Cancer Deaths Down According To Recent Data But More Improvement Needed

Cancer deaths down according to recent data, but more improvement needed

Cancer deaths down according to recent data, but much more improvement needed

Friday, January 6, 2012. Although the incidence of cancer in the U.S. declined by only 0.6 percent per year in men and not at all in women between 2004 and 2008, men and women's deaths from the disease were down by 1.8 percent and 1.6 percent, according to a report published online this month in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The American Cancer Society's annual cancer statistics report, titled Cancer Statistics 2012, notes that, with the exception of indigenous Americans, cancer death rates have decreased in every racial and ethnic group in the United States over the past decade, resulting in over a million people avoiding death from the disease during this period. While African American men have a 15 percent higher incidence of cancer compared to Caucasian men and a 33 percent higher death rate from the disease, the most rapid declines in cancer death occurred among men of African and Hispanic heritage. Lung cancer accounted for nearly 40 percent of the total decline in men's cancer death rates and breast cancer accounted for 34 percent of the decline in women. Although African Americans and Caucasians experience a higher rate of cancer and poorer survival than other groups, the other groups were observed to have a greater incidence of cancers related to infectious agents, such as human papilloma virus (HPV)-induced cervical cancer.

A standard feature of the annual report's accompanying consumer publication Cancer Facts & Figures, is its Special Section, which focuses this year on the increase that has occurred in some cancers, including melanoma and cancers of the pancreas, liver, thyroid and kidney, in addition to esophageal adenocarcinoma and oropharyngeal cancers associated with HPV. When incidence rates were examined by age, the increase was greatest for liver and HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers for men and women between the ages 55 to 64 years, and for melanoma, the greatest increase occurred among those aged 65 years and older. The authors suggest that obesity and increased detection rates could play a role in the increase of these malignancies.

Data on cancer incidence is provided by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The report predicts 1,638,910 new cases of cancer and 577,190 deaths from the disease for 2012. The authors of the report caution that these estimates are based on statistical models, and may over- or underestimate cancer incidence and deaths. Nevertheless, the figures will prove useful to U.S. public health officials in their readiness to combat this devastating illness during the coming year.

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Higher selenium, nickel levels associated with protection against pancreatic cancer

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A report published online on December 20, 2011 in the journal Gut revealed a protective effect for increased levels of selenium and nickel against the development of exocrine pancreatic cancer—the most common pancreatic malignancy.

A team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Center and the University of Barcelona conducted a case-control study involving 118 men and women diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic cancer and 399 cancer-free control subjects residing in Spain. Toenail samples were analyzed for arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, selenium and other trace elements.

Having a high level of arsenic was associated with double the adjusted risk of exocrine pancreatic cancer than the risk experienced by those with a low level, and having high levels of cadmium and lead were associated with a 3.5 and six times greater risk. Subjects with a high level of selenium had a 95 percent lower risk of the disease, and those with high levels of nickel had a 73 percent decrease. While protective benefits for selenium have been indicated by numerous studies, occupational exposure to nickel has been associated with an increased risk of some cancers, however, the researchers remark that nickel may be associated with higher amounts of potentially carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls in occupational settings, which could account for the elevated cancer risk.

"Aberrant expression patterns of some selenoproteins show that they are relevant in scavenging reactive oxygen species and diminishing oxidative damage," Andre F. S. Amaral and his colleagues write. "Selenium seems also to play a role as an antagonist of arsenic, cadmium and lead, decreasing the oxidative stress caused by exposure to these elements."

They conclude that the findings point to a role of trace elements in the development of cancer of the pancreas and warrant further research.

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