Hoda Kotb Admits To Keeping In Touch With Disgraced Today Host Matt Lauer: ‘This Is One Of Those Complex Situations’

Hard times.

As you know, Hoda Kotb replaced Matt Lauer as co-anchor of the Today show alongside Savannah Guthrie earlier this year after the longtime journalist was exposed as a serial sexual harasser.

In The Hollywood Reporter‘s article for the 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2018 issue, the 53-year-old admitted that she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place because of her friendship with Lauer.

Related: Ryan Seacrest Accuser Thinks Megyn Kelly Canceled Interview To Protect Company!

She said she still communicates with the 60-year-old, who is said to be focusing on his family following the allegations:

“Yeah, we keep in touch with him. I mean look, this is one of those complex situations. I’ve known him since I started working at NBC [in 1998]. When I was sick with breast cancer, he was the first to call. He helps and helped in ways that … you know, he was incredible in that way.”

Lauer even sent Kotb a congratulatory text when she took his job.

But although they have fond memories together, Hoda is not discounting the stories of the women who accused the NBC anchor of wrongdoing:

“There is that Matt and then there’s the Matt that the accusers speak of. And those accusers’ voices matter and that story matters and it’s … (to Savannah Guthrie) It’s still tough, right?”

Savannah replied:

“Yes.”

A tough situation, sure!

[Image via Instagram.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-04-13-hoda-kotb-matt-lauer-communication

What too much alcohol can do to your health

(CNN)This feature is part of CNN Parallels, an interactive series exploring ways you can improve your health by making small changes to your daily habits.

A lot of us drink. Too many of us drink a lot.
Worldwide, each person 15 years and older consumes 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day, according to the World Health Organization. Considering that nearly half of the world doesn’t drink at all, that leaves the other half drinking up their share.
    While the majority of the world drinks liquor, Americans prefer beer. The Beverage Marketing Corp. tracks these things: In 2017,Americans guzzled about 27 gallons of beer (or 216 pints), 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per drinking-age adult.
    But Americans are lightweights in any worldwide drinking game, based on numbers from the World Health Organization. The Eastern European countries of Lithuania, Belarus, Czechia (the Czech Republic), Croatia and Bulgaria drink us under the table.
    In fact, measuring liters drunk by anyone over 15, the US ranks 36th in the category of most sloshed nation; Austria comes in sixth; France is ninth (more wine) and Ireland 15th (yes, they drink more beer), while the UK ranks 18th.
    Who drinks the least in the world? The Arab nations of the Middle East.

    With all this boozing going on, just what damage does alcohol do to your health? Let’s explore what science says are the downsides of having a tipple or two.

    Counting calories

    Even if you aren’t watching your waistline, you might be shocked at the number of empty calories you can easily consume during happy hour.
    Calories are typically defined by a “standard” drink. In the US, that’s about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol, which differs depending on the type of adult beverage you consume.

    For example, a standard drink of beer is one 12-ounce can (355 milliliters). For malt liquor, it’s 8 to 9 fluid ounces (251 milliliters). A standard drink of red or white wine is about 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters).
    What’s considereda standard drink continues to go down as the alcohol content goes up. But what if that changes? Let’s use beer as an example.
    It used to be that light beer came in around 100 calories while regular beer averaged 153 calories per 12-fluid ounce can or bottle — that’s the same as two or three Oreo cookies.

    But beer calories depend on both alcohol content and carbohydrate level. So if you’re a fan of today’s popular craft beers, which often have extra carbs and higher alcohol content, you could easily face a calorie land mine in every can. Let’s say you chose a highly ranked IPA, such as Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (9.6% alcohol) or Narwhal (10.2% alcohol), and you’ve downed a whopping 318 to 344 calories, about as much as a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Did you drink just one?
    If you pour correctly, white wine is about 120 calories per 5 fluid ounces, and red is 125. If you fill your glass to the brim, that might easily double.
    Liquor? Gin, rum, vodka, tequila and whiskey cost you 97 calories per 1.5 fluid ounces, but that’s without mixers. An average margarita will cost you 168 calories while a pina colada weighs in at a whopping 490 calories, about the same as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
    A 2013 study in the US found that calorie intake went up on drinking days compared with non-drinking days, mostly due to alcohol: Men took in 433 extra calories, while women added 299 calories.
    But alcohol can also affect our self-control, which can lead to overeating. A 1999 study found that people ate more when they had an aperitif before dinner than if they abstained.
    Take heart. If you’re a light to moderate drinker, meaning you stick to US guidelines of one “standard” drink a day for women and two for men, studies have shown that you aren’t guaranteed to gain weight over time — especially if you live an overall healthy lifestyle.
    For example, a 2002 study of almost 25,000 Finnish men and women over five-year intervals found that moderate alcohol consumption, combined with a physically active lifestyle, no smoking and healthy food choices, “maximizes the chances of having a normal weight.”
    However, it appears that heavy drinking and binge drinking could be linked to obesity. And that’s a problem. The numbers of binge drinkers — defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women within a couple of hours at least once a month — has been rising in the United States.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in six adults binge about four times a month, downing about eight drinks in each binge.
    In the UK, where binge drinking is defined as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk,” a 2016 national survey found 2.5 million people admitted to binge drinking in the last week.
    Alcohol, of course, has no nutritional value and contains 7 calories per gram — more than protein and even carbs, which both have 4 calories. Fat has 9 calories per gram.
    All those empty alcohol calories have to end up somewhere.

    Heart disease and cancer

    The prevailing wisdom for years has been that drinking in moderation — again, that’s one “standard” drink a day for women and two for men — is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. But recent studies are casting doubt on that long-held lore. Science now says it depends on your age and drinking habits.
    A 2017 study of nearly 2 million Brits with no cardiovascular risk found that there was still a modest benefit in moderate drinking, especially for women over 55 who drank five drinks a week. Why that age? Alcohol can alter cholesterol and clotting in the blood in positive ways, experts say, and that’s about the age when heart problems begin to occur.
    For everyone else, the small protective effect on the heart was evident only if the drinks were spaced out during the week. Consuming heavily in one session, or binge drinking, has been linked to heart attacks — or what the English call “holiday heart.”
    Also, a 2018 study found that drinking more than 100 grams of alcohol per week — equal to roughly seven standard drinks in the United States or five to six glasses of wine in the UK — increases your risk of death from all causes and in turn lowers your life expectancy. Links were found with different forms of cardiovascular disease, with people who drank more than 100 grams per week having a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysm, where an artery or vein swells up and could burst.
    In contrast, the 2018 study found that higher levels of alcohol were also linked to a lower risk of heart attack, or myocardial infarction.
    Overall, however, the latest thinking is that any heart benefit may be outweighed by other health risks, such as high blood pressure, pancreatitis, certain cancers and liver damage.
    Women who drink are at a higher risk for breast cancer; alcohol contributes about 6% of the overall risk, possibly because it raises certain dangerous hormones in the blood. Drinking can also increase the chance you might develop bowel, liver, mouth and oral cancers.
    One potential reason: Alcohol weakens our immune systems, making us more susceptible to inflammation, a driving force behind cancer, as well as infections and the integrity of the microbiome in our digestive tract. That’s true not only for chronic drinkers but for those who binge, as well.

    Diabetes

    The connection between alcohol and diabetes is complicated. Studies show that drinking moderately over three or four days a week may actually lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, drinking heavily increases the risk. Too much alcohol inflames the pancreas, which is responsible for secreting insulin to regulate your body’s blood sugars.
    If you have diabetes, alcohol may interact with various medications. If you take insulin or any pills that stimulate the release of insulin, alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia, a dangerously low blood sugar level, because alcohol stimulates the release of insulin as well. That’s why experts recommend never drinking on an empty stomach. Instead, drink with a meal or at least some carbs.
    And, of course, because alcohol is made by fermenting sugar and starch, it’s full of empty calories, which contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

    Mood and memory

    Because alcohol is a depressant, drinking can drown your mood. It may not seem that way while you “party” your inhibitions away, but that’s just the drink depressing the part of the brain we use to control our actions. The more you drink, say experts, the more your negative emotions, such as anxiety, anger and depression, can take over.
    That’s why binge drinking or drinking a lot in one sitting is associated with higher levels of depression, self-harm, suicide and violent offending.
    Binge drinking is also associated with severe “blackouts”: the inability to remember what happened while drunk. Blackouts can range from small memory blips, such as forgetting a name, to more serious incidents, such as forgetting an entire evening.
    Alcohol does this by decreasing the electrical activity of the neurons in your hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for the formation of short-term memories. Keep up that binge drinking, and you can permanently damage the hippocampus and develop sustained memory or cognitive problems.
    Adolescents are most susceptible to alcohol’s memory disruption but less sensitive to the intoxicating effects. That means they can easily drink more to feel as “drunk” as an adult would, causing even more damage to their brains.

    How you look

    Last but certainly not least, alcohol can have a significant effect on your good looks. First, it dehydrates you. That can leave your skin looking parched and wrinkled. It’s also linked to rosacea, a skin condition causing redness, pimples and swelling on your face.
    Do you know you can stink while you’re drinking? During the time your liver is processing a single drink, which is on average an hour but varies for everyone, some of it leaves your body via your breath, urine and sweat.

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Another reason drinking can affect your looks has to do with sleep. Although even a little bit of alcohol can help you fall asleep quickly, as the alcohol is metabolized and leaves the body you may suffer the “rebound effect.” Instead of staying asleep, the body enters lighter sleep and wakefulness, which appears to get worse the more one drinks.
    A lack of sleep leads to dark circles, puffy eyes and stress. Keep it up, studies say, and you’re likely to see more signs of aging and a much lower satisfaction with your appearance.
    So the next time you head to the pub for tipple or two, remember: You could be paying a price for all that fun.

    Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/01/health/alcohol-health-weight-diabetes-memory-intl/index.html

    Does talcum powder cause cancer? A legal and scientific battle rages

    (CNN)Visitors who walk into Deborah Giannecchini’s ranch house in Modesto, California, will notice a well-tended garden, four small dogs who greet every visitor with enthusiasm and a sign that hangs prominently displayed in her living room that reads “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

    She got it when she was 62 years old, after she married her husband, Leland, but it could also represent her current mission: to help other women avoid the pain she’s experienced and allow them to have their own happy endings.
    Giannecchini is living with what is considered terminal ovarian cancer. “That’s what they say. I’m trying to prove that it’s not,” she said. “I don’t wish this on anyone else. And if I can save one person, then I’ve done my job.”
      She and thousands of others claim that they got their ovarian cancer after using a common toiletry as a part of their daily feminine hygiene routine. They used talc-based powder, commonly referred to as talcum powder or baby powder,though some baby powder products are cornstarch-based.Cornstarch products are not believed to cause any health problems.
      Some 4,800 women and their families have now sued pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, which has sold the talc-based product Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than 100 years. Many women like Giannecchini who have sought help from the courts have said they want Johnson & Johnson to, at the very least, put a warning label on the powder.
      A handful of talcum powder companies have done just that. For example, Assured’s Shower & Bath Absorbent Body Powder says that it is “intended for external use only” and adds, “Frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.”
      Johnson & Johnson argues that sucha label would be confusing, because although the company regularly expresses sympathy for these women, it vehemently denies that its powder has anything to do with their ovarian cancer. A handful of scientists have backed the companyup in court. Andother scientists back the women’s claims.
      The topic is agrowing debate in the scientific community. Some studies have found that women face an increased risk of ovarian cancer with use of talc in the genital area, but others do not. Most suggest that more research is needed.
      At the intersection of this debate are lawyers who are putting this science under the microscope in courtrooms across the country. They’ve shown juries selective internal company memos that they say suggest Johnson & Johnson has been aware of this potential problem for decades and done nothing.
      Johnson & Johnson’s lead counsel on two of the cases argues that the lawsuits are all about the money, rather than being all about the science. “My take on the talc ovarian cancer litigation is that it really is skillful and well-funded plaintiffs lawyers who are exaggerating science and taking it out of context to scare people and to frighten the public with the goal of lining their own pockets,” Bart Williams said. “I think they are wrong scientifically. I think they are wrong legally, and I think the evidence shows that the science doesn’t support using talc and ovarian cancer.”
      Johnson & Johnson is not the only talc product manufacturer being sued over ovarian cancer claims, although most includethe company because itsproducts have dominated the market the longest.Some lawsuits mention talc makers including Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which now owns the Shower to Shower brand (owned by Johnson & Johnsonuntil 2012).
      Valeant would not grant an interview, but it sent a statement. “The safety of our products and the customers who use them are our company’s highest priority. Shower to Shower is a safe and effective product, and the scientific and medical consensus is that these products do not cause ovarian cancer,” said the statement from Lainie Keller, vice president of corporate communications for Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. “It’s important to note that the lawsuits nearly all allege use of Shower to Shower prior to 2012 when our company acquired the product. Given our limited role and the strong legal, factual and scientific defenses, we do not believe claims will be established successfully against our company.”
      Other lawsuits mention Gold Bond’s talcum powder, manufactured by Chattem Inc., a Sanofi company, which did not respond to requests for comment.
      Some lawsuits include Imerys Talc America, which mines the talcin some of the powders. “We remain confident in the consensus of government agencies and professional scientific organizations that have reviewed the safety of talc, that talc is safe,” Gwen Myers, a spokeswoman for Imerys Talc America, said in a statement. “Imerys Talc America sympathizes with women suffering from ovarian cancer and hopes that the scientific community’s efforts will be directed toward finding the true causes of this terrible disease.”
      One related batch of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson argues that its Baby Powder is contaminated with asbestos and that asbestos is causing women to develop the cancer mesothelioma. The two minerals are often mined near each other, although since the 1970s, talc used in all consumer products has been required to be asbestos-free. Johnson and Johnson says their talc does not contain asbestos. A jury ruled in Johnson & Johnson’s favor in one of those asbestos lawsuits in California in November.
      The lawyers who argue that talc itself is the problem have experienced rapid success in convincing juries in South Dakota, Missouri and California that there is a cancer connection, winning hundreds of millions for their clients. In October, judges reversed two of those verdicts.
      In one case against Johnson & Johnson involving Jacqueline Fox, who died four months after a jury awarded her $72 million, a Missouri appellate court judge ruled that the Alabama woman did not use the product in Missouri and that therefore, the case should not have been heard there. The court reversed the jury verdict due to jurisdictional issues.In the other, a California case involving Johnson & Johnson and Eva Echeverria, who also died after her favorable jury verdict,the judge reversed the jury decision, saying that there was “insufficiency of the evidence as to the causation as to both defendants.”
      Each of the fivecases that has won a favorable verdict for the plaintiff is in various stages of appeal or soon will be. Johnson & Johnson won one of the talc cases in March, when a Missouri jury found that its baby powder did not cause a Tennessee woman’s ovarian cancer. Though legal teams are investigating thousands of other potential cases, what is less clear is where the science will lead and what the future will be for an iconic product that’s on bathroom shelves around the world.

      A cosmetic love

      Giannecchini has had a lifelong relationship with talcum powder. Long after she went to court to sueJohnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc America in 2016, she said, she found a few small bottles in an old suitcase she hadn’t used for a while.
      She’d been using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder nearly every day since high school. Sometimes, she’d alsouse the Shower to Shower product, which Johnson & Johnson used to own. She liked the powders because “both felt nice,” she said. “It was smooth and made your skin smell nice and fresh. It was just part of what I did every day.”
      Her friends used it, and she knew the company’s advertising jingle by heart. “A sprinkle a day keeps the odor away,” she shyly sang ditty when she took the stand in 2016. “Have you had your sprinkletoday?”
      Health-conscious and a self-described label-reader, Giannecchini never saw anything on the powder bottle to give her pause. “If you’ve seen the ads, you know it is supposed to be a pure and innocent and harmless product that we use on babies,” she said. Like millions of others, she sprinkled away.

      Talcum powder: A short history

      Talc makes a great powder because it is among the softest minerals,reduces frictionand has a great ability to absorb oils, moisture and odor. It’s mainly mined in China, India, Brazil, Mexico and the United States, according to the US Geological Survey.Most talc isn’t actually used for cosmetics; it’s found more often in household products: the ceramics in your bathroom fixtures, the roof over your head, the paint on your wall. It’s in plastic, paper and even in the gum you chew.
      Johnson & Johnson started selling talc in 1894 after customers complained that the company’s original medicated bandages irritated their skin. To soothe it, the company’s scientific director mailed them Italian talc. It worked so well, customers also used it on their babies’ diaper rash and wrote Johnson & Johnson about it. Taking the cue, Johnson’s Toilet and Baby Powderwas born.
      Johnson & Johnson has grown into a giant $338.6 billion company offering hundreds of consumer products, medical devices and medicine, but its Baby Powder may have shaped its image the most, branding experts said, even though it doesn’t rank highest in the company’s sales.
      “Because of it, Johnson & Johnson enjoys a strong brand image as being a company that cares,” said Aimee Drolet Rossi, the UCLA Anderson School of Management marketing chairwoman. “In fact, a lot of consumers don’t understand that Johnson & Johnson is a company that makes more than Baby Powder.”
      Sales of talc-based products like general-purpose talc, baby talcum powder, perfumed talc and “liquid talcs” — perfumed liquids that can be sprayed over the body to leave a powdery feel — brought Johnson & Johnson nearly $325.2 million in 2016 alone, according to market research firm Euromonitor.
      Adults also use the powder as a dry shampoo, a foot powder and a general after-shower ritual. “I used it everywhere, like a lot of my friends did, from head to toe,” Giannecchini said.
      Some women like Giannecchini also used it for feminine hygiene. Women who sued the company have testified that they’d sprinkle it in their underwear, on their thighs to prevent chafing, on sanitary napkins and on tampons. It’s use in this area that’s concerned some scientists.

      ‘My family saved my life’

      Giannecchini didn’t know that there was some scientific concern about her favorite powder. In fact, she used it even after her ovarian cancer diagnosis, adiagnosis that came as a big surprise.
      She had gone to the ER after her family pressured her because she wascoughing constantly.
      “I didn’t come home right away from the emergency room like I thought I would,” Giannecchini said. Instead of bronchitis, like she suspected, doctors found the cancer, and it was so advanced, they had to remove her spleen and part of her stomach. The cancer spread toher colon, bowel and bladder, too. The treatment was grueling, the prognosis not good.
      Ovarian cancer, though comparatively rare, is one of the mostlethal. Withno general screening, it’s often caught late, like it was in her case.
      “It was not pleasant,” Giannecchini said. “But my family likely saved my life.”
      Giannecchini’s daughter Casey got her mom to quit her Baby Powder habit only after seeing a lawyer’s ad on TV. They’re frequently seen on late-night TV, saying things like “If you or a loved one have developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder: call.”
      Casey gave her mother the number, and Giannecchini sent in her information. She ended up speaking with Ted Meadows at the Beasley Allen law firm in Montgomery, Alabama. Meadows would soon lead her on a legal journey halfway across the country.

      The talc team

      At the time Giannecchini called, Meadows had been working with another attorney, R. Allen Smith, on a blitz of dozensof talc cases.
      Smith and Meadows are a classic odd couple. Meadows is quiet, serious, a runner; when not consumed with work for his large firm, he roots for his alma mater, football powerhouse University of Alabama. Smith is easy to smile and quick with a story, and he looks as if he could have played for his alma mater, the Alabama rivalUniversity of Mississippi. Ole Miss memorabilia covers the walls of Smith’s small solo practitioner office in suburban Jackson, Mississippi. Where the two are in sync is on these talc cases.
      Smith learned about how women use talc in their genital area, meaning in underwear and sanitary products, whilesitting at his parents’ dinner table. His father, a retired plastic surgeon, asked whether he’d ever heard about any connection between talc and cancer. When he got home that night, Smith started googling.
      “I couldn’t believe what I saw,” he said after looking at the scientific studies and the scientific debate that followed. “And I wondered, ‘Am I the only lawyer to see this?’ “

      The scientific debate

      Smith learned that concerns about a link between talc and ovarian cancer started surfacing around 1971, when a small group of scientists wrote about finding talc particles deeply embedded in ovarian and cervical tumor tissue. The study concluded that it is “impossible to incriminate talc as a primary cause of carcinomatous changes,” based solely on what was described in the study; however, “the possibility that talc may be related to other predisposing factors should not be disregarded.” The authors hoped more people would research the issue.
      Dr. Daniel Cramer at Harvard took up the challenge in a study published in 1982. He compared records from more than 400 women and found that women who had ovarian cancer were more likely to have used talc in their genital areas.
      Cramer conductedsubsequent studies and became the first American scientist to raise alarm bells about using talc in the genital area, but his work was not alone. The conceptcomes up more than 100 times in PubMed, a search engine for medical studies, since 1971, and the results are mixed. Some study reviews show a moderate risk. A few show that it “does not appear to influence cancer risk.“Most are population-based studies and cannot prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
      In general, cancer causes are tricky to prove, since it takes time for cancer to develop and it can be influenced by a wide variety of factors.
      “When it comes to talc and cancer, the message is not straightforward. It’s not necessarily black and white, and it’s a bit more complicated to explain to the layperson,” said Dr. Paolo Boffetta. The professor of medicine, hematology and medical oncology at Mt. Sinai was in the room in 2006 when the International Agency for Research in Cancer, which falls under the World Health Organization, decided to classify the use of talc in the genital area as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
      Based on his own research, Boffetta found, “there seems to be a small increase or risk for women who are heavy users of genital talc,” he said. “However, we don’t necessarily know what causes it.”
      Boffetta, who also thinks more research is necessary, believes that talc use in the genital area, while not a strong cancer risk factor like smoking, “may be a real factor in some cases.”
      However, some studies have found no connection at all. A 2014 study of more than 61,000 postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study suggested that talc use in the genital area “does not appear to influence ovarian cancer risk.” A study in 2016 found that douching rather than talc was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer after looking at more than 50,000 women enrolled in the Sister Study, a national research study for risk factors for breast cancer.
      The research that fits into the modest association category includes a 2016 study focused on talc use in the genital area in black women. Researchers looked at nearly 600 cases of ovarian cancer and found a “modestly stronger association” with people who used talc. That risk increased more in those who used it below the belt. Author Dr. Joellen Schildkraut, an epidemiologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, also believes that more research is needed.
      There are some theories that talc may cause an inflammation that can become cancer, but that idea is still being tested. “I don’t think we have definitive evidence that this causes ovarian cancer, but I do think we have a hypothesis that there is a connection. Looking at my data, it should give people pause for concern,” Schildkraut said. “It is not a necessary item to use, so why take a chance with it?”
      The most recent studies seem to suggest a small connection. A January meta-analysis, or review of 24 case-control and three cohort studies, found “a consistent association” between talc use and ovarian cancer. “Some variation in the magnitude of the effect was found when considering study design and ovarian cancer subtype,” the study said.A July meta-analysisof27 studies found a “weak but statistically significant association between genital use of talc and ovarian cancer, which appears to be limited to serious carcinoma with suggestion of dose-response.”
      An August review and meta-analysis in Epidemiology found that “in general, there is a consistent association” between talc use and ovarian cancer.
      Dr. Graham Colditz, who has been used as an expert for the plaintiffs in some of the lawsuits, thinks there is a connection.
      “The evidence has really accumulated over decades and multiple studies,” said Colditz, the Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and deputy directorof prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center. He believes the testing methods have improved since the 2014 study found no connection and scientists have gotten a better handle on understanding the duration and frequency of use of the product and how a lifetime burden of exposure may create an association.
      “That evidence has really come together and built over nearly 30 years now,” Colditz said. “This kind of science takes time.”
      US and international government agencies and medical associations that track what causes cancer seem to fall in the need-more-research camp. According to Johnson & Johnson’s website, it sells its talc products around the world, but there are some restrictions on the way talc can be used in cosmetics and baby products in the European Union and in Canada.
      The US National Toxicology Program, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, keeps a congressionally mandated list of “agents, substances, mixtures, and exposure circumstances that are known or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans.” Talc is not among the 248 listed; however, in 2010, when it was up for consideration to be included in the list, the agency explained that has not fully reviewed talc as a possible carcinogen.
      “The NTP deferred consideration of listing talc (asbestiform and non-asbestiform talc) in the 10th RoC because its 2000 review of talc found that there has been considerable confusion over the mineral nature and consequences of exposure to talc, both containing asbestiform fibers and not containing asbestiform fibers. It has become evident that the literature on both forms of talc, with a few exceptions, provides an inadequate characterization of the actual materials under study to enable one to reach definitive conclusions concerning the specific substances responsible for the range of adverse health outcomes reported.”
      The National Cancer Institute website points to the 2014 study that doesn’t find a link and suggests that “the weight of evidence does not support an association between talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer,” although it also includes talc in a list of factors for which “it is not clear whether the following affect the risk of ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancer.”
      The American Cancer Society also says talc’s relation to cancer “is less clear” and “findings have been mixed.” It adds that “although there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancerrisk,” its bottom-line advice is, “Until more information is available, people concerned about using talcum powder may want to avoid or limit their use of consumer products that contain it.”

      Laying out the case

      Smith spent about five more years immersed in talc research. He joined ovarian cancer associations. He’d visit experts on free nights and weekends. He read ovarian cancer blogs.
      Late one night, reading a blog, Smith saw a question from Deane Berg of South Dakota, who shared that she was a longtime talc user who had ovarian cancer. She’d read some of the talc cancer studies and wondered whether anyone knew anything about it. “So, I immediately (replied to her) and said ‘I’ve been investigating this,’ ” Smith said.
      Smith asked whether he could help, and Berg sent her medical records. Smith also got tissue samples of her ovarian cancer tumors and sent those along with the records to some of the experts he had met.
      One of those experts was Cramer, who had done the 1982 study. Cramer later testified that he found no family history or genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer in Berg’s records. Smith also sent the tissue sample to Harvard pathologist Dr. John Godleski, who found talc in Berg’sovarian cancer tissue, Smith said.
      “I asked them, could they come to court and state scientifically to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that talc was a contributing factor to Mrs. Berg’s ovarian cancer,” Smith said,”and they said ‘absolutely, yes.’ ”
      Johnson & Johnson tried to get Godleski excluded as an expert in court, but the court determined that he was qualified, “and the opinion is relevant and stems from reliable methodologies.” Johnson & Johnson went on to challenge his findings in court.

      The cases begin

      Smith decided, even as a solo practitioner, he could take on the pharmaceutical giant. He personally sifted through hundreds of thousands of records from Johnson & Johnson. “I printed out all the documents on my computer, had them stacked all around this office, filing every space. And every day for 10 months, for 10 hours a day, I looked through the documents one by one,” Smith said. “I could not believe what I would discover.”
      Godleski’s report on Berg’s cancer, which was read at trial, said that “based on the findings in this case, it can be stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the talc found in this case is evidence for a causal link between the presence of talc and the development of the patient’s ovarian cancer.”
      Smith won the first talc powder case in the country in 2013. The jury found that Johnson & Johnson was negligent, but it didn’t award Berg any damages. “So, it was kind of a bittersweet result,” Smith said. “But from there, I knew this was a much larger issue.”
      When news of the trial spread, Smith’s eventual law partner on the case, Meadows, wrote a short article for his firm’s newsletter about Smith’s win. Legal experts say it’s incredibly difficult to prove exposure to a particular product may be linked to cancer. A win in South Dakota, even without damages, meant Smith might be on to something. Meadows thought after his article came out that he’d hear from women who might be interested in bringing their own cases.
      Instead, Smith called.

      A legal whirlwind

      Other women with ovarian cancer had contacted Smith. More potential cases meant more work than Smith could handle. He and Meadows decided to work together and started flushing out what became a winning strategy, at least with juries.
      In 18 months, half a dozen juries had ruled in their clients’favor, awarding tens orhundreds of millionsto five ofthe six plaintiffs in individual cases. One of those women was Giannecchini. She flew to St. Louis in 2016 and listened to every word of her trial.
      “I learned a lot from them, although it was strange to hear about your life this way,” she said. “I’m kind of a private person, so sharing every little bit of your life wasn’t easy for me, but I just felt like it was something that I had to do.”
      In court, a black cardigan wrapped around her shoulders, Giannecchini talked about how the grueling cancer treatment had left her with little energy, but she was determined to live. An attorney from her team showed a series of pictures Giannecchini would take with her grandchildren every Easter. They paused to look at one where she is surrounded by five grandkids, all dressed in robin’s egg blue. In the picture, Giannecchini wears a lavender headscarf, covering what she called her “old bald head” from chemo. “I decided to just embrace that and say ‘this is what cancer does,’ ” Giannecchini said.
      In Giannecchini’s case, and in the others, legal teams have to show general causation and specific causation. That means people with medical expertise or scientists who have peer-reviewed research on the topic have to explain how using talc in the genital area is connected to cancer and that it caused the harm in these particular cases. The strategy varies from case to case, but Giannecchini’s legal team has also regularly argued that Johnson & Johnson knew about these health concerns and ignored them. Johnson & Johnson’s legal teamhas presented experts showingthere is no link between its products and cancer.

      Johnson & Johnson’s defense

      Dr. Patricia Judson-Lancaster, an obstetrician-gynecologist now based in Utah, has testified on behalf of Johnson & Johnson. In Giannecchini’s case, she said that “talc has no relevance to ovarian cancer.”
      “Cancer is caused by genetic mutations,” she told the jury. “We don’t know what causes those gene mutations in ovarian cancer, but we specifically know from studies that talc does not cause mutations in genes,” she said, reiterating, “talc does not cause gene mutations.
      “Talc is not the cause,” she emphasized. “I almost wish it was the cause; it would be such the simple thing to do.”
      Joshua Muscat, a professor of public health sciences in the college of medicine at Penn State who also has testified for Johnson & Johnson as an expert, agreesthatthere is no link. He authored a review article looking at past studies about talc use in thegenital area.
      “We conclude that the weak statistical associations observed in a number of epidemiological studies do not support a causal association,” he said. Unlike most other scientists, he said he doesn’t think more research on the topic is necessary. He thinks the issue is settled.
      Williams, one of the lawyers for Johnson & Johnson, said that “hard science” studies in animals and human cells, compared with epidemiological studies that show a possible association, do not show that talc causes cancer, and that’s the key.
      “The most compelling argument, I think, is trying to get juries to focus on the notion that correlations or association is not the same as causation,” Williams said. “So an example we use is bald men and hats. Just because bald men wear hats more often than men who have a full head of hair doesn’t mean that wearing the hats makes their hair fall out. There is an association, a correlation, but there isn’t a cause there. Wearing a hat has nothing to do with male pattern baldness, scientists will tell you.”

      An end and a beginning

      The jury in Giannecchini’s case decided that there was an association between talc and cancer. In October 2016, it awarded her $70 million. The decision is on appeal.
      Hers came asone ofa string ofseparatejury verdicts against Johnson & Johnson. In February 2016, a jury awarded Jacqueline Fox $72 million. In May 2016, a jury awarded Gloria Ristesund $55 million. A year later, in May, a jury awarded Louis Slemp $110 million. And in August, Eva Echeverria got an award of $417 million. Johnson & Johnson won one case in March of last year, and in June, there was a mistrial. In total, juries have handed out $724.5 million in separate decisions. But that is not the end of the story.
      Judges have not completely agreed with these jury decisions, and two have been reversed. The Fox case was reversed on jurisdictional issues: The plaintiff lived in Alabama, and Johnson & Johnson is based in New Jersey. The case was heard in St. Louis, which a judge determined wasn’t allowed based on an unrelated court ruling in June.
      The other, the Echeverria case, was thrown out based on science. The judge cited”insufficiency of the evidence as to the causation as to both defendants,” Johnson & Johnson and its consumer products subsidiary.
      She also ruled that there was error in law occurring at trial and misconduct of the jury, which led to excessive damages.
      “That ruling may have taken the wind out of the sails of these cases, but it shouldn’t be a permanent setback,” said Jean Eggen, the distinguished professor emerita of law at Widener University Law School in Delaware. “These are early days still.”
      Litigation like this, unlike criminal law, “can take forever,” and “cancer is always very complicated to prove.” With tobacco and asbestos, it took decades before the science showed, and the courts believed that there may be a connection,” Eggen explained. “It does make you wonder what the next part of the story will be.”
      As far as Johnson & Johnson is concerned, it has said it will continue to fight these cases.

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      Smith and Meadows — and dozens of other attorneys involved in these cases — are determined to get their day in court. “What the future holds for this litigation, I don’t know,” Smith said. “I hope and pray at a minimum Johnson & Johnson will at least put a warning label on their product.”
      Williams, one of the Johnson & Johnson lawyers, thinks that putting a label on the product would be “irresponsible.”
      “I think having a cancer warning on a product that hasn’t been shown to cause cancer, it just isn’t the right thing to do,” he said. “If 40 years of animal studies and human cell studies have failed to show some causal connection in using talc anywhere on your body and ovarian cancer, and given that, putting a cancer warning on the product wouldn’t be proper.”
      Giannecchini, who watches for news of the other trials and waits for a final ruling in her own case, continues her own personal battle with cancer. Her doctors monitor her condition closely.
      “I’m fighting it,” Giannecchini said. She hopes to continue to be around to tell her story. “So far, so good. Here I am.”

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/11/health/talc-ovarian-cancer-cases/index.html

      A Neuroscientist Lost Her Mind From Cancer. Shes Not Alone.

      Barbara Lipska was already a two-time cancer survivor when her hand disappeared in front of her face in 2015.

      The neuroscientist and director of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health specializes in studying schizophrenia. When she moved her right hand and it disappeared, she immediately predicted her eventual diagnosis.

      I thought right away: brain tumor, she told The Daily Beast. But I quickly expelled it. I didnt have time for brain tumors.

      Lipska, whose book The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery was published on April 3, had already faced her own mental health challenges in the wake of battling breast cancer in 2009, then melanoma in 2011. She sought psychotherapy at the recommendation of her daughter.

      Shes not alone in needing help as a cancer patient. According to the American Cancer Society, feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common in people with cancer, and up to one in 4 people with cancer have clinical depression.

      I didnt have time for brain tumors.
      Barbara Lipska, neuroscientist and author

      The mental health issues Lipska started experiencing in 2015 were extreme. There was the vision issue, her disappearing hand, and the suddenly unrecognizable faces of colleagues. There was also her memoryforgetting where she lived while out on a run and an impaired awareness of having to urinate, leading her to pee her pants. And there was also her changing personality, breakdowns and overall failure to see that she was experiencing these things. Lipska, whose entire career revolved around these kinds of behaviors caused by mental health disorders, suddenly started experiencing them herself.

      Lipskas brain tumors were metastases, secondary malignant growths in the brain that were a result of her melanoma. Her largest tumor was the size of an almond. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, melanoma is a common cancer to metastasize to the brain, along with lung, breast, and colon.

      One of Lipskas doctors, Ayal Aizer, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told The Daily Beast that there are a number of elements to consider when patients are diagnosed with metastases, namely the location of their tumors, which eventually defines how they manifest. Lipskas tumors inhabited her brains frontal cortex, which, she writes in her book, determines who humans are.

      Even if theyre small, theres a psychological aspect of having cancer in the brain which is very difficult to digest and ultimately cope with, and in addition to that, some patients who have brain metastases actually have symptoms that can impair what we value most in life like vision, coordination or speech or walking and the ability to think clearly and digest information, he said.

      It really can significantly impact the life.

      Aizer said that a patients mental healthcare is dictated by what they want or express in their unique needs. Sometimes, patients like to stick to strictly medical facts when dealing with oncologists; other times, they want to have an all-hands-on-deck approach, with psychologists, psychiatrists, even family therapists. The goal is to help patients process their mental and neurological issues, digest it, cope with it.

      Sometimes we can bring in speech and language and occupational therapists, and I think just having the opportunity to sit with a mental health professional in the office for an hour where were not talking about chemo or immunotherapy or radiation or surgery and its talking about what life is like, what challenges theyre facing and having someone to sort of listen, serve as a sounding board and come up with strategies to cope is really valuable, Aizer said.

      Lipska underwent many different treatments for the metastases, like immunotherapy, radiation, steroids and targeted therapy. And slowly, her clarity came back bit by bit, but she was entirely unaware of how shed behaved, so much so that her family had to fill her in on her behaviors.

      Today, Lipska is now in remission. Its been 16 months after the initial findings of her tumors, but shes aware there could be more cancer cells still in her body. Theres also the chance shell develop necrosis, an effect of radiation that destroys healthy brain tissue.

      But mostly, Lipska is positive, thankful. Shes happy to have her memory and brain back and to have learned so much from her experience that she can use toward her own work.

      Though shes regained her neurological function, she largely associates what she went through with what mentally ill people go through every day.

      In the course of losing and regaining my sanity, Ive come to identify with other people who have known mental illnesses firsthand, Lipska said in her book, explaining that the symptoms she exhibited fall in line with diagnoses for dementia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Despite conducting research on mental illness for over thirty years, I believe it is my own suffering that truly taught me how the brain worksand how profoundly frightening it is when our minds fail.

      Lipska said her compassion for those with mental illness is one of the many things this experience left her with.

      The brain is an incredibly complex mechanism and we have no idea what happens in people with mental illness, so theres more empathy, it gives rise to more tolerance and more passion toward research in this field and more passion to find a cure, which I spend my life working on.

      Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/a-neuroscientist-lost-her-mind-from-cancer-shes-not-alone

      Trump judicial nominee Wendy Vitter won’t say if segregated schools are bad.

      Asked whether she agreed with the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, federal judicial nominee Wendy Vitter hesitated.

      During her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, April 11, Vitter, a nominee for a post in the Eastern District of Louisiana, was asked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) whether or not she agreed with the landmark civil rights case that effectively ended legal segregation in schools.

      “I don’t mean to be coy, but I think I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions — which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with,” Vitter responded. “Again, my personal, political, or religious views I would set aside.”

      Pressed on the matter, Vitter refused to clarify whether or not she believed this was a decision the court got right or whether she agreed with it, but she did say she’d uphold precedents set by higher courts if confirmed. The answer quickly drew the shock and ire of the Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization founded in 1950.

      Vitter’s history as an anti-abortion activist played a role in her hearing as well, when she was asked about Roe v. Wade.

      At an anti-abortion rally in 2013, Vitter reportedly said, “Planned Parenthood says they promote women’s health. It is the saddest of ironies that they kill over 150,000 females a year. The first step in promoting women’s health is to let them live.”

      When asked by Blumenthal whether or not she still believes her past statement, Vitter refused to answer, simply saying that she is “pro-life” but would set aside personal and religious views if confirmed. At another point, Vitter was asked about past efforts to get brochures into doctors offices that falsely claimed abortions cause breast cancer and made a dubious connection between women taking birth control and being murdered.

      Vitter and family attend her husband David’s swearing in ceremony to the U.S. Senate. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

      Vitter is just one of many controversial Trump judicial nominees who would receive a lifetime appointment if confirmed.

      Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/trump-judicial-nominee-wendy-vitter-won-t-say-if-segregated-schools-are-bad

      28 Of The Most Dangerous Things Science Has Strongly Linked To Cancer

      Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the US, second only to heart disease.

      It fundamentally affects the way our cells grow and divide, changing them in perverse ways. All cancer is a result of damage or genetic mutations in our DNA. The nasty, debilitating class of diseases spreads through a body like an invading army, as toxic cells grow relentlessly into unruly tumors.

      Some cases of cancer are out of our control, determined by genetic defects and predispositions passed down from one generation to the next, or spurred by genetic changes we undergo through our lifetime.

      But we also know that breathing in certain substances, eating specific things, and even using some kinds of plastics ups the risk of developing some deadly cancers.

      Here are some known carcinogens (cancer-causers), as well as a few more things scientists are zeroing in on as prime suspects.

      Sugar

      Scientists now know that eating too much sweet stuff can not only lead to diabetes, but actively damage your cells and increase your risk of developing cancer.

      But that’s not all.

      New research suggests that sugar may fuel tumor growth in the body — because cancer loves to use sugar as fuel.

      “The hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth” Johan Thevelein, a Belgian molecular biologist, said in October after the release of his study.

      Scientists say that the groundbreaking research gives us a better understanding of how sugar and cancer interact and that it could one day help create targeted diet strategies for patients.

      Processed foods

      Any food that comes in a crinkly plastic wrapper, is industrially sealed, and is designed to last for months without spoiling may be a quick on-the-go fix for a hunger pang, but it’s also most likely increasing your risk of cancer.

      Scientists in France recently zeroed in on a link between people who eat more processed foods and those who develop cancer.

      They’re not sure yet whether the problem is the shelf-stabilizing ingredients, the plastic packaging, or some combination of the two. And because their study was correlative, it’s possible there’s some other hidden factor at work.

      Smoking

      Though the tobacco industry tried to cover this one up, we’ve known for years that tobacco smoke has at least 70 cancer-causing chemicals inside.

      And it’s not just smokers who are affected — people who inhale secondhand smoke can develop deadly forms of cancer too.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says: “Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20-30%.”

      People who chew their tobacco are at increased risk too.

      Tanning and unprotected sun exposure

      gg-foto/Shutterstock

      According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma by 75%.

      Regular sun can hurt you too, so wearing protective clothing and sunscreen and finding shade are good ideas if you’re going to be out in the sunshine for more than 15 minutes.

      Toxic chemicals at work

      Some people work with cancer-causing substances daily.

      Those at risk of coming in contact with cancer-causing substances on the job include:

      • Aluminum workers.

      • Painters.

      • Tar pavers, who come in contact with the carcinogen benzene.

      • Rubber manufacturers.

      • Hairdressers who deal with dyes every day.

      • Nail-salon workers breathing in dangerous fumes.

      • And everyone who works the night shift (the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified nighttime work as a probable carcinogen in 2007).

      The CDC has a full list of occupational cancer hazards.

      Arsenic

      Arsenic, a natural part of the Earth’s crust, is toxic in its inorganic form. It’s often found in contaminated drinking water in places like Bangladesh, or in spots where irrigation systems for crops use arsenic water.

      The World Health Organization says at least 140 million people in 50 countries drink water containing high levels of arsenic.

      It’s also one of the cancer-causing agents in tobacco.

      Charred meat, and grilling over an open flame

      Smoky meats from the grill may be tender and tasty, but they probably also increase your risk of cancer. That’s because the muscle meats contain compounds called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

      According to the National Cancer Institute, when meats like beef, poultry, or fish are cooked over a hot open flame or pan-fried at high temperatures, the fat and juices they release into the fire spark flames with the dangerous chemicals inside that then cook into the meat we eat.

      They’re not positive that these chemicals cause cancer, but in lab tests they have been found to change DNA in ways that might increase the risk of cancer.

      Coal

      Coal miners have for years had higher rates of cancer in their lungs, bladder, and stomach. There’s sufficient data to suggest miners who deal with coal gasification or who inhale coal dust can get cancer.

      Alcohol

      Regular heavy alcohol consumption can up your risk of developing several different kinds of cancer, including throat, liver, breast and colon cancer.

      According to the National Cancer Institute, “the risk of developing cancer increases with the amount of alcohol a person drinks.”

      Diesel exhaust

      Diesel oil has more than 30 components that can cause cancer, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

      Salt-cured meat or fish and pickled foods

      Twitter/Cavistons Food Emporium

      Salt-cured fish, which is popular in China, is high in nitrates and nitrites — known carcinogens in animals that may also cause cancer in humans. The chemical compounds can damage DNA, leading to head and neck cancer.

      According to Cancer Research UK, “people from China, or with Chinese ancestry living in the UK, have higher rates of nasopharyngeal cancer than other ethnic groups,” something that might be because of their diet.

      Eating lots of pickled foods can also increase your risk of stomach cancer.

      Fracking

      Chemicals used in oil fracking that may be released into air and water include the cancer-causers benzene and formaldehyde.

      Processed meats like ham, bacon, and sausage

      Sorry.

      The World Health Organization says processed meats like hot dogs, ham, bacon, and sausage can cause cancer. That’s because the meat has been treated in some way to preserve or flavor it, such as by salting, curing, fermenting, or smoking.

      The WHO also says it’s possible that any kind of red meat could be linked to an increased risk of cancers like colorectal cancer.

      Asbestos

      Asbestos was used as an insulation material for years before the dust was linked to lung cancer.

      Products that contain asbestos are not completely banned in the US, though the Environmental Protection Agency regulates their use.

      Birth control and estrogens

      Hormones can cause cancer too.

      Women who start menstruation early or go into menopause later can increase their risk of breast cancer because they’re exposed to more estrogen and progesterone made by the ovaries.

      Using birth control pills can also increase a woman’s risk of developing breast and cervical cancers.

      Viruses

      Catching certain kinds of viruses can indirectly increase your risk of cancer. That’s because in some situations, viruses trigger genetic changes in cells that can contribute to cancer.

      The CDC says: “Some viruses linked to cancer are the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer; hepatitis B and C viruses, which can cause liver cancer; and the Epstein-Barr virus, which may cause a type of lymphoma. Also, the H. pylori bacterium can cause gastric cancer.”

      Your family

      Some cancer risk is passed down from one generation to the next. Genetic mutations play a key role in about 5-10% of all cancers.

      “Genetic changes that promote cancer can be inherited from our parents if the changes are present in germ cells, which are the reproductive cells of the body (eggs and sperm),” the National Cancer Institute says.

      For example, certain kinds of breast cancer are a result of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

      Obesity

      Obesity can put you at increased risk of developing types of cancers including breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, kidney, and pancreas.

      Prevention includes eating healthy foods and getting enough physical activity, both of which not only help people maintain a healthy weight, but also reduce the risk of some of those cancers.

      Formaldehyde

      Lego

      Scientists have known for years that formaldehyde can cause nasal cancer in rats.

      The preserving agent and disinfectant is used in some glues and building products, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer says it can cause cancer in humans too.

      Air pollution

      Smoggy air — and the particulates in it — can also lead to cancer.

      Soot in general isn’t great. In London, people started noticing lots of chimney sweeps developing scrotal cancer in the 1770s, and further studies found a link between the backbreaking chimney work and higher cancer rates.

      Soot inhalation has also been linked to lung, esophageal, and bladder cancers.

      Silica

      Silica is a natural mineral found in sand, stone, and concrete. But when construction workers and miners inhale silica particles by cutting, sawing or drilling into rock, it can increase their risk of developing lung cancer.

      Radiation

      We know that X-rays and gamma rays can cause cancer. We can also get it from solar UV rays.

      But one trip to the doctor isn’t going to give you cancer.

      The link between radiation and cancer risk tends to show up in studies of people who’ve been exposed to high doses of radiation, like people affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and people who have cancer, who are sometimes treated with high doses of radiation.

      Still, the American Cancer Society cautions that “there is no threshold below which this kind of radiation is thought to be totally safe.”

      Chronic, long-term, DNA-damaging inflammation

      Chronic inflammation from things like long-term infections, bowel disease, or obesity can all damage a person’s DNA and lead to higher cancer rates.

      Some plastics

      Plastics can be dangerous, especially when they leach chemicals out through scratches or cracks in a container.

      BPA is a synthetic estrogen that has been used in many plastics and resins since the 1960s. BPA resins can be used inside products like metal food cans as sealants, while polycarbonate BPA plastics can include water bottles and food storage containers.

      BPA even shows up on the shiny side of receipt paper to stabilize the ink.

      While many plastics manufacturers have started labeling their products “BPA-free,” there’s still a lot of the breast- and prostate-cancer-causing stuff around.

      Acrylamide

      Rawpixel.com/Unsplash

      The browning of some foods cooked at high temperatures — like bread, coffee, or biscuits — produces a chemical compound called acrylamide.

      This happens naturally in a process called the Maillard reaction.

      But the dose of acrylamide in a toasty cup of coffee or a chewy cookie is probably not going to kill you — it’s dangerous when consumed in large doses (and it’s one of the toxic chemicals smokers inhale), but there’s no evidence that a little browning is harmful.

      A California judged ruled this week that some companies that sell coffee sellers must include labels warning their customers about the possible cancer risks.

      Read the original article on Business Insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2018.

      Read next on Business Insider: 11 potentially cancer-causing things you might use every day

      Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/28-of-the-most-dangerous-things-science-has-strongly-linked-to-cancer/

      Late prostate cancer diagnosis ‘worries’

      Image copyright Science Photo Library

      Four in 10 prostate cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed late, a study suggests.

      The report by charity Orchid found a “worrying trend” of late diagnosis with 37% of prostate cancer cases diagnosed at stages three and four.

      The report found one in four cases of prostate cancer was diagnosed in A&E.

      In February figures showed the number of men dying from prostate cancer had overtaken female deaths from breast cancer for the first time in the UK.

      With an aging population, the charity has called for urgent action to prevent a “ticking time bomb in terms of prostate cancer provision”.

      Orchid chief executive Rebecca Porta said: “With prostate cancer due to be the most prevalent cancer in the UK within the next 12 years, we are facing a potential crisis in terms of diagnostics, treatment and patient care. Urgent action needs to be taken now.”

      The report canvassed the opinion of the UK’s leading prostate cancer experts and looked at previously published data to get a picture of the prostate cancer care across the UK.

      The data came from organisations such as NHS England, charities and the National Prostate Cancer Audit.

      The report says that 42% of prostate cancer patients saw their GP with symptoms twice or more before they were referred, with 6% seen five or more times prior to referral.

      Greater awareness

      Prof Frank Chinegwundoh, a urological surgeon at Bart’s Health NHS Trust said: “25% of prostate cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed at an advanced stage.

      “This compares to just 8% in the US where there is greater public awareness of prostate cancer and greater screening,” he added.

      He said while there was controversy over the effectiveness of the standard PSA test used to detect the cancer, “it is still vital that patients are diagnosed early to assess if they need treatment or not as advanced prostate cancer is incurable”.

      The report also said there needed to be renewed efforts to develop better testing methods.

      Prostate cancer symptoms

      • prostate cancer is diagnosed by using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, biopsies and physical examinations
      • there can be few symptoms of prostate cancer in the early stages, and because of its location most symptoms are linked to urination
      • needing to urinate more often, especially at night
      • needing to run to the toilet
      • difficulty in starting to urinate
      • weak urine flow or taking a long time while urinating
      • feeling your bladder has not emptied fully
      • men with prostate cancer can also live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment because the disease often progresses very slowly

      The PSA test is available free to any man aged 50 or over who requests it, but the report said this can “create inequity” with tests being taken up by “more highly educated men in more affluent areas”.

      Prof Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the UK National Screening Committee, said the test was not offered universally because it was not very good at predicting which men have cancer.

      “It will miss some cancers and often those cancers that are picked up when using the PSA test are not harmful,” she explained.

      “Treatment for prostate cancer can cause nasty side effects so we need to be sure we are treating the right men and the right cancers.

      “There is a lot of research into screening and treatment for prostate cancer and the committee, along with NICE and the NHS, is keeping a close eye on the evidence as it develops,” she added.

      Related Topics

      Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43669439

      Helix Takes Clinical Genetic Testing Straight to Consumers

      During a recent Uber ride, Madhuri Hegde’s driver asked her what she did for a living. The chief scientific officer for laboratory services at PerkinElmer, she prepared to bore him with a description of the tests her company had developed—most recently to flag serious genetic disorders. Instead, he was intrigued. “Where can I get one of those?” he asked.

      For years, PerkinElmer has only offered that clinical test to doctors. It screens for all 59 genes that researchers are sure play a role in one of 34 conditions you can treat if you catch it early enough. Genes like PKP2, mutations in which can increase the risk of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, a leading cause of sudden heart failure in young people. Or ATP7B, which can point to Wilson disease, where copper accumulates dangerously in the liver. Usually physicians only prescribe the test when they think their patients might be at risk for one of those conditions. But soon, anyone curious about their health—Hegde’s Uber driver included—will be able to request it.

      PerkinElmer announced Tuesday it will start selling its test this summer through the consumer genomics marketplace Helix, a spin-out of sequencing giant Illumina. Helix launched its platform last July, with 18 products meant to inspire customers to embark on a journey of discovery through DNA. Some boasted dubious science; some were just silly. Only one of them had a hardcore health bent—a test to see if hopeful parents carried any disruptive genes they could pass on to their kids.

      Since then, though, Helix has built a number of partnerships to offer more medically relevant insights, PerkinElmer being one. Helix says it's just responding to demand; patients are into democratizing access to clinical tests. But as more people turn to their DNA to make decisions about their health, medical professionals who help make those decisions wisely worry about their ability to keep up.

      “You may think DNA is DNA regardless of what you’re looking for, but context really matters here,” says Ana Morales, a certified genetic counselor at the Ohio State University Medical Center and president-elect of the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Normally, a doctor would order a test like PerkinElmer’s when a patient starts presenting symptoms, like an abnormal heart rhythm. Maybe they even have a brother or sister with similar complaints. Algorithms and experts would then comb through the patient’s DNA looking for places in their genome where specific mutations—called variants—might appear. All mutations aren’t created equal; they’re only looking for ones that geneticists have validated as playing a role in certain diseases. How big a role changes from variant to variant, and from patient to patient. Without symptoms, matching becomes a guessing game.

      “We’re now moving away from interpreting a variant in someone who has a disease to someone who doesn’t,” says Morales. “That is possible, but the level of expertise required to do that is limited to within a few experts in the genetic community. There’s only a very select group of people in the US right now who would feel comfortable doing that on a routine basis.”

      That’s one reason a doctor might not tell all their patients about the availability of tests like this one. The other is cost. Sequencing plus analysis can run into the thousands of dollars, which insurers won’t reimburse if the test-taker is healthy. Right now insurance companies are only required to cover such screens under certain criteria—like if a woman has a family history of breast cancer. Responsible physicians are reluctant to put their patients or their institutions on the hook for that bill.

      Hegde says Helix’s infrastructure will allow them to offer the test at a greatly reduced rate when it actually launches on the platform a few months from now, though she couldn’t give an exact price tag. That includes whole exome sequencing on their Illumina machines (that’s the portion of the genome that codes for proteins), and the physician network that Helix has already built out to accommodate any products that might require a doctor’s signature. That’s right, to buy this test you’ll still need to talk to a doctor—just maybe not the one you’re used to seeing for your annual check-up.

      Customers who want to buy PerkinElmer’s test have to fill out a brief questionnaire—some basic family history and reasons why you might want to take the test—which gets routed to a hire-a-doc third party. If there’s a chance they’re already presenting symptoms or have a family history suggesting a condition that would be covered by insurance, they’ll suggest that user go the traditional testing route through their primary physician. If they appear healthy, they get the all-clear to order the test.

      Then Helix sequences all 22,000 coding regions of the customer’s genome and sends the file over to PerkinElmer for analysis, which takes about a week. If they find anything that requires further attention they’ll bring in some real humans to compare what they know about the customer with what they know about the variant—how it’s inherited, how it changes pathways in the body. It could take another week to spit out that report, which goes back to the physician network, which then contacts the customer with any variants that could require follow-up. Genetic counseling services also bundled through Helix’s platform will be available upon request.

      “We’re really trying to focus on the 99 percent of people that have never had access to this kind of testing, but of course we want it to be responsible access,” says Helix co-founder James Lu. “It’s for people who are ostensibly healthy and want to stay that way for as long as possible.”

      Access to those kinds of proactive customers are what drew Hegde to Helix. “Not a lot of people know about this kind of testing,” she says. “But for every one of the 59 genes on this list there are interventions, and earlier intervention translates to saving health care costs as well as lives.”

      It’s true that on an individual level, knowing you have a bad BRCA mutation might lead you to more regular check-ups and an earlier diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer. But on the question of whether or not widespread genetic testing will actually lead to better outcomes and cut costs? Researchers still aren’t so sure. And with only about 4,000 certified genetic counselors total in the US—or one for every 80,000 Americans—it’s hard for most medical professionals to justify widespread testing. But hey, if your doc won’t order up a test you want, we’re betting Helix can find you one who will.

      More Consumer Genetics

      Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/helix-takes-clinical-genetic-testing-straight-to-consumers/

      Why Does Nanny-State California Hate Coffee So Much?

      Last week, a judge in California sided with the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, which had filed a lawsuit in 2010 against establishments that sell coffeeStarbucks, gas station vendors, convenience stories like 7-Eleven, and so forthto tack on a warning to their coffee (not unlike a cigarettes Surgeon General warning) that each cup of java contains acrylamide, a chemical produced when coffee beans are roasted.

      This, of course, incited backlash from everyday coffee fans to the National Coffee Association, which made a statement calling the ruling misleading, saying that it did nothing to improve public health (PDF).

      The Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) is a part of the Metzger Law Group, which describes itself as a boutique firm focusing on environmental and toxic chemical exposure in California. In the lawsuit it brought against Starbucks (PDF), Metzger is described as a California corporation, acting as a private attorney general, in the public interest.

      The problem with its description as the plaintiff? Its overexaggeration of the carcinogenic potential of coffee consumption is in fact a potential public disservice.

      To be clear, CERT isnt technically wrong that coffee contains acrylamides (a chemical regulated by the Food and Drug Administration) and of its cancer-causing potential.

      In the National Toxicology Report, a cumulative breakdown of toxins and agents that scientists have found to cause cancer and produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, acrylamides are reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogeneity from studies in experimental animals (emphasis their own).

      What does this mean? Scientists tested how acrylamides have affected mice and rats and have found symptoms ranging from benign thyroid and adrenal gland tumors to benign lung and mammary gland tumors. Those tumors occurred in a higher number of instances than the baseline level, which suggested to researchers of these studies that there was something about acrylamides that was problematic.

      Sure, those are serious and damning results to take away from these experiments. But theres three blaring problems with declaring coffee as a carcinogen on equal footing with, say, cigarettes.

      First, these are tumors that were found in rodents. While mice and rats are often used in animal experiments for drugs as a preliminary testing ground and model for humans, the fact is that they are mice and rodents, not humans. The way humans process enzymes and chemicals and additives and so forth can be very different and have effects that can vary wildly from what happens in humans.

      Second, rodent experiments often focus on dumping one chemical in large amounts into a rodents system. For mice and rats in these experiments, which not only have smaller bodies than humans but also are intaking inhumanly larger quantities of the chemical being tested, that means that they develop irregularities that might not occur during normal human consumption. Theres no doubt that acrylamide can cause cancer in high doses and has been proven to instigate tumors in rodents. The closest link to cancer between coffee and humans was a study that suggested there might be a link between consuming hot beverages and esophageal cancer (PDF).

      But the fact is that you would have to intentionally be consuming acrylamide at ridiculous, nearly impossible-to-consume doses to even be at risk of cancer. As Popular Science pointed out with the help of a statistician, it would take an adult at highest risk to consume 160 times as much as the rodents in these experiments. Even then, that would still only be at a level that toxicologists think unlikely to cause increased tumors in mice. In other words, solely focusing your entire diet on acrylamide and practically imbibing the stuff cant even guarantee that youeven micecould get a tumor.

      Which brings us to the third problem with the acrylamide lawsuit and hoopla around its apparent cancer-causing properties. Its not just coffee that contains trace amounts of itits any food thats gone through high temperatures. That can be everything from fried chicken to roasted chicken, french fries to baked potatoes, those healthier versions of potato chips made out of root vegetables to roasted produce. To avoid acrylamides would require you to avoid virtually any food that is cooked.

      The Report on Carcinogens says as much. They point to a correlation between male factory workers at places that process water soluble polymers (where acrylamides are often used) like oil recovery, water treatment facilities, and paper thickening processes. They also think there might be a correlation between Swedish, French, and American women, their diets, and instances of breast tissue showing signs of cancer, but the link was at best weak, and researchers admitted that other factors like smoking could have played a role. A 2017 meta-analysis in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention backs this up, stating the overall evidence suggests no association of coffee intake with cancers of the stomach, pancreas, lung, breast, ovary, and prostate overall.

      So when CERT points to the fact that acrylamides are in coffee and back at Proposition 65which states that California businesses with more than 10 employees are required by law to warn consumers if their products contain one of 65 chemicals that the state deems carcinogenic, causing birth defects, or harmful for reproductive systemstheres a need to pause and evaluate the real risk of acrylamides.

      If were slapping on warnings on a cup of coffee that declares it to be just as harmful as a pack of cigarettes, thats a dangerous, illogical equivalency that results in confusion and fear mongering. Making coffee consumption the equivalent of slurping poison is ludicrous. Drinking a cup or two or even three of coffee will not be dangerous; at best, youre a little less groggy, at worst a bit jittery. But at risk of developing tumors and cancer? Probably not.

      The blatant truth is that coffee can never be as violently carcinogenic as cigarettes, and calling it a cancer causing agent doesnt make sense, especially because no one drinks cups of coffee on end and therefore probably cant be poisoned by coffee in any way. In fact, the National Cancer Institute says as much on its website, noting that acrylamide levels vary and that people are exposed to substantially more acrylamide from tobacco smoke than from food.

      And there are certainly worse chemicals to worry about than a minute trace of acrylamides in coffee. Remember the trans fat bans that swept the nation about a decade ago? Hydrogenated fats are legitimately dangerous to consume, and the heightened attention given to their near-ubiquity in processed foods and ties to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke were well documented in humans to cause negative outcomes.

      But acrylamides in coffee? Nah.

      If anything, Proposition 65 and the case of labeling coffee as carcinogenic is indicative of the messiness of food studies, particularly with respect to those that teeter between sin and healthy indulgence. Theres probably no such thing as eating too many vegetables and facing negative consequences. But foods like coffee, eggs, wine, and chocolate fall in a grey area. Theyre lusciously sinful and offer something almost tantalizingly indulgent with their richness, so it makes sense that were always trying to gauge whether or not these foods that bring us so much joy are good or bad.

      The messaging, of course, is frustrating. One minute wine is heralded for its antioxidant properties, the next its vilified for its connection to various liver issues. Chocolate is similarly celebrated for its antioxidant properties, but really, who only has one square of it? Eggs too have sparked debate among industry experts who point to the whites as excellent sources of protein and nutrients, but the yolk is one big nutritional question mark.

      Coffee is like these foods, hopping back and forth between linked to a 64 percent decrease in early death and its current status as potential carcinogenic. Its apparent benefits address American health epidemics: reductions in developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease and stroke. Its benefits seem universal, linked to longer lives among Americans across demographic and socioeconomic lines, in both its caffeinated and decaffeinated forms. It might decrease rates of breast cancer and liver cancer. Of course, these are results that should be taken with a grain of salt, but theyre benefits worth noting in light of Californias painting of coffee as a demonic chemical.

      The point is this: Everything in moderation is a great nutritional phrase because it rings so true. Every human body is different thanks to the complicated gymnastics of genes and environment and chance that make everyones nutritional needs different. Seeking to figure out if a food is good or bad does nothing but muddle the debate; simply put, foods that dont fall into fruits, vegetables, legumes, water, or their ilk have good and bad qualities to them, and understanding your unique physiology and dietary needs will make their consumption either safe or not so much so for you. And its crucial to remember that niche food industries have well-oiled marketing groups that also fund studies and constantly attempt to veer public attention toward the nutritional benefits of food to eek up their profits. Food is, after all, big business.

      Which brings us back to the case of the evil cup of java, Proposition 65, and how coffee might become a villain in the state of California. Putting a warning on a cup of coffee is going to not only confuse customers, it takes away from a daily pleasure for the majority of Americans. A cup of coffee makes people less grumpy, more alert, and simply more awake. Its a bonding activity, a much-needed break in our harried world, and an art form whose most ardent fans will compare its roasting and farming and brewing to those of wine. To make coffee a nutritional devil is a step gone too far (at this rate, any foodstuff that goes through some heating for cooking could contain acrylamides).

      The bottom line: Coffee is safe. Labeling it a carcinogenic is not.

      Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-does-nanny-state-california-hate-coffee-so-much

      Butterfly And Mantis Shrimp Eyes Inspire Cameras That Can Identify Cancer And Navigate Oceans

      The eye is such a useful feature that it has evolved many times, often with differing structures and capacities. Now, a team of scientists has modeled cameras on two animal eyes very different from our own and each other. They found one can help surgeons remove cancers, while the other can help explain underwater migratory behavior.

      For cancer surgeons, one of the greatest challenges is to not leave any cancerous cells behind when removing tumors. To do that, it is essential to be able to distinguish diseased cells from the healthy ones. Chemicals that preferentially bind to tumors and fluoresce in the near infrared can help with the process, but since this is outside the range of human vision we need machines to collect the light and convert it to something surgeons can see. These are expensive and so large they can’t even fit into most operating theaters. They also only work well under low light, hindering surgeons’ capacity to see the healthy cells they don’t want to cut.

      Dr Viktor Gruev of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign turned to nature and realized the morpho butterfly found the solution millions of years ago. The butterfly can see in the near-infrared, but also at visible wavelengths, using nanoscale structures that substitute for the color detecting cones in our own retinas.

      In Optica, Gruev describes the creation of a camera using similar nanostructures, which detects the infrared fluorescence and feeds a signal to surgical goggles at a frequency human eyes can see. “The surgeon puts on the goggles that have integrated our bio-inspired camera technology, and it will protect their eyes and at the same time project the fluorescent information whenever they want it,” Gruev said in a statement.

      Besides eliminating the size and light limitations of current instruments, Gruev estimates that, once mass produced, the camera and goggles will be available for $200, compared to $20,000 for existing options.

      Prototypes have been used successfully for surgery on mice, and to remove breast cancer in humans without taking extra tissue. Gruev also demonstrated his invention’s versatility by making a dye used to identify lymph nodes for biopsies to glow in the same infrared frequencies. The technique not only enabled the surgeons to find the lymph nodes more quickly but in two patients, it located nodes the surgeons would otherwise have missed.

      Remarkable as the butterfly’s eye is, the mantis shrimp is the optical champion, with some species having 16 types of photoreceptors (compared to our three), and being able to differentiate all six types of polarized light. Gruev decided this too is worth replicating and produced Mantis Cam.

      In Science Advances, Gruev reveals this turned out to have unexpected application as an underwater GPS. “We collected underwater polarization data from all over the world in our work with marine biologists and noticed that the polarization patterns of the water were constantly changing,” Gruev said in a statement

      The changes turned out to reflect the Sun’s position in the sky at the location, which Gruev realized could be combined with the time and date, to work out the location at which images were taken. The precision of these estimates, within 61 kilometers (38 miles) is no match for satellite-based GPS, but it works at depths where satellite transmissions may not reach.

      “We could use our underwater GPS method to help locate missing aircraft, or even create a detailed map of the seafloor,” said the Queensland Brain Institute’s Dr Samuel Powell, who was first author on the paper. “Robots swarms equipped with our sensors could provide a low-cost means of underwater remote sensing – it would certainly be more cost-effective than current methods.”

      The work could also help explain how marine migratory species find their way across oceans where there are no landmarks or identifiable scents. It is already known honeybees use polarized light for navigation, and some birds probably use it to calibrate their magnetic sensors. The authors also think the light filtering to depths is being affected by pollution, and this may affect these migrations, possibly providing one explanation for whale strandings. By being able to see what the animals see, Mantis Cam could help biologists anticipate when problems will arise as a result.

      A camera based on the eye of the mantis shrimp can identify location underwater from the polarization of light. Kaitlin Southworth and Victor Gruev.

      Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/butterfly-and-mantis-shrimp-eyes-inspire-cameras-that-can-identify-cancer-and-navigate-oceans-/