lung cancer

Every breath you take: lung cancer, women and SMAC!

Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 in lung cancer, Uncategorized | 0 comments

A few days ago, I ran across a piece published online at BBC that reported that lung cancer rates in women in the UK are expected to ‘soar’ over the next 28 years. More troubling is that the researchers report that by the year 2040, fewer than half of these women will be alive. That’s right; fewer than half.

I contacted Kings College London’s PR department in hopes of obtaining a copy of the study but believe it or not, despite the fact that I am a member of the press here in the U.S., I got the brush off. It’s a shame, really, because I think that this research is critically important, especially for women who like me, may have smoked when they were younger. However it’s also important for never-smokers; the development of lung cancer is not dependent upon smoking and in fact, the number of cases of non-small cell lung cancer is on the rise amongst non-smokers.

So in short of telling you more about the study, I’m going to share a few tidbits of information that you need.

Did you know that lung cancer is the leading cause of  cancer death in both women and men in the U.S. and is accounts for more of these deaths than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined? And, as I wrote a few years back, use of hormone replacement therapy has been shown to increase lung cancer by as much as 50%, depending on how long the hormones are taken.

I have been fixated on lung cancer for some time now; not only is it responsible for the death of a dear friend’s father, but, it is now taking the life of my friend Jennifer Strauss Windrum’s mother. Any day now she may be gone.

I would like you to step back and consider what I just shared with you:

Lung cancer kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. And rates are about to soar in women. If you use hormones, your risk of dying from lung cancer is even higher. However, another frightening statistic is that most people are not diagnosed with lung cancer until it reaches the most serious stage — Stage 4 .

Back to Jenn. Jenn has been on a crusade for several years now to raise awareness of lung cancer and boost funding for it. This crusade recently took on a life of its own, as WTF? For Lung Cancer (Where’s the funding) grew into SMAC! Sock Monkeys Against Cancer. Jenn created custom sock monkeys to give cancer patients something to hold onto while they undergo chemo, on days they feel particularly depressed, and moreover, to continue to draw attention to the fact that effective treatment is sorely lacking for lung cancer. Let’s face it; it’s not a cancer that attracts a lot of celebrity dollars or media attention.

I need to ask a favour. Would you consider donating $10 to the cause to bring SMAC! to life? Jenn has less than two weeks to go to make this dream a reality. And her mom? Probably less time than that.

$10. That’s a coffee. A lunch out. $50 gets you a monkey. And Jenn has pledged that for every monkey purchased, a second goes to a person with cancer. Another portion of the proceeds after she reaches goal will be donated to cancer research and programs.

Will you help? Or at the very least, spread the word to at least 10 other people?

Lung cancer kills. And it is about to kill a heckofalot of women if we don’t do something. Time to SMAC the hell out of lung cancer. 


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Every breath you take…lung cancer and HRT

Posted by on Mar 12, 2010 in HRT, lung cancer | 3 comments

Remember last year’s post on hormone replacement therapy and increased risk of deaths from lung cancer? Researchers now report that HRT that combines estrogen and progestin can increase the risk for developing lung cancer, especially when used for long time periods.

In the latest nail in the HRT coffin, researchers evaluated 36,588 peri- and postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 76 over six years. During the study, 344 women developed lung cancer. Overall, the findings showed that the longer women took HRT, the higher their risk for developing lung cancer, with use of 10 years or more associated by as much as a 50% increased risk. Note that while an increased risk for developing lung cancer was also seen in women used HRT for up to 9 years, it was about half as much, or 27%.

While the researchers are quick to point out that this study does not prove that HRT causes lung cancer, it does show that taking HRT for certain periods of time can significantly increase the risk for lung cancer, even when other important factors are removed from the equation. Similar increased risk has not been observed in women taking estrogen alone.

In the latest position statement on hormone replacement therapy from the North American Menopause Association, a panel of experts currently conclude that the evidence shows that both smoking and age played an important role in promoting growth of existing lung cancers in women taking HRT, in particular among older women. On the other hand, they say that other studies suggest that HRT theoretically lends some protection against lung cancer in younger women.

Clearly these data are at odds. However, as a wonderful report in Reuters points out, the latest study ‘sheds light on the question’ because it looks at HRT use over a longer period of time.

Every breath you take…could eventually be your last. It all depends on your decision about HRT. Is the short-term gain worth the long-term risk? Only you and your doctor can evaluate your individual risk and determine if HRT is the right choice.

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Early menopause and lung cancer

Posted by on Jul 24, 2009 in Early menopause, lung cancer | 3 comments

A study published in the May online edition of International Journal of Cancer is starting to hit the news this week. And the news is a bit grim for women who go through early menopause due to surgical removal of the ovaries. It seems that hysterectomy is unusually linked with almost twice the risk for developing lung cancer.

Researchers investigated the possible association between characteristics of menstruation and pregnancy and lung cancer risk in 999 individuals (422 women with lung cancer, 577 men and women without). They examined demographics, occupational exposures, medical history, and menstruation and pregnancy histories. Detailed smoking histories were also taken.

The findings showed that although most menstruation and pregnancy characteristics were not associated with lung cancer risk, women who predominantly had had both ovaries removed had a 1.95 times greater risk than women who had a natural menopause of developing lung cancer.

Clearly, further study is needed because research has also shown that replacing hormones via HRT increases the risk for death from lung cancer. It’s sort of a lose-lose, damned if you do, damned if you don’t, situation.

I promise to keep a clearer eye on this evolving set of data. In the interim, if you’ve had an hysterectomy, speak to your healthcare practitioner. Best to err on the side of caution.

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