Diabetes Pill (Metformin) Improves Survival in Patients with Deadly Pancreatic Cancer





 

New research suggests that the diabetes medication metformin significantly improves survival in patients with deadly pancreatic cancer.



 

 

DIABETES PILL (METFORMIN) IMPROVES SURVIVAL IN PATIENTS WITH DEADLY PANCREATIC CANCER

Despite the many recent advances in cancer treatment, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most lethal of all forms of cancer.  An aggressive form of cancer which frequently spreads before patients are even aware that they have the disease, pancreatic cancer remains highly resistant to cure even with aggressive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, diabetes is a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer (as are obesity and smoking).  In my book, I also discuss preliminary research evidence suggesting that metformin, a common oral medication used to treat diabetes, may actually have anti-cancer properties in diabetic patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (and, perhaps, in other types of cancer, and in non-diabetic patients, as well).  Now, another newly published clinical research study adds further weight to the hypothesis that metformin may indeed improve survival among diabetic patients diagnosed with this dreaded form of cancer.  This new study appears in the current issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

In this study, the outcomes of 302 patients with pancreatic cancer were studied.  Among these patients, 117 were taking metformin, while 185 patients were not taking metformin for their diabetes.  In this retrospective clinical study, the two-year survival rate among the patients taking metformin was 30 percent, while the two-year survival among the patients receiving other types of treatment for their diabetes was only 15 percent.  In fact, the patients who took metformin experienced a 36 percent overall lower risk of death when compared to the patients who were not taking metformin for their diabetes.  (Of note, metformin appeared to prolong life only in those pancreatic cancer patients with cancers that had not yet spread, or metastasized, outside of the pancreas.)

A major limitation of this study is, of course, its retrospective nature.  However, there are currently over 100 ongoing prospective clinical research trials looking at the use of metformin in pancreatic cancer, as well as in colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, and other types of cancer (and in both diabetic and non-diabetic cancer patients).  Based upon the available, and encouraging, retrospective data linking metformin with increased survival among pancreatic cancer patients (including the data reported by this study), I have started to selectively place some of my pancreatic cancer patients on metformin, in addition to their other standard pancreatic cancer therapies, given the dismal outcomes typically associated with this form of cancer.  I will, therefore, be very interested to see the results of ongoing prospective, randomized metformin clinical studies in patients with pancreatic cancer, once this data becomes available.

As metformin is a prescription drug used, specifically, to treat diabetes, this medication should only be prescribed by your physician for the treatment of diabetes at this time.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.

 


 




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Statin Drugs Reduce Heart Attacks and Strokes Even in Low-Risk Patients





 

 

A pivotal new study concludes that statin drugs sharply reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke even in patients who are at low risk for cardiovascular disease.




 

 

STATIN DRUGS REDUCE HEART ATTACKS AND STROKES EVEN IN LOW-RISK PATIENTS

The cholesterol-lowering drugs known as “statins” are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the world, and they have been credited with sharply reducing the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke.  The statin drugs work primarily by lowering blood levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), thus reducing the risk of developing the arterial plaques that cause cardiovascular disease.

There is a huge body of research data showing that statin drugs reduce death rates due to cardiovascular disease in patients with elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, including patients with only mildly-to-moderately elevated LDL cholesterol levels. However, there have also been several intriguing public health studies that have suggested a potential benefit associated with statin drugs even in patients with normal LDL cholesterol levels.  Despite these research findings, however, there has been a general reluctance to prescribe statin drugs to patients with normal LDL levels, or to patients with mildly elevated LDL levels, particularly as statin drugs, like all medications, are associated with known side effects, including potential injury to the muscles, liver and kidneys, as well as a possible increase in the risk of diabetes.  Now a massive new research study, which appears in an early-release edition of the journal Lancet, may lead to a wholesale change in the way that physicians prescribe statin drugs.

This newly published study, a meta-analysis study, combined and analyzed the data from 27 different statin research studies, which included nearly 175,000 adult research participants, making this an enormously powerful research study.  In this study LDL cholesterol levels were measured, and the impact of statin drugs on the incidence of heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and stroke, and death due to cardiovascular disease, was observed.  Study participants were grouped into five different categories, based upon their estimated 5-year “cardiovascular event” risk, ranging from less than 5 percent to greater than 30 percent 5-year risk.  This risk assessment was, in turn, calculated using LDL cholesterol levels, age, gender, blood pressure, and lifestyle factors such as tobacco use and physical activity levels.

Not surprisingly, the use of statins decreased the risk of cardiovascular events, on average, by about 21 percent for every 1 mmol/liter reduction in LDL cholesterol among the entire volunteer group of nearly 175,000 study participants.  What is particularly important about this study’s findings, however, is that the study participants in the two lowest risk groups experienced at least as much (if not more) benefit, in terms of reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, as did the participants in the higher risk groups.  For example, patients with a calculated 5-year risk of heart attack or stroke of less than 5 percent experienced a 38 percent reduction in the risk (for every1 mmol/liter reduction in LDL cholesterol) of either of these cardiovascular events, while patients with a calculated 5-year risk of 30 percent or higher experienced a 21 percent reduction (for every1 mmol/liter reduction in LDL cholesterol) in the risk of a major cardiovascular event.

When looking at heart attack or death due to heart attack, specifically, the study participants with a 5-year predicted risk of heart attack or stroke of less than 5 percent experienced an enormous reduction in the risk of heart attack or death due to heart attack (43 percent for every1 mmol/liter reduction in LDL cholesterol) while taking statin drugs.  This same low-risk group, when taking statins, also had a 48 percent reduction (for every1 mmol/liter reduction in LDL cholesterol) in the likelihood that they would have to undergo surgical procedures to stent or bypass blocked coronary arteries.

The risk of stroke was also significantly reduced in both low-risk and high-risk study participants.  For example, patients with a calculated 5-year risk of major cardiovascular events of less than 10 percent were 24 percent less likely to have a stroke (for every1 mmol/liter reduction in LDL cholesterol) if they were taking a statin drug, which was similar to the reduction in stroke risk that was observed in the higher risk patients.

The public health implications of this very large study’s findings are highly significant.  For the first time, this study provides extremely compelling data that even patients who are at low risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke may derive as much, or perhaps even more, benefit from taking a statin drug when compared to patients who are high or very high risk of experiencing these major cardiovascular events.  When measured against the known risks of the adverse side effects of statin drugs, this study still showed an overwhelming health benefit associated with statin drugs in both patients at low-risk for cardiovascular disease and in high-risk patients.  It will now fall to public health experts, internists, cardiologists and family practice physicians to incorporate the findings of this exceptionally compelling, and powerful, meta-analysis study into their management of adult patients, and particularly those over the age of 50, even if these patients are predicted to be at low risk for heart attack and stroke.  I see this research study as a health care game changer, and I predict that it will, eventually, dramatically alter the current prescribing patterns for statin drugs.  (As always, I recommend that you consult your physician before starting any new medication or dietary supplement, including statin drugs.)


 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.



Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 





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Vitamin D Improves Cancer Survival



 

New research shows that higher levels of Vitamin D in the blood increase survival among colorectal cancer patients.


 

VITAMIN D IMPROVES CANCER SURVIVAL

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, there is a large body of research evidence available to suggest that low Vitamin D levels may be associated with a higher risk of developing cancer.  However, the vast majority of published Vitamin D research has been focused on the use of Vitamin D to prevent cancer, while there is almost no data available linking Vitamin D levels in the blood with survival rates after a person has been diagnosed with cancer.  Now, a newly published prospective clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, suggests that low Vitamin D levels in the blood of patients undergoing treatment for colorectal cancer may, in fact, be associated with poorer survival when compared to patients with higher blood levels of this hormone-like vitamin.

This new study was part of the large and ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study.  Altogether, 1,202 EPIC study volunteers were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1992 and 2003.  As with all EPIC study volunteers, Vitamin D levels in the blood were checked when each participant joined the study.  Additionally, extensive dietary, lifestyle and medical history information was obtained from each study volunteer.

Among these 1,202 EPIC study volunteers who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, 541 died during an average study observation period of 73 months, and 444 of these deaths were directly caused by colorectal cancer.  The findings of this study were highly significant, and strongly suggest that higher levels of Vitamin D in the blood, prior to the onset of cancer, are associated with better survival in patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer.  When comparing patients who had the highest Vitamin D levels with the patients who had the lowest levels, the patients with the highest Vitamin D levels were 31 percent lesslikely to die specifically from colorectal cancer, and 33 percent less likely to die from any cause.  Similarly, increased calcium intake prior to being diagnosed with colorectal cancer also appeared to reduce the risk of death due to colon or rectal cancer.  (Like Vitamin D, increased calcium intake has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer.)

These new findings from the landmark prospective EPIC public health study are highly significant, in my view, as they are among the first data available to show that, in addition to its known cancer prevention activity (as I discuss in detail in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race), higher levels of Vitamin D in the blood may also reduce the risk of dying in patients who develop colorectal cancer.  (I should note that I have also been studying potential links between Vitamin D levels in the blood and survival in patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and I expect to report our institution’s findings within the next 12 months.)

As always, I strongly recommend that you check with your physician before initiating any new dietary supplements, including Vitamin D, as excessive intake of this hormone-vitamin can lead to kidney injury, GI tract ulcers, calcifications throughout the body, and other serious health complications.

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.



Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 
















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Green Tea Reduces Cholesterol, Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels





 

New research finds that green tea may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.



 

GREEN TEA REDUCES CHOLESTEROL, BLOOD SUGAR AND INSULIN LEVELS

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, the evidence for green tea as a cancer prevention agent is quite mixed, with most (but not all) studies showing little impact on cancer risk or cancer-associated death rates.  Some research studies, however, have suggested that green tea may affect levels of the female sex hormone estrogen in ways that could potentially reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.  However, most of the research in this area has not been in the form of prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical research, which is considered the “gold standard” method of conducting clinical research.

A newly published prospective, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluated 103 postmenopausal women, and their response to green tea supplements.  This study appears in the current issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

In this study, the women volunteers were randomly divided into three groups.  One group received 400 milligrams (mg) of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) per day, for two months.  (EGCG is considered the most active ingredient in green tea.)  The second group of women received 800 mg of EGCG per day, also for two months.  The third group, which served as this study’s control group, received placebo (sugar) capsules that appeared identical to the EGCG capsules.  Neither the female volunteers nor the study nurses who dispensed the capsules to these study volunteers knew which group each woman had been randomized into.

Repeated measurements of urine levels of EGCG were performed, and blood levels of estrogen, testosterone (the primary male sex hormone), cholesterol, glucose (blood sugar), insulin, and growth factors were tested on all of the 103 study volunteers throughout the course of this study.

The results of this innovative study revealed that green tea supplements had no apparent effect on the levels of estrogen and testosterone in the blood of these postmenopausal research volunteers, which suggests that any potential breast cancer prevention effects associated with EGCG are probably unrelated to sex hormone levels.  However, while EGCG had no apparent impact on sex hormone levels, LDL-cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”) levels significantly decreased among the women who were secretly randomized to receive EGCG supplements.  Additionally, blood levels of glucose and insulin, which are linked to diabetes risk, also significantly declined in the two groups of women who received EGCG supplements.  (Diabetes, itself, is a powerful risk factor for developing cancer.)

While green tea supplementation had no discernible effect on the levels of male and female sex hormones in the blood of the postmenopausal women participating in this study, EGCG supplementation was observed to significantly reduce LDL-cholesterol, glucose, and insulin levels in these women.  Therefore, while the impact of green tea on breast cancer risk remains unclear at this time, the results of this clinical research study suggest a potential clinical role for green tea in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which are, like cancer, two of the great killers of modern humans.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.



Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 









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