cancer

  1. TSA refuses new study on airport scanners

    It's outright insane if you stop to think about it: In order to "protect" air passengers, the U.S. government is blasting them all with dangerous levels of radiation from full-body X-ray scanners.

    Not exactly how I like my "protection" -- especially since the feds won't provide any honest-to-goodness safety data on these machines.

    It seemed like we were finally getting somewhere earlier this year when the TSA told Sen. Susan Collins it would authorize an independent safety study. You'd think they would have done that before they installed these machines at every airport -- but better late than never, right?

    Well, it might be "never" after all -- because TSA administrator John Pistole recently told Congress that the study is off.

    The question has to be asked: What are they so afraid of?

    I think it's pretty obvious: Radiation exposure -- even the small amounts used in these machines -- can cause DNA damage and cellular changes. Over time, that can lead to cancer.

    These machines use backscatter radiation, which goes beneath the clothes and concentrates on the skin itself -- so TSA agents can view a "naked" picture of you and see what you might be hiding without having to look at your bones, liver, guts, etc.

    But since that radiation focuses on the skin, it can build up there and boost the risk of skin cancers, especially among those most often exposed, like regular air travelers.

    And who knows what kind of risks these machines will pose to pregnant women, children, and infants.

    One expert says he thinks X-ray scanners will cause 100 cancer cases each year -- and while that may sound like a small number, why put even a single life on the line in the name of security?

    Even if you agree that the government should get a look at everyone's naked body before boarding an airplane -- and I don't -- there are machines that can do it without using a drop of radiation.

    The feds even have the machines, and are using them in some airports -- but they insist on using the X-ray machines right along with them.

    Even Europe has said they'll only use the radiation-free machines -- and they've actually banned the X-ray scanners from their airports until they see some actual scientific data proving they're safe.

    I hope they're not holding their breath.

  2. Spine drug linked to cancer risk

    It's like a nightmare, except you never get to wake up: A drug used during a common back procedure has been linked to cancer -- including one of the deadliest forms of the disease on the planet.

    That drug is Infuse, which is supposed to stimulate bone growth after a spinal fusion procedure.

    It's already been linked to everything from infection to sterility -- but now, a leading researcher finds that high doses of the drug can boost the odds of cancer by 2.5 times in the first year alone, and by 500 percent in the three years after the procedure.

    Dr. Eugene Carragee, editor-in-chief of Spine Journal, told the North American Spine Society that these cancers include breast and prostate cancer -- and believe it or not, that's the good news.

    After all, you can fight those cancers and win (although it would be outright insane to deliberately boost your risk of either).

    That bad news: The drug was also linked to pancreatic cancer -- the same cancer that killed Steve Jobs and claims nearly 95 percent of all patients within five years.

    Dr. Carragee said the risk seemed to be greater for Amplify, a high-dose version of Infuse that was rejected by the FDA earlier this year over cancer concerns.

    Hey, every now and then the agency gets one right -- but in this case, it didn't matter. If docs want Amplify, all they have to do is up the dose of Infuse -- and many of them have been doing just that.

    What makes this so much worse is that all of it could have been avoided -- because there's evidence that the researchers behind the studies that were used to get Infuse approved turned a blind eye to its side effects.

    As I told you before, these researchers claimed the drug was practically risk-free -- and many of those same researchers were also collecting millions of dollars from Medtronic, the company that makes Infuse.

    A coincidence? You decide.

    A more recent look at the data -- including the data from the trials that supposedly found that drug to be so safe -- found that up to 50 percent of patients given Infuse experience side effects such as infection, bone loss and excess bone growth.

    And for men, the drug may also come with a risk of both sterility and a horrific condition called retrograde ejaculation.

    That last one is exactly what it sounds like: You ejaculate backwards, into your bladder instead of out the penis.

    There's no alternative to Infuse -- if you need a spinal fusion, just go without. Or better yet, find a way to avoid the surgery in the first place -- because you might not even need the procedure at all.

  3. Prostate biopsies double your infection risk

    Imagine fighting for your life after a cancer scare... only to find out you didn't even have cancer in the first place. Well, imagine no more: If you're a man getting a prostate biopsy, you're putting your life on the line -- because a new study finds the biopsy itself can double your risk of a life-threatening infection in the month after the procedure.
  4. A nation of sugar addicts

    No wonder we're fatter and sicker than ever and getting worse every day: New numbers from the CDC show that half of all Americans over the age of TWO YEARS OLD drink at least one soda a day.
  5. Apples top pesticide list

    I know it feels like summer has only just begun, but fall is right around the corner -- and that means apple season is almost here. Don't be fooled by the apples you'll find in the supermarket year 'round -- most of them are actually months old... and you won't believe the tricks they use to keep them fresh.
  6. Diet soda linked to weight gain

    If the FDA won't go after diet sodas for all the dangerous chemicals they contain, maybe the FTC can take action for false advertising. There's nothing "diet" about diet sodas. After all, studies have linked them to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart problems, and more.
  7. Vitamin D can protect against cancer

    I just told you how the sunshine vitamin can help keep pre-diabetes from turning into the real thing -- and now, a new study finds it might stop melanomas cold.
  8. Men living with prostate regret

    The real "disease" facing many prostate patients isn't cancer -- it's regret.
  9. How to turn a harmless tumor into a deadly cancer

    Most prostate cancers don't need to be treated because the disease won't kill or even hurt most of the men who get it. But there's one group of men who have more to worry about than the rest of us -- because for them, prostate cancer really can carry deadly risk.
  10. The cancer-busting diet you can start today

    What do tumors and bellies have in common? They both get bigger on a high-carb diet.
  11. Cancer alternative goes mainstream

    It's a shock right to the heart of the cancer system: An FDA panel has signed off on a new device that could forever change how the deadliest brain tumors are treated. There are no drugs... no chemo... no surgery... and best of all, almost no side effects.
  12. A pecan-do attitude towards health

    Eat a pecan right from the shell and you won't just get a tasty treat--a new study finds you'll get an antioxidant boost that could lower your risk for cancer and heart disease.
  13. Cola color in cancer link

    Soda is just about the most destructive blend of chemicals being sold for consumption today.
  14. New mammogram brings new risk

    The feds have just signed off on the Selenia Dimensions System, a mammogram device that delivers 3-D images of the breast... along with double the radiation of the traditional screening.
  15. Hidden dangers in sunscreen

    Here's some bitter irony for you: A key ingredient in many sunscreens can actually cause the very cancers they're supposed to prevent.
  16. Cancer treatment raises death risk

    Avastin. The massively expensive cancer drug was rushed through the approvals process in 2004 despite the fact that it clearly wasn't ready for primetime.
  17. Americans unaware of radiation risks

    A new study finds that Americans are utterly clueless when it comes to the levels of radiation they've been exposed to through CT scans.
  18. Can aspirin really lower your cancer risk?

    Aspirin sales must need a boost. That's the only reason I can come up with to explain why researchers have suddenly returned to their one-a-day mantra. Only this time, they say aspirin could help you prevent cancer.
  19. PSA tests don't save lives

    Another new study exposes the failed promise of the PSA test. Researchers have found that while these screenings may detect some cancers, they won't actually make a difference when it comes to survival.
  20. Eating to fight illness

    Sometimes, the hardest part of a cancer battle isn't the disease itself – but what it does to the rest of your body.

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