FEELING STRESSED OUT???
A recently-published study on the effects of altruism led by Michael J. Poulin of the University of Buffalo, followed 846 people over five years. The participants were all dealing with some level of stress in their lives. The researchers tracked the amount of time these people spent helping others. Dr Poulin summarizes the results of the study as, “we found that when dealing with stressful situations, those who had helped others during the previous year were less likely to die than those who had not helped others.” For non-helpers, though, each stressful event increased the chance of dying over the next five years by 30 percent.
Wow. Helping out others can significantly decrease your chance of dying! Researchers do not yet understand why this relationship exists and continue to study possible causes. They think the effect may come from the same biological mechanisms that drive parents to care for their children—such as the neurohormone oxytocin—which Dr. Poulin states, “can reduce certain physical responses to stress.”
In the meantime, when you are feeling stressed, think about helping a friend, relative, or neighbor. The act will distract your mind from the stressful situation, but also may help you live longer!
A more detailed review of the research study and a link to the study can be found in an article from The Greater Good.
More Breast Cancer Treatments Hinted in Study – NYTimes.com
SO many treatment advances have been made since my diagnosis of breast cancer in 2002. We are going in the right direction in terms of finding a cure. Please consider donating your time and/or resources to cancer research.
Here is an article published in the New York Times outlining current treatment strategies:
By GINA KOLATA
Published: September 23, 2012
In findings that are fundamentally reshaping the scientific understanding of breast cancer, researchers have identified four genetically distinct types of the cancer. And within those types, they found hallmark genetic changes that are driving many cancers. These discoveries, published online on Sunday in the journal Nature, are expected to lead to new treatments with drugs already approved for cancers in other parts of the body and new ideas for more precise treatments aimed at genetic aberrations that now have no known treatment.
The study is the first comprehensive genetic analysis of breast cancer, which kills more than 35,000 women a year in the United States. The new paper, and several smaller recent studies, are electrifying the field.
“This is the road map for how we might cure breast cancer in the future,” said Dr. Matthew Ellis of Washington University, a researcher for the study.
Researchers and patient advocates caution that it will still take years to translate the new insights into transformative new treatments. Even within the four major types of breast cancer, individual tumors appear to be driven by their own sets of genetic changes. A wide variety of drugs will most likely need to be developed to tailor medicines to individual tumors.
“There are a lot of steps that turn basic science into clinically meaningful results,” said Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, an advocacy group. “It is the ‘stay tuned’ story.”
The study is part of a large federal project, the Cancer Genome Atlas, to build maps of genetic changes in common cancers. Reports on similar studies of lung and colon cancer have been published recently. The breast cancer study was based on an analysis of tumors from 825 patients.
“There has never been a breast cancer genomics project on this scale,” said the atlas’s program director, Brad Ozenberger of the National Institutes of Health.
The investigators identified at least 40 genetic alterations that might be attacked by drugs. Many of them are already being developed for other types of cancer that have the same mutations. “We now have a good view of what goes wrong in breast cancer,” said Joe Gray, a genetic expert at Oregon Health & Science University, who was not involved in the study. “We haven’t had that before.”
The study focused on the most common types of breast cancer that are thought to arise in the milk duct. It concentrated on early breast cancers that had not yet spread to other parts of the body in order to find genetic changes that could be attacked, stopping a cancer before it metastasized.
The study’s biggest surprise involved a particularly deadly breast cancer whose tumor cells resemble basal cells of the skin and sweat glands, which are in the deepest layer of the skin. These breast cells form a scaffolding for milk duct cells. This type of cancer is often called triple negative and accounts for a small percentage of breast cancer.
But researchers found that this cancer was entirely different from the other types of breast cancer and much more resembles ovarian cancer and a type of lung cancer.
“It’s incredible,” said Dr. James Ingle of the Mayo Clinic, one of the study’s 348 authors, of the ovarian cancer connection. “It raises the possibility that there may be a common cause.”
There are immediate therapeutic implications. The study gives a biologic reason to try some routine treatments for ovarian cancer instead of a common class of drugs used in breast cancer known as anthracyclines. Anthracyclines, Dr. Ellis said, “are the drugs most breast cancer patients dread because they are associated with heart damage and leukemia.”
A new type of drug, PARP inhibitors, that seems to help squelch ovarian cancers, should also be tried in basal-like breast cancer, Dr. Ellis said.
Basal-like cancers are most prevalent in younger women, in African-Americans and in women with breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Two other types of breast cancer, accounting for most cases of the disease, arise from the luminal cells that line milk ducts. These cancers have proteins on their surfaces that grab estrogen, fueling their growth. Just about everyone with estrogen-fueled cancer gets the same treatment. Some do well. Others do not.
The genetic analysis divided these cancers into two distinct types. Patients with luminal A cancer had good prognoses while those with luminal B did not, suggesting that perhaps patients with the first kind of tumor might do well with just hormonal therapy to block estrogen from spurring their cancers while those with the second kind might do better with chemotherapy in addition to hormonal therapy.
In some cases, genetic aberrations were so strongly associated with one or the other luminal subtype that they appeared to be the actual cause of the cancer, said Dr. Charles Perou of the University of North Carolina, who is the lead author of the study. And he called that “a stunning finding.”
“We are really getting at the roots of these cancers,” he said.
After basal-like cancers, and luminal A and B cancers, the fourth type of breast cancer is what the researchers called HER2-enriched. Breast cancers often have extra copies of a gene, HER2, that drives their growth. A drug, Herceptin, can block the gene and has changed the prognosis for these patients from one of the worst in breast cancer to one of the best.
Yet although Herceptin is approved for every breast cancer patient whose tumor makes too much HER2, the new analysis finds that not all of these tumors are alike. The HER2-enriched should respond readily to Herceptin; the other type might not.
The only way to know is to do a clinical trial, and one is already being planned. Herceptin is expensive and can occasionally damage the heart. “We absolutely only want to give it to patients who can benefit,” Dr. Perou said.
For now, despite the tantalizing possibilities, patients will have to wait for clinical trials to see whether drugs that block the genetic aberrations can stop the cancers. And it could be a vast undertaking to get all the drug testing done. Because there are so many different ways a breast cancer cell can go awry, there may have to be dozens of drug studies, each focusing on a different genetic change.
One of Dr. Ellis’s patients, Elizabeth Stark, 48, has a basal-type breast cancer. She has gone through three rounds of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation over the past four years. Her disease is stable now and Dr. Stark, a biochemist at Pfizer, says she knows it will take time for the explosion of genetic data to produce new treatments that might help her.
“In 10 years it will be different,” she said, adding emphatically, “I know I will be here in 10 years.”
A Great Web Resource on Teenage Suicide, written by Kurt Cobain’s cousin
Living Matters Website
Bev Cobain’s Living Matters website is an outstanding resource for anyone dealing with youth depression and/or suicide. Ms. Cobain’s bio from this site reads:
Bev Cobain is a Registered Nurse, with credentials in psychiatric/mental health nursing. Her own struggle with depression and the suicides of three family members–most recently the 1994 death of her young cousin, Kurt Cobain, front man for the band, Nirvana–ignited a passion in Bev to educate professionals, lay persons, and youth about depression and the significant public health issue of suicide. Her desire to educate resulted in her writing the acclaimed book, “When Nothing Matters Anymore: A Survival Guide for Depressed Teens” and developing the Living Matters website site to provide an additional avenue to share her knowledge and experience of youth depression and suicide.
The following statistics will probably surprise you. Teen suicide is a serious problem in the United States.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the U.S. for ages 15 through 19.
- In this country, a child or adolescent dies by suicide every 80 minutes, and a youth attempts to take his/her life every 45 seconds.
- One of ten high school students attempt suicide, while one in five has had suicidal thoughts within the previous year.
- The suicide rate for 10 to 14-yr olds has tripled in the last three decades.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE and help change the current statistics on suicide. Please take a few minutes to review this list. If you, your friends, your family, or anyone you know has any of these symptoms, please reach out and share with someone.
Sadness (with or without crying)
Lack of energy and/or motivation
Temper outbursts and/or violent episodes
Sleeping too little or too much
Little or no appetite, or eating too often
Withdrawal from friends and family
Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed (including school activities)
Feelings of fear (even if there is no conscious reason)
Feelings of extreme guilt or shame
Inability to concentrate
Increased use of alcohol or drugs
Skipping school or classes
Feelings of helplessness to change a situation*
Feelings that things will never get better*
Comment(s) about death or dying*
Writing, drawing, or listening to music about hopelessness, guns, or death*
Threatening suicide (even in a joking manner)*
*These last 5 symptoms should be taken very seriously, do not wait to contact a parent, counselor, teacher, or other trusted adult. Please let someone know right away.
For immediate help, call National Suicide Hotline Number: 1-800-273-TALK, or 9