Depressed Head and Neck Cancer Patients Have Lower Survival and Higher Recurrence Risk

Wed, Dec 30, 2015

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Source: www.OncologyNurseAdvisor.com
Author: Kathy Boltz, PhD
 

Depression is a significant predictor of 5-year survival and recurrence in patients with head and neck cancer, according to a new study published in Pyschosomatic Medicine (doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000256). These findings represent one of the largest studies to report on the impact of depression on cancer survival.

Although depression can have obvious detrimental effects on a person’s quality of life, its impact on cancer patients is more apparent, explained lead author Eileen Shinn, PhD, assistant professor of Behavioral Science at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston. Increasing evidence shows modest associations between elevated symptoms of depression and greater risk for mortality among patients with lung, breast, ovarian, and kidney cancers.

The research team sought to clarify the influence of depression on survival, focusing their analysis on a single cancer type. By limiting the sample set and adjusting for factors known to affect outcome, such as age, tumor size, and previous chemotherapy, they were able to uncover a more profound impact of depression.

The researchers followed 130 patients at MD Anderson with newly diagnosed oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), a type of cancer in which the tumor originates at the back of the throat and base of the tongue.

At the beginning of their radiation therapy, Patients completed a validated questionnaire at the beginning of their radiation therapy to identify symptoms of clinical depression. Researchers monitored the participants, all of whom completed treatment, until their last clinic visit or death, a median period of 5 years.

“The results of this study were quite intriguing, showing depression was a significant factor predicting survival at 5 years, even after controlling for commonly accepted prognostic factors,” said senior author Adam Garden, MD, professor, Radiation Oncology. Furthermore, depression was the only factor shown to have a significant impact on survival.

Patients who scored as depressed on the questionnaire were 3.5 times less likely to have survived to the 5-year interval compared with those who did not score as depressed. The degree of depression was also found to be significant, as every unit increase on this scale indicated a 10% higher risk for reduced survival.

The results were replicated with a different psychological health survey and were not influenced by how soon following diagnosis the depression assessment was done.

OSCC is diagnosed in 10 000 to 15 000 Americans each year. Major risk factors known to be associated with OSCC include smoking and tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Incidence of OSCC has doubled in the last 20 years due to increasing HPV infection rates, noted Shinn.

Neither alcohol nor tobacco use, also surveyed in this group, had a significant impact on survival. HPV infection status, when available, also did not appear correlated.

Despite a high cure rate, normally 60% to 80%, recurrence rate of disease is unusually high in these patients (approximately 30%). The researchers also investigated a potential link between depression and disease recurrence.

“When we controlled for all variables, depression was linked with a nearly 4 times higher risk of recurrence,” said Shinn. In addition, never smokers had a 73% lower chance of recurrence, compared with current smokers. Those were the only two factors associated with cancer recurrence.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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E-cigarettes may be ‘no better’ than smoking regular cigarettes, warn scientists

Wed, Dec 30, 2015

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Source: www.independent.ie
Author: staff

According to a new study, the vapour from the electronic devices was shown to damage or even kill human cells during lab tests. The research comes as UK public health officials and Prime Minister David Cameron backed the use of e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking. An estimated 2.6 million people in the UK use e-cigarettes. They are to be licensed and regulated as an aid to quit smoking from 2016.

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Dr Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, co-author of the latest study, said: “Based on the evidence to date I believe they are no better than smoking regular cigarettes.”

The scientists treated cells in Petri dishes with vapour from a nicotine-based e-cigarette and a nicotine-free variety and found that the cells which had been exposed to the vapour were more likely to become damaged or die than those that had not. Those containing nicotine were also said to be more harmful than those that did not, although the authors said it may not be as a result of the addictive substance.

Dr Wang-Rodriguez, chief of pathology at the San Diego branch of the US Department of Veteran Affairs, added: “There have been many studies showing that nicotine can damage cells. But we found that other variables can do damage as well. It’s not that the nicotine is completely innocent in the mix, but it looks like the amount of nicotine that the cells are exposed to by e-cigarettes is not sufficient by itself to cause these changes.

“There must be other components in the e-cigarettes that are doing this damage. So we may be identifying other carcinogenic components that are previously undescribed.

“For now, we were able to at least identify that e-cigarettes on the whole have something to do with increased cell death.”

But the results seen in the lab tests would not necessarily be exactly the same in a living person, she said, as the amount of vapour used was “similar to someone smoking for hours on end”.

The US researchers, who published their findings in the Oral Oncology journal, concluded: “Our study strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are not as safe as their marketing makes them appear to the public.

“Vapourised e-cig liquids induce increased DNA strand breaks and cell death.

“Further research is needed to definitively determine the long-term effects of e-cig usage, as well as whether the DNA damage shown in our study as a result of e-cig exposure will lead to mutations that ultimately result in cancer.”

This month, Mr Cameron told the Commons he believed e-cigarettes were a “very legitimate” way of improving health following a report from Public Health England which said vaping was 95% less harmful than smoking. But experts criticised the claim and said the study was based on poor quality evidence, with some links to the tobacco industry.

Public Health England also played down the study’s results. Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing, said: “While Public Health England will carefully consider new studies and continue to be vigilant, the wider body of evidence consistently finds that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking.

“Our recent world-leading review found that e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of smoking – the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke, including carcinogens, are either absent in e-cigarette vapour or are at significantly lower levels than tobacco smoke.

“The best thing a smoker can do is quit completely now and forever, and we need to provide smokers with accurate, balanced information on different quitting methods.

“Last year, two out of three smokers who combined e-cigarettes with expert support from a local service quit successfully. Smokers who have struggled to quit in the past could try vaping, and vapers should stop smoking.”

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Poison’s Rikki Rockett Reveals He Is Battling Oral Cancer

Tue, Dec 15, 2015

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Source: www.loudwire.com
Author: Chad Childers
 

Poison drummer Rikki Rockett revealed during an appearance on the Eddie Trunk Live radio show that he’s completed nine rounds of chemotherapy and seven weeks of radiation treatments after being diagnosed with oral cancer this past summer and that he’ll find out in February if the treatments were successful.

Rockett told Trunk (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), “[In] June, I kind of got sick. I had this horrible cold, sore-throat thing, and they were scoping me and they were doing biopsies, and nothing was coming up. And finally a doctor at USC did a biopsy and took a look and he said, ‘I believe you have oral cancer.’ And what it was is a tumor at the base of my tongue … This is very similar to Bruce Dickinson, very similar to Michael Douglas, similar to Tom Hamilton, as far as I know; I don’t know the details of his. And two adjacent lymph nodes that it kind of … Normally, it does spread to the lymph nodes; that’s typical. That’s how you find out you have it ninety percent of the time.”

According to the Rockett, his doctor told him that it was a very treatable cancer, but was “a son of a bitch to treat.” He was then told that he would either have to undergo radiation and chemotherapy at the same time or undergo surgery, but even if he chose the latter, he might still have to do radiation and chemotherapy.

Rockett revealed that it was tough, explaining, “I did thirty-five rounds of radiation; it was five days a week for seven weeks, and that kicks your dick into the dirt. But I went, ‘Okay, this is what I’m gonna do. I wanna beat it, so I’m just gonna go head first into this. I’m gonna set myself up where every single day, I do something positive for my health. I’m gonna work out one day, I’m gonna go to therapy one day.’”

He continued, “At the end of the day, it was really the worst thing that you can go through, for me. I’ve had a decent life, you know what I mean? I mean, we all go through our stuff. I’m not saying my life is a bed of roses, but I’m not a war veteran who got this too. I didn’t get my leg blown off and get cancer. Those guys are the guys that are really the heroes and paying for it. So for me, it was just a battle that I had to get through, and I got to the point where I couldn’t really talk. I had, I think, sixteen canker sores in my mouth at one time. And it’s, like, if you could take your throat and turn it inside out and sunburn it… I had to use this stuff called Magic Mouthwash just to drink the water. It hurt so bad, I couldn’t… And I’m still on a liquid diet.”

As for his decision to keep his cancer treatment quiet, the rocker revealed, “I wanted to see how I would do with [the treatment]. And I didn’t want people to maybe come down to USC and [take] spy photos, like TMZ guys or something like that. And I didn’t want anybody talking to my family about it or anything like that. It’s, like, you wanna forget about it when you can. So when I first start to talk about it, [I didn’t want it to be a situation where] I’d be at the mall, and I’m playing with my little girl or something, and somebody would go, like, ‘Hey, man, how’s the throat doing?’ It’s, like, ‘I just forgot about it for the last forty-five minutes and now you had to remind me.’ And everybody has a horror story. ‘Oh, you have cancer? My mom had cancer. She died from it.’ I don’t wanna hear anybody’s horror stories.”

Rockett revealed that all signs are that he’s responded well to the treatment and that he’s hoping to get good news when he goes for his PET scan in February. “I’m just gonna try to put that out of my mind for now and just continue to get better and feel better,” says Rockett. “There’s nothing that looks like it’s there anymore. They’ve gone down, they’ve looked at my throat… But it’s swelled up and it’s hard to tell, but it looks like it’s in remission.”

During the chat, Rockett revealed that his tongue cancer was caused by HPV, which is currently the number one cause of oral cancer.

While Poison were out of action during 2015, Rockett kept busy with the self-titled debut album from his band Devil City Angels.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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Cancer treatment: New method helps white blood cells fight tumors

Sun, Dec 13, 2015

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Source: www.hngn.com
Author: Tyler MacDonald

The clinical trial for a groundbreaking cancer treatment that engineers the immune system to better fight the disease is now taking place at the National Institute for Health Research and King’s College London, according to The Guardian. The patients, who have head and neck cancer, are receiving genetic modifications that help their white blood cells recognize and attack tumorous growths. Although white blood cells are naturally equipped to eliminate unnecessary and infected cells, they sometimes need help to combat cancer cells.

The team of scientists is taking blood samples and treating the white blood cells with a virus that introduces two new genes – the first makes cell growth in the laboratory easier, and the second helps the white blood cells identify and attack tumors.

“In most cancers, metastasis, the spread of a disease from the part of the body where it started to another not directly connected, is the commonest cause of death,” said John Maher, principal investigator of the trial. “However, head and neck cancer is unusual in that local spread or recurrence of the disease accounts for most suffering and death. This means that tumours may become inoperable and do not shrink in response to traditional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.”

The treatment is called a CAT T-cell and takes two weeks to create; once produced, it is injected directly into the patient’s tumor and helps white blood cells in their attack, according to The Scientist.

Although the treatment works best for “solid cancers,” Maher hopes that it can be further developed for other types as well, in particular “those that spread within a natural space in the body, such as ovarian cancer (lining of the abdomen) or mesothelioma (lining of the lungs),” according to Select Science.

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Cetuximab plus RT linked with high toxicity in head and neck cancer

Sun, Dec 13, 2015

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Source: www.cancernetwork.com
Author: Anna Azvolinsky, PhD

The combination of radiation therapy plus the EGFR inhibitor cetuximab had higher rates of acute toxicity among patients with locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) compared with radiation therapy plus the chemotherapy cisplatin, according to results of a phase II trial based in Italy. Efficacy was similar with both combination therapies.

According to Stefano Maria Magrini, MD, professor of radiotherapy at the Università degli Studi di Brescia in Italy, and colleagues, this is the first clinical trial to directly compare radiation therapy plus cetuximab to a chemoradiation regimen for SCCHN.

The results of the randomized trial are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Cetuximab was approved in combination with radiation therapy by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2006 for the treatment of unresectable SCCHN.

Despite a goal of recruiting 130 patients, only 70 patients were recruited between 2011 and 2014.

The 1- and 2-year overall survival rates were 75% and 68% in the cetuximab arm compared with 78% in the cisplatin arm. The 1- and 2-year local control rates were 64% and 53% in the cetuximab arm and 84% and 80% in the cisplatin arm, yet the differences between arms were not statistically significant (P = .073), reflecting the inadequate statistical power of the relatively small trial.

Compliance in both treatment arms was relatively low. Only 28% of patients in the cetuximab arm and 20% of patients in the cisplatin arm received at least 7 cycles of therapy.

Patients in the radiation therapy plus cetuximab arm experienced more serious adverse events including severe cutaneous toxicity of grade 3 or higher. Four patients in the cetuximab arm developed infectious complications that led to septic shock and three of the patients died after the end of treatment. An additional patient died from respiratory failure caused by aspiration pneumonia.

Patients in the cisplatin arm had more frequent hematologic toxicities compared to patients in the cetuximab arm and one patient died from adverse events possibly related to treatment.

“The incidence of both the infusion reactions and of the other severe adverse events does not allow to consider cetuximab a safer and easy-to-use alternative to standard chemotherapy regimens,” wrote the study authors.

Based on the study results, larger prospective trials are needed to understand which SCCNH patients would best benefit from radiation therapy plus cetuximab regimen.

In an accompanying editorial, Roy H. Decker, MD, PhD, associate professor of therapeutic radiology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues highlighted the limitations of the current trial but look forward to results from ongoing studies to clarify the role of cetuximab in the treatment of SCCHN.

“We continue to selectively consider the use of cetuximab-based radiation therapy in patients with otherwise-favorable, low-risk disease—p16-positive, T1–T3 N0–N2b with a smoking history of less than 10 pack-years,” wrote the editorial authors.

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Indo-US researchers developing solar-powered oral cancer detector for remote areas

Sun, Dec 13, 2015

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Source: www.domain-b.com
Author: staff

A handy solar-powered device is being tested in India and US for early detection of oral cancer. The device could be integrated with mobile technology, enabling faster and accurate diagnostics in rural areas, IANS reported.

The device has been designed by the Beckman Laser Institute (BLI), University of California-Irvine (UCI) and the Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre (MSCC) in Bengaluru and is slightly larger than a shoe box. It has been specially adapted for India, which accounted for one of the highest rates of head and neck cancers in the world and the highest rate among women.

Its light-weight and user-friendly features meant even health care workers with minimal education could use it in the field. The solar energy-driven device would capture images of the patient’s oral cavity and transmit them via a mobile phone to experts at the centre.

“India is the first country in which we are using the device – it was specifically designed to meet conditions and needs there. The final device will have a solar option,” Petra Wilder-Smith of BLI told IANS in an email interaction.

According to Wilder-Smith, which is recognized as a pioneer in the application of optics and lasers in oral diagnosis, the device was based on optical coherence tomography (OCT) – an imaging technology similar to ultrasound, except that it used light (a laser).

Oral cancer was the most common cancer in India, accounting for 40 per cent of all cancers overall and for over 50 per cent of all cancers in certain areas in the country. According to experts, it was also disturbing to note the spike in oral cancer in young adults.

“In the US, the oral cancer rate is also high, especially in African-Americans, older persons, and tobacco and alcohol users. It is particularly troubling that recently a trend has been observed worldwide towards an increased incidence of oral cancer among young adults,” informed Wilder-Smith, stressing on early detection.

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Depression and smoking linked to worse prognosis in oral cancer

Sun, Dec 13, 2015

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Source: medicalresearch.com
Author: staff

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Eileen H. Shinn PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral Science
Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Medical Research:
What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Shinn:
Recent studies with leukemia, breast, lung, renal and liver cancer patients have shown that patients with depression have worsened survival. These effect sizes are small, but independent of any of the traditional factors that are known to impact survival, such as extent of cancer, types of treatment administered and baseline health and age of the patient. The current thinking is that cancer patients who are depressed have chronically heightened responses to stress; the constant release of stress hormones trigger changes in the tumor itself (such as noradrenergically-driven tumor angiogenesis) or may weakens the body’s immune function and ability to resist tumor growth.

When we measured depression in newly diagnosed patients with oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the base of tongue and tonsil), we found that those patients who scored as depressed were 3.5 times more likely to have died within the five year period after their diagnosis, compared to non-depressed patients. We also found that patients who were depressed were also 3.8 times more likely to have their cancer recur within the first five years after diagnosis. We also found that patients who continued to smoke after diagnosis were more likely to recur within the first five years. These effect sizes were larger than those typically found in recent studies. We believe that the larger effect size may be due to the tight eligibility criteria ( e.g., we did not include patients who already had recurrent disease, we only included patients with one specific type of head and neck cancer, oropharyngeal) and also due to controlling other known factors (all patients completed individualized treatment regimens of radiation/ chemoradiation at a comprehensive cancer center and patients with more advanced disease stage were more likely to have received treatment intensification compared to patients with early stage disease). In all, we had 130 patients, one of the largest prospective studies with oropharyngeal cancer to examine the effect of depression on cancer outcome.

Medical Research:
What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Shinn:
With important factors, such as careful diagnosis, staging and individualized multidisciplinary treatment plans, being equal, depression status may impact patient recurrence and survival in oropharyngeal cancer.

Medical Research:
What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Shinn:
These results need to be replicated in a larger study, with particular attention paid to repeated measures of depression as well as possible bio-behavioral markers of tumor growth and chronic stress.

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Forward Science and Oral Cancer Foundation partner in video to spread oral cancer awareness

Thu, Dec 10, 2015

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Source: www.DentistryIQ.com
Author: DentistryIQ Editors
 
Click here to view Carol Layer’s story, told by her daughter Rachel
 

In an effort to increase awareness about the importance of annual oral cancer screenings, Forward Science, the creators of OralID, and the Oral Cancer Foundation have partnered to share the story of a family’s loss after a protracted and difficult battle with oral cancer.

In a video narrated by the daughter of an oral cancer victim, the importance of regular/routine oral cancer screenings is stressed, and the daughter shares a first-hand view of why early detection is critical.

To view the touching story of Carol Layer’s fight with oral cancer, told by her extraordinary daughter, Rachel, visit http://www.oralid.com/carolsfight.

“Until there is a cure, the best solution is early discovery. Early detection can not only save people’s lives, but preserve the quality of life.” Rachel continues to compete in marathons and relay races in her mother’s memory, wearing “Carol’s Fight” on her shirt in every race. She emphasizes the importance of sharing her mom’s story with the world, with the hope of preventing future stories like her own.

She said, “I certainly learned a lot about life and death and what it meant to be resilient through her, and I hope my mom’s story carries forward to people.”

At 44 years old, Carol Layer had no traditional risk factors (alcohol or tobacco use) and was not a patient who was in the high-risk category for oral cancer. Carol found a lesion on the side of her tongue and decided to have it examined by her dentist. After numerous referrals, and even a negative biopsy, Carol’s worst fear became a reality: she was diagnosed with Stage IV oral cancer. She fought oral cancer for 9 long years before sadly losing her battle in 2011. Carol is survived by her husband and two children. Oral cancer kills one American ever hour, and it continues to affect patients who may not have traditional risk factors. The key to lowering the number of fatalities due to this vicious disease is the discovery of lesions or suspicious tissues before they progress into cancer.

With the oral cancer screening devices available today, such as the OralID, many times clinicians may now have a way to discover abnormalities before they are visible with the naked eye.

Forward Science is a privately held medical device company based in Houston, Texas. With the launch of OralID and CytID, Forward Science provides dental offices with a complete oral health protocol, entitled F.A.C.T. (Fluorescence Assessment and Cytology Test). For more information, go to www.oralid.com or call (855) 696-7254.

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 oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation maintains the web site: www.oralcancer.org.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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Here’s why the drug that helped Jimmy Carter get ‘cancer-free’ is such a big deal

Tue, Dec 8, 2015

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Source: www.businessinsider.com
Author: Lydia Ramsey

jimmy-carter-3

Former US President Jimmy Carter announced on Sunday that his latest brain scan showed no sign of cancer, a few months after revealing that he had been diagnosed with melanoma that had spread from his liver to his brain.

Carter was being treated with a cancer drug called Keytruda that uses the immune system to fight off cancerous cells.

Keytruda, made by pharmaceutical company Merck, was originally approved by the FDA in September 2014 to treat melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer that can also show up in other organs of the body, as it did in Carter’s case.

In someone with melanoma, certain proteins called PD-1 stop the immune system from doing its job and fighting the cancerous cells. Keytruda works by getting in the way of those proteins, allowing the immune system to access the cancer cells. Then, with the help of radiation therapy, which works to shrink tumors by killing cancer cells, it can knock the cancer out.

The drug is delivered intravenously every three weeks, costing about $12,500 a month.

And the drug isn’t just being used in cases like Carter’s. Keytruda, which got approved to treat a form of lung cancer in October, is also being explored to treat a number of other cancers, including head and neck, breast, and bladder cancers and Hodgkin lymphoma.

It’s also not the first cancer immunotherapy drug. Scientists have been seriously exploring using the immune system to battle cancerous cells for decades as an alternative to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. But it’s taken a long time for the treatments to be effective in humans.

On Monday, Merck also announced that it has initiated two final phase trials using Keytruda in patients with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that affects a type of white blood cell called plasma cells.

In November, the FDA approved three multiple myeloma drugs, including another cancer-immunotherapy drug called Empliciti.

 

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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E-cigarettes contain flavouring chemical linked to deadly ‘popcorn lung’

Tue, Dec 8, 2015

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Source: The Telegraph
Author: Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

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Public health experts are sharply divided about e‑cigarettes Photo: ALAMY

 

Three quarters of e-cigarettes tested by Harvard scientists contained the chemical diacetyl which is known to cause lung damage.

Vapers could be at risk of developing the deadly disease ‘popcorn lung’ after scientists found a toxic chemical in 75 per cent of flavoured electronic cigarettes. Diacetyl, a chemical which is used as a butter substitute in flavours like Cotton Candy and Cupcake, has been linked to respiratory disease bronchiolitis obliterans

Although it is thought to be safe when eaten, the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has said it could be hazardous when inhaled over a long period.

It follows incidences in several factories which manufacture microwave popcorn where workers developed bronchiolitis obliterans.

Diacetyl is known to cause inflammation, scarring and constriction of the tiny airways in the lung known as bronchioles, reducing air flow. There is currently no known cure except for a lung transplantation. Researchers said ‘urgent action’ was needed to ‘evaluate this potentially widespread exposure via flavoured e-cigarettes.’

“Recognition of the hazards associated with inhaling flavouring chemicals started with ‘Popcorn Lung’ over a decade ago,” said lead author Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“However, diacetyl and other related flavouring chemicals are used in many other flavours beyond butter-flavoured popcorn, including fruit flavours, alcohol flavours, and, we learned in our study, candy flavoured e-cigarettes.”

E-cigarettes use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine hit via inhalable vapor without the tar and other carcinogens in inhaled tobacco smoke.

Scientists and health officials are divided over whether they are safe. Earlier this year Public Health England urged smokers to switch to vaping, saying e-cigarettes were far safer than traditional tobacco. But the World Health Organisation and scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool remain concerned about their safety.

Dr. Allen and colleagues tested 51 types of flavoured e-cigarettes and liquids sold by leading brands for the presence of diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione, two related flavouring compounds which may pose a respiratory hazard in the workplace.

VAPING_2873974bVapers enjoy different flavours at Vape Lab in Shoreditch, London  Photo: JANE MINGAY FOR THE TELEGRAPH

 

Each e-cigarette was inserted into a sealed chamber attached to a lab-built device that drew air through the e-cigarette for eight seconds at a time with a resting period of 15 or 30 second between each draw. The air stream was then analyzed.

At least one of the three chemicals was detected in 47 of the 51 flavours tested. Diacetyl was detected above the laboratory limit of detection in 39 of the flavours tested. Acetoin and 2,3-pentanedione were detected in 46 and 23 and of the flavours, respectively.

“Since most of the health concerns about e-cigarettes have focused on nicotine, there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes” said study co-author Dr David Christiani, Professor of Environmental Genetics.

“In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavouring chemicals that can cause lung damage.”

Although the study was conducted in the US, last year Greek researchers found that diacetyl was present in 70 per cent of European brands. American brands are also available online.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

At a glance: Are e-cigarettes helpful or harmful?

index

  • Public health officials are at odds with scientists over whether or not e-cigarettes are safe
  • In August, Public Health England issued a report concluding that e-cigarettes were 95 per cent less harmful than conventional tobacco and urged Britain’s eight million smokers to start vaping.
  • But health experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool claim evidence used in the report was flawed, based on inconclusive evidence which was tainted by vested interests.
  • Writing in the BMJ, Professor Martin McKee and Professor Simon Capewell said there was no reliable evidence to show that e-cigarettes were safe or that they did not provide a ‘gateway’ to smoking for youngsters.
  • Although the PHE report was welcomed by bodies like Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the Royal College of Physicians of London, other leading health bodies – including the British Medical Association, the UK Faculty of Public Health, the European Commission and the World Health Organization, have expressed caution.

index2

Nearly 80,000 people a year die of a smoking related illness and smoking costs the NHS £2 billion a year. 2.6 million people use e-cigarettes in the UK and they are now the most popular quitting aid.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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