American Association for Cancer Research

Power of strawberries, HPV linked to lung cancer and more

102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, in Orlando, Fla., April 2–6, 2011

HPV linked to lung cancer
ORLANDO, Fla. — Antibodies to the human papillomavirus show up in lung cancer patients in amounts greater than they do in those without disease, a study of European patients and healthy people shows. By comparing thousands of blood samples, an international group of researchers identified antibodies to eight subtypes of HPV that turned up in greater quantities in the cancer patients than in the control group. HPV is best known as the cause of cervical cancer, but is also implicated in several other less common malignancies. It is typically spread by sexual contact. The new findings, from a study of 1,633 lung cancer patients and 2,729 healthy people, suggest a link to lung cancer, although a causal relationship has yet to be determined, the researchers noted during a presentation April 4. —Nathan Seppa

Strawberries not just tasty
ORLANDO, Fla. — Eating freeze-dried strawberries can slow the growth of precancerous lesions in the esophagus, researchers reported on April 6. After noting that strawberries could fight esophageal cancer in rats, a U.S.-China research team gave 60 grams of freeze-dried strawberries every day to 36 Chinese volunteers who had been diagnosed with precancerous growths in the esophagus. Inspections done before and after treatment showed that the amount of aberrant growth in the esophagus decreased in 29 of the patients, stayed the same in six and increased in one over six months. Tissue samples showed that the strawberries inhibited cell proliferation, suggesting a possible treatment for esophageal cancer. —Nathan Seppa

Ovarian cancer survival
ORLANDO, Fla. — Among ovarian cancer patients, those with a mutation in the BRCA2 gene show better survival than patients with the BRCA1 mutation or those with no predisposing mutation, an international team reported April 3. Normal BRCA genes encode cancer-fighting proteins. Mutations in these genes leave a woman at increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The researchers analyzed more than 1,100 cases of women with the BRCA1 mutation, 367 with a BRCA2 mutation and nearly 2,000 with no mutation. Five-year survival was 61 percent in the BRCA2 group, 46 percent in the BRCA1 group and 36 percent among the others. The difference may be attributable to a better response to medication, past research indicates. —Nathan Seppa

Talc may up risk of ovarian cancer
ORLANDO, Fla. — Years of talcum powder use on genitalia might increase the risk of ovarian cancer, a team from Harvard School of Public Health and Dartmouth University finds. Data from more than 4,000 women, half with ovarian cancer and half without it, indicate that any use of talc may increase risk slightly, the scientists reported April 6. When they investigated ovarian cancer of the fallopian tubes — that kind that causes the most deaths — they found that premenopausal women who reported using talc 2,000 to 8,400 times over their lifetimes faced a risk increased by 16 percent to three-fold compared with nonusers. More use suggested higher risk. Talc is a hydrous magnesium silicate that’s chemically similar to asbestos but with some structural differences. —Nathan Seppa

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