NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
September 21, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 36 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Cancer Research HighlightsCancer Research Highlights


NCI Web Site Wins Health & Medical Media Award

NCI's Web site, www.cancer.gov, has won the 2004 International Health & Medical Media Award - the FREDDIE - in the Web site category. Now in its 30th year of competition, the prestigious FREDDIE awards are sponsored by medical publisher MediMedia. The goal of the FREDDIE awards is to promote excellence in videos, films, DVDs, CD-ROMs, and Web sites that address health and medical issues for both consumers and health care professionals.

Winning this FREDDIE puts NCI in excellent company. Previous FREDDIE winners include the Discovery Health Channel, ABC News, Home Box Office, Dateline NBC, and many others.

"Our staff continually meet the challenge of finding innovative ways to present all of NCI's information and resources to the public. It's very exciting for the cancer.gov Web site, its staff, and other NCI staff who are responsible for Web site content to be recognized in this way," said Nelvis Castro, director of NCI's Office of Communications, which manages cancer.gov.

To see the full list of this year's winners and finalists in all categories, visit http://www.thefreddies.com.

Alcohol Consumption Not Linked to Bladder Cancer Risk

Researchers at Boston University Medical School and NCI found no association between alcohol consumption and bladder cancer risk in a study of 10,125 people. However, beer consumption was significantly associated with a reduced risk of the cancer, while hard liquor and wine were not.

The results, published in the September 15 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, were based on records from the Framingham Heart Study - an extensive, population-based study begun in 1948 and funded by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Participants in the study have been repeatedly interviewed about their alcohol consumption and smoking habits.

For each of the 122 bladder cancer cases included in the study, Dr. Luc Djoussé of the Boston University School of Medicine and his colleagues selected as many as 5 control subjects matched by age, sex, and smoking status and frequency. Smoking is known to be a strong risk factor for bladder cancer. They categorized subjects by average grams of alcohol consumed per day, from zero to 48 - one drink contains about 12 grams.

While most studies have not found an association between alcohol consumption and bladder cancer risk, two have provided evidence suggesting a connection in men. The authors speculate that this may be due to the difficulty in controlling for smoking in these studies and note that the population in the Framingham study is characterized by moderate drinking - only 7 percent consumed more than four drinks a day. They suggest further study to confirm the significant association they found between beer consumption and reduced risk of bladder cancer.

EGFR Mutations Occur Frequently in Never-Smokers Diagnosed with Lung Cancer

A high percentage of individuals considered "never-smokers" who develop lung cancer have mutations in one specific receptor protein, according to a new study appearing in the September 7 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These mutations are present in the kinase domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and they are also associated with sensitivity to the drugs gefitinib and erlotinib.

The research team from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine, funded in part by NCI, checked the sequences of EGFR from tumors known to respond to gefitinib or erlotinib treatment. They found EGFR mutations in 12 out of 17 drug-sensitive tumor samples. In contrast, none of the 18 drug-resistant tumors examined contained an EGFR mutation. A majority of these mutations were found in one of two conserved regions on the receptor, both of which were near the activation site.

Most of the mutation-positive tumors came from patients classified as never-smokers, so the researchers next examined the frequency of EGFR mutations in relation to smoking rates. EGFR mutations were present in 7 of 15 samples derived from never-smokers, while only 4 of 81 samples derived from current or former smokers contained an EGFR mutation. Interestingly, 3 of the EGFR mutations among the current-smoker samples came from patients with limited exposure to smoke; they were not long-term heavy smokers.

"Collectively, these data show that adenocarcinomas from never smokers comprise a distinct subset of lung cancers, frequently containing mutations within the TK domain of EGFR that are associated with gefitinib and erlotinib sensitivity," stated the authors.

Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption through Grocery Stores and Other Settings

Researchers at Emory University and NCI have collaborated in presenting strategies for increasing daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. These recommendations stem from a September 26-27, 2002 workshop cosponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society. Experts from the government and private sectors, produce and food service industries, and academic researchers attended the Fruit and Vegetable Environment, Policy, and Pricing Workshop, and worked to identify interventions, strategies, and existing programs to improve efforts in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. In a supplement to the September 2004 Preventive Medicine, Dr. Karen Glanz of Emory University and Dr. Amy Yaroch of NCI present an overview of environmental, policy, and pricing strategies that can be applied in grocery stores and other community settings.

Grocery stores are a valuable untapped resource in exerting change in eating habits; the authors note that recent studies have found not only that fruit and vegetable intake in adults increased in proportion to additional grocery stores within a census tract, but that availability of healthy foods in stores is associated with adherence to healthier diets. Additionally, grocery stores now account for almost one-fifth of all take-out foods, thus contributing to their importance in Americans' food choices.

Interventions that can be implemented in grocery stores to promote good health, provide product information, lower costs, and offer product diversity include: point-of-purchase information; reduced prices and coupons; increased availability, variety, and convenience; and promotion and advertising. Other community settings such as churches, child care centers, and neighborhoods have implemented similar programs to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. These types of strategies have shown promise in emphasizing the need for proper nutrition through fruit and vegetable intake, but limited evaluations have yielded mixed results in terms of their effectiveness. The authors note "there is a need to further develop valid and reliable measures of supermarket environments beyond the excellent but limited work of the early 1990s."