This Week's Colorectal Cancer News in Brief: January 16

Brief Research Reports

  • Maslinic acid, a compound found in high concentrations in olive skins, slows development of colon cancer cells and leads to their death.  Researchers in Spain isolated the natural triterpenoid compound from the waxy coating on olives.  They suggest that its development may lead to drugs to prevent or treat colorectal cancer.   Fernando J. Reyes-Zurita, Cancer Letters, January 8, 2009.
  • There was no evidence that eating more foods high in acrylamide increased risk of either colon or rectal cancer in a large group of Swedish men.  More than 45,300 men in the Cohort of Swedish Men completed questionnaires about what they ate and how often at the beginning of the study.  Nine years later, there was no significant difference between those in the highest quarter of acrylamide consumption and those in the lowest one-fourth.
    Acrylamide is created when carbohydrate-rich foods are prepared at high temperatures such as with french fries and potato chips.  Although acrylamide has caused cancer in animals, there is not yet good evidence that foods high in the substance cause human cancer.  Susanna Larsson, European Journal of Cancer, online January 2, 2009.
  • An enzyme that affects how DNA damage is repaired may lead to the best time  during the day or night to give chemotherapy.  Because some chemos work by damaging cell DNA, administering it when the enzyme — called nucleotide excision repair — is at its lowest level may increase its effectiveness.  Lead author Aziz Sancar, M.D. Ph.D. says timing is everything. “By hitting cancer cells with chemo at a time when their ability to repair themselves is minimal, you should be able to maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects of treatment.”

Other Colorectal Cancer Headlines

  • Effective after January 15, 2009, Medicare will no long pay for medical services that result from serious, preventable surgical errors including performing the wrong operation, operating on the wrong body part, or operating on the wrong patient.  The list of preventable mistakes joins other “never events” that are not covered if they are acquired during hospital stays.  Medicare beneficiaries cannot be billed either for the costs that are not paid by Medicare.
  • CancerCare, in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will present a series of teleconferences to help cancer patients cope with survival. The Seventh Annual Cancer Survivorship Series: Living With, Through and Beyond Cancer are planned for this spring.  Conferences are free, but you need to sign up on the CancerCare website.
  • A new issue of CR Magazine is available online.  CR is published by the American Association for Cancer Research for patients, survivors, their families and friends, and the general public.  Podcasts can also be listened to at the CR website.

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