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Addiction Substance Abuse

Black Smokers Have Lower Lung Cancer Screening Rates Than Whites

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Smokers and those exposed to cigarette smoke should submit themselves to lung cancer screening. Unfortunately, the people who need them the most might not be willing to undergo such tests, according to a recent study.

The research, conducted by a team from Yale School of Public Health, used data from the U.S. government between 1965 and 2012 to examine the effect of smoking habits on a person’s likelihood to undergo lung cancer screening. The study also looked into the differences between racial profiles.

Results revealed that black Americans have a lower likelihood of starting cigarette smoking when they enter late teenage years, as compared to whites. However, the likelihood of quitting is higher in white Americans than blacks as they reach older adulthood. Black smokers were also found to use fewer cigarettes on a daily basis that whites. “Racial differences in smoking initiation, cessation, and intensity give rise to substantial differences in risk for tobacco-related diseases,” said study author Theodore Holford in a news release.

In addition, black Americans exhibited lower “pack-years”, which is determined by multiplying the estimated number of cigarette packs used by the length of the person’s smoking experience in years. However, this low figure for blacks cannot discount the fact that they are exposed to cigarette smoking longer than white Americans. Because pack-years are used as basis for lung cancer screening, this estimate might lead black Americans to be less likely to undergo screening, even though they are exposed to cigarette smoking longer than whites.

Details of the study were published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.


Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Higher Risk of Lung Cancer Found in Smokers Diagnosed With Pneumonia

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A recent study revealed that people who smoke and are diagnosed with pneumonia have a higher likelihood of developing lung cancer.

The researchers, composed of teams from Israel’s Rabin Medical Center and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, considered lung cancer to be a serious disease that needs a cost-effective cure. “Previous studies have shown that a low-dose radiation CT scan conducted once a year on heavy smokers has the potential to lower lung cancer mortality rates… But this requires huge resources, and we still don’t know how it will perform in real-world conditions, outside of strictly conducted clinical trials,” said study lead author Dr. Daniel Shepshelovich in a news article.

Hospital records of heavy smokers from 2007 to 2011 were used by the research team to match pneumonia findings with lung cancer development. Results showed that 9 percent of smokers with pneumonia were found with lung cancer.

Although the number doesn’t seem too big, the researchers emphasized the proportion of this group to the percentage of people diagnosed with pneumonia. “Considering that only 0.5 to 1 percent of smokers without pneumonia have a chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer every year, the fact that 9 percent of our study group developed lung cancer is alarming,” Shepshelovich added.

The study lead author believes that early intervention is the primary key to curing the disease. “Lung cancer is truly aggressive. The only chance of recuperation is if it’s caught before it begins to cause any symptoms at all. The idea is to find the tumor well in advance,” he expressed.


Health & Wellness

Study: Active Lifestyle During Midlife Lowers Risk of Cancer Death in Men

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A recent study might be just the thing to motivate men to spend more time at the gym.

Researchers from the University of Vermont discovered that males who engage in fitness activities during their midlife may find themselves with less risk of dying from certain cancers beyond 65 years old. The study involved data from more than 14,000 males between 1971 and 2009. The comprehensive analysis revealed a 44 percent reduction in risk of drying from colorectal cancer, and a significant 55 percent decrease from lung cancer death.”These findings provide further support for the effectiveness of cardiorespiratory fitness assessment in preventive health care settings,” the authors said via a news release.

However, the study proponents were dumbfounded as to the effect of increased midlife fitness to prostate cancer mortality. Results showed that engaging in more activity during midlife was linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer. The researchers believe that one possible reason behind this surprising discovery was that men who keep an active lifestyle are more likely to subject themselves to medical diagnosis, which might have captured many cases of prostate cancer.

Still, the researchers believe there is much to learn about the circumstances and underlying factors involved in their study. “Future studies are required to determine the absolute level of cardiorespiratory fitness necessary to prevent site-specific cancer as well as evaluating the long-term effect of cancer diagnosis and mortality in women,” the researchers added.

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Addiction Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Guidelines Released To Help Cancer Patients Quit Smoking

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Lung cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death, with smoking being the primary culprit. This is the reason why a network of non-profit agencies have drafted a set of guidelines to help patients kick the habit.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recently released the Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for Smoking Cessation, which delineates proper instructions and procedures on helping smokers diagnosed with cancer off the deadly practice. NCCN Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Carlson, MD expressed the importance of the NCCN Guidelines for Smoking Cessation. “Addressing the physical and behavioral impact of cigarette smoking dependency and offering a support system for people with cancer can positively impact their quality of life, both during treatment and during survivorship,” Carlson said in a news release.

The panel of experts who formulated the guidelines include Peter G. Shields, MD, deputy director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital . As a lung cancer specialist, Shields said that addiction to smoking is a very difficult thing to reject, but the need to do so will benefit the health condition of cancer patients. “Science has shown us that smokers with cancer have a high level of dependence and smoking cessation leads to improvement in cancer treatment effectiveness and decreased cancer recurrence,” Shields said.

NCCN believes that a sustainable and effective method of ensuring that cancer patients are tobacco-free involves a combination of medical therapy and preventive counseling.”Our hope is that by addressing smoking cessation in a cancer patient population, we can make it easier for oncologists to effectively support their patients in achieving their smoking cessation goals,” Shields added.

Data from the American Cancer Society showed that more than 25 percent of cancer-related deaths are caused by cigarette smoking.

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Health & Wellness

Study: Nonsmoking Diabetes Patients Have Lower Risk of Lung Cancer, Thanks to Metformin

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Diabetes drug metformin has been found to not only address the debilitating insulin disease but also lower the risk of lung cancer.

According to a recent study by a research scientist in Oakland, California, diabetic nonsmokers who regularly took metformin had lower likelihood of developing lung cancer. The study team, led by Dr. Lori Sakoda of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, looked into previous observational and laboratory to obtain records of more than 47,000 patients diagnosed with diabetes. The study cross-referenced the patient’s usage of metformin with development of lung cancer across a 15-year window, according to a news item.

Results revealed that while use of metformin did not significantly translate to an overall low risk of lung cancer, nonsmoking diabetics were found with 43 percent lower risk compared to smokers. In addition, longer period of metformin use was linked to further decrease in lung cancer risk, although the difference was not significant.

The research team was surprised with the discovery of the link between metformin and lung cancer. “Our results suggesting that the risk associated with metformin might differ by smoking history were unexpected,” Sakoda said. “Our results suggest that risk might differ by smoking history, with metformin decreasing risk among nonsmokers and increasing risk among current smokers.” The team recommends further investigation on the matter, particularly on whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the diabetes drug and lung cancer treatment.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Marijuana Smoking Doesn’t Increase Lung Cancer Risk, Study Finds

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Tobacco smoking has long been established as the primary risk factor of lung cancer. But it appears that the same danger cannot be said for those who smoke marijuana, whether occasionally or habitually.

In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, a group of researchers reported that regular cannabis smoking has no significant association with lung cancer risk.

Dr. Li Rita Zhang of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the role of cannabis smoking in lung cancer risk using data from six case-control studies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. All of the studies were part of the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO), according to The Oncology Report.

The risk of lung cancer was assessed between the frequency, intensity, and duration of use, while adjusting for age, sex, sociodemographic factors and tobacco packyears. In the end, the researchers found that regular pot smokers had no significant increase in lung cancer risk when compared with marijuana smokers who also used tobacco.

“The conventional wisdom is that cannabis smoking is not as dangerous as cigarette smoking,” said pulmonologist Dr. Michael Alberts, chief medical officer of the Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, who wasn’t part of the study. Still, he cautioned that smoking anything can have some negative effects to the respiratory system.

Dr. Zhang, on the other hand, did not comment on the study but she noted that their findings “cannot preclude the possibility that cannabis may exhibit an association with lung cancer risk at extremely high dosage over long periods of continued exposure.”

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

New Lung Cancer Guidelines Recommend Low-Dose CT Scanning to High-Risk Individuals

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The American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) has released updated lung cancer guidelines, which recommend offering low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanning to people who are at higher risk of developing lung cancer.

“Our new lung cancer guidelines take into account the many advances and new information in the field by providing comprehensive and nuanced recommendations related to prevention, screening, diagnosis, staging, and medical and surgical treatments,” Guideline Panel Chair, W. Michael Alberts, MD, MBA, FCCP, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL., said in a news release.

According to ACCP’s guidelines, smokers and former smokers age 55-74 with more than 30 pack-years of smoking should be offered low-dose CT screening. This is a clear change from the 2007 version of the guidelines, in which evidence that showed the importance of CT screening in reducing lung cancer deaths was not yet available.

The guidelines clearly indicated that CT screening should not be given to individuals with less than 30 pack-years of smoking; younger than 55 or older than 74; and those suffering from severe diseases in addition to a primary disease or disorder.

“Lung cancer screening offers a potential benefit for select individuals, but it is not a substitute for stopping smoking,” explained Frank Detterbeck, MD, FCCP, Yale University, New Haven, CT, and Vice-Chair of the Guidelines Panel.

Detterbeck added that the guidelines are also meant to educate both the patient and the physician about the screening in order to overcome misconceptions and misguided fears.

In addition to CT scanning, the guidelines underscore advances in treatment, including the benefits of minimally invasive surgery and treatment at specialized centers.

Early Disease Detection

Medical Groups Recommend New Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines

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Three medical groups issued new screening guidelines for lung cancer, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The guidelines were written by an expert panel, chaired by Peter Bach of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, for the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

The updated guidelines call for annual screenings, but only for current or former heavy smokers, aged 55 to 74. The guidelines indicate that the risks of screening younger or older smokers, or non-smokers, outweigh the benefits that may be derived from these tests.

The screening will consist of low-dose CT scans (a special kind of X-ray that can detect lung cancer early, but may provide false positive results). While regular chest X-rays can also detect lung cancer, these have less detailed images than CT scans. Regular X-rays may also provide false positive results, and have not been proven to save lives. As such, it is not recommended as a screening tool for lung cancer.

There is a possibility that widespread screening may result in some deaths, as abnormal results are usually followed by biopsies and other invasive tests that may prove to be fatal. The number of lives, however, that may be saved from death due to lung cancer by these screenings far outnumber these deaths.

Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, shared: “Screening is a double-edged sword.” While CT cancer screening was able to prevent 80 lung cancer deaths among participants in a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, 16 participants died after screening, six of whom did not have lung cancer.

Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

Some Cancer Patients Do Not Give Up Smoking

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The results of a study seem to confirm how addictive smoking can be, so much so that even patients suffering from cancer cannot give them up despite knowing that it is not good for them.

According to new data published in the online version of the journal Cancer, a large number of patients who have been diagnosed with colon cancer and lung cancer carry on with their cigarette smoking habit, even if they know that it has an adverse effect on their condition.

Doctors say, however, that quitting smoking is imperative after being diagnosed with cancer, as it can hinder the results of treatment.

The study involved an investigation into the smoking rates of approximately 5,300 lung and colorectal cancer patients. At the time of diagnosis, 39 percent of patients suffering from lung cancer and 14 percent of patients suffering from colon cancer smoked. Five months after diagnosis, it was determined that 14 percent of lung cancer patients and 9 percent of colon cancer patients continue to smoke.

Dr. Elyse R. Park of the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, lead researcher for the study, shared: “These findings can help cancer clinicians identify patients who are at risk for smoking and guide tobacco counseling treatment development for cancer patients.”

The researchers determined that lung cancer patients who continued to smoke after diagnosis were usually heavy smokers prior to diagnosis, were usually on Medicare, and had very little treatment for their condition. Colon cancer patients who continue to smoke, on the other hand, were also usually heavy smokers prior to diagnosis; they were usually uninsured and undereducated males.

Early Disease Detection

Lung Cancer Awareness Month: Focus on Importance of Screening

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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and as in other observances, now is a good a time as any to focus on sharing information about this disease, and about the important role that early detection plays in its treatment and management.

It is the goal of the American Lung Association (ALA) to increase public awareness about lung cancer, as well as to urge everyone to proactively make an effort to prevent its onset, or treat it in time if it does occur. Irwin Berlin, M.D., Board Chair of the American Lung Association in New York, shared: “Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of both men and women in New York State.”

Dr. Berlin shared further: “Lung cancer affects both smokers and nonsmokers. Regardless of smoking history, no one deserves lung cancer and that’s the message we need all New Yorkers to hear and embrace. We need New Yorkers to do what they can to limit their risk and be aware of the resources that are out there to help them should they or a family member face a lung cancer diagnosis. The more we can raise awareness about lung cancer and gain the public’s support to help fight this disease, the more lives we can save and the more we can improve the quality of life for those patients suffering from this disease.”

Lung cancer is known to be caused by cigarette smoke, exposure to radon, and industrial exposure to such hazardous materials as asbestos and arsenic. In order to prevent lung cancer and lower one’s risk for developing the disease, the ALA makes the following suggestions:

• Do not smoke; and if you are, stop.
• Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
• Be aware about exposure to industrial compounds, and if you are, find out how you are being protected.
• Test your home for radon.
• Be active in the fight against pollution.