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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Public health on the wires: Cancer statistics, Breastfeeding, MS and Garlic.

Periodically a list of items stacks up that reflect small bits of information relevant to public health workers.  Based on viewing numbers, such reviews are well received – so here is another one in celebration of topping 7000 views. 

Cancer statistics Annually, the Canadian Cancer Society has released the Canadian Cancer Statistics.  Top of the incidence list for females and males respectively is breast and prostate cancer.  Second and third for both is lung and colorectal cancer.  Lung cancer remains the top killer both genders with breast second for females, colorectal third for females and second for males, and prostate the third leading male killer.  Pancreatic cancers are fourth leading cause of death for both genders.

While all cancer age standardized incidence rates have remained relatively stable, the numbers diagnosed each year increase as the population grows and ages.  Mortality rates have been decreasing substantially - but even so the numbers of persons dying from cancer continues to increase for the same reasons.  The monograph does a good job of explaining this anomaly.

So the cautionary notes:  The incidence of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Kidney, Liver and thyroid cancers are going up.  With thyroid in females being the most rapidly increasing.  Lymphomas can be secondary to immunosuppression including treatment for other illnesses or primary due to environmental exposures.  Liver cancers are likely secondary to carriage rates of Hep B and C.

Overall the annual publication is a good read and well worth staying in tune with the changing face of cancer in the country.  This year’s iteration is found at Cancer stats 2012

Breastfeeding:   As Time magazine stimulates the breastfeeding dialogue with discussion of the socially acceptable upper age to feed Star editorial on Time magazine , it was noteworthy to see a good quality review of the value of exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months of age.   Science playing catch up to society.  Breastfeeding literature review.

MS and CCVI treatment:  Suffers of multiple sclerosis and their families have no doubt followed the chronic cerebrovascular insufficiency (CCVI) debate closely.  DrPHealth spoke to this in August 2011 if its too good to be true, it probably isn't.   Last week the FDA issued a warning about the risks of CCVI  alluding that the risks exceed the benefits.  While some trials are still in progress, expect more bad news for MS suffers that have been placed on the roller coaster of hope.   FDA alert on CCVI

Garlic and the common cold:  Finally, a fun tidbit for garlic fans, and who isn’t a fan of the aromatic bulb?   The popular home remedy has been touted as a cure for many ailments.   Its a quirk language that “ail” in English means to become ill, in French it is garlic itself.  The Cochrane collaborative reviewed the evidence of garlic’s healing powers over the common cold.  Perhaps speaking more to the bias against complimentary medicine, only one rigorous scientific study was found, and results allude to a benefit – but the typically conservative Cochrane conclusion being insufficient evidence to make a definitive statement.  Kudos for to the Cochrane for looking at traditional remedies, and perhaps a call for better and more rigorous controlled studies of something “we all know”.  Garlic keeps others away further away, so is a great preventive measure for the common cold.   Garlic and the common cold

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