Thursday, June 22, 2017

Exercise Cure: Working Out Cuts Cancer Risk in Half, Study Shows

A landmark new research project, analyzing the medical records of about 70,000 cancer patients, provides the strongest evidence yet that exercise slashes the risk of dying from the deadly disease. In fact, cancer patients who exercise regularly are almost half as likely as non-exercising peers to die from the life-threatening illness, the study reveals.

“Based on what scientific research tells us, if cancer patients exercise regularly they will significantly improve their health and well-being, potentially improving their longevity,” lead researcher Dr. Prue Cormie tells Newsmax Health. Cormie, a principal research fellow at the Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Health and Aging in Melbourne, Australia, conducted the study with Dr. Kathryn H. Schmitz.at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. She says she hopes the findings, published in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews, “will help inspire people with cancer to start exercising” and encourage doctors to “prescribe” physical fitness the way they would medication to treat cancer. “The real novelty and impact of this work comes from the fact that it is the most comprehensive analysis of the available data,” she explains.

“This research has established exercise as an effective medicine that can be prescribed to counteract the adverse effects caused by cancer treatments and reduce the relative risk of cancer death or cancer recurrence.” Cormie adds that the research suggests it doesn’t matter what type of exercise people do. Walking and lifting weights have been shown to be particularly beneficial, but other forms of exercise are also beneficial. To reach their conclusions, Cormie’s medical scientists analysed 100 studies worldwide to confirm key findings showing death rates among cancer patients who exercise regularly plunged by almost half — up to 44 percent — compared with those who didn’t.

The researchers excluded studies that didn’t differentiate between deaths from cancer and other causes. They also took into account other factors that might contribute to the differences. In addition to cutting cancer deaths, exercise was linked with a lower risk — up to 35 percent — of cancers recurring. Physical activity also reduced the impacts of side effects from chemotherapy and other treatments. Cancer death risks were also “significantly lower” for those who engaged in the highest levels of exercise, compared to those who did were not as physically active.

“The findings of this review support the view that exercise is an important adjunct therapy in the management of cancer,” the researchers concluded. “Compared with patients who performed no exercise, patients who exercised following a diagnosis of cancer were observed to have a lower relative risk of cancer mortality and recurrence and experienced fewer adverse effects. Dr. Kathy Chapman, chairwoman of Cancer Council Australia’s nutrition and physical activity committee, suggests the landmark study should change the way doctors care for cancer patients. "This study confirms the importance of recommending exercise to people with cancer,” she says. "The evidence has been building over the past 10 years that exercise should be an adjunct to regular cancer treatment — especially for people with bowel, breast and prostate cancer.

People with cancer who incorporate exercise into their lifestyle have better overall survival rates and also experience better quality of life. Exercise has been shown to be beneficial in alleviating fatigue, a common side effect of cancer treatment.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eating fried potatoes linked to higher risk of death, study says

How your spuds are cooked is key to your health. People who eat fried potatoes two or more times a week double their risk of an early death compared to those who avoid them, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Eating potatoes that have not been fried was not linked to a similar early mortality risk, the researchers noted. "Fried potatoes consumption is increasing worldwide," warned Dr. Nicola Veronese, lead author of the study and a scientist at the National Research Council in Padova, Italy.

In 2014, Americans consumed 112.1 pounds of potatoes per person, according to the National Potato Council. Of that total, 33.5 pounds were fresh potatoes, the remaining 78.5 pounds were processed. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the majority of processed potatoes Americans eat are French fries. Veronese and his colleagues have been tracking 4,440 people aged 45 to 79 over a period of eight years to study osteoarthritis. This research team decided to momentarily set aside the main issue of osteoarthritis and look at participants' consumption of potatoes. Even though most of us may have assumed that fried potatoes could be unhealthy for us, there is "very limited" scientific data on this issue, Veronese explained in an email. So the researchers divided study participants into subgroups based on how frequently they ate potatoes each week.

Over the eight years, a total of 236 of the participants died. Analyzing the data for each group, Veronese and his team found that those who ate fried potatoes two to three times each week doubled their chance of dying early compared to those who ate no fried potatoes. French fries, potato chips, hash browns -- and any other preparation requiring a fryer -- are all included under the umbrella of "fried potatoes," Veronese explained. Age or sex of participants did not influence the result, but the data showed men were more likely than women and younger participants were more likely than older participants to enjoy the fried food. The study is observational, meaning the researchers simply tracked the behavior of a group of people and found an association between one behavior -- eating fried potatoes -- and another factor -- early death.

Because it is an observational study, Veronese and his co-authors note it cannot be said that eating fried potatoes directly causes an early mortality -- it would require more research to draw such a firm conclusion. "Even if it is an observational study, we believe that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an important factor in explaining mortality in those eating more potatoes," said Veronese. Trans fat has been shown to raise the "bad," or LDL, cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Yet, he also added that "other important factors," including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and use of high quantities of salt might also play a role in the early death of those eating two or more portions of fried potatoes each week. National Potato Council CEO John Keeling said the "study isn't relevant to the general population" since the data was collected for an osteoarthritis study and includes only patients with arthritis.

"Potatoes are inherently a very healthy vegetable," said Keeling in an email. He said a medium-sized potato is 110 calories, has no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol, and provides nearly a third of the daily vitamin C requirement with more potassium than a banana. "How the potato is prepared will impact the calorie, fat and sodium content," said Keeling, however the basic nutrients remain "no matter how it is prepared." Based on the data in the study, Keeling said, "it is very much a stretch to brand fried potatoes, or any other form of potato, as unhealthy." Susanna Larsson, an associate professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, noted that the new study provides "no evidence" that potato consumption in and of itself may increase the risk of an early death. Larsson was not involved in the new study.

Instead, it may be the "other factors" suggested by Veronese himself. "Fried potato consumption may be an indicator of a less healthy (Western) dietary pattern which is associated with increased mortality," said Larsson, who also conducted a study of potato consumption. Her study did not find an increased risk of cardiovascular disease linked to eating potatoes. The potential danger when eating fried starchy foods, such as French fries, is acrylamide, said Stephanie Schiff, a registered dietitian at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. Schiff was not involved in the study. Acrylamide is "a chemical produced when starchy foods such as potatoes are fried, roasted or baked at a high temperature," explained Schiff in an email.

The browning process is actually a reaction that produces this chemical one shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and considered toxic to humans, said Schiff. Acrylamide is also a potential cause of cancer, she said. "You can reduce your intake of acrylamide by boiling or steaming starchy foods, rather than frying them," said Schiff. "If you do fry foods, do it quickly." She also suggested you "go lighter" since "the darker the food, the more acrylamide it may contain." Finally, Schiff said that potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator because this could lead to producing more acrylamide when the potatoes are later cooked. "Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables for a healthier alternative," said Schiff. Veronese said he hopes his new study will suggest to everyone that consuming fried potatoes "could be an important risk factor for mortality. Thus, their consumption should be strongly limited."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

5 common causes for hair loss in teenage girls

If you’re an aging adult, you've probably come to terms with and have started to accept that you’re slowly losing your hair. On the other hand, what if you are a teenage girl, losing her precious hair at the prime of her life? Hair loss in teenage girls can cause emotional trauma at a critical time in their lives. However, this hair loss can happen for several reasons, and you can often treat and prevent it successfully. 


1. Hormones

As young girls turn into growing teenagers, they go through many bodily changes, including changes in their hormones. These hormones then fluctuate their emotions, eating habits, and their hair growth. Because the root cause of hair loss lies in one special hormone, present in both men and women, you can understand how hormonal changes and imbalances create such a problem. The hormone responsible for hair loss in anyone is dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This hormone usually manifests in men; however, women and girls have low levels of testosterone as well. Unfortunately, with the help of an enzyme that rests in the hair’s oil glands, testosterone changes to DHT. Then, DHT literally shrinks the hair follicles, causing hair to fall out. Teenage girls may experience this hair loss until the hormones balance out in their bodies.

2. Medicine

Certain medications can cause hair loss in both teens and adults, especially ones which alter the hormones. In particular, some teenage girls may take birth control pills to relieve PCOS or control acne. However, the pill is also known for thinning out the hair. In fact, some doctors actually prescribe it to help teens who have excessive hair growth on their bodies. Other medications can cause hair loss as well, including anticoagulants, beta blockers, and even high doses of vitamin A.

3. Poor nutrition

Most people don’t think about the role of nutrition in healthy, supple hair and skin, but it does play a vital role. American teens often eat a diet high in starch and fats rather than a nourishing variety of fruits and vegetables. As a result, these teens can have deficiencies in important vitamins and nutrients. Their bodies then try to conserve what few healthful nutrients it has for its life-sustaining functions, diminishing the amount of nutrients to the hair. In addition, some teens may have poor nutrition due to eating disorders, and parents should watch carefully for this cause of hair loss.

4. Over-Styling

In an effort to keep up with current trends and styles, teenage girls often use heat products and tight hairstyles. If they use straighteners, blow dryers, and curling rods daily, they’ll eventually be dealing with dry, brittle hair. In addition, tight hairstyles like high ponytails and braids tug at the hair. If used often enough, they can pull out clumps, leading to embarrassing bald patches and shortened strands.

5. Deeper Medical Condition

Sometimes, excessive hair loss can signal a deeper medical condition. For example, people can suffer hair loss if they have a scalp infection, unregulated diabetes, an overactive or underactive thyroid, skin disorders, or trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling). In most cases, these underlying medical conditions will have accompanying symptoms, such as scaly or inflamed skin, losing hair in big patches, and fatigue. Parents should take note of any other changes accompanying the hair loss in teenage girls and talk over any concerns with a doctor.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Want to Lose Weight? Weigh Your Food for a Week

Journalism professor Michael Easter is weighing new eating habits. The 6’1" tall Las Vegas resident was hardly overweight at 185 lbs. But Easter, who spends his mornings running the canyon trails outside the city, was suffering from knee pain, and thought losing a few pounds would make running less stressful. After getting advice from a nutritionist, Easter began weighing his food to get an accurate idea of how many calories he was eating.

He was surprised to discover it was a lot more than he realized. “I had the same lunch every day and it was a protein shake with an apple and peanut butter and it’s like, ‘Oh that’s totally a healthy lunch — this is a great lunch.' But when I weighed peanut butter for the first time I was taking like three servings and I thought it was only one,” Easter told NBC News Better. “So here I was thinking I’m eating 200 calories, but I’m really eating 600,” he said.

Using a small kitchen scale he purchased for $14, Easter weighed all his food, from the cream in his morning coffee to the chicken he ate at dinner. He input the weight into the MyFitnessPal app on his phone, which calculated the exact number of calories in the food. Easter realized he previously didn’t have an accurate understanding of the portion sizes he was eating, especially when it came to calorie-dense foods. “I thought I was eating like 2,600 or 2,700 calories [a day], and it was a lot more than that,” he explains. “It was definitely above 3,000.” “A lot of times we make assumptions. For example, if I were to just put banana — generic banana — in a calorie counting app, [the results] could have been more than I actually ate, it could have been less than I actually ate,” says Easter.

“Same with nuts. If I took a handful of nuts and I throw them in the shake I could potentially be off by more than 100 calories depending on how many I thought that was.” He said weighing his food helped him see that the snacks he ate between meals were adding unnecessary calories too. “When you have to weigh everything, you realize that all adds up, and some days it was as much as 500 calories for me,” he says. “That’s enough to really move a dial in terms of weight gain or weight loss.” To lose weight, Easter cut his calories to 2,500 a day. He developed easy go-to meals for breakfast and lunch that made the process easier.

“There were definitely days where I resented that scale and I wanted to throw it on the ground, but to make things easier I would tend to fall into patterns and eat the same thing every day,” he says. The 30-year-old found that sticking to meats, vegetables, potatoes and nuts helped him feel full throughout the day. He said potatoes in particular helped him stay satisfied. “Most nights when I’m home weeknights I’ll usually do potatoes with chicken and some vegetables and then I’ll put sour cream on the potatoes and stuff like that, but now I just know don’t take too much [sour cream] because those kinds of fats are calorie dense,” he says.

Easter dropped 10 pounds in about 3 months. He said that weighing all of his meals is no longer necessary. But he has a much better understanding of what and how much he can eat to prevent the weight from coming back. “I found a sweet spot for how much I should eat,” he said. “So at the end I was eating about 2,950 calories, which is a lot, but I was staying at 175 pounds. My weight wasn’t fluctuating at all, which sort of told [my nutritionist] that’s an ideal amount of food for [me] to be eating at 175 pounds.” Easter feels better after shedding the extra weight. “I don’t have aches and pains that come along with running just because it’s a lot less force going to your joints when you lose 10 lbs,” he says. The professor believes everyone can benefit from weighing their food. “I think there is a lot you can learn about how much you eat and some of your eating patterns by just tracking it for a week and the scale lets you really track it,” he says.

HOW IT WORKS

  • Purchase a kitchen scale. 
  • Weigh all your food and input the results into a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal app. This will tell you the real number of calories you are consuming. 
  • Unhealthy foods will cost you calories. Healthier foods like meats, poultry, fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits and especially potatoes will help you feel full throughout the day. 
  • Creating go-to meals will establish a healthy eating pattern and save you time.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hope for first drug against lymphedema

Many cancer patients, especially those who've undergone breast cancer treatment, experience painful, swollen limbs, a condition called lymphedema. Now researchers say they've found an underlying mechanism that could eventually lead to the first drug therapy for the debilitating condition. The findings come from research in mice and human cells. However, there's already a clinical trial underway to see whether these lab discoveries will translate into a new lymphedema treatment. It's estimated that 10 million Americans have lymphedema, said Dr. Stanley Rockson, one of the senior researchers on the study.

"Even though many people might not recognize the term, it's a very common condition," said Rockson, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif. People with lymphedema have excess fluid buildup in parts of the body, usually the arms or legs. Most often, the condition arises after certain cancer treatments damage the lymphatic system, preventing lymph fluids from draining properly. Right now, there is no cure or drug therapy for lymphedema, Rockson said. Instead, it's typically managed with measures such as massage, compression garments and pneumatic compression devices. Lymphedema is not just a cosmetic issue: It can be uncomfortable, hinder range of motion, and make people vulnerable to infections, according to the American Cancer Society. "It can severely limit physical and social functioning," Rockson said. In the new study, he and his colleagues aimed to get a clearer understanding of the molecular mechanisms that drive lymphedema. So they turned to a drug called ketoprofen.

The drug, a painkiller, has actually been studied as a lymphedema treatment. The problem, according to Rockson, is that ketoprofen can have side effects for the heart, gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. Safer alternatives are needed, he said. To zero in on ketoprofen's good side — its action against lymphedema — the researchers used lab mice induced to have a lymphedema-like condition. The scientists found that the drug prevented tissue injury and fluid buildup by blocking a protein called leukotriene B4 (LTB4). It turned out that the same protein was elevated in cell samples from lymphedema patients. And not only ketoprofen battled lymphedema in mice. Another drug called bestatin worked just as well. Bestatin is not approved in the United States, but it has been used for years in Japan as a cancer treatment. The advantage of the drug, according to Rockson, is that it has more "selective" action against LTB4 — and fewer side effects — than ketoprofen. Based on the lab findings, a clinical trial testing bestatin against lymphedema is already underway, Rockson said. Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is funding that trial (and acquiring the drug from its Japanese manufacturer). Rockson and a colleague on the study are consultants to the company. "I think patients should feel very encouraged that work is being done," said Dr. Theresa Gillis, chief of the rehabilitation service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Still, the role of bestatin — if any — won't be clear until the clinical trial results are in, according to Gillis, who wasn't involved in the research. The "mouse model" of lymphedema, she noted, doesn't exactly replicate what happens in cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy or surgical removal of the lymph nodes. And, treatments that work well in animals don't always pan out in people. Gillis agreed that new lymphedema treatments are badly needed. "Millions of dollars are spent each year in the U.S. on treatment of lymphedema," she said. "And those millions are often costs carried by the patients themselves." Beyond costs, Gillis added, the current therapies are burdensome. "Patients with severe lymphedema wear specialty compression garments daily, and may need to use compression bandaging every night — or a second specialty night garment," she said. "Even with optimal efforts by the patient, edema can become progressively worse over time."

The new findings offer a clearer understanding of the underlying process in lymphedema, according to Gillis. Hopefully, the new understanding will "lead us toward eventually preventing the condition altogether," she said. The bestatin trial results are a few years away. But Rockson said he thinks patients can take heart in the fact that the work is happening. "Historically," he said, "lymphedema patients have been largely ignored, and that's led to a certain sense of hopelessness. But now I think we can say answers are on the horizon."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

9 prostate cancer myths, debunked

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. In 2017, the American Cancer Society estimates about 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and about 26,730 men will die from it. The good news is that survival rates for prostate cancer are high, but experts say there are several myths out there about how it’s diagnosed and treated, and how it may affect men’s health and sex lives.

1. It’s an old man’s disease. According to the American Cancer Society, six in 10 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men ages 65 and older. Although many men think prostate cancer is something they need to start thinking about in their 60s, men as young as 40 are diagnosed with prostate cancer too. What’s more, screening all men between ages 45 and 49 for prostate cancer can predict almost half of all deaths several decades later, a 2013 study in the journal BMJ found.

2. There are no symptoms. It’s true that many men with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms, even for those who have metastatic disease. Many symptoms of prostate cancer can also mimic other benign conditions like prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or another type of cancer. Nevertheless, if you notice urinary frequency, urgency, a slow or weak flow or an obstruction of the flow, blood in your urine or ejaculate, bone pain, or unexpected weight loss, you should see your doctor to be evaluated, Dr. Chung-Han Lee, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Westchester in West Harrison, New York, told Fox News.

3. Blood PSA levels are only one way to make a diagnosis. High blood prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels usually indicate prostate cancer, but the only definitive way to diagnose it is with a prostate biopsy, Lee said.

4. You must start treatment right away. If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, your doctor will first determine the stage and your risk group — low, intermediate or high-risk — before deciding on a treatment plan. He’ll also take into account other conditions you may have, like obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as your smoking history, before deciding on the course of treatment. If you have other medical problems but a low-grade prostate cancer, for example, your doctor may hold off on treatment. Yet if you’re otherwise healthy and have an aggressive form of prostate cancer, treatment may be done earlier.

5. Natural remedies can help. Selenium, alkaline water, high-dose vitamin C, and even a combination of maple syrup and baking soda have been cited as ways to prevent and treat prostate cancer. The thinking behind them is, “If you alkalize your blood then cancer has a hard time surviving because cancer cells love an acidic environment,” Dr. Geo Espinosa, a naturopathic and functional medicine doctor in New York City, and author of, “Thrive, Don’t Only Survive,” told Fox News. Yet experts agree there’s no evidence any of these can help.

6. Surgery will end your sex life. Surgery will likely cause impotence at least initially, but most men will regain the ability to become erect with treatments such as Kegel exercises. How the surgery will impact your sex life depends on whether or not your doctor has to remove the nerve bundles that run on either side of the prostate. “If they can save at least one of them, then they can still have erections, sometimes with assistance,” Lee said. Medications like Viagra or injections, or a a penile implant or pump can help.

7. Diet and lifestyle don’t matter. You might think there’s no way to reduce your risk for prostate cancer, but diet and lifestyle actually play a significant role. Diets low in carbohydrates and sugar like the Mediterranean diet, and moderate to vigorous exercise three to four hours a week have been shown to help prevent the disease. It’s also a good idea to get 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure sans sunscreen on 40 percent of your body, or talk to your doctor about a supplement, as low levels of vitamin D may predict aggressive prostate cancer, a 2016 study out of Northwestern Medicine found. Also, herbs like curcumin and boswellia lower inflammation and reduce biological markers that contribute to cancer, Espinosa said.

8. Treatment is a cure. Within 10 years of prostate cancer treatment, 40 percent of the time PSA levels will start to rise again, Espinosa said. It’s also not uncommon to be diagnosed and treated for low-grade prostate cancer and years later be diagnosed again with metastatic prostate cancer. If you’ve have prostate cancer, it’s important to be monitored roughly every three to six months within the first one to two years of treatment, After two years, you should get checked out every six to 12 months. If the PSA is undetectable after five years, you should be monitored every 12 months.

9. It’s fatal. The risk that prostate cancer will be fatal depends on how aggressive it is and the other medical conditions you may have. The good news is that for all stages of prostate cancer, the survival rates are high: The five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent; the 10-year survival rate is 98 percent; and the 15-year survival rate is 95 percent.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Texans' David Quessenberry returns to practice after completing cancer treatment

Lineman David Quessenberry joined the Houston Texans for practice on Tuesday after spending nearly three years away from the game of football while undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkins T lymphoblastic lymphoma.

“When I finished my intensive treatment I felt like the furthest thing from a football player – no hair, skinny – but your body is an amazing thing,” Quessenberry, 26, told The Houston Chronicle. “We just took it slowly. We just did one workout at a time, one treatment at a time and eventually here we are.” In April, Quessenberry shared a video of his ceremonial ringing of the “chemo bell” to signify the end of his treatment. More than 33,000 people watched him ring the bell so hard that it actually broke off the wall. “Cancer did NOT make me strong.

Cancer did NOT make my family strong. Cancer did NOT galvanize my community. Cancer did NOT bring rival team Head Coaches and players together to support me,” Quessenberry posted in part alongside the moving video. “Cancer did NOT bring people together. Cancer did NOT make people travel hundreds of miles to help me and my family in our time of need. Cancer did NOT make people pray for me. Cancer did NOT bring me my Angel. Cancer did NOT make me thankful for my life. Cancer did NOT make me a believer that there is more to this world than just our eyes can see. Cancer did NOT shape me in the man I am today. Love did.”

Quessenberry was waived by the Texas after the 2015 season but was put on the non-football illness list and remained on the team’s roster. He said Texans coach Bill O’Brien and the entire organization have supported him since the day he was diagnosed. O’Brien, he said, offered him wisdom throughout his treatments, which he said have made him mentally and physically stronger than ever.

He’s now focused on regaining the weight and strength so he can compete for a spot on the roster. “We’re in uncharted territory,” Quessenberry told The Houston Chronicle. “But I feel great and it will be very soon where I can play.” The Texans shared a photo of Quessenberry in his practice gear on Twitter Tuesday, which he retweeted with the caption, “It’s so much more to me than just OTAs. THANK YOU!!!!!” Quessenberry was drafted by the Texas in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft.

Friday, June 2, 2017

One cancer is linked to highest suicide risk

Suicide is more common among cancer patients, but a new study suggests people suffering from lung cancer are at a higher risk than those who struggle with other forms of the disease.

For the study, researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital analyzed information from a large patient database of 3,640,229 people, looking at suicide deaths for lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers individually. They found that over four decades, there were 6,661 suicides among cancer patients. When they compared suicides among cancer patients to the general population, the rate in patients with any kind of cancer was 60 percent higher.

"Cancer patients are under a lot of duress and stress when they're under treatment," said study author Dr. Jeffrey Port, a thoracic and cardiac surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical Center, told CBS News. When the scientists broke down the data on suicide by cancer type, they found dramatic differences. The suicide rate among lung cancer patients stood out: it was more than four times higher than the general population. They also found suicide rates were 40 percent higher than average among colorectal cancer patients, and 20 percent higher among those diagnosed with breast cancer or prostate cancer. Despite this, many doctors don't consider suicide risk in cancer patients, Port said. Patients may feel anxiety, depression or hopelessness after hearing stories from family members or friends who knew someone with the disease.

Port said doctors need to reassure their patients that every case is unique and that there are good treatments for early stage patients. "As lung cancer surgeons, we know the lung cancer diagnosis is a very serious diagnosis, but what's not out there is that patients with early stage disease are highly curable," said Port. What was most striking about the findings, Port said, is that 50 percent of suicides in lung cancer patients occurred in people who had what specialists consider highly treatable disease. "There's a disconnect about patients understanding their particular outcomes," he said. Suicide rates were also higher among Asians, men, older patients, those who were widowed, those who refused surgical treatment, and those with metastatic lung cancer , according to the study, which was presented at the American Thoracic Society 2017 International Conference, in Washington, D.C. Lung cancer (small cell and non-small cell types) is the second most common type among both men and women in the U.S. (not counting skin cancer, which was not included in the study).

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, there will be about 222,500 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed and approximately 155,870 deaths from the disease. Lung cancer specialists don't tend to be well trained on the mental health side of patient care, said Port. "For us as a group it's striking that we're trained in medical school – we learn about the physical aspects of exam, but especially surgeons, we don't do a deeper dive into the psychosocial exams. It's pretty eye-opening that we should have to learn to ask patients, 'Are you sleeping, are you eating, how are your feeling about your diagnosis?' Doctors need to include these questions as part of the exam," said Port, adding that their care should be integrated with nurses and others who provide health care during cancer treatment.

One factor that may weigh heavily on the shoulders of patients: the consequences of lifelong health choices. "Eighty-five percent of our patients have traditionally been smokers and may have guilt about smoking all their life," Port said. But he also noted, "There's reason to be hopeful." "Each person's tumor is different genetically and we now have unique targeted therapies —immunotherapy — for early stage disease regardless of tumor type," he said. Dr. Joseph Weiner, an psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital, in Glen Oaks, New York, told CBS News that while the new study shows a correlation between lung cancer and suicide, other issues may come into play. "There may be other variables contributing that may be related to chemotherapies. And some people with lung cancer have changes in hormone secretions that may affect mood. A decrease in oxygen going to the brain may affect judgment and impulsivity, too," said Weiner.

Over much of Weiner's career he's worked with people who have had medical illnesses, including cancer. "I've gotten to see people suffer tremendously, emotionally. Some are unable to cope with a serious diagnosis and fall into depression, while others transcend their suffering and find hope even in the face of death," Weiner said. The way a doctor speaks to a cancer patient can have a big impact on that person's mental health and how he or she copes with the disease, said Weiner, whose wife died of lung cancer in 2015 almost a year after her diagnosis. He said she was a very strong person, but had some physicians who were better than others when it came to communication and compassion. "My wife asked her oncologist, 'Will I live long enough to watch my daughter graduate?' and the oncologist said, 'Now you're pushing it,'" said Weiner.

He said his wife was a strong person and didn't let it get in her way of focusing on her dream. But Weiner said a better alternative would have been to say, "I can't promise, but I can promise we'll try as hard as we can." For patients struggling with depression and suicide risk, words can have a powerful affect, he noted. Support can make a difference. "One of the destructive things a clinician can say is that there's nothing more we can do for you. There's always something we can do for you, whether it's pain management, symptom control, holding a hand, giving a hug, connecting with a chaplain or mental health provider, or discussing medication for depression and anxiety. It's not just the application of chemotherapy.

It's about the provision of humanity," he said. Most of all, he said doctors treating lung cancer and other cancer patients can provide hope. "Hope is broad. None of us live forever. What are we hoping for? Are we hoping to be loved? Are we hoping to leave a legacy for our lives? To see someone get married? Are we hoping to demonstrate to our loved ones that we can approach a life circumstance with great dignity? Are we looking to thank people? Are we looking to ask for forgiveness? I'm talking about hope as a process of how you want to live your life. Focusing on the day rather than the medical outcome."