What’s in a name?

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The word cancer is a dreaded one. Not without a good reason. Cancer is the number one killer. Even when someone has a good outcome, the cancer journey is torture. Emotional turmoil is immeasurably horrendous.

But many people would be surprised to hear that there exists a category of low risk cancers. “Low-risk Cancers are cancers which usually don’t kill; These Cancers are found either incidentally on scans performed for some other reasons or found as part of routine cancer screening.”

Because they are not deadly, Should the patients diagnosed with low-risk cancers be spared the dreaded label of cancer?

Should low-risk cancers be labelled something else and the word cancer used only for the “serious” high-risk cancers ?

Personally, I do not agree with renaming of the low risk cancers..Others disagree

Joint the debate at the BMJ.

Submit your views through rapid response

Reference: 
Should we rename low risk cancers? BMJ

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Can Turmeric control cancer ?

Turmeric powder

 

Turmeric is an orange coloured spice widely used in Indian dishes.

Turmeric has been used in Indian traditional medicine (Siddha and Ayurveda).

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-Cancer properties when tested in laboratories.

Remember – a potential to be beneficial (based on lab studies) is not the same as being proven to work in humans. Lot of substances which are promising in the laboratory eventually turn out to be useless in humans.

If you search PUBMED database- which is an online database of scientific papers- you will find hundreds of papers pertaining to medicinal use of turmeric and its key ingredients such as curcumin. But unfortunately among the many hundreds of published papers, there are very few human trials which have explored turmeric as a anti-cancer treatment.

Inspite of the positive anectodal reports on various internet sites, the available scientific evidence for use of turmeric as an anti-cancer treatment is very spare. ( references below).

Hence it is not worthwhile using turmeric as a cancer treatment.

If you do like Indian dishes, use turmeric as a spice in your normal diet.

But do stay away from the supplements which are sold with health claims.

 

ginger and turmeric powder

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References

The EssentialMedicinal Chemistry of Curcumin.Nelson KM, Dahlin JL, Bisson J, Graham J, Pauli GF, Walters MA. J Med Chem. 2017 Mar 9;60(5):1620-1637.

Phase I clinical trial of oralcurcumin: biomarkers of systemic activity and compliance.Sharma RA, Euden SA, Platton SL, Cooke DN, Shafayat A, Hewitt HR, Marczylo TH, Morgan B, Hemingway D, Plummer SM, Pirmohamed M, Gescher AJ, Steward WP. Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Oct 15;10(20):6847-54.

A Placebo-Controlled Double-Blinded Randomized Pilot Study of Combination Phytotherapy in Biochemically Recurrent Prostate Cancer.van Die MD, Williams SG, Emery J, Bone KM, Taylor JM, Lusk E, Pirotta MV. Prostate. 2017 May;77(7):765-775.

Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Treatment of Intestinal Adenomas in Patients With Familial Adenomatous Polyposis.Cruz-Correa M, Hylind LM, Marrero JH, Zahurak ML, Murray-Stewart T, Casero RA Jr, Montgomery EA, Iacobuzio-Donahue C, Brosens LA, Offerhaus GJ, Umar A, Rodriguez LM, Giardiello FM. Gastroenterology. 2018 Sep;155(3):668-673.

Effect on prostatic specific antigen by a short time treatment with a Curcuma extract: A real life experience and implications for prostate biopsy.Fabiani A, Morosetti C, Filosa A, Principi E, Lepri L, Maurelli V, Fioretti F, Servi L. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2018 Jun 30;90(2):107-111.

Pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic study of oral Curcuma extract in patients with colorectal cancer.Sharma RA, McLelland HR, Hill KA, Ireson CR, Euden SA, Manson MM, Pirmohamed M, Marnett LJ, Gescher AJ, Steward WP. Clin Cancer Res. 2001 Jul;7(7):1894.

Consumption of the putative chemopreventive agent curcumin by cancer patients: assessment of curcumin levels in the colorectum and their pharmacodynamic consequences.Garcea G, Berry DP, Jones DJ, Singh R, Dennison AR, Farmer PB, Sharma RA, Steward WP, Gescher AJ. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Jan;14(1):120-5.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial evaluating the effect of a polyphenol-rich whole food supplement on PSA progression in men with prostate cancer–the U.K. NCRN Pomi-T study.Thomas R, Williams M, Sharma H, Chaudry A, Bellamy P. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2014 Jun;17(2):180-6

Consumption of the putative chemopreventive agent curcumin by cancer patients: assessment of curcumin levels in the colorectum and their pharmacodynamic consequences.Garcea G, Berry DP, Jones DJ, Singh R, Dennison AR, Farmer PB, Sharma RA, Steward WP, Gescher AJ. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Jan;14(1):120-5.

A phase I/II study of gemcitabine-based chemotherapy plus curcumin for patients with gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer.Kanai M, Yoshimura K, Asada M, Imaizumi A, Suzuki C, Matsumoto S, Nishimura T, Mori Y, Masui T, Kawaguchi Y, Yanagihara K, Yazumi S, Chiba T, Guha S, Aggarwal BB. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2011 Jul;68(1):157.

Phytosome complex of curcumin as complementary therapy of advanced pancreatic cancer improves safety and efficacy of gemcitabine: Results of a prospective phase II trial.Pastorelli D, Fabricio ASC, Giovanis P, D’Ippolito S, Fiduccia P, Soldà C, Buda A, Sperti C, Bardini R, Da Dalt G, Rainato G, Gion M, Ursini F. Pharmacol Res. 2018 Jun;132:72-79.

Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, smoldering multiple myeloma, and curcumin: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled cross-over 4g study and an open-label 8g extension study.Golombick T, Diamond TH, Manoharan A, Ramakrishna R. Am J Hematol. 2012 May;87(5):455-60.

 

Image credit: Simon A. Eugster. Turmeric (Curcuma longa):fresh rhizome and powder.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only. See your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant for you.

Low carbohydrate diet

The advocates of low-carb diet received a scientific boost recently.

An American trial, published recently in the British Medical Journal, compared the effects of low-carb-high-fat diet with high-carb-low-fat while keeping total calories and protein intake constant.

This elegantly done trial shows that carbohydrates are bad for weight loss. A diet with a combination of low-carb-high-fat content was the winner in this trial and it promoted energy loss and helped maintain weight loss.

Reference:

Effects of a low carbohydrate diet on energy expenditure during weight loss maintenance: randomized trial.

https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4583

Are Vitamin and Food supplements safe and helpful?

 

medical tablets pharmacy cure

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A British man recently ended up needing a liver transplant after taking green tea capsules. (1).(2).

Many people do not realise that supplements can be useless or even harmful. 

Firstly, Dietary supplements may not always be helpful. Even though the Public Health team in England recommend vItamin D supplements, a large study published recently  – found that Vitamin D supplements do NOT prevent fractures or falls in General population. (3) (4).

Secondly, Dietary supplements can be harmful. For example , a cancer prevention trial involving 35,533 North-American men reported that  “Dietary supplementation with vitamin E significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men”. (JAMA 2011; 306: 1549).  Another cancer prevention trial in Finland involving 29,133 male smokers unexpectedly found a “higher incidence of lung cancer among the men who received beta carotene dietary supplements”. (NEJM 1994;330:1029 )

On the other hand, Vitamin are essential nutrients. Vitamin deficiency can be severely harmful to health. Vitamin D deficiency is common in colder parts of northern hemisphere. Vitamin D supplements are used in treatment and prevention of osteoporosis (5). Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in Vegans and Vitamin B12 supplements are used. (6).

So there is no clear cut answer ….

Always consider the possibility that “dietary supplements may actually have harmful as well as possible beneficial effects”. 

yellow health medicine wellness

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References: 

  1. BBC News – Are supplements safe and do they work? https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45992725
  1. Daily mail: Green tea supplements may cause liver damage, warns EU watchdog. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5629791/How-healthy-healthy-EU-warns-green-tea-supplements.html
  1. Public Health England recommends vitamin D supplements in autumn and winter.  BMJ 354 doi:10.1136/bmj.i4061
  1. Guardian : Vitamin D supplements don’t help bone health, major study concludes. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/04/vitamin-d-supplements-dont-help-bone-health-major-study-concludes
  1. Vitamin B12 and Health: http://www.lnds.nhs.uk/Library/Vitamin_B12_and_HealthOct2018LNDS123.pdf
  1. National Osteoporosis Guideline Group: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/NOGG/mainrecommendations.html

Can milk cause cancer?

blur calcium close up dairy

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A vegan group’s recent advertisement claimed that “cow’s milk contains 35 hormones, including oestrogen … some of these are linked to cancer”.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in U.K banned the vegan group’s advert  as it found the groups claims misleading.

Does the evidence stack up?

First of all, I have to emphasize that “Human Mothers milk” is the best nutrition a new born baby can have…even though it might have various natural hormones.

But “mass produced diary milk” is a different matter.

A large observational study from ” Central Sweden”  found that “High milk intake was associated with higher risk of death and higher fracture incidence in women”. The paper was published in the prestigious BMJ journal in 2014. I suspect the substances used in mass production of diary milk might be the culprit rather than natural milk itself.

So the jury is out on this question. In the mean time, moderation is the key as Cows’ milk does contain many beneficial substances.  Switching to sugary, fizzy drinks or other artifically produed milk alternatives is not sensible either.

Related Links

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies

BMJ Letter: S Sundar. Milk and mortality: the potential effects of modern milk production

Telegraph: Vegan group’s advert wrongly linking cow’s milk to cancer is banned.

Independent: Vegan group’s advert wrongly linking cow’s milk to cancer gets UK ban

Can alcohol cause cancer?

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Can alcohol cause cancer?

Yes,  worldwide, 1 in 20 cancers are attributed to alcohol .

How much drinking causes cancer?

“Even modest use of alcohol may increase cancer risk, but the greatest risks are observed with heavy, long-term use”

“The more that a person drinks, and the longer the period of time, the greater their risk of development of cancer, especially head and neck cancers”

Are light drinkers at risk ?

Risk of cancer is present at  even at low levels of consumption.  Hence, the World Cancer Research Fund/AICR makes the following recommendation: “If alcoholic drinks are consumed, limit consumption to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.” They also recommend that, “for cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol.”

Is wine less risky than spirits?

No,  the risk is present “regardless of the specific type of alcoholic beverage (ie, beer, wine, or spirits/liquor)”

Which cancers can arise due to alcohol?

Alcohol is causally associated with Mouth, Throat, Gullet, Liver, Breast and Bowel cancers.

Links:

  1. Alcohol and Cancer: A Statement of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. http://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JCO.2017.76.1155
  2. Alcohol is a direct cause of seven ​​forms of cancer, finds study . https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/22/alcohol-direct-cause-seven-forms-of-cancer-study

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