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Cancer No. 1 Killer of Americans Under 85

January 20, 2005- The Columbian

For the 98.4% of us under 85, cancer has now become the leading cause of death over heart disease. Both rates are decreasing, yet heart disease is falling at a higher rate. The last available statistics on the deaths caused by these two show this: In 2002 "47,009 Americans under 85 died of cancer, compared with 450,637 who died of heart disease." The decrease in deaths caused by heart disease is aided by the growing amount of surgical techniques and drugs used in treatment. One third of all cancers are cause by smoking, so the drop in greatly attributed to the decreasing number of smokers. Obesity, lack of excersize, and poor diets are related to another third of all cancers. Their advice? "Don't smoke, eat right, exercise and maintain normal weight, and see your doctor for normal checkups." Colon cancer, dropping dramitically for men, is decreasing due in part to screening, even though one half of those to whom a screening is suggested go through it. For women in particular, the number of cases of cancer has leveled off after having rised steadily for several years. Overall, cancer deaths have dropped 1% in the past 6 years.

It was great to hear that the deathrates for both of these diseases are dropping. I was surprised to know that a third of cancers are related to smoking, I didn't realize it was that high. Also surprising was the fact that half of all those recommended for screening never went. I can't imagine ignoring the risk you might have something as serious as colon cancer, which according to the article kills one out of ten patients. Considering my dad has had a quadruple bypass and the fact both sides of my family have members suffering from heart disease, it's comforting knowing the new and developing methods of treatment are having such a great effect.

The author of this article, Marilynn Marchione, is a writer for the Associated Press. She cites members of the American Public Health Association, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Heart Association throughout her article. The article was ran in a recent issue of our local newspaper, The Columbian, of which I haven't heard any attack's on accontability. Therefore, I consider the article very credible.

Doctors Call for Antibiotic Drug for HIV Children

November 18, 2004 04:07:54 PM PST , Reuters

A low-cost antibiotic should be given to all children with HIV in developing countries to prevent infections such as pneumonia and reduce deaths, scientists said on Friday.

Dr Diana Gibb, of Britain's Medical Research Council, and her colleagues said a trial involving HIV-infected children in Zambia was stopped early because it was so successful.

A daily dose of the drug co-trimoxazole nearly halved the death rate in youngsters taking it compared to those given a placebo.

"We believe that our results can be generalized to a policy that could be applied universally to children with clinical features of HIV infection in Africa and elsewhere," Gibb said.

She and her team, who reported the findings in The Lancet medical journal, said they believe all children should receive the drug, regardless of their age or CD4 count -- which measures immune system cells in the blood.

Children in the study were between 1 and 14-years-old.

HIV destroys the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to a variety of life-threatening diseases, so-called opportunistic infections, such as tuberculosis or pneumonia.

"Co-trimoxazole in resource-limited settings where there are a lot of infections for children is certainly something that could have an impact on their quality of life, hospital admissions and mortality," Gibb said in an interview.

The researchers tested the drug in a trial of 541 children infected with HIV in Zambia. The youngsters were randomly selected to receive the treatment or a placebo and followed up for 19 months.

Twenty-eight percent of children in the drug group died, compared to 42 percent who had been given the placebo.

"Nutritional support and co-trimoxazole could definitely have an impact while waiting to see if anti-retrovirals can be rolled out," Gibb added. Anti-retrovirals are a class of drugs that are used to fight HIV/AIDS.

She said it would cost about $10 a year to provide co-trimoxazole for a child.

About 38 million adults and children worldwide are living with HIV, according UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. The majority of cases are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Access to universal treatment is a major goal in the battle against the global epidemic.




Genetic Test Hailed As a Tool for Brain Cancer

The Columbian- Thursday, September 30, 2004

Experts have found that patients with glioblastomas, the most severe of the 100 forms of cancer that originates in the brain, may greatly benefit fromt eh use of the drug temozolmide, depending on their genetic profile. Those with the wrong genetic profile were helped no more by the drug than radiotherapy. Therefore, Swiss doctors have created a simple genetic test taht can determine which patients to put on the drug and which ones to direct toward alternative treatments.

I learned from this article that glioblastomas kills by destroying the whole brain, unlike other forms of brain cancer which kill by spreading throughout the body. This specific form of cancer is the most common of the brain, accounting for more than half of all cases. It kills 125,000 annually, and in most cases kill sthem in a year or less. I picked this article because my grandmother died of a brain tumor this year and any developments in treating cancer mean the saving of millions of lives.

I got this article from our local newspaper, The Columbian. The author is a writer for the Associated Press (Emma Ross).



Mediterranean Diet: Eating your way to longevity

The Columbian

Friday, October 8, 2004

A series of studies contributed to by researchers from European countries including France, Spain, the Netherland, and Italy show that what has been labeled the "Mediterranean diet" along with other healthy habits may increase one's lifespan and reduce the risks of many diseases. This diet consists of high quantities of vegetables, which lower the risk of cancer, and olives and nuts, which contain minerals and monounsaturated fats which reduce levels of cardiovascular disease. Wine, when drunk regularly, reduces the risk of a stroke. The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, a key part in the Mediterranean cuisine, also reduce the risk of heart disease. Other meats, especially read meats, are not a typical part of the diet. Yet the walnuts and olive oil consistent with the diet make up for the saturated fat one would cut out when staying away from meat. That's why excersize is also a key part of this longevity-increasing system. Not smoking is also a major factor. 70% of the participants in this study who followed this lifestyle were found to be living happy and healthy later on. Meanwhile, less than half of the participants who followed few of these tips were even living.

I've heard alot of sources naming fresh vegetables as cancer fighters, as well as indicating olives/olive oil and fish can help prevent heart problems, so this article was believable if not breaking news. Yet the naming of several actual scientific studies further solidifies these claims. It was comforting to know that lots of vegetables and olive oil, and little red meat, does all this good, since I have what a friend of mine has named "vegetarian habits". When I do eat meat, it's fish, which fits in well with the diet. The stress on the need for excersize to balance this cuisine was important to keep in mind.

The article sited doctors, researchers, and members of groups such as the American Heart Association. It was writen by an author from the Los Angeles Times, a widely circulated newspaper. I find these facts as proof of the credibility of the content.


Optimism benefits elderly, study finds

The Columbian

October 26th, 2004

According to new research, a optimistic outlook on life may help you out later on, physically. Postive thought has already been proven to speed the recovery of fractures, deter the HIV virus, and prevent heart attack and stroke. Adding even more incentive, it is now believed that a positive attitude can curb the decline in strength that comes with aging. A study done on Mexican Americans in the SW backed this, saying that those who started the 7 year period with optimism had the smallest declines. The same researchers believe that optimism also has the ability to :"compensate for the ill effects of poverty and may reverse the effects of stress and negative emotions on cardiovascular disease".

We've all heard the phrase "mind over matter". I like to think that something as simple as being optimistic can help us later on. I would have liked to see some of the statistics from that study in the SW, more than just 'they did better'. I was suprised to read that positivity has actually been noted to do things such as slow the progression of HIV, while the fact it lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease was not as surprising, seeing as negativity can increase stress.

The author of this article, Shankar Vedantam, is a writer for The Washington Post, an credible source of news.