Treatments for multiple myeloma? Take it easy with green tea

June 23, 2009

Contrary to Tinfoil Hat Philosophy, researchers are rather intensely studying green tea and potential good health effects it may have.

The bad news is that an early study shows green tea inhibits the effects of one of the common treatments for multiple myeloma, Bortezomib.  Bortezomib (BZM) causes tumor cells to die, but some elements in green tea inhibit that effect.  Does the tea keep the cancer cells alive, or interfere with the cancer-killing drug?  Not sure.

It’s clear that cancer patients undergoing treatment that includes drug or chemo therapy need to inform their physicians if they are using green tea or other alternative treatments in addition.

Is this such a surprise?  We’ve known for years that grapefruit juice multiplies the effects of some blood pressure medicines, which means that grapefruit is one fruit blood pressure and cardiac patients probably need to avoid.  Foods that have medicinal effects may also have effects that counteract the medicines physicians provide.

The paper shows up in the current issue of Blood (free subscription may be needed for access to the full text):

“Green Tea Polyphenols Block the Anticancer Effects of Bortezomib and Other Boronic Acid–Based Proteasome Inhibitors”

Blood. 2009 Jun 4;113(23):5927-5937, EB Golden, PY Lam, A Kardosh, KJ Gaffney, E Cadenas, SG Louie, NA Petasis, TC Chen, AH Schönthal

Here’s the abstract:

The anticancer potency of green tea and its individual components is being intensely investigated, and some cancer patients already self-medicate with this “miracle herb” in hopes of augmenting the anticancer outcome of their chemotherapy. Bortezomib (BZM) is a proteasome inhibitor in clinical use for multiple myeloma. Here, we investigated whether the combination of these compounds would yield increased antitumor efficacy in multiple myeloma and glioblastoma cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Unexpectedly, we discovered that various green tea constituents, in particular (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and other polyphenols with 1,2-benzenediol moieties, effectively prevented tumor cell death induced by BZM in vitro and in vivo. This pronounced antagonistic function of EGCG was evident only with boronic acid–based proteasome inhibitors (BZM, MG-262, PS-IX), but not with several non–boronic acid proteasome inhibitors (MG-132, PS-I, nelfinavir). EGCG directly reacted with BZM and blocked its proteasome inhibitory function; as a consequence, BZM could not trigger endoplasmic reticulum stress or caspase-7 activation, and did not induce tumor cell death. Taken together, our results indicate that green tea polyphenols may have the potential to negate the therapeutic efficacy of BZM and suggest that consumption of green tea products may be contraindicated during cancer therapy with BZM.

Watch. The crank science sites will pick up on this study and argue that it’s just one more demonstration that scientists can’t get the story right. Reading just the abstract, however, you can see that the paper talks about a specific chemical action of specific components of green tea against a specific type of cancer treatment. This paper could just as easily be read to say that green tea helps prevent senescence in cells, and it does the same thing it tumor cells, which isn’t at all what we want.

It will be very, very interesting to see how this research gets covered in the popular, mass and internet press.

Wool ripped from this blogger’s eyes

June 23, 2009

One of my DDT blog post alerts turned up this one at Butter Side Down, which is as close to perfect in accuracy and conciseness as I have seen lately.

Here’s a question that I was asked this weekend, one which I’ve been asked more than once: how anyone can justify the ban on DDT when millions of people are dying of malaria?

It’s a good question.

Unfortunately, it’s the wrong question. It’s wrong because it’s based on three premises:

  1. DDT has been banned;
  2. In areas where mosquitoes are endemic millions are needlessly suffering and dying from malaria deaths that are preventable if spraying DDT is allowed; and
  3. DDT is a panacea that strikes down mosquitoes without fail.

All three premises are wrong.

If this guy woman can be so wise, why cannot others at least follow him her?

Can your 9-year old kid help her rescuers?

June 23, 2009

This kid is from Heber, Utah — odds are he’s a Mormon, and he’s a Cub Scout.  Wolf elective #23 includes “Tell what to do if you get lost.”  But it’s an elective for a 7-year old, and in panic, a 9-year old may not remember.  We hope that this training will be part of the Outdoorsman requirement for a second-year Webeloes Scout, at age 10 or 11, but this kid wasn’t there yet.

Utah, showing Daggett County - from Pioneer, Utahs online library

Utah, showing Daggett County - from Pioneer, Utah's online library

So, this story from the Salt Lake Tribune is a morality tale.  One of the morals is that we need to drill our kids on what to do if they get lost, in the city, or in the wild:

Search crews found lost hiker, 9, after he left behind clues

Updated: 06/22/2009 10:51:25 AM MDT

Daggett County search crews found a missing 9-year-old hiker Sunday night thanks to a footprint, a granola bar wrapper, pieces of his raincoat and a backpack that he left behind as he wandered through the Ashley National Forest.Grayson Wynne’s first words to his father, Kynan: “Happy Father’s Day.”

Grayson, from Heber City, was hiking Saturday evening toward Daggett Lake to camp for a couple of days with his family when he was separated from the group.

Search and rescue teams, family members and volunteers — totaling more than 100 people — looked for Wynne on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Some rode horses or mules, others walked.

Grayson said he thought about his parents, prayed and cried while he was lost. He told searchers he spent the night under a log and didn’t get much sleep. He could hear searchers yelling his name but could not tell from which direction they were coming.

Searchers found a granola bar wrapper about 300 yards off of the main trail, and family members recognized the snack matched those Grayson had in his backpack. Rescuers also found a small footprint by a creek bed early Sunday, about 400 yards from the granola wrapper, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

They later found Grayson’s black backpack, which he later told crews he left behind the night before because it was getting too heavy.

Based on Grayson’s belongings, Daggett County searchers said it appeared the boy was

following the creek, so they focused the rescue effort in specific areas along the water.A helicopter flew a bloodhound and her handler to the spot where the backpack was found. Before they could begin searching for Grayson, he heard the helicopter and headed for a meadow where he hoped the pilot would see him.

Grayson waved his last piece of yellow rain slicker to get the helicopter crew’s attention. He had been tearing the jacket apart and leaving behind chunks to trace his footsteps.

As he waved his slicker, two searchers rode up on horseback and found him in the meadow.

Grayson was taken to the command center, where he was checked by medical teams and reunited with his family. The boy’s feet were wet and cold, but he was in “good health and spirits,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

“This search was successful due to the many searchers and volunteers, and to Grayson for being such a strong little boy with a lot of common sense,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

I’m not entirely sure where the family was — in addition to the Ashley National Forest, there is the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in tiny Daggett County, in Utah’s northeast corner, for families to hike and camp in.

Daggett County was the last of the 29 counties in Utah to be organized, cut out of the much larger Uintah County.  I know the story well.  My maternal grandfather was one of the organizers of the county and the loser of the first election for sheriff (a great story of the power of women voting, for another time).  My mother was born in a the chicken coop her family lived in, in Manila, as her father was building what was to be the biggest house in the county (and the first with rooms set aside for indoor plumbing).

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