Upping coffee consumption could help you live longer

A new study suggests that higher coffee consumption could reduce the risk of death from all causes

As one of the world’s most popular beverages, it is clear that us humans do love a good cup of coffee. And a new study drawing on data from over half a million Europeans suggests that this penchant for a little pick-me-up could have a range of health benefits, by revealing an association between higher coffee consumption and a reduced risk of death from all causes.

The research was carried out by scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College London, who analyzed cancer and nutrition data from more than 500,000 Europeans over the age of 35. These subjects hailed from 10 different European countries, each with their distinctive styles of coffee consumption, such as the espresso sippers of Italy and the cappuccino-lovers of the UK.

This in itself revealed a few interesting insights. The people of Denmark, it was found, boast the highest level of coffee consumption by volume, at 900 mL (30 oz) per person per day, while the Italians consumed the least at around 92 mL (3.04 oz). The more coffee people drank, the more likely they were to be smokers, drinkers, meat-eaters, younger and not huge fans of fruit and vegetables.

Following up with the same participants 16 years later, the study found that 42,000 deaths had occurred from causes including cancer, circulatory diseases, heart failure and stroke. Adjusting for factors such as diet and smoking, the team says that subjects in the highest quartile of coffee consumption had significantly lower mortality rates than those that didn’t drink coffee.

“We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases,” said lead author Dr. Marc Gunter of the IARC. “Importantly, these results were similar across all of the 10 European countries, with variable coffee drinking habits and customs. Our study also offers important insights into the possible mechanisms for the beneficial health effects of coffee.”

Among these insights was evidence that coffee drinkers may have healthier livers and better glucose control, something the researchers uncovered by analyzing metabolic biomarkers in a subset of 14,000 people. While coffee is know to contain compounds that interact with the body such as caffeine, diterpenes and antioxidants, the researchers say further research is needed pin down which ones in particular offer these apparent health benefits, along with how much would actually be a healthy amount to consume.

“Due to the limitations of observational research, we are not at the stage of recommending people to drink more or less coffee,” says Gunter. “That said, our results suggest that moderate coffee drinking – up to around three cups per day – is not detrimental to your health, and that incorporating coffee into your diet could have health benefits.”

The research was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: Imperial College London



Enzyme could help fight against mid-life obesity and fitness loss

National Institutes of Health discovery of enzyme in mice could lead to new class of medications to fight mid-life obesity

A team of scientists led by researchers from the National Institutes of Health has identified an enzyme that could help in the continuous battle against mid-life obesity and fitness loss. The discovery in mice could upend current notions about why people gain weight as they age, and could one day lead to more effective weight-loss medications.

“Our society attributes the weight gain and lack of exercise at mid-life (approximately 30-60 years) primarily to poor lifestyle choices and lack of will power, but this study shows that there is a genetic program driven by an overactive enzyme that promotes weight gain and loss of exercise capacity at mid-life,” said lead study author Jay H. Chung, Ph.D., M.D., head of the Laboratory of Obesity and Aging Research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.

Chung and his team used mice to test the potentially key role this enzyme plays in obesity and exercise capacity. They administered an inhibitor that blocked the enzyme in one group being fed high-fat foods, but withheld it in another. The result was a 40 percent decrease in weight gain in the group that received the inhibitor.

The study, the first to link the increased activity of this enzyme to aging and obesity, appears in the current issue of Cell Metabolism. Its findings could have ramifications for several chronic illnesses. With lower rates of obesity, the researchers say, rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases that tend to increase with age, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, could fall as well.

Researchers have known for years that losing weight and maintaining the capacity to exercise tend to get harder beginning between ages 30 to 40 — the start of midlife. Scientists have developed new therapies for obesity, including fat-fighting pills. However, many of those therapies have failed because of a lack of understanding about the biological changes that cause middle-aged people to gain weight, particularly around their abdomen.

Click here to read the rest of this article originally published by National Institutes of Health

Mayo Clinic breast cancer mammogram video — What to expect

By Mayo Clinic staff

Click here to see the ‘What to expect’ video >>> Mayo Clinic Mammogram Video


Copy of  the video text below:

A mammogram is a picture of your breast taken with a safe, low-dose X-ray machine. It’s the most effective exam for early detection of breast cancer.

There are two types of mammography exams: screening and diagnostic. A routine screening mammogram is performed when you have no symptoms. Ask your doctor when you should begin regular screening mammograms.

A diagnostic mammogram is performed if there is concern regarding your breasts or if a screening mammogram requires additional studies. You don’t need to prepare for a mammogram. You can eat normally, and if you take medications, continue to do so. However, you may be asked not to wear deodorant on the day of your mammogram because such products may show up on mammogram images. Also, if you are premenopausal, it’s best to schedule your screening exam during the week following your menstrual period, when your breasts may be less tender.

Once checked in, you’ll undress from the waist up and wear a special robe. A mammography technologist will perform your mammogram. She has specialized training in mammographic positioning and techniques.

If you are asked to complete a breast-health survey prior to your exam, your technologist can assist and review the survey with you.

Once in the exam room, you’ll be asked to stand in front of the mammography unit, a special type of X-ray machine. It can move up and down and side to side.

Your technologist will position your breast between two firm surfaces that compress your breast as flat as possible, to ensure good X-ray pictures. For example, here you can see how the machine flattens the technologist’s hand.

She may also switch paddles to get a different view.

Compression is necessary to spread the breast tissue and eliminate motion, which may blur the picture. This may be uncomfortable but shouldn’t hurt.

Compression usually lasts no more than 20 to 30 seconds. During this time, an X-ray beam comes from above and penetrates your breast tissue. The X-ray image is either created on a film cassette, located below your breast, or recorded digitally and stored in a computer. Denser tissue, such as cancer, appears bright and white, whereas less dense tissue, such as fat, appears dark or gray.

The images are then processed and made available for review and interpretation.

Here we see a baseline mammogram of a 40-year-old woman. Five years later, her formerly clear image now shows cancer.

Don’t be concerned if you are asked to remove your gown or reposition, even if it means standing on your toes. This ensures that your gown won’t interfere with the pictures and that you are standing correctly. If you are uncomfortable, please tell your technologist.

After the pictures are taken, you may be asked to wait while the X-ray images are processed.

During this time, technologists check your images to assure they are acceptable. If they aren’t clear, you may be asked to have more X-rays done. Don’t be alarmed if this happens, your technologist simply wants the best images.

A doctor trained to read X-ray images, a radiologist, will examine your mammograms. Under federal regulations, the radiologist must be experienced in reading mammograms.

If no further studies are required, you’ll be released and can resume your regular activities.

Based on what your radiologist sees on your mammogram, you may be asked to return for a diagnostic mammogram. It’s not unusual to be called back after a screening mammogram. This is because your radiologist may not have any previous comparison or may need to look more carefully at a specific area of the breast. The additional imaging is usually necessary to clarify a finding on your screening mammogram. Most findings are not cancer, but it’s important to have the additional imaging done. This may include specialized and tightly focused X-ray pictures, known as a magnification or compression view, or possibly a breast ultrasound.


Understanding Melanoma In Situ (Stage 0)

Symptoms, treatment, and prognosis for melanoma in situ, the earliest stage of melanoma.

.By Diana Rodriguez


With regular and thorough examinations of your skin, you can increase your changes of catching any abnormalities very early — which is good news in terms of treatment and prognosis if that abnormality turns out to be a malignant melanoma. In fact, experts now recommend that men and women of all ages check their skin frequently to increase their odds of spotting potential malignant mole at the earliest possible point: stage 0, or melanoma in situ.

What Is Melanoma In Situ?
Melanoma in situ comes from the Latin phrase “in situ,” which means “in place.” Melanoma in situ is cancer in the very early stages, when it affects only the top layer of the skin. At this point, the cancer has not spread deeper into the body. Cancer diagnosed at this early stage also means that it is less likely to recur or spread to other parts of the body than melanomas that are diagnosed at a later stage.

The very first symptoms of melanoma are any abnormalities in one or more moles on the skin. Abnormalities include moles with anyAsymmetry, uneven Borders, different Colors, large Diameter, orEvolution (any change). That’s why learning the ABCDEs of melanoma and checking yourself regularly are so important. If you see anything different about any of your moles, it could be a sign of melanoma in situ. The best course is to report any changes that you see to your doctor and schedule an exam to rule out melanoma, or to catch and treat it early.

How Is Melanoma In Situ Treated?
The treatment for melanoma in situ is usually fairly simple. In a doctor’s office, an outpatient procedure can be performed in which the melanoma is cut out of the skin, a process that medical personnel call resecting or excising.

“The treatment option for early stage melanoma is a wide excision procedure,” says Bruce A. Brod, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “The key prognostic feature in melanoma is the thickness [in millimeters] of the melanoma, which is based on the initial biopsy of the lesion.”

How much skin needs to be cut out depends, then, on the biopsy results. “The consensus for treatment of melanoma in situ is to remove a half-centimeter diameter around the lesion or the initial biopsy site,” Dr. Brod says. “The consensus for treating melanomas less than 2 millimeters in thickness is to remove a 1-centimeter diameter, if possible, around the lesion.”

If the melanoma is larger in size, more skin may need to be removed, and a biopsy performed. “In melanomas greater than 2 millimeters [in thickness], the consensus is to excise a 2-centimeter diameter area around the lesion,” he says. “Since melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes in close proximity to the initial melanoma, a biopsy of lymph nodes is sometimes performed for melanoma close to or greater than 1 millimeter in thickness at the time of the wide excision procedure.”

Following Up on Melanoma in Situ
The good news? People who are diagnosed with melanoma in situ and receive early treatment have a great survival rate — 100 percent at 5 and 10 years. And everyone with melanoma in situ, including those diagnosed at an early stage, should check in with their doctors frequently to be certain that the cancer has not returned. Patients should have a complete physical and skin exam every six months for a year or two after their initial diagnosis, and typically once each year for several years after that.

“When melanoma is found early, it is easily cured with simple outpatient surgery,” says Catherine Poole, president and co-founder of the Melanoma International Foundation. “When found in later stages, it may become life-threatening, and there are few effective therapies to treat metastasized melanoma.”

Some good advice for healthy, cancer-free skin: Protect your skin at all times. “The most effective sun protection is to wear protective clothing, a broad-rimmed hat, seek shade, avoid being in the sun during the prime-time solar hours of 10 to 4, and use sunscreen as an adjunct to these behaviors,” says Poole.


Note *

A couple of weeks ago an ugly mole was removed from my stomach. After the biopsy results came back Doctor Rowe said that it was confirmed to be ‘Melanoma In Situ.’
Got it early enough that it shouldn’t be serious. I Praise God and thank the Veterans Administration!

Going back for one more minor surgery as a precautionary move. — Bob Diamond

Contrary to Popular Belief Breast Cancer Rates Unaffected by Family History

By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.


CHICAGO — Women ages 40 to 49 with no family history of breast cancer have similar rates of invasive disease as those with familial risk, radiologists reported here, firing yet another salvo at government mammography guidelines.

Among a group of more than 1,000 breast cancer patients, 64% of those with no family history of breast cancer had invasive disease, as did 63.2% of those with family history, a non-significant difference, according to Stamatia Destounis, MD, of Elizabeth Wende Breast Care in Rochester, N.Y., and colleagues.

“We were intrigued and surprised by the data,” Destounis said during a press briefing at the Radiological Society of North America meeting, noting that general wisdom suggests women with a family history are at greater risk of developing the disease than other women.

“Since there’s no difference in the rate of invasive breast cancer for women in their 40s whether they have a history of breast cancer or not, the recommendation should be that women in their 40s have screening mammography yearly,” Destounis said.
In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against routine screening for women ages 40 to 49, leaving patients and clinicians to make individual decisions based on their risk. Mammograms should start at age 50, the committee said, and be performed every two years.
Yet the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other groups have called for continued screening in this age group, which Destounis said has led to confusion among patients and their doctors.
Still, the debate has shown few signs of letting up, as studies have continued to flood in — some showing that screening women 40 to 49 offers a robust mortality benefit while others have found only a trivial benefit.
Destounis and colleagues reviewed data on all breast cancer patients seen at their clinic between 2000 and 2010, with a total of 1,071 patients ages 40 to 49 treated for 1,116 cancers.
A total of 373 of those had been diagnosed via screening at their clinic; 61% of those patients had no family history of the disease, while 39% did. There were no significant differences in terms of the percentage of patients in either group who had a personal history of the disease.
The investigators also found that similar percentages of patients with and without familial risk had disease that metastasized to the lymph nodes (29.4% of those without versus 31.3% of those with).
“We agree with the ACS, which recommends screening for every woman in her 40s,” Destounis said.
Gary Whitman, MD, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, who was not involved in the study, told MedPage Today there are “very few mammographers who feel differently about the need to screen all women at 40 years of age.”
Edith Perez, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., who also was not involved in the study, noted that it may show that family history isn’t necessarily useful for deciding whether a younger woman may be at greater risk of breast cancer, though this hypothesis would need further testing.

Did I have a mole a wart or skin cancer?

Moles and basal cell lesions can be hard to differentiate
Moles and basal cell lesions can be hard to differentiate

A little over a year ago I noticed what looked like a small pimple or possibly an infected hair follicle on my upper lip. I squeezed a little exudate out of it and cleaned it with alcohol and applied an antibiotic ointment, thinking that it would be gone in three or four days. It didn’t go away as quickly as things like that usually do. It grew fairly rapidly. It started to look like a pale-colored mole about 5 mm — less than a quarter of an inch — across. I tried to remove it a couple of times; once by using an over the counter wart-freezing spray and later a salicylic acid liquid-bandage type of product. Both times it got small enough that I thought it was about gone, but then it came right back to its original size in a few days.

While I was at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Charlotte for an annual physical, I asked Dr. Patel to take a look at the sore on my lip. She did and said she wasn’t sure what it was but that she would schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.  A few days later the dermatologist said that it would need to be removed just to be safe and made an appointment with the minor surgery department for me to have it taken care of the following Monday.

The surgeon looked at the sore on my lip in rapt attention, as if he were studying something for a final exam — like he was trying to memorize every detail. He was so focused on it that it made me feel uncomfortable. He finally looked up and said, “Yep, we need to take that out.”

I was glad that it was going to be taken care of. Still thinking that it might be a mole or some sort of persistent wart, I asked him if he had a diagnosis. Without skipping a beat of any kind he said, “You have a basal cell carcinoma. I’ll send a specimen to the lab to make sure — after we cut it out.”

I’ve had a mustache for over 40 years, so my image in the mirror this morning doesn’t look quite right without it. The bandage feels like it covers my whole face. The stitches are the type that will dissolve and it hurts a little, but I am more than glad to have this thing over and done with.

In retrospect, I was more concerned about my slightly elevated cholesterol, than I was about that thing on my lip. Now that I have proven that I can make cancer, I’ll be a little more careful about pooh-poohing any little lumps or bumps that might pop up in the future.

Thank God for annual checkups and the Veterans Administration.

A lesson about true friends for those facing serious illnesses

True Friendship
Friends for Life - Manatanka.org image

by Danielle Leach, MPA

“A true friend walks in when everyone else walks out.”

I read that on a magnet on my friend’s refrigerator recently and the simple power of that saying brought me to tears. I have learned that lesson of true friends since my son’s diagnosis of cancer in 2007.

Anyone who has faced a serious illness as a patient or a caregiver knows that you quickly learn who your friends are. They are the ones who are there, who listen instead of trying to fix things, who are present for you in any way you need them. Some people you love will disappoint and not rise to the occasion, and some people you never expected will be your biggest supporters.

It is hard not to resent people who are there in the crisis, and then leave once the immediate crisis is over. There are people who are not there for the long haul, for the good and the bad that a disease may bring. The initial drama draws everyone in, but sends them running afterward.

I have learned, especially when you are living a nightmare, that it takes a special person to stay with you throughout the crisis. A person who keeps checking in and knows the journey is not necessarily over once you are in remission, or when your loved one has passed away. When my son Mason had brain cancer, our family found our true friends. We were surprised by many who walked out, but also by how many true friends walked into our lives because of Mason’s illness. We have learned even after Mason’s death, even three years later, we continue to go through this process of discovering our true friends.

Some people are not capable of handling personal difficulties. We, as patients and caregivers, need to understand not everyone has the capacity or tools to handle a crisis of another. This knowledge does not make it any easier for us as we wade through process of dealing with disease.  As a director at Inspire, a company that creates and manages online patient support communities, I see regularly the comments of patients and caregivers who talk about friendships won and lost since diagnosis. Some are surprised and profoundly saddened by the lack of support from those expected to help the most. However, many happily note those friends, family, and even strangers who surprise them with support in a time of great need.

I recall reading about a Florida woman, whose teenage son was undergoing chemo, wrote that her friends avoided her upon learning about her son’s cancer diagnosis. “It’s almost like they were afraid they could catch it,” she said.

Another, a bladder cancer survivor from New Jersey, observed, “A lot of people walk out. . . a good 50% of my ‘pre-cancer’ friends I have never heard from again.” He went on to say, “In my case, I am lucky. I have all strong ones, having cut weak relations a long time ago. I keep only the cream of the crop.”

Sometimes finding others who are dealing with the same issues can be the most helpful strategy. You can often talk online more frankly and honestly with them than with some loved ones or friends. Dealing with an illness can be a lonely and scary process. Participating in support communities often help alleviate some of that loneliness. I have seen repeatedly how these connections are a powerful tool and establish strong personal friendships among members.

If you’re a patient or caregiver, look for the people who are true friends and hold those people close. Craft a strong support network–both in person and online. If you have a chance to do so, be the kind of true friend people are often searching for in their lives when they need it the most.

Danielle Leach is Director of Partnerships at Inspire and is founder of the Mason Leach Superstar Fund, in memory of her son, Mason, who died of pediatric medulloblastoma in 2007.

Skin Cancer : Epidemic From The Sun

by David B. Schulman M.D., F.A.A.D.

There is a true epidemic of skin cancer in America. One million cases of skin cancer will occur this year in America. Lifelong sun exposure is increasing for Americans as we spend more time outdoors and the sun’s rays are becoming more intense with our loss of ozone. The use of tanning booths is a new way to further damage our skin and raise our risk for skin cancers. There are three common forms of skin cancer and we are seeing dramatic annual increases in the number of these skin cancers. Melanoma, which is the most aggressive form of skin cancer, is now the most common cause of cancer deaths in American women under forty years old.

Basal Cell Carcinoma The most common and least aggressive form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. This is the most common cancer in America and happily it causes nearly no fatalities. This cancer is most common on light skinned people and thirty percent of Caucasian people in America are expected to have a basal cell in their lifetime. The great majority of basal cell carcinomas will occur on the head and neck. Though this form of cancer almost never enters the bloodstream or the lymph system, it may be locally invasive. Basal cells do grow by local extension and over time can erode and invade not just skin, but other important areas down to muscle or bone. There are more aggressive forms of basal cell carcinoma that will infiltrate and extend below the surface more than above the surface. These tumors are especially dangerous for the surrounding tissue. Basal cell tumors often appear as pale or translucent patches or raised bumps on the skin with fine blood vessels in them. They may grow for months or years without detection. The often ulcerate and bleed as they grow, but otherwise have no symptoms like itching or pain. The tendency towards growing basal cells is inherited and many patients report at least one family member with a history of basal cell. Patients will often have more than one basal cell in their lifetime and I have seen patients who have had dozens of them. Darker skin tends to get fewer basal cells but one of the first lesions I had in my new practice was an African-American women with a basal cell on the leg. She is fine and nearly everyone who has this is fine. With early detection and removal this should simply be a speed bump on the road of life.

Study Finds No Link Between Cell Phones, Tumors – Cancer

A very large, 30-year study of just about everyone in Scandinavia shows no link between cellphone use and brain tumors, researchers reported on Thursday.

Citizen.org image
Citizen.org image

Even though mobile telephone use soared in the 1990s and afterward, brain tumors did not become any more common during this time, the researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Some activist groups and a few researchers have raised concerns about a link between cellphones and several kinds of cancer, including brain tumors, although years of research have failed to establish a connection.

“We did not detect any clear change in the long-term time trends in the incidence of brain tumors from 1998 to 2003 in any subgroup,” Isabelle Deltour of the Danish Cancer Society and colleagues wrote.

Deltour’s team analyzed annual incidence rates of two types of brain tumor — glioma and meningioma — among adults aged 20 to 79 from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden from 1974 to 2003. These countries all have good cancer registries that keep a tally of known cancer cases.

This represented virtually the entire adult population of 16 million people, they said.

Click here to read the rest of the article from FoxNews.com


My Colon (Colorectal) Cancer Screening Day!

My Colon (Colorectal) Cancer Screening Day!

I’m going in for a colonoscopy today. I don’t have any symptoms or problems that I am aware of.

My mother had colorectal cancer so I have to be careful, since it has already occurred in my family.

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests below. The tests that are designed to find both early cancer and polyps are preferred if these tests are available to you and you are willing to have one of these more invasive tests. Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.

Tests that find polyps and cancer

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Double contrast barium enema every 5 years*
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*

Tests that mainly find cancer

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year*, **
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*, **
  • Stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain*

*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.

**For FOBT or FIT used as a screening test, the take-home multiple sample method should be used. A FOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor’s office is not adequate for screening.

People should talk to their doctor about starting colorectal cancer screening earlier and/or being screened more often if they have any of the following colorectal cancer risk factors:

  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • A personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps (cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative [parent, sibling, or child] younger than 60 or in 2 or more first-degree relatives of any age)
  • A known family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)

I hope this article, and my willingness to be screened, will help you to make the possibly life saving decision to get yourself screened soon.

I have the results of my colonoscopy. I had one non-cancerous polyp removed. That polyp could have caused cancer down the road if it had been left there.

My story has a happy ending.

Now it’s your turn to be checked.

Bob Diamond R.Ph


* The American Cancer Society was the source for most of the information in this article.