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One cancer is linked to highest suicide risk

Suicide is more common among cancer patients, but a new study suggests people suffering from lung cancer are at a higher risk than those who struggle with other forms of the disease.

For the study, researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital analyzed information from a large patient database of 3,640,229 people, looking at suicide deaths for lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers individually.

They found that over four decades, there were 6,661 suicides among cancer patients.

When they compared suicides among cancer patients to the general population, the rate in patients with any kind of cancer was 60 percent higher.

"Cancer patients are under a lot of duress and stress when they're under treatment," said study author Dr. Jeffrey Port, a thoracic and cardiac surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical Center, told CBS News.

When the scientists broke down the data on suicide by cancer type, they found dramatic differences. The suicide rate among lung cancer patients stood out: it was more than four times higher than the general population.

They also found suicide rates were 40 percent higher than average among colorectal cancer patients, and 20 percent higher among those diagnosed with  breast cancer  or  prostate cancer .

Despite this, many doctors don't consider suicide risk in cancer patients, Port said.

Patients may feel anxiety, depression or hopelessness after hearing stories from family members or friends who knew someone with the disease. Port said doctors need to reassure their patients that every case is unique and that there are good treatments for early stage patients.

"As lung cancer surgeons, we know the lung cancer diagnosis is a very serious diagnosis, but what's not out there is that patients with early stage disease are highly curable," said Port.

What was most striking about the findings, Port said, is that 50 percent of suicides in lung cancer patients occurred in people who had what specialists consider highly treatable disease.

"There's a disconnect about patients understanding their particular outcomes," he said.

Suicide rates were also higher among Asians, men, older patients, those who were widowed, those who refused surgical treatment, and those with metastatic lung cancer , according to the study, which was presented at the American Thoracic Society 2017 International Conference, in Washington, D.C.

Lung cancer (small cell and non-small cell types) is the second most common type among both men and women in the U.S. (not counting skin cancer, which was not included in the study). The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, there will be about 222,500 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed and approximately 155,870 deaths from the disease.

Lung cancer specialists don't tend to be well trained on the mental health side of patient care, said Port.

"For us as a group it's striking that we're trained in medical school – we learn about the physical aspects of exam, but especially surgeons, we don't do a deeper dive into the psychosocial exams. It's pretty eye-opening that we should have to learn to ask patients,


We can't live in fear : Helping kids cope with terrorism

May 24, 2017, 12:09 PM


Helping ease kids' fears after Manchester attack

As reports of the carnage at Monday's Ariana Grande show in Manchester , England, continue to pour in, many teens with tickets to concerts during the coming summer music season may be reluctant to attend an event.

But child and adolescent psychiatrists say it's important that parents let their teens follow through on their plans, even if the adults themselves are anxious about their letting kids go out.

"It's never good for teenagers to learn the lesson that they need to avoid things that scare them," said Dr. Matthew Lorber, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "You have to face your fears.

"Now, that's going to conflict with parents' own fears," Lorber added. "But we wind up having teenagers who grow up to be highly anxious adults with things like panic attacks when they learn the message from their parents to be afraid of everything. That's a dangerous thing. Anxiety is partially learned, and it gets learned from parents."

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at Manchester Arena that claimed the lives of at least 22 concertgoers .

The explosion occurred in an entrance hall just as the concert was ending and crowds of teens and even younger children had started filing out of the arena. The bomb maimed as well as killed, with at least 59 people hospitalized.

SMG, the Pennsylvania-based company that manages the Manchester Arena , told  The New York Times  that security at the site was as tight as anywhere in the United States.

"Backpacks are not allowed. Drinks are taken away from people," said Wes Westley, SMG's president and chief executive. "You have to go through very strict security to enter the arena."

Dr. Victor Fornari is director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y. He said it's important for parents to emphasize to their children that such terror attacks aren't common and kids need to understand that.

"We want to reassure them that this was a rare event and concerts are safe places, generally," Fornari said. "The truth is that most people are good. Unfortunately, there are people who wish to do these bad things, but the world is generally a safe place."

Parents should talk with their kids about the attack , said Lorber, who noted that the topic already is coming up in his office.

"If parents don't talk to their kids about this, other kids will," Lorber said. "They're going to be getting the gory details, no matter what. It's important that parents give the details to their children because they can deliver it in the most subtle, tactful way."

Parents should let children lead the discussion, urging them to ask as many questions as they have "because kids have a ton of questions," he said.

The answers to those questions need to be open and honest, using language the kids will understand with information appropriate to their age, Fornari said.

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Chocolate linked to lower risk for heart condition

Eating a little chocolate regularly may lower the odds for a common and potentially dangerous heart condition called atrial fibrillation, or AFib, say Harvard researchers.

Past studies have linked eating  cocoa products , such as dark chocolate, with cardiovascular benefits, but there hasn't been a lot of research on chocolate and atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat condition linked with a higher risk for stroke and heart failure, said study author Elizabeth Mostofsky, an epidemiology instructor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Some people with AFib describe the irregular heartbeat as feeling like a fluttering sensation.

Mostofsky and her colleagues analyzed a large Danish database of 55,502 men and women, combing through information on their dietary habits and health conditions recorded at the start of the Danish diet and cancer study. The scientists analyzed later health diagnoses, too, gleaned from a national patient database.

The authors found 3,346 cases of atrial fibrillation were diagnosed during the 13.5 years following the study's start.

When they looked at chocolate eating habits , they found that atrial fibrillation risk was:

  • 10 percent lower for people who ate 1 to 3 servings per month
  • 17 percent lower for people who ate 1 serving per week
  • 20 percent lower for people who ate 2 to 6 servings per week
  • 16 percent lower for people who ate one or more serving per day

A serving size was equal to one ounce – about 3 or 4 squares of chocolate. The data was similar for men and women, the authors noted.

The new findings are exciting, said Mostofsky, because there is very little research on atrial fibrillation and lifestyle factors.

"What we're saying here is that moderate chocolate consumption may be part of a healthy diet," Mostofsky told CBS News. Their findings are published in the journal Heart .

An estimated 2.7 to 6.1 million people in the United States have AFib, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number is expected to rise as the U.S. population continues to age.

"Unfortunately, there are no effective, proven therapies for the primary prevention of AF," experts from the Duke Center for Atrial Fibrillation at Duke University write in an accompanying editorial , so an easy, tasty way to reduce the risk would certainly be welcome. However, they sound a note of caution. 

"It is exciting to think about the potential for fun public health announcements, such as 'Eat more chocolate and prevent AF!' ... However, is this message too good to be true?" they write. They say more research is needed and note a number of limitations in the Danish study group: the participants were almost exclusively white; socioeconomic levels, which may affect health status, were not tracked; and the chocolate consumers had lower levels of other risk factors including hypertension and diabetes.

The study didn't look at the type of chocolate consumed, but Mostofsky said the darker the chocolate, the more flavanols it contains, an antioxidant that may promote healthy blood vessel


Report finds link between daily glass of alcohol and breast cancer

May 23, 2017, 6:46 PM

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