December 16, 2009
By Amy Norton
An herb used since ancient times to treat liver ailments may help reduce the liver damage caused by some cancer drugs, a study published Monday suggests.
In a study of 50 children undergoing chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), researchers found that an herb called milk thistle appeared to reduce treatment-related liver inflammation.
The study, published online in the journal Cancer, is the first clinical trial to test the herb in children undergoing chemotherapy, and the investigators caution that more research is still needed.
However, the findings are “promising” — particularly since there is currently no way to help protect the liver from chemotherapy-induced damage, said senior researcher Dr. Kara M. Kelly, a pediatric oncologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.
Liver inflammation is common among children undergoing chemotherapy for ALL, Kelly told Reuters Health — with about two-thirds developing liver toxicity at some point during treatment.
Traditionally, doctors have dealt with the side effect by lowering patients’ chemotherapy doses — which, in turn, can lower the chances of seeing a complete remission. Kelly said that more recently, there has been a movement toward “accepting” the liver toxicity and sticking with the chemo regimen. But it’s not clear what the long-range consequences of that might be.
“So we still need an alternative option,” Kelly said.
That is where milk thistle comes in. The plant’s flowers and seeds have been used for more than 2,000 years to treat disorders of the liver and gallbladder. In recent years, lab research has found that the active substance in milk thistle — an antioxidant called silybin
– might help prevent body tissue damage by blocking toxins from breaching cell walls.
Several clinical trials have investigated milk thistle as a way to prevent or treat liver damage in people with hepatitis, an inflammation that can be caused by an infection, and in those with cirrhosis, a buildup of scar tissue in the liver often linked to alcoholism. The results of those studies have been mixed.
August 18, 2009
By S.L. Baker
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a malignant disease of the bone marrow, is the most common cancer diagnosed in children. In fact, nearly one third of all pediatric cancers are cases of ALL. Although this form of cancer can be cured in many cases, in the worst case scenarios the cancer crowds out normal cells in the bone marrow, metastisizes to other organs and takes the lives of about 15 percent of the youngsters it attacks. What triggers so many kids, usually between the ages of three and seven, to develop this cancer in the first place? A new study just published in the August issue of the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring raises the suspicion that commonly used household pesticides are the cause.
Previous studies in agricultural areas of the US have shown strong associations between pesticides and childhood cancers but this is the first research conducted in a large, urban area to look at the connection. The study, conducted between January of 2005 and January of 2008, involved 41 pairs of children with ALL and their mothers and a control group of 41 matched pairs of healthy children and their mothers. The volunteer research subjects were all from Lombardi and Children’s National Medical Center and lived in the Washington metropolitan area.
Urine samples collected from the children and their mothers were analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look for metabolites that provide evidence of household pesticide exposure. Specifically, the scientists were looking for metabolites associated with the pesticides known by their chemical name as organophosphates (OP). The researchers found evidence of the pesticides in the urine of more than half of all the participants, but levels of two common OP metabolites, diethylthiophosphate (DETP) and diethyldithiophosphate (DEDTP), were significantly higher in the children who suffered from cancer. What’s more, the mothers who participated in the study filled out questionnaires that revealed more moms whose kids had cancer used pesticides (33 percent) than did the mothers in the control group (14 percent) whose youngsters were cancer-free.
“We know pesticides — sprays, strips, or ‘bombs,’ are found in at least 85 percent of households, but obviously not all the children in these homes develop cancer. What this study suggests is an association between pesticide exposure and the development of childhood ALL, but this isn’t a cause-and-effect finding,” the study’s lead investigator, Offie Soldin, PhD, an epidemiologist at Lombardi, said in a statement to the media. “Future research would help us understand the exact role of pesticides in the development of cancer. We hypothesize that pre-natal exposure coupled with genetic susceptibility or an additional environmental insult after birth could be to blame.”
While the scientists aren’t ready to flat out say pesticides cause cancer, when you look at the big picture and see what is already known about the havoc pesticides appear to cause in the human body, it makes sense for parents and parents-to-be to ditch pesticides — for their own health and for the health of their children. For example, NaturalNews has previously reported on the link between residential pesticides and childhood brain cancer, and the strong association between a serious pre-cancerous blood condition and exposure to pesticides.