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Amino acid in asparagus could cause cancer to spread, study says

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 9:47 AM

Study Says Asparagus May Cause Cancer To Spread

Are you a fan of asparagus? Beware, because the food contains an amino acid that has been associated with spreading breast cancer, according to a new report.

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Researchers from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute recently conducted an experiment, published in the Nature journal, to determine how asparagine, the amino acid that builds protein, may be linked to the disease. Foods with higher concentrations of the compound include asparagus, soy, dairy, poultry and seafood.

>> Related: New cancer 'vaccine' completely wipes out tumors in mice -- human trials are on way

To do so, they attempted to block the production of asparagine in mice with a drug called L-asparaginase. They also fed the animals a low-asparagine diet. After analyzing the results, they found that both methods reduced breast cancer’s ability to spread.

Scientists then used the mice studies to assess human breast cancer patients. They discovered “the greater the ability of breast cancer cells to make asparagine, the more likely the disease is to spread,” the authors wrote. They said this could also be the case for kidney and head and neck cancers.

>> On AJC.com: Breast cancer treatment may trigger heart problems, study says

“Our work has pinpointed one of the key mechanisms that promotes the ability of breast cancer cells to spread. When the availability of asparagine was reduced, we saw little impact on the primary tumour in the breast, but tumour cells had reduced capacity for metastases in other parts of the body,” the study’s lead author, Greg Hannon, said in a statement. “This finding adds vital information to our understanding of how we can stop cancer spreading – the main reason patients die from their disease.”

In addition to chemotherapy, researchers believe doctors should give patients asparagine-restricted diets to help prevent the illness from spreading. They also want to further their investigations to understand how to make the drug work with patients.

>> Related: Pharmaceutical company touts 'breakthrough' cancer treatment 

“The next step in the research would be to understand how this translates from the lab to patients and which patients are most likely to benefit from any potential treatment,” study co-author Charles Swanton added. “It’s possible that in future, this drug could be repurposed to help treat breast cancer patients.”

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VA may expand private health care choices for veterans

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:55 PM
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:59 PM

Rob Portman on VA MIssion Act

Veterans will have expanded private health care options under legislation passed by Congress, but some critics contend it could lead to more privatization of VA services.

The measure was part of a sweeping $51 billion VA bill that would institute reforms within the federal agency.

The Senate passed the measure in 92-5 vote this week, which continued funding of the VA Choice program due to be out of money as early as next week. President Donald Trump was expected to sign the bill before Memorial Day.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who backed the legislation, said in a Friday interview in Dayton with this news outlet he heard “spirited” complaints about VA health care in town halls throughout Ohio.

Veterans’ stories about VA health care have “gotten better” since then, but the senator still hears a common complaint.

RELATED: New Dayton VA director wants to be transparent for veterans

“The problem I keep hearing about is, look I need to get a specialist in my community. I don’t want to drive from here to Cleveland or here to Cincinnati even. Why can’t I go to somebody here locally?”

The VA legislation will ease that issue with private health care options, he said.

“It says we’re going to help veterans get the care that they need where they want to get it at their convenience,” he said.

The legislation will eliminate the requirement veterans must wait at least 30 days or travel more than 40 miles to qualify for a private health care appointment, according to John W. Palmer, a spokesman with the Ohio Hospital Association in Columbus.

“We believe this is going to create stronger opportunities for access to care,” he said. “From a health care access standpoint, we definitely are equipped to handle patients that are coming in.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio(Washington Bureau)

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and a member of the Senate Veterans Committee, voted for the legislation, but said he opposes any privatization meaures.

“Privatization means putting profits ahead of those who served our country, and I will fight any effort to use America’s veterans to line the pockets of wealthy corporations,” he said in an email. “Instead, we must all work together to strengthen and improve VA to better serve veterans.”

The bill also includes provisions to strengthen the VA workforce and make it easier to hire and retain more medical professionals, said Brown spokeswoman Jenny Donohue. His office said the bill streamlines, but does not expand private health care choices.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, voted for the legislation in the House.

“This bill preserves our commitment to quality of care of veterans at facilities like the Dayton VA, puts the needs of veterans first, and ensures our veterans’ service is honored,” he said in a statement.

The Dayton VA has spent $55 million on private health care for nearly 17,700 veterans authorizations in fiscal year 2018, according to spokesman Ted Froats.

Among changes, the legislation will expand caregiver benefits to veterans who served before Sept. 11, 2001; puts tighter practices on prescribing opioids to VA patients from private providers; and sets up a presidentially appointed commission to review under performing VA facilities for possible closure, among a list of changes. Dozens of veterans service groups, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, supported the bill.

RELATED: Ohio Hospice hires top leader leaving Dayton VA 

The American Federal of Government Employees, which represents 260,000 federal VA employees, has had sweeping concerns with the wide-ranging bill.

The labor union says it could lead to outsourcing or the “amputation” of 36 health care specialties, such a primary care or mental health, outside the VA and force veterans into private health care if their VA facility is closed. The legislation would allow unrestricted use of private walk-in clinics and billions of dollars to be taken out of VA health care without federal data on how contractors spend the money, said Marilyn Park, an AFGE legislative assistant.

“We made a promise to veterans when they signed up to serve that they would be taken care of when they got home – not forced to wait in longer lines at private, walk-in clinics,” AFGE National VA Council President Alma Lee said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Trump Administration searches for way forward on North Korea

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 4:05 PM

A day after President Donald Trump scrapped a planned June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un, the President, White House, and State Department made clear that U.S. officials continue to be open to further contacts with their North Korean counterparts, seeing if there is a way to get talks back on track to rein in the nuclear weapons program of the Pyongyang regime.

“We always knew there would be twists and turns leading up to this meeting on June 12,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

“We never expected it to be easy, so none of this comes as a surprise to us,” Nauert added.

On Friday afternoon, officials said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had spoken by phone with the South Korean Foreign Minister, to discuss what the next steps might be – after the June 12 Trump summit with Kim Jong Un was cancelled.

Earlier in the day, the President expressed hope that talks could resume on the effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, as allies of Mr. Trump argued he made the right move in walking away from the summit at this point in time.

“I don’t know where we will meet, when we will meet, or even if we will meet…..but I do believe President Trump is going to end the North Korean nuclear program,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

But as Graham and others acknowledged on Friday, it wasn’t clear whether progress might be made, or how.

From both the U.S. side, and the North Korean side, there was no resumption on Friday of some of the more bellicose rhetoric that had marked the long distance relationship between Mr. Trump and Kim Jong Un, as Pyongyang officials said they were open to further talks and the President said he was not giving up.

“Everybody plays games,” the President told reporters in talking about the art of negotiation.

“We weren’t getting the right signals previously, so hopefully we will in the future,” Nauert told the White House Pool reporter, as President Trump gave the commencement address at the Naval Academy on Friday.

“But we didn’t want to go to a meeting just for the sake of going to a meeting,” Nauert added. “There had to be something to come out of it. so we weren’t getting the right signals.”

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Teacher credited with stopping shooter at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 4:04 PM

Scene near Noblesville High School on Friday, May 25, 2018, at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Indiana, after a shooting on Friday, May 25, 2018. A male student opened fire at the suburban Indianapolis school wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said.
Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star via AP
Scene near Noblesville High School on Friday, May 25, 2018, at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Indiana, after a shooting on Friday, May 25, 2018. A male student opened fire at the suburban Indianapolis school wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said.(Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

Students at Indiana’s Noblesville West Middle School are hailing a science teacher as a hero for his actions Friday, when a boy opened fire on classmates at the school.

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A teacher, identified by The Indianapolis Star as Jason Seaman, sprung into action after a student asked to use the bathroom Friday morning and returned to the classroom with a pair of handguns, police said.

Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker told The Associated Press that students were taking a test when the unidentified student walked into the classroom and opened fire.

>> Noblesville, Indiana middle school shooting: 2 injured, student in custody

“Our science teacher immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground,” seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker told The Associated Press. “If it weren’t for him, more of us would have been injured for sure.”

The Star reported that Seaman was shot three times and underwent surgery Friday. An unidentified student was also injured, according to police.

Jason Seaman’s brother, Jeremy Seaman, told the Star that he was not surprised by reports of his brother’s actions.

“He’s not really ever been the person to run away,” Jeremy Seaman told the Star. “When the safety of the kids is at hand, it’s not surprising to me that he was going to do what he had to do.”

Jason Seaman has been a teacher in Noblesville for four years, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has also served as head football coach for seventh-graders for two years.

Jeremy Seaman told the Star that his brother is married with two young children.

Jason Seaman played college football for Southern Illinois from 2007 to 2010, according to ESPN. The team's head coach, Nick Hill, said in a statement Friday that Jason Seaman "was a great teammate (and) one of the team's hardest workers." 

"You could always trust him to do the right thing," he said.

Jason Seaman continued to recover Friday. Police continue to investigate the shooting.

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Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million vehicles over cruise control issue

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 1:02 PM

Fiat Chrysler Calls Back Nearly 5 Million Cars Due To Cruise Control Issue

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles that could prevent drivers from turning off the cruise control function.

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The cruise control could become dangerous when an affected car accelerates under cruise control, like when trying to climb up a hill, Fiat Chrysler officials told CNN. This could cause the car to become locked in cruise control, and the driver might not be able to tap the breaks or hit the designated switch to turn it off. 

One incident related to this issue has been reported to Fiat Chrysler, but there have been no reported injuries. 

Affected car owners are told to stop using the cruise control function immediately until the vehicle can be repaired, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated in a press release.

If this issue happens while driving, the NHTSA said drivers might be able to stop the vehicle by pushing the break pedal and placing the vehicle in park once it is stopped. Drivers could also shift the transmission to neutral or forcefully apply the manual break and place the car in park once it has stopped. 

Fiat Chrysler officials are asking owners of the recalled vehicles to bring them to a dealership for a software update.

The models covered under the recall include:

• 2015-17 Chrysler 200 sedan

• 2014-18 Chrysler 300 sedan

• 2014-18 Dodge Charger sedan 

• 2014-18 Dodge Durango SUV 

• 2014-18 Dodge Journey crossover 

• 2014-18 Jeep Cherokee SUV 

• 2014-18 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV 

• 2014-18 Ram 2500 pickup 

• 2014-18 Ram 3500 cab chassis 

• 2014-18 Ram 3500 pickup 

• 2014-18 Ram 4500/5500 cab chassis

• 2014-19 Ram 1500 pickup 

• 2015-18 Dodge Challenger coupe 

• 2017-18 Chrysler Pacifica minivan 

• 2018 Jeep Wrangler 

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