Saturday, February 06, 2010

Possible cancer cure found in blushwood shrub

Claims like this are a dime a dozen but there is a tiny percentage that does pan out

CANCER patients are offering themselves as human guinea pigs as researchers investigate a possible cure for cancer found in north Queensland rainforests. Scientists have identified a compound in the fruit of the native blushwood shrub that appears to "liquefy and destroy cancer with no side-effects", according to latest research.

Found deep in the remnants of a 130 million-year-old rainforest, the fruit extract may yet hold the secret antidote to Australia's No.1 killer disease. Victoria Gordon, of EcoBiotics, an Atherton Tableland-based company, said they hoped to go to human clinical trials later this year. Dr Gordon said a single dose injection of the extract, known as EBC-46, had been effective in 50 critically ill dogs and about a dozen cats and horses.

"This is proving to be something exceptional," she said. "The tumour literally liquefies. "There is a rapid knock-down of the tumour, it disintegrates within 24 hours and we have a rapid healing response. "The biggest tumour we treated was the size of a Coke can in a dog, and that animal is fully healed and healthy." Dr Gordon said it had worked on skin cancers, such as carcinomas and melanomas, and bone cancer, and was a possible treatment for breast, colon and prostate cancer.

But she warned wannabe human guinea pigs against seeking under-the-table treatment. She said it was "immoral, illegal, and unscientific" to seek to be administered the drug before approval, likely to take up to seven years, by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. "We have been inundated with calls – it shows there is such a need for a breakthrough in anti-cancer treatment," she said. "Most people understand when we explain the situation."

Former breast cancer sufferer Mena Crew, 65, said many dying of cancer would "do anything for a miracle cure". "We would all like a magic cure, that would be wonderful, and I hope in my lifetime we find it," the breast cancer support volunteer said. She has worked with more than 200 sufferers and some victims in her role with the Cancer Council Queensland.

"I don't want to kill the enthusiasm of all the wonderful research, but until it is proven it will do the job, we recommend they go with proven and conventional treatments," she said. "It is good, however, to think the secret antidote may be growing in the jungle above Cairns."


Dangerous recreational use of painkillers

Young people are dosing up on over-the-counter painkillers in a worrying trend that can burn holes in their stomachs and require them to use colostomy bags, health professionals have warned. has been told young people regularly walk into chemists, buy "75-packs" of Nurofen Plus - which contain 12.5 grams of the narcotic codeine - and then pop up to 40 tablets with coffee and alcohol over a day.

One inner-city chemist, who did not want to be named, said the practice was quite common among young people. "They come into the shop and you warn them that they [the tablets] can burn through their stomach linings if they take so many, but they just don't believe you," the pharmacist said. "I didn't think it was so bad until I was sitting with my partner recently having a coffee and I saw two young girls go over to a chemist buy a pack of Nurofen Plus and then come back and have four tablets with a cup of coffee. "It is just ridiculous."

Clinical director of the Gold Coast Drug Council Julie Fox said young people taking vast quantities of Nurofen Plus, which also contains ibuprofen, was the "emerging trend" of the Gold Coast drug scene. Ms Fox said some women were taking up to 40 to 50 tablets at a time, getting high from the codeine, completely unaware of the medical implications. "I mean, you end up with young people having colostomy bags," she said.

"It is cheap and it is really easy to get. They are taking very large amounts and the medical consequences are absolutely horrendous." From May 1, tighter controls of the over-the-counter analgesics come into force, meaning people could only buy a maximum of 30 tablets at a time. But Pharmacy Guild of Australia communications director Greg Turnbull said nothing would stop them moving to the next chemist shop and simply buying more over the counter.

Mr Turnbull said the Guild wanted sales of drugs containing codeine, including Nurofen Plus, to be registered in the same way as pseudoephedrine sales. "We think that the technology is there now for the real-time monitoring of products containing codeine, which would alert pharmacists that a person had bought a large packet of these medicines at a pharmacy down the road," he said. Mr Turnbull said they should not be made "prescription only", because it forced the legitimate users of the medicine to go to a doctor to get a prescription for a drug which was safe when taken as directed.

The Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital's director of addictive psychology, Doctor Mark Daglish, said the trend towards non-prescription drug abuse was frightening. "The two common ones would be paracetamol and codeine - so the Panadeine and Panadeine Forte - and the ibuprofen-based ones, like Nurofen Plus," he said.

Dr Daglish agreed that people had no idea of the consequences of taking 40 tablets. "You would get a reasonable opiate hit and a huge ibuprofen overdose," he said. "And in overdose they are particularly dangerous because they tend to burn a hole through your stomach lining, or they can rot your kidneys." Dr Daglish supported any plan to restrict the sales of the drugs.


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