Monthly Archives: January 2011

Breast Implants And Lymphoma: How Real Is the Risk And Why Can’t We Get The Answer?

An announcement yesterday from the Food and Drug Administration highlights a couple of items that I think are important in terms of not only how we understand medical issues and medical risk, but also how technology will help us get better and quicker answers in the future.


On the medical side, the question is when does a risk become a risk?  On the information side, why aren’t we able to harness the power of data to answer questions about risk more quickly and accurately?  And, if I have a device implanted in me, why can’t someone get in contact with me?  After all, if my car has problem they send me a letter.  If something is put in my body–for the most part–forget about it. [more]


Basically, the FDA issued an announcement that breast implants–both silicone and saline–may be associated with a significant increased risk of a rare type of lymphoma in the breast called anaplastic large cell lymphoma.


The number of cases they can document is very small–on the order of 60 or so–and the increased risk sounds high in one published report at 18 times.  But the numbers are minuscule, and what we call the … Continue reading →

Live In An Apartment? That “Smoke Gets In Your (Children’s) Eyes”, And Lungs, And Bodies

Remember the old Nat King Cole Song “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”?  Well, if you live in an apartment or condominium, that smoke not only gets into your children’s eyes, it gets into their lungs and bodies as well.  And that’s not a good thing.


A recent report in the journal Pediatrics makes it pretty clear that a high percentage of kids who live in apartment–and in fact kids who live in other environments as well where people don’t smoke inside the home–have evidence in their blood tests that many of them are exposed to the byproducts of tobacco smoke.  And according to the researchers, it’s enough to make them sick–and will probably make you sick as well when you learn about the problem. [more]


The research was very straight forward: the researchers looked at 5002 children through the age of 18 who were part of a regular nationwide health survey which also collected blood and urine samples.  They evaluated the child’s housing, whether it was detached, attached or an apartment as well as whether or not anyone smoked inside, and whether the children themselves were smokers. (If so, they were not included in the study).  Then, the scientists measured the amount of … Continue reading →

No, Smoking Is Not Good For Your (Breast) Health

An article published this afternoon in the Archives Internal Medicine sheds some interesting light on the ongoing question of whether or not cigarette smoking increases the risk of breast cancer.  And guess what? According to this research, for some women the answer is yes, for others no and for some-believe it or not-the risk of breast cancer may be decreased.


That smoking could actually decrease the risk of breast cancer is one of those “believe it or not” moments in evidence-based medicine, but I wouldn’t go around cheering that smoking is good for your health.  It isn’t, and nothing about the findings in this study should change anyone’s opinions about the risks of tobacco. [more]


The research, which was done by very highly regarded scientists from Harvard, reviewed the relationship between smoking and breast cancer in a large group of nurses who have been carefully studied prospectively for the effects of active smoking (from 1976-2006) and passive smoking (1982-2006).  There are 111,140 women in the active smoking study and 36,017 in the passive group.


The scientists looked as carefully as possible at a number of related items, such as the number of years smoked, the number of … Continue reading →

Finding The (Cancer Cell) Needle In the Haystack: Will It Make A Difference In Cancer Treatment And Early Detection?

Well, it didn’t take long to get into the New Year, did it?


There I was this morning starting my New Year right by getting exercise on my elliptical when I heard the announcement that Johnson & Johnson was partnering with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital’s cancer center and other major cancer centers to evaluate the potential of a new technology which can isolate single cancer cells circulating in the blood of patients with known cancers.


The news in itself is an impressive step forward in this type of research.  Being able to isolate a single cancer cell in a sample of blood is in a sense one of the holy grails of cancer research.  Scientists have been working diligently on developing these techniques for a number of years, and to now have a technology that may in fact move that dream closer to a clinical reality where it actually improves the treatment of patients with cancer is exciting.


However, there is always a caution that comes along with these types of announcements. [more]


First, and perhaps the most obvious, is the fact that this is an announcement of a research deal.  Nothing more, nothing less.  … Continue reading →