Here’s a quick summary of notable recent health and cancer news:
Play to Cure: Genes in Space
Reuters reports on a new smartphone gaming app from Cancer Research UK that’s not only designed to be fun, but also help researchers analyze genetic data that would otherwise have taken them hours to sift through. The project began in March 2013, when developers from Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Google joined up with academics and scientists at a game jam in hopes of advancing work on the cure for cancer. The result is Play to Cure: Genes in Space, a simple space shooter that challenges players to collect a substance called “Element Alpha,” that in reality represents genetic cancer data. The app is free and available for iPhone and Android. For more information visit Cancer Research UK.
New FDA Anti-Smoking Campaign
CNN reviews a new anti-smoking campaign aimed at teenagers. It’s estimated that some 700 teenagers get hooked on smoking every day, and what makes this campaign standout is its graphic nature that’s intended to shock young people about the long-term negative effects of smoking. Let’s hope it works.
In Other Health and Cancer News
In this excellent infographic, The Washington Post explains the health hazards of sitting. NPR suggests that giving up alcohol for just a month might be a pretty good idea. The Well at The New York Times looks at the work of Canadian artist Robert Pope, who died from lymphoma in 1992. And the Los Angeles Times reports on vitamin C and chemotherapy.
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) sponsors World Cancer Day with the aim of improving the general knowledge about cancer and doing away with the misconceptions about this disease. Here in Washington State, cancer is more pervasive than you might think. According to SCCA’s 2012-2015 Community Health Needs Assessment, in 2006 nearly a quarter of the deaths recorded in Washington State were due to cancer. In addition, some 40% of Washingtonians will sometime in their lives be diagnosed with cancer. Many of these deaths and diagnoses could be prevented with a few steps, some simple, some not so simple:
- Getting screened is the easiest and surest way to deal with cancer, because the earlier cancer is detected, the more curable it is. That means if you’re a woman, learn about Smart Choices for Breast Health. If you’re a man, Get Smart About Your Prostate Cancer Risk, and if you’re over 50, get a colonoscopy. And if you’ve been a smoker for a long time, think about getting screened for lung cancer.
- Quit smoking. According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer kills more people than the next three most common cancers combined. If you need help, check out this handy infographic.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Use sunscreen, avoid midday sun, and by all means stay away from tanning beds and sun lights.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight, eating right, and exercising regularly will not only help to reduce your cancer risk, it will also prevent a host of other diseases.
For more tips on cancer prevention and early detection, visit the National Cancer Institute website. To learn more about World Cancer Day, check out their website, and while you’re there, sign the World Cancer Declaration, a tool that’s intended to bring more attention to the growing burden of cancer worldwide. As of this morning, over 520,000 people had added their names to the declaration.
Listed below are clinical trials that have opened at SCCA in the last several weeks. These trials are looking at new treatments for patients with lung cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and patients undergoing transplant who have been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). In addition, the last trial below is intended for people who have recently had a CT scan in which lung nodules were discovered. For more information about these trials, click on the links below. Check out our website to learn about the more than 200 ongoing clinical trials at SCCA. And follow us on Twitter at @SCCA_Trials for information about recently opened trials.
SPECT/CT in Measuring Lung Function in Patients With Lung Cancer Undergoing Radiation Therapy (8180)
Pulmonary Functional Imaging for Radiation Treatment Planning for Lung Cancer
Inotuzumab Ozogamicin for Relapsed Or Refractory Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
An Open-Label, Randomized Phase 3 Study Of Inotuzumab Ozogamicin Compared To A Defined Investigator’s Choice In Adult Patients With Relapsed Or Refractory CD22-Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
US-ATG-F to Prevent Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease (2523)
Phase 3 Study of US-ATG-F to Prevent Moderate to Severe Chronic GVHD in Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Acute Lymphoid Leukemia, and Myelodysplastic Syndrome Patients After Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation From Unrelated Donors
Early Diagnosis of Pulmonary Nodules (2658)
Early Diagnosis of Pulmonary Nodules Using A Plasma Proteomic Classifier
If you wander through a farmer’s market anytime soon there is a good chance you’ll spy something different among the dried fruit and cold weather produce: the glossy brown shells of fresh hazelnuts, also called filberts. The vast majority of hazelnuts harvested in the United States are grown in Oregon with Washington coming in well behind, but still second place. There are many varieties of hazelnuts; some are quite round, others more elongated or oval shaped. To choose the best hazelnuts, always look for smooth shells with a high gloss. Be sure to test one by shaking: fresh hazelnuts won’t rattle when shaken because the nutmeat still retains moisture.
Most hazelnut varieties have a thin dark brown skin that is faintly bitter. Many people remove the skin before eating, which is unfortunate as this is where many of the phytonutrients are concentrated. While roasting has very little effect on the health benefits of hazelnuts, removing the skin significantly decreases the phytonutrient content of both the fresh and roasted nut. So what are the health benefits of hazelnuts? Well, it turns out that this tiny nut is a nutrition giant!
Phyto Facts: Hazelnuts stand out as a great source of several cancer fighting substances, namely:
- Hazelnuts have the highest concentration of proanthocyanidin of any tree nut. In fact hazelnuts contain more of this flavonoid than many fruits and vegetables touted as rich in flavonoids. Proanthocyanidins are potent cancer fighting substances because of their ability to prevent oxidative damage to DNA and to inhibit inflammation.
- Hazelnuts are rich in beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol. Phytosterols are mainly known for their cholesterol lowering prowess, but they are also strong antioxidants that can help prevent cell mutation and cancer growth.
- One ounce of hazelnuts provides 21% of the adult daily requirement for vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the formation of free radicals when fat is metabolized. It also protects your cell membranes from oxidative damage.
- Hazelnuts are also an excellent source of manganese (one ounce provides 90% of the adult daily requirement.) Manganese is an essential component of manganese superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant enzyme.
- Finally, hazelnuts have a high concentration of oleic acid, an omega-9 monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil. Studies have shown that oleic acid can inhibit cancer cell proliferation and can induce cancer cell death.
Phyt Bite: Most people think of hazelnuts as being part of a sweet dish, but they are actually quite versatile. Besides eating these nutrient rich nuts plain or grinding to make hazelnut butter, hazelnuts can be consumed in many ways and many types of dishes. So skip the Nutella— here are two recipes to help you re-think your hazelnut consumption.
Dukkah is a Mediterranean spice and nut mix that’s usually eaten with flatbread or pita. Dip the bread into the olive oil and then into the dukkah, or just add it directly to the olive oil. This mixture is also delicious for dipping vegetables. Bonus: the other ingredients are also phyto-rich!
- ¾ cup hazelnut flour/meal (use a brand that does not remove the skin before processing, such as Bob’s Red Mill)
- ½ cup toasted sesame seeds
- ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1-½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1-½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Process whole seeds and spices in a food processor or a clean coffee/spice grinder, until ground.
- Add spice mix to the hazelnut flour and combine well.
Warm Mushroom Salad with Hazelnuts and Pecorino
This is winter’s answer to the salad course or can work as a meal in itself.
- 2 pounds mushrooms (cremini or a mix of wild mushrooms), cleaned and sliced
- 2 tablespoons finely diced shallots or green onions
- 3 tablespoons sherry or a white wine vinegar
- 9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 9 cups salad greens
- ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
- ¼ cup fresh chives, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- ¼ cup sliced shallots or green onions
- ¼ pound pecorino (Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano will also work
- ½ cup hazelnuts, roasted, skins intact, coarsely chopped
- Whisk the shallots/onions, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a bowl and let sit for five minutes (this will soften and almost pickle the shallots), before whisking in 5 tablespoons olive oil.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter until the butter foams. Add half the mushrooms, half the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until softened but not limp.
- Transfer mushrooms to a plate then repeat with the second half. When they are cooked, add the first half of the mushrooms to the pan then toss in sliced shallots. Cook over medium-low for an additional 2 minutes.
- Spread salad greens on a plate. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top. Spoon hot mushrooms over the salad greens. Pour three-quarters of the vinaigrette in the sauté pan and swirl it in the pan until heated. Season it with 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over salad and toss carefully. Adjust to taste—you may need more salt, pepper, vinaigrette or even more sherry vinegar.
- Shave cheese over the salad. Sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serve immediately.
Kim Jordan is the Manager of Medical Nutrition Therapy Services at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
The standard of care for most stage II and stage III rectal cancer patients is to provide both chemotherapy and radiation prior to surgery. SCCA’s Dr. Alessandro Fichera is one of the leaders of a new rectal cancer clinical trial, called the PROSPECT trial. The goal of the trial is to try and identify patients who do not require radiation treatment before surgery, and thus eliminate its toxic side effects. In the video below, Patient Power’s Andrew Schorr talks with Dr. Fichera about the trial and the advances gained over the years in treating patients with rectal cancer.