Widely Used Cancer Drug Causes Potentially Deadly Holes in GI Tract

July 3, 2009

S. L. Baker
Natural News
July 2, 2009

Bevacizumab is the generic name for the widely used Genetech cancer drug marketed as Avastin. It inhibits tumor growth by blocking angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels. But according to an article just published in the June edition of The Lancet Oncology, cancer patients treated with Avastin in combination with chemotherapy are at a heightened risk of experiencing a potentially catastrophic side effect. In fact, it’s a side effect that could kill them before their malignancy does — a gastrointestinal (GI) perforation (a hole in the wall of the stomach, small intestine or large bowel).

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), gastrointestinal perforations lead to leakage of intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity, causing an inflammation known as peritonitis. Symptoms of this condition may include severe abdominal pain, chills, fever, nausea and vomiting. Treatment includes antibiotics and sometimes surgery. In a patient already weakened from previous surgery and chemo, additional major surgery and drugs clearly pose serious risks.

There have been concerns about the use of bevacizumab and GI perforation in the past, spurring the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a black-box warning stating the drug should be discontinued in patients who already had a GI perforation. However, a direct link between the drug and perforation hasn’t been firmly established — until now.

A huge hole in your stomach

As reported in The Lancet Oncology, scientist Shenhong Wu and colleagues from Stony Brook University Cancer Center in New York conducted a meta-analysis of 17 randomized trials involving 12,294 patients with a variety of solid tumors to find out whether bevacizumab causes GI perforations. The researchers also investigated whether the dose of bevacizumab is related to an increased risk of developing GI perforations and whether having a specific type of cancer ups the risk, too.

The results of the study showed that the incidence of GI perforation was almost one percent, with two times the increased risk of GI perforation in patients receiving bevacizumab compared with controls. What’s more, the researchers found a mortality rate of 21.7 percent in cancer patients who developed GI perforation.

The chance of developing a GI perforation was found to be dose-dependent. Lower doses of bevacizumab (2.5 mg/kg per week) increased the chance of GI perforation by 61 percent; while at a higher dose (5 mg/kg per week), the risk of a GI perforation increased by 167 percent. The incidence of GI perforation with bevacizumab also varied depending on what type of cancer the patient had. The highest incidence was found among patients with advanced colorectal cancer and renal cell cancer, and the lowest was in patients with pancreatic cancer.

“As bevacizumab is extensively used in routine cancer treatment…it will be increasingly important to recognize symptoms indicating perforation and intervene promptly to reduce morbidity and fatality…our study might help to identify a subset of patients receiving bevacizumab at high risk of bevacizumab-associated perforation,” the study authors concluded in their article.

This is not the first time bevacizumab, a.k.a. Avastin, has had some bad publicity. First approved by the FDA in 2004 for metastatic colon and non-small cell lung cancer, the drug was also approved to treat metastatic breast cancer in 2008. That decision generated controversy because it went against the recommendation of the FDA’s own advisory panel. The reason? FDA approval for late-stage cancer treatments is supposed to be contingent upon data showing a drug extends or improves the quality of patients’ lives. According to Genentech’s own application for the approval of Avastin, this drug does neither.

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Border Agents to Dump Agent Orange-Like Chemical to Kill All Plant Life Among U.S.-Mexico Border

July 3, 2009

David Gutierrez
Natural News
July 3, 2009

The Border Patrol has temporarily postponed — but refused to cancel — plans to use helicopters to spray herbicide along the banks of the Rio Grande between the cities of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in order to kill a fast-growing river cane that provides cover for undocumented migrants, smugglers and other border crossers.

The controversial plan has drawn fire for its similarities to the U.S. government’s defoliation strategy during the Vietnam War, in which the government sprayed more than 21 million gallons of “Agent Orange” and other herbicides in order to eliminate hiding places for Vietnamese guerillas. An estimated 4.8 million Vietnamese citizens and thousands of U.S. soldiers were exposed to the dioxin-based chemical, resulting in more than 500,000 birth defects and 400,000 deaths and disabilities among adults.

The Border Patrol proposed to begin by defoliating 1.1 miles of the river, possibly eventually expanding the program to 130 miles and perhaps even to other parts of the border.

Local citizens and environmentalists on both sides of the border have widely criticized the plan. The Mexican government has objected that there is insufficient scientific data over the health risks of imazapyr, the herbicide to be used, and that it wants to conduct its own assessment. The Border Patrol has postponed the plan, but has not promised to await the results of further studies.

“Nobody knows the impact of imazapyr,” said Jay Johnson-Castro Sr., executive director of the Rio Grande International Study Center. “It’s no different than Agent Orange.”

Environmentalists say that in addition to killing the targeted carrizo cane, an invasive species, imazapyr would kill native plants and destroy the habitat of more than 1,000 animal species. Along with Mexican officials, they have raised concern about contamination of local water supplies.

“We don’t believe that is even moral,” Johnston-Castro said. “It is unprecedented that they’d do it in a populated area.”

Sources for this story include: www.chron.com; news.newamericamedia.org.

TV Before Bed Causes Chronic Health Problems, Study Claims

June 10, 2009

The Telegraph
June 9, 2009

Psychiatrists were surprised to find watching television appeared to be the most dominant pre-sleep activity and sleep patterns were based around schedules rather than sunset or biological factors.

Researchers think watching TV is replacing vigorous activity like sports and the lack of exercise results in poor sleep quality.

The US study of 21,475 adults found TV viewing was far and away the most dominant pre-sleep activity – accounting for almost 50 percent of pre-bed time.

One in three Brits have sleep problems making it one of the most common complaints doctors hear. As a result sleep deprivation is becoming a national problem, warn health experts.

Sleep is so important because it allows the brain to recover from the rigours of the day. Not getting enough has been found to increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and depression.

Dr Mathias Basner, of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, University of Pennsylvania, said: “While the timing of work may not be flexible, giving up some TV viewing in the evening should be possible to promote adequate sleep.

“According to our results, watching less television in the evening and postponing work start time in the morning appear to be the candidate behavioural changes for achieving additional sleep and reducing chronic sleep debt.”

Co-researcher Dr David Dinges, Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the university, said: “Given the relationship of short sleep duration to health risks, there is concern that many Americans are chronically under-sleeping due to lifestyle choices.”

The government is keen to tackle these health issues, efforts doomed to failure unless getting enough sleep is made a priority as well.

The latest study, presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies’ annual meeting in Illinois, examined the activities over 15s undertook two hours before and after bed time.

The researchers said sleeping less than seven to eight hours daily impairs alertness but despite this up to four in ten Americans do not achieve the recommended amount.

June 9, 2009

June 8, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Breastfeeding may protect women with multiple sclerosis against relapses of their disease, possibly by delaying a return to normal monthly cycles, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

They found that MS patients who nursed their babies exclusively — meaning no bottled formula — for at least two months appeared less likely to have a relapse within a year of the child’s birth than women who did not breastfeed.

“It is well-known that women with MS have fewer relapses during pregnancy and a high risk of relapse in the postpartum period,” the researchers wrote in the Archives of Neurology.

Women also are advised not to take MS drugs during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, so patients must choose between nursing their babies and resuming treatment. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life and continued nursing for at least a year.

Dr. Annette Langer-Gould, formerly of Stanford University School of Medicine in California and now of Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, and her colleagues studied 32 pregnant women with MS and 29 pregnant women without MS.

Nearly all — 96 percent — of the healthy women breastfed their babies, as opposed to 69 percent of the MS patients.

They found that 87 percent of the women with MS who did not breastfeed, or who started using formula within two months, had a relapse, compared to 36 percent of those who gave their babies only breast milk for at least two months.

The women who breastfed exclusively delayed the return of normal menstruation, the researchers noted. Those whose monthly cycles stayed repressed, a normal effect of breastfeeding, were those whose MS symptoms did not return.

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Recycled Radioactive Metal Contaminates Consumer Products

June 9, 2009

Isaac Wolf
Scripps News
June 6, 2009

Thousands of everyday products and materials containing radioactive metals are surfacing across the United States and around the world.

Common kitchen cheese graters, reclining chairs, women’s handbags and tableware manufactured with contaminated metals have been identified, some after having been in circulation for as long as a decade. So have fencing wire and fence posts, shovel blades, elevator buttons, airline parts and steel used in construction.

A Scripps Howard News Service investigation has found that — because of haphazard screening, an absence of oversight and substantial disincentives for businesses to report contamination — no one knows how many tainted goods are in circulation in the United States.

But thousands of consumer goods and millions of pounds of unfinished metal and its byproducts have been found to contain low levels of radiation, and experts think the true amount could be much higher, perhaps by a factor of 10.

Government records of cases of contamination, obtained through state and federal Freedom of Information Act requests, illustrate the problem.

In 2006 in Texas, for example, a recycling facility inadvertently created 500,000 pounds of radioactive steel byproducts after melting metal contaminated with Cesium-137, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records. In Florida in 2001, another recycler unintentionally did the same, and wound up with 1.4 million pounds of radioactive material. And in 1998, 430,000 pounds of steel laced with Cobalt-60 made it to the U.S. heartland from Brazil.

But an accounting of the magnitude of the problem is unknown because U.S. and state governments do not require scrap yards, recyclers and other businesses — a primary line of defense against rogue radiation — to screen metal goods and materials for radiation or report it when found. And no federal agency is responsible for oversight.

“Nobody’s going to know — nobody — how much has been melted into consumer goods,” said Ray Turner, an international expert on radiation with Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based River Metals Recycling. He has helped decontaminate seven metal-recycling facilities that unwittingly melted scrap containing radioactive isotopes.

“It’s your worst nightmare,” Turner said.

It is also one that has only barely begun to register as a potential threat to health and safety.

What is known now is that — despite the shared belief of officials in six state and federal agencies that tainted metal is potentially dangerous, should be prevented from coming in unnecessary contact with people and the environment, and should be barred from entering the United States — there is no one in charge of making sure that happens.

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Lack of Vitamin D Linked to Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia

June 7, 2009

Sherry Baker
Natural News
June 5, 2009

Researchers have found that low serum levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk for host of health problems ranging from diabetes and osteoporosis to depression, dental cavities and periodontal disease. What’s more, in 2008, numerous studies concluded that people with higher serum levels of vitamin D had a greatly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as a lowered chance of death due to cardiac causes. Curiously, all of these seemingly separate conditions are either known risk factors for dementia or tend to strike before dementia is diagnosed. Now scientist William B. Grant, PhD, of the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC) has put these facts together and has come up with a startling new hypothesis about the cause of mind-robbing Alzheimer’s disease and other vascular dementias: vitamin D deficiency.

His article in the current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (May 2009) explains why further investigation is needed to identify any causative linkages between vitamin D and dementia, including the type known as Alzheimer’s disease. As an example of how risk factors for the development of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia could be directly related to vitamin D deficiencies, Dr. Grant cites several studies that have correlated tooth loss with the development of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia. Why do people lose teeth? Primarily, he points out in his article, tooth loss is the result of dental caries and/or periodontal disease — and both those conditions are linked to low levels of vitamin D.

In addition, Dr. Grant’s article explains that ample biological evidence has accumulated showing how critical vitamin D is to healthy brain development and function. In fact, vitamin D in sufficient amounts seems to protect brain cells and reduce inflammation. A lack of vitamin D has been associated with increased inflammation and a pro-inflammatory state has been linked, in turn, with dementia.

Dr. Grant is calling for studies of levels of vitamin D in people before dementia is diagnosed and research to determine if vitamin D supplementation is warranted to potentially prevent dementia. In addition, because elderly people are frequently deficient in vitamin D, he suggests that those over 60 years old should consider having their serum vitamin D level tested and, if their vitamin D status is low, he recommends taking 1000 to 2000 IU a day of vitamin D3 supplements and/or increasing the time they spend in the sun year round.

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Effective Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis is Completely Free with Vitamin D

June 7, 2009

Kerri Knox
Natural News
June 4, 2009

There are few effective treatments for the Neurologic problem called Multiple Sclerosis. Sufferers tend to get progressively worse and often end up in wheelchairs, unable to even perform the simplest tasks by themselves. But a new study is showing that effective treatment is right outside the door- in the form of the inexpensive and even FREE– Vitamin D.

Multiple Sclerosis is a devastating disease with few treatment options except hope. It often strikes at a young age and leaves the afflicted unable to care for themselves when they should be in the prime of their lives. It gets its name from the ‘sclerosed’ appearance that the fatty outer layer of the spinal cord, the myelin sheath, has when viewed on medical scans. These patches slow down- and even stop- electrical transmissions from the brain to the rest of the body and vice versa. Over time, strength and movement slow and are lost entirely.

Treatments for multiple sclerosis haven’t worked very well, but drug manufacturers and researchers are always attempting to develop treatments to, if not cure the disease, at least give sufferers relief from their symptoms. Some drug treatments that have seemed to show promise are, as usual, being found to have serious consequences like: brain infections from the drug Rituximab and an increase in cancer from a class of drugs called beta interferons! What a choice to have to make to get better functioning.

But it seems that MS sufferers may not have to make that choice any more. A new study shows that those taking VERY high doses of Vitamin D, about 14,000 IU’s per day on average, prevented the frequent relapses that occur with the disease. These high doses of Vitamin D significantly helped the patients in the study to maintain their current level of functioning with virtually no adverse effects. It’s somewhat baffling, however, that the researchers warned other MS sufferers not to take more than 4000 IU’s of Vitamin D per day until the treatment was proven to be safe.

This is baffling for two reasons: one because the much lower dosages of 4,000 IU’s that were used in the study showed absolutely no benefit; two because study after study has already shown that high dose Vitamin D IS safe. In fact the University of Toronto, the research facility for THIS study, had stated previously in a DIFFERENT study that there is “no evidence of adverse effects from taking 10,000 IU of Vitamin D a day”.

But even if you are skeptical about taking high doses of Vitamin D in pill form, where there IS the chance of taking too much, you can get high dose Vitamin D for FREE just by exposing your skin to sunlight. If you are light skinned and expose the majority of your body to direct sunlight for the amount of time that it takes you to get the slightest bit pink, you will make up to 200,000 IU’s of Vitamin D. Interestingly, even though the body makes such a large amount of Vitamin D all at once, there has NEVER been a recorded overdose of Vitamin D from too much sun.

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