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Tanning beds definitely cause cancer

BY LACEY MEYER | JULY 31, 2009

Similar to the decades-long controversy surrounding health risks of cigarettes, with doctors warning of cancer risks and industry lobbyists denying them, it has taken a long over-due statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) to confirm what many people already knew, and ignored: Tanning beds cause cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the WHO, has moved ultraviolet emitting tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category, ranking them among cigarettes, arsenic, and asbestos as posing the greatest threat of cancer to humans.

Previously classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans," the IARC recently reclassified UV-emitting tanning devices, such as sun lamps and tanning beds, as "carcinogenic to humans." This decision was based on a meta-analysis of about 20 studies showing that tanning bed use before age 30 raises a person's risk of skin melanoma by 75 percent. The report, published in The Lancet Oncology, also noted that control studies showed consistent evidence of a positive association between the use of tanning devices and ocular melanoma.

I think it is wonderful that cancer experts and researchers are finally confirming and declaring the incredible harmful effects of tanning bed use, especially since just a few years ago it was considered "safer than sun tanning."

Skin cancer advocacy groups and nonprofits such as the Melanoma Research Foundation issued statements applauding the reclassification of tanning beds, and the Skin Cancer Foundation has a full page of tips and facts on tanning risks.

The CURE summer 2005 cover story, "The Dark Side of the Sun," explains the risks and harmful effects of all types of radiation and another article, "Seeing the Light," tells the story of a melanoma survivor and former bodybuilder now working her way around the country educating people about the dangers of tanning beds.

You can read about a new melanoma nonprofit and find tips on sun safety and skin cancer prevention in CURE's April 2009 Skin Cancer eNews. You can also check out CURE's Skin Cancer page for more on prevention, treatment, and survivorship.

Other news stories on this subject: Reuters: Sunbeds join cigarettes as top cancer threat

American Cancer Society: Tanning beds pose serious cancer risk, agency says

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CATEGORIES [ SURVIVORSHIP, GENERAL ]

Would you date a cancer survivor?

BY LACEY MEYER | JULY 20, 2009

Dating and finding the one and only person meant for you--your soul mate--isn't an easy feat for anyone, and a cancer diagnosis most likely won't make things any easier. And while numerous online dating services have popped up over the last decade, one sticks out above the rest when you're talking cancer.

Founded by a cancer survivor in 2007, "C is for Cupid" is one of the first, and few, online dating services designed specifically for people whose lives have been affected by cancer. The service is free, run by a handful of cancer survivors, and aimed at providing a comfortable and fun environment for members to connect with others who can "relate." As of March 2009, there are more than 1,000 members.

The Spring 2009 issue of CURE featured an essay--"When Do I Tell Her?"--by cancer survivor Jasan Zimmerman about the complexities and challenges of dating after cancer and when and how much medical history to reveal during the process.

C is for Cupid lets members complete at profile for others to view and it is up to them to decide how much personal medical information to reveal. And the private messaging system and mailboxes allow members to pursue relationships--friendship, companionship, or romantic--without sharing detailed information about themselves, such as a personal e-mail address, until they are ready. The site also includes links to other cancer-related websites and organizations.

Although dating another cancer survivor may not be for everyone, I think it is a great opportunity and resource for survivors and other people affected by cancer to be able to connect with someone who has "been there" and who may have other similar interests as well.

A few other online dating sites for people with cancer include Prescription4Love.com (this one is for people with all types of illnesses, including cancer) and CancerMatch.com.

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CATEGORIES [ GENERAL ]

Actress Farrah Fawcett dies of cancer at 62

BY LACEY MEYER | JUNE 25, 2009

1970s "It Girl" and Charlie's Angel's starlet Farrah Fawcett died of anal cancer today at age 62.

"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away. Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world," O'Neal said in a statement released by Fawcett's publicist.

First diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006 and declared cancer-free in 2007, Fawcett sought out the best treatment available from specialists from UCLA to Germany, but the cancer returned a few months later and spread to her liver.

Just over a month before her death Fawcett shared an extremely intimate and personal look at her battle with cancer in the TV documentary Farrah's Story, which aired on NBC in May. Fawcett filmed much of the footage herself with a hand-held camera, along with help from her long-time partner Ryan O'Neal and close friend Alana Stewart. According to news reports, an NBC spokeswoman confirmed that the network has plans to air a follow-up to the documentary, which attracted almost 9 million viewers.

In the last days of Fawcett's life, O'Neal and others close to her sat down for an exclusive interview with Barbara Walters, which is scheduled to air on ABC's 20/20 at 10 p.m. (EDT) tonight.

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Brad Pitt and siblings donate $1 million for pediatric cancer center in honor of mom

BY LACEY MEYER | JUNE 22, 2009

Actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Doug and Lisa Pitt, and Rob and Julie Neal donated $1 million to help open a pediatric cancer center at St. John's Children's Hospital, located in the Pitt's hometown of Springfield, Missouri, in honor of their mother and passionate children's issues advocate Jane Pitt. St. John's officials announced the donation and cancer center plans during the "Celebration of Imagination" event June 13.

St. John's will open the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center later this summer and the endowment from the Pitts will allow St. John's to hire the region's first pediatric hematologist-oncologist, Dr. Remi Fasipe.

This news also comes at the same time as another big announcement, that St. John's is now a formal affiliate of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. This means that St. John's will be able to offer treatment and enrollment into St. Jude's world-famous clinical research trials locally--and for patients accepted for cancer therapy on a St. Jude or cooperative group protocol, they will still receive care at no cost.

I think this is great news because many cancer treatments that are administered at St. Jude's in Memphis can now be administered at St. John's, saving patients and families the added stress of being away from home for long periods of time for treatment. St. John's is the sixth St. Jude affiliated pediatric hematology-oncology clinic in the U.S.

In a St. John press release, St. Jude director and CEO Dr. William Evans said, "Over the years, St. John's has referred patients to St. Jude for enrollment in our clinical research protocols. Now, as a St. Jude affiliate, St. John's will receive clinical academic and financial support to broaden the scope of the collaboration. The significant benefit of this affiliation for both institutions will be having a clinic in Springfield that mirrors the standard of excellent care synonymous with St. Jude in Memphis."

As part of a number of expansions to their pediatric services, St. John's also has plans to double the size of the neonatal intensive and pediatric intensive care units, add a new 31-bed pediatric unit, and a 10-bedroom hospital-based Ronald McDonald House. And St. John's Auxiliary has pledged $1 million over four years to help fund the additional projects.

The new Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center will temporarily be located on the 5th floor of St. John's Children's Hospital. Dr. Remi Fasipe will join the center on August 1, and St. John's plans to hire other pediatric specialists, including a pediatric endocrinologist.

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CATEGORIES [ GENERAL ]

Kids kick cancer with martial arts and karate program

BY LACEY MEYER | JUNE 9, 2009

Kids with cancer, their siblings, and parents learn relaxation, meditation, and breathing techniques through the non-profit martial arts program Kids Kicking Cancer (www.powerpeacepurpose.com).

KKC pulls the kids' focus away from their cancer and illnesses and instead helps them focus on all the things they can do and control. During the weekly classes, children learn stretching, breathing exercises, traditional karate moves, and guided imagery/meditation techniques, which can help reduce a child's anxiety, pain, and discomfort during difficult clinic and hospital procedures. KKC participants report successfully using these techniques to calm themselves, have courage, and cope with the fears and trauma associated with their medical treatments.

I think this is a great program for children with cancer because it is more than just an activity or class they attend once a week--KKC teaches the children skills they can take with them and use at home, in the hospital, or anywhere.

The KKC program aims to help pediatric cancer patients heal, while empowering them physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Most of the work with the children is aimed at resolving feelings of pain, anger, anxiety, fear, loss of control, and diminished self-esteem.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 10,000 children under age 15 are diagnosed with cancer each year, and a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that childhood cancer survivors were 1.5 times more likely than siblings to have symptoms of depression/anxiety. (You can read more about this and how children with cancer handle school during and after treatment in "Conquering Cancer and the Classroom" in the Summer 2009 issue of CURE.)

Weekly martial arts classes, uniforms, and transportation to classes are provided free of charge to all participants. General classes are open to patients and siblings age 6-22 years old and a separate "Little Heroes" program provides age and developmentally appropriate games and activities to children from 2-5 years old. The program also encourages sibling participation in all classes as it provides a "shared positive experience" for both patients and siblings.

Rabbi Goldberg (known as "Rabbi G" to his students), a clinical assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Wayne State University Medical School, founded Kids Kicking Cancer after serving for 12 years as the director of a New York-based summer camp for children with cancer. Rabbi Goldberg also lost his first child to cancer in 1983.

By focusing on the healing themes of martial arts training, KKC teaches children to "tap into the inner light of their spiritual self--a focus that generates incredible power, energy, and internal strength."

KKC partners with several hospitals in the Michigan and New York regional areas. You can find a full list of partner hospitals here: www.powerpeacepurpose.com/kids-kicking-cancer/hospitals.

KKC has also developed an anger management program for inner-city children in which they are introduced to KKC students with cancer and "we allow both groups to be inspired and in turn, inspire each other."

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