Stories tagged tumors

Nov
12
2010

Gold. Pretty, pretty, cancer-annihilating gold. Wait, what? Yep, you read that right. Gold nanoshells are proving themselves mighty effective at killing cancer .

So here’s the process in an overly-simplified nut(nano?)shell –

1. Gold nanoshells are injected into the body.
2. The shells travel the bloodstream and seep into the tumor via the leaky blood vessels that feed it (your other blood vessels are nice and tightly woven).
3. The shiny new gold-nanoshell-infused-tumor is heated with infrared light (the same light that powers your remote controls at home) for about twenty minutes.
4. The gold-nanoshell-infused-tumor gets cooked to a dead crisp, while your healthy cells remain intact and healthy.

Great news if you’re a lab rat and you’re looking to stick around for more experiments since, so far, their studies with lab rats have been 100% effective in killing the cancer.

Also great news (mostly) if you’re a human and you’re looking for a possible cure for cancer that doesn’t involve getting horrendously sick from chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Why “mostly?” Well, because there are Gold Nugget
Gold NuggetCourtesy United States Geological Survey
few questions that ought to be asked:

1. What happens to the rest of the gold nanoshells that don’t make it to the tumor? Are they absorbed by the body? Are they processed by the liver and then passed?
2. If they’re passed through the body via the liver, what happens to them once they’re in our waste-water treatment facilities?
3. What affect do they have on the environment?
4. If the treated water makes it back to our drinking water – will we be consuming gold nanoshells without our knowledge? What then?

It’s very easy to get all rah-rah-sis-boom-bah! about exciting new cancer treatments because we all want it so badly. But it’s also important to ask the difficult questions upfront, so that we’re not facing any nasty surprises down the road (asbestos, anyone?). Meanwhile, I’ll be quietly flying my gold nanoshell flag. Go, fight, win!

Sep
26
2008

Who is this?: "My... brain tumor"? No, I think you must have the wrong number.
Who is this?: "My... brain tumor"? No, I think you must have the wrong number.Courtesy MikeSchinkel
I’m not sure if it has come up on Buzz before, but there has been a long-running disagreement in the scientific community as to whether or not cell phone use increases your chances of developing cancer. (“Long running” relative to how long cells have been around, anyway.) Industry studies done ten years ago even suggested that there may be a link between cell phones and brain tumors, but other research completed since then has cast some doubt on those findings. The idea we’ve been left with, for the most part, seems to be that cell phones are more or less safe.

The debate has just recently been reignited, however. A group of scientists has warned congress that the studies denying a cell phone/cancer link may be severely lacking, an that new studies are demonstrating a pretty solid connection between exposure to the magnetic fields emitted by cell phones and the development of brain tumors.

The majority of studies used in the argument against a health link, the scientists point out, define “regular cell phone use” as once a week—far less than the average cell phone use currently. The group also draws on the analogy of cigarettes: it took 50 years for the health community to establish a convincing link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, but that’s not something anyone would even question today. Scientists have had a far shorter time to study the long-term effects of cell phone use, and a brain tumor can take “dozens of years to develop,” so they argue that cell phone use should be treated with caution.

Several warning studies were shown to the congressional committee. Surveys from Scandinavia, where cell phones were first developed, showed that cell phone users were twice as likely to develop a tumor on the auditory nerves of the ear they usually held their phone to, compared to the other ear. An Israeli study showed that heavy cell phone users were 50 % more likely to develop salivary gland tumors. Recently published English research demonstrated that adolescents who started using cell phones before the age of 20 were five times more likely to develop brain cancer by 29 than those who didn’t use cell phones—all on the side of the head where they used their phones.

Kids are particularly vulnerable to cell phone emissions—the radiation penetrates far deeper into their brains than it does to adult users.

The goal of the scientists was to encourage further studies on the health effects of cell phone use, and to urge the Federal Communications Commission—in charge of monitoring setting limits to exposure to the radio spectrum—to review their standards.

It’s something to think about though, isn’t it, Buzzketeers? Something to think about while you’re trying to fall asleep, and you’ve got a head ache just on the right side…

What do you think? Would you change your cell phone use based on something like this? Or do you think people should wait for more information before they start changing their behavior? Or is this just a reason to text even more?