Important details from a huge study have gotten lost in translation.
Some mutations help cells divide faster, but they don’t seem to lead to cancer.
There are a lot of things we all know we can do to curb our risk of getting cancer. Avoiding tobacco products is high on the list, as is doing out best to eat unprocessed foods (and maybe even go organic). One thing we definitely can’t control is our height, but past studies have indicated that cancer risk goes up the taller you are.
As the Guardian reports, a new study published in Proceedings of The Royal Society B attempted to determine why that is. Was there some weird cellular quirk in taller people that was increasing instances of cancer, or maybe some link between the roles of genes associated with height and cancer-causing mechanisms later in life?
The data suggests that the only thing to blame is that tall people have more mass, and thereby more tissue that could go rogue.
The study, which looked at the differences in cancer rates between men and women of varying heights, ultimately concluded that the sheer number of cells seems to be the driving factor in how likely an individual is to end up with cancer.
The team made a number of interesting findings along the way, including the strong link between height and melanoma risk which may be linked to a growth hormone that increases cell division. Still, overall cancer rates that increase by around 10% per 10cm of height can be explained simply by the increase in the number of cells in the individual’s body.
Importantly, the differences in cancer rates between men and women specifically do show that there are other factors at play other than height, especially in the case of diseases like cervical cancer. However, the risk of the majority of the 23 cancers studied in this round of research can be explained simply by the fact that there are more cells in the body of a taller person when compared to someone of shorter stature.
Obviously, being tall doesn’t mean you’re doomed to cancer, and the change in cancer risk based on height is relatively small, but doctors urge people of all sizes to mitigate their individual risk by following well-worn advice like dropping cigarettes and eating healthy.
We all know by now that fruits and vegetables treated with chemicals probably aren’t the best for us, but can going on a “clean” organic diet actually improve long-term health? Normally this is the part where science steps in and says that falling all over yourself to follow some kind of super-strict food guidelines makes little difference, but in this case it seems the opposite is true.
In a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, doctors followed the progress of nearly 70,000 French citizens, recording their reported eating habits and then observing how their health was impacted over several years. The data shows that going organic actually had a dramatic effect on the likelihood of cancer.
As CNN reports, the study’s conclusions are rather hard to ignore. The researchers found that those who stuck with an organic diet were around 25% less likely to develop cancer of any kind, and that the prevalence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma dropped a whopping 73% among organic eaters when compared to those who didn’t follow an organic diet.
Interestingly, the researchers found that even those who didn’t eat particularly healthy but favored organic foods tended to have significantly lower cancer risk than those who didn’t.
The data would seem to point to non-organic foods being a major contributor to cancer risk, but the study is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. The participants weren’t screened based on other lifestyle choices, so it is difficult to say what other external factors are playing a roll.
Individuals who are careful to pick organic foods may be more health conscious to begin with, living healthier lifestyles overall. Knowing how those factors impacted the overall result is impossible at this point, and further research should be a priority, the team suggests.
Cancer researchers are constantly advancing the technology that doctors use to screen for, detect, and treat all kinds of cancers, and the survivability prospects have greatly improved over the past few decades. Now, AI is giving scientists another tool in the fight against the disease, and one of the biggest names in the AI game is Google.
In a new blog post, Google researchers explain that their AI known as LYNA — short for Lymph Node Assistant — has reached a level of sophistication that it can now tell the difference between cancer and non-cancer on slides with a stunning 99% accuracy.
Google explains that, in a pair of recently-published research papers, the LYNA tool demonstrated incredible accuracy in determining whether breast cancer had spread to a patient’s lymph nodes. Determining this is a major factor in deciding how a cancer patient might proceed, and can change the treatment options and approach that doctors take when handling a particular case.
Google notes that pathologist diagnosis of lymph node metastases (determining whether or not the cancer has spread) can be quite inaccurate, often due to time crunch and fast-moving decisions in the early stages of treatment. Accuracy of an individual slide can be as low as 38 percent, Google notes while referencing past research.
LYNA, on the other hand, is incredibly accurate right out of the gate, improving accuracy to 99 percent on a per-slide basis, like the one seen above.
“LYNA was able to accurately pinpoint the location of both cancers and other suspicious regions within each slide, some of which were too small to be consistently detected by pathologists,” Google writes. “As such, we reasoned that one potential benefit of LYNA could be to highlight these areas of concern for pathologists to review and determine the final diagnosis.”
Going forward, AI could ultimately be the most important tool for cancer detection yet, aiding doctors in diagnosis and allowing their expertise to be honed for finding the right treatment options that will save patient lives. That would be good news for all of us.