Can search engine data save lives from pancreatic cancer?

Gerd Gigerenzer discusses how search engines use big data analytics to “diagnose” your state of health | BMJ Opinion

26645704270_087213a622_z

Image source: NIH Image Gallery – Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Image shows pancreatic desmoplasia. Pancreatic cancer is associated with a vast desmoplastic reaction in which the connective tissue around the tumor thickens and scars. 

Imagine this warning popping up on your search engine page: “Attention! There are signs that you might have pancreatic cancer. Please visit your doctor immediately.” Just as search engines use big data analytics to detect your book and music preferences, they may also “diagnose” your state of health.

Microsoft researchers have claimed that web search queries could predict pancreatic adenocarcinoma. A retrospective study of 6.4 million users of Microsoft’s search engine Bing identified first-person queries suggestive of a recent diagnosis, such as “I was told I have pancreatic cancer, what to expect.” Then the researchers went back months before these queries were made and looked for earlier ones indicating symptoms or risk factors, such as blood clots and unexplained weight loss. They concluded that their statistical classifiers “can identify 5% to 15% of cases, while preserving extremely low false-positive rates (0.00001 to 0.0001)”, and that “this screening capability could increase 5-year survival.” The New York Times reported: “The study suggests that early screening can increase the five-year survival rate of pancreatic patients to 5 to 7 percent, from just 3 percent.”

Read the full blog post here

Publicly funded cancer trials save more than 3 million years of life

People diagnosed with cancer gained 3.34 million years of life thanks to cancer clinical trials run by SWOG and supported with public funds | ScienceDaily

lego-1044891_960_720

According to new study results to be presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world’s largest clinical cancer research meeting. The dollar return on investment from federal funding, the study showed, was estimated to be just $125 for each life year gained.

SWOG biostatistician Joseph Unger, Ph.D., of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, led the work and will present it on a June 5 ASCO panel. Results will be simultaneously published online in the journal JAMA Oncology. SWOG is a cancer clinical trials network funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the federal government’s leading cancer research agency.

 

Starving prostate cancer with what you eat: Apple peels, red grapes, turmeric

New research from The University of Texas at Austin identifies several natural compounds found in food, including turmeric, apple peels and red grapes, as key ingredients that could thwart the growth of prostate cancer | ScienceDaily

apple-1589874_960_720.jpg

The new paper uses a novel analytical approach to screen numerous plant-based chemicals instead of testing a single agent as many studies do, discovering specific combinations that shrink prostate cancer tumors.

The researchers first tested 142 natural compounds on mouse and human cell lines to see which inhibited prostate cancer cell growth when administered alone or in combination with another nutrient. The most promising active ingredients were then tested on model animals: ursolic acid, a waxy natural chemical found in apple peels and rosemary; curcumin, the bright yellow plant compound in turmeric; and resveratrol, a natural compound common to red grapes or berries.

Drinking coffee may help prevent liver cancer, study suggests

People who drink more coffee are less likely to develop liver cancer, an analysis of data from 26 studies has found | Story via The Guardian | BMJ

coffee-2178431_1920

Researchers have found that people who drink more coffee are less likely to develop hepatocellular cancer (HCC), the most common form of primary liver cancer – and the effect was also found in decaffeinated coffee.

Experts from the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh examined data from 26 studies involving more than 2.25 million participants.  Compared with people who drank no coffee, those who drank one cup a day had a 20% lower risk of developing HCC, according to the study, published in the journal BMJ Open.

Those who consumed two cups a day had a 35% reduced risk and for those who drank five cups, the risk was halved. They found the protective effect for decaf was “smaller and less certain than for caffeinated coffee”

Full story via The Guardian

Full reference: Kennedy OJ, Roderick P, Buchanan R, et al. Coffee, including caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis

 

Where body fat is carried can predict cancer risk

Study finds men with over 40in waist and women with over 35in waist are more at risk of cancer as waist size is as good at predicting cancer risk as BMI | via Cancer Research UK 

tape-measure-2074026_1920

Scientists have found that carrying fat around your middle could be as good an indicator of cancer risk as body mass index (BMI), according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer . 

The study combined data from around 43,000 participants who had been followed for an average of 12 years and more than 1,600 people were diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer.

The study found that adding about 11cm to the waistline increased the risk of obesity related cancers by 13 per cent. For bowel cancer, adding around 8 cm to the hips is linked to an increased risk of 15 per cent.

Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to 13 types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreas.

Full reference: Freisling et al. Comparison of general obesity and measures of body fat distribution in older adults in relation to cancer risk: meta-analysis of individual participant data of seven prospective cohorts in Europe. British Journal of Cancer. (2017) 116, 1486–1497

Read more at Cancer Research UK

 

Diet, nutrition, physical activity and breast cancer

The report analysed 119 studies and including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer | World Cancer Research Fund

WCRF

Image source: WCRF

Many epidemiologic studies have classified breast cancer cases by menopausal status at time of diagnosis, and therefore in this report we chose to highlight associations between diet, weight, and physical activity separately in premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer, where possible.

Key findings: premenopausal breast cancer

There is strong evidence that:

  • consuming alcoholic drinks increases risk
  • undertaking vigorous physical activity decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese in adulthood before the menopause decreases risk
  • developmental factors leading to greater linear growth (marked by adult attained height) increase risk
  • factors that lead to greater birthweight, or its consequences, increase risk
  • breastfeeding decreases risk (breast cancer type unspecified) in the mother
cup20breast20matrix_pre2028shortened29

Image Source: WCRF

Key findings: postmenopausal breast cancer

There is strong evidence that:

  • consuming alcoholic drinks increases risk
  • being physically active (including vigorous physical activity) decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese throughout adulthood increases risk
  • greater weight gain in adulthood increases risk
  • developmental factors leading to greater linear growth (marked by adult attained height) increase risk
  • breastfeeding decreases risk (breast cancer type unspecified) in the mother
cup20breast20matrix_post2028shortened29

Image source: WCRF

Chance of colon cancer recurrence nearly cut in half in people who eat nuts

Something as simple as eating tree nuts may make a difference in the long-term survival of patients with colon cancer, a new study concludes. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) | ScienceDaily | 18th May 2017

pistachio-1098173_1920

An observational study of 826 patients with stage III colon cancer showed that those who consumed two ounces or more of nuts per week had a 42% lower chance of cancer recurrence and 57% lower chance of death than those who did not eat nuts.

A secondary analysis revealed the benefit of nut consumption was limited to tree nuts. Tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and pecans, among others. These findings will be presented at the upcoming 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Read more at ScienceDaily