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Understanding family cancer syndromes important

Published: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 @ 2:56 PM

            Though such instances are rare, an elevated risk for certain types of cancer can be passed down from generation to generation. Metro News Service photo
Though such instances are rare, an elevated risk for certain types of cancer can be passed down from generation to generation. Metro News Service photo

Few, if any, families have not been affected by cancer. While no individual or family is immune to cancer, some families may be more at risk of developing certain types of cancer than others.

In many instances, cancers that run in families can be linked to behaviors that families share. For example, families that smoke tobacco may be more vulnerable to cancer than those that don’t, as the smoke from tobacco is known to contain dozens of carcinogens. Cancer can affect multiple generations even in families in which only one person smokes, as exposure to secondhand smoke also increases cancer risk.

But poor behaviors or the effects of those behaviors are not the only cancer risk factors that can be passed down from generation to generation. According to the American Cancer Society, between 5 and 10 percent of all cancers result directly from gene mutations inherited from a parent. When cancers within a family are strongly linked to such mutations, this is known as family cancer syndrome.

Cancer is not necessarily caused by a family cancer syndrome, even if gene mutations are inherited. But the following factors may make it more likely that cancers in a family are caused by a family cancer syndrome:

Many cases of the same type of cancer, especially if the cancer is considered uncommon or rare

Cancers that occur at an abnormally young age within a family compared to the median age such cancers are typically diagnosed among the general population

More than one type of cancer in a single person

Cancers that occur in both of a pair of organs, such as in both kidneys, both breasts or both eyes

More than one childhood cancer in siblings

Cancer that occurs in a sex that is not usually affected by that type of cancer, such as a man being diagnosed with breast cancer

Before discussing the potential of a family cancer syndrome with their physicians, men and women can survey their family histories with the disease. Adults can make a list of the people in their families who have been diagnosed with cancer, noting their relationship to each individual and which side of the family each person is on.

List the type of cancers each person was diagnosed with, placing an asterisk or note next to types that are considered rare or unusual.

In addition, list the age of diagnosis for each family member and whether or not they developed more than one type of cancer. While this may be difficult to determine, try to learn if each relative diagnosed with cancer made any lifestyle choices that might have contributed to their diagnosis. Such choices include smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and activity level.

Family cancer syndromes are rare, but understanding them can still help families make the right lifestyle choices. More information about family cancer syndromes is available at

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Americans binge 17 billion drinks a year, CDC estimates

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 7:44 AM

Parents Dining With Kids Limited To One Alcoholic Beverage At NY Restaurant

College students have a reputation for binge drinking, but it’s not just them. Americans drink massive amounts of alcoholic beverages, according to a new report

>> On Even one drink per day can increase your risk of cancer, study warns

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, to determine how much booze United States citizens down. 

To do so, they examined information from the CDC’s 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which included self-reported data on individuals’ liquor consumption habits over 30 days. They calculated the annual binge drinking by “multiplying the estimated total number of binge drinking episodes among binge drinkers by the average largest number of drinks consumed per episode,” the authors wrote. 

>> Read more trending news 

After analyzing the results, they found the Americans guzzled 17 billion drinks in 2015. That equals 470 total binge drinks per binge drinker.

“This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others,” co-author Robert Brewer said in a statement.

>> On Do you drink too much? Here's what a new study says

The prevalence of binge drinking was more common among young adults ages 18-34, but more than half of the binge drinks consumed annually were by adults 35 and older.

Furthermore, about 80 percent of the drinks were consumed by men. And those who made less than $25,000 a year and had educational levels less than high school drank “substantially more” a year than those with higher incomes and educational levels. 

The researchers said the results “show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge drink and the amount they drink when they binge.”

>> On Alcohol better than exercise to live past 90, study says

With their findings, the researchers hope to implement prevention tactics such as reducing the number of alcohol outlets in a geographic area and limiting the days and hours of sale.

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How barbershops can help trim high blood pressure in black men

Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 @ 4:09 AM

Barber and customer. (Photo credit: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images)
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Barber and customer. (Photo credit: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images)(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Black men hoping to lower their high blood pressure may want to pay their favorite barber a visit — and bring a pharmacist along.

>> On Half of US adults now have high blood pressure, based on new guidelines

That’s according to new findings from the Smidt Heart Institute published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, for which a team of scientists studied 319 African-American men at high risk of heart attack and stroke recruited from 52 barbershops in the Los Angeles area.

>> Read more trending news 

For the study, the men were randomly assigned to two groups. Men in the first group met with barbers who encouraged them to speak with specially trained pharmacists during their monthly barbershop appointments.

During their visit to the barbershop, the pharmacists would assess the participants and prescribe appropriate medication. Any monitored blood tests and progress notes were sent to the patron’s primary care provider.

>> 7 ways to lower your blood pressure without medication

In the second group, barbers encouraged the men to seek advice from their respective primary care providers on treatment and lifestyle changes. Patrons were given pamphlets and blood pressure tips while getting their haircuts. There were no pharmacists involved inside the barbershop.

At the start of the study, the average top pressure number (or systolic blood pressure) averaged 154. After six months, it fell by 9 points for customers just given advice and by 27 points for those who saw pharmacists.

Two-thirds of the men who met with both their barbers and pharmacists were able to bring their unhealthy systolic blood pressure levels into the healthy range at that six-month mark.

Only 11.7 percent of the men in the second group experienced a similar difference in the same time period.

>> On Is your medical provider taking your blood pressure all wrong? Experts say probably 

Black men have especially high rates of high blood pressure — a top reading (systolic) over 130 or a bottom one over 80 — and the problems it can cause, such as strokes and heart attacks. Only half of Americans with high pressure have it under control; many don't even know they have the condition.

Marc Sims, a 43-year-old records clerk at a law firm, was a participant of the barbershop and pharmacist group. He didn't know he had high pressure — 175 over 125 — and when he came into the barbershop, the pharmacist said he was at risk of having a stroke.

"It woke me up," said Sims, who has a young son. "All I could think about was me having a stroke and not being here for him. It was time to get my health right."

Medicines lowered his pressure to 125 over 95.

>> On Suffer from hypertension? Sauna baths could help reduce it, study suggests

"Barbershops are a uniquely popular meeting place for African-American men," Dr. Ronald Victor, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and author of the study, told the Associated Press. “And many have gone every other week to the same barber for many years. It almost has a social club feel to it, a delightful, friendly environment" that makes it ideal for improving health.

Victor’s own hypertension was diagnosed by a barber in Dallas during his first barbershop-based study in the 1990s, he said in a news release. That study incorporated 17 Dallas shops, but no pharmacists. The results were modest at best.

But for the new research, the team “added a pharmacist into the mix" so medicines could be prescribed on the spot, he said. "Once you have hypertension, it requires a lifetime commitment to taking medications and making lifestyle changes. It is often challenging to get people who need blood pressure medication to take them, even as costs and side effects have gone down over the years. With this program, we have been able to overcome that barrier."

Victor and his team are now onto the next step: to determine if the benefits they found can be sustained for another six months and in black men with more moderate blood pressure levels.

Read the full study at

– The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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Allergic reaction to granola bar kills 12-year-old girl, family says

Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 2:24 AM

12-Year-Old Girl Dies From Allergic Reaction To Granola Bar

A Georgia family is in mourning after an allergic reaction to peanuts led to the death of a 12-year-old girl.

>> Watch the news report here

Amanda Huynh had been hospitalized before for allergic reactions to peanuts, but it's still surreal for her brother that she's gone.

"She meant a lot, to me, and i feel like she means a lot to the community," said her brother, Dillon Huynh.

The honor roll student at Lee Middle School in Coweta County was on her way home Tuesday on a school bus when she took a bite of a granola bar.

It was a snack that her family says she had eaten before.

"She would always check everything and make sure it was right," Dillon said.

>> Read more trending news 

But she started to feel sick and school officials were able to call 911 for an ambulance to take her to the hospital.

Her brother shared pictures from her hospital bed where doctors told the family even if she woke up she would have permanent brain damage.

Amanda died Thursday, and her family held her funeral on Sunday.

The principal at Lee Middle School sent a letter to parents about how grief counselors will be at the school in the coming days.

Amanda's brother said he hopes her story will educate others about food allergies.

"(I want people to) live with her in their hearts and really know how serious this is," he said.

>> See a GoFundMe page for the family here

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Spills from this huge area hazardous waste site are reminders of dangers to drinking water

Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 8:56 AM

            Hamilton, joined by state officials in the 1970s and 1980s, had to battle in court for the cleanup and continued monitoring of the former Chem-Dyne chemical-processing Superfund site at 500 Joe Nuxhall Boulevard, formerly Ford Boulevard. Monitoring of comination of the aquifer continues. PROVIDED
Hamilton, joined by state officials in the 1970s and 1980s, had to battle in court for the cleanup and continued monitoring of the former Chem-Dyne chemical-processing Superfund site at 500 Joe Nuxhall Boulevard, formerly Ford Boulevard. Monitoring of comination of the aquifer continues. PROVIDED

One of the largest hazardous waste sites in Ohio history, the former Chem-Dyne operation in Hamilton, at what now is 500 Joe Nuxhall Boulevard, also was one of the earliest tests of the federal “Superfund” programs in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Chem-Dyne accepted tens of thousands of oil-drum-sized containers, with stated hopes of recycling them into other products. But the drums sat, and leaked, and sometimes caught fire.

The situation was particularly dangerous because the site sits above the Great Miami Aquifer, a giant source of groundwater that holds 1.5 trillion gallons of water serves the needs of 3 million consumers for drinking water.

But officials in this region are on alert for chemical spills that could taint the water source.

THE RIVER: The Great Miami River could be the next big destination in Hamilton. Here’s why.

Spills from Chem-Dyne killed more than a million fish and water animals in the river, Ohio officials said when they sued Chem-Dyne and other companies. Fires there during the 1970s worried the community, and in September of 1976, Ohio officials sued, with then-Gov. Richard F. Celeste and Attorney General Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr. announcing the legal action.

A 1982 federal-court settlement involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered cleanup by the site’s operators and also payments by companies that had sent chemicals to the Hamilton location. The removal of soil and later cleansing of the property — by pumping water from around the land, removing chemicals and returning water below-ground — has continued for decades, and monitoring continues, under that court settlement.

From 1987 through 2010, some 35,020 volatile organic compounds were removed, according to state regulators, at a cost of more than $30 million.

RELATED: Hamilton leaders seek fountain of water innovation

This media outlet published an article Sunday about efforts to prevent such pollution and clean up environmental spills to protect the aquifer.

RELATED: How safe is our drinking water? Investigation shows dangers

Chemicals at the site included pesticides, chlorinated hydrocarbons, solvents, waste oils, plastics, resins, PCBs, acids and caustics, heavy metal and cyanide sludges. Workers at the site often mixed liquid wastes in open pits, releasing noxious vapors, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report from the time. “Reportedly, 55-gallon drums were punctured with pickaxes and allowed to leak or were dumped into the ground or into a trough or pit,” while tank cars reportedly were emptied into the ground, as well as troughs and sewers, according to the same reports.

“We’re happy they’ve reduced an enormous amount of contamination,” said Tim McLelland, manager of the Hamilton-to-New-Baltimore-Area Ground Water Consortium. “Obviously, it’s not still all cleaned up, so it’s on our radar.”

RELATED: Companies are coming to Hamilton from thousands of miles to help solve the world’s water problems

John Bui, who manages Hamilton’s drinking-water-processing operations, said the contamination has never threatened the city’s well fields. It “has been contained on that site, and it’s been monitored there,” Bui said.

Unthreatened by the chemicals are the city’s water wells that are north of the former Chem-Dyne property, as are wells the city and Fairfield uses to the south, which mostly are in Fairfield.

RELATED: What makes Hamilton’s tap water world’s best tasting?

Hamilton won a gold medal for best municipal tap water in the world at 2010 and 2015 tasting competitions in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. Late last month, the water won a silver medal at the same competition, for second-best in the nation.

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