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New Methods for Curbing Nausea of Chemotherapy

Ginger, a home remedy for helping an upset stomach, and a cocktail of anti-nausea drugs both reduced vomiting and sickness in cancer patients.

Chemotherapy could soon become less grueling.

Simply adding about half a teaspoon of ginger to food in the days before, during and after chemotherapy can reduce the often-debilitating side effects of nausea and vomiting, a large, randomized clinical trial has found. And a newer type of anti-nausea drug, when added to standard medications, can help prevent such side effects as well.

The ginger results will be presented this month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting; the drug study was published this week in the Lancet Oncology journal.

The findings are significant, cancer experts say, because about 70% of chemotherapy patients experience nausea and vomiting — often severe — during treatment.

“Chemotherapy has come to be the thing cancer patients fear the most,” said Dr. Steven Grunberg, a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont and lead author of the study in the Lancet Oncology. “We’ve made a huge amount of progress, but we haven’t completely solved the problem.”

In the ginger study, 644 patients, most of them female, from 23 oncology practices nationwide received two standard anti-emetic medications at the time of chemotherapy. They also were given a capsule containing either 0.5 gram, 1 gram or 1.5 grams of ginger, or a placebo capsule. The patients took the capsules containing the placebo or ginger for three days before chemotherapy and three days after the treatment.

All of the patients receiving ginger experienced less nausea for four days after chemotherapy, said lead study author Julie L. Ryan of the University of Rochester Medical Center. Doses of 0.5 gram and 1 gram were most effective, reducing nausea by 40% compared with the patients on the placebo.

The study is the largest to examine the effect of ginger, already widely used as a home remedy for an upset stomach. One gram of ground ginger is equivalent to about 1/2 teaspoon. Ryan cautioned that some foods labeled as ginger, such as ginger ale or ginger cookies, may contain only ginger flavoring.

Researchers don’t know why ginger seems to help, Ryan said. But, she added: “There is other research showing it has a potent anti-inflammatory effect in the gut.”

In the study led by Grunberg, 810 patients were given two standard anti-nausea drugs, dexamethasone and ondansetron, that work by blocking a neural pathway in the brain that controls nausea. This two-drug regimen is most effective in preventing nausea and vomiting in the first 24 hours after chemotherapy.

One-third of the patients also received a one-day dose of the new drug, casopitant mesylate, while one-third received a three-day dose and one-third received a placebo.

Adding casopitant mesylate, the authors found, helped control symptoms in the so-called delayed phase of nausea that occurs beyond the first day after chemotherapy. Of patients receiving the standard two-drug regimen, 66% experienced no nausea or vomiting in the five days after chemotherapy, compared with 86% of patients taking a single dose of casopitant mesylate.

Casopitant mesylate probably adds extra relief from nausea because it acts on different nerve systems than the standard drugs, Grunberg said. Dexamethasone and ondansetron are in a class of drugs known as serotonin receptor antagonists; casopitant mesylate blocks the so-called NK1 pathway in the brain.

“NK1 antagonists work better for that later period,” Grunberg said. “This study reinforces the value of this family of anti-nausea agents.”

It also appears that the three-drug combination can be given on the day of chemotherapy without the need for additional doses, he said.

“That is a huge convenience for the patient, if we can give them all the drugs they will need for this period on the day they come to the clinic for chemotherapy,” Grunberg said. “Our whole goal is maintain the highest quality of life during chemotherapy.”

Sources: Los Angeles Times

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Are Nano-Foods the Next Scary Items?

Those consumers already worried about genetically engineered or cloned food reaching their tables may soon find something else in their grocery carts to furrow their brows over – nano-foods.


Consumer advocates taking part in a food safety conference in Orlando, Florida, this week said food produced by using nanotechnology is quietly coming onto the market, and they want US authorities to force manufacturers to identify them.

Nanotechnology involves the design and manipulation of materials on molecular scales, smaller than the width of a human hair and invisible to the naked eye. Companies using nanotechnology say it can enhance the flavor or nutritional effectiveness of food.
US health officials generally prefer not to place warning labels on products unless there are clear reasons for caution or concern. But consumer advocates say uncertainty over health consequences alone is sufficient cause to justify identifying nano-foods.

“I think nanotechnology is the new genetic engineering. People just don’t know what’s going on, and it’s moving so fast,”Jane Kolodinsky, a consumer economist at the University of Vermont, said at the conference.

American consumers are generally more complacent about genetically modified or cloned foods than their counterparts in Europe. But Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with the Consumers Union, said polls show that 69% of Americans are concerned about eating cloned meat.

He said that in focus groups run by the US Food and Drug Administration, no parents were willing to feed their children meat from cloned animals or their offspring.

New consumer products created through nanotechnology are coming on the market at the rate of 3 to 4 per week, according to an advocacy group, The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), based on an inventory it has drawn up of 609 known or claimed nano-products.

Nano-products in common use today include lightweight tennis rackets and bicycles, and sunscreens containing clear, nonwhite versions of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. On PEN’s list are three foods – a brand of canola cooking oil called Canola Active Oil, a tea called Nanotea and a chocolate diet shake called Nanoceuticals Slim Shake Chocolate.

: The Times Of India

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