Profits and Cancer Drugs

Drug prices expected to keep rising.

How do YOU feel about this: profits and cancer drugs? We know that many related drugs are quite expensive — and often required by us!! And in many cases, the situation is getting worse. 😦

As Katharina Buchholz reports for Statista:

Worldwide cancer drug sales are way ahead of those of other drugs. And the revenue generated by them will grow even larger by 2024. This is according to a report recently released by consultancy Evaluate, which analyses trends in the pharmaceutical sector. As per Evaluate’s calculations, oncology drugs reached US$123.8 billion in sales in 2018, more than double that of the next item on the list, drugs treating diabetes with US$48.5 billion dollars in sales. By 2024, cancer drug sales are expected to almost double to US$236.6 billion dollars.”

“Cancer drugs are extremely pricey. Therefore, they generate high revenues, with costs of a cancer treatment at above US$100,000 per patient. Cancer rates themselves are also rising with humans increasing their lifespans. Money funneled into cancer research means new medications coming out, which improves cancer treatment but might also increase its price as pharmaceutical companies charge a premium for the newly researched and released drugs.”

Take a look at the following chart.

Profits and Cancer Drugs
 

The Value of Vitamin D in Cancer Care

Fresh research to help us live longer.

Earlier this month, we posted about Be Careful with Supplements. Nonetheless, some supplements may be valuable in cancer care. One of them seems to be Vitamin D.

A recent study by researchers at Michigan State found that:

“Vitamin D, if taken for at least three years, could help cancer patients live longer, say researchers. New findings suggest that the vitamin carries significant benefits other than just contributing to healthy bones. A paper on the work was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.”

“‘Vitamin D had a significant effect on lowering the risk of death among those with cancer, but unfortunately it didn’t show any proof that it could protect against getting cancer,’ says Tarek Haykal, a lead author of the study and an internal medicine resident physician at Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.”

“Researchers looked at data related to disease prevention from more than 79,000 patients in multiple studies that randomly compared the use of vitamin D to a placebo over at least a three-year period. Haykal and his team zeroed in on any information that involved cancer incidence and mortality. ‘The difference in the mortality rate between the vitamin D and placebo groups was statistically significant enough that it showed just how important it might be among the cancer population,’ Haykal says. While these findings show promise, Haykal cautions that the exact amount of the vitamin to take and what levels are needed in the blood are still unknown. He also says that it’s unclear how much longer vitamin D extends lifespan and why it has this result.”

Click on the image to read the full paper.

The Value of Vitamin D in Cancer Care
 

Medicinal Plants as a Cancer-Fighting Tool

Bring Asian research insights to the rest of the world.

Did you know? Certain plants may help us fight cancer. Read on!!

According a report by the National University of Singapore:

“Researchers found the effects in leaves of the bandicoot berry (Leea indica), South African leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), and simpleleaf chastetree (Vitex trifolia). Three other medicinal plants also demonstrated anti-cancer properties. ‘Medicinal plants have been used for the treatment of diverse ailments since ancient times, but their anti-cancer properties have not been well studied,’ says Koh Hwee Ling, associate professor from the National University of Singapore’s pharmacy department. ‘Our findings provide new scientific evidence for the use of traditional herbs for cancer treatment, and pave the way for the development of new therapeutic agents.’ The findings, which appear in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, highlight the importance of conserving these indigenous plants as resources for drug discovery and understanding these natural resources.”

“The experiments involved preparing extracts of fresh, healthy and mature leaves of the seven plants, and testing the extracts with the cell lines of seven different types of cancers—breast, cervical, colon, leukemia, liver, ovarian, and uterine. The team opted to examine leaves as they can regrow without harming the plants—making it a sustainable choice, unlike using the bark or roots. The experiments involved preparing extracts of fresh, healthy and mature leaves of the seven plants, and testing the extracts with the cell lines of seven different types of cancers — breast, cervical, colon, leukemia, liver, ovarian, and uterine. The team opted to examine leaves as they can regrow without harming the plants — making it a sustainable choice, unlike using the bark or roots.”

Click the image to read more.

Medicinal Plants as a Cancer-Fighting Tool
Out of the leaf extracts of the seven plants researchers tested, they found the sabah snake grass (bottom right) had weak effects or no effect against almost all the cell lines they tested. (Credit: NUS)

 

Be Careful with Supplements

Choose your supplements wisely.

As part of our daily regimens, some of us take dietary supplements. BUT, we must be careful with these supplements.

In a very detailed and informative article, Markham Heid reports on issues related to supplement misuse. After just a short time, this article has received more than 11,100 likes!!!

According to Heid:

Background

“Earlier this year, federal authorities announced plans to strengthen oversight of the supplement industry. ‘The growth in the number of adulterated and misbranded products — including those spiked with drug ingredients not declared on their labels, misleading claims, and other risks — creates new potential dangers,’ said U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in a February press release.”

“Heightened oversight is needed, Gottlieb argued, because expansion and change within the supplement industry has made it difficult for his agency to keep pace. ‘What was once a $4 billion industry comprised of about 4,000 unique products, is now an industry worth more than $40 billion, with more than 50,000 — and possibly as many as 80,000 or even more — different products available to consumers,” he said.”

BE CAREFUL!!!

“From multivitamins and botanicals to probiotics and protein powders, roughly three out of four Americans now take some kind of supplement on a regular basis. Since the days of palliative tonics and snake-oil salesmen, Americans have been readily lured by the promise of health or longevity in the form of a drink, pill, or powder. While the terminology has evolved — ’biohacking’ and ‘nutraceuticals’ are some of the buzzwords du jour — the implied benefits of most supplements still outpace or ignore the science. And despite recent studies that find supplements are frequently contaminated or that the best way to get nutrients is through food, Americans’ interest in supplements is only growing. And experts say many supplement users don’t recognize or appreciate the risks that accompany the use of these products.”

“The lesson here isn’t that supplements give people cancer. Rather, it’s that approaching supplements as though they’re all upside is a misguided and potentially harmful operating philosophy. When you swallow a capsule packed with concentrated amounts of a vitamin, nutrient, or other substance — a practice that did not become widespread until very recently — you can get into trouble.”

Click the image to access Heid’s full article.

Be Careful with Supplements

AN AUDIO SUMMARY

Click below to access a 15-minute audio summary from Heid.


 

Bettering Your Immune System

Treat your immune system well!

According to the National Institutes of Health:

“The overall function of the immune system is to prevent or limit infection. An example of this principle is found in immune-compromised people, including those with genetic immune disorders, immune-debilitating infections like HIV, and even pregnant women, who are susceptible to a range of microbes that typically do not cause infection in healthy individuals.”

“The immune system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells by recognizing a variety of ‘danger’ cues called danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Cells may be unhealthy because of infection or because of cellular damage caused by non-infectious agents like sunburn or cancer. Infectious microbes such as viruses and bacteria release another set of signals recognized by the immune system called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).”

“When the immune system first recognizes these signals, it responds to address the problem. If an immune response cannot be activated when there is sufficient need, problems arise, like infection. On the other hand, when an immune response is activated without a real threat or is not turned off once the danger passes, different problems arise, such as allergic reactions and autoimmune disease.”

“The immune system is complex and pervasive. There are numerous cell types that either circulate throughout the body or reside in a particular tissue. Each cell type plays a unique role, with different ways of recognizing problems, communicating with other cells, and performing their functions. By understanding all the details behind this network, researchers may optimize immune responses to confront specific issues, ranging from infections to cancer.”

The Mayo Clinic notes the following:

“Primary immunodeficiency disorders — also called primary immune disorders or primary immunodeficiency — weaken the immune system, allowing infections and other health problems to occur more easily. Many people with primary immunodeficiency are born missing some of the body’s immune defenses or with the immune system not working properly, which leaves them more susceptible to germs that can cause infections. Some forms of primary immunodeficiency are so mild they can go unnoticed for years. Other types are severe enough that they’re discovered soon after an affected baby is born. Treatments can boost the immune system in many types of primary immunodeficiency disorders. Research is ongoing, leading to improved treatments and enhanced quality of life for people with the condition.”

Symptoms

“One of the most common signs of primary immunodeficiency is having infections that are more frequent, longer lasting, or harder to treat than are the infections of someone with a normal immune system. You may also get infections that a person with a healthy immune system likely wouldn’t get (opportunistic infections). Signs and symptoms differ depending on the type of primary immunodeficiency disorder, and they vary from person to person.”

“Signs and symptoms of primary immunodeficiency can include: Frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections. Inflammation and infection of internal organs. Blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia. Digestive problems, such as cramping, loss of appetite, nausea ,and diarrhea. Delayed growth and development. Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.”

Prevention

“Because primary immune disorders are caused by genetic defects, there’s no way to prevent them. But when you or your child has a weakened immune system, you can take steps to prevent infections:

        • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with mild soap after using the toilet and before eating.
        • Take care of your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
        • Eat right. A healthy, balanced diet can help prevent infections.
        • Be physically active. Staying fit is important to your overall health. Ask your doctor what activities are appropriate for you.
        • Get enough sleep. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time daily, and get the same number of hours of sleep every night.
        • Manage stress. Some studies suggest that stress can hamper your immune system. Keep stress in check with massage, meditation, yoga, biofeedback or hobbies. Find what works for you.
        • Avoid exposure. Stay away from people with colds or other infections and avoid crowds.
        • Ask your doctor about vaccinations. Find out which ones you should have.”

Other Immunity System Resources from the New York Times

To access the immunity system resources below, either click the image OR click the link of an individual resource.

Bettering Your Immune System
ILLUSTRATION BY SUPER FREAK

 

Two Research-Based Medication Findings

Studies on kidney disease and A-fib.

As we know, particular medications may or may not be for us. Even if they are fine for others. Let’s consider two examples.

Heartburn and Our Kidneys

Marget Robinson of the University of Buffalo reports that:

“Common medications for heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers are linked to increased risks of kidney failure and chronic kidney disease, according to a new study. Use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI), a group of drugs that reduce the production of stomach acid, may increase risk as much as 20 percent — and also come with a four times greater risk of kidney failure, researchers say. People at least 65 years old have the highest risk.”

“The research, which appears in Pharmacotherapy, is one of the first large, long-term studies to examine the effects of PPIs on kidney function. Researchers examined health data of more than 190,000 patients over a 15-year period. This study adds to a growing list of concerning side effects and adverse outcomes associated with PPIs,’ says David Jacobs, lead investigator and assistant professor of pharmacy practice in the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. ‘Given the increasing global use of PPIs, the relationship between PPIs and renal disease could pose a substantial disease and financial burden to the health care system and public health.'”

Click the image to read more.

Two Research-Based Medication Findings

 

A-Fib and Aspirin

Sarah Avery of Duke University reports that:

“The drugs apixaban and clopidogrel — without aspirin — comprise the safest treatment regimen for certain patients with atrial fibrillation (A-fib), according to new research. The finding — which applies specifically to patients with A-fib who have had a heart attack and/or are undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention—should reassure clinicians and patients that dropping aspirin results in no significant increase in ischemic events such as heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots.”

“The researchers presented data from the large study, known as AUGUSTUS, at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting. ‘We have a lot of studies on antithrombotic drugs in patients with coronary artery disease and similarly in patients with A-fib, but few studies in patients with both conditions,’ says cardiologist Renato D. Lopes, principal investigator for the trial and a member of the Duke University Clinical Research Institute. ‘The reality is that doctors and patients have a challenge in treating these patients without causing bleeding. The results of this trial give us an opportunity to better understand how to best treat them.'”

Now, look at a brief video on the study.

 

Fight Medicare Fraud and Protect Your Identity

Great Medicare resources!!

Medicare offers numerous tips through its Web site.  And it offers good advice to help you fight Medicare fraud and protect your identity.

In a recent E-mail, Medicare offered three specific tips:

    1. Protect your identity. “Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes. Guard your Medicare Number and card, and keep your Social Security Number safe.”
    2. Help fight Medicare fraud. “Use your MyMedicare account to stay on top of your claims. If you find errors or fraud, report it to us. Don’t have a MyMedicare account yet? Sign up for free at MyMedicare.gov today.”
    3. Know your rights. “You have certain rights and protections designed to make sure you get the health care services the law says you can get.”

Click the Medicare logo to learn more about its resources.