In Brief

In Brief

July 07, 2006

Oncology

More chemo helps in cancer fight

Stomach cancer patients live longer if they get chemotherapy before and after surgery, British researchers report.

Chemo cut the risk of death by a quarter compared with surgery alone, according to the study published in yesterday's New England Journal of Medicine. It also shrank tumors and improved survival without a return of cancer.

Surgery is the standard treatment for stomach cancer, with all or part of the stomach removed. There's a good chance of a cure if the cancer is caught early, but stomach cancer usually isn't detected until it is more advanced. Chemotherapy only after surgery to kill any lingering cancer cells hasn't proved very beneficial.

In the United States, about 22,300 new cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed this year and about 11,400 people will die of the disease.

In a study of 503 patients conducted primarily in Britain, doctors tried giving chemotherapy both before and after surgery to those with operable stomach cancer or cancer of the esophagus. After five years, 36 percent of those who got chemo were still alive compared with 23 percent of those who only had surgery.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obesity

Using heavy blocks burns more calories

It is never too early to feel the burn.

Children who were given weighted blocks to play with used more calories and had higher heart and respiration rates than they did when they used ordinary blocks, researchers have found.

The researchers, from Indiana State University, suggested that their findings might be significant with rising obesity rates.

The researchers, professor John C. Ozmun and Lee W. Robbins, a graduate student, presented their findings at recent conferences of the American College of Sports Medicine and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the study, five boys and five girls, ages 7 and 8, took part in sessions in which they were asked to carry blocks across a room and stack them no more than two high for more than 10 minutes. At one session, the blocks were simply hollow cardboard. At the other, the blocks had small steel blocks glued inside that brought their weight to 3 pounds.

As the researchers encouraged the children to keep moving the blocks, equipment measured their heart and breathing rates.

New York Times News Service

Ophthalmology

Drug improves vision in some

The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug that improves vision in Americans with the most common cause of vision loss after age 60.

Lucentis treats people in early stages of one type of age-related macular degeneration, the so-called wet form of AMD.

Ophthalmologists viewed the drug as a breakthrough.

"It will immediately become the most effective treatment we have," said Dr. Mark Johnson, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Michigan's Kellogg Eye Center. "And for the first time the average patient being treated can be expected to experience an improvement in vision, rather than reduction in the rate of vision loss."

The drug costs $1,950 per dose. Medicare, which covers 87 percent of people who need the drug, is likely to pay for it, leaving patients with a $50 co-pay, said Dawn Kalmar, spokeswoman for Genentech Inc., the manufacturer.

McClatchy-Tribune

Nutrition

Pomegranate juice may fight cancer

Findings from a small study suggest that pomegranate juice may one day prove an effective weapon against prostate cancer.

Writing in Clinical Cancer Research, researchers said that when they gave the juice to about 50 men with the cancer, their conditions improved significantly.

The men all appeared to have an especially aggressive form of prostate cancer. They had been treated surgically or with radiation, their report said, but soon began experiencing an increase in prostate-specific antigens - a marker for the disease.

The researchers, led by Dr. Allan J. Pantuck of the University of California, Los Angeles, looked at how quickly the level of antigen in the men's blood doubled, a measure of how fast the cancer is progressing. The faster the PSA doubles, they said, the more likely the patient is to die from the cancer.

The men in this study were asked to drink one 8-ounce glass of pomegranate juice a day. The researchers found that the mean time needed for the antigen to double increased to 54 months, from 15 months.

Pomegranates are rich in anti-inflammatories and have been used medicinally for centuries. Researchers have also found evidence that they can help with cardiovascular disease.

New York Times New Service

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