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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
Sperm cells provide cancer clues

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, December 27, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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           FDA orders new Nonoxynol-9 warning

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued 
a final rule Tuesday requiring manufacturers of nonoxynol-9,
or N9, to add a warning to the product's label. The FDA said
the warning must state the over-the-counter vaginal contrac-
eptive and spermicidal product does not protect against in-
fection by the human immunodeficiency virus that causes 
AIDS, nor does it protect against other sexually transmitted
diseases. Stand-alone spermicides include gels, foams, 
films, or inserts containing N9 that are used by themselves 
for contraception. The federal agency said consumers can 
protect themselves from the transmission of STDs and HIV by 
practicing abstinence, being in a monogamous relationship 
with an uninfected partner and by using condoms consistently
and correctly. The FDA said it issued the rule to correct 
misconceptions that the chemical N9 protects against sex-
ually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection. In add-
ition, the FDA is requiring the labels warn consumers that 
N9 in stand-alone vaginal contraceptives and spermicides can
irritate the vagina and rectum, which may increase the risk 
of contracting HIV/AIDS from an infected partner.
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          Study shows how dioxin disrupts cells

PHILADELPHIA, -- U.S. scientists have determined the process
by which the chemical dioxin attacks the body's cells and 
promotes tumor growth. University of Pennsylvania School of 
Veterinary Medicine researchers determined that mitochondria
-- the cellular sub-units that convert oxygen and nutrients 
into cellular fuel -- are targeted by tetrachlorodibenzodi-
oxin, or TCDD, the most toxic compound in the dioxin family.
The study showed TCDD induces mitochondria-to-nucleus stress
signaling, which in turn induces the expression of cell nuc-
leus genes associated with tumor promotion and metastasis.
The scientists said their findings are directly relevant to 
understanding cancers in human populations exposed to such 
chemicals. "Now that we have identified this signaling mech-
anism, we can look at ways to disrupt this complex chain of 
events," said Narayah Avadhani, the study's lead investi-
gator. "Our ultimate goal is to block the propagation of 
this mitochondrial stress signaling and inhibit the express-
ion of the proteins that combine to assist cancer growth."

        Herceptin helps women with breast cancer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., -- U.S. medical scientists determined 
treatment with Herceptin helps women with a specific type 
of breast cancer. Herceptin is a laboratory-manufactured 
substance that shuts down a cancer-promoting protein called 
HER2-plus, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of 
all breast cancer cases. The HER2-plus protein is made by a 
gene from chromosome number 17 and the study by researchers 
at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., showed Herceptin 
was effective even in women with extra copies of that chro-
mosome. The research team, led by Dr. Edith Perez, found 865
patients with extra copies of chromosome 17, and 685 women 
with the normal number -- two copies -- of chromosome 17 
benefited equally with Herceptin. Their disease-free survi-
val was about 89 percent at both three years and five years.


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        Alcohol hurts recovery from inflammation

LOS ANGELES, -- A U.S. study suggested that alcohol makes 
rats vulnerable to, but doesn't directly cause, a chronic 
inflammation of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. How-
ever, the team of Californian scientists found alcohol im-
pairs recovery from acute pancreatitis and sensitizes the 
pancreas to chronic injury. They said their findings help 
explain why only a small percentage of heavy drinkers deve-
lop chronic pancreatitis. The researchers from UCLA, the 
University of Southern California, and the Department of 
Veterans Affairs' Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System 
found alcohol greatly sensitizes the pancreas to pathologic 
responses of chronic pancreatitis. Some rats in the study 
were given alcohol, plus high doses of a drug that induces 
inflammation of the pancreas through excessive stimulation 
of digestive secretions. Other rats were given the inflamma-
tion-inducing drug, but no alcohol. Rats given both alcohol 
and the inflammation-inducing drug lost 86 percent of an im-
portant type of cells in their pancreas, while rats receiv-
ing only the inflammation-inducing drug showed no cell loss.
The researchers concluded alcohol harmed the capacity of the
rats to recover from the drug-induced inflammation.
           Sperm cells provide cancer clues

LONDON,  -- U.S. and British researchers say sugar-based 
markers on sperm cells could provide a clue to how cancer 
can spread in the human body,. The report, published online 
in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, said the markers are
believed to tell the female immune system that the sperm are
not dangerous pathogens and should not be attacked by the 
woman's white blood cells during the reproductive process.
Researchers from Imperial College London and the University 
of Missouri said the marker also is found on some types of 
cancer cells, some bacterial cells, some parasitic worms and
HIV infected white blood cells. The report said these mark-
ers may allow such dangerous cells and pathogens to evade 
destruction by the human immune system, Imperial College 
said Wednesday in a news release.
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       Report:12 million new cancer cases in 2007

ATLANTA, -- A report by the American Cancer Society esti-
mates 12 million new cancer cases will be reported worldwide
by the end of this year. An estimated 7.6 million people 
will die of cancer in 2007, the report said. The group est-
imates 5.4 million of those cancers and 2.9 million deaths 
will occur in economically developed countries while 6.7 
million cases and 4.7 million deaths will occur in economic-
ally developing countries, the ACS said Wednesday in a re-
lease. The projections were based on incidence and mortality
data compiled by the International Agency for Research on 
Cancer. The three most commonly diagnosed cancers in men are
prostate, lung and colorectal cancer. Among women, they are 
breast, colorectal and lung cancer. "The burden of cancer is
increasing in developing countries as deaths from infectious
diseases and childhood mortality decline and more people 
live to older ages when cancer most frequently occurs," Am-
erican Cancer Society epidemiologist Ahmedin Jemal said in 
a statement. "This cancer burden is also increasing as peo-
ple in the developing countries adopt western lifestyles 
such as cigarette smoking, higher consumption of saturated 
fat and calorie-dense foods, and reduced physical activity."

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