Monthly Archives: July 2008

Cell Phones And Cancer: Time To Hang Up?

I returned from vacation yesterday to a rash of comments and concerns about the use of cell phones and whether they caused cancer.


The news stories picked up on a memo written by the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, (UPCI) where he advised the faculty and staff of the cancer center that he was concerned there was an increased risk of cancer linked to cell phone use based on his review of the evidence.


When I took a more careful look at the memo and the supporting information, I didn’t find any new science on the subject.  It was essentially one more person adding their opinion that there was a risk to using cell phones. 


What the memo didn’t say was that there are others—equally expert—who do not agree with the conclusions that cell phones cause cancer.


In the meantime, based on the media headlines, many people have become concerned that the cell phones they use every day are a proven cause of a serious disease.


Let me say at the beginning that the science on this topic is mixed, and much of it does not support a link between … Continue reading →

If The World Was Perfect…

How often have you heard the phrase, “If the world were perfect…?”


We don’t live in a perfect world, but a recently published study in the medical journal Circulation (and to be published in August in the journal Diabetes Care) shows what would happen if we lived in a perfect world when it comes to the impact of universal, effective medical prevention on the incidence of cardiovascular disease.


The heart of the question is what would happen if we did everything right as a country when it comes to undertaking preventive strategies, in this case for cardiac disease, and would we save any money if we did so?


Yes, I know this is a cancer blog, but this study has been undertaken as part of a partnership focused on prevention.  That partnership includes the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association.


The implications of this research for cardiovascular disease can give us an idea of what we might expect when it comes to cancer prevention and early detection. Future reports from this group will focus on the value of primary prevention and cancer screening on reducing the risk of … Continue reading →

Kidney Cancer Vaccine: Much Hype, Little Hope

There is something that fascinates the public about the possibility of treating cancer with a vaccine.  Perhaps that explains why so many abstracts and journal articles about the latest cancer vaccine research find their way into our newspapers, magazines and television reports.


A research article appearing online today in the British medical journal The Lancet describes a clinical trial which investigated whether a vaccine called vitespen could improve the survival of patients with primary kidney cancer. 


Unfortunately, the study points out—yet once again—that we may be hopeful that cancer vaccines will work, but we are a long way from success.


What is even more startling about this report—aside from the fact that a journal is actually publishing what we call a “negative” clinical trial—is the editorial which discusses the results.  The author of the editorial made some not-so- kind comments about how vaccine companies distort reports of vaccine trials, and how investigators make inappropriate claims regarding their research.


The design of the study was straightforward.  The researchers randomly assigned otherwise healthy patients who had newly diagnosed kidney cancers that were confined to the kidney to either receive a vaccine made from their … Continue reading →