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Health News Round-Up: Combating Cancer from a New Research Angle

Cancer Research Suggests a New Genetic Frontier in Treatment

Nurse Performing Genetic Testing Previously, treating a patient’s cancer meant treating the type of cancer: breast, prostate, skin, etc. Some types call for specialized surgeries, others for specifically developed medications, others for finely tuned chemotherapy or radiation regimens. But the field of cancer research is changing, with efforts increasingly focused on the genes that cause the cancer or help it to spread. And thanks to a new drug trial, reportedly the first of its kind, this approach could be gaining traction.

Previous findings had uncovered a common gene mutation found in both skin cancer and lung cancer. Researchers hypothesized that because of this similarity, a drug already approved for skin cancer might have a crossover effect on the other cancer type. Indeed, a substantial proportion of lung cancer patients responded to the drug. Other cancer types did not exhibit such promising results, which may be the result of fewer of those patients having the targeted mutation — the key may be narrowing down the right commonalities. Future studies along these lines are already in the works, and signs are pointing to new, more specific cancer treatments that are based on gene mutation rather than type.

(First trial targeting mutation, not cancer type, gives mixed results; Reuters)

Exercise: Don’t Get Discouraged, Just Get Moving

The prospect of exercise can be dispiriting, especially for individuals who aren’t already active or are managing new or ongoing chronic conditions. But a large-scale review of past research now indicates that exercise for essentially any duration — even well below the recommended 150 minutes per week — is better than nothing. Be it a 15-minute walk around the block or a slow pace around the room, getting up and moving marks the tipping point toward better health, strength, and endurance.

(For seniors, any exercise may be better than none; Reuters)

For those needing more exercise motivation, here are some recommended activities tailor-made for splendid late-summer and early-fall weather.

(Outdoor Activities for Senior Citizens; Inside Elder Care)

While Not a Cure-All, Supplements and Nutrients Are Something to Consider

Although antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to brain health, one recent study did not discover a specific benefit of supplement pills in patients with cognitive decline. However, this shouldn’t altogether discount supplement use or nutrient-rich food choices; talk to your doctor or clinician about what tactics make sense for your specific situation.

(Supplements Don’t Fight Cognitive Decline, N.I.H. Study Says; NYT Well blog)

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