From: OnHealth Daily Brief <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Date: Thursday, July 29, 1999 5:12 PM
Subject: OnHealth Daily Brief
OnHealth's Daily Briefing for 7/29/99.
(The Daily Briefing lives at http://onhealth.com/ch1/briefs)
Scientists Engineer Cancer Cells
A group of scientists have engineered the first genetically
defined human cancer cells, bringing the scientific
community one step closer to understanding the process by
which normal human cells evolve into cancer
Researchers led by Dr. Robert A. Weinberg of the Whitehead
Institute for Biomedical Research were able to produce
tumor-forming cells by identifying and activating a certain
gene that assists in the development of tumors. When
activated, the gene telomerase allows normal cells to grow
and divide indefinitely -- a characteristic of cancer,
according to the institute.
The ability to transform cells under laboratory conditions
will help scientists determine the molecular changes
involved in the development of cancer in humans.
Because the tumor cells engineered in the institute's lab
have not yet spread, or metastasized, these findings will
be most useful in studying the later stages of cancer
development such as the changes that lead to metastatic
A report on the study appears in the July 29 issue of
Protein in Frogs Kills Cancer Cells
Ovarian Cancer Breakthrough Found
New Theory About Tumor Growth
New drug helps radiation therapy shrink tumors
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Scientists Identify Tamoxifenís Weakness
Scientists have discovered a likely reason why the breast
cancer drug tamoxifen ceases to work in women after five
years of use.
The discovery, from researchers at Duke University Medical
Center and Novalon Pharmaceutical Corporation, will aid in
the development of new drugs that either work more
effectively than tamoxifen or prevent a woman's resistance
to the drug, according to a report issued by the medical
The researchers sought to answer a lingering question in
the medical and pharmaceutical industries by identifying
the component that causes tamoxifen to lose its
effectiveness. They found their answer in the way the drug
affects estrogen receptors inside breast cells in a woman's
To perform its desired function -- to block the effects of
estrogen in breast cells -- tamoxifen binds to the estrogen
receptor inside a cell so that estrogen cannot attach to
it. In doing so, researchers found that the drug actually
forms a unique pocket on the surface of the estrogen
receptor, allowing other proteins to dock
These other proteins, which have yet to be identified,
change the cell's response to tamoxifen: Instead of seeing
the drug as battling estrogen, the proteins begin to
identify it as an estrogen, and the cancer
Researchers are testing a new drug that is expected to have
the same characteristics of tamoxifen without losing its
effectiveness. However, lead researcher Donald McDonnell
says that tamoxifen most likely will remain in the
forefront of breast cancer prevention drugs because it is a
proven treatment that doctors nationwide are accustomed to
A report of the study appears in the July 30 issue of
Preventing Breast Cancer with Tamoxifen
British Scientists Caution on Tamoxifen
New Drug Helps When Tamoxifen Does Not
The Breast Cancer Calculus
Heat Wave Kills 41 People
Scalding temperatures across much of the nation this past
week have killed 41 people, and forecasters say the worst
may not be over.
Twelve heat-related deaths have been reported in Missouri,
16 in Illinois, 10 in Ohio, two in North Carolina and one
in Georgia. Throughout much of the East Coast and Midwest
regions, temperatures have not dropped below 90 degrees,
with heat indexes -- a measure of how hot the humidity and
temperature feel together -- remaining in the triple
Meteorologists say the Central Plains region also can
expect temperatures in the 100s this week.
Some volunteer organizations have been checking people's
homes, particularly those occupied by the elderly, to make
sure residents have adequate means to stay cool, such as
operating air conditioners or fans. People who do not have
air conditioning are being advised to stay with a friend or
relative who does or to stay in air conditioned public
areas as long as possible.
Health experts also advise people to drink plenty of cool
water, even if they're not feeling thirsty, to reduce the
risk of dehydration.
Don't Be Beat By Heat
Effects of Heat Stroke Studied
CDC Warns About Heat
Heat Illness (Heat Exhaustion, Heatstroke, Heat Cramps)
Breast Cancer Linked to Pollution
Researchers attending the World Conference On Breast Cancer
say there is evidence a link exists between breast cancer
and pollutants, primarily pesticides.
More than 1,000 delegates from 50 countries are attending
the meeting in Canada's capital city of Ottawa. Scientists
from the World Health Organization presented data showing
that women who regularly ate fish from the Baltic Sea had a
higher incidence of breast cancer than women who did
WHO also reported at the conference that high exposures to
some pesticides, including DDT and Red Dye No. 3, appear to
accelerate breast cancer cell growth.
Conference President Lauren Clark said at the meeting that
manufactured chemical wastes found in the environment have
been shown to mimic the effects of the female hormone
estrogen. High levels of estrogen have been associated with
an increased risk for breast cancer.
Scientists at the conference also questioned whether the
use of reproductive growth hormones in livestock might also
have an effect on breast cancer risk.
Women Overestimate Breast Cancer Risk
Mammograms and Self-Exams: Two Breast Cancer Weapons
Thoughts and Advice, Woman to Woman
Jeanne's Breast Cancer Diary
Surveys Show Trouble With HMOs
Two new surveys quantify what many Americans and health-care
providers have already voiced: health maintenance
organizations are not providing the best services to ensure
quality health care.
The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 1,053 doctors and 768
nurses by mail between February and June of this year. The
survey found 87 percent of doctors said their patients were
denied coverage during the past two years, including 79
percent who said they had trouble getting approval for a
drug they wanted to prescribe.
The Kaiser survey also found patients had difficulty
getting a diagnostic test approved, and trouble seeing
specialists and getting mental health or substance abuse
More than one-third of the doctors questioned said that
denial of coverage had resulted in a serious decline in
health, the Kaiser survey found.
The National Committee on Quality Assurance conducted its
own survey, which evaluated 523 health plans offered by 247
insurance companies. Overall, health plans in New England
were rated the top performers and health plans in the South
Central region of the United States were rated the
The report found 26.5 percent of patients covered under the
health plans studied had trouble seeing a doctor they
preferred or obtaining referrals to specialists. Patients
gave higher approval ratings to individual doctors and
nurses than to health plans, according to the report.
The surveys highlight the growing dissatisfaction with
managed care that currently is being addressed on Capitol
Hill. Both Republicans and Democrats have been pushing for
their own versions of legislation to improve patient
Checking Up on Your Doctor
Sorting Out Todayís Health Plan Choices
Web Sites Help Guide Your HMO Choices
GOP Counts HMO Wins
Walking Improves Mental Health
Aging couch potatoes are being encouraged to get up and walk
after a new study found people over 60 who walked rapidly
for 45 minutes three days a week maintained better
"The nice result of our study is that a person who has not
been physically active during his or her younger years
still can benefit by walking," says researcher Arthur F.
Kramer, a University of Illinois psychologist.
The study, which was funded by the National Institute on
Aging, examined the cognitive effects of walking on 124
people ages 60 to 75 who had led sedentary lives.
Study participants began walking 15 minutes a day three
days a week at 17.7 minutes per mile and gradually worked
their way up to 45 minutes a day three days a week at 16
minutes per mile.
The aging process normally leads to natural decline in cell
size and blood flow in the frontal and prefrontal areas of
Researchers say during rapid walking, the frontal areas of
the brain take in additional oxygen, a process that
increases the brain's reaction time and heightens the
ability to ignore distractions and complete a variety of
mental tasks carried out on a computer. Researchers say
walkers improved their oxygen intake by 5 percent.
The study appears in the July 29 issue of Nature.
Exercise Helps Elders Go the Extra Mile
Walking for Longer Life
Walking Cuts Heart Attack Risk
Elderly Exercise Attitudes Studied
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