Stuck in traffic jams? It may up cancer risk

London: Apart from wasting your time, long traffic jams may cause exposure to toxic fumes, and potentially increase various health risks, including cancer, say researchers, one of them of Indian origin.

Exposure to outdoor air pollution is among the top ten health risks faced by humans and is especially pronounced in urban concentrations, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In October 2013, WHO classified outdoor air pollution as being carcinogenic to humans?

The findings showed that when vehicles stop at red lights, they go through different driving cycles such as idling, acceleration and deceleration and emission of toxic fumes.

These emissions take more time to disperse, especially in built-up areas and end up accumulating in the air at traffic signals.

Thus, the people sitting inside cars, with closed windows but with fans switched on, can be at an increased risk of exposure to the outdoor pollutants, the researchers said.

Switching on the fan sucks the dirty air from outside to inside the vehicle, resulting in an accumulation of pollutants in the car.

However, it may be relatively safe to put fans onto the setting where they re-circulate air within the car without drawing polluted air in from outside, the study stated.

“Where possible and with weather conditions allowing, it is one of the best ways to limit your exposure by keeping windows shut, fans turned off and to try and increase the distance between you and the car in front while in traffic jams or stationary at traffic lights,” said Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey.

“If the fan or heater needs to be on, the best setting would be to have the air re-circulating within the car without drawing in air from outdoors,” Kumar added.

Previous studies have shown that drivers stuck at traffic lights were exposed up to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving in free flowing traffic.

The new research, published in the journal Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, has found that pedestrians are also exposed to increased air pollution around traffic signals

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Rampatri – Indian spice to help fight cancer?

An organic revolution could be underway at the laboratories located inside BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Center)’s Anushakti Nagar complex near Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai, in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Scientists at BARC (in the 700-metre modular laboratory) are using Indian herbs and spices to develop an anti-cancer properties drug that is supposed to be affordable and with fewer side-effects.

According to many research, Indian spices and herbs can do wonder to help prevent and to a certain extent help fight cancer, alongside other modern medicine.  Besides adding zesty colour and taste to food, Indian spices have a certain amount of cancer-fighting properties in them with supposedly lesser side effects than other drugs. Turmeric, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Cumin, Saffron, Ginger, Oregano are well known spices, having cancer fighting elements in them.

‘False nutmeg’, popular in India as ‘Rampatri’, widely used in Goan and Mangalorean cuisine, can fight against cancer claims BARC. BARC’s bio-science group have developed a chemotherapeutic drug that has, in studies on mice, shown potency against lung cancer and also neuroblastoma (a rare pediatric cancer, in which cancer cell grows in the nerve cells of the adrenal glands, neck, chest, and spinal cord).

According to Dr S. Chattopadhyay, heads of the bio-science group, this is a significant development, as neuroblastoma treatment is aggressive and the disease is known to recur.

This herbal drug is supposed to decrease the tumor burden, while increasing the efficacy of the usual chemotherapy drugs (such as cisplatin, camptothecin and etoposide) taken alongside. Herbal drugs have fewer or almost no side-effects and are less expensive. Use of such herbal drugs could reduce the cost of medication and also their side-effects.

Dr Chattopadhyay stated that the phytochemicals they develop as adjuvant drugs enhance the efficacy of other drugs and boosts the immune system to minimize the drug dosage, as quoted by Indian daily Times of India.

Enhance the effect of radiotherapy

BARC has developed two other drugs called radiomodifiers and radioprotector in various stages of commercial release. Radiomodifiers are supposed to enhance the effect of radiotherapy, and also to protect tissues, lymphocytes, lungs and the gastrointestinal system from the radiation injury

This herbal radiomodifier is now just waiting for a patent. The radiomodifier is an oral drug which will be taken up for a clinical trial at Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.

This new BARC radioprotector dose is supposed to protect mice from all the radiation exposure damages (which mainly affects bone marrow, gastrointestinal and reproductive organs), and also increases their lifespan.

Experiments with Indian spices and herbs are bringing positive first results which could potentially make a real difference and could bring a revolution to help cure cancer. If BARC’s herbal radiomodifier can come out positively, Indian spices can play a big role in future in this complimentary way to fight cancer.
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One out eight men has the possibility of developing cancer: Indian govt

One out of eight men and one out of nine women have the possibility of developing cancer in their lifetime, the government said on Tuesday.

Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha said the Indian Council of Medical Research has released a three-year report of population-based cancer registries: 2012-14, and consolidated report of hospital-based cancer registries 2012-14 in May 2016.

“As per the National Cancer Registry programme of the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (ICMR), one out of eight men has the possibility of developing cancer in his lifetime (0-74 years). “Similarly, one out of nine women has the possibility to develop cancer in her lifetime (0-74 years),” she said.

She said her ministry is running National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS). She said the cancer-related components of this programme includes provision of treatment facilities in addition to early detection and prevention activities of the disease across the country for all types of cancer.

India is likely to have more than 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer and over 8.8 lakh deaths due to the disease by 2020 with cancers of breast, lung and cervix topping the list, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had said recently. The premier medical research body said that in 2016 the total number of new cancer cases is expected to be around 14.5 lakh and the figure is likely to reach nearly 17.3 lakh new cases in 2020.


Source : DNA India

Obesity may cause eight more types of cancer: New Study

Being obese or overweight may lead to eight more types of cancer than previously thought, new research has warned.

Researchers have identified eight additional types of cancer linked to excess weight and obesity: stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovary, meningioma (a type of brain tumour), thyroid cancer and the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

Limiting weight gain over the decades could help to reduce the risk of these cancers, researchers said. The findings are based on a review of more than 1,000 studies of excess weight and cancer risk analysed by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Cancer on Research (IARC), based in France.

“The burden of cancer due to being overweight or obese is more extensive than what has been assumed,” said cancer prevention expert Graham Colditz, at Washington University School of Medicine in the US. “Many of the newly identified cancers linked to excess weight have not been on people’s radar screens as having a weight component,” said Colditz, who chaired the IARC Working Group.

The findings could have a significant bearing on the global population. Worldwide, an estimated 640 million adults and 110 million children are obese, researchers said. In 2002, the same group of cancer researchers found sufficient evidence linking excess weight to higher risks of cancers of the colon, esophagus, kidney, breast and uterus.

“Lifestyle factors such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, in addition to not smoking, can have a significant impact on reducing cancer risk,” Colditz said. “Public health efforts to combat cancer should focus on these things that people have some control over.

“But losing weight is hard for many people. Rather than getting discouraged and giving up, those struggling to take off weight could instead focus on avoiding more weight gain,” said Colditz.

For most of the cancers on the newly expanded list, the researchers noted a positive dose-response relationship: the higher the body-mass index, or BMI, the greater the cancer risk. The cancer risks associated with excess weight were similar for men and women and, when data were available, were consistent across geographic regions – North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, researchers said.

There are many reasons why being overweight or obese can increase cancer risk, they noted. Excess fat leads to an overproduction of oestrogen, testosterone and insulin, and promotes inflammation, all of which can drive cancer growth.

Source : DNA India

Breakthrough cancer drugs all set for India launch

MUMBAI: Cancer patients in India are set to gain faster access to two of the world’s best known new generation drugs – Keytruda from US based Merck and Bristol Myer Squibb’s Opdivo – both used to treat melanoma, a form of malignant skin cancer and a life-threatening lung cancer.

According to a top health ministry official, while Keytruda has recently been granted approval by the Drug Controller General of India in line with recommendations of expert oncologists and a powerful apex committee, Opdivo has secured waiver from clinical trials a few months ago, paving the way for its marketing authorization

The accelerated regulatory clearances cut the time lines for introductions of the two big brands which may be expected to be introduced by the end of the year, market sources indicated. Ever since their approvals by the US FDA in 2014, the two drugs have set new standards in cancer care, raising hopes of more breakthroughs in managing cancer patients. While most existing drugs aggressively attack cancer cells and in the process risk harming healthy tissues, Keytruda and Opdivo work differently, helping the immune system identify and selectively combat only the cancerous cells.

While Keytruda generated global sales of $566 million during 2015, Opdivo grossed $942 million, on course to reaching a blockbuster status.

Last November, a Subject Expert Committee (SEC) in India had granted import and marketing for pembrolizumab, branded Keytruda. It said the drug may be granted waiver of local clinical trial but put a condition of conducting phase four study in Indian patients

Source : Economic Times

Bacteria in chewable tobacco may up risk of cancer

Are you addicted to smokeless tobacco products like plain chewable tobacco leaves, khaini, pan masala, zarda and gutka? Be warned, as researchers have identified several species of bacteria in these products that can increase the risk of cancer, lung infections, diarrhoea and vomiting.

The study found that these chewable tobacco products contains bacillus licheniformis and bacillus pumilus — bacteria species — that could potentially cause inflammation of the lungs, as well as many other opportunistic infections.

“Some species have been identified as causative agents in spice-related outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting. Additionally, they produce a mild toxin which, in large quantities could cause illness,” said Steven Foley, research microbiologist at the National Centre for Toxicological Research, US Food and Drug Administration.

Several species of bacillus, as well as some stapphylococcus epidermidis and staphylococcus hominis strains can reduce nitrates to nitrites that can potentially lead to cancer, Foley added.

In order to allow nicotine to pass into the bloodstream, individuals hold these products in their mouths and thus come in close contact with mucus membranes for extended periods of time that provides an opportunity for the user to be exposed to bacteria present in the product, the researchers said.

Additionally, users often have problems with gingivitis and other oral health issues that are caused by the smokeless tobacco products.

Source : Times of India

Drugs for cancer among 54 to see up to 55% price cut

NEW DELHI: Drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has slashed prices of 54 essential medicines by up to 55%, including commonly used drugs for cancer (brain and breast), hypertension, diabetes, antibiotics and other heart disorders.

The move is aimed at bringing down prices of commonly used drugs for critical diseases by expanding span of price regulation to cover new drugs, NPPA Chairman Bhupinder Singh told TOI.

In a notification issued on Tuesday, the regulator ordered manufacturers, distributors and retailers to implement the ceiling prices with immediate effect.

The 54 drugs are part of the revised National List of Essential Medicines, 2015. The heath ministry had come out with the new list in December increasing the span of price control from 684 to 875 medicines. The NPPA has so far capped prices of 280 new drugs which are part of the revised list. This is the second price revision in the last 15 days. On April 28, the regulator had fixed prices of another 54 drugs.

The idea is to make treatment of critical diseases more affordable by bringing down the cost of medicines, which constitute a major part of the total health expenditure, mainly in case of tertiary care.

In rural India, almost 80% of the out-of-pocket expenditure is on medicines, whereas in urban areas it is around 75%.

New medicines have been brought under price control through the latest NPPA order.

The new drugs include Trastuzumab injection used in treatment of breast cancer, Temozolomide for brain cancer, various medicines for heart disorders as well as hypertension like Amlodopine, Ramipril, Clopidogrel etc.

 According to the regulator, prices of these medicines have been fixed on priority because these are commonly used and are new to the list.
Incidence of cancer and heart diseases are increasing rapidly in India to the extent that the two have emerged as top causes for mortality in the country. According to the latest data issued by the National Cancer Registry Programme of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), cancer has become the biggest cause of death in India with 1,300 deaths daily and close to 5 lakh every year. According to latest global studies, deaths from cancer have risen by 60% since 1990. Cardiovascular diseases are also found to be the leading cause of death globally.

Apart from price regulation, the government has of late also explored other ways to bring down prices of such medicines. For instance, the health ministry has started AMRIT (Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment) programme to provide cancer drugs to patients at a heavily discounted price. Similarly the department of pharmaceuticals started Jan Aushadhi stores to sell these medicines at a cheaper prices.

                                                                                                                                                                 Source : Times of India

Delhi has the highest prevalence of childhood cancer: Govt report

The highest number of childhood cancer cases (in the age group of 0-14 years) in India were found in New Delhi, according to the latest data released by the Indian government.

The National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) data released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which took into account the population-based cancer registries from 2012-2014, showed that there were 860 reported cases of childhood cancers in the national capital in 2012, accounting for 4.4 percent of all the cancers reported there.

New Delhi was followed by Mumbai and Chennai, which reported 245 and 240 cases of childhood cancers, respectively, in 2012.

The data also showed the age-adjusted incidence of rates (AAR) for childhood cancers, which is the number of cases of cancer per million children. Among boys, the AAR was found to be 235.3 followed by Chennai that had the AAR of 156.7. For girls, Delhi had the highest AAR at 152.3.

The East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya, and Nagaland, which otherwise had the highest incidence of cancer cases among all age groups, reported the least number of childhood cancer cases.

The two major forms of childhood cancers, according to NCRP, reported in India were leukaemias (bone marrow cancers) and lymphomas (cancer of the lymph nodes).

North-East India reported the maximum number of cancer cases across all age groups, with the Aizawl district of Mizoram having the highest number of such cases among men and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh registering the largest number of cancer cases among women. The East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya reported the highest number of tobacco-related cancers for both men and women in the country.

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Cancer cases in India likely to soar 25% by 2020: ICMR

NEW DELHI: New cancer cases or its incidence in India is estimated to grow by 25% by 2020, according to the cancer registry released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

While new cases in Delhi have increased rapidly since 2008-09, the burden in northeastern states is also high. Cancer cases in India are expected to jump from around 14 lakh in 2016 to over 17.3 lakh by 2020. Deaths due to cancer are projected to go up from 7.36 lakh to over 8.8 lakh in the next four years.

Breast, lung and cervical cancer have topped the list of new cases, the data show.

Over 1.5 lakh new breast cancer cases were estimated during 2016, which is over 10% of total cases. Cancer of the lungs is second with estimated 1.14 lakh new cases (83,000 in males and 31,000 in females) during 2016.

Incidence of breast cancer is projected to go up to 1.9 lakh by 2020, whereas new lung cancer cases are likely to increase to 1.4 lakh cases in the next four years.

Data also revealed that only 12.5% of patients come for treatment in their early stages.While there is huge regional disparity, the northeast reported the highest number of cases in both males and females.

Aizwal district in Mizoram recorded the highest number of cancer cases among males while Papumpare district in Arunachal Pradesh reported the highest rate of the disease among women.

 ICMR conducted a country-wide study from 2012-14 from various population-based and hospital-based cancer registries.
                                                                                                                                                            Source : Times of India

Here’s what we actually know about cellphones and cancer

The Wall Street Journal reports that a multi-year study by the US government has found a weak link between cell phones and cancer.

No one disputes that cell phones emit radiation that can be absorbed by human tissue. Still, that doesn’t mean we know that cellphones cause cancer, even with this latest development – the findings came from a small population of 270 rats, not any research on humans.

Cell phones emit “non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation” (the kind that comes from microwaves), not “ionizing radiation” (the kind that comes from X-rays). And it turns out that’s an important difference.

“Exposure to ionizing radiation, such as from x-rays, is known to increase the risk of cancer,” the National Cancer Institute explains, although even there, the dose matters a lot. “However, although many studies have examined the potential health effects of non-ionizing radiation from radar, microwave ovens, cell phones, and other sources, there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk.”

Non-ionizing radiation also does not cause DNA damage, something that’s usually considered a necessary trigger for cancer.

While people spend much more time with their cell phones than their microwaves, it’s still hard to get a good idea of the dose of non-ionizing radiation we get from them. The amount of radiation absorbed by individuals will vary depending on the kind of phones they have and how they use them.

A lot of uncertainty also comes from improved cell phone technology and increased usage over the years – the research just can’t keep up.

The research so far

“Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck,” the National Cancer Institute notes on their website. But their fact sheet addressing the topic is not conclusive for the reasons above.

Since proximity is so important in radiation exposure, most research has looked for links between cell phones and brain cancer specifically, whichonly represents 2% of all cancers.

Between 2009 and 2013, there were 6.4 cases of brain and other nervous system cancers per 100,000 people, though rates are significantly higher in those aged 55-64 years (20.3 per 100,000). Since the risk is so small, even if researchers were to find conclusively that cell phones, say, double that risk – something they certainly have not shown – the risk of brain cancer would still be much smaller than that for other more common cancers.

For anyone curious about the thick stack of research on whether cell phones cause cancer, the National Cancer Institute provides an excellent walk-through. (Results have been mixed, nothing has shown a causal link, and more research is needed, they conclude.) Other organizations have weighed in as well.

The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded in 2011 that the radiation emitted by cell phones was “possibly carcinogenic to humans”based on evidence they describe as “limited.”

How do you square with this “2B” classification, which is “possibly carcinogenic to humans”? A helpful comparison is drinking coffee and eating pickled vegetables, two activities that carry the same risk level, according to the WHO.

More recent research, however, suggests that if anyone is at risk, it would be the heaviest cell phone users, not those who use their phones with moderation.

What’s next

While the research has been inconclusive so far, scientists are working to figure out if there is a link between cancer and cell phone use – or if such a link can be ruled out.

One study in the UK, known as COSMOS, began in 2010 and will follow 290,000 cell phone users for 20-30 years. Researchers will have access to participants’ phone records, which should give a much more reliable picture of usage than previous studies, which relied largely on people’s recollections of their cell phone usage from many years ago. (The first study based on COSMOS data came out in July 2015, but is focused on recruiting people to provide data.)

Such ongoing research will be crucial.

“It often takes many years between the use of a new cancer-causing agent – such as tobacco – and the observation of an increase in cancer rates,”Dr. John Moynihan, of the Mayo Clinic, points out. “At this point, it’s possible that too little time has passed to detect an increase in cancer rates directly attributable to cellphone use.”

In the meantime, people concerned about the potential but as yet wholly unknown risks from cell phones can minimize usage, text instead of call, use a headset, and keep a distance from the phone as much as possible.

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