Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New cancer treatment

27-year-od Dewi Hermawati is a survivor of a rare type of cancer where the patient suffered from inflammation of the brain. Doctors used an unconventional approach in the management of an inflammation of the brain associated with ovarian tumours. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

DOCTORS in Singapore have come up with a treatment approach for a rare condition associated with ovarian tumour.

They have written a journal article recommending this method as a standard to treat similiar conditions worldwide.

Known as paraneoplastic encephalitis, which is an acute inflammation of the brain, it occurs when there is cancer in the body causing an extremely active immune system to mistakenly attack the brain.

As a result, patients can suffer from neurological complications like fits, confusion or memory problems. If left untreated, this could eventually lead to permanent and severe brain damage or even death.

It is not known how common this condition is as there is no international data. But based on estimates, less than one percent of patients with cancers will have such a condition, said Dr Tan Min-Han, associate consultant at National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCSS)'s department of medical oncology.

The fact that such a condition even exists only came to light in 2007 when a US doctor saw 12 patients who had cancers and were subsequently found to have inflammation of the brain.

Since then, about five patients in Singapore have been diagnosed with the problem.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tumours can re-seed themselves

WASHINGTON - TUMOURS can not only spread through the body by sending out tiny cells called seeds, but they can re-seed themselves, researchers said in a report on Thursday that may help explain why tumours grow back even after they are removed.

They said their findings, published in the journal Cell, may also help lead to the development of new drugs to stop the process of cancer spread, or metastasis. 'Circulating tumour cells can also colonise their tumors of origin, in a process that we call 'tumour self-seeding',' Joan Massague of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and colleagues wrote.

'Now we have found that tumors can recapture some of their most delinquent children, enriching themselves with the most aggressive metastatic cells, enabling them to grow faster and more robustly,' Mr Massague, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher, said in a statement.

'Now we are thinking that in some cases, maybe treatment left inflamed tissue that had been a home for those cells that escaped and were residing somewhere temporarily, perhaps in the bone marrow,' he added. 'They may have re-entered the circulation in the weeks and months after surgery, and now, through the self-seeding process, have homed in on this tissue and reproduced the tumor.'

Mr Massague's team used mice, injecting them with human breast cancer cells that had been genetically engineered with a jellyfish protein to make them glow green under ultraviolet light. They tracked these cells as they spread through the bodies of the mice.

Immune system signaling chemicals, including interleukin 6 and interleukin 8, appear to 'call' the tumor cells home, his team found. -- REUTERS

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

HIV/Aids top crises list

NEW YORK - DWINDLING funding for HIV/AIDS threatens to leave an estimated 10 million infected people without treatment in the developing world, making it one of 2009's Top 10 humanitarian crises, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Other crises that made the list released by the medical humanitarian group on Monday include: governments blocking access to lifesaving assistance in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Sudan; a lack of respect for civilian safety and aid efforts in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia; and inadequate international funds to fight neglected diseases and malnutrition.

Sophie Delaunay, executive director of Doctors Without Borders' US section, said the group wanted to alert policy makers not to let down their guard in the fight against HIV/AIDS, which continues to be a crisis despite the advent of life-sustaining treatment. 'When there are concerning signs of a retreat for access to treatment, it's important to state that HIV/AIDS is an emergency,' Ms Delaunay said.

The international humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF for its French name 'Medecins Sans Frontieres,' began issuing its annual list in 1998 after a devastating famine in southern Sudan went largely unnoticed by the US media. The list, which does not rank the crises by order of importance, seeks to foster greater awareness of crises that may not receive adequate attention in the press.

Since pledging to support universal AIDS treatment coverage by 2010 at the G8 Summit in Scotland in 2005, many countries, including the United States, have announced plan to reduce or limit funding, she said.

'In some countries doctors are turning patients away, advised to wait until other patients die. What's going to happen is that patients are going to show up at the door of our clinics and there is a high possibility of us getting overwhelmed,' Ms Delaunay warned. -- AP

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Marriage good for health

WELLINGTON - DESPITE the barbs of comedians and the spectacular bust-ups documented in the gossip magazines, marriage really is good for you, international research has found.

A study of nearly 34,500 people in 15 countries found married people are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse, clinical psychologist Kate Scott of New Zealand's University of Otago said on Tuesday.

'What our study points to is that the marital relationship offers a lot of mental health benefits for both men and women, and that the distress and disruption associated with ending marriage can make people vulnerable to developing mental disorders,' Dr Scott said.

Being separated, divorced, or widowed is associated with increased risk of mental health disorders in both men and women, particularly with depression in men and drugs and alcohol abuse in women.

'One of the more important findings is that in recent years it has been asserted that marriage is better for men than for women in terms of mental health. This study does not agree with that position,' Dr Scott said.

'We found that compared to never getting married, getting married is good for both men and women in terms of most mental health disorders.' -- AFP

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sex a mind and body matter

SEX is a matter of both the mind and the body, so doctors need to see sexual issues as 'multidisciplinary'.

This was the thrust of the keynote address on Saturday on the future of sexual medicine.

Dr John Dean, president of the International Society for Sexual Medicine, who spoke at the 12th Biennial Meeting of the Asia Pacific Society for Sexual Medicine, said sexual medicine is a fairly new discipline.

But he added that it is not just a biomedical discipline.

'We are most comfortable with the biomedical aspects but we must remember that there are other aspects,' he said. These include the psychological and relationship aspects of sexual health.

Sexual medicine is not about disease, said the Briton, a sexual physician in private practice.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Popular diet product recalled

WASHINGTON - CANS of a popular, ready-to-drink weight loss product are being recalled in the United States after tests showed the liquid meals could be tainted with bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration said on Friday.

Unilever United States announced that it was recalling 'all Slim-Fast ready-to-drink products in cans, due to the possibility of contamination with Bacillus cereus, a micro-organism which may cause diarrhea and possibly nausea and/or vomiting.'

The recall involves all Slim-Fast ready-to-drink products in cans regardless of flavor, sell-by date, or lot number, but not other Slim-Fast products such as meal bars or powder, Unilever said.

No one was available at Unilever to say how many cans of Slim-Fast were involved in the recall, but the company said in a statement that the recall was nationwide and concerned not only wholesale and retail outlets but also consumers who might have cans of the drink at home. -- AFP

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mobile phones 'have not increased brain cancers'

There has been no substantial change in the number of adult brain tumours since mobile phone usage sharply increased in the mid-1990s, Danish scientists say.

The Danish Cancer Society looked at the rates of brain tumours among 20 to 79 year olds from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

They found that trends in cancer rates had not altered from the period before mobiles were introduced.

But they say longer follow-up studies are needed.

The research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, says radio frequency electromagnetic fields emitted from mobile phones have been proposed as a risk factor for brain tumours, but a biological mechanism that could explain the potential effects has not been identified.

Cancer incidence

The study was based on 59,684 brain tumour cases diagnosed over 30 years from 1974 to 2003 among 16 million adults.

During this time, the incidence rate of cancers known as gliomas increased gradually by 0.5% per year among men and by 0.2% per year among women.

For cancers known as meningioma, the incidence rate increased by 0.8% among men and, after the early 1990's, by 3.8% among women.

This more rapid change for women was driven, the researchers say, by the 60-79 year age group.

Isabelle Deltour, of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen who led the study said the lack of a detectable increase in tumour rates up to 2003 may suggest that the time it takes for cancer to develop from mobile phone use is longer than 10 years of exposure or that the number of tumours it promotes is too small to be detected.

She said: "Our results extend those of previous studies of time trends up to 1998 by adding five years of follow-up.

"Because of the high prevalence of mobile phone exposure in this population and worldwide, longer follow-up of time trends in brain tumour incidence is warranted."

Mike Dolan, of the Mobile Operators Association which represents all five UK network operators said: "This finding is consistent with previous studies in this field and will form part of the overall body of scientific research.

"The UK mobile phone operators are supporting a large cohort study which is a recommendation of this paper."

'Double trouble' antibiotic hope

A "double-headed" antibiotic could lead to powerful new drugs to beat resistance, say UK researchers.

It sticks to bacteria in two places making it more potent and reducing the chance that bacteria will adapt to resist it, the journal Science reports.

Although not itself suitable for use in patients, it is hoped drugs can be created based on the same principle.

But the news comes as experts warn that excessive regulation is preventing new antibiotics being developed.

An editorial in The Lancet medical journal has called for greater efforts to develop new antibiotics.

A recent EU report found that only 15 antibacterial drugs that offer a potential benefit over existing drugs are in development, and only five have reached the final stage of the trials process.

And the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy has set up a working group to try and address some of the barriers.

Natural compound

In the latest study, researchers looked at a naturally occurring molecule made by soil bacteria called simocyclinone.

It attacks an enzyme in bacteria called DNA gyrase, stopping them from growing.

This enzyme is also targeted by a commonly used group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, but resistance to these drugs is growing.

The team showed that simocyclinone binds to a completely different, previously unexploited part of the enzyme and also latches on in two places or "pockets".

The "double-headed" nature of the antibiotic makes it 100 times more powerful than if each "head" attached to the bacteria individually.

And because bacteria would have to mutate in both binding sites, it cuts the potential for resistance.

Simocyclinone is a fairly large molecule and can not easily get into bacterial cells.

By designing molecules which bind to the enzyme in the same way, researchers say more effective antibiotics could be developed.

Drug design

Study leader Professor Tony Maxwell from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, said: "If you can knock out this enzyme, you have a potential new drug," said Professor Maxwell.

"The fact that there are two pockets means that it might require simultaneous mutations in both pockets for the bacteria to acquire full resistance to the drug, which is much less likely.

"You could say that this is a case of two heads being better than one."

Professor Laura Piddock from the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, said there are huge hurdles to developing antibiotics.

"Antibiotic drug development worldwide is in the doldrums because it's very expensive to get drugs through the regulatory process.

"These results are exciting because having a single molecule that targets two separate parts of the enzyme is new and novel.

"But clearly if someone comes up with a useable version of this molecule they're going to have to overcome some hurdles, which are so profound it makes you very pessimistic."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mammogram radiation ups risk

CHICAGO - LOW-DOSE radiation from mammograms and chest X-rays may increase the risk of breast cancer in young women who are already at high risk because of family history or genetic susceptibility, Dutch researchers said on Tuesday.

They said high-risk women, especially those under 30, may want to consider switching to an alternative screening method such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, which does not involve exposure to radiation.

'Our findings suggest that low-dose radiation increases breast cancer risk among these young, high-risk women, and a careful approach is warranted,' said Marijke Jansen-van der Weide of the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. 'I should recommend to be careful with radiation before 30 and to think about alternatives.'

Ms Jansen-van der Weide, who presented her findings at the Radiological Society of North America meeting in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

For the study, Ms Jansen-van der Weide pooled data from six published studies that involved 12,000 high-risk women from Europe and the United States.

The team found that of the 8,500 women who had been exposed to radiation from chest X-rays or mammograms before the age of 20 or those who had had five or more exposures were 2.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than other high-risk women who had not been exposed. -- REUTERS

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cup of mint tea is an effective painkiller

Graciela Rocha with one of her Brazilian mint plants.

A cup of Brazilian mint tea has pain relieving qualities to match those of commercially available analgesics, a study suggests.

Hyptis crenata has been prescribed by Brazilian healers for millennia to treat ailments from headaches and stomach pain to fever and flu.

Working on mice, a Newcastle University team has proved scientifically that the ancient medicine men were right.

The study is published in the journal Acta Horticulturae.

In order to mimic the traditional treatment as closely as possible, the Newcastle team carried out a survey in Brazil to find out how the medicine is typically prepared and how much should be consumed.

The most common method was to produce a decoction. This involves boiling the dried leaves in water for 30 minutes and allowing the liquid to cool before drinking it as a tea.

The team found that when the mint was given at a dose similar to that prescribed by traditional healers, the medicine was as effective at relieving pain as a synthetic aspirin-style drug called Indometacin.

They plan to launch clinical trials to find out how effective the mint is as a pain relief for people.

Lead researcher Graciela Rocha said: "Since humans first walked the Earth we have looked to plants to provide a cure for our ailments - in fact it is estimated more than 50,000 plants are used worldwide for medicinal purposes.

"Besides traditional use, more than half of all prescription drugs are based on a molecule that occurs naturally in a plant.

"What we have done is to take a plant that is widely used to safely treat pain and scientifically proven that it works as well as some synthetic drugs.

"Now the next step is to find out how and why the plant works."

Graciela is Brazilian and remembers being given the tea as a cure for every childhood illness.

'Interesting research'

She said: "The taste isn't what most people here in the UK would recognize as a mint.

"In fact it tastes more like sage which is another member of the mint family.

"Not that nice, really, but then medicine isn't supposed to be nice, is it?"

Dr Beverly Collett, chair of the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition, said: "Obviously further work needs to be done to identify the molecule involved, but this is interesting research into what may be a new analgesic for the future.

"The effects of aspirin-like substances have been known since the ancient Greeks recorded the use of the willow bark as a fever fighter.

"The leaves and bark of the willow tree contain a substance called salicin, a naturally occurring compound similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the chemical name for aspirin."

The research is being presented at the International Symposium on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants in New Delhi, India.

'Mental illness gene' discovered by Scots scientists

Scientists have discovered a gene which may help explain the causes of mental illness.

The ABCA13 gene is partially inactive in patients with severe psychological conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

It is hoped that identifying genes which make people more likely to develop psychiatric illness may lead to new treatments being developed.

The international team of scientists was led by Edinburgh University.

They studied the genes of 2,000 psychiatric patients and compared them with those of 2,000 healthy people.

The study suggested that ABCA13 was faulty more frequently in patients with mental illness than in the control group.

Douglas Blackwood, psychiatric genetics professor at Edinburgh University, said: "This is an exciting step forward in our understanding of the underlying causes of some common mental illnesses. These risk genes could signpost new directions for treatments."

The team believes the gene may influence the way fat molecules are used in brain cells and the research will now focus on exactly how this occurs.

The discovery could lead to drugs that restore mental health in patients with psychiatric illness.

Dr Ben Pickard, who was part of the Edinburgh team but now works at the University of Strathclyde, said: "This study is the first to identify multiple points of DNA damage within a single gene that are linked with psychiatric illness.

"It strongly suggests that this gene may regulate an important part of brain function that fails in individuals diagnosed with these devastating disorders.

"I think it opens up a whole new area of biology which indicates that these conditions are perhaps related at a fundamental level."

The Edinburgh University research is in collaboration with scientists at universities in Aberdeen, Queensland and North Carolina.

The study took around five years to complete and involved patients from Scotland.

The results have been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Experts to study vaccine reactions

TOKYO - JAPAN sent a team of health experts on Sunday to Canada to investigate allergic reactions to swine flu vaccinations from British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The World Health Organization said last week that an unusual number of severe allergic reactions to H1N1 flu vaccinations have been recorded in Canada, where a batch of the vaccine from GSK has been recalled.

The team from the health and welfare ministry was seen departing from Tokyo's Narita airport. It is scheduled to spend four days in Canada to study precautionary measures against allergic reactions.

Tokyo has ordered doses of GSK-made vaccinations for 37 million people, a shipment due for delivery in December in a country that has a limited supply of domestically-made prophylactics.

Japan started vaccinating medical workers against H1N1 flu in October.

Since May, the A(H1N1) virus is known to have killed 70 people in the country, which is now heading into the autumn-winter flu season. -- AFP

Diabetics to double in 25 years

WASHINGTON - THE number of Americans with diabetes will nearly double over the next 25 years, rising from 23.7 million in 2009 to 44.1 million in 2034, according to a study by the University of Chicago.

In the same period, medical costs associated with treating the disease will triple from US$113 billion (S$158 billion) to US$336 billion, even without a rise in the incidence of obesity, according to the study published in the December issue of Diabetes Care.

The study said its projections, despite being significantly higher than other recent estimates, may be too conservative because they assume the rate of diabetes and obesity, a risk factor for the disease, will remain stable.

In 1991, scientists projected that the number of Americans with diabetes would reach 11.6 million people in 2030, but some 20 years before that date the figure is already double that. The study's authors acknowledge that obesity rates have risen steadily in past years, but predict that they will level out over the next decade and then decline slightly from the current 30 per cent level to around 27 per cent in 2033.

The US health programme Medicare, which provides health care for older Americans, spends some US$45 billion a year on diabetes treatment for 8.2 million people.

By 2034, the number of people with diabetes covered by the program is expected to rise to 14.6 million, according to the study, with associated costs rising to 171 billion dollars a year. -- AFP

Friday, November 13, 2009

H1N1 vaccination is garbage

First, they sold us a war - based on fraud.

Then, the economy collapsed - thanks to government tolerance for widespread financial fraud.

Now, these same people want you to roll up your sleeve and take an injection of something they have so little faith in they've already granted themselves legal immunity if - and when - it goes horribly wrong.

Swine flu hysteria is more government/media/industry fraud.

The so-called "science" behind vaccination is total garbage.

More and more, doctors are willing to stand up and tell the truth.

The "science" behind vaccination is garbage.

The consequences of getting it wrong are catastrophic.

The people pushing this the hardest are the same criminals who brought you the Iraq War and the meltdown of the US economy through financial fraud.

Just say "no" to being railroaded into allowing a dodgy set of chemicals, metals, and live viruses injected into your blood stream by venal idiots who have so little confidence in what they're doing they won't participate without getting total legal immunity in advance.

If you or a loved one are crippled by this vaccine, you will shoulder the burden yourself. The pharmaceutical companies and the government have exempted themselves from all liability.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Breast cancer changes with spread

A mammogram is used to detect breast lesions.

Nearly 40% of breast cancer tumours change form when they spread, a UK study shows.

The researchers say this could mean that patients require changes to their treatment regime.

They analysed 211 tumours which had spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit - the place where breast cancer tends to migrate first.

The study, by Breakthrough Breast Cancer scientists in Edinburgh, appears in Annals of Oncology.

Breast cancer is a complex disease with many different types which can be treated in different ways.

Breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes in about 40% of the 46,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year.

Cancer cells which spread in this way are often more difficult to treat than those in the breast - so it is vital that women receive the most appropriate treatment.

Researchers were surprised to find the disease changed in such a high proportion of patients, and in so many ways, when it had spread.

For example, 20 tumours changed from oestrogen receptor (ER) negative to ER positive.

This change would mean hormone therapies such as tamoxifen, which would not have worked for the original tumour, could help treat the disease if it has spread.

Other tumours changed from ER positive to ER negative, which suggests those patients may be given treatments which will not benefit them - experiencing side-effects unnecessarily.

Surprising result

Lead researcher Dr Dana Faratian said: "We were surprised that such a high proportion of tumours change form when they spread beyond the breast.

"This suggests there is a need to test which type of disease a woman has in the lymph nodes, because it could radically alter the course of treatment she receives.

"We now need a clinical trial to see how these results could benefit patients."

Professor David Harrison, director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit, said: "This research may show why some women whose cancer has spread to the lymph nodes do not respond to treatment.

"With an additional test we may be able to treat women more effectively and also make more efficient use of NHS resources."

The researchers stress that a clinical trial needs to be carried out to fully evaluate the benefits of testing cancer cells in the lymph nodes before it can be approved for use on the NHS.

Breast cancer accounts for nearly one in three of all female cancers and one in nine women in the UK will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.

High HDL lowers cancer risk

MILWAUKEE - MEN may protect more than their hearts if they keep cholesterol in line: Their chances of getting aggressive prostate cancer may be lower, new research suggests.

One study found that men whose cholesterol was in a healthy range - below 200 - had less than half the risk of developing high-grade prostate tumors compared to men with high cholesterol.

A second study found that men with lots of HDL, or 'good cholesterol,' were a little less likely to develop any form of prostate cancer than men with very low HDL.

Both studies were published on Tuesday in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The two studies are not definitive and have some weaknesses. Yet they fit with plenty of other science suggesting that limiting fats in the bloodstream can lessen cancer risk.

'There might be this added benefit to keeping cholesterol low,' said Elizabeth Platz of Johns Hopkins University, who led the first study, which looked at 5,586 men aged 55 andolder who were in the placebo group of a big federal cancer prevention study done in the 1990s. -- AP

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Curry kills cancer cells

A molecule found in a curry ingredient can kill oesophageal cancer cells in the laboratory, suggesting it might be developed as an anti-cancer treatment, scientists said on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AP

LONDON - A MOLECULE found in a curry ingredient can kill oesophageal cancer cells in the laboratory, suggesting it might be developed as an anti-cancer treatment, scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers at the Cork Cancer Research Centre in Ireland treated oesophageal cancer cells with curcumin - a chemical found in the spice turmeric, which gives curries a distinctive yellow colour - and found it started to kill cancer cells within 24 hours. The cells also began to digest themselves, they said in a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Previous scientific studies have suggested curcumin can suppress tumours and that people who eat lots of curry may be less prone to the disease, although curcumin loses its anti-cancer attributes quickly when ingested. But Sharon McKenna, lead author of the Irish study, said her study suggested a potential for scientists to develop curcumin as an anti-cancer drug to treat oesophageal cancer.

Cancers of the oesophagus kill more than 500,000 people across the world each year. The tumours are especially deadly, with five-year survival rates of just 12 to 31 per cent. Ms McKenna said the study showed curcumin caused the cancer cells to die 'using an unexpected system of cell messages'.

Normally, faulty cells die by committing programmed suicide, or apoptosis, which occurs when proteins called caspases are 'switched on' in cells, the researchers said.

But these cells showed no evidence of suicide, and the addition of a molecule that inhibits caspases and stops this 'switch being flicked' made no difference to the number of cells that died, suggesting curcumin attacked the cancer cells using an alternative cell signalling system. -- REUTERS

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Coffee may halt liver disease

WASHINGTON - RESEARCHERS in the United States have found another good reason to go to the local espresso bar: several cups of coffee a day could halt the progression of liver disease, a study showed on Wednesday.

Sufferers of chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease who drank three or more cups of coffee per day slashed their risk of the disease progressing by 53 per cent compared to patients who drank no coffee, the study led by Neal Freedman of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) showed.

For the study, 766 participants enrolled in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) trial - all of whom had hepatitis C which had not responded to treatment with anti-viral drugs - were asked to report how many cups of coffee they drank every day.

The patients were seen every three months during the 3.8-year study and liver biopsies were taken at 1.5 and 3.5 five years to determine the progression of liver disease.

'We observed an inverse association between coffee intake and liver disease progression,' meaning patients who drank three or more cups of java were less likely to see their liver disease worsen than non-drinkers, wrote the authors of the study, which will be published in the November issue of Hepatology.

Even caffeine, the chemical that gives a cup of coffee its oomph, came under the spotlight, having been found in previous studies to inhibit liver cancer in rats, but drinking black or green tea had little impact on the progression of liver disease, although there were few tea drinkers in the study. -- AFP

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Growing doubts about HIV vaccine

Doubts have been raised about the reliability of a trial suggesting success for a vaccine against HIV.

In the large-scale trial in Thailand, a combination of vaccines seemed to give volunteers a protective effect of 31%.

The US military and Thai government, who co-sponsored the trial, said the effect was not caused by random chance but was statistically significant.

But new data, being published at a conference in Paris on Tuesday, is believed to question that assertion.

It was the world's largest clinical trial of a HIV vaccine - involving 16,000 people in Thailand aged between 18 and 30.

Among the 8,000 volunteers who had been given the combination of vaccines, 51 had gone on to become infected with the virus.

Of the group given a placebo, there were 74 positive cases.

The numbers were small, but according to Seth Berkley of the International Aids Vaccine Initiative, the results were "exciting news and a significant scientific achievement".

He said: "Now we have got a vaccine candidate that appears to show a protective effect in humans, albeit partially."

Lack of detail

But there were concerns as well. Researchers were not able to indicate just how the vaccines were working.

And, as more data was given to scientists, the claims about statistical significance began to look increasingly shaky.

Gus Cairns, who works with UK HIV information charity NAM, said: "This particular study was in the awkward position of producing a result that was only just statistically significant.

"This means there was a one in 26 chance that the results could be due to pure chance - and that this may not reflect anything at all.

"That's difficult. And there is also subset analysis of this study that if you only look at the people who strictly adhered to the protocol - ie took all their vaccine doses - then it becomes not statistically significant."

The problem is that the initial figures given for the numbers infected included all those who got HIV once the trial started, including those who got it in the course of the six-month regime of injections.

But if these were excluded, as they would be in many trials, then the numbers change - and so do the claims of a protective effect.

Study power reduced

These details have been substantiated by the US military HIV research programme.

In an update to the study, they indicated that if you looked at the data in this way, it does not reach statistical significance and the study's power is reduced.

Researchers are expected to give a more detailed breakdown at the Global HIV vaccines meeting in Paris.

Many scientists have been upset that the initial information about the trial came out via a press conference, rather than via a peer reviewed journal.

But according to Dr Aland Bernstein, executive director of the Global HIV vaccine enterprise, the issue of how the information came out does not matter.

"At the end of the day what matters to me is the long run. If that work doesn't hold up that's fine, we'll hear no more of it.

"If it holds up, and we'll only know that over the weeks and months ahead, then it is an important contribution - and whether we heard those results on 24 September or 24 October it doesn't matter in the long run."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pepsi sorry for girl-getting app

SAN FRANCISCO - US SOFT drink giant PepsiCo has apologised for a free iPhone application crafted to help men seduce women and keep records of conquests but the program remained available on Tuesday.

Pepsi's 'AMP Up Before You Score' iPhone application categorises women into 24 types and then uses the Apple smartphone's Internet capabilities to link users to information about them and what they like. AMP is an energy drink made by PepsiCo.

A 'translator gadget' powered by Google Translate

'Let's say you meet a girl who is way into being green and you need a vegan restaurant stat; we've got you covered,' a voice-over maintained on Tuesday in an online Pepsi video about the AMP at YouTube.

'If you are anticipating a successful night, the Before You Score app gives you up to the minute information, feeds, lines and much more to help you amp up and talk to 24 different types of ladies.'

Nightie to remember

Types of women listed in the application include punk rocker, bookworm, aspiring actress, artist, and sorority girl.

A 'Keep a List' feature in the program reportedly prompts users to add women's names and encounter details to a 'brag list' if they 'get lucky'. -- AFP

Phone-tumour link tenuous

Research has failed to establish any clear link between use of the mobile and cordless phones and several kinds of cancer. -- BH FILE PHOTO

WASHINGTON - STUDIES on whether mobile phones can cause cancer, especially brain tumours, vary widely in quality and there may be some bias in those showing the least risk, researchers reported on Tuesday.

So far it is difficult to demonstrate any link, although the best studies do suggest some association between mobile phone use and cancer, the team led by Dr Seung-Kwon Myung of South Korea's National Cancer Centre found.

Dr Myung and colleagues at Ewha Womans University and Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul and the University of California, Berkeley, examined 23 published studies of more than 37,000 people in what is called a meta-analysis. They found results often depended on who conducted the study and how well they controlled for bias and other errors.

The use of mobile and cordless phones has exploded in the past 10 years to an estimated 4.6 billion subscribers worldwide, according to the UN International Telecommunication Union. Research has failed to establish any clear link between use of the devices and several kinds of cancer.

The latest study, supported in part by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, examined cases involving brain tumours and others including tumours of the facial nerves, salivary glands and testicles as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.

It found no significant association between the risk of tumours and overall use of mobile phones, including cellular and cordless phones. -- REUTERS

New prostate surgery not better

CHICAGO - MEN who have less invasive prostate cancer surgery - often done robotically - are more likely to be incontinent and have erectile dysfunction than men who have conventional open surgery, US researchers said on Tuesday.

Many men, especially those who are wealthy and highly educated, favour minimally invasive surgery because they assume the high-tech approach will yield better results, but the evidence on that is mixed, the team reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr Jim Hu of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston said that the use of minimally invasive surgery has taken off since the introduction and heavy marketing of robot-assisted surgery, such as the da Vinci system made by Intuitive Surgical Inc.

The system consists of robotic arms, controlled from a console, that allow surgeons to perform less invasive surgeries. Hospitals advertise the systems as being able to reduce trauma, blood loss, risk of infection, scarring and often pain.

While both approaches fared equally well as a cancer treatment, they found that men who got the minimally invasive approach had shorter hospital stays, were less likely to need blood transfusions, and had fewer breathing problems after surgery than those who got conventional surgery.

But they were also more likely to have complications involving the genital and urinary organs, and they were more often diagnosed as having incontinence and erectile dysfunction than men who got open surgery. -- REUTERS

Chocs, water blunt pain

When the rats ate chocolate or drank water, their pain response to the heat from the light bulb from under the cage was dulled. -- ST PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

WASHINGTON - CHOCOLATE activates a part of the brain that blunts pain and makes it difficult to stop eating, a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience has found.

But drinking water has the same effect and does not contribute to the growing problem of obesity, according to the study led by University of Chicago neurology professor Peggy Mason and neurobiology research associate Hayley Foo.

Prof Mason and Prof Foo gave rats either a chocolate chip to eat or water to drink as they lit a lightbulb underneath their cages.

The heat from the bulb normally caused the rodents to lift their paws.

But when the rats ate chocolate or drank water, their pain response to the heat was dulled and they did not lift their paws as quickly as when they were not eating. They also kept on eating.

Prof Mason said that eating stimulates a system in the part of the brain that controls subconscious responses, which is known to blunt pain. -- AFP

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kids Can Use Imagination to Lessen Pain: Study

TEHRAN (Press TV) --Children can be taught to use their active imaginations to tackle frequent conditions such as stomach pain, a new study finds.

Functional abdominal pain, frequent abdominal pain with no identifiable cause, is commonly reported in one in every five children.

Previous studies had reported that hypnosis is an effective treatment for such conditions as it can reduce "hypersensitivity."

According to the study published in Pediatrics, "guided imagery" can help alleviate stomach pain in children more effectively than performed standard care.

Guided imagery is a technique, which prompts the subject to imagine things that reduce discomfort. Relaxation-type CDs asking subjects to imagine themselves in scenarios like floating on a cloud is a common tool used in this technique.

"Such self-administered treatment is, of course, very inexpensive and can be used in addition to other treatments, which potentially opens the door for easily enhancing treatment outcomes for a lot of children suffering from frequent stomach aches," said scientists.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Clue to ear's evolution

WASHINGTON - RESEARCHERS digging in north-eastern China say they have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown chipmunk-sized mammal that could help explain how human hearing evolved.

Paleontologists unearthed the 123-million-year-old creature, which is just 15cm long, in fossil-rich Liaoning Province, near the Chinese border with North Korea.

What is most surprising, and thus scientifically interesting, is the animal's inner ear,' said Zhe-Xi Luo, a curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and one of the study's authors. The condition of the 'remarkably well preserved' three dimensional fossil has allowed an international team of researchers to reconstruct how the creature's middle ear was connected to its jaw.

The find could be the link that explains how the three bones of the mammalian middle ear became separated from the jaw hinge - where the reptilian ear is found - to form a complex and highly-performing hearing system. 'Mammals have highly sensitive hearing, far better than the hearing capacity of all other vertebrates, and hearing is fundamental to the mammalian way of life,' said Mr Luo.

The development of the ear is seen as key to understanding survival techniques that steered mammals, including human ancestors, through the dinosaur-infested mesozoic period around 250 to 66 million years ago. 'The mammalian ear evolution is important for understanding the origins of key mammalian adaptations,' he said.

But there are still doubts where the creature, Maotherim asiaticus, fits in the evolutionary chain, and the novel ear connection could simply be a adaptation caused by changes in development, rather than an evolutionary link. The report is published in the Oct 9 issue of the journal Science. -- AFP

Decoding the human genome

WASHINGTON - SCIENTISTS have decoded the three dimensional structure of the human genome, opening the way for new insights into its functioning and structures, according to a report published on Thursday.

'By breaking the genome into millions of pieces, we created a spatial map showing how close different parts are to one another,' said Nynke van Berkum, one of two main authors of the study, which appears in the journal Science. 'We made a fantastic three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle and then, with a computer, solved the puzzle,' said Dr Berkum, a postdoctoral researcher at University of Massachusetts Medical School.

To do it, scientists used a new technology called 'Hi-C' that allowed them to solve previously unanswered questions about how each human cell could contain some three million pairs of base DNA and still be able to access functionally crucial segments.

'We've long known that on a small scale, DNA is a double helix. But if the double helix didn't fold further, the genome in each cell would be two meters long,' said Erez Lieberman-Aiden, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology and a researcher at Harvard and the Broad Institute.

'Scientists have not really understood how the double helix folds to fit into the nucleus of a human cell, which is only about a hundredth of a millimeter in diameter. This new approach enabled us to probe exactly that question,' said Mr Lieberman-Aiden, the study's other main author.

The researchers found that the human genome is organised in two distinct compartments that keep active genes accessible to proteins and separate from densely packed stocks of inactive DNA. Chromosomes snake from one compartment to another as their DNA alternates between active and inactive stretches of the genome. -- AFP

Virus causes chronic fatigue?

WASHINGTON - A VIRUS linked to prostate cancer also appears to play a role in chronic fatigue syndrome, according to research that could lead to the first drug treatments for a mysterious disorder that affects 17 million people worldwide.

Researchers found the virus, known as XMRV, in the blood of 68 out of 101 chronic fatigue syndrome patients. The same virus showed up in only 8 of 218 healthy people, they reported on Thursday in the journal Science.

Judy Mikovits of the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Nevada and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic emphasized that the finding only shows a link between the virus and chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, and does not prove that the pathogen causes the disorder.

Much more study would be necessary to show a direct link, but Dr Mikovits said the study offers hope that CFS sufferers might gain relief from a cocktail of drugs designed to fight AIDS, cancer and inflammation.

CFS impairs the immune system and causes incapacitating fatigue, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sufferers can also experience memory loss, problems with concentration, joint and muscle pain, headaches, tender lymph nodes and sore throats. Symptoms last at least six months and can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, the CDC said. -- REUTERS

H1N1 more serious in youth

WASHINGTON - A STUDY of people who became seriously ill and died with the new pandemic swine flu confirms it is hitting a younger population than the seasonal flu and causes often different symptoms.

The study of 272 patients sick enough to be hospitalized showed about 40 per cent had diarrhoea and vomiting - usually rare with seasonal flu - and confirmed that quick treatment with antivirals could save lives.

Dr Seema Jain of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the study, said the findings had informed the CDC's advice on who should worry about the new H1N1 virus and when to get treatment.

They said 45 per cent were children under 18, just 5 per cent were over 65 and 73 per cent had at least one underlying condition such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and pregnancy.

The soonest any of the patients who died were treated with an antiviral drug was three days after they started showing symptoms, the researchers found. Patients treated earlier all survived.

Even if patients do not have the traditional risk factors for serious disease, they should get antiviral drugs if they are sick enough to be hospitalized, Dr Jain said. -- REUTERS

Arthritis hits more young

PAIN is what a 25-year-old arthritis sufferer has been living with for nine years. The university student, who wants to be known as Bai, was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis - a form of arthritis - when he was 16.

More young Singaporeans like him are being diagnosed with arthritis, a chronic condition that causes painful inflammation of the joints.

In 2007, 4.9 per cent of people here aged 18 to 29 had arthritis, a survey by the Health Ministry showed. In 2001, just 0.3 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 had arthritis.

While the cause of arthritis remains unknown, two Singapore doctors have attributed the rising number of young sufferers to increased awareness, as well as the growing obesity rate (being overweight increases stress on joints).

They revealed this at a press conference on Thursday, during which the findings of a study on arthritis were announced.

The study of 508 Dutch patients found that early treatment with methotrexate, an anti-rheumatic drug, and infliximab, a genetically engineered drug derived from human genes, helped reduce disease activity and joint damage. -- MY PAPER

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Inhaler may up asthma risk

The study showed that asthma patients using their inhaler on a daily basis and who carry the Arg16 gene variant were at a 30 per cent greater risk of asthma attacks compared with those with the more usual form of the gene. -- ST PHOTO: ALAN LIM

LONDON - A COMMON asthma reliever drug may increase the risk of asthma attacks in some sufferers, British scientists said on Tuesday.

The researchers found that salbutamol, a popular inhaler medicine, as well as salmeterol, an ingredient in GlaxoSmithKline's Advair asthma product, are less effective in children with a specific gene variant and may worsen the health of some patients.

'This is a global question that needs to be addressed,' Professor Somnath Mukhopadhyay from Brighton and Sussex Medical School told Reuters.

Salbutamol is called albuterol in the United States and is used widely across the world, the researchers told a news conference in London.

The study showed that asthma patients using their inhaler on a daily basis and who carry the Arg16 gene variant were at a 30 per cent greater risk of asthma attacks compared with those with the more usual form of the gene.

The study says the risk is the same with salbutamol, which is short acting, and with salmeterol, which is longer acting. The study is due to be published in the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology journal this month. -- REUTERS

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Best positions for satisfying sx

IF you're interested in learning about effective and satisfying positions for making love, first let me stress that it's not compulsory to make love in lots of different positions.

Some couples have a wonderful sx life never varying from the traditional missionary position. Don't get the idea that you have to be a contortionist to be a good lover. There is a lot of emphasis on variety in love-making these days, but it is meant to be enjoyable variety.

However, if your partner wants to experiment, do at least be willing to give it a try. If one of you favours a position the other isn't so keen on, you can easily make love for a while in one position, and then swap over to the other's favourite. Obviously if the man tends to climax in one position and the woman in another, it makes sense to choose the woman's favourite first.

To start with, it does of course help to have a basic understanding of what usually leads to orgasm. For men it is mainly stimulation of the penis but, while most women enjoy vaginal penetration, it is mainly stimulation of the clitoris which is most effective and for some, it's been suggested, the G spot. The clitoris is just in front of the vagina, and the G spot is inside the vagina, along the front wall, behind the pubic bone.

The man-on-top positions, in which the man lies between the woman's legs, are probably the most commonly used. They are, for most men, the easiest in which to climax.

In this position, the couple can kiss and cuddle one another while they make love, they can vary from shallow to deep penetration, and vary the angle of stimulation by making small adjustments, such as the woman bending her knees.

So the possibilities of the missionary position are not to be under-estimated - though some women find they get more sensation if they place a pillow beneath their bottom.

For most women this is a good position for conception too - and if that's your aim, it's helpful to stay lying on your back for half an hour or so after making love.

If a woman is pregnant, then it can be comfortable for her to make love lying on her back on the bed, with her lower legs over the edge, feet on the ground. The man can then stand between her legs, half lying on the bed so that she doesn't have to take his full weight.

Many couples find woman-on-top positions particularly satisfying. They allow the woman to control both the depth and pace of intercourse, so she can experiment to achieve the best stimulation for her.

This position is also useful if the woman is anxious, and has perhaps been suffering from problems with making love because of this, and sometimes men who have been suffering from premature ejaculation or erection problems find this a less anxiety-producing position. Obviously, woman-on-top positions are also useful if the woman is pregnant or the man much heavier.

Most commonly, the woman kneels with her legs either side of the man's. You can achieve deep penetration, and see and caress one another. Variations are that the woman can kneel facing away from the man, for a different angle of stimulation, or they can sit facing one another on a chair, with the woman effectively sitting on the man's lap.

Couples can make love with the man entering the vagina from the rear - lying, standing, sitting or kneeling, with the man or woman on top. These positions usually give great scope for the man caressing his partner's body during intercourse, so can be very helpful, for example, for women who have problems reaching orgasm. The man can caress her breasts or clitoris at the same time as making love.

Side-by-side positions are ideal for relaxed love-making and during pregnancy. The couple can either lie facing one another, in which case the woman usually places her upper leg over the man's side, or they can lie in the spoons position, tucked into each other, facing the same way. This can be a good one when the man is tired or has been ill, as he can achieve deep penetration with little movement, there is good stimulation of the G spot and he can use his hands to stimulate the clitoris.

The novelty of standing positions can add a thrill but they're rarely the most practicable - differing heights often pose a problem. The couple can simply stand face to face, the woman with her legs apart. They can see and kiss one another, and their hands are free to stimulate and caress. The man standing behind the woman, as I've mentioned, can be helpful for a woman who finds orgasm difficult, since he can easily stimulate her at the same time.

Real athletes try making love with the man standing, and the woman wrapping her legs round his waist. They can see and kiss one another but it is tiring!

I hope this has given you some new ideas to try. Remember, it's not compulsory to vary but sometimes a change of position can bring improved satisfaction.

If what you need isn't so much just a change of position but advice to sort out a sexual problem, such as lack of orgasm, perhaps, loss of sex drive, erection difficulties or premature ejaculation, then do let me know.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Keeping viruses at bay

PARIS - SIMPLE, low-cost measures such as hand-washing, wearing masks and quarantining infected patients provide a good shield against the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses, a study published on Wednesday said.

Doctors led by Tom Jefferson, a professor in the Acute Respiratory Infections Group at the Cochrane Collaboration in Rome, carried out an overview of 59 published trials into protective measures against these microbes.

The pathogens included the ordinary cold virus, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) virus and the influenza virus, but not the current H1N1 pandemic strain.

The trials had widely-ranging formats but essentially looked at the number of people who were infected when protective measures were implemented, as compared to the number who fell sick when there was no such protection.

Vaccines and antiviral drugs were not included in these studies.

In hospital settings, regular hand-washing - more than 10 times a day - and the use of masks, gloves and surgical gowns were each effective against spreading respiratory virus, but were especially useful when combined, according to the paper.

Hygiene measures in the home, targeted particularly at younger children, also helped prevent transmission. 'Perhaps this is because younger children are least capable of hygienic behaviour and have longer-lived infections and greater social contact, thereby acting as portals of infection into the household,' the authors said.

Two studies found that isolating potentially infected individuals was also effective.

But the review uncovered only limited evidence that much-touted 'N95' surgical masks are better than simple face masks. N95 masks are more uncomfortable and more expensive and can also cause skin irritation, it found.

The team admitted it was hard in some cases to draw a generalised picture, given the diversity of the studies and frequent sketchiness of the data. Even so, some simple measures have high potential for reducing the toll from a viral respiratory epidemic, it said.

'Vaccines work best in those who are universally considered least to need them - namely, healthy adults. Antivirals may be harmful and their benefits depend on the identification of the agent,' it said.

'But physical interventions are effective, safe, flexible, universally applicable and relatively cheap.' The paper is published online by the British Medical Journal ( -- AFP

Beware animal diseases

WASHINGTON - THE United States needs to lead a global effort to protect people from new outbreaks of deadly infectious diseases that originate in animals, such as swine flu, Aids and Sars, health experts said on Tuesday.

Air travel, climate change, population growth and rising demand for meat products from developing countries have accelerated the spread of 'zoonotic' diseases, according to a panel set up by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

Species-jumping pathogens also pose special dangers for people because the human immune system can be ill-equipped to resist them.

But health authorities have no effective system that can stamp out new diseases as they arise among animals and humans.

'At the moment, it's like a wildfire,' said Dr Gerald Keusch of Boston University, who helped lead the committee that wrote the report. 'We deal with it as an emergency. It costs huge amounts of resources. It would be a lot cheaper and cost-effective to have a system in place.'

The panel called for a sustainable, integrated surveillance system to monitor animal and human populations worldwide and for moving quickly to contain new outbreaks.

Such a system could have provided early detection for the H1N1 swine flu virus, which became a pandemic weeks after it emerged in North America in March, said the panel's other co-chair, Marguerite Pappaioanou of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

'The swine influenza virus basically was circulating for probably about 10 years,' she said. 'There also is evidence to suggest that the first opportunity for the swine virus to jump into people was probably during the summer of 2008.'

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or Sars, which may have come from civets, circulated for months in southern China before it spread globally in 2003, killing 800 people before it was stopped. Aids, which has killed 25 million people in 25 years, has been traced to chimpanzees. -- REUTERS

Cancer plagues poor nations

BERLIN - CANCER is a bigger killer in developing countries than tuberculosis, malaria and Aids combined and a 'tsunami' of the disease threatens to overwhelm the nations worst equipped to cope, experts said on Tuesday.

While only about 5 per cent of global resources for cancer are spent in developing countries, the burden of the disease is far greater there, they said, with 60 per cent of last year's 7.6 million cancer deaths occurring in poorer nations.

Women-specific cancers like breast and cervical cancer, which account for more than a quarter of all female deaths worldwide, could be dramatically cut in low and middle-income nations by improving awareness and detection, they said.

'There are tens of millions of people living with cancer or at risk of cancer in low and middle-income countries who do not benefit from all these advances,' said Anne Reeler, who launched a report on cancer in poorer countries at the ECCO-ESMO European cancer congress in Berlin.

Dr Reeler noted that while experts gathered in Berlin to discuss ground-breaking and often highly expensive medical advances that may help cancer sufferers in the rich world, poorer nations have almost no access to even the most basic treatments.

'In Ethiopia, for instance, what we often find is that by the time women come to a clinic they literally have a tumour protruding through the breast,' she said. 'They've spent two years going to see traditional healers and using holy water, and when they come to clinics it's too late to do anything for them.

'So awareness - getting rid of the myth that cancer kills and you can do nothing about it - is really important.' Oncology experts expect a doubling of cancer cases across the world in the next 20 years and estimate that more than half of the 12.4 million new cases in 2008 occurred in low and middle income countries, a pattern predicted to continue.

David Kerr, a contributor to the report by a international cancer working group called CanTreat, and a professor of cancer medicine at Britain's Oxford University, said this was 'wake-up call' for those concerned about the developing world.

'If there is a coming tsunami of cancer, and there surely is, then now is when we need to start working together to develop new models of cancer care so that we are prepared for it in the developing world,' he told Reuters.

'We are facing a huge increase in cancer burden, and that burden will fall predominantly in those countries which are least well-equipped to deal with it - no infrastructure, no training, no docs, no nurses, no gadgets, no nothing.' -- REUTERS

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Heart Disease

The UK has one of the highest rates of death from heart disease in the world - one British adult dies from the disease every three minutes - and stroke is the country's third biggest killer, claiming 70,000 lives each year.

Heart attacks occur when blood flow is blocked, often by a blood clot, while strokes are caused either by blocked or burst blood vessels in the brain. A range of other conditions, including heart failure, when blood is not pumped properly around the body, and congenital heart defects can also cause long term problems, and even death, for sufferers.

Cancer: The facts

About our cancer statistics

The statistics reproduced in our guides to common forms of cancer come from Cancer Research UK and the NHS, via the Office for National Statistics.

The most recent year for which a full set of statistical data is available is 2005.

This is for various reasons, primarily the natural delay in producing an accurate, full set of data concerning cancer, and also the complexities involved in collating data collected across different parts of the United Kingdom, which publish data at different times.

There are a number of points to bear in mind when studying the data.


Our graphics make broad comparisons between the number of cases for a specific cancer in a given year, and the number of deaths which resulted from the same cancer in the same year.

It is important to note that these two sets of figures are not always directly related.

For example, the figure for deaths includes all those from the named cancer in a given year, not just those from cases reported in that same year.

So some patients with a given cancer may have first reported their case in previous years, and will not be included in the current year's statistics for cases, even if this is the year in which they died.

However, the statistics do offer a broad comparison between the number of cases and deaths reported in a given year, which can help in illustrating the usual severity and survival rate of the cancer in question.

Equally, comparisons made between sets of data over time may have been slightly influenced by changes in the way Cancer Research or the NHS report their statistics.

The process of reporting cancer statistics is evolving, and methods change over time. This may lead to a slight fluctuation in statistics for cases, deaths, and rates of incidence and mortality.


These two rates show how frequently the given cancer occurs in the UK population over a year.

They are worked out by dividing the total number of cases (incidence) or deaths (mortality) by the UK population, multiplying by 100,000, then age-standardising the result - in other words, adjusting the formula so that the result can be compared to different communities.

Age standardisation takes into account the spread of ages in the population being looked at, in this case the UK. The process removes the possibility that, when comparing cancer data, differences in rates are simply the result of people of different ages living in different communities.

This is why taking the 2005 total for cases or deaths, dividing by the UK population (e.g. 60,000,000) and multiplying by 100,000 will not produce the result for rates of incidence or mortality seen in the same graphic.


Each of our graphics carries labels showing the parts of the world to which the data shown applies.

In the case of our cancer statistics, the majority of the data applies to the entire United Kingdom. These are marked "UK".

However, because of differences in the way data is captured and stored, some of our graphics do not include data for Northern Ireland. These are marked "GB" (or Great Britain).


In keeping with most major cancer research organisations, we have not included figures for non-melanoma skin cancer in our totals for overall cancer or skin cancer.

Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with more than 100,000 estimated UK cases each year, including many which Cancer Research suspects are not reported.

Most cases of non-melanoma skin cancer can be treated and cured, so these skin cancers are often excluded from national cancer statistics.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to Please Your Woman in Bed

It has long been a debate and a question if one of the best ways to please your woman in bed is by having a bigger penis. Studies and surveys here and there have probed into this subject and there are indeed results about women associating a bigger penis to sexual satisfaction.

Some studies have revealed that the bigger the size of the penis, the more it can be able to stimulate the sensitive parts of the woman, and the penis with larger girth are said to provide more sexual satisfaction.

Although there are a number of women too that says size does not really matter but the performance does. The association of sexual satisfaction to the size of the penis has also lead to men being obsessed with the size of their penis - and eventually the emergence of many penis enlargement products in the market to address this obsession.

Sometimes this is also an issue among married couple, which they fail to address or talk about, as this can be a sensitive issue to both the man and the wife. If you are one of those bothered by the size of your penis and you want to at least, learn how to please your woman in bed, you might be thinking there is no way you can do about it. You actually have options - do good in your performance and find ways to, at least, enhance the size of your penis.

With the many methods and techniques that you can find in the market now, you must also be careful in your choices because some may have more risks than good results. If you want ways on how to please your woman in bed and you are looking at the possibility of enhancing the size of your penis, you can have a number of options.

Probably the most common you can find in the market is the pill, but it may not be the safest. Surgeries of increasing the size of the penis are also available, but like any other surgical procedure, the results are fast but the risk is high and the cost can be expensive. You can also find a number of devices and pumps intended to increase penis size, and of course, the penile enlargement exercises, which is probably the safest and cheapest among all the options.

It is important to note that problems with premature ejaculation and problems with erection which can be frustrating to women, are also among the common sexual problems that can hinder you to please your woman in bed. Penile exercises are not only good for increasing the size of your penis but can also help you overcome premature ejaculation and other erection problems.

Learning how to please your woman in bed may not be difficult at all if you know how to exercise your penis - not only for enhancing size but also for overcoming other sexual problems.

In Bed Satisfaction

In case you had any doubt that taking charge can improve your sex life, now there's proof: For women, being less passive in bed is associated with increased sexual satisfaction and a better ability to reach the big O, says a recent study in the journal Personal Relationships. Too shy to bust out in the bedroom? Sex expert Emma Taylor offers these tips for bashful babes.

1. Change the context
Some women are nervous to ask for what they want during sex because they feel it sounds too demanding. "Try broaching the subject in a different setting where you can express your desires in a more relaxed way," says Em. "Cuddle up to him while watching a sexy scene on TV and whisper, 'I hope we'll try that tonight.'" He'll be receptive to your feedback, no matter when you offer it.

2. Act the part
You're unlikely to suddenly transform into a tigress — but you can pretend to be one. "Even if it scares you, just do it — make the movements to get on top, pin him against the wall, whatever you'd like to do," says Em. "By simply going through the motions, taking charge will start to feel normal, and you'll be more confident for real."

3. Use a crutch
Get help in the form of a sex manual, a book of erotica, or an online sex shop. "Flipping through a book or browsing a Website together can work as an icebreaker," says Em. "The images and the ideas you encounter will make it easy to point out what appeals to you without having to form the words for yourself." Plus, checking out hot-and-heavy material makes for great foreplay!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

H1N1 vaccine

SHANGHAI: The Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences has received the license for mass production of the Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine from the State Food and Drug Administration, Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

Head of BioProduct Centre Ma Xianghu told the Chinese news agency that the city-made vaccine adopted the state-of-the-art ether technique with less residue and weak clinical side effects.

Prior to the National Day on Oct 1, the institute will produce three million bottles of A(H1N1) flu vaccine, and its output will reach 10 million bottles at the end of the year, according to Ma.

On Tuesday night, officials with the institute met the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which is in charge of vaccine production and storage, to discuss production plans, according to Wednesday’s Shanghai Daily.

The free vaccine, with purchase price covered by the government, is for people aged over three and one shot is reportedly enough to protecting against the A(H1N1) flu virus.

City vaccination plans drafted by the Shanghai Health Bureau are still being evaluated by the Ministry of Health.

“We will give preferential consideration to vulnerable groups like students, the elderly, medical care workers and public service staff as well as people working for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo,” Song Guofan, an Expo official, was quoted by the local newspaper as saying.

Wang Mengliang, vice-director of the Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences, said domestic vaccine producers were facing a huge demand.

The institute is the country’s third licensed mass producer of A(H1N1) flu vaccine. Sinovac Biotech Ltd in Beijing and Hualan Biological Engineering Inc in Henan, have also received licenses to produce A(H1N1) flu vaccine. -- Bernama

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Depression affects survival

VANCOUVER (British Columbia) - DEPRESSION can affect the likelihood of surviving cancer, but there is no clear association yet with how quickly the cancer progresses, according to a report published on Monday.

Death rates are nearly 40 per cent higher for cancer patients diagnosed with major or minor depression, according to University of British Columbia researchers who surveyed more than two dozen international clinical studies.

'We found an increased risk of death in patients who report more depressive symptoms than others, and also in patients who have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder compared to patients who have not,' Jillian Satin, the report's lead researcher said.

The report was published in the online edition of the American Cancer Society's journal Cancer.

Eighty-five per cent of cancer patients believe their mental state affects how quickly the disease progresses, but the Canadian researchers said that belief is not actually supported by the few studies that looked at it.

The researchers admitted they were surprised by the lack of clear link between depression and cancer progression, and cautioned that may be because so few clinical studies have been done on the subject. -- REUTERS

Shower heads spray bacteria

CHICAGO - SHOWER heads can deliver a face full of dangerous pathogens, according to a study published on Monday which found them to be ideal breeding grounds for bacteria.

US researchers analysed 50 shower heads from nine different cities and found 30 per cent harboured significant levels of a pathogen linked to lung disease called mycobacterium avium.

While the pathogen is common in municipal water systems, the levels found clinging to shower heads in slimy 'biofilms' were more than 100 times higher than the 'background' levels in the water.

'If you are getting a face full of water when you first turn your shower on, that means you are probably getting a particularly high load of Mycobacterium avium, which may not be too healthy,' said lead author Norman Pace, a microbiologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Pace's team began studying shower heads after research at the National Jewish Hospital in Denver found that recent increases in pulmonary infections from so-called 'non-tuberculosis' mycobacteria species like M. avium may be linked to people taking more showers and fewer baths.

That's because water spurting from shower heads can distribute pathogen-filled droplets that are easily inhaled into the deepest parts of the lungs.

'There have been some precedents for concern regarding pathogens and shower heads,' said Dr Pace. 'But until this study we did not know just how much concern.' Immune-compromised people like pregnant women, the elderly and those fighting off other diseases are most at risk of developing pulmonary disease caused by M. avium.

The symptoms include tiredness, a persistent, dry cough, shortness of breath, weakness and 'generally feeling bad,' Dr Pace said.

The researchers sampled shower heads in public facilities, houses and apartment buildings in New York, Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee and North Dakota. They found lower levels of pathogens in smaller towns and cities which used well water rather than municipal water.

They also found that metal shower heads harbored far fewer pathogens than plastic shower heads. The results do not indicate that people should switch from showers to baths, said co-author Laura Baumgartner, also of the University of Colorado.

'Is it dangerous? Getting out of bed is dangerous,' she said in a telephone interview. 'Everywhere you go there are microbes.' Switching to a metal shower head, especially one with a filter than can be changed regularly, can help reduce the buildup of pathogens.

Stepping outside the room for a minute after turning the shower on can also reduce the likelihood of inhaling pathogens that get pushed out of the shower head with the first burst of water, she said. 'For the average person, you shouldn't not be worried at all.' The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. -- AFP

Heart disease: 90% in US at risk

WASHINGTON - NINETY per cent of American adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease, researchers reported on Monday.

Virtually all Americans either have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, are overweight, smoke or exercise too little, the team led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

'Unfortunately, the limited strides that were made towards this goal during the 1970s and 1980s were eroded by the increases in excess weight, diabetes and hypertension during more recent decades,' the CDC's Dr Earl Ford, who led the study, said in a statement.

Dr Ford's team looked at four national studies covering tens of thousands of Americans aged 25 to 74.

Only 10 per cent had low risk scores in all five categories, they reported in the journal Circulation.

'Until the early 90s, we were moving in a positive direction, but then it took a turn and we're headed in a negative direction,' said Dr Ford.

'When you look at the individual factors, tobacco use is still headed in the right direction and so are cholesterol levels, although that has leveled off. The problem is that blood pressure, BMI (body mass index, a measure of obesity) and diabetes are all headed in the wrong direction.'

Heart disease is the No 1 killer in the United States and many other countries. -- REUTERS

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bed sharing 'bad for your health'

Couples should consider sleeping apart for the good of their health and relationship, say experts.

Sleep specialist Dr Neil Stanley told the British Science Festival how bed sharing can cause rows over snoring and duvet-hogging and robs precious sleep.

One study found that, on average, couples suffered 50% more sleep disturbances if they shared a bed.

Dr Stanley, who sleeps separately from his wife, points out that historically we were never meant to share our beds.

He said the modern tradition of the marital bed only began with the industrial revolution, when people moving to overcrowded towns and cities found themselves short of living space.

Before the Victorian era it was not uncommon for married couples to sleep apart. In ancient Rome, the marital bed was a place for sexual congress but not for sleeping.

Dr Stanley, who set up one of Britain's leading sleep laboratories at the University of Surrey, said the people of today should consider doing the same.

"It's about what makes you happy. If you've been sleeping together and you both sleep perfectly well, then don't change, but don't be afraid to do something different.

"We all know what it's like to have a cuddle and then say 'I'm going to sleep now' and go to the opposite side of the bed. So why not just toddle off down the landing?"

Tossing and turning

He said poor sleep was linked to depression, heart disease, strokes, lung disorders, traffic and industrial accidents, and divorce, yet sleep was largely ignored as an important aspect of health.

Dr Robert Meadows, a sociologist at the University of Surrey, said: "People actually feel that they sleep better when they are with a partner but the evidence suggests otherwise."

He carried out a study to compare how well couples slept when they shared a bed versus sleeping separately.

Based on 40 couples, he found that when couples share a bed and one of them moves in his or her sleep, there is a 50% chance that their slumbering partner will be disturbed as a result.

Despite this, couples are reluctant to sleep apart, with only 8% of those in their 40s and 50s sleeping in separate rooms, the British Science Festival heard.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Orgasm for women

WE hear a lot these days about how people can and should make love, but there are virtually no rules for good sex.

It isn't compulsory to have an orgasm. As long as a woman is left feeling satisfied, neither she nor her partner should feel that they have in any way failed because she hasn't had an orgasm.

Sex is for your pleasure, not to pass some test or keep up with the Jones's.

Many women, however, while they enjoy intercourse with their partner, never or rarely reach orgasm, and are left feeling dissatisfied as a result.

Women's problems over orgasm vary. Some women have never experienced an orgasm at all. This is often because they were brought up to think of sex as something not quite nice.

Parents worried about daughters getting pregnant may keep impressing on them that they mustn't get carried away. It is small wonder that, when they have a partner, they can't suddenly undo all those lessons to their sub-conscious.

Before a woman who has never experienced an orgasm can help her partner to help her to climax, she has to learn for herself what pleases her.

Sex is a positive pleasure, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying it, even when you are alone.

Having given yourself permission to enjoy your sexuality, you have to find out what turns you on, explore the effect of different caresses of the genital area.

There is nothing wrong with self-stimulation - in fact it is a basic part of the treatment prescribed by sex therapists.

It's not stimulation of the vagina, by the way, but of the clitoris that leads to orgasm for most women - the clitoris is the little peak you can feel in the front of the vagina.

When you have an orgasm it feels like an internal throbbing. The intensity varies widely. It can be fierce and wild, it may be quiet and sensuous. The common denominator is it certainly should feel pleasurable.

Some women learn how to masturbate, perhaps as teenagers, but find they are unable to reach a climax with their partner, even if he stimulates them in a similar way.

The most likely cause of this is a variation on the inhibited feelings mentioned before. Their sub-conscious will not let them admit to anyone else that they are enjoying sex.

Sharing regular sessions of all-over massage can help a couple start communicating physically and sexually. Use a little cream or oil, massage and stroke one another all over. Say what feels good and what not-so-good.

When the time feels right, you can begin showing one another how to give the most pleasure by stroking and massaging the sexual areas, too. The only rule is that you should both enjoy it.

Modern-style vibrators designed especially to suit women's sexual responses can make a terrific difference.

Check out, and

Tingletip is a tiny but powerful vibrator for clitoral stimulation only, designed to fit on the head of an electric toothbrush - so great for travelling (

The Vielle range (, which includes a non-electrical clitoral stimulator, lubricant and stimulating gel, is widely available in pharmacies and Boots.

Some women can climax when masturbating or when stimulated in some similar way by their partner, but cannot reach orgasm during intercourse.

In fact, this is normal, as only a minority of women do climax during intercourse. Most reach orgasm through other stimulation.

Many couples have perfectly happy ways of making love which involve the man stimulating the woman until she climaxes, either before or after intercourse.

It really doesn't matter how or when a woman reaches her climax, as long as she enjoys it, but if a couple feel that they very much would like the woman to climax during intercourse, they may find a change in position will help or he can caress her at the same time.

The vagina has comparatively few nerve endings and the clitoris has many. Basically, few women can possibly climax unless they are receiving some form of clitoral stimulation.

Of course, it is important for the man to be sure that the woman is really aroused before he attempts intercourse, so they must share lots of loving foreplay first.

Also the man has to be able to sustain intercourse for a reasonable length of time, since it is important to keep stimulating a woman right up to and during orgasm.

If premature ejaculation is a problem, however, let me know because I can send you a free leaflet on how to solve the problem.

Reaching a climax needs some muscle tension and you can give this a nudge in the right direction.

You need to have at least half an hour of foreplay to be sure the woman is fully aroused. Then she shouldn't try to relax but tense the pelvic-floor muscle (if you're unsure how to do this, my free leaflet on increasing sexual sensation explains).

If she then arches her back and puts her head back, this gets her body in the right position to reach climax, as long as her partner carries on pleasuring her.

Assuming a couple feel free to experiment with what feels good to them, then they have a good chance of discovering what will lead to the woman achieving full sexual satisfaction pretty frequently, if not every time.

However, some couples experiment with different positions and techniques and still draw a blank. Too much alcohol can dry up the vaginal secretions and reduce the blood flow to the sex organs.

This in turn can make sex more painful and will affect a woman's ability to have an orgasm.

Loss of orgasm can also be linked with major changes in a woman's life such as childbirth or the menopause. Depression can severely damp down sexual feelings.

It could be that she's had a bad sexual experience in the past or that there's some problem in her relationship with her partner, and unaided you can't stop it getting in the way.

For more details about the help available, or if you want a step-by-step explanation of the self-help therapy suggested earlier, do write for my more detailed free leaflet on solving orgasm problems which explains all this and gives contacts for finding expert sex therapy.