New developments in Breast Cancer and Cancer from Google Alerts, for the week ending 31 October 2014.
We’re used to thinking of arsenic as a poison, so it comes as a surprise that arsenic in drinking water in a region in Chile has been linked to 50% lower deaths from breast cancer.
In case you were wondering where you can get hold of some arsenic, you don’t have to look any further than your supermarket: according to a UK study, more than half the rice products in the EU exceed child safety limits for arsenic!
Talk about cereal killers!
1. Arsenic in drinking water linked to fewer breast cancer deaths
- A new study has linked arsenic to a 50 percent drop in breast cancer deaths.
- The study presents results of breast cancer mortality data from a region in Chile where residents were inadvertently exposed to high levels of arsenic, a naturally occurring element found in many minerals.
- Instead of an increase in mortality, as with many other cancer sites, the study found that breast cancer deaths were cut in half during the period that coincided with high arsenic exposure.
- The effect was more pronounced among women under age 60, with mortality in these women reduced by 70 percent.
For more information: EBioMedicine, DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2014.10.005, Rapid Reduction in Breast Cancer Mortality with Inorganic Arsenic in Drinking Water
2. More than half of rice products including Rice Krispies and Heinz baby rice exceed new EU limits for ARSENIC
- Experts warn some popular rice products contain high levels of arsenic
- Channel 4’s Dispatches, Rice: How Safe is our Food? (which will be broadcast on Monday night) tested 81 different products with the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast.
- Tests found 58% exceeded new recommended arsenic limits for children
- Scientists say high levels over time could lead to cancer or heart disease
- People in Britain consume five times more rice today than 40 years ago
- Organic original puffed rice cereal by Kallo Foods was found to have 323 parts of arsenic per billion (ppb) while Organic wholegrain baby rice by Organix was found to have 268 ppb – 168 per cent above recommended levels for babies and children.
- Rice Krispies by Kelloggs were found to have 188 ppb, far above the recommended levels for babies and children.
- Baby organic rice cakes by Boots were found to be 162 ppb, and Organic wholegrain banana porridge by Organix at 142 ppb.
3. Google Developing a Pill That Would Detect Cancer and Other Diseases
- Google is attempting to develop a pill that would send microscopic particles into the bloodstream in an effort to identify cancers, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases.
- The company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width—that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body.
- The idea is that patients will swallow a pill that contains these particles, and after they enter the bloodstream—attempting to identify molecules that would indicate certain health problems—a wearable device could use their magnetic cores to gather them back together and read what they’ve found.
4. War on cancer is stalling because pharmaceutical firms only create drugs they know will make a profit, leading scientist claims
- Paul Workman is chief executive of Institute of Cancer Research in London
- Says despite huge advances in understanding cancer, drugs are still lacking
- Claims theoretical scientists have identified 500 cancer-related proteins which could be attacked by drugs – but only 5 per cent of these treatments have so far been developed.
- Argues finance is the problem, with companies putting profits first
- Should be given incentives to develop treatments for rarer cancers
- Calls for more targeted and smaller clinical trials that will reduce the initial outlay, and sharing the cost and risk of trials between universities and companies
5. Is Synthetic Turf Giving Athletes Cancer?
- Amy Griffin can’t say for sure that artificial turfs are causing cancer. But she’s doing everything she can to find out.
- One thing she does know: Soccer players across the country are coming down with cancer at epidemic rates. It didn’t always used to be this way.
- “I’ve coached for 26, 27 years,” Griffin said in an interview with NBC. “My first 15 years, I never heard anything about this. All of a sudden it seems to be a stream of kids.”
- Griffin has been on the hunt for answers since two female goalkeepers she knew were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- A nurse at the hospital remarked on the rash of soccer players — goalkeepers in particular — that had been coming down with cancer.
- Griffin compiled a list of all the American soccer players who have been diagnosed with cancer.
- So far, that list has grown to more than 50 soccer players, the vast majority of whom are goalkeepers.
- Why does their position matter? Because goalkeepers spend far more time in contact with the ground as they dive for balls and defend the goal.
- Which means they’re also getting the most exposure to the artificial turf — those suspicious black dots.
- The black material is actually known as crumb rubber.
- At the moment, the case against crumb rubber is largely anecdotal. Available research is limited, so much so that the Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t made a strong statement either way regarding the use of these fields.
- In 2013, the New Jersey Department for Health and Senior Services detected dangerously high levels of lead dust on synthetic turf fields in the state.
- Around that time, parents in Colorado raised concerns to the EPA about the safety of rubber particulates their children were bringing home on their clothing.
- And in 2008, synthetic turf fields at Manhattan’s Thomas Jefferson Park were found to have high levels of lead, requiring the city to replace the crumb rubber.
- The EPA has published a list of dangerous chemicals and carcinogens that could be present in any tire converted to crumb rubber, including arsenic, chloroethane, latex, lead, mercury, phenol, nickel and isoprene, among others.
- But the organization is reluctant to make broad statements regarding the same of America’s 4,500 crumb rubber playing turfs.
- For now, field safety continues to be addressed on a field-by-field basis.