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Tony Gwynn’s untimely death, baseball contemplates issues with tobacco

Fri, Jun 20, 2014


Published: June 20, 2014
By: Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY Sports


OAKLAND – Tony Gwynn’s multitude of accomplishments, career batting average of .338 and his pioneering use of video earned him the rapt attention of players whenever he talked baseball.

Major League Baseball hopes an even more important message he’s delivering posthumously sinks in as well.

Gwynn, who died of mouth cancer Monday at 54, speaks out against smokeless tobacco use in a taped segment of an informational video MLB is producing and plans to release this season. The Hall of Fame outfielder believed he developed cancer because of his years-long habit of using spit tobacco, although that was never medically confirmed.

Whether Gwynn’s untimely death and his stance against smokeless tobacco will curtail its use among players remains an open question.


Research by the Pro Baseball Athletic Trainers Society revealed the number of major leaguers who use spit tobacco has declined from about 50% to 33% in the last 20 years.

However, that’s still about 10 times the amount in the general population, according to the American Cancer Society, whose data from 2012 showed 3.5% of Americans 12 and older – or 9 million – use the highly addictive product.

“It’s definitely ingrained and something that’s part of our baseball culture, but it’s not exclusive to baseball,” said Oakland Athletics first baseman Brandon Moss, a non-user. “You would hope a figure like (Gwynn), something tragic like that happening, would be a wake-up call for everyone, not just those in baseball. … But most guys are probably going to look at it as the loss of a great man and a great baseball player and leave it at that.”

Indeed, the stance among players seems to be that they’re aware of the dangers but, like smoking, it’s up to every individual to decide whether to use what remains a legal product.


The National Cancer Institute says in its website that smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 chemicals that have been found to cause cancer – typically of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas – and may also lead to heart disease, gum disease and oral lesions.

“People understand the risks involved and still choose to do it,” Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We all do stupid things, whatever your vice happens to be. People may criticize these guys for dipping, and then somebody’s texting and driving.”

And while Gwynn’s passing was lamented throughout the game, it doesn’t figure to be interpreted by many players – who are usually in their 20s or early 30s, with the concomitant sense of invincibility – as a cautionary tale.

“It’s one of those things that’s scary and obviously you hope you’re not the one,” said A’s catcher Stephen Vogt, who said he dips once in a while. “I don’t think it’s good. I definitely don’t advocate it, but at the same time, it’s an adult decision.”

Baseball has taken steps to sway that decision, or at least make the practice less visible to minimize the impact on young fans.


The current collective bargaining agreement, in effect from 2012-16, bans players, managers and coaches from using smokeless tobacco during TV interviews and team appearances. And they have to keep tobacco products out of sight while fans are at the ballpark.

In addition, MLB and the players union have stepped up educational efforts, and teams – which in the past freely distributed cans of dip in the clubhouse – can no longer do so and are now required to administer oral exams as part of the spring training physicals every year.

Longtime TV announcer Joe Garagiola, who quit his smokeless tobacco habit in his 30s, made it his life’s mission to warn other baseball folks about its dangers, making presentations during spring training alongside former major league outfielder Billy Tuttle, who died of oral cancer at 69 in 1998.

“I don’t think we talk about it enough anymore,” says Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “I remember as a young A-ball manager, Joe Garagiola would always come around in spring training with Bill Tuttle. It was scary.

“And I still see people chewing tobacco. Not only in the big leagues, but you still see kids in junior high and high school.

For me, it’s not enough yet. It’s a shame.”


Indeed, the sight of players constantly spitting, some sporting a large wad of tobacco inside their cheek, remains one of the game’s enduring images.

“Every spring training we have a guy that comes in who’s had mouth cancer through tobacco,” Rangers utilityman Donnie Murphy said. “So you see it. But at the same time, it’s like an addiction thing. You do it for so long, you’re going to want to keep doing it.”

Players say using smokeless tobacco provides a form of relaxation and becomes part of their routine in a daily sport with lots of down time.

And with amphetamines now banned from baseball, the jolt of energy from the nicotine in the tobacco – absorbed during a longer stretch through dip or chew than by smoking – can help players navigate the season’s six-month grind.

Commissioner Bud Selig has expressed a desire to banish smokeless tobacco from the majors the same way MLB barred it from the minors starting in 1993. But the issue is subject to collective bargaining and the players association has declined, opting to protect personal freedoms and emphasize education.

“The MLBPA discourages the use of smokeless tobacco products by its members or by anyone else. These products carry serious health risks, yet remain legally and widely available,” union spokesman Greg Bouris said via e-mail. “In general terms, included in the smokeless tobacco policy negotiated in 2011 are restrictions/prohibitions on its use, increased emphasis on education and cessation programs, as well as oral examinations. At this point in time, player education continues to be a focus of ours.”

Contributing: Paul White in Washington

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

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Gwynn’s death sparks dip debate

Fri, Jun 20, 2014


Author: Nick Peruffo

The death of San Diego Padres icon Tony Gwynn due to oral cancer Monday resonated across the baseball world — including the Trenton Thunder clubhouse.

In addition to being a person tragedy for the Gwynn family, the news also put a renewed focus on the use of chewing tobacco in baseball. Officially, tobacco in any form has been banned in the minor leagues since 1993. If caught with chewing tobacco on the field, players face a $300 fine, while managers are docked $1,000.

Away from the field, however, it is clear that some players continue to dip.

“There are so many guys that do it,” said catcher Tyson Blaser, who does not use chewing tobacco. “It’s very common in the major leagues, and even though obviously in the minor leagues you are not supposed to do it, some people don’t adhere to that. To see an icon like (Gwynn) lose his battle with cancer because of a habit a lot of people do, I assume it’d be eye opening to some people.”

Gwynn, who was just 54, blamed his cancer on dipping tobacco.

Despite that, manager Tony Franklin conceded that while the coaching staff does its best to dissuade players from using, what they do on their own time is ultimately their own decision.

“We encourage them not to do it, but they are adults with choices to make,” Franklin said. “The choices they make could be very beneficial and save their lives, so we hope they make the right choices. I will always continue to encourage them not to (chew tobacco).”

Franklin, who spent 11 seasons as an infield instructor with the Padres, knows of what he speaks. A longtime smoker and chewer, he said he was motivated to quit in part due to peers who had biopsies come back positive.

“It was probably one of the hardest things that I’ve done,” Franklin said.

Pitching coach Tommy Phelps — who spent parts of three big league seasons with the Florida Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers — recalled a jarring experience during his first big league camp with the Montreal Expos in 1996 that kept him away from chew.

Bill Tuttle, a former major league outfielder who had lost half his jaw to cancer, visited the team to show them first hand the potential effects of chewing. Tuttle died two years later.

“Just seeing that happens makes it real for everybody, that you are not going to be young forever,” Phelps said. “It’s dangerous.”

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, an estimated 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year, and 8,000 will die.

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Long term cerebral and vascular complications after irradiation of the neck in head and neck cancer patients: a prospective cohort study: study rationale and protocol

Fri, Jun 20, 2014


Author: staff

Successful treatment options for cancer result in more young long-term survivors prone for long-term complications. Carotid artery vasculopathy is a potential long-term complication after radiotherapy of the neck, resulting in cerebrovascular events and probably deficits in cognitive and motor functioning.

Better insight into the underlying pathofysiology of radiotherapy induced carotid artery vasculopathy is needed for prognostic purposes and to develop preventive strategies.

Methods: The current study is a prospective cohort study on the long-term cerebral and vascular complications after radiotherapy of the neck, in 103 patients treated for head and neck cancer, included in our study database between 2002 and 2008. Baseline protocol (before radiotherapy) included screening for cerebrovascular risk factors and intima media thickness measurement of carotid arteries by ultrasonography.

Follow-up assessment more than 5 years after radiotherapy included screening of cerebrovascular risk factors, cerebrovascular events, neurological examination with gait and balance tests, extensive neuropsychological examination, self-report questionnaires, ultrasonography of the carotid arteries with measurement of intima media thickness and elastography, magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and magnetic resonance angiography of the carotid arteries.DiscussionThe current study adds to the understanding of the causes and consequences of long-term cerebral and vascular changes after radiotherapy of the neck. These data will be helpful to develop a protocol for diagnostic and preventive strategies for long-term neurological complications in future head and neck cancer patients with anticipated radiotherapy treatment.

Authors: Joyce Wilbers, Arnoud C Kappelle, Roy PC Kessels, Stefan CA Steens, Frederick JA Meijer, Johannes H Kaanders, Roy AM Haast, Laura E Versteeg, Anil M Tuladhar, Chris L de Korte, Hendrik HG Hansen, Frank J Hoebers, Willem Boogerd, Erik D van Werkhoven, Marlies E Nowee, Guus Hart

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Hall of Famer and ‘Mr. Padre’ Tony Gwynn dies at 54 from Oral Cancer

Tue, Jun 17, 2014


Author: Bernie Wilson

Tony Gwynn could handle a bat like few other major leaguers, whether it was driving the ball through the “5.5 hole” between third base and shortstop or hitting a home run off the facade in Yankee Stadium in the World Series.

He was a craftsman at the plate, whose sweet left-handed swing made him one of baseball’s greatest hitters.

Gwynn loved San Diego.

San Diego loved “Mr. Padre” right back.

Gwynn, a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest athletes in San Diego’s history, died Monday of oral cancer, a disease he attributed to years of chewing tobacco. He was 54.

“Our city is a little darker today without him but immeasurably better because of him,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a statement.

In a rarity in pro sports, Gwynn played his whole career with the Padres, choosing to stay in the city where he was a two-sport star in college, rather than leaving for bigger paychecks elsewhere. His terrific hand-eye coordination made him one of the game’s greatest pure hitters. He had 3,141 hits — 18th on the all-time list — a career .338 average and won eight batting titles to tie Honus Wagner’s NL record.

He struck out only 434 times in 9,288 career at-bats. He played in San Diego’s only two World Series — batting a combined .371 — and was a 15-time All-Star. He had a memorable home run in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series off fellow San Diegan David Wells, and scored the winning run in the 1994 All-Star Game despite a bum knee.

Gwynn never hit below .309 in a full season. He spread out his batting titles from 1984, when he batted .351, to 1997, when he hit .372.

Gwynn was hitting .394 when a players’ strike ended the 1994 season, denying him a shot at becoming the first player to hit .400 since San Diego native Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.

Gwynn befriended Williams and the two loved to talk about hitting. Gwynn steadied Williams when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the 1999 All-Star Game at Boston’s Fenway Park.

Fellow Hall of Famer Greg Maddux tweeted, “Tony Gwynn was the best pure hitter I ever faced! Condolences to his family.”

Gwynn was known for his hearty laugh and warm personality. Every day at 4 p.m., Gwynn sat in the Padres’ dugout and talked baseball or anything else with the media.

Tim Flannery, who was teammates with Gwynn on the Padres’ 1984 World Series team and later was on San Diego’s coaching staff, said he’ll “remember the cackle to his laugh. He was always laughing, always talking, always happy.”

“The baseball world is going to miss one of the greats, and the world itself is going to miss one of the great men of mankind,” said Flannery, the San Francisco Giants’ third base coach. “He cared so much for other people. He had a work ethic unlike anybody else, and had a childlike demeanor of playing the game just because he loved it so much.”

Gwynn had been on a medical leave since late March from his job as baseball coach at San Diego State, his alma mater. He died at a hospital in suburban Poway, agent John Boggs said.

“He was in a tough battle and the thing I can critique is he’s definitely in a better place,” Boggs said. “He suffered a lot. He battled. That’s probably the best way I can describe his fight against this illness he had, and he was courageous until the end.”

Gwynn’s wife, Alicia, and other family members were at his side when he died, Boggs said.

Gwynn’s son, Tony Jr., was with the Philadelphia Phillies, who later placed him on the bereavement list.

“Today I lost my Dad, my best friend and my mentor,” Gwynn Jr. tweeted. “I’m gonna miss u so much pops. I’m gonna do everything in my power to continue to … Make u proud!”

Gwynn had two operations for cancer in his right cheek between August 2010 and February 2012. The second surgery was complicated, with surgeons removing a facial nerve because it was intertwined with a tumor inside his right cheek. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn’s neck to help him eventually regain facial movement.

Gwynn had been in and out of the hospital and had spent time in a rehab facility, Boggs said.

“For more than 30 years, Tony Gwynn was a source of universal goodwill in the national pastime, and he will be deeply missed by the many people he touched,” Commissioner Bud Selig said.

Fans paid their respects by visiting the statue of Gwynn on a grassy knoll just beyond the outfield at Petco Park.

Gwynn was last with his San Diego State team on March 25 before beginning a leave of absence. His Aztecs rallied around a Gwynn bobblehead doll they would set near the bat rack during games, winning the Mountain West Conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA regionals.

Last week, SDSU announced it was extending Gwynn’s contract one season. The Aztecs play at Tony Gwynn Stadium, which was built in the mid-1990s with a $4 million donation by then-Padres owner John Moores.

Gwynn was born in Los Angeles on May 9, 1960, and attended high school in Long Beach.

He was a two-sport star at San Diego State in the late 1970s and early 1980s, playing point guard for the basketball team — he still holds the game, season and career record for assists — and in the outfield on the baseball team.

Gwynn always wanted to play in the NBA, until realizing during his final year at San Diego State that baseball would be the ticket to the pros.

He was drafted by both the Padres (third round) and San Diego Clippers (10th round) on the same day in 1981.

After spending parts of just two seasons in the minor leagues, he made his big league debut on July 19, 1982. Gwynn had two hits that night. After Gwynn hit a double, all-time hits leader Pete Rose, who been trailing the play, said to him: “Hey, kid, what are you trying to do, catch me in one night?”

In a career full of highlights, Gwynn had his 3,000th hit on Aug. 9, 1999, a first-inning single to right field at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

Gwynn retired after the 2001 season and became a volunteer assistant coach at SDSU in 2002. He took over as head coach after that season.

He and Cal Ripken Jr. — who spent his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles — were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

“I had no idea that all the things in my career were going to happen,” Gwynn said shortly before being inducted. “I sure didn’t see it. I just know the good Lord blessed me with ability, blessed me with good eyesight and a good pair of hands, and then I worked at the rest.”

Gwynn also is survived by a daughter, Anisha.

Boggs said services were pending.

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

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FDA approve Lymphoseek to evaluate head and neck cancer

Tue, Jun 17, 2014


Author: Catharine Paddock PhD

The US Food and Drug Administration have given the OK for doctors to use Lymphoseek – a radioactive diagnostic imaging agent – to evaluate the spread of squamous cell carcinoma in the body’s head and neck region.

Lymphoseek (technetium 99m tilmanocept) Injection was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2013 to help doctors identify lymph nodes closest to primary tumors in patients with breast cancer and melanoma.

The receptor-targeted lymphatic mapping agent is marketed by Navidea, a biopharma company based in Dublin, OH.

Identification of lymph nodes in cancer is important because they filter fluid that drains from tissue. If this tissue is cancerous then the fluid will contain cancer cells, and testing lymph nodes – via biopsy – for presence of cancer cells helps determine if the cancer has spread.

The approval of Lymphoseek for use in head and neck cancer patients means doctors will be able to use the agent to guide testing of sentinel nodes – lymph nodes closest to a primary tumor – allowing for the “option of more limited lymph node surgery in patients with sentinel nodes negative for cancer,” say the FDA.


In a clinical trial, researchers found that “Lymphoseek-guided sentinel lymph node biopsy accurately determined if the cancer had spread through the lymphatic system.”

Dr. Libero Marzella, director of the Division of Medical Imaging Products in the federal agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, says:
“For some patients with head and neck cancer, removal and pathological examination of lymph nodes draining a primary tumor is an important diagnostic evaluation.”

Lymphoseek contains tiny radioactive molecules that are designed to bind to receptors found in high concentrations on the surface of cells located in lymph nodes.

To use Lymphoseek, the doctor injects it into the tumor area and uses a handheld gamma counter to find the sentinel lymph nodes that have taken up the radioactive molecules.

For this new approval, the FDA reviewed a clinical trial that tested Lymphoseek’s safety and effectiveness in 85 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the lip, oral cavity and skin.

The trial – which compared Lymphoseek against conventional tumor location and surgical practice – found that “Lymphoseek-guided sentinel lymph node biopsy accurately determined if the cancer had spread through the lymphatic system,” notes the FDA announcement.

The trial found that the most common side effects were pain or irritation at the injection site.

In March 2014, Medical News Today reported how a commonly used mood-stabilizing drug could reduce risk of head and neck cancer. Writing in the journal Cancer, researchers describe how individuals who took valproic acid – normally used to treat epilepsy and manic-depressive illness, such as bipolar disorder – for at least a year had a 34% lower risk of developing head and neck cancer, compared with those who did not use the medication.

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Researchers bring oral cancer-fighting patch to patients

Mon, Jun 9, 2014


Author: staff

The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan have signed an exclusive worldwide agreement with Ohio-based Venture Therapeutics, Inc, to form a new company to develop and commercialize a pharmaceutical technology targeted for the treatment of precancerous oral lesions. These lesions are currently managed by invasive surgery and approximately a third of these lesions will reoccur after surgery.

Previously published data shows that about 30 percent of the higher grade precancerous oral lesions progress to oral cancer, specifically oral squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer is particularly devastating to patients because treatment entails removal of facial and mouth structures essential for esthetics and function. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 42,440 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer and over 8,390 oral cancer related deaths will occur in 2014.

The pharmaceutical technology developed by researchers at The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Dentistry with secondary appointments at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) and the University of Michigan addresses a significant unmet need related to the prevention of oral cancer. Precancerous oral lesions can be seen and touched by patients, so this easy access to the lesion allows the use of local delivery formulations in an oral patch to directly treat the disease without causing adverse side effects.

“This type of collaboration, involving multiple university partners with strong industry support, is increasingly essential to expedite the discovery, development and delivery of more targeted cancer therapies. There is no routine cancer, and today it takes the collective minds across disciplines, institutions and industry to move the field forward,” says Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and chief executive officer of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

“Ultimately, these collaborations can be the catalyst for new, more effective cancer treatments, leading to better outcomes, faster responses, fewer side effects and more hope for cancer patients everywhere,” said Caligiuri.

These technologies were developed by a team of university-based researchers who work extensively with the affected patient population and actively explore new drug delivery methods such as the oral patch.

Susan R. Mallery , DDS, PhD, professor and interim chair of the division of oral pathology and radiology at the Ohio State College of Dentistry and member of the OSUCCC – James Molecular Carcinogenesis/Chemoprevention Research Program, worked alongside Steve P. Schwendeman, PhD, Ara G. Paul Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, at the Biointerfaces Institute, University of Michigan, and his former assistant research scientist, Kashappa Goud Desai, PhD, to invent this breakthrough technology.

“The oral patch sidesteps any toxicity issues, which have historically been a problem with conventional treatments,” said Mallery. “This technology delivers an excellent chemopreventive compound directly to the precancerous tissues.”

“Dr. Mallery and I have collaborated for years on translational research projects,” said Schwendeman. “It is very gratifying to see our efforts progress past the preclinical state and into clinical trials where we can directly help patients.”

The College of Dentistry at Ohio State saw great things for the collaboration between the two universities. “Having two College of Dentistry faculty members from Ohio State engage with researchers from the University of Michigan resulted in a very innovative approach that will dramatically improve patient care and outcomes,” said Dean Patrick Lloyd, College of Dentistry. “Conducting the clinical trials for this innovation at Ohio State’s College of Dentistry is very promising for the technology and prospective patients, and beneficial to both universities on a national level.”

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Grateful Dead guitarist plays concerts with tribute band to benefit the Oral Cancer Foundation

Mon, Jun 9, 2014


Author: staff

Mark Karan, former lead guitarist for the post Grateful Dead band, The Other Ones, and Joe Pulitano, drummer for the Grateful Dead tribute band, Deadbeat, who are both stage IV oral cancer survivors, recently teamed up to play three benefit concerts in the North East to raise money for the Oral Cancer Foundation and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Following Deadbeat’s benefit performances this spring, with Mark playing guest guitar, the two men donated $7,500 of the concert proceeds to the Oral Cancer Foundation to support the organization’s research, advocacy, and educational efforts.

What’s interesting is how these two talented musicians, who did not know each other before their individual encounters with this deadly disease, came together. Like many who find themselves dealing with oral cancer, Joe had complained for 14 months to his doctor about voice change, shortness of breath when speaking, and a sore throat. He was eventually diagnosed with stage IV head and neck cancer. Years before Mark’s diagnosis with oral cancer, and after Jerry Garcia’s death, he was chosen to share his lead guitar slot with Steve Kimock in the Other Ones. Just two years ago, while laying in a hospital bed, Mark asked his wife to hand him his guitar and a piece of paper. Twenty minutes later, “Walk Through Fire” was written, a song about his personal resolve, humility, acceptance, courage and lessons learned in his brush with the life-threatening disease. “It was one of those songs you hope for, when the universe says, ‘I’ve got a gift for you,” Karan, now cancer free, shared with us.

Close to a year after Joe’s treatment ended, his oncologist, Dr. Marshall Posner, approached him and his wife to discuss the formation of a Patient Advocacy Group (PAG). A few weeks later, after agreeing to the venture, he heard an interview with Mark Karan about his own battle with head and neck cancer. Just a few months after that, Joe saw Mark perform and reached out to the guitarist through an email address he found on his website. Joe told us, “I sent him an email about Dr. Posner’s idea of a PAG. I told him I wasn’t looking for money, or back stage passes, or a benefit concert – in fact I didn’t know what I was looking for – maybe just to lend his name and experience to the cause.”

Two hours after sending that email, Joe received an email back from Mark’s wife saying that of course he would be involved, after all it was his doctors in San Francisco that had reached out to Dr. Posner (Joe’s treating doctor) for guidance on a treatment that would not involve surgery and a possible end to Mark’s ability to sing. After meeting that fall, their friendship, and subsequent advocacy work, began. They are now able to perform together as survivors in support of the cause that nearly took their lives. Profoundly changed by their individual cancer experiences, they are most certainly thriving and spreading awareness along the way.

A little back ground on oral cancer – Approximately 43,250 people in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2014. When found early; there is an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. However, due to a lack of public awareness, the majority of cases are found at late stages and treatment morbidity is significantly higher, survival rates lower. Early detection is the key to survival so the need of an annual oral cancer screening is of the utmost importance.

The Oral Cancer Foundation is a national public service, non-profit entity designed to reduce suffering and save lives through prevention, education, research, advocacy, and support activities. Check out to learn more about risk factors, signs and symptoms, treatments, current research and current oral cancer related news, among other important information. A FREE patient/survivor discussion forum is also open to the public, where those currently fighting oral cancer can gain insights and inspiration from those who have been there before them.

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The Eighth Annual Oral Cancer Walk for Awareness of New York at NYU raises more than $50,000

Fri, Jun 6, 2014


Author: Staff


On Sunday, April 21, 2013, oral cancer survivors and their families joined dental students from the NYU chapter of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA), residents, dental hygiene students, nursing students, faculty, and staff from the NYU Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing for the eighth annual NYC Oral Cancer Awareness Walk, which set out from the Kissena Park Velodrome in Queens for a four-mile walk, ending at Citi Field, home of the Mets.

The event attracted 600-plus walkers and raised over $50,000 – the highest total to date – for oral cancer awareness, prevention, and treatment. In addition to NYUCD and NYUCN, sponsors included Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, the NYU Oral Cancer Center, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, the Oral Cancer Foundation, New York Hospital in Queens, the Oral Cancer Consortium, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the UMDNJ New Jersey Dental School, and Boulevard Dental Center. Free oral cancer screenings were available throughout the event.

A highlight of the event was remarks by U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-Queens), whose husband is Dr. Wayne Kye, ’02, clinical assistant professor of periodontology and implant dentistry.

As he has done since 2006, Dr. Ross Kerr, clinical professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology, radiology and medicine, provided invaluable strategic advice, encouragement, and support to the extraordinary student volunteers who made the walk such a great success.

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

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CDC reveals no drop in smokeless tobacco use among U.S. workers

Fri, Jun 6, 2014


Author: Margaret Steele, HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Cigarette smoking continues to decline among Americans who work, but use of smokeless tobacco — a known cause of cancer — has held steady since 2005, U.S. health officials reported Thursday. Certain types of jobs — construction and mining, especially — are hotbeds of smokeless tobacco use, according to a study conducted by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Looking at tobacco use over five years, the researchers found a decline in cigarette smoking among working adults — from about 22 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2010. But use of smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and snuff inched up slightly — from 2.7 percent in 2005 to 3 percent in 2010.”These findings can help health professionals direct assistance to working men and women to stop using smokeless tobacco, a known cause of oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancer,” the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The CDC called on employers to try to snuff out all forms of tobacco use. New smokeless tobacco products such as snus (finely ground moist snuff) and candy-flavored dissolvable tobacco, combined with increased marketing, might explain smokeless tobacco’s steady use, the CDC authors said. However, snus and some other products weren’t included in the questionnaire so it’s possible smokeless tobacco use is underestimated, study author Dr. Jacek Mazurek, of the division of respiratory disease studies, and colleagues noted. Chewing tobacco and snuff aren’t safe, research has shown. These products may contain more nicotine than cigarettes, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Nicotine is highly addictive, which is why it’s so hard to quit smoking. For the report, researchers analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey. About 19 percent of mining workers acknowledged use of smokeless tobacco, the survey found. Adults involved in oil and gas extraction also reported heavy use of smokeless tobacco, with about 11 percent using the products, according to the study published in the June 6 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The percentage of cigarette smokers who also use smokeless tobacco was relatively unchanged during the study period — about 4 percent, the researchers said. Employers can step up efforts to curb smokeless tobacco use, the CDC suggested. Making workplaces tobacco-free, offering information on the health risks of tobacco and the benefits of quitting can help reduce these destructive habits. Promoting work-based tobacco-cessation services, including health insurance that covers treatment for tobacco dependence, is another valuable aid, the CDC report said.The finding that 3 percent of working adults used smokeless tobacco in 2010 indicates that much work is needed to meet the Healthy People 2020 target of 0.3 percent or less for U.S. adults.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
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Study finds low public awareness of head and neck cancer

Fri, Jun 6, 2014


Author: The JAMA Network Journals

Bottom Line: Public awareness of head and neck cancer (HNC) is low, with few Americans knowing much about risk factors such as tobacco use and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Author: Alexander L. Luryi, B.S., of the Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

Background: HNC is the 10 th most common cancer in the United States. It is a potentially preventable disease with about 75 percent of cases caused by tobacco use. In recent years, HPV has been established as a risk factor for HNC. Increased public awareness of HNC and its risk factors could help improve outcomes.

How the Study Was Conducted: An online study of 2,126 adults was conducted in 2013.

Results: About 66 percent of the participants were “not very” or “not at all” knowledgeable about HNC. Smoking and chewing or spitting tobacco were identified by 54.5 percent and 32.7 percent of respondents as risk factors for mouth and throat cancer, respectively. Only 0.8 percent of respondents identified HPV as a risk factor.

Discussion: “Awareness of HNC is low compared with other cancers, which is concerning given the importance of risk factor avoidance and modification, as well as early patient detection, as drivers of prevention and improved outcomes.”

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