Saturday, May 30, 2020
Liver Cancer

Tap water may be the cause of one in 20 cases of bladder cancer in Europe each year, a major study suggests. Researchers have linked drinking, showering and bathing in the water to more than 6,500 cases of the disease in 26 countries across the continent.

They estimate 1,356 bladder cancer diagnoses in Britain since 2005 were caused by contaminated water, making up a fifth of all cases in the European Union (EU).

Long-term exposure to a group of chemicals called trihalomethanes (THMs) is thought to be the cause. The chemicals, shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies, are formed as an unintended byproduct when water is disinfected with chlorine at supply plants.

As well as being drunk, steam given off in the shower can allow tap water to seep into people’s pores, and so too can prolonged periods in the bath. Earlier research has found an association between THMs and bladder cancer, but this is the first to estimate the scale of the problem. Some 10,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year in the United Kingdom (UK), making it the tenth most common form of the disease.

The latest study estimates nine per cent of them are caused by exposure to water contaminated with THMs.The findings are published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) set out to analyse the presence of the chemicals in drinking water in all 28 EU states between 2005 and 2018.

They did this by sending questionnaires to bodies responsible for the national water quality. Data was obtained for 26 countries – all except Bulgaria and Romania. The scientists probed levels of THMs in water at the tap, in the distribution network and at water treatment plants.

To make estimates as accurate as possible, the researchers also used other sources including open data online, reports and scientific literature. The findings revealed considerable differences between countries. Average THM levels were above legal levels in nine countries – Britain (24.2ug/l) , Spain, Portugal, Poland, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland and Italy.

The European Union has said the maximum limit is 11.7 micrograms per litre (ug/L). The European Union has said the maximum limit of THMs in water should be 11.7 micrograms per litre (ug/L). Researchers estimated the number of attributable bladder cancer cases using incidence rates and levels of THMs.

Analysis suggested Cyprus had highest percentage, with a quarter of diagnoses linked to the chemicals. Joint second-wort were Ireland and Malta, where one in six bladder cancer patients (17 per cent) are thought to have developed it from exposure to tap water.

Spain (11 per cent) and Greece (10 per cent) were not much better. At the opposite extreme was Denmark, where less than 0.1 per cent of cases were caused by THM water contamination. In Holland it was just 0.1 per cent of cases and Germany 0.2 per cent. THMs could be blamed for 0.4 per cent of cases in Austria and Lithuania. In total, the researchers estimated that 6,561 bladder cancer cases per year are attributable to THM exposure in the European Union.

The study authors say if the 13 countries with the highest averages were to reduce their THM levels to the EU average, 2,868 annual bladder cancer cases could be avoided.

Chloroform is the most infamous type of THM, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) describes as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.Co-study author Manolis Kogevinas, a researcher from ISGlobal, said: “Over the past 20 years, major efforts have been made to reduce trihalomethanes levels in several countries of the European Union, including Spain.

“However, the current levels in certain countries could still lead to considerable bladder cancer burden, which could be prevented by optimising water treatment, disinfection and distribution practices and other measures.”

A spokesperson for Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “This Government takes the safety of our drinking water extremely seriously, and have a robust monitoring regime in place which tests for a wide range of chemicals, including trihalomethanes, to ensure the public can have absolute faith in the water coming from their taps.

“The latest figures from 2018 found only four samples out of 11,900 exceeded the legal limits, and firm action was taken in each of these four cases.”

A study in September last year discovered 22 carcinogenic substances in water across the United States (U.S.).Despite the fact that most of the water systems they tested were within federal limits on each of these toxins, the scientists estimated that their cumulative effects could be dire over the course of Americans’ lifetimes.

Exposure to arsenic, products of disinfectant chemicals and traces of radioactive chemicals like uranium and radium had the most substantial effects on cancer risks. Over 1.7 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the US each year. In the same time period, over 600,000 people die of the disease.

Better prevention strategies, earlier detection and better treatments – like the immunotherapies that are revolutionizing the disease’s future – have driven cancer mortality down dramatically. Yet the disease’s elimination is no where in sight. In part, this is because its roots are many, and difficult to control.

Rather than being triggered by any one thing, genetics, what you eat, where you live, how you eat and, of course, the water you drink all play roles in raising or lowering cancer risks.

Some chemicals, like arsenic are nearly impossible to keep out of water in certain places. For example, in some areas of Illinois, the soil is rich in arsenic, a toxic, carcinogenic heavy metal, linked to liver and bladder cancers.

Arsenic seeps into the ground water, and winds up in our bodies. It also leaks into the water supply from many types of manufacturing plants.US water systems treat drinking water with chlorine – a non-carcinogenic cleaning chemical – in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the metal.

A blemish is the term for any mark on the skin. There are many different types of blemish.

Most blemishes are harmless, but some people may wish to treat them for cosmetic reasons.

Certain blemishes may indicate an underlying condition, such as skin cancer, which requires prompt medical treatment.

In this article, we outline the different types of blemish that people may have and the treatment options available in each case.

Types

There are many different types of skin blemish. Some examples include those below.

Acne

Acne is a skin condition that occurs as a result of the skin producing too much oil. Different factors can cause excess oil production, including:

  • overactive oil glands
  • hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, or the menopause
  • stress, anxiety, or depression, which can also affect hormones

There are several different types of acne, which vary in their appearance. Some examples include:

Blackheads

Blackheads are small, dark spots on the surface of the skin. They resemble trapped dirt but actually consist of oil that has become stuck inside the pore. When this oil reacts with air, it becomes black.

Whiteheads

Whiteheads are small, round blemishes that are white or skin-colored. They develop as a result of oil and dead skin cells blocking the pores.

Papules

Papules are small, hard, red bumps on the skin. These develop when excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells travel deeper into the skin, causing inflammation.

When lots of papules cluster together, this can give the skin a rough, sandpaper-like texture.

Pustules

Pustules are raised, red spots that contain yellow or white pus. They occur when oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells collect under the skin, causing infection.

Nodules

Nodules are large skin blemishes that develop when a pore becomes clogged. Oils mix with dead skin cells and bacteria that then become trapped deep in the skin. The excess oil and bacteria lead to infection and inflammation inside the skin.

This type of skin blemish can cause acne scarring.

Acne cysts

A break in the lining of a pore can cause oil and bacteria to spread to the surrounding skin. An acne cyst is a membrane that has formed around the infected area.

Cysts appear as large, swollen, red blemishes. They may be very painful to the touch.

Like nodules, cysts can cause permanent acne scarring.

Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a type of blemish that appears darker than other areas of skin. It is common and usually harmless.

Hyperpigmentation can occur as a result of genetic factors, sun damage, or acne scarring.

Freckles are a type of hyperpigmentation that a person can inherit the tendency to develop. They are small, flat spots that may be red, brown, tan, or black. They can appear anywhere on the body.

Sunspots or “age spots” are another type of hyperpigmentation. These small spots or patches can develop on areas of the skin that get a lot of sun exposure.

Acne scarring can also cause dark spots to remain on the skin once the acne has cleared.

Melasma

Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that can develop during pregnancy or when a person takes birth control pills.

The hormonal changes that take place lead to an increase in melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its coloring. The overproduction of melanin can make the skin darker.

Ingrown hair

Sometimes, hairs can curl back on themselves or grow sideways into the skin, which can result in red, itchy bumps forming. Doctors refer to these skin blemishes as ingrown hairs.

Hair removal techniques, such as waxing, shaving, or plucking, can all cause ingrown hairs.

Birthmarks

Birthmarks are blemishes that appear on the skin of a newborn baby. They can appear either at birth or shortly afterward. Some birthmarks disappear over time, while others may be permanent.

Experts are still not sure what causes birthmarks to form. However, these skin blemishes can sometimes develop as a result of:

  • blood vessels not forming properly
  • skin pigment cells clumping together, creating moles or patches of darker skin
  • an overgrowth of skin that creates raised patches of thickened skin

A birthmark will look different than the skin surrounding it. These types of skin blemish can be any size and may vary greatly in appearance. They may be:

  • flat or raised
  • similar to a bruise or stain
  • any color, including pink, red, brown, or tan

Birthmarks are generally harmless, but some marks that appear on a baby’s skin can signal an underlying condition. It is best to have a dermatologist check any birthmarks just to be sure.

Some harmless birthmarks can also get larger quickly, which can be alarming. Talking with a dermatologist can help people know what to expect regarding birthmark growth.

Cold sores

Cold sores are painful, red, fluid-filled blisters that form on the lips or around the mouth. They occur as a result of infection with the herpes simplex virus.

Cold sores are highly contagious, so people should avoid intimate contact with others until the sores have healed to avoid passing the virus on.

Skin cancer

Some types of blemish can be a sign of skin cancer. Being aware of the signs to look out for can help people spot skin cancer early.

Some potential signs of skin cancer include:

  • a new mole or mark that grows quickly
  • a mole or mark that bleeds or itches
  • a blemish that changes in shape, size, or color
  • a mole that is asymmetrical or has rough, irregular edges
  • a mole that is larger than 6 millimeters

A person should see a doctor if they develop a new or unusual skin blemish that has any of the above characteristics.

Treatments

Although many types of skin blemish do not require treatment, some people may wish to treat them for cosmetic reasons. The type of skin blemish will determine the treatment options.

Acne treatment

People may be able to treat acne blemishes with topical creams, such as benzoyl peroxide.

These products can help dry out the skin and get rid of acne-causing bacteria.

Washing the face twice daily with a cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can help treat certain types of acne. In addition, medications called retinoids may help unclog the pores.

Acne treatments can take time to have a noticeable effect. People may need to wait 6–8 weeks for them to work.

For persistent acne, a dermatologist may suggest a topical or oral prescription medication. Some prescription treatments for acne and hyperpigmentation can cause side effects.

People should discuss any potential side effects with their dermatologist before starting treatment.

Some people may also find that certain dietary and lifestyle changes can help reduce stress levels and balance hormones.

Hyperpigmentation and melasma treatment

The following treatments may help reduce hyperpigmentation and melasma:

  • over-the-counter or prescription medicine containing hydroquinone, which works by lightening darker patches of skin
  • prescription cortisone or tretinoin cream
  • laser treatment

In some cases, melasma disappears after a woman has given birth or is no longer taking hormonal contraception.

Ingrown hair treatment

Some tips for preventing ingrown hairs include:

  • shaving only in the direction of hair growth
  • using a shaving gel
  • using only clean, sharp razors

For existing ingrown hairs, an exfoliating scrub can help release trapped hairs from under the skin.

Birthmark treatment

If people want to treat a birthmark, they may consider the following options:

  • laser therapy
  • medications, such as propranolol, timolol, or corticosteroids, which can shrink certain birthmarks
  • surgery to remove a birthmark that may be harmful

People may also use makeup to cover any blemishes or discolored skin that they wish to disguise.

Cold sore treatment

Cold sores tend to clear up on their own within 2 weeks. A dermatologist may also prescribe an oral or topical antiviral medicine to treat cold sores.

Skin cancer treatment

Skin cancer is very treatable if a person begins treatment in the early stages of the disease. The treatment that a person receives will depend on the type of skin cancer. Some possible treatment options include:

  • surgical removal of cancerous cells
  • topical medication to kill cancerous cells
  • radiation therapy

When to see a dermatologist

Some people may choose to see a dermatologist if they wish to treat a blemish for cosmetic reasons or if the blemish is causing them psychological distress.

A person should see their dermatologist immediately if they have a skin blemish that takes on any of the following characteristics:

  • grows quickly
  • changes in size, shape, or color
  • bleeds or itches

These could be signs of skin cancer or another serious skin condition that requires immediate treatment.

Summary

A blemish is any type of mark on the skin. Most blemishes are harmless, but people may choose to treat them for cosmetic reasons.

Certain types of skin blemish may be more serious. People should see a doctor or dermatologist if they develop a blemish that has any of the characteristic signs of skin cancer. This type of cancer is highly treatable if a person begins treatment during the early stages of the disease.

People should see a doctor or dermatologist if they have any concerns about a skin blemish or skin condition. These healthcare professionals can diagnose the condition and then recommend appropriate treatments.

A team at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, has uncovered another electronic cigarette health concern. This time, it relates to stroke risk.

In recent years, the popularity of e-cigarettes has soared.

A 2016 study found that 10.8 million adults in the United States were current e-cigarette users. It is common for people to switch from traditional cigarettes to the e-variety because they think they are a healthier option.

But newly issued health warnings have pointed to the potential risks of smoking e-cigarettes. In June 2019, the U.S. saw an outbreak of lung injuries associated with e-cigarettes.

Experts believe that vitamin E acetate — an ingredient found in some e-cigarettes containing THC — may be the link.

In December 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 2,500 individuals from the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands were hospitalized or died as a result of using vapes, e-cigarettes, or associated products.

Recent studies, albeit small-scale, have found both benefits and risks to e-cigarettes.

One study that appears in PNAS found that nicotine from e-cigarette smoke caused lung cancer in mice as well as precancerous growth in the bladder.

However, a second study, appearing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, noted a significant improvement in vascular health within a month of a traditional smoker switching to e-cigarettes.

A trend among the young

Despite their nicotine content, the variety of e-cigarette flavors available has led to the products becoming a trend among young adults. There is also a concern this habit could lead to conventional cigarette smoking.

Equally worrying findings have come from a new study that appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study found that young adults smoking both traditional and e-cigarettes face a significantly higher risk of stroke.

Using data from the 2016-17 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the study examined smoking-related responses from a total of 161,529 people aged between 18 and 44.

Just over half of the respondents were female, with 50.6% identifying as white and just under a quarter identifying as Hispanic.

The team calculated the adjusted odds ratios for strokes among those who currently smoked, former smokers who now used e-cigarettes, and people who used both.

“It’s long been known that smoking cigarettes is among the most significant risk factors for stroke,” says lead investigator Tarang Parekh from George Mason University.

“Our study shows that young smokers who also use e-cigarettes put themselves at an even greater risk.”

Tarang Parekh

An important message and a ‘wake-up call’

The study identified that young adults who smoked both traditional and e-cigarettes were almost twice as likely to have a stroke compared with conventional cigarette smokers.

This risk rose to almost three times as likely when compared with non-smokers. Results also showed there was no clear advantage to switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.

However, people using e-cigarettes who had never smoked before did not display an increased stroke risk. This may be down to factors including young age and normal heart health.

This study relied on self-reported data, which is a limitation. However, the findings prove the need for large-scale, long-term studies to confirm which detrimental health effects e-cigarettes are causing and which ingredients are responsible.

“This is an important message for young smokers who perceive e-cigarettes as less harmful and consider them a safer alternative,” Parekh states.

According to Parekh, the results are “a wake-up call” for policymakers to urgently regulate e-cigarette products “to avoid economic and population health consequences.”

“We have begun understanding the health impact of e-cigarettes and concomitant cigarette smoking, and it’s not good.”

Tarang Parekh

Medical experts have called for the adoption of preventive measures to address the rising cases and mortality resulting from cancer in Nigeria.

Though, the experts noted that available cancer statistic for Nigeria is under-estimated since cancer registration in Nigeria is markedly incomplete, a research conducted by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2018 had, however, noted that about 115,950 new cancer cases, 70,327 cancer deaths and 211,052 prevalent cases (5-year) were recorded in the period under review.

But Cancer Epidemiologist and Surgical Oncologist, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Lakeshore Cancer Center, Professor Chukwumere Nwogu and other medical experts, who gathered at the 2019 annual oncology conference of the Lagos-based Cancer Center, to discuss ways to “Improving Cancer Outcomes in Nigeria,” believed that early detention, lifestyle changes as well as concerted efforts of government and private players could reduce the spread of the disease.

The experts, who decried cases of breast cancer, said among the solutions to avoiding cancer, especially breast cancer and remaining healthy are control of alcohol intake, adequate breastfeeding and consumption of vegetables in daily meals.“18 million cases are recorded annually with about 1 million deaths. Cancer is a great problem all over the world. Hence, we need a lot of work on it,” Nwogu said.

He said there was need to pay more attention to some practices including varieties of meal with pertinent attention to vegetable.“Vegetable should be part of our food. We should start inculcating that at home and at restaurants.

“How can one person alone consume a full bottle of wine? I’m not saying you should not drink. However, moderation is key when consuming alcohol or wine. The more the intake of alcohol, the higher the risk,” the oncologist said.

Nwogu named modifiable risk factors to include obesity, exercise, alcohol; breastfeeding and hormone replacement therapy.According to him, one of three cases of cancers is preventable, potentially curable and can be palliated effectively therefore there is need for increase cancer awareness, improve knowledge and capacity while plans should be evidence-based, priority driven and resource-appropriate.

Nwogu also made case for training and education, adding that connectivity remained crucial as well as access to care.In a joint research on Oncology Emergencies, a Consutlant Medical Oncologist, Dr. Okezie Ofor and Consultant Medical Oncologist, Nottingham University Hospitals, Dr. Azeez Salawu, said it is important to have adequate support systems in place for patients on systemic anticancer treatments.

They noted that many oncology emergencies are reversible or at least have reversible symptoms, while stressing that early recognition remained critical while multidisciplinary working is key to improving outcomes in cancer including a leading Cancer Epidemiologist and Surgical Oncologist, who is the CEO, Lakeshore Cancer Center, Professor Chukwumere Nwogu

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in adults in the United States. It is also the leading cause of death from cancer.

Lung cancer treatment is much more effective when the disease is in its earlier stages. However, most people with lung cancer do not experience symptoms until the disease has spread.

Some people experience subtle symptoms of early stage lung cancer, but these symptoms more often stem from other health issues or factors such as smoking.

Below, we describe early symptoms of lung cancer, as well as risk factors and when to see a doctor.

Possible signs and symptoms of early stage lung cancer

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), most types of lung cancer do not cause symptoms until they have spread to other areas.

However, some people experience subtle symptoms during the earlier stages of the disease.

The early lung cancer symptoms that we describe below usually result from some other cause. However, people who experience these symptoms should consider visiting their doctors as a precautionary measure.

Sudden weight loss

The American Society of Clinical Oncology report that weight loss is often the first noticeable sign of cancer.

They estimate that 40% of people who receive a cancer diagnosis experience unexplained weight loss during that time.

Cancer can cause weight loss for many reasons, including:

  • changes to immune function
  • changes to metabolism
  • changes to hormones
  • a sudden loss of appetite
  • difficulty swallowing

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath and wheezing can also be early symptoms of lung cancer.

Some people may experience a slight cough in addition to shortness of breath. Others may have difficulty catching their breath but have no cough.

Cough

A slight cough that does not go away can indicate early stage lung cancer. Some people assume that this cough is only a result of smoking.

A person who regularly coughs because of another lung condition may notice changes in their cough, and these can likewise indicate lung cancer.

Also, a cough that produces blood may result from lung cancer or another issue with the lungs. Anyone who experiences this symptom should see a doctor.

General fatigue

Lung cancer can cause the number of red blood cells in the body to drop. The medical term for this issue is anemia.

Because red blood cells carry oxygen, a person with anemia may not take in enough oxygen to support their body’s needs. This can result in tiredness and fatigue. Severe fatigue can make it difficult to function on a day-to-day level.

Shoulder, chest, or back pain

Most people with lung cancer do not feel pain or other symptoms during the early stages. This is because there are very few nerve endings in the lungs.

However, pain can occur when lung cancer invades the chest wall, ribs, vertebrae, or certain nerves. For example, Pancoast tumors, which form at the very top of the lungs, often invade nearby tissues, causing shoulder pain.

As a tumor develops, a person may begin to feel pain in their:

  • arms
  • chest
  • back

Hoarse voice

A person with lung cancer or another respiratory disease may develop a hoarse, raspy voice.

This can happen if a tumor presses on the laryngeal nerve, which is located within the chest. When the nerve is compressed, it can paralyze a vocal cord, causing the voice to change.

Risks

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)cigarette smoking is still the biggest risk factor for lung cancer, accounting for 80–90% of lung cancer-related deaths.

Other risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • using other tobacco products, such as cigars or pipe tobacco
  • inhaling secondhand smoke
  • being exposed to radon gas, possibly from materials within the home
  • working with dangerous chemicals, such as asbestos, arsenic, or diesel
  • living in a highly polluted area
  • having other lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • having a family history of lung cancer

When describing risk, organizations and experts sometimes use the term “pack-year.” A pack-year refers to the number of cigarettes smoked per day each year. So a person with a 30 pack-year smoking history may have:

  • smoked one pack per day for 30 years
  • smoked two packs per day for 15 years

The ACS recommend yearly lung cancer screenings for people aged 55–74 who:

  • currently smoke or have quit smoking in the past 15 years
  • have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history
  • currently smoke and are receiving counseling to help them quit
  • are aware of the potential benefits and harms of screening
  • have access to a facility that has experience with lung cancer screening and treatment

Screening cannot detect every instance of lung cancer, but it does lower a person’s chance of dying from the disease.

Smokers vs. nonsmokers

According to the CDC, people who smoke are 15–30 times more likely to die from lung cancer than people who do not.

Meanwhile, according to statistics from 2013–2014, about 1 in 4 people who do not smoke, including children, are exposed to secondhand smoke. This increases their risk of developing the disease.

Quitting smoking at any age can lower the risk of lung cancer.

When to see a doctor

The symptoms above usually result from issues other than lung cancer. However, anyone who experiences any of the following issues should visit a doctor:

  • a cough that lasts longer than 2–3 weeks
  • a persistent cough that worsens
  • a cough that produces blood
  • aches or pains when breathing or coughing
  • persistent shortness of breath
  • persistent tiredness or fatigue
  • recurrent chest infections
  • unexplained weight loss

Summary

Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer. It can affect anyone but is particularly prevalent among people who smoke.

Usually, lung cancer does not cause symptoms until it has spread. As a result, it is not always possible to detect lung cancer in its earliest stages.

Nonetheless, some people experience subtle symptoms during the initial stages. It is important to recognize these because treatment is typically more effective when a person receives it early.

Anyone who experiences early symptoms of lung cancer should see a doctor. In many cases, something other than cancer is the cause. Still, it is best to seek medical advice as a precaution.

A cup of coffee in the morning could have greater benefits than just helping tired workers wake up.

Coffee drinkers have half the risk of the most common type of liver cancer, a study has found.

The coffee bean contains polyphenols that may stop cancer cells dividing.

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast looked at almost half a million people, of whom more than three- quarters drank coffee. They were 50 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, which makes up nine out of ten cases of liver cancer.

Dr. Una McMenamin, of Queen’s, said: “Our findings are reassuring in suggesting coffee may have health benefits.”

Lead author Kim Tu Tran said: “People with a coffee-drinking habit could find keeping that habit going is good for their health.

“That is because coffee contains antioxidants and caffeine, which may protect against cancer.

“However drinking coffee is not as protective against liver cancer as stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol or losing weight.”

The study, presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Glasgow, found older, university-educated people, those who drank alcohol and men in particular were most likely to drink coffee.

Researchers tracked 365,157 coffee-drinkers, and more than 100,000 people who did not drink coffee, over seven and a half years using national cancer records.

In that time 88 people were diagnosed with the most common form of liver cancer, which is rising in England.

The risk was 50 per cent lower for coffee-drinkers compared with those who drank no coffee.

That was the case when alcohol, smoking and obesity were factored in. The risk fell 13 per cent for every cup someone drank daily.

Most coffee drinkers in Britain use instant, which some experts suspected may carry a higher risk of cancer. Evidence suggests it has higher levels of acrylamide – a cancer-causing chemical made when beans are roasted.

But the study, which looked at instant, ground and decaf coffee, found the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma was just as low in people who mostly drank instant coffee.

Jars of coffee are thought to contain more cancer-fighting compounds, such as chlorogenic acid, which may prevent harmful inflammation in the body.

The World Cancer Research Fund has also concluded that it is ‘probable’ coffee reduces the risk of liver cancer.

But the latest study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, did not find an overall link between coffee and other digestive cancers, despite looking at types including bowel and stomach cancer.

A separate study, involving the same team, found people who took statins had a 36 per cent reduced chance of being diagnosed with liver cancer.

Experts believe statins, taken by millions of people in Britain to lower their cholesterol, may reduce the number of abnormal cells which can develop into tumours.

As the use of marijuana is increasing in the United States, researchers are asking whether the use of this substance — particularly smoking joints — is associated with an increased risk of any form of cancer, and, if so, which.

Marijuana is one of the most widely used drugs in the United States, with more than one in seven adults reporting that they used marijuana in 2017.

Statistical reports project that sales of cannabis for recreational purposes in the U.S. will amount to $11,670 million between 2014 and 2020.

According to recent researchTrusted Source, smoking a joint remains one of the main ways in which individuals use marijuana recreationally.

While specialists already know that smoking tobacco cigarettes is a top risk factor for many forms of cancer, it remains unclear whether smoking marijuana can increase cancer risk in a similar way.

To try to find out whether there is a link between recreational marijuana use and cancer, researchers from the Northern California Institute of Research and Education in San Francisco and other collaborating institutions recently conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies assessing this potential association.

In their paper — which appears in JAMA Network OpenTrusted Source — the team notes that marijuana joints and tobacco cigarettes share many of the same potentially carcinogenic substances.

“Marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke share carcinogens, including toxic gases, reactive oxygen species, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzo[alpha]pyrene and phenols, which are 20 times higher in unfiltered marijuana than in cigarette smoke,” write first author Dr. Mehrnaz Ghasemiesfe and colleagues.

“Given that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and smoking remains the largest preventable cause of cancer death (responsible for 28.6% of all cancer deaths in 2014), similar toxic effects of marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke may have important health implications,” they go on to emphasize.

‘Misinformation — a threat to public health’

Dr. Ghasemiesfe and team identified 25 studies assessing the link between marijuana use and the risk of developing different forms of cancer. More specifically, eight of these studies focused on lung cancer, nine looked at head and neck cancers, seven examined urogenital cancers, and four covered various other forms of cancer.

The studies found associations of different strengths between long-term marijuana use and various forms of cancer.

The researchers note that the study results regarding the link between marijuana lung cancer risk were mixed — so much so that they were unable to pool the data.

For head and neck cancer, the researchers concluded that “ever use,” which they define as exposure equivalent to smoking one joint a day for 1 year, did not appear to increase the risk, although the strength of the evidence was low. However, the studies produced mixed findings for heavier users.

There was insufficient evidence to link this drug to a heightened risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma, oral cancer, or laryngeal, pharyngeal, and esophageal cancers.

Among urogenital cancers, the investigators found that individuals who had used marijuana for more than 10 years appeared to have a higher risk of testicular cancer — more specifically, testicular germ cell tumors. Once again, however, the strength of the existing evidence was low.

There was insufficient evidence that marijuana use was associated with an increased risk of other forms of cancer, including prostate, cervical, penile, and colorectal cancers.

Dr. Ghasemiesfe and colleagues note that the studies that they had access to had many limitations, including numerous methodological problems and an insufficient number of participants who reported high levels of marijuana use.

Going forward, the team suggests that there is an urgent need for better quality studies assessing the potential relationship between marijuana and cancer. The researchers conclude:

“Misinformation [on this topic] may constitute an additional threat to public health; cannabis is being increasingly marketed as a potential cure for cancer in the absence of evidence, with enormous engagement in this misinformation on social media, particularly in states that have legalized recreational use.”

“As marijuana smoking and other forms of marijuana use increase and evolve, it will be critical to develop a better understanding of the association of these different use behaviors with the development of cancers and other chronic conditions and to ensure accurate messaging to the public,” they add.

Neem oil is an extract of the neem tree. Some practitioners of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine use neem oil to treat conditions ranging from ulcers to fungal infections.

This type of oil contains several compounds, including fatty acids and antioxidants, that can benefit the skin.

Below, find out about the uses and potential benefits of neem oil, as well as the risks. We also provide tips for using neem oil on the skin.

What is neem oil?

Neem oil derives from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree. These trees grow mainly in the Indian subcontinent.

Neem oil is rich in fatty acidsTrusted Source, such as palmitic, linoleic, and oleic acids, which help support healthy skinTrusted Source. The oil is, therefore, a popular ingredient in skin care products.

The leaf of the plant also provides health benefits. The leaves contain plant compounds called flavonoids and polyphenols, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) note that neem oil contains azadirachtin, a natural pesticide.

Benefits for the skin

Researchers have only recently begun to examine how plant compounds influence health and disease. As a result, few scientific studies have investigated the use of neem oil in general skincare or as a treatment for skin conditions.

Authors of a 2013 reviewTrusted Source of the available research into medicinal uses of neem concluded that its extracts can help treat a variety of skin conditions, including:

  • acne
  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • ringworm
  • warts

The following are some benefits of neem oil and the evidence behind these claims.

First, however, it is important to note that most of the studies involved cell lines or animals. Those that did involve humans only included small numbers of participants. This makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of neem in the general population.

Anti-aging effects

2017 study investigated the anti-aging effects of topical neem leaf extract in hairless mice. The researchers first exposed the mice to skin-damaging ultraviolet B radiation. They then applied neem oil to the skin of some of the rodents.

The team concluded that the oil was effective in treating the following symptoms of skin aging:

  • wrinkles
  • skin thickening
  • skin redness
  • water loss

The researchers also found that the extract boosted levels of a collagen-producing enzyme called procollagen and a protein called elastin.

Collagen gives the skin structure, making it look plump and full, while elastin helps retain the skin’s shape.

Production of these compounds decreases as people age. This eventually leads to dry, deflated-looking, thin skin and the formation of wrinkles.

Promoting wound healing

Research suggests that neem oil may help enhance wound healing.

In one 2010 animal study, researchers discovered that neem oil showed superior wound healing effects, compared with Vaseline. Specifically, the rats that received topical neem oil healed more quickly. They also developed stronger and more resilient tissue at the sites of their wounds.

A similar 2013 study compared the effects of saline and neem oil on wound healing in rats. Those that received neem oil healed faster and did not develop raised scars.

The researchers speculated that compounds in neem oil may promote blood vessel and connective tissue growth, thus enhancing wound healing.

2014 study investigated whether a gel containing neem oil and St. John’s wort could help reduce skin toxicity from radiation therapy. The study involved 28 human participants who were receiving radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.

All participants experienced some reduction in skin toxicity following treatment with the gel. However, it is important to note that this study did not include a placebo control.

Fighting skin infections

2019 studyTrusted Source examined the antibacterial properties of cosmetic products containing neem compounds. The authors found that soaps containing extracts of neem leaf or neem bark prevented the growth of several strains of bacteria.

Risks

Most people can use neem oil safely. However, the EPA consider the oil to be a “low toxicity” substance. It can, for example, cause allergic reactions, such as contact dermatitis.

Also, while ingesting trace amounts of neem oil will likely not cause harm, consuming large quantities can cause adverse effects, especially in children. These may include:

  • vomiting
  • liver damage
  • metabolic acidosis
  • encephalopathy, a term for brain disease, disorder, or damage

How to use it

People should use organic, cold-pressed neem oil. The oil should have a cloudy, yellow-brown color and a strong odor.

Neem oil is generally safe to apply to the skin. However, it is very potent, so it may be a good idea to test it on a small patch of skin before applying it more extensively.

To perform a patch test, mix a couple drops of neem oil with water or liquid soap. Apply the mixture to a small area of skin on the arm or the back of the hand.

If the skin becomes red, inflamed, or itchy, dilute the neem oil further by adding more water or liquid soap. Test this mixture on a different area of skin and watch for any signs of irritation.

People who are allergic to neem oil may develop hives or a rash after a patch test. If this happens, stop using the oil — and any products that contain it — immediately.

Treating skin conditions

Some people use neem oil to treat various skin conditions, including infections and acne.

To use it as a spot treatment, apply a small amount of diluted oil to the affected skin. Let the mixture soak into the skin, then rinse it off with warm water.

Neem oil has a particularly strong odor. To disguise it, try mixing neem oil with a carrier oil, such as jojoba, coconut, or almond oil. Carrier oils also help the skin absorb neem oil.

Summary

Neem oil has a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Despite this, researchers have only recently begun exploring the potential applications of neem oil in Western medicine.

Neem oil contains fatty acids, antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds, and these can benefit the skin in a range of ways. Research shows that these compounds may help fight skin infections, promote wound healing, and combat signs of skin aging.

To use neem oil as part of a skincare routine, mix it with water or a carrier oil. It is important to do a patch test when trying neem oil for the first time.

Neem oil is available for purchase online.

Some people experience a reaction to neem oil, such as contact dermatitis. If this occurs, stop using the oil.

Flavonoids are compounds that are naturally present in fruit and vegetables. Scientists have known for 20 years that they can help prevent colorectal cancer but have not fully understood the underlying biology.

Flavonoids are compounds that are naturally present in fruit and vegetables. Scientists have known for 20 years that they can help prevent colorectal cancer but have not fully understood the underlying biology.

Now, a new study describes a molecular mechanism through which a product of flavonoid digestion can inhibit cancer cell growth under certain conditions.

The study is the work of a team at South Dakota State University in Brookings, who report their findings in a recent issue of the journal Cancers.

At first, the researchers were investigating how aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) can reduce colorectal cancer risk.

In that earlier work, they saw how a salicylic acid derivative called 2,4,6-trihydroxybenzoic acid (2,4,6-THBA) was able to slow cancer cell growth.

They decided to search for natural sources of 2,4,6-THBA and found that it was also a compound that results from the digestion of flavonoids.

Metabolite of flavonoid digestion

Flavonoids begin to break down once they enter the intestines. Gut bacteria reduce them further into metabolites when they enter the colon.

Having observed these processes, scientists have proposed that the anticancer effects of flavonoids are due to their metabolites. One of these metabolites is the molecule 2,4,6-THBA.

“We hypothesized,” says senior study author Jayarama Gunaje, Ph.D., “that flavonoids decrease colorectal cancer due to the action of the degraded, or broken down, products rather than the parent compounds.”

“These areas are underexplored,” adds Gunaje, who is an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions at the university. The study paper gives his name as G. Jayarama Bhat.

Testing 2,4,6-THBA on colon cancer cells

The new study is the first to investigate how 2,4,6-THBA, as a product of flavonoid breakdown in the gut, can help to prevent cancer of the colon or rectum.

The colon and rectum form part of the large intestine. With help from a range of gut bacteria, the final stage of digestion takes place in the colon, which then passes the remaining waste to the rectum to await evacuation through the anus.

According to 2016 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancers are the fourth most common type of cancer in the United States and also the country’s fourth most common cause of cancer deaths.

During 2016, the latest year for which figures are available for the U.S., some 141,270 people found out that they had cancer of the colon or rectum, and 52,286 died from these types of cancer.

In the new study, the researchers found that 2,4,6-THBA can bind to three enzymes that typically help cells to divide. They wondered if this ability was sufficient to block cancer.

However, when they tested the effect of 2,4,6-THBA on colon cancer cells, they found that there was none.

The metabolite needs a transporter

A search of previous studies on 2,4,6-THBA revealed that the metabolite could not enter cells without the aid of a transporter protein called SLC5A8.

Gunaje points out, however, that cancer cells can disable the transporter protein with a genetic mutation. This has a protective effect that allows the cancer cells to proliferate.

Further tests, including some with cancer cells that express SLC5A8, demonstrated that 2,4,6-THBA was able to enter cells that expressed the transporter protein but could not gain access to cells that did not.

The researchers say that these results show that 2,4,6-THBA needs the transporter to inhibit cancer growth.

Gunaje explains that the flavonoid metabolite likely has two ways of helping to prevent cancer. The first way is that by slowing the rate of cell division, 2,4,6-THBA gives immune cells a chance to locate and destroy the cancer cells.

The second way that 2,4,6-THBA likely helps to prevent cancer is that by slowing cell division, it gives the cell more time to repair any damage to its DNA.

Damage to DNA is how mutations occur, which raises the risk of cells growing out of control and starting tumors.

The researchers are already investigating which gut bacteria produce metabolites from flavonoids. They foresee the possibility of developing probiotics that could help to prevent colorectal cancer.

“We have so many drugs to treat cancer, but almost none to prevent it. Therefore, demonstrating 2,4,6-THBA as a protective agent against colorectal cancer has immense potential health benefits.”

Jayarama Gunaje, Ph.D.

Nigeria has the worst cancer mortality rate in Africa as four out of every five patients die from the ailment, according to recent statistics.

A foremost consultant oncologist and radiotherapist at the University of Nigeria College of Medicine (UNCM) and Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, Prof. Ifeoma Okoye, who gave the statistics, blamed the high death rate on the low level of awareness, late presentation at hospitals as well as the high cost of screening and treatment.

Okoye, who is also a member of the team of medical experts that packaged the National Cancer Control Plan 2018-2022, said the global cancer community was rallying countries to produce plans that would address their cultural and country-specific challenges.

She said: “You need to address cultural challenges. For instance, we have to begin to investigate cases, prevent, where possible, ensure early detections, which is key, and provide optimal management, palliative care and screening to the entire country.

We can do a national screening for 180 million people.

“Then there is the need to vaccinate the people against cancers. There is Hepatitis B vaccine that protects against liver cancer. There is also the vaccine that has to do with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that prevents cervical cancer.”

To address the situation, the radiologist recommended awareness creation and incorporation of cancer screening and treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) so that people do not have to pay out of pocket.

She also called for uniform protocol across the country for caring, management, treatment, drug therapy and radiotherapy.

Dr. Omotayo Fatokun, in a study titled, “Cancer control reform in Nigeria” published in The Lancet Oncology noted: “In October 2016, the Nigerian government announced plans to establish a national agency for cancer control responsible for research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care, as well as the provision of leadership and technical direction for the control of the disease in Nigeria.

The new agency will replace the national cancer control programme of the Federal Ministry of Health.

“The proposed reform is seen as a step in the right direction as the existing cancer control programme is ill equipped and under-resourced to cope with the challenges surrounding the cancer burden in the country.”

According to the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP- Nigeria), 30 Nigerian women die every day of breast cancer (a cancer that can be cured if detected early); one Nigerian woman dies every hour of cervical cancer (a cancer that is virtually 100 per cent preventable); 14 Nigerian men die daily of prostate cancer (another cancer that can be cured if detected early); one Nigerian dies every hour of liver cancer (a cancer that is preventable through vaccination); and one Nigerian dies every two hours of colon cancer (another cancer that is virtually 100 per cent preventable).

The National Coordinator of CECP, Dr. Abia Nzelu, also declared that out of every five Nigerians with cancer, only one survives.

“ln the specific case of blood cancer, out of every 30 Nigerians (often young adults and children), only one survives, whereas at the Tata Cancer Centre in India, the survival rate for blood cancer is 99 per cent.

The future generation of Nigeria is wasting away from conditions that can be controlled medically. Alas, Nigeria is a nation where wealth accumulates and men decay.”

She stated that 10 Nigerians died of cancer every hour, yet, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one-third of cancers is preventable, another one-third is curable and the last third can have good quality of life with appropriate care.

On why the situation is different in Nigeria, and Nigerians who still seek treatment abroad end up dying from preventable cancers, Nzelu said: “The truth is that we do not have adequate infrastructure and system for early diagnosis, so cases end up being detected at a time when they are beyond help.

Many other countries have invested a lot of funds in cancer research, screening programmes and treatment. In such countries, every sector of the society is involved in the fight against cancer.”

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to reduce cancer death and burden, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has called on the private sectors, state governments and individuals to assist the Federal Government in mobilising over N93 billion to tackle the disease across the country.

The minister who made the appeal at the launch and dissemination of the National Cancer Control Plan 2018-2022 in Abuja, said the Federal Government alone could not raise the N93 billion.

Adewole said the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) was working assiduously to improve the capacity of health workers to manage cancer patients.

“The essence of this event today is to tell Nigerians that we are aware of the cancer burden in the country and we have planned ahead, but it remains the diligent implementation of the plan because it is quite elaborate.

“In 2017 budget, we have nine billion, we have six billion in 2018 budget which makes it N15 billion but we cannot do it alone. We are appealing to the private sectors, individual firms and state governments to partner us so that we can raise the money,” he said.

According to him, the government is working to provide 18 LINAC machines by 2019, and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has promised to provide comprehensive cancer centres in Uyo, Akwa Ibom and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.