LIFESTYLE KEY TO CANCER PREVENTION
About 40 percent of cancers could be prevented if people stopped smoking and overeating, limited their alcohol, exercised regularly and got vaccines targeting cancer-causing infections, experts say. To mark World Cancer Day, which is today, officials at the International Union Against Cancer released a report focused on steps that governments and the public can take to avoid the disease. According to the World Health Organization, without major changes, global cancer deaths will jump from about 7.6 million this year to 17 million by 2030. About 21 percent of all cancers are due to infections like HPV, which causes cervical cancer, and hepatitis infections that cause stomach and liver cancer. Many of the top cancers in Western nations — like those in the lungs, breasts and colon — might be avoided if people would stop smoking, limit alcohol and sun exposure, and maintain a healthy weight.
Heart implant no longer temporary
Advanced heart failure patients who aren't candidates for transplant now have a new option for long-term survival. The HeartMate II left ventricular assist system was recently approved for use as destination therapy, meaning the device is no longer just for temporary use while a donor heart is found. Patients can be sent home with the system indefinitely. Similar devices are on the market but HeartMate, made by Thoratec, is the first to win FDA approval as both a bridge to transplant and for destination therapy. It's a small, implanted device that takes over pumping of the left side of the heart. Trials were conducted at 38 medical centers, including Tampa General Hospital, where Daniel Disonger of Davenport, Fla., shown here with his surgeon Dr. Christiano C.B. Caldeira, got the device Jan. 25.
Obesity may slow puberty for boys
Whereas obesity has been shown to bring on puberty earlier in girls, a new study finds the opposite trend for boys. In a study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researchers at 10 study sites across the country tracked the height and weight growth of 401 boys born in 1991, and gauged which boys had signs of genital growth indicative of puberty's onset by the time they had reached 11.5 years. Among the roughly 28 percent of boys whose weight was consistently highest through early and middle childhood, 14 percent appeared not to have begun pubertal changes at 11.5 — a rate nearly twice as high as that seen among the slimmest group of boys. The authors, led by University of Michigan pediatric endocrinologist Joyce M. Lee, speculated that either of two hormones — the digestive hormone leptin and the sex hormone estradiol — could play an important role in triggering boys' puberty.
Times staff, wires