Video on cancer development

Jaqueline Lees, a cancer researcher, is in an online video on cancer. It’s quite good, and she is better than most scientists when it comes to talking to the public about technical issues. She explains the development of tumors through several stages, which can potentially take years. This makes sense to anyone who follows mesothelioma and knows of its long latency period.

Cancer is essentially a genetic disease, she says, and she talks about the two types of geners that can allow cancers to form: ongogenes and tumor suppressor genes.

Dietary Supplements

The University of Pennsylvania’s Oncolink website had an article by Carolyn Vachan on dietary supplements, which is often a sore spot with doctors and medical researchers even as they are very popular with the general public. Supplements (vitamins, minerals, etc.) make up a $23 billion industry in the United States, and they are largely unregulated. The FDA recently introduced new regulations which will be phased in to mid 2010. Vachan recommends patients tell their healthcare teams about supplements they use, if only because some supplements could interfere with cancer treatment. More on nutrition for cancer patients.

Do OSHA regulations keep up with the science?

The Pump Handle blog had a post the other day by David Michaels (a professor at George Washington University) questioning government efforts in occupational exposure of beryllum. Chronic Beryllium Disease is an inflammatory lung disease. OSHA regulations are based on old data which has been superceded by new findings. The Department of Energy has already changed its regulations for protective action and lowered the workplace exposure level that triggers protective action by a factor of 10.

This sounds like the history of asbestos regulation. For decades people in industry knew asbestos exposure was dangerous, but even after regulations were instituted, science continued to learn more about the toxic effects of asbestos. The regulations did not always keep up, and we got a legacy of asbestos diseases.