Thursday, January 01, 2009

Now it's phosphates

But no need to worry unless you are a mouse especially bred to develop lung cancer

Common food additives known as phosphates may help lung cancer tumors grow faster, at least in mice, South Korean researchers reported on Monday. Their tests in mice suggest the additives -- found in many soft drinks, baked goods and processed meats and cheese -- may also help tumors develop in the first place. "Our study indicates that increased intake of inorganic phosphates strongly stimulates lung cancer development in mice," Myung-Haing Cho of Seoul National University, who led the study, said in a statement.

A diet high in phosphates "significantly increased the lung surface tumor lesions as well as the size," Cho's team wrote in their study. Cho said the research suggests that cutting back on inorganic phosphates "may be critical for lung cancer treatment as well as prevention."

Phosphates are critical to human nutrition and can be used in compounds that enrich calcium and iron content and prevent food from drying out. But Cho said it is possible that some people get too much. "In the 1990s, phosphorous-containing food additives contributed an estimated 470 mg per day to the average daily adult diet," Cho said. Now, he said, people can get up to 1,000 mg a day.

Writing in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Cho and colleagues said they studied mice bred to develop lung cancer. For a month, half got diets equivalent to a human diet high in phosphates and the other half got a moderate dose. The bred mice do not develop cancer in the same way as humans do and the researchers stressed their study does not show that the food additives contribute to cancer in people. Instead, it points to questions for human cancer researchers to study.

Lung cancer is by far the most common cancer killer around the world, killing 1.2 million people a year. Smoking is the most common cause but a majority of smokers do not develop lung cancer, so scientists are looking for other factors that may help tumors develop and spread. Cho's team found phosphate-rich diets affected the Akt gene, known to be involved in lung cancer, and suppressed another gene that can help slow cancer's development.


What a wonder!

Brilliant surgical thinking brings about a "miracle"

A girl who had almost a third of her heart removed in a desperate attempt to save her life has made a complete recovery, doctors say. Kirsty Collier was not expected to live long. She was born with abnormal blood vessels, which starved her heart of oxygen. Aged 4 months, she had suffered multiple heart attacks and was on the brink of death. Surgeons at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, had been unable to restart her heart after a heart bypass operation and warned her parents that she was unlikely to survive. But everything changed when they cut away a huge section of muscle to reduce pressure on the heart, in the hope that it would start beating again.

Kirsty is now a sporty, healthy ten-year-old, and to the astonishment of doctors, her heart appears to have returned to a normal size. Professor Stephen Westaby, who operated on her in 1998, called her recovery miraculous. "She was essentially dead and was only resurrected by what I regarded at the time as a completely bizarre operation," he said. "I tried for a full 90 minutes to separate her from the heart-lung machine." With nothing to lose, he cut open Kirsty's heart, removed a third of her muscle wall and stitched it back together. "I have to confess I never thought it would work," he said. "It [the heart] was an awful lot smaller."

Scans show that her heart is now the normal size and shape for a girl of her age. Surgeons believe that this is the first time a human heart has been shown to heal itself in such a dramatic way. Professor Westaby added: "We were astonished. A recent MRI scan has shown the scar on the heart has disappeared. I find that absolutely fascinating because an adult heart wouldn't do that."

Kirsty's mother, Becky Collier, 38, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, recalled seeing her daughter in the recovery room: "There she was, my tiny baby, with tubes everywhere. But I could tell by looking at her that she would keep going." Kirsty is now fit enough to play in school rugby and football teams.

Mrs Collier added: "It's amazing what she has overcome. She's such a brave little girl and has never let her condition affect her life at all. She's always out playing something. It's hard to imagine that she was ill." But Kirsty doesn't want a fuss over her recovery. "I don't want to be different to anyone else just because I've had a heart operation," she said. "I like to do sport because it keeps me fit and healthy."


No comments: