Male Health News October 2015
Prostate cancer drug hailed as ‘milestone’
Olaparib is the first drug developed which targets specific genetic mutations in prostate cancer.
BBC News reports that the Institute of Cancer Research in London has published the results of the olaparib drug trial. For 14 out of the 16 men in the study who had specific mutations in their prostate cancer, the drug appeared to help reduce both the size of secondary tumours, and the number of prostate cancer cells in the blood. The treatment also appears to have helped prolong survival of the men in the trial.
While many treatments for cancer, including prostate cancer, focus on the body part affected, many researchers believe the key to beating the disease lies in identifying and targeting the mutated DNA specific to that cancer. While olaparib had low success in treating men who did not have these specific mutations in their prostate, the researchers see these findings as “very promising”. However, the drug will need to undergo a larger clinical trial in order for its effects on life expectancy to be confirmed.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, and 1 in 8 men will develop it in their lifetime. For more information about your risk, symptoms, treatment and support, please check out our information pages. Likewise, for dedicated support including a helpline staffed by medical professionals, please see Prostate Cancer UK.
(30th October 2015)
Healthier lifestyles in middle years can help reduce risk of dementia, says NICE
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that people from 40 – 64 should cut down on drinking as much as possible, in addition to other lifestyle changes to delay or even prevent dementia.
NICE’s most recent guidance on ‘Dementia, Disability and frailty in later life’ outlines the key actions people in their middle years should take to reduce their future health risks. These include:
- reducing alcohol consumption as much as possible
- stopping smoking
- maintaining a healthy weight
- exercising regularly
- eating a balanced diet
Robin Ireland, chief executive of Health Equalities Group and guideline developer, was quoted in the Guardian as saying: “It is well known that smoking, too much alcohol, inactivity and being overweight is bad for our health, but many people don’t realise that these things can also increase the likelihood of developing dementia and other causes of poor quality of life in older age.”
None of these recommendations will seem particularly novel or surprising to supporters of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. However, the key point here is that physical decline is not an “inevitable part of growing older”, as outlined by a NICE spokesperson. Men’s risks of disability, frailty and even dementia can be greatly reduced by living a healthier lifestyle. For more tips on how to cut down your alcohol consumption, eat more healthily or be more active, check out our blog and twitter page.
(23rd October 2015)
Four types of bowel cancer identified
Following research we reported in September about the discovery of five different types of prostate cancer, the Institute of Cancer Research has identified four groups of bowel cancer. As reported on the BBC and published in Nature Medicine, the researchers considered clinical and laboratory data from thousands of bowel cancer patients. The team found that nearly all the tumours identified could be sorted into four molecular subtypes, based on shared sets of genes that can affect the cancer’s behaviour. It is hoped this will enable future research that can match current therapies better with the four types of bowel cancer, and lead to more effective, personalised treatment.
(15th October 2015)
Huge deficit casts doubt on NHS’ ability to balance books and provide quality services
Figures released today show that NHS Trusts have built up a £930m deficit in the first quarter of this financial year – more than the entire overspend for last year.
BBC News reports that NHS Trusts, responsible for “hospital, mental health, ambulance and some community services” in England are in extreme financial difficulty. The figures released today by Monitor and the Trust Development Authority show that NHS Trusts were £930m in the red for the April – June 2015, compared with an overspend of £820m for the whole of the last financial year.
While some Trusts have had deficits previously, the overall picture raises the stakes for the NHS to deliver on promised efficiency savings, while highlighting the challenge this represents. The BBC reports that Sir Len Fenwick, chief executive of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, predicts that “non-emergency operations will need to be delayed to help hospitals cope.” Dr David Bennett, Chief Executive of Monitor, was quoted by the Telegraph: “The NHS simply can no longer afford operationally and financially to operate in the way it has been and must act now to deliver the substantial efficiency gains required to ensure patients get the services they need.”
This raises concerns about the ability of NHS Trusts to provide timely hospital treatment. However, as individuals, men should not be concerned about adding to pressures on healthcare services. If you are ill, if you need help, diagnosis or treatment, see your doctor, and push for the high quality care you have a right to expect.
(9th October 2015)
Height is a risk factor for cancer, say experts
Researchers in Sweden have drawn a link between height and cancer risk, with taller people having a slightly higher risk of breast and skin cancers.
BBC News reports that a preliminary report from the Karolinska Institute outlines that taller women have a “20% greater
risk of developing breast cancer” while taller men and women had a 30% higher risk of skin cancer. The research considered data on over 5 million people born between 1938 and 1991. Quoted in the Guardian newspaper, Dr Emelie Benyi explained possible reasons for this finding: “One is that taller people have a larger number of cells in their body which could potentially transform to cancer. It could also be that taller individuals have a higher energy intake which has previously been linked to cancer.” Previous studies have also linked prostate cancer to height.
However, the researchers were clear that the study did not consider all risk factors, and that taller people should not be worried. More significant and well-established risk factors for cancer are smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
You can’t do anything about your height, but you can address many other common risk factors for cancers including cutting down alcohol, stopping smoking, eating healthily and staying physically active. Check out our information pages and Twitter feed for more ideas and links on how to reduce your risk.
(2nd October 2015)