, including disrupted sleep and overall quality of life. With usual care, only 31.3 percent of women had normal fatigue levels. At week 10, 56.3 percent of women in the relaxing acupressure arm of the study maintained normal fatigue levels, as did 60.9 percent in the stimulating acupressure arm of the study, compared with 30.1 percent in the usual care group. Some women reported experiencing slight bruising on the sites where they were applying pressure, and 1 woman withdrew from the study as a result of this complaint.

About 12 percent of the women stopped participating in the study because they found acupressure to be too time consuming. Prior research suggests that acupuncture, which uses needles instead of pressure to stimulate Qi points, can be beneficial in curbing fatigue. However, it is often quite expensive and time consuming, requiring patients to visit a practitioner once or twice a week, a treatment often not covered by insurance. Acupressure, on the other hand, is simple to learn and can be done from the comforts of home. “Fatigue is an underappreciated symptom across a lot of chronic diseases, especially cancer. It has a significant impact on quality of life,” notes study author Suzanna Zick, a professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan. “Acupressure is easy to learn and patients can do it themselves … Given the brief training required to learn acupressure, this intervention could be a low-cost option for treating fatigue.”

 To help people learn how to perform acupressure, the researchers are developing a mobile teaching app. They will also explore why acupressure influences fatigue, look at its effects in patients going through treatment and its impact in people with cancers other than breast.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The "Blink and You'd Miss It" Breast Cancer Symptom

When you learn about breast cancer in health class or at the doctor's office, you're usually told to consult someone if you see a lump on your breast. But a viral photo posted to Facebook by breast cancer survivor Claire Warner shows another, less obvious sign of the disease.

“This is a picture of my left boob," she captioned it. "The minuscule dimple up and to the left of it is a rare and little-known symptom of breast cancer. Blink and you’d miss it. I only spotted it thanks to another post shared by an amazing friend.” Thanks to this post, she wrote, she caught the cancer "exceptionally early," underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, and has high hopes for recovery.

A similar Facebook post by a woman named Kylie Armstrong went viral earlier this year, pointing out three small dimples at the bottom of her breast that ultimately led to her cancer diagnosis. "I am sharing this because I hope I can make people aware that breast cancer is not always a detectable lump," she wrote.

"Skin dimpling" is indeed acknowledged as a sign of breast cancer, according to Healthline. Inflammatory breast cancer, which blocks the lymph vessels in the skin, is the usual type to cause the dimple-like pattern Warner and Armstrong exhibited. Between one and five percent of breast cancer diagnoses in the U.S. are of inflammatory cancer, which can also manifest through breast swelling, pain, and a burning sensation in the breasts.

Dimpling can also indicate a non-cancer-related conditioned called fat necrosis, but it's still worth going to the doctor to figure out what it is.

"PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check yourself (males as well as females) and get your loved ones to check themselves also," Warner advised others. "If I can help one other person, the way I was helped, then it’s been worth showing my soon-to-be-reduced left tit to the world." Amen to that.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Reality of Dry Shampoo

Getty Images
Aimée Lutkin

Dry shampoo is one of those things that seems too good to be true because it is.

Olga Khazan of The Atlantic wrote about her thinning hair, which appeared to correlate with an excessive layer of dry shampoo use: her hair part kept widening as she cut corners off a morning routine. After Googling to see if dry shampoo was the culprit behind all the clogs in her drain, she saw some disturbing photos and personal accounts (honestly the result of almost all Google searches).
She “unscientifically” polled 11 hair experts and dermatologists on their dry shampoopinions, and it looks like many women’s hair dry shampoo woes are the product of over-product:

According to them, women have fallen prey to a mass delusion that dry shampoo is actually shampoo. It’s not, in that it doesn’t clean your hair. It soaks up excess oil, and in the process, it irritates your scalp. That can lead to hair loss, as can the clumping that dry shampoo and other hair sprays sometimes cause.

“[Dry shampoo] deposits substances to coat the follicle that can build up,” Sonia Batra, a dermatologist in Los Angeles, told me. “The resulting inflammation can weaken the follicles and increase shedding. These products can also cause hair follicles to stick together, so that a hair that would normally shed during brushing may take two or three strands along with it.”

Basically, your clumpy dry shampoo is taking all your healthy hair with it. Most of the people she spoke with said that more than 3 times a week is excessive for dry shampoo use, and also that you should definitely avoid anything with talc in it, which has recently been linked to cancer.

Khazan also says that training your hair to get less oily by washing it less is a myth according to an actual dermatologist. If you have an oily scalp, you have an oily scalp. (As an amateur hair-haver, I disagree. I made the transition to washing less, which was harrowing, but worth the journey.)