Oral Cancer News

10 Facts Everyone Should Know About HPV

Author: Lindsay Holmes
Date: November 27, 2017
Source: Huffingtonpost.com

First thing: Don’t stress.

An HPV diagnosis from your doctor doesn’t have to be scary.

In the first season of HBO’s “Girls,” Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, gets a startling wake-up call when she tests positive for the human papillomavirus. She gets upset and confronts her ex-boyfriend about it. Her best friend tells her “all adventurous women” have HPV, but she generally buys into the overblown idea that her life is over.
Diagnoses like HPV can be complicated, and also unfairly laden with stigma. Research shows that shame and fear surrounding sexual health issues can be a barrier to testing and management.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Experts say that educating yourself can help take the scariness out of an HPV diagnosis and help you manage your health.

Below is a breakdown of the facts everyone ― yes, including men! ― should know about HPV:

  1. HPV IS INCREDIBLY COMMON.

Approximately 79 million Americans have HPV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those infected are in their 20s.
“HPV is very common, and most people will be exposed to HPV at some time in their lives,” Dr. Grace Lau, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Health, told HuffPost.

  1. HPV IS CONSIDERED A SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION.

It’s the most common one, according to the CDC. It’s typically spread through vaginal or anal sex, and it can be passed on even if your partner isn’t showing any symptoms.

“It requires intimate skin to skin contact for transmission,” Lau said. “Condom usage decreases the risk of transmission, but doesn’t completely take away that risk.”

  1. MANY DOCTORS MAY NOT EVEN TEST FOR IT.

Physicians may not screen for HPV during routine Pap smears or other health testing because of how common it is, according to the American Cancer Society. They may wait until you show signs of an infection (like genital warts), or they may test for it if you’re a woman whose Pap smear comes back abnormal.

  1. MEN CAN GET HPV AND PASS IT TO THEIR PARTNERS.

If you think the virus is a women’s health issue, think again: Research published in 2014 found that 69 percent of men studied had HPV.

  1. BUT THERE ISN’T A REAL WAY TO TEST MEN.

Currently, there’s no real recommended HPV test for men, according to the CDC. Most tests are done on women through routine screenings for cervical cancer.

“Women should have regular visits with their gynecologist and get regularly screened with pap smears,” Lau said.

  1. IT MIGHT INCREASE YOUR RISK FOR CANCER OR OTHER HEALTH ISSUES.

HPV is most commonly associated with a risk for certain cancers, including cervical cancer or oral cancers. Some forms of the virus can also cause genital warts. However, as the CDC points out, there’s no need to panic, either:
Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.
Regular check-ins with your doctor can help monitor your health so you stay on top of any potential issues, Lau said.

  1. HPV DOESN’T NECESSARILY STAY WITH YOU FOREVER.

“Patients commonly assume that HPV is a lifelong infection that will stay with them always,” Lau said. “But most HPV infections in most people can be cleared by the immune system within one to two years.”

That doesn’t necessarily give you a free pass to ignore it, though. Lau stresses that it’s important to monitor your heath with your physician.

“If you have been diagnosed, it’s important to follow up with your doctor to make sure it clears,” she said.

  1. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF STRAINS OF THE VIRUS.

There are high-risk strains and low-risk strains of HPV. Two high-risk types, HPV 16 and 18, are most commonly associated with precancerous or cancerous cell growth.

“HPV is not just one virus, but a group of over 200 related viruses. Each virus is labeled with a number to distinguish it from the others, and different viruses can target different areas of the body and can cause different possible diseases in humans,” Lau said. “Some cause skin problems like warts and others can lead to cancers.”

The HPV vaccine targets those high-risk strains, along with the strains that cause 90 percent of genital warts.

  1. THE VACCINE CAN PROTECT YOU.

Lau says everyone who plans on being sexually active should be vaccinated. Doctors typically instruct preteens get the vaccine, but if that doesn’t happen, it’s OK: Lau says the vaccine can be recommended for women up through age 26 and men up through age 21.

“The HPV vaccine is indicated for people who haven’t had sex yet, because it protects them against the viruses they haven’t been exposed to yet. However, the vaccine may still be helpful in people who have been sexually active,” she added.

  1. IT’S NOTHING TO FEEL ASHAMED ABOUT.

Bottom line: There’s no reason to buy into any stigma surrounding HPV ― or any sexual health issue, for that matter. The best thing you can do is stay proactive and smart about your well-being.

“HPV is something to be aware of and to be informed about,” Lau said. That’s it.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Source: www.self.com
Author: Katherine Pett, R.D.N.

If you’re dealing with cancer, eating is probably the last thing on your mind, between doctor’s appointments, your treatment schedule, getting enough rest, and focusing your energy on getting better. Not to mention that “normal” life doesn’t stop because of cancer—there’s still work and family and errands and everything in between. But getting proper nutrition during cancer treatment is important for maintaining your energy and strength, and preventing weight loss that can lead to delays in medical treatment. So instead of thinking of food as a chore, try thinking of it as a vital part of your treatment plan.

As you well know if you’re going through treatment, chemotherapy and radiation often cause side effects that make it difficult to eat, like low appetite, nausea, taste changes, or difficulty chewing and swallowing. A key step is being prepared to combat these potential symptoms, and you can do that by arming yourself with evidence-based nutrition info, a strong support system, a well-rounded health care team, and some tips and tricks for making food easier to get (and stay) down.

“Based on data and personal experience, patients unable to stay nourished tend to do worse and are less likely to tolerate the full therapy,” says Fasyal Haroun, M.D., assistant professor in hematology and oncology at George Washington University. But there’s also not one right way to get that nourishment during cancer treatment, so “an assessment by a dietitian is a good start,” Dr. Haroun says.

As a registered dietitian, I often work with patients admitted to the hospital who have trouble maintaining sufficient energy and protein intake. They want to maintain a good intake, but they’re dealing with low appetite, nausea, or trouble with chewing and swallowing due to dry mouth or mouth sores. During their stay, I help make sure their trays are full of foods they can easily eat despite their symptoms, or I add snacks between meals. (Of course, my recommendations will vary for each patient.)

I wanted to put together a guide to make eating more enjoyable—or at least less nausea-inducing—while you’re working hard on getting better, so I pulled together some of my own tips and also spoke with Danielle Penick, R.D., a long-time oncology dietitian and blogger at Survivor’s Table, a website for evidence-based nutrition advice for cancer.

1. First of all, be prepared to temporarily hate some (or all) of your favorite foods.
One common side effect of cancer treatment is changes in taste and smell. If you usually love the smell of a BLT, you might find that it makes you gag during treatment.

One way to deal with this is by changing up flavors and avoiding foods with strong smells. Chemo and radiation can sometimes cause metallic or bitter tastes, and tart or citrus flavors can work to cover these tastes. Try adding lemon to protein dishes like chicken and fish, or marinating proteins in vinegar-based dressings. Adding fresh, pungent herbs (that don’t smell bad to you) can help make foods more palatable. (Check out one of my favorite recipes for dill-marinated blue fish featuring a lemon marinade). It might sound counterintuitive, but try foods you don’t typically care for—you might find them newly tolerable.

2. Even silverware might start tasting disgusting. If so, swap it out for plastic cutlery.
As certain medications are infused, they can cause you to experience a “metallic” or bitter taste in your mouth, which certainly does not help with appetite. One common solution to help deal with this side effect is to switch out metal knives and forks for plastic. You can also try to cover up metallic tastes by sucking on mints or chewing gum.

3. If basically all food smells are too much, eat foods chilled.
Hot food is more aromatic (think about the time someone reheated fish in the office microwave, ew) and can make smell aversions worse. So if this is happening to you, put drinks on ice, make frozen smoothies, or just stick your plate in the fridge or freezer to cool it down before you eat it. The chill can also help numb your taste buds which helps if you’re experiencing taste changes.

4. If you’re dealing with painful mouth sores or cuts, stay away from acidic foods.
Since chemotherapy and radiation target rapidly dividing cells to fight cancer, it can wind up affecting normal cells that also divide rapidly, like the ones lining your mouth. This can lead to painful cuts or mouth sores that make it difficult to eat. If a sore mouth is your problem, avoid foods like citrus and tomato as well as crunchy, potentially painful foods like tortilla chips or crackers.

For mouth sores, Penick recommends ice and frozen treats. “I would encourage people to suck on ice or frozen fruit, because that can be really helpful to sooth the mouth,” Penick tells SELF. She also says that eating a frozen food first may numb up your mouth so you can tolerate a few bites of an energy dense food, like a protein bar. Frozen bananas are great, since they are sweet and starchy, as well as a bit higher in calories than other, less dense fruits.

5. Smoothies are a great way to combat dry mouth while also getting in calories and nutrients.
A dry, cottony mouth is another common symptom of both chemotherapy and radiation. For this symptom, it’s good to work with liquidy foods and mix up textures. Penick recommends custards, bananas, applesauce, cottage cheese, and oatmeal—wetter foods that are easy to get down.

To meet energy needs, “smoothies tend to be really well tolerated, too. I like those because you can add a lot of [protein-rich] foods like peanut butter, yogurt, or milk,” she says. Peanut butter and yogurt are also energy-dense options which make them optimal if you’re having trouble getting enough calories. Again, bananas are beneficial since they are high in potassium which can help with electrolyte disturbances (which can happen as a result of chemotherapy). Avocados, ever popular on toast, are a good addition, too. “They make a smoothie creamier, add calories, and taste mild,” Penick says. One of her preferred combinations is to blend ½ cup milk, an avocado, a banana, and ½ cup pineapple chunks with about five ice cubes.

6. If you’ve got zero appetite, try adding some walking into your day if you can.
One way to combat a lost appetite is to work it back up. “I actually encourage a lot of walking,” if you’re feeling up to it, “because walking can help increase appetite,” Penick says. It can also help prevent constipation, which can be a side effect of chemotherapy or certain pain medications. As with any intervention, make sure you ask your doctor if exercise is appropriate for you. If your appetite remains low over the long term, your doctor may prescribe medication to stimulate your appetite.

7. Arm yourself with lots of high-calorie snacks if eating full meals is too intimidating.
Some people describe a sense of early satiety, or “feeling full” after just a few bites of food. Others simply feel nauseous. If you’re dealing with a low appetite, Penick points out that it might be easier to eat small amounts frequently, rather than full meals. “Sometimes larger meals can be overwhelming.”

The solution: ABS (Always Be Snacking). Keep high-calorie snacks like protein bars or packets of nut butter in a backpack or purse so you always have one handy. If just being around food seems overwhelming, keep small bottles of nutritional supplement drinks around and sip them when you can. And remember, put it on ice if you just can’t with the flavor.

8. If anyone wants to help, give them really explicit instructions on the kinds of foods you can currently stomach and how to make them freezer-friendly.
Cancer treatments are exhausting, and it’s not reasonable to expect that you’ll feel like cooking for yourself. So Penick recommends anything that’s grab-and-go, like meals from a family member that you can save, freeze, and reheat when needed. In addition to pre-prepared meals (think casseroles, soups, or even starchy foods like pancakes and waffles that freeze well), she recommends “things that are prepackaged that you can easily open, and nutrition supplements,” like the nutritional drinks Ensure, Boost, or Orgain.

For supportive friends and family, be clear about what foods you are tolerating well at the moment, and keep lines of communication open. Definitely accept help, but realize that now is a time when friends might start making “helpful” recommendations that are anything but. If someone in your circle tries to nudge you towards trying a “diet that’s great for cancer,” know that you can just politely ignore that. You don’t need the added stress, and if your friend/yoga teacher/lifestyle guru is not also an oncologist, their advice is likely not evidence-based.

9. Bookmark a few friendly resources with helpful tips.
If you or a loved one will be starting chemo or radiation soon, it’s not too early to stock up on good online resources with helpful food prep and nutrition suggestions. The American Cancer Society has clear, helpful instructions for troubleshooting eating-related side effects of cancer treatment; so does the Eating Hints guide from the National Cancer Institute. Penick also recommends Cook for Your Life, a website dedicated to recipes for people with cancer. They’re indexed by cancer-specific priority such as “easy to swallow,” “high calorie,” or “nausea” to help you find foods that can fit your needs.

Reputable sources like Cleveland Clinic’s Chemocare, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Institute can help you find answers to common questions about nutrition and cancer. However, be wary of advice provided on online forums or social media, especially if it conflicts with your physician or dietitian’s advice. While seeking support is good, Penick warns that “most online forums where anyone can post are filled with an abundance of misinformation,” and while participants may mean well, they can make unsubstantiated claims that promote anxiety around eating. An oncology dietitian can work to fine-tune your eating plan if you have additional dietary needs (like those that come with diabetes or celiac disease), which brings me to the next tip…

10. Get personalized advice from an oncology dietitian.
If there’s one thing Penick always wants her patients to know, it’s this: “What works for one person may not work for another person.” Because energy and nutrient needs can vary before and during your treatment, a dietitian can follow your progress, calculate your nutrition needs, and help you troubleshoot any food-based challenges that may arise.

So much of cancer treatment can feel like it’s being done to you: chemo, surgery, radiation, etc. Nutrition can be an empowering part of your care, since you have control over your food choices. A dietitian can help by bringing subject-matter expertise to visits designed to meet your needs and preferences. They can provide meal plans, give you ideas for food replacements that fit your changing tastes, and they have a strong background knowledge of potentially helpful medical foods and supplements. As licensed clinicians, dietitians focus on evidence-based practice and will guide you to practical advice (and away from unproven or potentially harmful diet plans and practices).

While many oncologists and medical practices have dietitians on staff, not all do. If your doctor doesn’t offer nutrition support within his or her office, ask for a referral to a dietitian who specializes in oncology. To determine whether an outpatient or even home-based visit with a dietitian is covered by your healthcare, call your insurance provider.

11. Don’t worry about “optimizing” your diet—just get down what you can.
Often when I see cancer patients concerned with nutrition, they want to know exactly how much protein to get, or what foods are good sources of antioxidants, or whether they should invest in “superfoods” or other (sometimes gimmicky) supplements. While trying to get enough protein is a noble intention, our primary goal is for you to get enough to eat. Unless you have another illness that requires a specific diet, now is probably not the time to “optimize” aspects of your diet (by going all organic, for example).

These restrictions are going to make it harder for you to meet your energy needs and are unlikely to have a major effect on your outcome. And, they might cause additional weight loss, something we try to avoid as much as possible while a patient is in treatment. Definitely focus on eating mostly healthy foods, but if all you can tolerate is chocolate pudding? Add chocolate pudding to the menu! While food can seem like a minor player in the battle against cancer, it’s crucial for maintaining energy and can help you tolerate and complete treatments.

Author:
Katherine Pett is a registered dietitian with an MS in Nutrition Biochemistry and Epidemiology. She runs the website Nutrition Wonk, where the goal is to provide high-quality nutrition science news, opinions, and interactive content.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Smokeless tobacco, snuff, chew not safe substitutes for cigarettes

Source: www.bnd.com
Author: staff

As many people are aware, the use of any type of tobacco can lead to major health risks. Many individuals think using smokeless tobacco or chew can be a safe substitute for cigarettes.

A mock model of how dangerous and destructive tobacco products, specifically smokeless tobacco, can be to someone’s health and well-being. Navy photo by Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

Tobacco companies often lead people to believe this; however, this is not true. There is no proof that any smokeless tobacco products help smokers quit smoking.

Smokeless tobacco has four times the amount of nicotine than a cigarette and also contains 30 chemicals known to cause cancers.

A few of these cancers include mouth, tongue, cheek, and gum cancer. Additionally, cancer can be found in the esophagus and pancreas. Along with these health risks there are other problems, including mouth and teeth problems and tooth loss.

Many studies have shown that high rates of leukoplakia in the mouth were found where individuals hold the chew.

Leukoplakia is a white patch in the mouth that could potentially turn into cancer. The white patches, sometimes called sores, within the mouth cannot be scraped off but usually do not cause pain. The longer the use of oral tobacco, the more prone an individual is to develop leukoplakia.

Stopping tobacco use usually allows leukoplakia to heal, however, treatment may be needed if there are signs of early cancer. Along with these issues, there are many others such as bad breath, teeth stains, receding gums, gum disease, cavities and tooth decay.

As well as the health risks one is providing for themselves, children, pets and animals can also suffer health risks from tobacco substances. Children, pets and animals often mistake these substances for candy, gum or something they should put in their mouth.

Ingesting smokeless tobacco can lead to nicotine poisoning and even death. Most children affected by this are under the age of 6 and more than 70 percent are under 1 year of age according to a study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Smokeless tobacco affects everyone.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Superseed? Apricot kernels, touted as cancer cure, linked to cyanide poisoning

Author: Catherine Solyom
Date: November 22, 2017
Source: flipboard.com

Brendan Brogan had just returned from a shopping trip on the Plateau laden with exotic snacks.

On a visit to Montreal from California, he stood in the doorway of his buddy Mike Guetta’s room, munching away on something as they discussed the absurdities of the day.

Then Guetta looked up.

“Those better not be almonds,” he said. “You know I’m allergic to those.”

“No, no,” Brogan replied, “I would never do that. These are apricot pits.”

“What?!? Don’t eat those! They’re poisonous!”

Brogan pooh-poohed the warning, arguing the kernels were organic and he’d bought them at the health food store.

“Look! It’s the superseed of the Hunza people, with Vitamin B17!”

Then he turned the bag over and read the fine print. His face went grey: “Caution: Do not consume more than 2-3 kernels per day. Keep out of the reach of children. Pregnant and nursing women should not consume apricot kernels. Health Canada warns that eating too many apricot kernels can lead to acute cyanide poisoning.”

After a quick call to poison control, Brogan rushed to the nearest emergency room. He had eaten a third of the bag.

Apricot kernels, like cherry pits and apple seeds, contain a product called amygdalin, also known as laetrile and marketed as Vitamin B17.

Bitter apricot kernels — the pits of the pits — are widely available in Montreal health food stores, including at Rachelle-Béry branches across the city, where Brogan bought some. They are gluten-free, pesticide-free, vegan and organic.

They are also potentially lethal, as Brogan found out.

The kernels, like cherry pits and apple seeds, contain a product called amygdalin, also known as laetrile and marketed as Vitamin B17, though it’s more like an anti-vitamin.

When the seeds are chewed and digested, the amygdalin is converted to cyanide in the stomach. Eat too much of them — more than three apricot kernels for an adult and just one kernel for a toddler — and cyanide poisoning can occur.

Cyanide cuts off oxygen supply. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, mental confusion, weakness, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, seizures, coma and, eventually, death.

That’s why Australia, for one, has banned the sale of apricot kernels. But that didn’t stop a Melbourne man from slowly poisoning himself by ingesting 17 mg of homemade apricot kernel extract per day, in the mistaken belief that it would cure his prostate cancer. When doctors performed routine surgery on him in September, they found cyanide levels in his blood that were 25 times the accepted level.

Germany and the United Kingdom have also restricted the sale of apricot kernels, after a number of cases of children hospitalized for cyanide poisoning. In 2011, for example, a 28-month old girl was rushed unconscious to hospital in Turkey. She died in hospital of acute cyanide poisoning 22 days later. She had eaten 10 kernels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the sale of apricot kernels if  “intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, for its part, issued a recall and health hazard alert for Our Father’s Farm brand of apricot kernels in 2009, after a reported case of cyanide poisoning.

Since then the agency has received two more complaints of illness.

Packaging must now carry Health Canada’s warning label. But other brands have filled the void left by Our Father’s Farm.

 

Brogan bought the Organic Traditions brand of the kernel. Manually harvested and imported from Uzbekistan, the kernels are perhaps the “prized superseed” of the Hunza people. It says so right there on the packaging, along with the following claims: “contains vitamin B17” and “used in Ancient Asian medicine for centuries.”

In texts dating back to the 1930s that are rehashed by consumer direct and alternative health websites, the Hunza or Burusho people of the Himalayan region of northern Pakistan are said to live to be 140 and never get sick.

It must be because of the kernels, the story goes.

For example, a Facebook site liked by  997,744 people — titled “The truth about cancer” — says the Hunzas enjoyed near-perfect health.

“Some lived to be over 135 years old and no one in their clan had any of the conditions so common in the modern world, such as diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and cancer.” The website continues in bold lettering, noting that “they ate massive quantities of apricot seed kernels.”

Numerous other websites also claim that apricot kernels can prevent or cure cancer. The kernels are said to treat arthritis, boost your immune system and even serve as an aphrodisiac.

The truth about apricot seeds — and the Hunza people — is less rosy, however. A New York Times reporter who travelled to this Shangri-La in 1996 discovered a beautiful place indeed. But the elderly men who looked to be 140 were probably more like 70.

“The great Hunza secret to old age turned out to be its absence of birth records,” John Tierney wrote.

By  modern accounts, Hunza life expectancy is similar to other people in remote mountain regions who go through cycles of food scarcity — 50 to 60 years old.

On the seeds themselves, the science has been conclusive. Numerous studies show that amygdalin does kill cancer cells — and all other cells too.

Joe Schwarcz, the director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, said the initial idea — generating small amounts of cyanide to kill fast-multiplying cancer cells — was not a bad one. But it just doesn’t work, he said.

The sale of apricot seeds “clearly should not be allowed,” he said, surprised at how readily they are found on store shelves in Montreal.

Schwarcz says Health Canada is overwhelmed and useless at stopping the sale of bogus health remedies.

“With dietary supplements, they tend to say well, it’s not really dangerous, and let them be,” Schwarcz said, vowing to confront Health Canada about the sale of the seeds as a vitamin. “But this one is not in that category. You don’t need a lot of these kernels to do a lot of harm.”

A spokesperson for Health Canada said it is powerless to stop the sale of a product if its distributor does not claim any health benefits. It referred the Montreal Gazette to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The CFIA said it merely enforces Health Canada directives.

Neither agency would comment on why apricot seeds are sold in Canada at all — as vitamins or snacks — given their known toxicity.

 

Upon arrival at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, Brogan was given a tall Styrofoam cup of charcoal then placed on a gurney in the hallway to monitor his condition.

No one, from the person who answered the phone at poison control to the triage nurse to the doctor on duty, could believe that apricot seeds were being sold in Montreal.

Eight hours later, Brogan was released from hospital with a $1,125 bill. He had no health insurance, he explained.

“Those seeds were the most expensive snack I’ve ever eaten.”

Guetta went back to Rachelle-Béry to alert them of the danger. The store manager seemed alarmed and immediately took all the remaining packages off the shelves.

But when Guetta returned a few weeks later, there they were again. The superseed of the Hunza people.

 

 

 

 

 

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Top cancer doctors have some advice about alcohol

Source: www.newser.com
Author: staff

Name things that increase your risk of cancer. Cigarettes and tanning beds might quickly come to mind. But how about alcohol? A recent survey of 4,016 adults by the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that only 30% knew alcohol is a risk factor for cancer, reports the New York Times. ASCO, which includes many leading cancer doctors, had yet to voice its own thoughts on the topic. That changed this month, with the Nov. 7 publication of a statement in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that begins by calling the link between the two “often underappreciated” and noting that “addressing high-risk alcohol use is one strategy to reduce the burden of cancer.”

“Despite the evidence of a strong link between alcohol drinking and certain cancers, ASCO has not previously addressed the topic of alcohol and cancer.”

In the statement they cite outside research they’ve found to be sound, like an estimate that 5.8% of global cancer deaths in 2012 were attributable to alcohol, and evidence that drinking can increase the risk of mouth, throat, voice box, liver, breast, esophageal, and colorectal cancers. So what’s the upshot? It’s not “Don’t drink,” lead statement author Dr. Noelle LoConte tells the Times. “It’s different than tobacco where we say, ‘Never smoke. Don’t start.’ This is a little more subtle”—drink less, essentially. (Though the statement does contain the line, “People who do not currently drink alcohol should not start for any reason.”) So what’s Wine Spectator’s response? It tries to poke a hole or two, noting “the statement … dismisses possible health benefits of alcohol, including lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.”

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Immokalee health clinic earns national award for vaccination rate

Source: www.naplesnews.com
Author: Liz Freeman

The public health department in Immokalee set a goal for getting children vaccinated against cancer and brought home a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention award for its high success rate.

The Florida Department of Health in Collier County, specifically the Immokalee location, was named the regional winner of the 2017 HPV Vaccine Award because of its 76.2 percent vaccine series completion rate among 13 to 15 year olds.

A point-in-time survey in August found 560 children aged 13 to 15 in Immokalee had been vaccinated against HPV, according to a health department spokeswoman.

In the last four years, the Immokalee clinic took on an ambitious campaign in the farmworker community to boost HPV vaccination rates, starting with ensuring that all staff members who have contact with clients are knowledgeable about the virus and the vaccine. The virus is common and can cause certain cancer of the genitals, head and neck. There are about 31,000 new cases of cancer a year caused by the virus, according to the CDC.

Controversy is attached to the HPV vaccine by some groups who argue that getting kids vaccinated may promote early sexual interaction with others. State governments that have authority over school vaccination requirements have faced debate over requiring it and over the cost

State Surgeon General and DOH Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip said she was proud of the Immokalee clinic and its success rate for the vaccinating young people against the virus.

“Their commitment to preventing cancers caused by HPV infection and ensuring that every child and parent that visits the clinic are educated about the benefits of the HPV vaccine has a positive impact on the health of their county and our state,” she said in a news release.

The CDC award criteria stipulates that candidates must achieve a vaccination series rate of at least 70 percent of the patient population aged 13 to 15, both girls and boys, seen in the last two years.

Stephanie Vick, administrator of the Collier health department, said the Immokalee team identified a public health challenge and set out to achieve results.

“Their efforts reflect their professionalism and dedication to tackling what for some groups can be a taboo subject and placed the focus upon a universally accepted prevention subject,” Vick said.

People get HPV from another person during sexual contact, and both men and women can get it. A person can get it even if the partner has no sign or symptoms. About 79 million Americans are infected with some type of HPV, and 14 million people become newly infected each year. Most infections go away by themselves within two years, but sometimes it can take longer and can cause cancer of the genitals, in the back of the throat and the tongue.

Since 2006, the CDC has recommended the HPV vaccine, initially in a three-dose series over six months, and then it changed its recommendation to two doses for people before the 15th birthday. The second does should be given six to 12 months after the first dose.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Know what’s worse than the risks of getting the HPV vaccine? Getting an HPV-related cancer. Trust me

Source: www.statnews.com
Author: Michael D. Becker

In an era of $500,000 cancer treatments, you’d expect a vaccine series that costs about $300 and helps prevent several types of cancer to be popular with physicians, insurers, and consumers. It’s not, and, as a result, people are dying. I should know — I’m one of them.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause changes in the body that lead to six cancers: cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer in both women and men. It can also cause oropharyngeal cancer — cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils — in both sexes. In the U.S., approximately 30,000 new cancers attributable to HPV are diagnosed each year.

In 2006, the first vaccine became available to protect against HPV infection. I was 38 years old at the time, well above the upper age limit of 26 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for getting the vaccine. Ideally it should be given before the teen years, but can be given up to age 26.

Uptake of the HPV vaccine in the U.S. is abysmal, with just 49 percent of girls and 37 percent of boys having received the recommended HPV vaccination series.

Individuals who oppose the use of vaccines argue that safety concerns should preclude the use of the HPV vaccine. I disagree. The safety and effectiveness of this vaccine to protect against cancer-causing strains of the HPV virus have been unquestionably proven. Others point to side effects of the HPV vaccine as a reason not to vaccinate young Americans. These may include pain, swelling, redness, itching, bruising, bleeding, or a lump at the injection site as well as headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sore throat. Most people who get the vaccine experience no side effects from it other than the pain that accompanies most shots.

Missing from the discussion are the risks of not getting the vaccine. As someone with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer, I can describe a few of them. And I can say with certainty I would gladly have experienced any of the vaccine-related side effects rather than the dozen or so “side effects” of the cancer and its treatment that I’m living with. I’ve illustrated them on the image below.

Some of these side effects, like hair loss, aren’t hazardous. Others are. I’ve spent time in an intensive care unit for my rapid heart rate, and have had to go to the emergency department several times for my pleural effusion and other issues. All of these pale beside the biggest “side effect” — a terminal disease that will eventually take my life.

I urge all parents to talk to your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine. I wish my parents had that opportunity when I was young, as it could have prevented the cancer that’s killing me.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

The Unforgiving Math That Stops Epidemics

Author: Tara C. Smith
Source: www.quantamagazine.org
Date: October 26, 2017

As the annual flu season approaches, medical professionals are again encouraging people to get flu shots. Perhaps you are among those who rationalize skipping the shot on the grounds that “I never get the flu” or “if I get sick, I get sick” or “I’m healthy, so I’ll get over it.” What you might not realize is that these vaccination campaigns for flu and other diseases are about much more than your health. They’re about achieving a collective resistance to disease that goes beyond individual well-being — and that is governed by mathematical principles unforgiving of unwise individual choices.

When talking about vaccination and disease control, health authorities often invoke “herd immunity.” This term refers to the level of immunity in a population that’s needed to prevent an outbreak from happening. Low levels of herd immunity are often associated with epidemics, such as the measles outbreak in 2014-2015 that was traced to exposures at Disneyland in California. A study investigating cases from that outbreak demonstrated that measles vaccination rates in the exposed population may have been as low as 50 percent. This number was far below the threshold needed for herd immunity to measles, and it put the population at risk of disease.

The necessary level of immunity in the population isn’t the same for every disease. For measles, a very high level of immunity needs to be maintained to prevent its transmission because the measles virus is possibly the most contagious known organism. If people infected with measles enter a population with no existing immunity to it, they will on average each infect 12 to 18 others. Each of those infections will in turn cause 12 to 18 more, and so on until the number of individuals who are susceptible to the virus but haven’t caught it yet is down to almost zero. The number of people infected by each contagious individual is known as the “basic reproduction number” of a particular microbe (abbreviated R0), and it varies widely among germs. The calculated R0 of the West African Ebola outbreak was found to be around 2 in a 2014 publication, similar to the R0 computed for the 1918 influenza pandemic based on historical data.

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If the Ebola virus’s R0 sounds surprisingly low to you, that’s probably because you have been misled by the often hysterical reporting about the disease. The reality is that the virus is highly infectious only in the late stages of the disease, when people are extremely ill with it. The ones most likely to be infected by an Ebola patient are caregivers, doctors, nurses and burial workers — because they are the ones most likely to be present when the patients are “hottest” and most likely to transmit the disease. The scenario of an infectious Ebola patient boarding an aircraft and passing on the disease to other passengers is extremely unlikely because an infectious patient would be too sick to fly. In fact, we know of cases of travelers who were incubating Ebola virus while flying, and they produced no secondary cases during those flights.

Note that the R0 isn’t related to how severe an infection is, but to how efficiently it spreads. Ebola killed about 40 percent of those infected in West Africa, while the 1918 influenza epidemic had a case-fatality rate of about 2.5 percent. In contrast, polio and smallpox historically spread to about 5 to 7 people each, which puts them in the same range as the modern-day HIV virus and pertussis (the bacterium that causes whooping cough).

Determining the R0 of a particular microbe is a matter of more than academic interest. If you know how many secondary cases to expect from each infected person, you can figure out the level of herd immunity needed in the population to keep the microbe from spreading. This is calculated by taking the reciprocal of R0 and subtracting it from 1. For measles, with an R0 of 12 to 18, you need somewhere between 92 percent (1 – 1/12) and 95 percent (1 – 1/18) of the population to have effective immunity to keep the virus from spreading. For flu, it’s much lower — only around 50 percent. And yet we rarely attain even that level of immunity with vaccination.

Once we understand the concept of R0, so much about patterns of infectious disease makes sense. It explains, for example, why there are childhood diseases — infections that people usually encounter when young, and against which they often acquire lifelong immunity after the infections resolve. These infections include measles, mumps, rubella and (prior to its eradication) smallpox — all of which periodically swept through urban populations in the centuries prior to vaccination, usually affecting children.

Do these viruses have some unusual affinity for children? Before vaccination, did they just go away after each outbreak and only return to cities at approximately five- to 10-year intervals? Not usually. After a large outbreak, viruses linger in the population, but the level of herd immunity is high because most susceptible individuals have been infected and (if they survived) developed immunity. Consequently, the viruses spread slowly: In practice, their R0 is just slightly above 1. This is known as the “effective reproduction number” — the rate at which the microbe is actually transmitted in a population that includes both susceptible and non-susceptible individuals (in other words, a population where some immunity already exists). Meanwhile, new susceptible children are born into the population. Within a few years, the population of young children who have never been exposed to the disease dilutes the herd immunity in the population to a level below what’s needed to keep outbreaks from occurring. The virus can then spread more rapidly, resulting in another epidemic.

An understanding of the basic reproduction number also explains why diseases spread so rapidly in new populations: Because those hosts lack any immunity to the infection, the microbe can achieve its maximum R0. This is why diseases from invading Europeans spread so rapidly and widely among indigenous populations in the Americas and Hawaii during their first encounters. Having never been exposed to these microbes before, the non-European populations had no immunity to slow their spread.

If we further understand what constellation of factors contributes to an infection’s R0, we can begin to develop interventions to interrupt the transmission. One aspect of the R0 is the average number and frequency of contacts that an infected individual has with others susceptible to the infection. Outbreaks happen more frequently in large urban areas because individuals living in crowded cities have more opportunities to spread the infection: They are simply in contact with more people and have a higher likelihood of encountering someone who lacks immunity. To break this chain of transmission during an epidemic, health authorities can use interventions such as isolation (keeping infected individuals away from others) or even quarantine (keeping individuals who have been exposed to infectious individuals — but are not yet sick themselves — away from others).

Other factors that can affect the R0 involve both the host and the microbe. When an infected person has contact with someone who is susceptible, what is the likelihood that the microbe will be transmitted? Frequently, hosts can reduce the probability of transmission through their behaviors: by covering coughs or sneezes for diseases transmitted through the air, by washing their contaminated hands frequently, and by using condoms to contain the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

These behavioral changes are important, but we know they’re far from perfect and not particularly efficient in the overall scheme of things. Take hand-washing, for example. We’ve known of its importance in preventing the spread of disease for 150 years. Yet studies have shown that hand-washing compliance even by health care professionals is astoundingly low — less than half of doctors and nurses wash their hands when they’re supposed to while caring for patients. It’s exceedingly difficult to get people to change their behavior, which is why public health campaigns built around convincing people to behave differently can sometimes be less effective than vaccination campaigns.

How long a person can actively spread the infection is another factor in the R0. Most infections can be transmitted for only a few days or weeks. Adults with influenza can spread the virus for about a week, for example. Some microbes can linger in the body and be transmitted for months or years. HIV is most infectious in the early stages when concentrations of the virus in the blood are very high, but even after those levels subside, the virus can be transmitted to new partners for many years. Interventions such as drug treatments can decrease the transmissibility of some of these organisms.

The microbes’ properties are also important. While hosts can purposely protect themselves, microbes don’t choose their traits. But over time, evolution can shape them in a manner that increases their chances of transmission, such as by enabling measles to linger longer in the air and allowing smallpox to survive longer in the environment.

By bringing together all these variables (size and dynamics of the host population, levels of immunity in the population, presence of interventions, microbial properties, and more), we can map and predict the spread of infections in a population using mathematical models. Sometimes these models can overestimate the spread of infection, as was the case with the models for the Ebola outbreak in 2014. One model predicted up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by January 2015; in reality, the outbreak ended in 2016 with only 28,616 cases. On the other hand, models used to predict the transmission of cholera during an outbreak in Yemen have been more accurate.

The difference between the two? By the time the Ebola model was published, interventions to help control the outbreak were already under way. Campaigns had begun to raise awareness of how the virus was transmitted, and international aid had arrived, bringing in money, personnel and supplies to contain the epidemic. These interventions decreased the Ebola virus R0 primarily by isolating the infected and instituting safe burial practices, which reduced the number of susceptible contacts each case had. Shipments of gowns, gloves and soap that health care workers could use to protect themselves while treating patients reduced the chance that the virus would be transmitted. Eventually, those changes meant that the effective R0 fell below 1 — and the epidemic ended. (Unfortunately, comparable levels of aid and interventions to stop cholera in Yemen have not been forthcoming.)

Catch-up vaccinations and the use of isolation and quarantine also likely helped to end the Disneyland measles epidemic, as well as a slightly earlier measles epidemic in Ohio. Knowing the factors that contribute to these outbreaks can aid us in stopping epidemics in their early stages. But to prevent them from happening in the first place, a population with a high level of immunity is, mathematically, our best bet for keeping disease at bay.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

FDA Cracks Down on Marijuana Cancer Treatment Claims

Author: Anna Edney; Jennifer Kaplan
Source: www.bloomberg.com
Date: November 1, 2017

U.S. officials sent a warning to the marijuana industry, alerting online sellers they cannot market their products as a treatment for cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration sent letters to four companies on Tuesday, warning them about unsubstantiated claims that their marijuana-derived products can combat tumors and kill cancer cells. The firms sell products including oils and capsules made from cannabidiol, also known as CBD, a component of the marijuana plant that doesn’t cause the mind-altering effects of the other main component, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

The agency told the companies they cannot make claims to treat or cure a disease when a product has never been studied as a treatment. Curbing the sale of CBD products with health claims could put a damper on the medical-marijuana market. Producers that are required to nix references to medical ailments may move toward the recreational side of the legal cannabis industry.

Eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized pot for recreational use. Twenty-one additional states have legalized for medical purposes.

“We don’t let companies market products that deliberately prey on sick people with baseless claims that their substance can shrink or cure cancer and we’re not going to look the other way on enforcing these principles when it comes to marijuana-containing products,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

The crackdown could also have a wider impact on the pharmaceutical industry. CBD is being researched in labs as potential treatment for certain diseases. Biotech company GW Pharmaceuticals Plc, for instance, is testing the component to treat certain forms of epilepsy.

Gottlieb hinted almost a month ago at a congressional hearing that the FDA may get tough on unproven marijuana claims. The companies that received warning letters are: Greenroads Health, Natural Alchemist, That’s Natural! and Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises. The companies have 15 working days to tell the FDA what corrective steps they will take.

Stanley Brothers runs the company CW Hemp, which said in an emailed statement it takes “regulatory compliance very seriously” and will work with the FDA to better monitor the information on its website. The other companies didn’t return requests for comment.

 

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

The iPhone ultrasound device that can spot cancer

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk
Author: Maggie O’Neill for dailymail.com

Dr John Martin diagnosed his own stage four cancer last summer – using only his iPhone.

The 59-year-old doctor is a vascular surgeon and the chief medical officer at Butterfly Network, a company that has invented a handheld ultrasound machine that can connect to an iPhone called the Butterfly iQ. While the product was being tested for FDA clearance in July, Dr Martin decided to scan his own neck using the device because he felt a mass in his throat.

The results that popped up on his phone screen revealed he had metastatic cancer. It had started in his tongue and throat and spread to his neck. After surgery, it was downgraded to stage three and now, coming to the end of six weeks of radiation, doctors say he looks set to be cured.

Dr Martin used a device called the Butterfly iQ, which can connect to an iPhone, to perform an ultrasound.

Dr Martin said that the opportunity to try the technology on himself arose when the product was being tested in Denver, Colorado, earlier this year.

‘I noticed this mass in my neck,’ he said. He tested himself by performing an ultrasound with the Butterfly iQ and looking at the instant results on his iPhone.

‘I realized I was holding the diagnostic study I needed in my hand,’ he said.

Dr Martin, who has been a physician for 40 years, said he suspected the results were not good, but he consulted with a nearby technician to make sure that was the case.

‘I walked across to a technician, and we looked at each other, and I flew home the next morning.’ But the first thing he thought when he saw the image was that he was thankful his team had invented the ultrasound technology.

‘There’s a million things that go through your mind,’ Dr Martin said. But one unexpected thought he had when he realized he had cancer was: ‘I’m glad I’ve got this picture.’

Butterfly Network founder Jonathan Rothberg said that the speed of his employee’s diagnosis was the goal he had in mind when designing the iQ technology.

The revolutionary aspect of the Butterfly iQ is that the results of an ultrasound appear immediately on an iPhone screen. The product will be used in clinical trials in 2018, and during the studies doctors will send the devices home with high-risk patients who could benefit from an immediate ultrasound.

Rothberg and Dr Martin said that their technology could help patients with diabetes, lung problems and other ailments.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|