When talking to patients about a rare type of cancer linked to breast implants, plastic surgeons should call it "a condition" and avoid using the words cancer, tumor, disease or malignancy, the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons advised members during an online seminar on Feb. 3.
The comments, by Dr. Phil Haeck, the society president, were made public this week by Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, an advocacy group in Washington. the group wrote to the Food and Drug Administration, characterizing the advice as part of a misinformation campaign devised to play down the risks of implants.
The surgeons’ group said Public Citizen had taken Haeck’s remarks out of context. he was discussing a possible link between the implants and anaplastic large-cell lymphoma or ALCL, a cancer that involves the immune system. the group said, "Haeck’s extemporaneous remarks were well understood by physicians present to mean that the type of ALCL that has been observed in possible association with breast implants does not appear to have the malignant course of classic ALCL which is a systemic disease."
The events grew out of an announcement in January by the FDA that breast implants might cause a small but significant increase in the lymphoma, which is rare but treatable. it is not breast cancer. but in the cases linked to implants, the lymphoma grew in the breast, usually in the capsule of scar tissue around the implant. Though some evidence suggests that the lymphoma associated with implants might be less aggressive than the more common form of the disease, that evidence is not conclusive, said Dr. William Maisel, the chief scientist and deputy director for science in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the Food and Drug Administration.
In January, the FDA said it knew of about 60 cases worldwide, a tiny number compared with the 5 million to 10 million women who have implants. but even that small number appears to be an excess of cases when compared with the usual incidence in the breast of this type of lymphoma in women who do not have implants: 3 in 100 million.
The online seminar, about an hour long, was available only to members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. about 600 members logged in. A plastic surgeon who saw the session made a transcript of portions of it and sent it to Public Citizen. the new York Times viewed the seminar and verified that Haeck did advise the audience to call the lymphoma a "condition" when talking to patients "rather than disturb them by saying this is a cancer, this is a malignancy."
EARLY BALDING TIED TO PROSTATE CANCER
Men who go bald in their early 20s have a doubled risk of developing prostate cancer, but those who lose hair in their 30s and 40s apparently are not at greater risk, French researchers reported last week. the findings suggest that men who lose their hair very early in life might benefit from increased screening.
Because the same male hormones that are involved in hair growth also play a role in prostate cancer, researchers have been tantalized by possible links between balding and prostate cancer. but past studies have yielded conflicting results or none at all.
Dr. Philippe Giraud, a professor of radiation oncology at Paris Descartes University, and Dr. Michael Yassa, a radiation oncologist who is now at the University of Montreal, studied 388 men being treated for prostate cancer and 281 healthy men, questioning them about their history of hair loss. They reported in the Annals of Oncology that 37 of the men with prostate cancer had some balding at age 20, but only 14 of the healthy men had had balding at that age. other risk factors for prostate cancer include age, family history, diet and ethnicity.
GROWTH HORMONE LINKED TO AGING?
Anyone seeking the fountain of youth should think twice before turning to growth hormone, a fast-growing trend in anti-aging fringe medicine.
If conclusions from an obscure population living in Ecuador prove true, less growth hormone — not more — may prevent cancer and diabetes in old age.
The discovery, published last week in the journal Science Translational Medicine, backs earlier research showing that yeast, flies and rodents live longer — in some species, as much as 10 times longer — when they grow slowly.
"There are a lot of people giving human growth hormone to fight aging," said Dr. Nir Barzilai, a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in new York, who was not involved in the research. "the question is, will you live longer and healthier?
"I think these studies suggest, maybe not."
The discovery hinged on a group of extended relatives in Ecuador, many of whom share a genetic mutation that shuts off receptors to human growth hormone. the hormone helps regulate metabolism throughout the body as well as the way that cells change as they age.
The mutation, called E180, is one of several that cause Laron Syndrome. Laron is a disorder that stunts growth, limiting height to about 3 to 4 feet tall.
Study co-author Dr. Jaime Guevara-Aguirre, who treats the Laron patients, said virtually none got cancer or diabetes.
Guevara-Aguirre joined forces with co-author Valter Longo, a University of Southern California cell biologist. They found that serum from Laron patients protects DNA from breakage that can contribute to cancer and promoted a kind of suicide among damaged cells.
MONKEYS FATTEN UP FOR RESEARCH
Like many these days, Shiva sits around too much, eating rich, fatty foods and sipping sugary drinks. he has a pot belly that nearly touches the floor — when he’s on all fours, that is.
Shiva belongs to a colony of monkeys who have been fattened up to help scientists study the twin human epidemics of obesity and diabetes. the monkeys also test new drugs aimed at treating those conditions.
"We are trying to induce the couch-potato style," said Kevin L. Grove of the Oregon National Primate Research Center. "We believe that mimics the health issues we face in the United States today."
The corpulent primates serve as useful models, experts say, because they resemble humans much more than laboratory rats do, not only physiologically but in some of their feeding habits. They tend to eat when bored, even when they are not really hungry. and unlike human subjects who are notorious for fudging their daily calorie counts, caged monkeys’ food intake is much easier to count and control.
"Nonhuman primates don’t lie to you," said Grove, who is a neuroscientist. "We know exactly how much they are eating."