cancer

Yes, it's well-known that you can't make a horse drink if he or she doesn't want to, and apparently you can't get a man to stop taking a dangerous supplement — say one that produces cyanide when ingested — even when you tell him that it does so. It's kind of hard to believe, but that's what was reported in BMJ Case Reports.

The Australian man, 67 years old (surely old enough to know better) visited a hospital for a routine procedure — a cystoscopy — requiring general anesthesia. While he...

My heart sank when I received the news.

Nearly two years ago, my friend and colleague, Sam Chi, called to tell me that he had pancreatic cancer. I knew that was a death sentence.

There are various kinds of pancreatic cancer, and his was the most common type: adenocarcinoma. It was stage III, which meant that even though the cancer had not metastasized to other organs, it was locally advanced. The cancer had engulfed nearby blood vessels, making it inoperable.

Even under the best of circumstances, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic adenocarcinoma is devastating. According to the...

In the rich world, cancer therapy is expensive. In the developing world, it may not be available at all. Not only is cutting-edge technology in short supply, but so are things like electricity and medical personnel. The lack of necessary resources for basic healthcare is made obvious by the fact that, if diagnosed with cancer, a person in the developing world is more likely to die from it than a person in the developed world.

To help alleviate this problem, cheap, uncomplicated, portable, and preferably non-surgical treatments that do not require electricity are needed. Now, a team of researchers from Duke University has shown that injecting an ethanol-based gel directly into a specific type of tumor, called squamous cell carcinoma, resulted in a 100% cure rate in a hamster...

Imagine a world where it is as easy to check for cancer as it is high cholesterol. New research out of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine may lead to just that. The work is published in the August 16th issue of Science Translational Medicine.

There is normally some DNA floating around in our blood. It's referred to as cell free DNA (cfDNA). People with cancer not only have more of this cfDNA, but, some of it is specifically from the tumor. This DNA is called circulating tumor DNA (...

Cancer is most easily "cured" when it's caught early. That's the rationale behind Pap tests for cervical cancer, PSA tests for prostate cancer, and mammograms for breast cancer. But there aren't similar screening tests for all cancers — and some, such as ovarian and pancreatic cancer  are often not found until they're well-advanced, which makes them particularly lethal. Lung cancer, too, may not be found — especially in non-smokers — until it's too advanced to treat successfully, or requires extensive surgery to control. My colleague, Dr. Julianna LeMieux, has described a new type of screening tool that hopefully could find a number of types of cancer while they're in the early stages, using DNAs shed...

Given modern medical advances extending survival rates for chronic diseases like cancer along with the population aging at an exponential rate, companies are seeing opportunities for niche markets. Hormel —of Dinty Moore stews and Spam canned meat fame—has designed its Vital Cuisine meal line specifically to target cancer patients, for example. 

This veil of social responsibility manages to obscure what is likely at its core an economic decision. Patients are more and more frequently being managed as outpatients for cancers, so hospitals and long-term care facilities are no longer the only avenue to access them. Enduring chronic illness while living at home and still going to work is very much a...

Apricot seeds are all over the internet - marketed as cancer fighters. But the seeds contain a chemical compound that, when ingested in high quantities (and by high we mean several seeds), can cause cyanide poisoning. 

The “superfood” craze is premised upon the dubious notion that some foods are so great, that eating them will bring good health and long life. For Popeye, spinach was a superfood. After gleefully swallowing a can full of the stuff, he grew big muscles and beat up Bluto.

The trouble with superfoods is that they aren’t real. That isn’t to say that some foods aren’t healthier than others; fruits and vegetables are better for you than potato chips and soda. But the notion that some foods are the secret elixir to youth or the magic cure for disease is hype.

Keeping that in mind, it is still worth investigating how food affects our bodies. Research in this area provides insights into our metabolism and physiology, which can tell us more about disease and how to prevent it....

Genetics plays a role in almost any conceivable characteristic, not just the obvious ones like eye color and height. Indeed, genetics plays a role in susceptibility to infectious disease, mental illness, and even personality traits.

Despite this being a widely acknowledged fact, the role of genetics is downplayed or outright ignored in certain situations that society finds uncomfortable. Most notably, we shy away from discussing the role of genetics when it comes to biological differences between the races and genders. Differences there are often blamed on social factors, such as discrimination, rather than biological ones. We do this, however, at our own peril.

To be sure, environmental and social factors (such as socioeconomic conditions, lifestyle choices, and adequate...

The word pesticide is misunderstood, nearly to the same extent as the word chemical. People have been led to believe, largely by the organic food industry and environmental activists, that pesticides are unnatural, dangerous, and do not belong in the food supply. But this defies a basic understanding of biology.

A pesticide is any chemical, natural or human-made, that is designed to kill another organism.

Using that broad definition, there are probably hundreds of thousands of pesticides in the natural environment. As it turns out, biological warfare was invented and perfected by Mother Nature.

For example, some bacteria and fungi produce antibiotics to kill other microbes. We don’t call these antibiotics “pesticides,” but that’s exactly what they...