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Skin-like Tissue Developed From Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Dental and tissue engineering researchers at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts have harnessed the pluripotency of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) to generate complex, multilayer tissues that mimic human skin and the oral mucosa (the moist tissue that lines the inside of the mouth). The proof-of-concept study is published online in advance of print in Tissue Engineering Part A.

“For the first time, we have established that a single source of hESC can provide the multiple cell types needed to interact within a three-dimensional tissue model to generate complex, multilayer tissues. We are a step closer to a practical therapy to help with diseases of the skin and mouth,” said Jonathan Garlick, DDS, PhD, professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and a member of the cell, molecular & developmental biology program faculty at the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts.

“Researchers have been seeking methods to grow skin-like tissues outside of the body using new sources of stem cells such as hESC, with the goal of advancing regenerative medicine as a new therapy to replace or repair damaged or diseased tissue. Little is known about how hESC can be developed into the multilayer tissues similar to those that line the gums, cheeks, lips, and other areas in the mouth. We used in vitro tissue engineering techniques to produce skin-like tissues that mimic the lining tissues found in the oral cavity,” said Garlick.

Using a combination of chemical nutrients and specialized surfaces for cell attachment, an hES cell line (H9) was directed to form two distinct specialized cell populations. The first population forms the surface layer (ectodermal, the precursor to epithelial tissue), while the second is found beneath the surface layer (mesenchymal).

Following the isolation and characterization of these cell populations, the researchers incorporated them into an engineered, three-dimensional tissue system where they were grown at an air-liquid interface to mimic their growth environment in the oral cavity. Within two weeks, tissues developed that were similar in structure to those constructed using mature cells derived from newborn skin, which are the current gold standard for tissue fabrication.

“These engineered tissues are remarkably similar to their human counterparts and can be used to address major concerns facing the field of stem cell biology that are related to their clinical use. We can now use these engineered tissues as ’tissue surrogates’ to begin to predict how stable and safe hESC-derived cells will be after therapeutic transplantation. Our goal is to produce functional tissues to treat oral and skin conditions, like the early stages of cancer and inflammatory disease, as well as to accelerate the healing of recalcitrant wounds,” said Garlick.

First author Kyle Hewitt is a graduate student in cell, molecular & developmental biology program at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Science at Tufts and is a member of Garlick’s lab.

This study was supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health.

Garlick is also director of the Center for Integrated Tissue Engineering (CITE) at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, which is dedicated to furthering the understanding of regenerative medicine through the investigation of three-dimensional tissue models. He has written more than over 60 articles and book chapters on this and related subjects. CITE is now using hESC as a pre-clinical paradigm that now serves as as a translational modality to provide more meaningful correlations between in vitro screening assays for toxicity and efficacy and in vivo tissue outcomes in human clinical trials.

Hewitt K, Shamis Y, Carlson M, Aberdam E, Aberdam D, and Garlick J. Tissue Engineering Part A. “Three-dimensional epithelial tissues generated from human embryonic stem cells.” Published online July 6, 2009 in advance of print, doi: 10.1089/ten.tea.2009.0060

About Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

Founded in 1868, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) is committed to leadership in education, patient care, research and community service. Students obtain an interdisciplinary education, integrated with medicine, with access to training in dental specialties. Clinics managed at TUSDM provide quality comprehensive care to more than 18,000 diverse individuals annually, including those requiring special needs. Nationally and internationally, the School promotes health and educational programs and researches new procedures, materials and technologies to improve oral health.

Source: Tufts University

Preventing A Second Stroke Is Focus Of Study

Rush University Medical Center is participating in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study to determine the best course of treatment to reduce the risk of stroke patients suffering another stroke. The study will determine if aggressive treatment of stroke victims for high blood pressure and cholesterol, along with placing a stent to widen a narrowed artery in a patient’s brain, is better than intensive medical therapy alone.

The study is called the Stenting versus Aggressive Medical Management for Preventing Recurrent Stroke in Intracrainal Stenosis or SAMMPRIS. The study is the first to look at the long-term benefits of the Wingspan stent, the only FDA approved stent designed to open clogged arteries in the brain.

“Prior to the Wingspan stent, the options for treating stroke patients were limited. Blood-thinning medications are commonly used to treat narrowing of intracranial arteries, but studies have found that stroke patients who had severe artery blockages of 70 percent or more have a 22 percent chance of having another stroke within the first year,” said Dr. Shyam Prabhakaran, section head of Cerebrovascular Disease and Neurological Critical Care at Rush.

Dr. Demetrius Lopes, neuroendovascular surgeon at Rush, was the first physician in Illinois to use the Wingspan stent. The catheterization procedure involves carefully threading a hair-like filament from a tiny incision on the inside of the thigh through the body’s arteries and veins up to the patient’s brain. After reaching the site of the blockage, the plaque-filled brain vessel is first opened using a microscopic balloon that is inflated, pressing aside the blockage. The stent is placed to hold the plaque against the artery wall and keep the blood flowing through the brain.

“Rush has the largest experience with the Wingspan stent in Chicago. The stent has been quite effective in preventing recurrent strokes in more than 100 cases,” said Lopes.

A preliminary study released last year that was funded by the NIH found that the Wingspan stent was successfully deployed in nearly all cases and significantly reduced arterial blockages in the short term. But data on the long-term benefit of the stent, compared to medical treatment alone, were inconclusive, prompting the launch of the SAMMPRIS trial.

“A randomized trial such as SAMMPRIS is one of the most powerful scientific tools to bring us definitive answers,” said Lopes. “The results from this trial will improve the management of patients at risk for stroke.”

In addition, the study will determine the effectiveness of intensive medical management of underlying conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There has not been a landmark study looking at how the aggressive treatment of these underlying conditions can benefit stroke victims.

“This is a seminal study, one funded by the NIH and having significant implications on future management of patients with narrowed arteries in the brain,” said Prabhakaran. “It will determine whether we should be offering stenting as a primary treatment of narrowed arteries or whether medications are sufficient.”

The five-year SAMMPRIS study plans to enroll 764 patients from approximately 60 sites in the Unites States. Intensive medical therapy for all participants will consist of aspirin, clopidogrel (a blood thinner), and aggressive risk factor management primarily targeting blood pressure and cholesterol. Approximately half of the patients in the trial, selected randomly, will have a stent placed. Study participants will be evaluated by a neurologist every four months and will meet with internists who will manage the vascular risk factors.

To be eligible for this trial, patients must be between the ages of 30 and 80 years, have had a stroke or TIA within 30 days, and have stenosis (narrowing) of a major intracranial artery (blood vessel in the brain).

Rush University Medical Center
1700 W Van Buren, Ste. 250
Chicago
IL 60012
United States
rush.edu

Inadequate Sleep Leads To Behavioral Problems

A recent Finnish study suggests that children’s short sleep duration even without sleeping difficulties increases the risk for behavioral symptoms of ADHD.

During the recent decades, sleep duration has decreased in many countries; in the United States a third of children are estimated to suffer from inadequate sleep. It has been hypothesised that sleep deprivation may manifest in children as behavioral symptoms rather than as tiredness, but only few studies have investigated this hypothesis.

The researchers at the University of Helsinki and National Institute of Health and Welfare, Finland, examined whether decreased sleep leads to behavioral problems similar to those exhibited by children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

280 healthy children (146 girls and 134 boys) participated in the study. The researchers tracked the children’s sleep using parental reporting as well as actigraphs, or devices worn on the wrist to monitor sleep.

The children whose average sleep duration as measured by actigraphs was shorter than 7.7 hours had a higher hyperactivity and impulsivity score and a higher ADHD total score, but similar inattention score than those sleeping for a longer time. In multivariate statistical models, short sleep duration remained a statistically significant predictor of hyperactivity and impulsivity, and sleeping difficulties were associated with hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. There were no significant interactions between short sleep and sleeping difficulties.

“We were able to show that short sleep duration and sleeping difficulties are related to behavioral symptoms of ADHD, and we also showed that short sleep, per se, increases behavioral symptoms, regardless of the presence of sleeping difficulties”, says researcher Juulia Paavonen, MD, PhD.

“The findings suggest that maintaining adequate sleep schedules among children is likely to be important in preventing behavioral symptoms. However, even though inadequate sleep seems to owe potential to impair behaviour and performance, intervention studies are needed to confirm the causality,” Paavonen continues.

Source:
Dr. Juulia Paavonen

University of Helsinki

More Than 1,000 Patients Receive The Arthrosurface Product For The Great Toe

Arthrosurface, Inc.
(arthrosurface/), the developer of less-invasive joint
resurfacing systems, reports that more than 1,000 patients have now
received the HemiCAP(R) Great Toe Implant. “When we first introduced the
HemiCAP(R) Great Toe system we knew there was an unmet need for a better
alternative to joint fusion. Permanently limiting the mobility in the toe
joint by fusing the great toe seemed to be an unacceptable option for many
people when contrasted to the current outcomes for repair and
reconstruction in other joints,” said Steve Ek, COO.

Hallux Rigidus is a disease that affects the head of the metatarsal
often resulting in a painful and stiff first toe joint. This pain and
stiffness can severely impact patients to the point where their daily
activities become difficult and debilitating.

“For the last two years the pain in my foot got progressively worse, so
much so, that I started to change the way I walked. When I started walking
on the outside of my foot, I ended up getting neck and back pain as well,
which just made matters worse. Seven weeks after surgery I was working and,
the best part was that I didn’t have any more pain in my neck or back
either. The fact that I have no more pain and still have my movement is
just fantastic,” said one of the first patients.

Dr. Carl Hasselman, Clinical Instructor at the University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center commented, “The Arthrosurface implant is joint sparing
because much of the metatarsal phalangeal joint (MPJ) is allowed to remain
intact which is very different from all other MPJ implants on the market.
It is minimally invasive and does not affect the soft tissue structures.
The advantage to this is quicker recovery and no loss of push off strength,
which for the patient means very little time off work and a more rapid
return to normal activities.”

The HemiCAP(R) product for the great toe is another example of how this
technology can be applied to different joints throughout the body.
Originally, Arthrosurface developed the technology for use in the major
joints of the knee, hip and shoulder. Today, the great toe product has
become one of the fastest growing products in the line, showing how
flexible and adaptable this system may be used for early joint disease.

Arthrosurface, Inc.
arthrosurface/

Growing Animal Penile Erectile Tissue In Lab May Benefit Patients

In an advance that could one day enable surgeons to reconstruct and restore function to damaged or diseased penile tissue in humans, researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine have used tissue engineering techniques to completely replace penile erectile tissue in animals.

In the online early edition (Nov. 9-13) of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report success using cells from rabbits to grow replacement penile erectile tissue for the animals in the laboratory. After implantation with the replacement tissue, the rabbits had normal sexual function and produced offspring. This is the most complete replacement of functional penile erectile tissue reported to date.

“Further studies are required, of course, but our results are encouraging and suggest that the technology has considerable potential for patients who need penile reconstruction,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., institute director. “Our hope is that patients with congenital abnormalities, penile cancer, traumatic injury and some cases of erectile dysfunction will benefit from this technology in the future.”

Reconstructing damaged or diseased penile erectile tissue has traditionally been a challenge because of the tissue’s unique structure and complex function. There is no replacement for this tissue that allows for normal sexual function. Various surgeries have been attempted, often multi-stage procedures that can involve a silicone penile prosthesis, but natural erectile function is generally not restored.

The Wake Forest Baptist scientists set out to solve this problem by working to engineer replacement erectile tissue in the lab. In an earlier study, also in rabbits, they engineered short segments of erectile tissue that had 50 percent of the function of native tissue. The current study attempted to improve on those results.

The Wake Forest Baptist team was the first in the world to engineer a human organ in the laboratory –bladders that have been implanted in almost 30 children and adults. Many of the same techniques used to build bladders were used in the current study.

The scientists first harvested smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells, the same type of cells that line blood vessels, from the animals’ erectile tissue. These cells were multiplied in the laboratory. Using a two-step process, the cells were injected into a three-dimensional scaffold that provided support while the cells developed. As early as one month after implanting the scaffold in the animal’s penis, organized tissue with vessel structures began to form.

The cells were injected into scaffolds on two separate days, enabling them to hold almost six times as many smooth muscle cells as in the previous studies – which the scientists believe was a key to success. During an erection, it is the relaxation of smooth muscle tissue that allows an influx of blood into the penis. The relaxation is triggered by the release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells.

“Increasing the density of smooth muscle cells led to normal erectile pressures within the tissue,” said Atala, who is also a professor and chair of urology at Wake Forest Baptist.

Functional testing of the implanted tissue showed that vessel pressure within the erectile tissue was normal, that blood flowed smoothly through it, that the response to nitric oxide-induced relaxation was normal as early as one month after implantation, and that veins drained normally after erection.

When the animals with the engineered tissue mated with females, vaginal swabs contained sperm in eight of 12 instances and four of the 12 females were impregnated.

“These results are encouraging,” said Atala. “They indicate the possibility of using laboratory-engineered tissue in men who require reconstructive procedures. A lack of erectile tissue currently prevents us from restoring sexual function to these patients.”

The erectile tissue the scientists engineered is known as the corpora cavernosa penis. Two columns of this sponge-like tissue form a significant part of the penis. These structures, which are bound together with connective tissue and covered with skin, fill with blood during erection.

Co-researchers on the project were Kuo-Liang Chen, M.D., China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, Daniel Eberli, M.D., University of Zurich, Switzerland, and James Yoo, M.D., Ph.D., with Wake Forest. Chen and Eberli were both at Wake Forest at the time the research was conducted.

Source: Karen Richardson

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

Bird Flu Outbreak Near Islamabad, Pakistan

A bird flu (avian flu) outbreak has occurred at a chicken farm in Sihala, near Islamabad, say Pakistani authorities. Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the virulent H5N1 strain.

Health officials say they have destroyed 3,600 chickens at the farm. So far, no human cases of infection have been reported in or near the infected area.

This is the third outbreak of bird flu in Pakistan since the beginning of last month.

New Nerve Cells — Even In Old Age

After birth the brain loses many nerve cells and this continues throughout life – most neurons are formed before birth, after which many excess neurons degenerate. However, there are some cells that are still capable of division in old age – in the brains of mice, at least. According to scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology in Freiburg, different types of neuronal stem cells exist that can create new neurons. While they divide continuously and create new neurons in young animals, a large proportion of the cells in older animals persist in a state of dormancy. However, the production of new cells can be reactivated, for example, through physical activity or epileptic seizures. What happens in mice could also be applicable to humans as neurons that are capable of dividing also occur in the human brain into adulthood. (Cell Stem Cell, May 7th 2010)

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The corresponding view that the brain loses learning and memory capacity with advancing age prevailed for a long time. However, neuronal stem cells exist in the hippocampus – a region of the brain that plays a central role in learning and memory functions – that can produce new nerve cells throughout life. It is known from tests on mice that the newly formed cells are integrated into the existing networks and play an important role in the learning capacity of animals. Nonetheless, the formation of new cells declines with age and the reasons for this were unknown up to now.

Together with colleagues from Dresden and Munich, the Freiburg researchers have now succeeded in explaining for the first time why fewer new neurons are formed in the adult mouse brain. They managed to identify different populations of neuronal stem cells, thereby demonstrating that the hippocampus has active and dormant or inactive neuronal stem cells. “In young mice, the stem cells divide four times more frequently than in older animals. However, the number of cells in older animals is only slightly lower. Therefore, neuronal stem cells do not disappear with age but are kept in reserve,” explains Verdon Taylor from the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology.

The precise factors that influence the reactivation of dormant stem cells are not yet clear. The cells can, however, be stimulated to divide again. The scientists observed more newborn hippocampal neurons in physically active mice than in their inactive counterparts. “Consequently, running promotes the formation of new neurons,” says Verdon Taylor. Pathological brain activity, for example that which occurs during epileptic seizures, also triggers the division of the neuronal stem cells.

Horizontal and radial stem cells

The different stem cell populations are easy to distinguish under the microscope. The first group comprises cells which lie perpendicular to the surface of the hippocampus. Most of these radial stem cells are dormant. As opposed to this, over 80% of the cells in the group of horizontal stem cells – cells whose orientation runs parallel to the hippocampus surface – continuously form new cells; the remaining 20% are dormant but sporadically become activated. The activity of genes such as Notch, RBP-J and Sox2 is common to all of the cells.

Radial and horizontal stem cells differ not only in their arrangement, apparently they also react to different stimuli. When the animals are physically active, some radial stem cells abandon their dormant state and begin to divide, while this has little influence on the horizontal stem cells. The result is that more radial stem cells divide in active mice. The horizontal stem cells, in contrast, are also influenced by epileptic seizures.

It would appear that neuronal stem cells are not only found in the brains of mice. The presence of neurons that are formed over the course of life has also been demonstrated in the human hippocamus. Therefore, scientists suspect that different types of active and inactive stem cells also arise in the human brain. It is possible that inactive stem cells in humans can also be activated in a similar way to inactive stem cells in mice. “There are indicators that the excessive formation of new neurons plays a role in epilepsy. The use of neuronal brain stem cells in the treatment of brain injuries or degenerative diseases like Alzheimers may also be possible one day,” hopes Verdon Taylor.

Original work:

Quiescent and active hippocampal neural stem cells with distinct morphologies respond selectively to physiological and pathological stimuli and ageing
Sebastian Lugert, Onur Basak, Philip Knuckles, Ute Haussler, Klaus Fabel, Magdalena Götz, Carola A. Haas, Gerd Kempermann, Verdon Taylor, Claudio Giachino
Cell Stem Cell, May 7th 2010

Source:
Verdon Taylor

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Early HAART During TB Treatment Boosts Survival Rate In Co-Infected People

A clinical trial in Cambodia has found it possible to prolong the survival of untreated HIV-infected adults with very weak immune systems and newly diagnosed tuberculosis (TB) by starting anti-HIV therapy two weeks after beginning TB treatment, rather than waiting eight weeks, as has been standard. This finding by scientists co-funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis, brings physicians closer to optimizing the treatment of severely immunosuppressed individuals with HIV-TB co-infection. The findings were presented today at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna by principal investigators Francois-Xavier Blanc, M.D., Anne E. Goldfeld, M.D., and Sok Thim, M.D.

“These results are just one example of how our best science can advance the treatment of an important disease, TB, that exacts a huge toll among HIV-infected individuals,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “With an estimated 1.4 million HIV-infected individuals developing TB in 2008 alone, we must continue to pursue 21st-century solutions to the scourge of HIV-TB co-infection, as well as other diseases that afflict HIV-infected people.”

Individuals with HIV-TB co-infection in resource-limited countries frequently come to the attention of healthcare professionals for the first time when HIV already has severely damaged their immune systems. Such people often die during the first few months after beginning TB treatment. Clinicians agree that starting anti-HIV therapy during that short window can stave off death for some patients, but data on the best time to start have proven inconclusive and opinions have varied. The dilemma is that starting anti-HIV therapy before the TB infection is under control can cause the patient to become very sick and even die from a condition known as Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome, but starting anti-HIV therapy too late may allow the patient to die from HIV infection. TB accounted for nearly a quarter of HIV-related deaths worldwide in 2008.

The clinical trial, called the Cambodian Early versus Late Introduction of Antiretroviral Drugs (CAMELIA), or ANRS 1295, launched in January 2006 at five sites in Cambodia, a country with a high prevalence of TB and HIV. The study staff enrolled 661 volunteers ages 18 and older with newly diagnosed HIV-TB co-infection and very weak immune systems (measured as fewer than 200 CD4+ T cells per cubic millimeter of blood). The participants all began receiving treatment for TB and were assigned at random to begin antiretroviral therapy for HIV either two weeks later or eight weeks later. The volunteers received powerful antiretroviral drug cocktails known as highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART. Study staff followed the participants for 50 weeks after the last volunteer had enrolled in the trial, performing clinical exams and biological tests at frequent intervals to monitor participants’ health and safety.

By the end of the follow-up period, 59 out of 332 participants who had started HAART two weeks after beginning TB treatment had died, while 90 out of 329 participants who started HAART eight weeks after beginning TB treatment had died. This 33 percent difference was statistically significant, leading the principal investigators to conclude that starting HAART two weeks after beginning TB treatment, rather than waiting eight weeks, boosts the chance of survival for people with HIV-TB co-infection and severely damaged immune systems.

CAMELIA was conducted within the research agenda of the Cambodian National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD under the leadership of Dr. Blanc of Bicetre University Hospital, France; Dr. Goldfeld of Harvard Medical School, Boston; and Dr. Sok of the Cambodian Health Committee, Phnom Penh. NIAID provided funding for the study to the Cambodian Health Committee via a grant from the Comprehensive International Program for Research on AIDS.

Source:
Laura Sivitz Leifman
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

WHO To Call For Public Smoking Bans Worldwide Based On CalEPA Report Linking Secondhand Smoke To Increased Breast Cancer Risk

The World Health Organization on Thursday at the 13th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Washington, D.C., plans to recommend smoking bans in workplaces and public grounds worldwide based on a California Environmental Protection Agency report released in January, USA Today reports (Ritter, USA Today, 7/13). The report, which was conducted by the CalEPA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, looks at more than 1,000 studies on the effects of secondhand smoke and finds the exposure to secondhand smoke increases young women’s risk for breast cancer by 68% to 120%. The report also finds that secondhand smoke can cause preterm deliveries and low birthweights. The report’s findings on breast cancer were the first ever to be made by a government agency in the U.S. (Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report, 1/27). A WHO policy report due in September will use the CalEPA report as the scientific root of its recommendations, according to USA Today. The two reports will be published together, Yumiko Mochizuki, director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said. Only a few countries, including Ireland, have instituted complete smoking bans similar to what WHO plans to recommend (USA Today, 7/13).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Over Half Of All Cancers Can Be Prevented By Daily Lifestyle Choices

Nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions, most of them health-related. Stop smoking. Start exercising. Lose weight. Eat better. Unfortunately, only 10 to 15 percent of these resolutions are ever kept. Even more unfortunate is that these are exactly the things that can help everyone prevent cancer.

John C. Ruckdeschel, M.D., a Medical Advisory Board member for the Prevent Cancer Foundation and the president and CEO of the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, is adamant about smoking’s negative health effects. “The major thing to avoid cancer is to stop smoking,” he says. “If there’s anything we have clear-cut, indisputable evidence for, it’s that.”

What’s more is that tobacco’s harm can’t be counter-balanced by doing everything else right. “Eating broccoli all the time is not going to reverse what smoking does,” he says. “You have to cut it out of your life.”

Ruckdeshel explains that cancer itself is not some outside agent that attacks the body. It is a harmful change within the body, on the cellular level, that is caused by our genetic makeup combined with what we either do or don’t do every day to cause these cellular changes to occur. Mutated cells begin replicating and taking over precious internal real estate, forcing out the healthy cells.

Contrary to popular belief, most cancerous tendencies are not determined by heredity, but are instead shifted into gear by what we do on a daily basis – what we eat and drink, if we exercise, and a host of other lifestyle choices. It is estimated that more than half of all cancers could be prevented if we just took better care of ourselves.

In addition to smoking, one dangerous pitfall is over-consuming foods that are high in calories but low in nutrition, forcing the body to struggle while processing large amounts of calories with no additional physical activity.

“The overweight and obesity problems we’re seeing in our population are outgrowths of the sedentary lifestyle,” says David Schottenfeld, M.D., M.Sc., also a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board, as well as a professor of epidemiology and internal medicine at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “We need to recognize that as we look at the body weight issue, it causes or influences one-quarter to one-third of the total cancer incidence.”

With over-processed foods and sugary drinks, not only does the body not get the vitamins it needs, it’s left with thousands of extra calories to try to dispose of. But without an extra amount of physical activity to burn those calories off, they turn instead to fat. And carrying extra pounds, especially around the waist, also puts someone at a higher risk for cancer.

To do your part to prevent cancer, set a realistic goal for 2008, such as:

–Stop smoking – Even if you don’t succeed on the first – or tenth – try, you owe it to yourself and those who love you to keep on trying. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Studies show addiction to nicotine is stronger than that of cocaine.

–Be more active – If you’ve got an exercise plan, great! Keep it going and vary your routine to stay interested. But if you haven’t seen your running shoes since high school, it’s time to get your feet in gear. Start small – an afternoon stroll around the block, jogging a minute or two every so often while walking your dog – and build from there.

–Lose weight – Exercising will certainly help, but make it easier for your body to drop excess pounds by not giving it what it doesn’t need. Read food labels and watch portion size. Keep saturated fats and sugars to a minimum.

–Eat better – It may have seemed funny to hide your veggies under your plate when you were a kid, but now, your body’s not laughing when you don’t get the right nutrition. Make it a point to include fresh produce in your diet – put an apple in your lunch bag, snack on some berries during the day, sautГ© some spinach for dinner. It all adds up and your body will thank you for it.

–See your doctor – Doing all the above steps will put you on the right track, but you still need to see your health professional to be screened for cancer. That means a mammogram every year for women 40 and over, a colonoscopy for men and women every 10 years starting at age 50, a Pap test for women every year beginning at 21, and regular skin checks and physical exams to be sure you’re in tip-top shape.

About Prevent Cancer Foundation

The Prevent Cancer Foundation (formerly the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation) was started in 1985 when Founder and President Carolyn AldigГ© first understood the power of prevention to defeat cancer – and recognized that too few of the country’s resources were used to promote cancer prevention research or education. Today, it is one of the nation’s leading health organizations and has catapulted cancer prevention to prominence.

Since its inception the Foundation has provided more than $97 million in support of cancer prevention and early detection research and education programs. The Foundation’s peer-reviewed grants have been awarded to more than 300 scientists from more than 150 of the leading academic medical centers nationwide. This research has been pivotal in developing a body of knowledge that is the basis for important cancer prevention and early detection strategies. For more information, please visit preventcancer.