Got skin cancer? Blame the FDA
Americans are getting skin cancer — and sometimes dying from it — at an alarming rate, while the US Food and Drug Administration irresponsibly refuses to approve state-of-the-art sunscreens that could do a much better job protecting us from the sun’s cancer-causing rays.
The rest of the world has not been out snoozing in the sun. Since the 1990s, advanced new sunscreens have been widely sold in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia, foxnews.com reported.
But Americans have access only to older generations of sunscreen that prevent sunburn — not the deeper damage that can cause skin cancer. That’s because the FDA stubbornly refuses to approve the sale of superior new sunscreens that can safeguard our health.
The delay in approving sunscreens that could prevent many skin cancers and save lives has to do with the complex and outmoded way the FDA approves new over-the-counter drugs, the category of medical products that includes sunscreens. It is long past time for the FDA to modernize and speed up its approval process.
What can be done if the FDA refuses? In a 2015 editorial, the Wall Street Journal posited that the only way to end the FDA’s ‘willful culture of control and delay’ is to strip ‘the sunscreen police of all powers over the stuff’. That would cause the bureaucrats to do a slow burn, so we like that idea.
Sun damage to skin is an extremely serious health problem. Skin cancer will strike one in five Americans over the course of their lives, and the rates of all types of skin cancer — including melanoma and keratinocyte cancers (basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma) — are increasing.
Melanomas are often deadly. Approximately 160,000 people in the US are diagnosed with them annually, and one American dies every hour of every day — amounting to about 10,000 per year. In 2014, the US surgeon general declared skin cancer a public health emergency — yet, even four years later, the FDA is not responding as if it were dealing with an emergency.
And unfortunately, skin cancer rates and deaths continue to rise — while mortality from almost every other cancer has been declining.
It is long past time for the FDA to
modernize and speed up its approval process.
About 65 percent of melanomas and 90 percent of keratinocyte cancers worldwide are
attributable to sun exposure, so prevention through avoidance of excessive ultraviolet radiation exposure is critical. But in an extraordinary exhibition of nonfeasance, the FDA’s
irresponsible unwillingness to approve state-of-the-art sunscreens is condemning many Americans to get skin cancers they could otherwise avoid.
The US lags badly on sunscreen availability, with access only to outdated, ineffective products that perform poorly at protecting us. Astonishingly, the last time a new sunscreen ingredient was introduced in the United States was in 2002.
A little background is necessary to understand sun damage to skin and its prevention. There are two major wavelengths of
ultraviolet light beaming down on us from the sun that are believed to damage the skin and lead to skin cancer as well as premature skin aging — types A and B, commonly referred to as UVA and UVB.
Most US sunscreens are fairly effective against UVB light, which is what causes immediate sunburn. And a sunburn, of course, is noticeable after a short period of time. It’s a signal your body gives you to get out of the sun before your burn worsens.
UVA light penetrates deeper into the skin and is in many ways more damaging — and this is the light that can cause cancer. And unlike UVB that causes sunburn, the more serious damage that can be caused by UVA is not something we notice. It can take many years — even decades — of exposure to UVA light to cause skin cancer.
US sunscreens fail to provide adequate protection against cancer-causing UVA light. Americans are therefore being hit with a double whammy. Because sunscreens offer protection from sunburn caused by UVB light, many people stay in the sun longer, understandably thinking they are safe. As a result, they are exposed for a longer period of time to more harmful UVA light.
Most Americans mistakenly believe that they are getting state-of the-art skin protection from sunscreen. However, a sunscreen with SPF 50 bought in the United States allows three times as much ultraviolet light to enter the skin as sunscreens with the same SPF available abroad.
Inadequate sunscreen is not only killing Americans — it is also costing us a bundle in health care expenditures. In the era of rising health care costs, prevention is critical.
Allowing access to highly effective sunscreens would be much cheaper than paying for repeated costly and sometimes disfiguring removal of precancerous and cancerous lesions.
Stomach cancer symptoms: Four early signs of the disease you need to know
Stomach cancer symptoms can be vague and easily mistaken for other less serious conditions. But it’s important to recognize all the signs as the disease is often advanced by the time of diagnosis. There are four early symptoms of this type of cancer.
Stomach cancer is a fairly uncommon type of cancer, but as the symptoms are similar to those of many other conditions, if you experience any signs you should get them checked out by your GP as soon as possible, express.co.uk wrote.
According to the NHS, the first four initial symptoms include: Persistent indigestion and heartburn, trapped wind and frequent burping, feeing very full or bloated after meals, and persistent stomach pain.
When the cancer has advanced other symptoms may occur. These can be: Blood in your stools, or black stools, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
The exact cause is still unclear, but various health bodies say you’re more likely to develop it if you are male, are of 55 years of age or older, smoke, have a diet low in fiber and high in processed food or red meat, or have a diet that contains a lot of salted and pickled foods.
If you don’t get treatment for stomach cancer, it can spread to other parts of your body or organs, such as your liver.
Stomach cancer is usually easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early.
The NHS advises: “Stomach cancer is much more common in older people, with 90 out of 100 cases occurring in people who are over 55 years of age.
“Indigestion is a very common symptom in the general population. However, it’s unlikely that someone with indigestion who’s under the age of 55 will have stomach cancer.
“However, see your GP if you have indigestion and weight loss, anaemia or persistent vomiting. They should refer you to a specialist for further testing.
“Also see your GP if you have difficulty swallowing. This isn’t a common symptom among the general population and the cause should always be investigated.”
Stomach cancer should not be confused with other cancers that can occur in the abdomen, like bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK.
Persistent blood in the stools and discomfort or bloating are two of the signs, but these can also be symptoms of piles and discomfort or bloating brought on by eating.
A persistent change in bowel habit is one of the notable signs of bowel cancer, and there are three changes you should note.
The NHS lists three bowel habit changes — going more often, looser stools, and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain.
But constipation, a common bowel problem where you pass harder stools less often, is rarely caused by serious bowel conditions.
The cause of most bowel cancers is not yet known, but there are six factors that can increase your risk of getting the disease.
According to Bowel Cancer UK these are being aged over 50, a strong family history of bowel cancer, a history of non-cancerous growths in your bowel, longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, type 2 diabetes, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Britain plans for opt-out organ donation scheme to save lives
Britain plans to increase the number of organ donors by changing the rules of consent and presuming that people have agreed to transplants unless they have specifically opted out.
Legislation to introduce the new framework for organ and tissue donation will be debated in parliament later this year, with the system expected to come into effect in spring 2020, the health department said, Reuters reported.
“We believe that by making these changes, we can save as many as 700 more lives every year,” Jackie Doyle-Price, parliamentary undersecretary of state for mental health and inequalities, said in a statement.
There will be exceptions to the presumed consent system, including those aged under 18, individuals who lack the mental
capacity to understand the changes and people who have not lived in England for at least 12 months before their death.
In Wales, a system of presumed consent is in operation and Scotland has also published a plan for an opt-out donation system.
Around 6,000 people in Britain are on the transplant waiting list and more than 400 patients died while waiting for a transplant last year, the public health service said.
Early trauma a risk factor for depression in adults with head/neck cancer
Among individuals with head and neck cancer (HNC), those who experienced childhood trauma were more likely to have advanced cancer and to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings indicate that childhood trauma history should be considered during treatment for HNC, eurekalert.org reported.
Individuals may experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression during and after cancer diagnosis and treatment. Patients with HNC display emotional responses that may affect their adherence to treatment, and the maintenance of smoking.
Traumatic events in childhood have also been linked with the
occurrence of anxiety and depression in adulthood. To evaluate the occurrence of childhood trauma in HNC patients and its association with anxiety and depression, a team led by Daniel Bernabé, PhD, of São Paulo State University, in Brazil, analyzed information on 110 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma after they were diagnosed but before they started treatment.
Among the 110 patients, 105 (95.5 percent) had experienced at least one type of childhood trauma. The most common childhood trauma reported was emotional neglect (43.8 percent), followed by physical child abuse (30.5 percent), emotional child abuse (15.2 percent), and physical child neglect (8.6 percent). Only two patients (1.9 percent) reported sexual abuse.
Emotional neglect (absence of emotional support, as well as negligence related to child’s complaints) was linked with advanced cancer stage and higher alcohol consumption.
Experiencing child physical neglect (not receiving necessary care so that physical health is endangered) was a predictive factor for increased anxiety levels. Also, patients who had a higher occurrence of traumatic events in childhood had an almost 12-times higher likelihood of having increased depression levels before starting cancer treatment.
“Assessing traumatic events experienced in childhood may be of great value in understanding neuropsychological mechanisms related to anxiety and depression symptoms in patients with cancer. Therefore, the life history of the cancer patient, including their traumatic memories and derived feelings should be considered by the health team during the treatment of cancer patients.” said Bernabé.
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