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Other highlights in the May 16 JNCI

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Alcohol Drinking Linked to Reduced Risk of Renal Cell Cancer

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is associated with a decreased risk of renal cell cancer.

Some studies have found that people who drink alcohol have a lower risk of renal cell cancer, but these studies included a small number of patients.

Jung Eun Lee, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed 12 prospective studies of alcohol consumption among renal cell cancer patients.

In both men and women, drinking at least one alcoholic beverage a day, on average, was associated with a 30 percent reduced risk of renal cell cancer, compared with no alcohol intake. The type of alcoholic beverage did not appear to be important as lower risks were seen with beer, wine, and liquor.

"However, because alcohol drinking is associated with increased risks of cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, liver, and breast, and probably the colon and rectum, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking are the principal known means to reduce the risk of renal cell cancer that should be encouraged and doing so may also reduce the risk of many other cancers as well as cardiovascular disease," the authors write.

Contact: Jessica Podlaski, media relations coordinator, Brigham and Women's Hospital, (617) 534-1603,

Childhood Leukemia and Lymphoma Survivors Have Elevated Risk of Second Cancers

Survivors of childhood leukemia and lymphoma, particularly Hodgkin lymphoma, are at a high risk for secondary cancers.

To quantify this risk, Milena Maule, Ph.D., of the University of Turin in Italy, and colleagues compared the rates of second cancers in survivors of childhood leukemia and lymphoma with the cancer rate in the general population. They used a very large dataset that included more than 16,500 survivors from 13 registries around the world.

Survivors of childhood leukemia and lymphoma were almost seven times more likely to have a second cancer than the general population. Hodgkin lymphoma survivors were most likely to get a second cancer with a cumulative incidence of 12.7 percent within 30 years of diagnosis. Among leukemia survivors, the most frequent secondary cancers were brain cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and thyroid cancer. For Hodgkin lymphoma survivors, the most common were thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and nonmelanoma skin cancer. For non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors, the most common were thyroid cancer and brain cancer.

"The geographical heterogeneity of the registries contributing to this study and the high quality of their data make the described pattern of second [cancer] risk for childhood leukemia and lymphoma survivors valid for many areas of the world," the authors write.

Contact: Nicolas Gaudin, IARC Communications Group, +33 472 738 567,

Clodronate Does Not Improve Survival for Prostate Cancer Patients

Treatment with the drug clodronate does not improve overall survival for men with localized prostate cancer or delay the disease's progression to metastatic cancer, according to the results of a randomized clinical trial.

Bone is the most common site of metastasis from prostate cancer. Treatment with bisphosphonates--a class of bone-strengthening drugs including clodronate--has been shown to improve the outcome of patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Malcolm Mason, M.D., of the Medical Research Council clinical trials unit in London, and colleagues randomly assigned 508 men with non-metastatic locally advanced prostate cancer to receive daily doses of sodium clodronate or a placebo for up to five years. The researchers measured whether clodronate could prolong the period before the cancer spread.

After a median follow-up of 10 years, the researchers found no improvement in metastatic-free or overall survival in men taking clodronate, compared with the placebo group.

"Sodium clodronate should not be further used in trials in the adjuvant setting, but more potent bisphosphonates should be investigated," the authors write.

In an accompanying editorial, Timothy Wilt, M.D., and Kristine Ensrud, M.D., of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, write that research on bisphosphonates and prostate cancer should continue despite this negative result. "The presence of relatively early bony metastases may be the best predictor to determine whether bisphosphonates provide clinical benefit in men with prostate cancer. But inconsistency across published trials and lack of improvement in length or quality of life using high doses of potent intravenous bisphosphonates does not rule out the possibility that no benefit exists," the authors write.


Protein May Prevent Death of Metastatic Cancer Cells

A protein known as FLIP may stop metastatic cancer cells from dying and could be a good target for drug development.

Unlike normal cells, metastatic cancer cells do not respond to signals that tell the cells to die. These signals occur when cells lose physical contact with their normal surroundings.

Aaron Schimmer, M.D., Ph.D., of Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, and colleagues demonstrated that high levels of the FLIP protein prevent cancer cells from dying after they lose contact with their surroundings. The researchers also used chemical and genetic approaches to block FLIP expression in prostate cancer cells. Then they monitored the survival of the cells and measured the formation of metastatic tumors in mice injected with the cells.

The researchers found that by blocking FLIP expression they increased cell death and reduced metastasis in the mice.

"Data from gene expression profiling from other tumor sites also suggest that FLIP overexpression is associated with an increased mortality in patients with prostate, breast, and lung cancers. Thus, these results raise the possibility that FLIP is a potential target for novel anticancer therapies," the authors write.

Contact: Jane Finlayson, senior public affairs advisor, Princess Margaret Hospital, (416) 946-4501 ext. 2846,



Also in the May 16 JNCI:

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