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Prostate cancer cured in patients given weeks to live

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Scientists have recorded two major breakthroughs in the fight against prostate cancer.<br />PHOTO: MEDSCAPE

Why men who have privileged, disease-free childhoods are at greater risk, researchers find
Skinny women ‘four times more likely to suffer breast tumour before menopause than obese’
Cabin crew have higher chances as radiation exposure, permanent jet lag undo all benefits

A revolutionary ‘magic bullet’ that kills prostate tumour cells has cured patients given just weeks to live.

Six out of 10 patients with an advanced form of the disease are in remission one year after undergoing the treatment, a Cypriot study found.

The therapy uses a molecule that attaches itself to prostate tumour cells before releasing energy that destroys the cancer.

Researchers, according to the report first published by DailyMailUK Online, believe the ‘amazing’ treatment could have potential in other forms of cancer including brain, thyroid and kidney.

How does the treatment work? The new treatment uses chemically-engineered molecules known as prostate-specific membrane antigens.

These molecules, described as a ‘trojan horse’, ‘trick’ their way inside cancer cells. Once in the cells, the molecules release nuclear energy, which destroys tumours.

The researchers carried out the trial on 30 men with prostate cancer that had spread, giving them just weeks or months to live.

Lead author Professor Giovanni Paganelli, from the European Institute of Oncology, said: “This is a great achievement and the results are amazing. This is true, targeted medicine, non-toxic and effective.

“If it works in late-stage disease it is likely to work better at an earlier stage and this is the direction we now want to take.”

Speaking of the treatment’s lack of side effects, he added: “People have been afraid of the nuclear element of this form of treatment but we have shown it is safe.

“It is a tiny amount of nuclear energy that is delivered to the cells and is not enough to cause severe side effects.”

The findings were presented at the at the International Conference of Clinical Oncology in Paralimni, Cyprus, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, scientists say men who have privileged and disease-free childhoods grow up to have more testosterone.

A study found the body is likely to put more resources into creating testosterone if it does not have to fend off serious infections or compensate for a poor diet.

Higher levels of the hormone can make men stronger and more fertile, but may also increase the risk of prostate enlargement or cancer.

Very low levels, on the other hand, can lead to infertility, a low libido or a lack of energy.

Researchers now say a man’s testosterone levels are ‘largely determined’ by his upbringing rather than his race or adult life.

This means boys who are healthy and well looked after in a safe environment are likely to have healthier levels of the hormone, but may also be more at risk of prostate problems.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The study, by scientists at Durham University, compared testosterone levels in Bangladeshi men who had grown up in the United Kingdom (UK) and those who had grown up in Bangladesh, and those who had moved between the two countries as adults.

Because the men had the same ethnicity, that could be ruled out for the reason for the difference.

The study found the men who grew up in the UK had significantly higher levels of testosterone than those who had lived in relatively well-off families in Bangladesh.

The men in Britain also went through puberty earlier than their counterparts – an effect of higher testosterone levels – and were taller as men.

Researchers think the difference is because of the way the body uses energy in different environments.

They say in environments where disease or infection is more likely, or among people who have poor nutrition from their diets, the body may use more energy trying to survive.

Where the boys do not have to work as hard to stay healthy, their bodies have more energy to use on producing testosterone and growing faster, the scientists say.

Meanwhile, a study says slim women are four times more likely than the obese to suffer breast cancer before the menopause.

The risk before the age of 54 can be slashed by almost quarter for every five unit rise in Body Mass Index, researchers found.

That equates to 1st 6lbs (10kg) for a woman of average height and is enough to take them from normal to overweight.

The younger a woman, the bigger the difference weight made to risk, said the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London.

Its findings follow analysis of information on 758,592 women aged 18 to 54 over more than nine years. Of those, 13,082 developed breast cancer.

Dr Minouk Schoemaker, from the ICR, said the link between weight and breast cancer was “more complicated” than first thought as obesity was associated with a higher risk in older women — probably due to oestrogen hormones produced by fat cells.

She said more research was needed “to understand why this effect seems to be reversed in younger women”.

Charity Breast Cancer Now said the apparent “protective effect should not be considered an approach to prevent breast cancer”.

It said: “We’d encourage women of all ages to keep to a healthy weight.”

Meanwhile, according to new Harvard research, cabin crew are much more likely to develop cancer.

A study of more than 5,000 flight attendants in America found cases were more common for every form of the disease examined.

The risk of breast cancer, for instance, was around 50 percent higher for air stewardesses than other women.

It was one of the most extensive analyses of its kind and scientists described the findings as particularly alarming owing to their healthy lifestyles.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health, suggested some but not all of the increased incidence was linked to the time spent in the job – meaning even working in the air for less than five years raises the risk.

Corresponding author Dr Irina Mordukhovich said: “Our study is among the largest and most comprehensive studies of cancer among cabin crew to date and we profiled a wide range of cancers.

“Consistent with previous studies, we report a higher lifetime prevalence of breast, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers among flight crew relative to the general population.

“This is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in this occupational group.”

At high altitudes, where the air is thinner and provides less of a shield, passengers and crew can be exposed to between 100 and 300 times the cosmic radiation dose they receive at sea level.

Previous studies have suggested airline crews receive a higher dose of radiation over a year than workers in the nuclear industry.

Long-haul trips which disrupt the body clock and affect hormone levels are additional risks.

Dr. Mordukhovich, of Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues found out of the 5,366 US flight attendants surveyed, one in seven had been diagnosed with cancer.

Lead author of the study published in journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, Dr. Kesson Magid, said: “A man’s absolute levels of testosterone are unlikely to relate to their ethnicity or where they live as adults but instead reflect their surroundings when they were children.”

High levels of hormone may increase risk of prostate problems
However, a higher level of testosterone may bring negative effects in later life.

Very high levels may lead to an increased risk of prostate diseases such as cancer, and have been linked to higher aggression.

Study co-author Professor Gillian Bentley added: “Very high and very low testosterone levels can have implications for men’s health and it could be important to know more about men’s childhood circumstances to build a fuller picture of their risk factors for certain conditions or diseases.”

The research measured the height, weight, age of puberty, testosterone levels and other health data of 359 men of Bangladeshi heritage.

The different groups measured were men who had always lived in Bangladesh; those who moved to the UK as children and grew up there; those who moved to the UK as adults; men born in the UK to Bangladeshi migrant parents, and UK-born Europeans.

Boys growing up in more poverty or more dangerous environments can be expected to have lower levels of testosterone, the study suggests.

A study by Michigan Medicine published in April showed low testosterone comes with its own downsides, as sufferers are more likely to get chronic illnesses.

The study involved men with and without testosterone deficiencies and looked for type 2 diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), high cholesterol, high blood pressure and clinical depression.

The illnesses were more common among the men with lower than normal testosterone levels, researchers found, and the same men were also more likely to have more than one condition at once.

Tests for prostate cancer are haphazard, with accurate tools only just beginning to emerge. Doctors struggle to distinguish between aggressive and less serious tumours, making it hard to decide on treatment.

Men over 50 are eligible for a ‘PSA’ blood test which gives doctors a rough idea of whether a patient is at risk. But it is unreliable. Patients who get a positive result are usually given a biopsy, which is also not foolproof.

Scientists are unsure as to what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity and a lack of exercise are known risks.


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