Entries in National Cancer Institute (4)


Study Finds Cellphones May Cause Cancer, But Brain Cancers Have Not Spiked

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Though a World Health Organization study concluded cellphones may cause cancer, some are wondering why, if there truly is a link, has there not been a significant worldwide increase in brain cancers.

The World Health Organization (WHO), whose International Agency for Research on Cancer announced the results of its year-long study Tuesday, estimates that there are five billion cellphone users globally, representing nearly three-quarters of the world's population.

However, the incidence and mortality rate of brain and central nervous system cancers has remained virtually flat since 1987, according to data from the National Cancer Institute.

The most compelling evidence cited by the WHO is a multi-country study that found people who used cellphones most often, an average of 30 minutes per day over 10 years, had a 40-percent higher risk for a rare brain tumor called a glioma.

The WHO also considered not-yet-released papers showing increased risk for another kind of cancer, acoustic neuroma, in the parts of the brain where cellphone radiation is strongest.

Roughly 30 older studies have tried and failed to establish any link between cellphones and cancer. This conundrum has been a hot topic since shoe-sized phones hit the scene in the late 1970s. One study even found those who used cellphones occasionally had a lower cancer risk than those who used old-fashioned land lines.

So what about the lack of rising numbers of brain cancers? Time is a major issue. The tumors take years, even decades, to develop, and some researchers say too few people have used cellphones long enough to affect worldwide numbers.

"The long-term consequences of putting radiation into brain we don't really understand," Dr. Keith L. Black of the neurosurgery department at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles told ABC News.

The WHO decided, in effect, to err on the side of caution.

"[The] IARC is saying that we should be cautious and think through what we do when we regulate exposures from cellphones," Dr. Peter Shields, chief of Georgetown University Hospital's cancer genetics and epidemiology program in Washington, D.C. told ABC News. "They follow the precautionary principle and want to maximally protect public health."

Meanwhile, the science is advancing. Researchers at the University of Utah established that the radiation dose is much higher inside the brains of 5- and 10-year-olds than in adults, a major concern as more children adopt cellphones.

Regulations are trailing behind the science.  In the U.S., the FCC set a maximum limit of 1.6 watts per kilo of body tissue. However, they did not test phones being carried directly in a person's pocket, just inside of belt holsters. So far, the recommendation continues to be to hold your phone about an inch away from your body.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Love of Caffeine Could Be Determined By Genes

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) -- The amount of caffeine we drink may not be grounded in habit or lack of sleep. New research suggests that our own DNA is the biggest factor in determining whether we reach for that cup of java each morning.

A new study published in PLoS Genetics found that people who carry a particular version of two specific genes were much more likely to consume caffeine. The genes identified were CYP1A2, previously linked to the metabolism of caffeine, and AHR, involved in the regulation of CYP1A2.

"We know caffeine had an inherited component but for the first time we know specifically the major genes involved," said Dr. Neil Caporaso, branch chief of genetic epidemiology at the National Cancer Institute and senior investigator for the study. "Genetic studies have identified many associations with diseases, but very few for diet agents."

"We have a very clear finding for two genes that are highly plausible," he continued. "This offers a scalpel to investigate the many health effects of caffeine."

Harvard researchers analyzed the genes of more than 47,000 middle-aged Americans. Those in the study who had the "high-consumption" version of the gene drank about 40 mg more caffeine per day than people who had the "low-consumption" variant. Authors noted that this amount equals about an extra can of soda or a third of a cup of coffee.

The study noted that nine out of 10 adults eat or drink caffeine regularly and eight in 10 Americans who consume caffeine are coffee drinkers.

Caporaso said that it was "astonishing" to find the two associated caffeine genes after searching more than 300,000 genetic markers. And, since one gene regulates the other, "to find them both holding hands was amazing," he said.

"Caffeine is the most commonly consumed substance with important psychoactive properties," said Caporaso. "Just try skipping your coffee for two days! Knowing the specifics of the genetic influence on its disposition will jumpstart lots of studies."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More than One in 20 Americans over Age 20 Is a Cancer Survivor

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock edit Delete caption(NEW YORK) -- Cancer no longer sounds the death knell it once did.  In fact, more Americans are living with cancer than ever before.

According to a new study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 20 Americans over age 20 is now a cancer survivor.

Using data compiled by other cancer studies, the NCI and CDC found that the estimated number of cancer survivors in the U.S. increased from 10 million in 2001 to almost 12 million in 2007.

The data also revealed that women had a higher rate of survival than men. Almost two-thirds of all cancer survivors as of January 1, 2007 had been living with the disease five years or more.

The most common cancers diagnosed were breast, prostate and colorectal. 

The majority of survivors were seniors 65 and older, while fewer than one percent were 19 or younger.  Many of those had leukemia.

Researchers cite several reasons for the increased cancer survival rate including advancements in screening and early detection, more effective treatment and clinical follow-up, and an aging U.S. population.

If these trends continue, the number of cancer survivors is expected to climb even higher.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Cigarette Smoke Is an Immediate DNA Danger

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Smokers are essentially injecting nicotine directly into their veins when they take their first few drags of a cigarette, say scientists.

In a new study funded by the National Cancer Institute on the effects of inhaling cigarette smoke, researchers assert that genetic damage linked to cancer becomes evident within minutes of lighting up.

They say the harm to DNA happens so fast "it's equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream."

In fact, one particular type of pollutant, called phenanthrene, that's found in cigarette smoke takes just 15 to 30 minutes to form a substance that is able to "trash DNA, causing mutations that can cause cancer."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio