fight against cancer
May 22, 2019

Eating foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been touted as a great way to stay healthy. It's said to help prevent everything from diabetes to the common cold to visiting the doctor at all. But a new study has found that your diet can have a real impact on your likelihood of getting cancer, too.

The study, published on Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute: Cancer Spectrum, found that about 5.2 percent of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States in 2015 were linked with a poor diet. That figure is "comparable to the proportion of cancer burden attributable to alcohol," said Fang Fang Zhang, a cancer epidemiologist at Tufts University and the study's lead author.

The "poor diet" that correlated with cancer cases was defined with seven factors: "a low intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy products and a high intake of processed meats, red meats and sugary beverages," CNN explained. While 5.2 percent of all cancer cases might not seem like a lot, certain types of cancers had a much more tangible link: Colorectal cancers were linked to a poor diet more than 38 percent of the time.

Diet, Zhang explained, is one of the few risk factors for cancer you can actually control. While further research will be required to determine exactly how the diet risk changes with age and other factors, focusing on an improved diet can reduce "cancer burden and disparities in the U.S.," Zhang said.

Learn more about the study at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

May 22, 2019

Cell division is a process that scientists have been fascinated with since we first learned about cells. Through decades of study, scientists have come up with a basic narrative on how cells divide: Each phase of division, broadly called "mitosis," has been catalogued and analyzed up close. Now, the Allen Institute for Cell Science has come up with a better way to take a good look at the way all organisms form: a 3-D model that visualizes, in color-coded detail, the way a healthy human cell divides.

Announced in a press release on Wednesday, the Allen Institute's model of the Integrated Mitotic Stem Cell will enable "a deeper understanding" of the process of mitosis in human cells. In addition to helping us with "basic biology research," it will also be instrumental in cancer-related research.

Cancer is caused by the improper division and replication of cells — in the search for treatments and cures, scientists are often looking at why the specific cells that make up a cancerous growth are behaving that way. So having a full model of how a normal, healthy cell divides provides "a much-needed baseline" for comparison to cancerous cells, said Rick Horwitz, the executive director of the Allen Institute's Cell Science division.

Further studies into the mitosis process will be able to use the Allen Insitute's tool "to connect the dots between different parts of the cell," instead of studying just the chromosomes in isolation, said Tom Misteli, the director of the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research.

Take a look at the Integrated Mitotic Stem Cell here, or watch the Allen Institute's video about it below. Shivani Ishwar

May 20, 2019

Artificial intelligence is officially joining the fight against cancer.

Google on Monday announced new research in training an AI tool to recognize the signs of lung cancer from a CT scan of a patient's chest. The research, which began in late 2017, has culminated in an AI capable of diagnosing lung cancer with better accuracy than certified radiologists.

In order to test the AI, Google showed it 45,856 chest CT scans, comparing the AI's diagnoses with those of six board-certified radiologists, Engadget reported. Google's AI was able to detect cancer in 5 percent more of these screenings than the radiologists; it also reduced false diagnoses by "more than 11 percent."

Radiologists typically have to view up to hundreds of images from a single CT scan in order to make a successful diagnosis for lung cancer; Google's AI is able to generate a three-dimensional image instead of 2-D ones, as well as detecting specific areas of malignant tissue in the lungs, which radiologists are often unable to do from images alone.

This AI modeling technique represents a breakthrough in the ability to diagnose cancers early on. Lung cancer, which accounts for more than 1.7 million deaths every year around the world, is often not caught until later stages, when treatment has a much lower chance of success. Google's technology will have to undergo further research and testing before becoming available as a diagnosis tool, but the company hopes to "make early detection more accessible." Shivani Ishwar

September 19, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden will not be continuing his "cancer moonshot" initiative from within a Hillary Clinton administration if she wins the White House, STAT reports. Despite Clinton recently vowing to "carry out the mission the vice president has set," Biden clarified he would do so from "the outside."

"I'm not going to stay on in the administration. What Hillary talked about is, as I understood it, me being able to have the same authority over elements of her administration from the outside that I have now from the inside, to be able to coordinate those efforts," Biden said.

Biden's cancer moonshot initiative intends to advance cancer research by 10 years over the course of the next five. "I'm going to stay involved in this effort as long as I'm alive," Biden said. "So I'm going to stay engaged. Exactly how, I don't know yet." Biden is personally motivated, too; his son died of brain cancer in the spring of 2015. But even if Clinton doesn't win the White House, Biden said he hopes Republicans would support the research.

"I would hope [Trump] would bring, attract, out of just pure patriotic necessity, some very good minds to let him know that there is a lot of money we're spending in the federal government, billions of dollars on medical research and there is a consensus," Biden said, adding, "I don't think he's that crazy. We can afford all this." Jeva Lange

January 13, 2016

During the State of the Union address Monday night, President Obama announced that he was entrusting Vice President Joe Biden with leading a national mission to find a cure for cancer.

Biden's son, Beau, died in 2015 from brain cancer, and on his Medium page, Biden said fighting cancer is "personal for me." There are several areas of research and care that "could be revolutionary," he said, and the goal of this initiative is to "seize the moment. To accelerate our efforts to progress towards a cure, and to unleash new discoveries and breakthroughs for other deadly diseases."

The plan is twofold — to increase public and private resources to fight cancer, and to free data and research results from "silos," bringing cancer fighters together to "share information and end cancer as we know it." Over the next year, Biden plans to lead the effort to "target investment, coordinate across silos, and increase access to information for everyone in the cancer community." Biden said he knows the world will come together to find a cure and a new generation of scientists will be inspired to "pursue new discoveries and the bounds of human endeavor." Catherine Garcia

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