High calcium in blood may signal cancer

High levels of calcium in blood, a condition known as hypercalcaemia, can be used by doctors as an early indication of certain types of cancer, says a study, indicating that a simple blood test may help prevent the deadly disease. The risk is particularly prominent among men.

High calcium in blood may signal cancer

While the connection of hypercalcaemia to cancer is well known, this study has, for the first time, shown that often it can predate the diagnosis of cancer in primary care. Hypercalcaemia is the most common metabolic disorder associated with cancer, occurring in 10 to 20 percent of people with cancer.

“We wanted to look at the issue from a different perspective and find out if high calcium levels in blood could be used as an early indicator of cancer and therefore in the diagnosis of cancer,” said Fergus Hamilton, who led the research from University of Bristol in Britain. For the study, the researchers analysed the electronic records of 54,000 patients who had elevated levels of calcium and looked at how many of them went on to receive a cancer diagnosis.

In men, even mild hypercalcaemia conferred a risk of cancer in one year of 11.5 percent. If the calcium was above limits, the risk increased to 28 percent. In women, the risks were much less, with the corresponding figures being 4.1 percent and 8.7 percent.

In men, 81 percent of the cancer associated with hypercalcaemia was caused by lung, prostate, myeloma, colorectal and other haematological cancers.
In women, cancer was much less common.

There are a number of possible explanations for this but we think it might be because women are much more likely to have hyperparathyroidism, another cause of hypercalcaemia, Hamilton added. “Men rarely get this condition, so their hypercalcaemia is more likely to be due to cancer,” he explained.

The study appeared in the British Journal of Cancer.
Source: mid day


UN chief calls for more support to fight Ebola

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon has called leaders of some countries and organisations to urge more support in the fight against the deadly Ebola, a spokesman said here Monday.

UN chief calls for more support to fight Ebola

“He spoke to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, Cuban President Raul Castro and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy,” Xinhua quoted UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric as saying at a daily news briefing.

Ban also spoke to the International President of Medecins sans Frontieres, Joanne Liu, thanking the independent medical organisation for its hard work and discussing how the international community can further support its efforts in West Africa, Dujarric said.

“The secretary-general, in his calls to the world leaders, welcomed their support and underscored the urgent need to increase the support, including the need for more medical teams, transportation and funding to help communities affected by the epidemic,” he added.

According to the latest report of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the total number of Ebola cases now stood at 3,944 and deaths at 2,079 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, countries identified as ‘those with widespread and intense transmission’.

Source: business standard

US to provide USD 75 mn to expand Ebola care centers

The American aid agency has announced it would donate USD 75 million to fund 1,000 more beds in Ebola treatment centers in Liberia and buy 130,000 more protective suits for health care workers.

US to provide USD 75 mn to expand Ebola care centers

West Africa’s struggling health systems have buckled under the pressure of an Ebola outbreak that has already killed about 1,900 people. Nurses in Liberia are wearing rags over their heads to protect themselves from the dreaded disease, amid concerns that shortages of protective gear throughout the region are responsible for the high Ebola death toll among health workers.

The US Agency for International Development also urged American health care workers to respond to the outbreak. Rajiv Shah, the agency’s administrator, told The Associated Press that several hundred more international experts are needed and the agency will help send Americans health care workers there.

“This will get worse before it gets better,” he said. “We have a coherent and clear strategy … But it will take weeks to months to get operational at that scale.”

The USD 75 million comes in addition to about USD 20 million the agency has already donated to fight the outbreak that was first identified in March in Guinea, and has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The killer virus is spread through bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, urine or diarrhea.

Health workers account for about 10 per cent of the deaths so far. Much of the protective gear they use must be destroyed after use, so Ebola wards need a constant flow of clean equipment.

One nurse at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, said she and her colleagues have resorted to cutting up their old uniforms and trying them over their faces to protect themselves, looking out through holes in the fabric. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to talk to the media.

“It is really pathetic,” she said. “We are not equipped to face the situation.”

With no goggles to protect them, their eyes burn from the fumes of chlorine used to disinfect the ward, the nurse said.

David and Nancy Writebol, American missionaries who worked at another hospital in Liberia, echoed those concerns, speaking to the AP in North Carolina. They said doctors and nurses are overwhelmed by a surge of patients and there aren’t enough hazard suits to keep them safe.

Source: business standard

Hepatitis E Outbreak in Uganda

Health Minister Christine Ondoa has expressed concern over the rising prevalence of Hepatitis B in eastern Uganda, despite efforts to contain the deadly disease.

“Ministry and district health officers are working tirelessly to see that we solve this problem; we call upon all people to embrace preventive measures because it is better than cure,” Ondoa said in Soroti last week,

Like HIV, Hepatitis B spreads through sex, mother-to-child transmission, sharing of sharp objects and blood transfusion. But it is 15 times more infectious than HIV/Aids.

The disease is incurable and difficult to detect, and causes liver cancer and chronic liver failure.

“The government has already introduced medicine for children below one year,” Ondoa said, as the government launched a programme to distribute 21 million nets. “This is the vaccine they get below the left thigh when they are six weeks; parents immunize your children against Hepatitis B.”

Hepatitis B virus infection is highly endemic in Uganda, with transmission occurring in childhood and adulthood. Some 1.4 million adults are chronically infected and some communities disproportionately affected.

Source: All Africa