Monday, July 26, 2010

Green Tea Against Leukemia

TeaImage by prakhar via Flickr
Found this one article in the web, and while it is not yet conclusive, take note, the study has not been finalized, a glimmer of hope is already grasped by the researchers - and thus, this article is published.

Do comment if this is already completed and finalized, especially when the outcome is strongly beneficial.

In the meantime, read on...

Green Tea Compound May Fight Leukemia
Early Study Shows EGCG Supplements May Delay Need for Chemotherapy in Some Patients

By Charlene Laino
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

TAZO China Green Tips Green Tea, 20-Count Tea Bags (Pack of 6)June 9, 2010 (Chicago) -- Supplements that contain a chemical found in green tea show promise for delaying or preventing the need for chemotherapy in people with early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

The chemical is called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). In a small preliminary studyof 42 CLL patientswho took pills containing EGCG, about one-third showed a 20% or greater drop in their leukemia cell count that was sustained for at least several months.

Since the patients in the study had such early-stage disease that most had no symptoms, the FDA and the researchers agreed that a drop in leukemia cell count would be used as a surrogate marker for disease activity, says study head Tait Shanafelt, MD, a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

In the 29 patients who had enlarged lymph nodes, 20 saw their node size cut in half or more following treatment, he tells WebMD.

Bigelow Organic Green Tea, 40-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)Patients took the EGCG pills twice a day for six months. EGCG was generally well tolerated, but three patients had serious side effects: one had abdominal pain, one had severe fatigue, and one had substantially elevated liver enzymes.

The findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

Laboratory studies in a variety of tumor types have shown that EGCG cuts off the nutrient-rich blood supply to tumors and directly kills off cancer cells, Shanafelt says. Last year his team published a small study showing EGCG appears to be safe.

If the findings are confirmed and long-term safety established in larger, longer studies, the hope is that EGCG supplements can delay or prevent chemo, he says.

CLL is a very slow growing leukemia, he says. "So for the 70% to 80% of patients diagnosed at an early stage, we wait for the development of symptoms to start chemotherapy," Shanafelt says.

Yogi Green Tea Kombucha, Herbal Tea Supplement, 16-Count Tea Bags (Pack of 6)The other potential niche is to use ECCG as maintenance therapy to prevent recurrence in patients who are in remission, Shanafelt says.

EGCG supplements can be bought at any health food store, and Shanafelt says he receives about one email a month from CLL patients who claim they help.

Pending further study, Shanafelt doesn't advise taking the supplements, which contain much more EGCG than you can get from green tea.

But if you are going to swallow them, at least tell your oncologist and get blood tests to check your liver enzymes every six weeks, he says.

Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center's John Byrd, MD, who served as discussant for the presentation, says that patients who saw early reports of effectiveness in the literature often ask him if they should be taking EGCG.

Rishi Tea Organic Jasmine Pearl Loose Tea, 3-Ounce Tin (Pack of 2)The new findings suggest EGCG is generally well tolerated and appears to have some benefit for some patients, he says.

But much more work is needed, Byrd says.

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

From; source article is below:
Green Tea Compound May Fight Leukemia

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Obesity: could it be genetic?

Not that I would say being fat is a disadvantage all the way, but you could sometimes be in the center spot of attention. And there have been numerous incidents of a person trying to slim down ending up worse than before.

Could this be a new promise of good effect?

New targets emerge for tackling obesity

An overweight couple walks on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul.
PARIS - New investigations into obesity may identify people with an inherited risk of weight gain, explain why crash diets often fail and address a danger period in childhood that leads to obesity in adult life.

Sifting through the genetic codes of 77,000 people, a British-led international team say they have found culprit variants in DNA near a gene already fingered in the molecular ballet that causes obesity.

The gene, called MC4R, orchestrates appetite and energy expenditure.

Previous research has already found that MC4R, when flawed, triggers a form of chronic over-eating and weight gain which is rare but dramatic, especially when it strikes young children.

The newly-found variants are more common than the flaws on MC4R, though, according to the paper, published on Sunday in the journal Nature Genetics.

The variants do not lie on the gene but close to it. The theory is that they disrupt the workings of MC4R in some way, although how this happens remains unclear.

People who have the variants in both sets of their chromosomes on average increase in weight of about 1.5 kilos (3.3 pounds) compared to counterparts who had no copies.

The telltales were found by a consortium gathering researchers from 77 institutions in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United States, led by scientists in Cambridge and Oxford.

People who have double sets of the variants near MC4R and of a flawed gene called FTO are on average 3.8 kilos (8.5 pounds) heavier than people without these characteristics, according to the new study.

Meanwhile, a paper released by the journal Nature has powerfully strengthened suspicions that adult obesity is often rooted in childhood.

Researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute found that fat cells, or adipoctyes, increase in number during childhood and adolescence.

By adulthood, the tally is stable, they say. As older fat cells die, they are replaced by new ones. On average, the annual turnover rate among adults is nearly 10 percent of adipocytes, regardless of the person's age or corpulence.

The implications of this are far-reaching, say the scientists.

New-born adipocytes may crave energy in the form of fatty molecules called lipids. As a result, the cells bulk out and the body weight returns.

"The results may, at least in part, explain why it is so difficult to maintain weight after slimming," said Peter Arner, a co-leader of the team.

"The fat cells generated during and after weight reduction need to fill up their lipids rapidly."

Another breakthrough is the determination that the number of adipocytes, for all people, is set during childhood and adolescence and remains largely unchanged, even if one loses weight.

Most obese adults have been obese since childhood. Less than 10 percent of children with normal weight go on to develop adult obesity, according to figures cited in the study.

By contrast, over three-quarters of obese children go on to become obese adults.

According to the team's calculations, among obese people, the moment when adipocytes start to rise is very early, at the age of 2.1 years on average, compared with 5.7 years for lean people.

Once the increase starts, the number of adipocytes multiplies at nearly twice the rate among the obese than among the lean. But, among the obese, the increase stops sooner, at 16.5 years, as opposed to 18.5 years for people who lean.

Two tempting targets thus open up for drug designers, say the authors.

One is a potential treatment that would curb the renewal of adipocytes in adulthood. Another is a putative drug to brake the expansion of fat cells among vulnerable children during the period at risk.

Obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes have gained epidemic proportions in many developed economies.

The causes, though, are complex. Sedentary lifestyle, snacking on fat and sugary foods and genetic inheritance are the most frequently-named sources. - AFP/ra

From; source article is below:
New targets emerge for tackling obesity

Scorpion (venom) to the rescue

Another one of the unconventional methods, a new discovery, or whatever you may want to call it, but hey, so long as it works, who cares?

Just kidding. But this is one good news. A dreaded creature can be of help, somehow.

Read on...

Scorpion venom might be brain cancer cure
By Channel NewsAsia's US correspondent Steve Mort

FLORIDA: Doctors in the United States are testing a possible breakthrough treatment for brain cancer.

Scorpion venom has been administered to dozens of patients at four hospitals after researchers found that the agent selectively attaches to tumour cells while sparing normal cells.

Patrick Brenner was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2003 and was given just months to live.

"It got to the point where my eyes went crossed or something and I finally went to the hospital and had an MRI, and they found that there was a sizable tumour," he said.

When traditional treatments, including chemotherapy, failed to stop Brenner's tumour from growing, he enrolled in a clinical trial at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.

Doctors at the institute administered purified venom protein from the giant yellow Israeli scorpion to Brenner. The venom was tagged with radioactive iodine to deliver localised radiation to the tumour cells.

Now three years later, Brenner's doctor, Nick Avgeropoulos, said his patient has seen a ten-fold improvement in his prognosis.

"We don't have any other reason why he should be doing this well, except to say that it was this agent. Of course, like anything, an anecdotal story or an instance cannot be generalised to everyone, and that's why we do clinical trials. However, it's always encouraging to see that there's a possibility," said Dr Avgeropoulos.

Dr Avgeropoulos pointed out that while the most common cancer treatments kill healthy cells and are hard on the body, the scorpion venom only seeks out tumour cells and then attaches to them.

When combined with radioactive iodine, the venom can be used to attack the malignant cells.

The agent is delivered in weekly injections through a catheter in the patient's head.

"I think it's pretty amazing. I don't know if it's a miracle but it's definitely good medicine. And hopefully some other people can get some good out of this. I'm just happy to be alive. And if this is the rest of my life, I've accepted that," said Brenner.

Brenner is just one of the nearly 200,000 people in the United States diagnosed with a brain tumour each year, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

His progress and that of other patients given scorpion venom are being followed closely.

The agent is performing well in studies on other types of cancer cells too, and the US Food and Drug Administration also has the treatment on a fast-track for approval. - CNA/ac

From; source article is below:
 Scorpion venom might be brain cancer cure
(There is a video in the link, in case you prefer watching to reading)

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Being cool on the job

How to run on fumes
Maureen Farrell,

In 1999, just months after launching a new media consulting company, Deborah Collins Stephens landed her first major contract heading a six-person team that would design a series of educational videos on leadership for

Two weeks into the project, Stephens' husband was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal illness, and placed on life support.

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She was devastated - 60 per cent of those afflicted with the disease die within five years of diagnosis - but she still couldn't stop working. With two sons, ages 5 and 10, minimal savings and a mortgage, Stephens needed the income from the project.

"I had no idea what would happen to my husband," says Stephens. "I wish I was inside of a big company that would say 'Hey Deborah, take 90 days off,' but we didn't have that safety net. The world couldn’t stop because my husband became ill."

The U.S. Family Medical Leave Act allows employees of companies with more than 50 employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for sick relatives.

But entrepreneurs and plenty of other cash-strapped folks don't have that luxury.

While physical and emotional exhaustion are bound to strike, there are ways of mustering the strength to plow through.

Stephens relied on two seemingly small but effective tricks.

The first: saying thanks. Every day for weeks, she took a few minutes to jot down a handful of things she was grateful for. "One day my list just said, 'I'm glad the dog didn't pee on the carpet'," she recalls.

Stephens' second coping strategy involved a healthy change of perspective, or as she puts it, finding a touchstone. "You need to train your mind not to go to the worst possible place," she says.

Her first touchstone was a book by Holocaust survivor and psychologist Victor Frankl, which she read at every spare moment during her husband's illness. "I just kept thinking, 'If a person could survive that, I can survive this.'"

And she did: Aside from taking off a few days after getting the horrible news, Stephens stuck it out, never missing a single deadline on the video project, she says.

She also wrote a book about her struggle, called 'This Is Not The Life I Ordered'. Best of all, eight years later, her husband is still beating the odds.

Weathering fatigue is about serious physical preparation, too.

Consider yourself an "entrepreneurial athlete," says Jim Loehr, performance psychologist and founder of Human Performance Institute, an Orlando, Fla.-based consulting firm and author of 13 books on boosting human performance.

It's a good buzz word, but the real challenge is sticking to healthy habits as the hour grows later and the pressures mount.

"When people are entering a high-stress period, they don't sleep and don't exercise, but in fact, it should be just the opposite," says Loehr.

"[Exercise] helps them clear the emotional channel." Even if you're ill, physical activity at a lower level will help you beat it, he adds.

When it comes to sleep, getting those seven to eight recommended hours just may not be feasible.

If you're trying to decide between a few more winks or reps, you're better off hitting the gym, says Loehr. Those who exercise need less sleep - and they sleep more deeply when they do.

As for eating, try to consume around three or four meals a day and two snacks - bananas and peanut butter work well - and never go more than four hours without sustenance, says Loehr.

Avoid sugary drinks, candy or any other glucose boosters: After all, what goes up must come down, and you'll come down even harder if you're already overtired.

If you're really desperate for a boost in the eleventh hour, stick with coffee or tea rather than soda and energy drinks, which come with a sugar slump, says Helen Pak, registered dietician and nutritionist at University of California at Berkeley Student Health Services.

And caffeine will work best if you're not used to it, so try to lay off the java throughout the day.

Finally, avoid over-the-counter "alertness aids" like NoDoz and Vivarin, which are overloaded with caffeine.

While not addictive, "those pills can be counterproductive, since they make you jittery and decrease your concentration and ability to focus," says Pak.

From; source article is below:

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Chemo's effectivity - until where?

Chemo fails to root out breast cancer stem cells

Breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment
WASHINGTON - While chemotherapy can remove breast cancer tumours, it fails to root out the stem cells that can revive the cancer, researchers said in a study published Tuesday.

Comparing the challenge to eradicating stubborn weeds from a garden, the researchers at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, Texas, said chemotherapy often fails because it leaves behind many of the stem cells that help re-ignite tumours.

"It's not enough to kill the dandelion blossom and stalk that appear above ground," said Michael Lewis, assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology at the BCM Breast Cancer Center. "You have to kill the root beneath the soil as well."

The discovery underscores the need to develop a treatment that can target stem cells in addition to the tumour, Lewis said.

"What we found is that one reason chemotherapy frequently does not work is that you kill the bulk of the tumour but leave many of the stem cells behind," he said.

"It appears that these cells, by their nature, are resistant to the effects of anti-cancer drugs," said Lewis, whose findings appear online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

A cocktail of anti-cancer medicines together with the drug lapatinib appears to kill both the tumour and the stem cells, he said.

The promising drug, still being evaluated, would be used to treat breast cancer that has metastasised and contains the protein marker called HER2.

The Baylor researchers took biopsies from the tumours of patients with and without the HER2 marker before and after different treatments.

In the group of people whose tumours did not carry the HER2 marker, the 31 patients received conventional chemotherapy. While the number of tumours significantly decreased, the proportion of cancer stem cells was greater than before the treatment, the study said.

The other group -- 21 patients with HER2 -- were given lapatinib and two common breast cancer drugs. That group saw a dramatic drop in tumour cells, and the percentage of cancer stem cells remained unchanged or even dropped slightly, the researchers said.

"The tumour shrank dramatically," said Jenny Chang, associate professor of medicine and medical director of the BCM Breast Care Cancer Center.

"But in contrast to treatment with conventional chemotherapy, the relative proportion of stem cells did not go up. This means the stem cells were killed off with the same frequency as the bulk of the tumour. This is the first time this has been demonstrated." - AFP/sh

From; source article is below:
Chemo fails to root out breast cancer stem cells

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A dog's next advantage on top of being man's best friend

When I was a kid, I've heard of our neighbors doing some weird things, like getting this wounds licked by their dog, with the belief that doing so may "cure" their wound - and speedily, at that!

But no, I didn't try it myself. We have dogs, but I guess I'm still sane enough not to do it. Kids do weird things, but I wasn't that weird enough to do some weird things.

This one ain't weird, so read on...


Puppy love: Pet dog nips child allergies

PARIS - Take a bow-wow, Fido. Scientists have found that man's best friend is also good for his children too, for young kids who live with a dog may get an immune-system boost against asthma and other allergies.

Joachim Heinrich of the Institute of Epidemiology at the Heimholtz Centre in Munich, Germany, led an investigation into more than 3,000 children, whose health was closely monitored from birth to the age of six.

Blood tests showed that, in households with dogs, children were less at risk from becoming sensitised to pollens and inhaled allergens the triggers for asthma and wheezing, allergic rhinitis and eczema than counterparts in dog- less homes.

Heinrich believes that early exposure to germs brought into the house on dog fur could stimulate maturation of the immune system. In other words, the body's defences do not go into allergic overdrive when they are suddenly exposed to dust house mites, pollens and other triggers.

Oddly, though, the benefit seen in the children's antibodies did not show through in terms of symptoms, the study found.

Children with a dog were as susceptible to asthma and the other problems as counterparts without the pets.

"It is not crystal clear why this is so," Heinrich told AFP, saying it could be that the protective benefit may show up when the children in the study are a little older. Further assessments will be made when they reach the age of 10.

The paper appears in the European Respiratory Journal, published by the European Respiratory Society (ERS).

Further work is needed to understand why dogs appear to deliver this protection before a recommendation can be made to get a canine companion, said Heinrich. - AFP/ar

From; source article is below:
Puppy love: Pet dog nips child allergies

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