Dr. Bill Nelson discusses environmental exposures, tailoring specific treatment and cancer risks among us. Listen to these topics discussed in the most recent Cancer News Podcast.

First, Nelson reviews a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, on environmental sources that might contribute to cancer.  He stresses two of the biggest and most avoidable factors in the environment, cigarette smoking and diet.  Nelson adds that individual differences make it extremely difficult to study and analyze environmental exposures from one person to another, or make certain factors contributors to cancer risks. Overall, we should be concerned about environmental exposures that are more chronic and prolonged rather than small dose exposures.

The second topic from a study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology examines how breast cancer patients fare based on their age.  The study found that patients above age 67, with lower stage breast cancer and precancerous conditions fared well and had no evidence their life was shorter than women who’ve never had breast cancer or been treated for it. Nelson adds, when breast cancer is detected and treated early at any age, a woman should expect a good outcome.

Along the lines of tailoring specific cancer treatments, Nelson comments on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, on the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and how it can be modified.  The study examines the drug, cytosine arabinoside commonly used to treat AML and using it in either high or low doses. The drug has been used in extremely high doses to get control of the disease, but causes many side effects. Using the drug at a lower dose creates fewer side effects, but often isn’t aggressive enough to gain initial control. The study found that an intermediate dose has fewer side effects, gains initial control and is a better way to treat AML.

Finally, Nelson touches on a five-year study that looks at statin drugs in reducing cancer risks. Statin drugs are taken to prevent cardiovascular disease or stroke. Nelson says it is not clear yet whether statin drugs lower cancer risks and should not be taken as a cancer prevention tool. More studies are being done to examine this. Statin drugs should only be taken in consultation with your physician to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Play the Podcast

Program Notes
0:15 – Environmental exposures and cancer risks from New England Journal of Medicine
0:57 – Debate on a safe level of exposures within the environment.
1:47 – Radiation exposure risks for people exposed (Aftermath of Japan’s earthquake)
2:27 – Chronic and more prolong environmental exposures
2:41- Journal of Clinical Oncology study on older women verses younger women treated with breast cancer.
3:42- Treatment of older women with breast cancer.
4:54 – New England Journal of Medicine study on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treatment and how it can be modified.
6:53- Statin drugs in reducing cancer risks and preventing cancer.
8:49 - END

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