Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cocktail of five vitamins may give cancer patients an extra two years (?)

No control group! This garbage should never have been published in an academic journal. I seem to recollect seeing previous garbage from this "London Metropolitan University". It does resist outside evaluation

Cancer patients with terminal disease who take a daily cocktail of vitamins could extend their lives by two years or even longer, claim researchers. Three out of four in a pilot study survived an average of five months longer than the expected one year, and some were still alive three years after treatment started.

Dr Bob Lister, co-author of the study by British and Danish researchers, said the results were similar to the survival gains from new drugs and in some cases better. But the important difference was there were no side effects reported by patients taking vitamins, he said.

Dr Lister, chairman of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at London Metropolitan University, said: 'We believe these results are meaningful and justify trying to get backing for a proper clinical trial.

'People with cancer are constantly asking what can we do, not necessarily to beat the cancer but to have a better quality of life whatever the length of survival. 'Most importantly, taking these supplements is extremely safe, and there were no adverse reactions among the patients.'

The study followed patients suffering from breast, lung, brain, colon and other forms of cancer in Denmark between 1990 and 1999 who continued taking conventional cancer medication.

During the nine-year period, the patients were treated with coenzyme Q10 - a vitamin-like compound-essential for producing energy made naturally in the body - and six other antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E, selenium, folic acid, and beta carotene (which was not given to lung cancer patients for safety reasons). The patients were predicted to live for an average of 12 months, but 76 per cent lived an average of five months longer. The doses of the supplements, supplied by manufacturers Pharma Nord, were large but were within recommended safety limits, said Dr Lister. In addition, patients received small amounts of other nutrients including fish oil and B vitamins.

The findings are published in the Journal of International Medical Research.

However Dr Joanna Owens of Cancer Research UK said: 'This very small study tells us nothing new about supplements and cancer. 'All the patients in this study took the supplements so it is impossible to judge if they had any effect. 'It is no surprise that in a group of people with different types of cancer, some survived for longer than might have been expected, while others sadly did not.

'As yet, there is not enough evidence to know whether supplements are helpful or harmful during cancer treatment. 'We know that high doses of some supplements can increase the risk of cancer and it's possible that high doses of antioxidants can make treatment less effective. 'Until we know for sure, our advice is to try to get the vitamins you need through a balanced and varied diet rather than through vitamin supplements.'


More evidence that the poor are less healthy -- quite a bit so, in fact

With some predictable spin by the Marmot

People living in the poorest areas of England can expect to suffer about 17 more years of ill health and disability than those in wealthier areas, a major review of health inequalities concludes today. The tax and benefits system “needs overhauling” in order to encourage more people to find and stay in work, Professor Sir Michael Marmot, according to Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who led the Government-commissioned review.

Sir Michael, a Professor of Public Health at University College London and an advisor to the World Health Organisation, found that the equivalent of up to 2.5 million years of life are being lost through people dying prematurely in England each year. But people are more likely to suffer illness or an early death if they are unemployed or poorly educated, so getting people into work is of “critical importance” to reducing the gap in outcomes between rich and poor.

Life expectancy in Britain is now 77.4 years for men and 81.7 years for women, but people in the most deprived neighbourhoods die on average seven years younger than those in the richest.

The report said between £31 and £33 billion worth of productivity losses each year is down to poor health while up to £32 billion is lost in taxes and in making higher welfare payments. While tax credits have lifted half a million children out of poverty since 1998, it is “imperative” the benefits system does not act as a disincentive to working, it adds. The income tax system should be revised, with possible cuts to encourage more people on low incomes to work.

Another recommendation is for parents to be at home in the first year of a child’s life, perhaps by the mother taking six months of paid leave, followed by six months for the father.

The Fair Society, Healthy Lives review was commissioned by the Department of Health after slow progress towards a target to reduce health inequalities — defined by life expectancy rates and infant mortality — by 10 per cent this year. Although average life expectancy for the worst off has improved in the last decade — by an extra 2.9 years — Sir Michael adds that more needs to be done to offer children a fair start in life, adults a chance at fair employment and pensioners a long and active retirement. “Reducing health inequalities is a matter of fairness and social justice,” it says. “In England, the many people who are currently dying prematurely each year as a result of health inequalities would otherwise have enjoyed, in total, between 1.3 and 2.5 million extra years of life.”

The review highlights the effect of education on health — predicting there would be 202,000 fewer premature deaths each year if everyone over 30 without a degree had their death rate reduced to that of people with degrees.

Sir Michael also suggests developing standards for a minimum income for health — which could include the cost of a healthy diet, opportunities to exercise or money for telephone rental. Other recommendations are for more work-based learning schemes alongside closer links between schools, families and the community.

Ministers welcomed the report, but made no commitments on its “challenging” recommendations.Experts writing today in the British Medical Journal questioned whether “there is sufficient genuine and sustainable political will to tackle health inequalities.”

David Hunter, Professor of Health Policy at Durham University and colleagues warn there are few votes to be gained in public health, and “although the report is at pains to point out, as others have, that we are all adversely affected and our lives diminished by the growing health gap, this message could easily get lost.”

Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, warned that continued investment for midwives, health vistors, community nurses and other areas was needed to bring about improvements. “As a nation we simply must not tolerate the difference in life expectancy shown in this report, or the many years spent in preventable poor health,” he said. “Of course individuals need to make healthy choices for themselves, but to tackle this inequality government, public services and communities need to work together.”

An editorial by the Lancet comments: “The Marmot Review is a pivotal document for future policy on health equity. The question for voters later this year in the UK’s general election is what sort of society do they want?”


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