Secondhand smoke, not just loud music, may harm teens’ hearing

Source: Author: staff Teenagers may seem to be not listening but they actually may be having trouble hearing. And the reason may not always be their ubiquitous iPod earbuds, especially if they live in a home where someone smokes, new research has suggested. A study in a recent issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery recommended that pediatricians consider secondhand smoke exposure to be a risk factor for hearing loss in adolescents and screen accordingly. Approximately 60% of American children are exposed to secondhand smoke, which may also have the potential to have an effect on auditory development, leading to sensorineural hearing loss, according to researchers. Researchers examined the risk factors for sensorineural hearing loss among 1,544 nonsmoking participants aged 12 to 19 years in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke had higher rates of low- and high-frequency hearing loss than peers with no secondhand smoke exposure—and the degree of hearing loss increased with the amount of cotinine (a biomarker for nicotine exposure) in the blood. Because most teens do not have routine hearing exams, pediatricians may want to ask follow-up questions of “tuned out” teens, particularly because 82% of those who had hearing loss were unaware of it. Monitoring the hearing of adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke may head off problems in development and functioning associated with early hearing loss.

Introduction of maspin in cancer cell nucleus ‘halts disease’

Source: Author: Edward Bartel Scientists in Canada believe the injection of maspin into the nucleus of aggressive cancer cells can dramatically halt the spread of the disease, reducing the chance of needing developed cancer treatment. Studies on two types of aggressive cancer cell, an invasive head and neck cancer and a form of breast cancer, were tested by applying two forms of maspin into the nucleus of one set of cells, while another set was applied to the cytoplasm - the surrounding area of a cell's centre. It has long been assumed that maspin had some effect on the development of cancer. However, the study's findings, published in the Laboratory Investigation journal, suggest that the application of maspin can reduce the instance of cancer metastasis. "Metastasis is the cause of 90 per cent of cancer deaths," said one of the authors of the study, Dr Ann Chambers, professor of oncology, pathology and medical biophysics at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Canada. She added: "Our new work suggests that when maspin is located in the nucleus it blocks cancer spread and growth." In Britain, Cancer Research UK report that 309,500 people were diagnosed with the disease in 2008, with the possibility of women developing breast cancer now at one in eight. Notes: 1 Goulet, Brigitte, " Nuclear localization of maspin is essential for its inhibition of tumor growth and metastasis." Laboratory Investigation. Thursday July 28th 2011. 2 Statistical Information Team: Cancer Research UK, "CancerStats News". May 2011.

Convergence in Head and Neck Cancer

Source: Powerful new technologies that zoom in on the connections between human genes and diseases have illuminated the landscape of cancer, singling out changes in tumor DNA that drive the development of certain types of malignancies such as melanoma or ovarian cancer. Now several major biomedical centers have collaborated to shine a light on head and neck squamous cell cancer. Their large-scale analysis has revealed a surprising new set of mutations involved in this understudied disease. In back-to-back papers published online July 28 in Science, researchers from the Broad Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have confirmed genetic abnormalities previously suspected in head and neck cancer, including defects in the tumor suppressor gene known as p53. But the two teams also found mutations in the NOTCH family of genes, suggesting their role as regulators of an important stage in cell development may be impaired. "This adds a new dimension to head and neck cancer biology that was not on anyone's radar screen before," said Levi A. Garraway, a senior associate member of the Broad Institute, an assistant professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, and a senior author of one of the Science papers. "Head and neck cancer is complex and there are many mutations, but we can infer there is a convergence on a cellular process for which we previously did not have genetic evidence. It shows that if you [...]

Prescription Drug Prices Will Soon Be More Affordable

Source: Stamford Advocate The cost of prescription medicines used by millions of people every day is about to plummet. The next 14 months will bring generic versions of seven of the world's 20 best-selling drugs, including the top two: cholesterol fighter Lipitor and blood thinner Plavix. The magnitude of this wave of expiring drugs patents is unprecedented. Between now and 2016, blockbusters with about $255 billion in global annual sales are set to go off patent, notes EvaluatePharma Ltd., a London research firm. Generic competition will decimate sales of the brand-name drugs and slash the cost to patients and companies that provide health benefits. Top drugs getting generic competition by September 2012 are taken by millions every day: Lipitor alone is taken by about 4.3 million Americans and Plavix by 1.4 million. Generic versions of big-selling drugs for blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, depression, high triglycerides, HIV and bipolar disorder also are coming by then. The flood of generics will continue for the next decade or so, as about 120 brand-name prescription drugs lose market exclusivity, according to prescription benefit manager Medco Health Solutions Inc. "My estimation is at least 15 percent of the population is currently using one of the drugs whose patents will expire in 2011 or 2012," says Joel Owerbach, chief pharmacy officer for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, which serves most of upstate New York. Those patients, along with businesses and taxpayers who help pay for prescription drugs through corporate and government prescription plans, collectively will save [...]

New Screening Program for Throat Cancer

Source: The Telegraph Patients would swallow a pill on a string, that expands into a one-inch sponge at the bottom of the throat. This is then draw slowly back up, gently scraping off cells from the wall of the oesophagus. These are then tested for a condition known as Barrett's oesophagus, which can develop into oesophagal cancer over time. Oesophagal cancer is the sixth-most common type in Britain, killing 7,500 people a year. It is often diagnosed when it has advanced, which means survival rates are low: just eight per cent live at least five years from diagnosis, compared to 82 per cent for breast cancer. Researchers at Cambridge University, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Medical Research Centre are excited because the 'cytosponge' is both cheaper and less invasive than the current testing method, endoscopy. In that, an ear nose and throat expert inserts a tiny camera down the throat to select and remove sample cells. It costs about £400 a time. The team, supported by Cancer Research UK, is now hoping to recruit 1,400 volunteers to compare the accuracy of both methods. Dr Rebecca Fitzgerald, who led the Cambridge-based team that developed the cytosponge test, said: "If this trial is successful it will provide a cheap, safe and highly effective method of identifying people with Barrett’s oesophagus, so they can take steps to reduce their risk of developing cancer. "This would open the doors for a national screening programme, much like those offered for breast, cervical [...]

Oral Cancer Prevention International alleges that thousands of cancers are likely to result from J&J’s actions to protect its sales of Listerine

Source: Author: press release A lawsuit was filed against Johnson & Johnson and its Consumer Products Companies in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey on behalf of Oral Cancer Prevention International, Inc. (OCPI). OCPI is the developer of OralCDx®, a patented, testing protocol that can prevent oral cancer by identifying precancerous (dysplastic) cells in the mouth while they are still harmless. OralCDx® testing can be performed by dentists in addition to otolaryngologists (ENT's), family practitioners, dermatologists, and other physicians. The complaint alleges that in order to protect sales of its mouthwash Listerine, which has been linked to oral cancer, Johnson & Johnson and its Consumer Products Companies intentionally interfered with a February 10, 2010 sales agreement between OCPI and OraPharma, Inc., a specialty oral healthcare company. OraPharma had agreed to obtain the exclusive sales rights for OralCDx® to US dentists. According to Attorney James S. O'Brien, Jr. of Pryor Cashman LLP, who represents OCPI: “The effect of J&J's behavior, based on OraPharma's own projections, is that an estimated 7,300 cases of otherwise preventable oral cancer will occur in the United States over the term of the sales agreement.” According to the National Cancer Institute, over 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. It kills approximately as many Americans as melanoma, twice as many as cervical cancer, and is now rapidly rising among women, young people, and non-smokers. In fact there has been a nearly five-fold increase in oral cancer incidence in patients under age [...]

FDA approves REMS for Fentora, Actiq

Source: Author: staff FDA has approved the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for Fentora (fentanyl buccal tablet) [C-II] and Actiq (oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate) [C-II]. Both products, manufactured by Cephalon, are indicated for management of breakthrough pain in opioid-tolerant patients with cancer. The goals of REMS are to ensure proper patient selection, to prevent accidental exposure and inappropriate conversion between fentanyl products, and to mitigate the potential risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, and overdose. The newly approved REMS will replace the existing risk management programs for Fentora and Actiq. Under REMS, pharmacies and healthcare professionals who prescribe Fentora and Actiq will enroll by completing an education module and knowledge assessment focused on safety information that includes appropriate patient selection. Prescribers will also educate patients as part of the program. Cephalon expects that enrollment in the REMS program will begin in September. “The (REMS) program provides education and systems to support safe use of Fentora and Actiq, preserving availability of the medicines to patients through retail pharmacies and using other systems already familiar to prescribers and pharmacists,” said Lesley Russell, MB,ChB, MRCP, Cephalon’s chief medical officer. When implemented, the REMS will provide checks and balances within the distribution channel to provide safeguards that will help ensure that the medications are appropriately dispensing to qualifying patients. All stakeholders can enroll in the system any time beginning in September. There will be a transition period of about 6 months following the launch of REMS after which no prescription may be dispensed, [...]

Are lozenges and other smokeless products safer alternatives to smoking?

Source: Pennsylvania's Fox News Tobacco company rep David Howard waxes enthusiastic when he talks about a new product his employer, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., has developed: a pellet of finely cured tobacco, binders and flavoring that dissolves in the mouth in 10 minutes. Under test market in two U.S. cities — Denver and Charlotte, N.C. — Camel Orbs will join two dissolvable tobacco lozenges already on the market if it graduates to broader distribution. And Howard is optimistic it will. "These products provide smokers with an option to enjoy the pleasure of nicotine without bothering others," Howard said. "No secondhand smoke. No spitting. No cigarette butt." Dissolvable tobacco consists of small pieces of compressed, finely ground tobacco powder, binders and flavorings that are shaped into pellets, sticks or strips. When placed in the mouth, they dissolve within minutes, providing a nicotine hit. The tobacco industry says that the products contain far fewer cancer-causing chemicals such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines and are a "harm reduction" strategy that, like electronic cigarettes, might help people turn to less risky tobacco habits or eventually quit smoking. But public health officials and anti-smoking advocates fear that the products will help initiate a new generation of smokers. The flavoring and packaging appeal to children, they argue, and teenagers will gravitate toward a product they can easily hide. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration will take up the issue with an advisory committee hearing on the effect of dissolvable tobacco products on public health. "Tobacco companies are [...]

Taking out a cancer’s co-dependency: novel compound selectively kills cancer cells by blocking response to oxidative stress

Source: Author: public release A cancer cell may seem out of control, growing wildly and breaking all the rules of orderly cell life and death. But amid the seeming chaos there is a balance between a cancer cell's revved-up metabolism and skyrocketing levels of cellular stress. Just as a cancer cell depends on a hyperactive metabolism to fuel its rapid growth, it also depends on anti-oxidative enzymes to quench potentially toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by such high metabolic demand. Scientists at the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have discovered a novel compound that blocks this response to oxidative stress selectively in cancer cells but spares normal cells, with an effectiveness that surpassed a chemotherapy drug currently used to treat breast cancer. Their findings, based on experiments in cell culture and in mice, appear online in Nature on July 13. The plant-based compound piperlongumine (PL), derived from the fruit of a pepper plant found in southern India and southeast Asia, appears to kill cancer cells by jamming the machinery that dissipates high oxidative stress and the resulting ROS. Normal cells have low levels of ROS, in tune with their more modest metabolism, so they don't need high levels of the anti-oxidant enzymes that PL stymies once they pass a certain threshold. "Piperlongumine targets something that's not thought to be essential in normal cells," said Stuart L. Schreiber, a senior co-author and director of the Broad's Chemical Biology Program. "Cancer cells have a greater dependence on ROS [...]

Head and Neck Cancer Study

Source: American Journal of Neuroradiology BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Radiographic determination of viable disease in cervical adenopathy following RT for head and neck cancer can be challenging. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of US, with or without FNA, in regard to the postradiotherapy effects on documented metastatic adenopathy in patients with oropharyngeal cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study included 133 patients with node-positive oropharyngeal cancer who were irradiated from 1998 to 2004. Sonographic evaluation was performed within 6 months of completion of radiation. Posttreatment US results were compared with pretreatment CT images and were recorded as the following: progression, suspicious, indeterminate, posttreatment change, or regression (positive) versus nonsuspicious or benign (negative). FNAC was classified as nondiagnostic, negative, indeterminate, or positive. Results of US and US-guided FNAC were correlated with findings at neck dissection and disease outcome. RESULTS: Of 203 sonographic examinations, 90% were technically feasible and yielded a nonequivocal imaging diagnosis. Of 87 US-guided FNAs, 71% yielded a nonequivocal tissue diagnosis. The PPV and NPV of initial posttreatment US were 11% and 97%. Sensitivity and specificity were 92% and 28%. The PPV and NPV of US-guided FNA were 33% and 95%, and the sensitivity and specificity were 75% and 74%. On serial sonographic surveillance, of 33 patients with nonsuspicious findings, only 1 (3%) had neck recurrence. Of 22 patients with questionable findings on CT and negative findings on US, none had a neck recurrence. CONCLUSIONS: In experienced hands, serial US is an inexpensive noninvasive reassuring follow-up [...]

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