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Cancer Treatment Research and Causes

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CAUSES OF CANCER IN OBESE PATIENTS

The exact cause of the different forms of cancer is not fully understood but the rise in obesity-related cancers is directly associated with those changes found in the metabolic syndrome. In fact, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that increased cancer risk should be added to the list of morbidities that comprise the metabolic syndrome.

The fundamental defect in metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance – the sluggish reaction of cells in muscle and adipose tissue to the actions of insulin. This results in increased levels of blood glucose and, to compensate, increased levels of circulating insulin; this condition is known as hyperinsulinemia.

However, other organs are not resistant to the action of insulin and display a heightened response to the high levels of insulin (and possibly other insulin-like hormones that act as growth factors). The result of this overstimulation is more rapid cell turnover, therefore a greater cancer risk. Adipose tissue also secretes estrogen, which, combined with insulin, forms a potent carcinogenic mixture.

CANCER TREATMENT RESEARCH – TESTING NEW TREATMENTS – PHASE I STUDIES

Many cancer patients, with or without their knowledge and informed consent, are involved in research into cancer treatment. It is important for you to understand something about this. Basically, there are three different stages of testing for new treatments.

In Phase I studies, researchers test drugs or other treatments that have never before been tried on humans. They have been tested only in the laboratory and on various animals. Phase I studies are designed to find out how the treatment can be used in humans, not whether it is effective against human cancer. It is not expected that there will be any benefit to the individual patients involved in this type of research.

The aim is to find out things such as whether it can be taken by mouth or injection, whether it is broken down by the liver or passed out through the kidneys, what doses are safe, how often they should be given, and what side effects there are. Because these things are not known, patients who are the human ‘guinea pigs’ in these tests may experience unexpected severe and unpleasant side effects or even die as a result of the treatment.

Therefore, only patients for whom there is no known effective anti-cancer treatment available are asked to take part in these studies. You might be happy to participate, knowing that by doing so you could help future patients. However, if you go into it because you hope it will help you personally, it is extremely likely that you will be disappointed.

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