Blog Article Archive

New Research: Coffee and Colorectal Cancer

Higher coffee intake may be associated with significantly reduced cancer recurrence and death in patients with stage III colon cancer, according to a study of 953 patients with stage III colon cancer, during and 6 months after adjuvant chemotherapy. Researchers found that compared to patients who abstained from coffee:

*Patients consuming 4 or more cups of total coffee daily experienced an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 0.58 for recurrence or mortality.

*Patients consuming 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee experienced significant reduced risk of recurrence or mortality (HR, 0.48).

*Increasing caffeine intake also conferred a significant reduction in recurrence or mortality (HR, 0.66).

Guercio BJ, Sato K, Niedzwiecki D, et al. Coffee intake, recurrence, and mortality in stage III colon cancer: results from CALGB 89803 (Alliance). J Clin Oncol. 2015 Aug 17


Study: After beating cancer, survivors less likely to eat a healthy diet – Paula Wolfson

WASHINGTON — A new study finds that cancer survivors, as a whole, have bad eating habits — they take in a lot of empty calories and are less likely to eat a healthy diet than Americans in general.

Researchers at Tufts University in Boston analyzed the diets of 1,500 cancer survivors and 3,000 adults with no history of the disease, ranking them according to government dietary guidelines.

No one did well, but the cancer survivors did worse.

“It is troubling,” says Danielle Cook, an holistic nutritionist and the author of “Happily Hungry: Smart Recipes for Kids with Cancer.”

Cook, whose own son beat cancer as a child, is especially concerned about teen and young adult cancer survivors.

“Once their treatment is done, a lot of them feel invincible and the nutrition component just doesn’t really come into play,” she says.

The Tufts researchers looked at survivors across a range of ages, and the authors of the study point out that poor eating habits can increase their risk of developing other health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

“It is quite remarkable that you can come through a cancer and you put yourself at risk for other illnesses and setback by following a poor diet,” says Cook.

She emphasizes there is a tremendous need for cancer survivors to pay attention to what they are eating, and focus on what she calls “real foods” — fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.

The Tufts study did not look at the reasons behind the poor dietary choices of cancer survivors. Treatment can cause nausea and affect the taste buds, but those side effects tend to ease over time.

It’s possible the poor food choices are the result of bad habits acquired during chemotherapy, when patients start eating certain calorie-rich and nutrient-poor foods to counter weight loss.

But Cook says there can also be a bit of patient rationalizing at play.

“What is concerning to me is those patients who just feel that the nutrition component really isn’t that important, that they beat cancer and should just go about living their life,” she says.

The Tufts researchers says the cancer survivors they surveyed went beyond recommend levels of saturated fat and salt, and did not get enough vitamin D, vitamin E, potassium or calcium.

Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal Cancer.

New Research: Kimchi to prevent gastric cancer?

Jeong M, Park JM, Han YM, Park KY, Lee DH, Yoo JH, Cho JY, Hahm KB. Dietary prevention of Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric cancer with kimchi. Oncotarget. 2015 Aug 10.

Daily dietary intake of Kimchi can be an effective way either to rejuvenate H. pylori-atrophic gastritis or to prevent tumorigenesis.


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Can Cancer Treatments cause Cancer? Understand your risk of acquiring a secondary cancer.

It is not a recurrence, and it is not a metastasis (the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another). A secondary cancer, or second primary cancer, is a new cancer that develops in a person who has had cancer before.

“It’s a different type of cancer,” explains Kamal Patel, MD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Zion, Illinois. “A secondary cancer develops at least two months after primary diagnosis,” he says. “It’s a separate tumor that’s very different from recurrence or metastasis.”

Pamela Crilley, DO, Chief of Medical Oncology at CTCA® in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, explains that secondary cancers can be caused by treatment for the first cancer, such as radiation therapy or certain chemotherapy drugs. She adds, however, that treatment is not always the cause. “It is also possible for a patient to have a second cancer that is unrelated either to the primary cancer or to the initial treatment,” she says.

Fortunately, due to advances in treatments, secondary cancers are relatively rare today. As a patient or survivor, however, it is still important to be aware of the risk and the value of follow-up and screenings. “Early detection is important to improve outcomes,” explains Dr. Crilley.

The Link Between Treatment and Secondary Cancers
Two big culprits in secondary cancers are radiation and chemotherapy, and they carry different risks. “Radiation is more likely to result in solid tumors that occur 10 to 20 years or more after treatment,” says Dr. Patel. He explains that chemotherapy is more likely to cause nonsolid tumors (such as cancers of the blood), which tend to occur in the first 10 years after treatment.

According to Dr. Crilley, solid tumors occur more frequently as secondary cancers than do blood cancers. “An example of a solid tumor arising from treatment would be breast cancer in a patient who had been treated years earlier for a Hodgkin’s lymphoma with radiation therapy to the chest,” she explains. Lung cancer, she says, is another example and can occur 10 or 15 years or even longer after initial exposure to treatment.

“The biggest concern with secondary cancers is for pediatric patients,” says Dr. Patel. Children exposed to radiation or chemotherapy may have full life expectancies, giving them more opportunity to develop another cancer.

Reducing Risk
Though secondary cancers remain an important consideration for survivors, perhaps the most significant message about risk is that advances in treatment are allowing doctors to limit this threat. The emphasis, says Dr. Patel, is on treating the current cancer while limiting long-term side effects.

Dr. Patel admits, however, that safety cannot be entirely guaranteed when it comes to the affect of cancer treatment. For example, “There is no safe dose of radiation,” he says, “but we’re aware of the risk and try to limit exposure.”

Newer technology that limits radiation exposure includes proton radiation therapy. This approach uses streams of protons (tiny particles with a positive charge) to kill tumor cells. Because radiation is targeted at cancer cells, exposure to surrounding healthy tissues is reduced. The goal is a lower risk of long-term complications, including secondary cancers.

Long-term risks related to chemotherapy have also been reduced as research related to treatment has advanced. “Selection of chemotherapy agents to eliminate or minimize exposure to alkylating agents [shown to increase the risk of secondary cancers] will decrease the risk of long-term second malignancies, such as certain types of leukemia, lymphoma or blood disorders,” Dr. Crilley explains.

As a patient, says Dr. Crilley, you can play a role in making informed decisions about your treatment and the potential long-term risk of a secondary cancer. She encourages patients to ask questions and become well informed. “In-depth discussions with your oncology providers, including your radiation and medical oncologists, will provide insight to help you understand any potential risks, short or long term,” she says.

The considerations you and your doctor will take into account include personal factors and treatment options, says Dr. Crilley. “Your age at the time of the initial treatment of the primary cancer may influence selection of which treatment would be least likely to cause long-term adverse effects,” she explains.

Screening and Prevention
Once you have made an informed decision to move forward with a treatment that carries a risk of secondary cancer, you can take important steps to reduce your risk or detect a secondary cancer early, if one develops.

“Effective screening is available for patients at risk for a secondary cancer,” says Dr. Crilley. “For example,” she explains, “in women at risk for breast cancer after treatment with radiation for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a yearly breast MRI [magnetic resonance imaging scan] may detect an early secondary cancer.” She adds that, similarly, patients at risk for lung cancer after radiation can be screened with a CT [computed tomography] scan. In any case, secondary cancers that are found early can be treated early, which can improve outcomes.

You can also take proactive steps of your own to reduce your risk. “Lifestyle can make a difference,” says Dr. Patel. He recommends avoiding smoking (which can make treatment less effective and increase the risk of side effects, including secondary cancers), avoiding alcohol in excess or altogether, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet.

Remain Vigilant
Awareness and close follow-up remain important measures for reducing your risk of secondary cancers. Though the risk of secondary cancers with current treatment is not great, in some cases it remains a long-term, or ongoing, complication. “As a survivor, you’ll want to continue close follow-up with your oncology care team,” says Dr. Patel.

Ultimately, survivors should be encouraged by the fact that advances in treatment to limit long-term complications mean the risk of a secondary cancer is likely very low. And remember, your oncologist’s goal is to choose treatment that effectively treats current cancer with minimal long-term risks.


  • written by Mia James from CTCA

8 Sun Safety Myths BUSTED!



Cancer Treatment Centres of America have written a fantastic article about sunscreen myths. Read it here! Summer wouldn’t be summer without the warmth of the sun’s rays, but too much sun can easily lead to painful burns and, in severe sunburn cases, symptoms like nausea, headache, fever, dizziness and chills.

The secret lies in the dose. A few minutes of sunshine on your bare skin allows your body to produce healthful vitamin D. But after those few minutes are up, getting into the shade or covering up with clothing or a non-chemical sunscreen will protect your skin from unnecessary sun-induced damage. For your protection, and to protect your fun in the sun, be sure you’re aware of these top sun safety myths.

1. Higher SPFs Give Significantly More Protection

Most people think that an SPF 50 sunscreen will give you more than three times more sun protection than an SPF 15. In reality, a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 will block 97 percent of the sun’s rays; higher SPFs, while more expensive, will block only slightly more of the sun’s rays, but not 100%. The SPF also has no impact on length of protection, which is the same for both low- and high-number SPFs.

2. You Can’t Get Burned if it’s Cloudy

It’s important to protect your skin from the sun even if it’s not particularly sunny outside. On cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can still penetrate your skin1, and because many people neglect to cover up on cloudy days, this is when some of the worst sunburns occur.

3. My Makeup Has Sunscreen, That’s All I Need

Many makeup products, such as foundation, now contain sunscreen, and this is great, especially if it contains at least an SPF 30. However, you should think of this as an added protective layer, not your main safeguard against the sun. Most women only apply a small amount of foundation to their face in the morning. Not only is this likely not enough sunscreen for adequate protection (and misses your ears, chest, back of neck, and other sunburn-prone areas), but it will likely wear off after a couple of hours. Even if your makeup has an SPF, you should still take additional steps to protect your delicate facial skin from sun damage.

4. It Doesn’t Matter When You Go Out in the Sun

If you’re seeking to avoid a sunburn, you’ll want to avoid excessive sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest, so a shorter exposure time may lead to a sunburn faster than other times of day, such as in the late afternoon or early morning. That said, you can still get burned in the morning and early evening hours.

5. You Don’t Need Sunscreen if You Have Dark-Colored Skin

Dark-colored skin will not burn as easily as light-colored skin, but the sun can still lead to skin damage and burns with excessive exposure. You should wear protective clothing, seek shade and consider using a chemical-free sunscreen for sun protection even if you have dark-colored skin.

6. All Sunscreens are Created Equal

Sunscreens typically contain either chemicals, such as oxybenzone, to absorb the sun’s rays or minerals, such as titanium dioxide, that block them. Oxybenzone, present in more than half of sunscreens according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) report, has been linked to hormone disruptions and cell damage that may lead to cancer.1 Another sunscreen additive, retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A), may speed the development of skin tumors when applied to skin exposed to sunlight. EWG reports:3

“The ideal sunscreen would completely block UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours. It would not form harmful ingredients when degraded by sunlight. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people would use more of it.

No sunscreen meets these goals. Americans must choose between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone system, and “mineral” sunscreens, made with zinc and titanium, often “micronized” or containing nano-particles.”

7. Sunlight Doesn’t Penetrate Through Windows

While UVB rays, which help your body produce vitamin D, are blocked by glass, UVA rays, which penetrate your skin more deeply and may increase your risk of skin cancer, are not. If you spend a significant amount of time exposed to window-filtered sun, your skin could still be damaged as a result (such as during a long commute or if your desk is next to a window).

8. Any Clothing Will Block the Sun’s Rays

The type of clothing matters when it comes to sun safety. Darker and brighter colors will absorb more UV rays than white or pastel shades, while heavier, denser fabrics with tighter weaves will offer more sun protection than thin, lightweight fabrics with a loose weave. A white t-shirt, for instance, will still let in some UV rays, particularly if it’s wet.4

More Tips for Finding a Safe and Effective Sunscreen

You’re ready to go out in the sun … now which sunscreen product is best? EWG has researched this topic extensively and recommends the following tips for choosing a safe sunscreen:5

  • Avoid Spray Sunscreens: There is some concern that these sprays could cause health concerns when inhaled and they make it difficult to determine if your skin is adequately covered. They’ve even been implicated in fires when sprayed near an open flame. Stick to cream sunscreens instead.
  • Avoid Super-High SPFs: SPFs higher than 50 may offer false reassurance that you can stay in the sun longer than is safe. Some of these high-SPF products protect against UVB radiation, which causes burns, but not UVA, which may lead to accelerated skin aging and skin cancer.
  • Avoid Oxybenzone: This common sunscreen chemical mimics the hormone estrogen and easily penetrates the skin, increasing the amount that enters your bloodstream
  • Avoid Retinyl Palmitate: This form of vitamin A may speed the development of skin tumors when used on sun-exposed skin.
  • Avoid Loose Powder Sunscreens: Because of the potential for inhalation, loose powder sunscreens, which often contain titanium or zinc particles, should also be avoided. Inhaled titanium dioxide is classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

1. American Academy of Dermatology, Sunscreen FAQ

2. EWG’s 2013 Guide to Sunscreens, Nine Surprising Facts About Sunscreens

3. EWG’s 2013 Guide to Sunscreens, Nine Surprising Facts About Sunscreens

4. Skin Cancer Foundation, Clothing: Our First Line of Defense

5. EWG Sunscreens

6. Cancer Treatment Centres of America