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Big tobacco fuels nicotine replacement addiction, UCSF study shows

Source: http://www.sfgate.com
Author: Lizzie Johnson
Date: August 17, 2017

Nicotine patches, lozenges, inhalers and gum have long been marketed as ways of helping addicts break the habit. But such products by themselves won’t do the job — something tobacco companies themselves have taken advantage of to boost their profits, new research from UCSF says.

Nicotine replacement therapy products, which have been sold over the counter at drugstores since 1996, are effective only when paired with counseling, according to a UCSF study released Thursday. Without that, relying on such products can actually make it harder to kick tobacco, the study found.

UCSF researchers who reviewed millions of pages of internal tobacco company documents said the firms have long known that such products by themselves don’t wean users off cigarettes, and market their own smokeless nicotine to keep users addicted.

“Those products should not be used unless they are done in the proper way,” said Stanton Glantz, an author of the study, professor of medicine at UCSF and the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

“The problem is, without the behavioral support, they actually inhibit quitting,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people think they are making progress and quitting when that’s not so. That’s what tobacco companies have known for decades. They’re developing products under the guise of nicotine replacement therapy.”

Some of the biggest tobacco companies, including RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, have developed nicotine accessories. Many corner stores stock the products, some of them in brightly colored packages, next to chocolate bars and other candy near the cash register.

Medi-Cal and many private health insurance policies cover the cost of quitting aids. State-subsidized insurance will pay for two annual courses of treatment with pills such as Chantix and Zyban, Nicorette lozenges, Nicorette gum and NicoDerm CQ Patches.

But people are more likely to use those products as complements to smoking — at work or in airplanes when cigarettes are banned — instead of as a tool to quit, the UCSF study found. Nicotine replacement products can be effective if people combine them with counseling and consultation with a doctor, but the majority of consumers don’t use them that way, researchers said.

Randomized clinical trials cited in the study showed that people who went to counseling and tapered their use of nicotine replacement therapy products over time were successful. Those who didn’t were not.

A 2009 study in the BMJ — formerly known as the British Medical Journal — found that of the 2,767 smokers tested, only 6.75 percent were able to abstain from cigarettes for six months while using nicotine replacement therapy products.

Nicotine patches and gum were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1984, and the tobacco industry originally saw them as a threat, the UCSF study said. By 1992, however, company executives determined such products would not help smokers quit, and that there was money to be made from them. By 2009, tobacco companies were selling their own nicotine patches, lozenges and e-cigarettes.

“It was surprising to discover the industry came to view NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) as just another product,” said Dorie Apollonio, an associate professor in clinical pharmacy at UCSF and lead author of the study. “The tobacco companies want people to get nicotine — and they’re open-minded about how they get it.”

Representatives of RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris and British American Tobacco did not respond to requests for comment.

Apollonio’s researchers analyzed 90 million pages of documents from seven tobacco companies dating back as far as 1960, obtained in litigation against the tobacco industry.

Those papers showed that the tobacco industry began developing its own nicotine replacement products after its research showed that some smokers used them in addition to tobacco.

“The way the marketing is framed, it is explicitly discouraging quitting,” Glantz said. “The tobacco companies know more about tobacco products than anybody else. Now they are selling these products in a way that protects their market. I do not think most health professionals are aware of this.”

But some are. Derek Smith, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Free Project, said he encourages smokers to check with their pharmacists or doctors before trying a nicotine replacement therapy like a patch or pill.

“You can’t plop on a patch and expect to quit smoking,” he said. “It’s part of the arsenal to tackle this complicated addiction. Smokers know better than anyone how hard it is to quit. It takes eight or 10 times before it sticks. In my experience, they are really aware what a tough addiction it is and how a patch isn’t the magical solution.”

A free smoking cessation program offered by the city at San Francisco General Hospital funnels smokers through a seven-class session. The weekly meetings teach participants how to create a plan with a quit date and identify stressful situations that lead to smoking. Instructors teach them to drink more water and improve their diet to help cope with cravings.

Patches, gum and e-cigarettes can be useful tools, Smith said. It didn’t surprise him that the tobacco industry had started creating its own products.

“Those internal documents reveal their intentions,” he said. “It’s always fascinating to see how the tobacco industry is thinking. They have an opportunistic assessment of the market. It never ceases to amaze me.”

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Cancer patients who use alternative medicine more than twice as likely to die

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/
Date: August 15, 2017

After five years, 78.3 per cent of people who opted for medical treatment were still alive compared to just 54.7 percent of people who opted for alternative therapies.

A new study has shown that cancer sufferers who turn to alternative therapies in preference to conventional medicine are more than twice as likely to die.

Scientists from America’s prestigious Yale University found that patients were more likely to be cured through conventional medicine, despite anecdotal evidence from some who say their cancer was cured by turning to natural or alternative remedies, .

Researchers sifted through the National Cancer Database for their study “Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and its Impact on Survival”.

They tracked 280 people who were diagnosed with the disease in 2004 and opted for alternative medicine and 560 “control” cancer patients who underwent conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

After five years, 78.3 per cent of people who opted for medical treatment were still alive compared to just 54.7 percent of people who opted for alternative therapies.

The study also looked at different types of cancer including breast, lung, prostate and colorectal.

They found those with lung cancer were twice as likely to die after five years if they had opted for alternative therapies.

Breast cancer patients who used alternative therapies were five times as likely to have lost their lives to the disease.Colorectal cancer patients were four times more likely to die if they rejected conventional medicine in favour of alternative treatment.

Alternative medicine, advocated by some outside the medical profession to treat cancer includes chiropractic treatment, homeopathy, acupuncture and juice diets.

The researchers could not specifically identify which alternative medicines subjects were using.

Other limitations of the data include unmeasured confounders or selection bias that could impact survival, the researchers noted.

”However, because patients receiving alternative medicine were more likely to be younger, more affluent, more well-educated, and less burdened with comorbidities, this would not likely account for the observed survival differences,” they concluded.

The researchers concluded that patients who chose treatment alongside alternative medicine were more likely to die and urged for greater scrutiny of the use of alternative medicine for the initial treatment of cancer.

“We now have evidence to suggest that using alternative medicine in place of proven cancer therapies results in worse survival,” said lead author Skyler Johnson.

“It is our hope that this information can be used by patients and physicians when discussing the impact of cancer treatment decisions on survival.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

A Guide On How To Fight Your Outrageous Hospital Bill (And Win)

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com
Author: Gemma Hartley
Date: 8/4/2017

My medical bill nightmare started out fairly normally. My toddler fell and hurt her wrist. Since she has a flair for the dramatic, she let her wrist flop, looking broken as she screamed in agony. My husband and I examined her wrist and couldn’t figure out how serious the situation was, so we played it safe and took her to the emergency room. She had a mild sprain, it turned out. She was in and out ― no medication, no nothing.

I knew there would be an obscene bill for taking her to the ER, but I had no idea just how shocking it would be. When I received the bill for my daughter, I seriously hoped that something was amiss. The amount was nearly $800 (which was more than we could afford at the time), and before insurance it had been nearly $3,000.

Could the bill really be that huge for a 15-minute visit? I couldn’t fathom it, so I requested an itemized bill ― a habit I picked up after hearing horror stories of new mothers being charged outrageously in labor and delivery. An itemized bill almost always contains errors, which is why I wasn’t about to pay a penny before carefully looking over my daughter’s charges.

There were a couple of small errors, such as overpriced medicines she didn’t receive, but it wasn’t the $14 aspirin hiking up her bill. I called the hospital to ask about my daughter’s charge entry, which was was outlandishly high, nearly $2,600 of the $3,000 total bill. The woman in the billing office told me that charge entry levels were codes used to determine the severity of cases entering the ER. They will dictate what reimbursements the hospital should receive, and they are entered in by the doctor. And as for mistakes in charge entry levels? They aren’t uncommon.

“We see the same issue not just in the ER, but in other areas of the hospital (and even in an office setting),” said Sean McSweeney, president of Apache Health, a medical billing company for clinics and hospitals. “These issues are often unintentional, but are simply the result of a doctor trying to quickly code and move on.” However, McSweeney also says this process can be tampered with. Providers can check boxes for procedures as simple as reviewing medical history or spending extra time with the patient. These things have the potential to kick up the charge entry coding level.

My daughter was billed as Level 3 (out of 4) for a barely perceptible sprain. The woman I spoke to advised that I call the emergency physician’s office. It felt like I was being given the runaround, but calling turned up some interesting information.

I discovered the charge entry level the doctor put in didn’t match what the hospital put in. (Still, the doctor coded my daughter’s visit as Level 2, which left me wondering what on Earth a Level 1 visit looks like.) I also did a bit of sleuthing and found that putting in a higher entry level, known as upcoding, can drastically hike up ER bills. While I didn’t realize it at the time, it’s illegal.

Fixing the error, however, was not as easy as simply pointing it out. I had to have the bill suspended, which involved sending a dated, signed letter to the hospital requesting the information be re-examined. The bill showed up again. The hospital claimed to have never received the letter, so I sent another. I spent hours on the phone being shuffled between the billing office, the physician’s office, and at one point the bill was even sent to collections, who called relentlessly, nonplussed by my claim of errors in the medical billing process.

I also did a bit of sleuthing and found that putting in a higher entry level, known as upcoding, can drastically hike up ER bills. While I didn’t realize it at the time, it’s illegal.

The fight to reconcile this error turned into a two-year battle, culminating in the bill being discarded because of the number of errors the hospital made throughout the process. Throughout the saga I kept a careful paper trail, noting each date I received a bill, whom I spoke with on the phone, what next steps had been suggested and taken. I reported the hospital to the Better Business Bureau, which was another waste of my time (medical providers have terrible ratings, but also don’t have competition).

I eventually began recording the calls, making it known to the person on the other line and mentioning upcoding each time I called. It was only at the point when I revealed I had recorded evidence and a paper trail that the hospital decided to write off the charges.

I wish I had known from the start how to handle erroneous charges on high medical bills. Had I known to use the word “upcoding” in my first conversation with the billing department, I might have saved hours spent on the phone. Fortunately, I kept careful records, which gave me the upper hand, but I shouldn’t have spent two years of stressful fighting when they were so clearly in the wrong. Had I known the ramifications of upcoding, I would have reported them to my insurer and had them investigated for fraud.

The fight against medical fraud

Organizations like the Nation Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) are working to crack down on medical fraud to ensure that insurers and patients aren’t footing the bill for medical providers who bend the facts ― and the government is behind them. The Justice Department participated in the government’s largest health care fraud takedown in U.S. history last month, in which 412 defendants, including 56 doctors, were charged with scamming American taxpayers out of more than $1 billion in opioid-related abuses.

“The vast majority of health care providers are honest and do what they need to do for their patients, but it only takes a small number to really have a negative impact on the entire system,” NHCAA CEO Louis Saccoccio told Fox News in an interview following the takedown.

Upcoding isn’t a mistake that simply makes you pay more (even though that’s enough to make you go red in the face with rage). It can permanently mess with your medical records when your information is incorrectly recorded. If you are upcoded in a way that indicates you have a medical problem that doesn’t exist, it could cost in a lot more than a big bill in the long run ― making you look like more of a liability to insurers. The opposite can be equally damaging, as in the 1995 case of a Brooklyn doctor in New York who performed brief medical reviews (instead of the full physicals she billed for), which resulted in multiple patients being wrongfully denied Social Security disability benefits over the course of four years.

While the Affordable Care Act made it illegal to deny a patient coverage based on pre-existing conditions, congressional Republicans have been consistently battling to erode the ACA and its protections. If you are erroneously charged for a health condition you don’t have because of upcoding, it could affect your ability to get health care coverage.

It’s crucial to spot these medical bill errors and remedy them immediately. If you don’t, it could cost you now and later.

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Cancer is a fungus’?! We need to get serious about evidence-based treatment

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk
Date: August 3rd, 2017
Author: Judith Potts

Over the last few years I have come across myriad myths about cures for breast cancer – indeed all cancers.  Of course, everyone is looking for a treatment which does not involve chemotherapy, a diagnostic test which does not use radiation, or a treatment without side effects.

While thermography may be an innovative concept, there is little good evidence that it is effective in detecting breast cancer at an early stageEluned Hughes, head of public health and information at Breast Cancer Now

But I have lost count of the number of times I have heard that ‘Cancer is a fungus and Sodium Bicarbonate is the cure’.  I have even been sent an amateur video of a man mixing his sodium bicarbonate potion in an extremely unhygienic-looking  kitchen. Part of the Cancer Research UK’s website carries ‘10 Persistent Cancer Myths Debunked’ which makes an interesting read –  . Alternative therapies abound and all are described as ‘natural’.

The word is applied to food, to beauty products and to fabrics – but, all too often, the list of ingredients denies the description. Last week, an email dropped into my inbox introducing me to Dr Nyjon Eccles and describing his work at his clinic in London’s Harley Street – The ‘Natural’ Doctor.  Was it referring to his treatments as being ‘natural’ in the sense of pure, unadulterated and complementary, or did he mean that he was born a ‘natural’ doctor?

I discovered that Dr Eccles is offering a breast cancer screening clinical test called ThermoCheck, a computer-assisted thermography which is ‘a 15 minute, painless, non-invasive, state of the art clinical test without any exposure to radiation’.  Dr Eccles believes the test can be used on women as young as 20 and it will “identify metabolic changes in the tissue and is a much earlier indicator of breast health compromise than traditional mammograms”.

He says that thermography may identify pre-cancerous changes; thermography, the website script goes, “looks for physiological irregularities, whereas mammography looks for anatomical irregularities.  The infra-red camera takes thermal images of the breasts which show a heat map of the surface of the skin detecting any metabolic changes and signs of abnormal blood vessels- which give off more heat than the surrounding tissue – at an early stage, possibly 6-10 years before a tumour is big enough to be seen on a mammogram.”

Needless to say, there is a price to this test – the initial breast thermography and consultation (up to 90 min) is £395, with a breast thermography scan (up to 30 mins) at £245. Added to this is Dr Eccles’ Breast Nutricheck, which is a home test kit which ‘identifies several nutrients that seem to impact on breast tissue health’. This costs £425.

With so much written about breast cancer, particularly about the genetic varieties, I am concerned that many women (I note that men are not included) – particularly the young – may be persuaded to undertake this test on a regular and expensive basis.  So I turned to Breast Cancer Now to find out whether or not thermography was an accepted and proven way to detect early breast cancer.

It seems to me that not enough has been done to compare thermography to mammography with ultrasound

Eluned Hughes, head of public health and information at Breast Cancer Now told me: “While thermography may be an innovative concept, there is little good evidence that it is effective in detecting breast cancer at an early stage – let alone that it could replace traditional mammography.  Any new screening test would need to demonstrate even greater sensitivity than mammography, as well as better accuracy in detecting breast tumours and distinguishing between cancerous and healthy cells.  Unfortunately, there is currently no evidence to suggest that thermography is capable of either.”

This lack of evidence has led to the Royal College of Radiology, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists and The American Society of Breast Imaging specifically not endorsing the process.

One of the concerns raised is that women who undergo thermography may delay visiting their doctor with a significant symptom, or attending for screening, if they believe that thermography is an adequate replacement for a visit to the GP or a mammogram.

I brought these concerns to Dr Eccles, who said that thermography has been shown to have a better sensitivity for detecting existing cancers than mammography, and that the variable results may be because “some thermographic studies have not used accepted standardised protocols.”

Arguing that thermography should be offered by doctors alongside other structural scans, he told me: “It is simply not true that there is no evidence for thermography’s usefulness. It time for doctors to make honest and correct statements about mammography screening based on the latest evidence – i.e. the risks outweigh the benefits. Thermography is at the very least, a valuable non-invasive adjunctive tool to identify women at risk and help detect pre-cancerous changes in the breast. If used correctly, it has the potential to help us significantly reduce breast cancer incidence.”

Studies continue to be conducted in the USA to explore the potential of infrared imaging of the breast, but it seems to me that not enough has been done to compare thermography to mammography with ultrasound, breast MRI, or nuclear imaging. One day there might be and perhaps the results will vindicate Dr Eccles but, until we can be assured that thermography will give an accurate diagnosis, please remember that if you have a family history of breast cancer, regular screening or other interventions can be offered by the NHS at a younger age than the 49-50 age group at which invitations for mammograms arrive.

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

No HPV Vaccination for Boys in UK

Source: Peter Russell
Date: July 20, 2017
Source: www.medscape.com

Health bodies are condemning a decision not to include boys in the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination programme as “shameful” and a “missed opportunity”.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has concluded that it “did not recommend vaccinating boys at this time as it was considered unlikely to be cost-effective”.

Girls aged 12 to 13 have routinely been offered the HPV jab since September 2008 as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.

The JCVI has been considering whether to include boys on the scheme since 2014.

Protection Against Some Cancers

HPV is the name for a group of viruses that are most commonly passed on through genital contact between straight and same-sex partners.

It is a very common infection. Almost every sexually active person will get HPV at some time in their lives.

Most people who get HPV never develop symptoms or health problems, but for some it can lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and head and neck, as well as cause genital warts.

According to health professionals, the virus has been linked to 1 in 20 cases of cancer in the UK.

Campaigners in favour of giving boys the jab argue that HPV does not discriminate between the sexes and that offering the vaccine to boys in school would save lives.

‘Few Additional Benefits’

The JCVI has decided that a high take-up of the vaccine among girls would provide ‘herd protection’ to boys, and that vaccination of boys “would generate little additional benefit to the prevention of cervical cancer, which was the main aim of the programme”.

Additionally, the committee found insufficient evidence that the jab would protect against cancers affecting males such as anal, head and neck cancers. However, it agreed to keep evidence under review, particularly for men who have sex with men.

‘An Astonishing Decision’

Several health bodies have issued statements criticising the JCVI’s decision. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare says it’s a “missed opportunity” and is urging it to reconsider its stance in October after a period of public consultation. Peter Baker, HPV action campaign director, says: “It is astonishing that the government’s vaccination advisory committee has ignored advice from patient organisations, doctors treating men with HPV-related cancers, public health experts and those whose lives have been devastated by HPV.

“The interim decision not to vaccinate boys is about saving money not public health or equity.”

Dentists are also condemning the decision. Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, says: “HPV has emerged as the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers, so JCVI’s unwillingness to expand the vaccination programme to boys is frankly indefensible. The state has a responsibility to offer all our children the best possible defence.

Dentists are also condemning the decision. Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, says: “HPV has emerged as the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers, so JCVI’s unwillingness to expand the vaccination programme to boys is frankly indefensible. The state has a responsibility to offer all our children the best possible defence.

“Dentists are on the front line in the battle against oral cancer, a condition with heart-breaking and life-changing results. Ministers can choose to sit this one out, or show they really believe in prevention.”

‘Shameful’

Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK’s director of policy, comments: “We’re disappointed to hear that the JCVI has made an interim recommendation not to offer the HPV vaccine to boys. If boys were included in the vaccination programme, it would help reduce the risk of HPV related cancers for the whole population, compared to vaccinating girls alone.”

The Terrence Higgins Trust describes the JCVIs decision as “shameful”. Its chief executive, Ian Green, says: “A gender neutral policy on HPV vaccination is long overdue and would protect boys from cancers caused by untreated HPV, including penile, anal and some types of head and neck cancer.”.

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, says: “As increasing numbers of girls take up the vaccine then risk of heterosexual transmission decreases and the benefit of vaccinating boys diminishes.

“But of course, this reliance on herd immunity doesn’t provide optimal benefit for boys who go onto have sex with other men in adulthood.  There is a pilot vaccination programme running for men who have sex with men, but not all men at risk are likely to enrol in this, and we know the vaccine is most effective before someone becomes sexually active.

Limited Health Resources

“Unfortunately, it isn’t a question of science – it’s one of cost – and at the moment the Vaccination and Immunisation Committee doesn’t consider that the benefits are worth the investment.”

Dr David Elliman, consultant in community child health, adds: “Although it always seems hard to have to consider cost, it is important to make sure that we spend the money available to the NHS in a way that gets us best value.”

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

The Bogus Medicines the Feds Have No Plan to Stop

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-bogus-medicines-the-feds-have-no-plan-to-stop
Date: July 22, 2017
Author: Paul A. Offit

In a better world, the FDA would regulate homeopathic products. It would certainly be a lot cheaper and just as effective.

Homeopathic products are big business, grossing at least $3 billion a year. A 2007 survey estimated that 3.9 million adults and 910,000 children used them. These figures have only increased during the past 10 years.

One uncomfortable fact about homeopathic products, which are substances meant to treat patients by mimicking the symptoms of an illness, is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate them. This means that:

  • Manufacturers are not required to submit a new drug application before selling them.
  • Manufacturers are exempt from meeting Good Manufacturing Product (GMP) standards.
  • Manufacturers are exempt from finished-product testing for identity and strength.
  • And, as an added bonus, homeopathic products are allowed to contain higher amounts of alcohol than other drugs.

Because no one is looking, poorly made and dangerous products slip through. In 2012, for example, 10,000 cases of “poison exposures” were reported; most occurred in children who were less than five years old and some required medical treatment.

For these and other reasons, the FDA held a meeting on April 20 and 21, 2015, to discuss the regulation of homeopathic products. The FDA sought “written comments from all interested parties, including, but not limited to, consumers, patients, caregivers, health care professionals, patient groups, and industry.” With so many competing interests in the room, it shouldn’t be surprising that nothing happened. Nonetheless, about a year and a half after the FDA meeting, on Nov. 15, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took a stand, declaring that homeopathic products cannot include claims of effectiveness without competent and reliable scientific evidence. If no evidence existed (which is always the case), this fact must be clearly stated on the label.

In order to understand homeopathic products and the controversies that surround them, we need to go back to the beginning.

Homeopathy was the creation of Samuel Hahnemann, who practiced in Germany and France between 1779 and 1843. Hahnemann was disturbed by the brutality of 19th-century medicine, which included bloodletting, leeches, emetics, cathartics, and skin blistering with acids. He wanted a safer, better way to treat his patients.

Hahnemann’s epiphany came in 1790. While eating powder from the bark of a cinchona tree, Hahnemann developed a fever. At the time, it was known that cinchona bark, which contained quinine, could treat malaria. Hahnemann believed that because cinchona bark had caused him to have fever, and because fever was a symptom of malaria, medicines should induce the same symptoms as the diseases they were treating. For example, vomiting illnesses should be treated with medicines that cause vomiting. (Homeopathy literally means “similar suffering.”) To be on the safe side, however, Hahnemann also believed that homeopathic medicines should be diluted to the point that they aren’t there anymore. Although the active ingredient was gone, Hahnemann believed that the final preparation would be influenced by the fact that the medicines had once been there. In other words, the water in which the product was diluted would remember. (Given the finite amount of water on earth, it’s comforting to know that it doesn’t actually remember where it’s been.)

To understand how homeopathic products are made, let’s look at one popular product made by Boiron, a French company that describes itself as a “world leader in homeopathic medicines.” The product is called Oscillococcinum.

Boiron makes Oscillococcinum by homogenizing the heart and liver of a Burberry duck, diluting it in water 100-fold, and then repeating the hundred-fold dilution 200 more times. A solution this dilute doesn’t contain a single molecule of the Burberry duck. In fact, the preparation is so dilute that not a single molecule of the duck would be found if the final volume were that of the universe (about 1080 cubic meters). The duck is gone. From a scientist’s standpoint, Oscillococcinum is one gram of sugar. Nonetheless, a pack containing six “doses” of Oscillococcinum costs $8.00. So it’s really expensive sugar.

The label for Oscillococcinum claims that it “reduces the duration and severity of flu symptoms,” including “body aches, headache, fever, chills, and fatigue.” At the end of these claims is a small superscripted asterisk that refers the consumer to an equally small statement on the back of the box: “These ‘Uses’ have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Promoters of Oscillococcinum argue that the product is of value if only because it’s a lot safer than other remedies out there, many of which are quite harmful. For example, some doctors will prescribe an antibiotic, like the all-too-conveniently-named Z-Pack, which contains azithromycin. Antibiotics can cause allergic responses or select for resistant bacteria. Worse, some parents will use over-the-counter cough-and-cold preparations. In 2007, the FDA issued a warning against these preparations in young children—a warning long overdue. Between 2004 and 2005, the CDC found that more than 1,500 young children had suffered hallucinations, seizures, and heart problems caused by cough-and-cold medicines containing stimulants like pseudoephedrine. Three children died as a result. Further, these products do little to relieve symptoms. Oscillococcinum, on the other hand, doesn’t cause any of these side effects.

When people suffer adverse reactions to homeopathic products, like the poisonings referred to above, it’s because they aren’t really homeopathic. In other words, they might contain an active drug. Because homeopathic products aren’t regulated, consumers are on their own.

The worst aspect of homeopathic products is when people use them to treat conditions that should be treated with real drugs, like antibiotics for bacterial infections or bronchodilators for asthma or steroids for severe eczema. Or, as was the case for a 45-year-old woman named Penelope Dingle in Australia, chemotherapy for a treatable cancer. Dingle paid for her choice with her life.

In a better world, the FDA would regulate homeopathic products. Manufacturers would have to meet labeling and manufacturing standards and products would have to be proven to be safe and effective before they could be sold. If this happened, homeopathic products would disappear from the shelves. Then, patients or parents would have to use their own water or sugar to treat themselves and their children. It would certainly be a lot cheaper and consumers can be reassured that it would be just as effective.

Paul A. Offit, MD, is director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the author of Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (HarperCollins, 2013).

July, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Plan not to give HPV vaccine to boys causes concern

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-40658791
Date: July 19th, 2017

A decision not to vaccinate boys against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted infection has attracted fierce criticism.

Reported cases of human papilloma virus (HPV) – thought to cause about 80% of cervical cancers – have fallen sharply since girls were given the vaccine.

But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) found little evidence to justify treating boys too.

Critics said vaccinating boys could help reduce the risk still further.

Across the UK, all girls aged 12-13 are offered HPV vaccination as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.

Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: “Evidence from around the world suggests that the risk of HPV infection in males is dramatically reduced by achieving high uptake of the HPV vaccine among girls.

“While there are some additional benefits to vaccinating both males and females, the current models indicate that extending the programme to boys in the UK, where the uptake in adolescent girls is consistently high (over 85%), would not represent a good use of NHS resources.”

This initial recommendation by JCVI will now be subject to a public consultation and a final decision will be made in October.

The British Dental Association said it would urge the committee to reconsider the evidence.

The chair of the BDA, Mick Armstrong, said: “HPV has emerged as the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers, so JCVI’s unwillingness to expand the vaccination programme to boys is frankly indefensible.”

Shirley Cramer of the Royal Society for Public Health said: “We are deeply disappointed by the JCVI’s decision today, which suggests that fundamental priorities are focused more on saving money than on saving lives.

“Such a simple vaccination programme has the potential to make such a big impact on the public’s health on a national scale.

“We hope that the government’s advisory committee reconsider this decision as soon as possible and put the public’s health and wellbeing before cost-saving.”

The argument for vaccinating boys HPV

  • About 15% of UK girls eligible for vaccination are currently not receiving both doses, a figure which is much higher in some areas
  • Men may have sex with women too old to have had the HPV vaccination
  • Men may have sex with women from other countries with no vaccination programme
  • Men who have sex with men are not protected by the girls’ programme
  • The cost of treating HPV-related diseases is high – treating anogenital warts alone in the UK is estimated to cost £58m a year, while the additional cost of vaccinating boys has been estimated at about £20m a year

Source: HPV Action

July, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Richard Holbrook’s Benefit Concert To Give All Proceeds to The Bruce Paltrow Oral Cancer Fund

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., July 13, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Acclaimed cabaret singer Richard Holbrook will be performing two benefit concerts at the Metropolitan Room in New York City on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 7:00pm and Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 4:00pm as a benefit for The Bruce Paltrow Oral Cancer Fund which is connected with The Oral Cancer Foundation.

Holbrook will be singing Richard Rodgers songs from classic Broadway shows and memorable Hollywood film musicals. “I’m so thrilled and excited to be performing my show as a benefit for the Bruce Paltrow Oral Cancer Fund,” he states. Holbrook will be accompanied by the fabulous Tom Nelson Trio.

The stage 4 oral cancer survivor found a canker sore which led to a cancer diagnosis, spreading from gum to jaw. In September 2013 Holbrook stated, “After the surgery, I couldn’t utter a sound. I wrote notes to my family, but they were illegible. I got so frustrated! I now have such empathy for people with conditions that keep them from being able to communicate with the world. One of the most enlightening lessons I learned is how important communication is. As singers, it is all about HOW we communicate through words, sound and storytelling.”

About Richard Holbrook

Born in New York City, Richard taught himself how to sing by listening to the recordings of Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Bing Crosby and by watching their films. He found success as an actor on such hit television series as The Sopranos and Spin City, and a passion for performing cabaret which led to his first CD entitled Richard Holbrook Steps Out in 2004. Over the past several years, Richard, a three-time MAC Award nominee for best male vocalist, has appeared at popular Manhattan night spots such as Danny’s Skylight Room, Don’t Tell Mama and of course the Metropolitan Room.

About the Metropolitan Room

This Flatiron “class act” aims to revive the “golden age of cabaret” as “up-and-coming stars” and “renowned performers” alike take the stage in an “intimate” room with “great acoustics”; run with “professionalism” by a “gracious staff”, it’s “worth every penny” for a “sophisticated” night out. – ZAGAT 2014

The Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd St.  (Bet. 5th & 6th Aves) New York, NY 10010

For Tickets: Use this website,  www.MetropolitanRoom.com

For Reservations: 212.206.0440

About the Oral Cancer Foundation

The Oral Cancer Foundation, founded by oral cancer survivor Brian R. Hill, is an IRS registered non-profit 501 (c) (3) public service charity that provides information, patient support, sponsorship of research, and advocacy related to this disease.  Oral cancer is the largest group of those cancers that fall into the head and neck category. Common names for it include such things as mouth cancer, tongue cancer, head and neck cancer, and throat cancer.  OCF maintains a web site at http://www.oralcancer.org, which receives millions of hits each month.  Supporting the foundation’s goals is a scientific advisory board composed of leading cancer authorities from varied medical and dental specialties, and from prominent educational, treatment, and research institutions in the United States.

July, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

House Committee Looks to Dilute Tobacco Control Act

Source: www.medpagetoday.com
Date: July 12, 2017
Author: Salynn Boyles

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee made a move Wednesday to greatly weaken the FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco products, including flavored cigars and electronic cigarettes, and health advocacy groups were quick to condemn it.

The committee approved a rider to the agriculture funding bill that would exempt certain cigars from FDA’s authority and weaken its regulatory oversight over e-cigarettes, little cigars, and hookah tobacco.

Prior to the vote, the House committee defeated an amendment by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) to remove language from the bill that will effectively eliminate FDA’s authority to review the health hazards of thousands of tobacco products.

A second rider would exempt from FDA authority certain cigars, including many that are cheap, flavored and are most likely to appeal to children, said American Lung Association (ALA) President Harold Wimmer.

“These dangerous riders were added to this bill for the benefit of the tobacco industry and come at a time when e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among kids,” Wimmer said in a written press statement.

The riders are similar to those passed by the House Appropriations Committee last year, but the language restricting FDA’s authority under the Tobacco Control Act was dropped from the final FY2017 bill later in the appropriations process. New language in the FY2018 bill does require the FDA to develop standards for the flavors added to e-cigarettes.

ALA spokesperson Erika Sward told MedPage Today that it is not clear if the riders will suffer the same fate this time around.

“Last year there was a President committed to the Tobacco Control Act in the White House,” she said. “This year not only do you have the House attempting to undermine the Tobacco Control Act, but you also have the FDA delaying the deeming rule.”

Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said the cigar rider exempting certain cigars from FDA regulation was particularly troubling.

“Our association strongly believes that the FDA should regulate all products, since tobacco in any form presents health risks. Further, we are particularly concerned that this could create a loophole that would allow tobacco manufacturers to manipulate their products to evade the agency’s oversight,” she said in a written statement.

Brown noted that the tobacco product grandfather rider could allow thousands of tobacco products to skip FDA review.

“While we appreciate that House members included a requirement that the FDA develop a product standard for flavors in e-cigarettes, changing the grandfather date puts e-cigarette users’ health at risk,” she said.

Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Action Network, charged that the legislation would benefit the cigar and e-cigarette industries at the expense of the nation’s public health.

“Congress made a commitment to protect the health of the American people when it passed the Tobacco Control Act. Today’s committee action is a serious breach of that promise,” he said.

July, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Personalized cancer vaccines successful in first-stage human trials

Source: http://newatlas.com/cancer-personalized-vaccine-success-trial/50402/
Author: Rich Haridy
Date: July 9, 2017

A cancer vaccine is one of the holy grails of modern medical research, but finding a way to stimulate the immune system to specifically target and kill cancer cells has proven to be a difficult task. Now two recent clinical trials that have produced encouraging results in patients with skin cancer are are providing hope for the development of personalized cancer vaccines tailored to individual patient’s tumors.

Both studies focus on neoantigens, which are mutated molecules found only on the surface of cancer cells. Neoantigens prove to be ideal targets for immunotherapy as they are not present on healthy cells. A vaccine’s challenge is to train the body’s immune cells, known as T cells, to hunt and kill only those specific tumor cells that hold the target neoantigens.

In the first trial, at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, samples of tumors were taken from six patients with melanoma. The patients were identified as having a high risk for recurrence after first having their tumors removed by surgery. For each individual patient the researchers identified up to 20 neoantigens specific to a subject’s tumor.

Computer algorithms were then utilized to help the researchers select which specific neoantigens would best stimulate the body’s T cells. Those neoantigens were then synthesized, mixed with an adjuvant to stimulate immune response, and injected into the individual patients.

Four out of the six patients in this first trial displayed no recurrence of their cancer 25 months after vaccination. The other two patients did have a recurrence of cancer, although in those cases the cancer had already spread into their lungs. After a secondary treatment with the drug pembrolizumab, they also entered complete remission.

The second trial, by Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech) in Germany, used a similar strategy that targeted neoantigens in 13 patients with melanoma. These vaccines targeted up to 10 specific neoantigens in each individual patient, and after 12 to 23 months eight subjects were cancer-free.

The vaccines in both studies successfully stimulated both kinds of cancer-killing T cells: the CD8+ cells and their CD4+ helper cells. The studies also found that the T cells were able to specifically target a patient’s tumor.

It’s still early stages in research terms, but these results are incredibly promising. With more, and broader, clinical trials set for the near future, it is yet to be seen how effective these kinds of personalized vaccines are across a wide range of different cancers. A larger clinical trial that also targets bladder and lung cancers is currently underway.

One of the big challenges to overcome, should this form of personalized treatment prove broadly successful, is the cost and time in developing these customized vaccines. Current estimates claim a single patient’s neoantigen vaccine costs up to $US60,000 to produce. In tandem with other new drug innovations, some patients could be paying several hundred thousand dollars for these treatments should they reach the market.

The time it takes to produce an individual vaccine is also a concern when considering how this treatment could be rolled out on a mass scale. It took several months to produce the vaccines in both studies, but the researchers are confident this time frame could be reduced to six weeks or less. However, this is still a significant amount of time if the process was to be rolled out on a large scale.

Pragmatic challenges aside though, these neoantigen vaccines could pave the way for an exciting new form of personalized cancer treatment. One that allows for specific tumors to be targeted by the immune system through customized vaccines.

The results of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute trial were published in the journal Nature, as were the results of the second trial by Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech).

July, 2017|Oral Cancer News|