Friday, November 7, 2008

Cancer Carnival #15

Welcome to the 15th Edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival - the monthly collection of cancer-related blogging.

We'll start off with cancer basics, courtesy of VideoJug. VideoJug is a video repository self-described as "life explained on film". An educational YouTube of sorts. They have several cancer-related videos such as the one above featuring experts discussing specific cancers, their diagnosis and prevention. Definitely a useful resource for those looking for cancer info in basic, easy to understand terms. So grab a cup of coffee, sit down and enjoy.

Or don't. Rob writes to us explaining that coffee is associated with high levels of homocysteine which is associated with heart disease, stroke and possibly cancer, though he remains skeptical:
And it may be that coffee raises cancer causing homocysteine levels by an appriciable amount, however, other factors associated with coffee drinking may result in an overall reduction in cancer incidence. So again even if homocysteine causes cancer, coffee may not
As if on cue, Hairy Swede points out that there are in fact trade offs and links us to a report that explains that coffee consumption can shrink breasts and with that the risk of breast cancer. But what does 'risk' actually mean in this context, and are these risks real? PalMD has an excellent post about how the media reports on science and what 'reducing risk' really means.
Statistics are non-intuitive. I have to work pretty hard to try to dig out the clinical meaning from stats, and I still get it wrong sometimes. The press gets it wrong much more often. Be very wary of banner headlines about risk. Besides the difficulty of understanding the difference between risk reduction and odds ratios, what does it mean in the real world?
He uses a recent study showing an inverse relationship between migraines and breast cancer as an example. How does stuff like this get funded?

That's the question I'm asking over at the Bayblab after a recent report in the UK showed that two-thirds of cancer research funding goes to 5 of the most treatable cancers. Are these priorities skewed, or should we finish one problem completely before tackling the next one? Join the discussion here. Meanwhile The Doc is pointing us to the Movember website a month long initiative to raise awareness about men's health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer. November may already be underway, but there's still time to work on that Movember 'stache. And if that's not enough to entice you to give money to cancer research, Sara points us to Susan's Story, the tale of a CML survivor and an example of what research dollars can do.

Research dollars don't just go to therapeutics, but also to basic research and diagnostic methods like imaging (among other things). 96well sends us news of a new, non-invasive technique to visualize tumour vasculature. Cool stuff, especially if you're interested in monitoring anti-angiogenic therapies.

Finally, pnreddy points us towards the Online Cancer Guide, a cancer-devoted blog featuring articles such as how to identify early stomach cancer symptoms or whether your sunscreen is doing its job. Of course don't use this site to replace advice or diagnosis from your physician.

That's it for the 15th Edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival. Start working on those posts for the next edition, and if you'd like to host, email bayblab[at]gmail[dot]com and we'll sign you up.