The Cheerful Oncologist

As a continuing public service to ScienceBlogs readers we present another edition of “News Youse Can Snooze By”:

1. Eating 30 grams of cereal fiber a day cuts the risk of developing breast cancer in half for women up to age 50.

A study of 35,000 women over seven years found those with the highest fibre intake of 30 grams a day had a 50 per cent lower incidence of breast cancer than those eating 20 grams a day. But the effect was only seen in pre-menopausal women up to the age of about 50. In post-menopausal women, a high-fibre diet offered no protection. Professor Janet Cade of the University of Leeds, who led the study, said she had been “surprised” at the strength of the association but was confident it revealed a genuine link. “Thirty grams of fibre a day is high – about twice the normal level. You would have to eat a fibre-rich breakfast cereal, wholemeal bread instead of white and five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

2. Rats who eat a diet consisting of 10% broccoli and 10% tomatoes for one month before being implanted with prostate cancer cells showed a significant slowing of the growth of the tumor, compared to rats given lycopene supplements.

The human equivalent of the study rats’ diet would be 2.5 cups of cherry tomatoes, two 3-inch tomatoes, or one cup of tomato sauce daily along with 1.5 cups of broccoli every day, [study author] Canene-Adams said. Moreover, she noted, epidemiological studies have shown that men who consume that much broccoli and tomato three to five times weekly cut their prostate cancer risk by 30 percent.

3. Oncologists who give “Friday afternoon chemotherapy” for the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer are more likely to underdose women who are obese, live in geographic areas with low household income, or have limited education. “Friday afternoon chemotherapy” refers to the practice of intentionally ordering a lower dose of chemotherapy than what is recommended according to the patient’s height and weight, often in an attempt to prevent toxicity (and phone calls while on the golf course Saturday afternoon – hence the nickname). Why is this observation important? Because reducing the dose of adjuvant chemotherapy for women with breast cancer reduces their chance for cure.

Social disparities in breast cancer outcomes may be in part the result of lower quality chemotherapy doses in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer. Efforts to address such prescribing patterns may help reduce SES disparities in breast cancer survival.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the most shocking story of the day:

Coffee could hold the cure for baldness

Scientists have discovered caffeine stimulates the growth of tiny follicles in the scalp in men who are starting to lose their hair. The new study, published in the International Journal of Dermatology, found that caffeine works by blocking the effects of a chemical known to damage hair follicles. But drinking plenty of coffee may not be the best answer. Scientists estimate up to 60 cups a day would be needed for significant amounts to reach follicles in the scalp. Instead, German cosmetics firm Alpecin has developed a caffeine-rich solution that can be rubbed on the scalp.

Honor de Balzac, call your office! This is too much for we follicularly-challenged victims to comprehend – rubbing coffee on our hard-boiled eggheads just might grow hair? What’s next – pouring Scotch whisky on our breakfast flakes to improve our…improve our…you know, when you think of it who gives a damn what it improves?

That’s it for now. Until next time, please remember our personal motto: Video meliora proboque deteriora sequor.


  1. #1 Russell
    January 23, 2007

    There are limits to what I can eat for my health, each day. A couple of cups of green tea and a glass or two of red wine? Of course, love it. A serving of fish and some vegetables and fruit? Sure, of course. But two tomatoes and a pint of broccoli? Come on. Can’t y’all turn that into a doughnut or something?


  2. #2 John Wilkins
    January 23, 2007

    Video meliora proboque deteriora sequor.

    Life fast and leave a good looking corpse?

  3. #3 Tanta
    January 24, 2007

    They found enough men who eat more than trace amounts of broccoli disguised by 1.5 cups of cheese sauce to get statistically valid results? Back to the review board, folks. I’m not buying it.

    My oncologist gives me Tuesday Morning doses of chemo. I guzzle coffee as a pain management technique. Somebody told me the reason I’m bald and have no eyebrows has to do with how fast the hair-producing cells grow (making them targets for taxanes with attitude). By Wednesday morning, I’ve never met a purpose I couldn’t defeat. Excuse me, I have to go eat my oatmeal, or it’ll be back to BRAT, and the first person who does a longevity study on bananas, rice, applesauce & toast gets their head dunked into my coffee pot.

  4. #4 Donna
    January 26, 2007

    Dang, 30 grams of fiber? I aim for 25 grams daily for my husband and myself, and that’s difficult (without going over our calorie limit).

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