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Cancer fear and denial ‘killing thousands’

Thursday, March 8, 2012
Data suggest that if Great Britain matched Europe’s best cancer survival rate 11,500 deaths could be avoided.

Thousands of people in the UK are dying unnecessarily because they are too scared to mention early symptoms of cancer to their doctor, say experts.A survey of 2,000 for Cancer Research UK suggests 40 per cent might delay getting symptoms checked out because they are worried what the doctor might find.Yet early diagnosis is key to treating cancer successfully.Data suggest that if Great Britain matched Europe’s best cancer survival rate 11,500 deaths could be avoided.Prof Peter Johnson of Cancer Research UK said: “Our report highlights just how much more we have to do to raise awareness about the early signs of cancer.“If patients are diagnosed when the cancer is still in its early stages before it has had a chance to spread to other parts of the body it is more likely that treatment will be successful. That is why it is so important for people to be aware of things that might be early signs of cancer.”The poll findings suggest a quarter of patients might delay seeing their GP with symptoms because they fear they could be wasting their doctor’s time.And many do not recognise which symptoms may suggest cancer.More than three-quarters of people asked to list possible warning signs and symptoms of cancer failed to mention pain, coughing or problems with bowels or bladder. And more than two-thirds also failed to list bleeding.Prof Johnson said: “Of course we are all frightened of hearing that we may have cancer. But people need to know that catching the disease early gives them much better odds of surviving it.“The best precaution anyone can take is to be on the lookout for any changes in their bodies that seem unusual for them and to get them checked by a doctor.“We know that in many cases these things won’t turn out to be cancer. But don’t take the gamble of missing out on early diagnosis.” (BBC)


Dark chocolate good for advanced heart failure


According to a study conducted by investigators at UC San Diego School of Medicine and VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS), a flavonoid called epicatechin, found in dark chocolate, enhanced mitochondria structure in individuals with advanced heart failure and type 2 diabetes after 3 months. The study is published this week by the journal Clinical and Translational Science.
The researchers examined five extremely sick patients with major damage to skeletal muscle mitochondria. Mitochondria are structures that provide the energy a cell requires in order to move, divide, and contract. 
Both heart failure and type 2 diabetes impair these power cells, resulting in abnormalities in skeletal muscle. In individuals with diabetes and heart failure these abnormalities in the heart and skeletal muscle cause decreased functional capacity. Frequently, these patients report difficulty walking even short distances, shortness of breath, as well as lack of energy.
Each day for three months, study participants consumed dark chocolate bars and a beverage with a total epicatechin content of around 100 mg. The researchers conducted biopsies of skeletal muscle before and after the 3 month treatment. After treatment, the team examined alterations in mitochondria volume as well as the amount of cristae. Cristae are the internal compartments formed by the inner membrane of a mitochondrion. They are vital for the mitochondria to function efficiently and can be measured by electron microscopy.Francisco J Villarreal, MD, PhD, of the UC San Diego’s Department of Medicine’s Division of Cardiology, and one of the senior researchers of the study, explained:
“The cristae have been severely damaged and decreased in quantity in these patients. After three months, we saw recovery—cristae numbers back toward normal levels, and increases in several molecular indicators involved in new mitochondria production.”These results are comparable to those from prior studies—demonstrating improvement in skeletal and heart muscle function in animal models after treatment with epicatechin.


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