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Cc feb 2014 newsletter final web


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Cancer Council NSW Research Report Newsletter February 2014

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Cc feb 2014 newsletter final web

  1. 1. Research Report Issue 25 • February 2014 FEATURED: Cancer Risk Factors 2 Alcohol, Smoking, BMI and Physical Activity Cancer Risk Factors 3 Infectious Agents, Hormones, Sun Exposure and Sleep Our Insights 4 Ways to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction Help Us 4 Register to join one of our research studies Our information can save scientists a great deal of time Use our CLEAR Study to research risk factors for cancer The interaction between our lifestyle and genetic makeup are the two key ingredients in understanding the causes of Alcohol, tobacco, BMI/physical activity, infectious cancer. Large numbers of people need to be studied in order agents, hormones, sun exposure/sleep patterns to research this interaction, and the Cancer Lifestyle and Evaluation of Risk study (CLEAR) has been designed to do just that. We have collected information from about 8,000 people with any cancer type and 2,000 ‘controls’—people without cancer—so we can make valid comparisons. You might imagine that having collected the CLEAR Study information the results from its analysis would be immediate, fairly obvious, and applicable there and then. But it’s not. Managing the CLEAR Study is like continually compiling a comprehensive encyclopaedia. If it sits on the shelf it is simply a repository of knowledge. The data only comes alive when you come up with an idea and then cross-question the data, in order to prove or disprove it, or to lead to new areas to research. CLEAR Study saves researchers a great deal of time having undertaken the foundation work of data collection. We need two things to happen to make it all worthwhile: more information in the form of new participants, and creative cancer researchers who want to interrogate the CLEAR Study data and blood samples. Epidemiologists at CCNSW plan to start working on risk factors for cancer in six main areas: alcohol, tobacco, BMI and physical activity, infectious agents, hormones, sun exposure and sleep patterns. We hope that collaborations will be formed with other research institutes, and that laboratory scientists and doctors will join us to examine our questions from their own specialised perspective, so that knowledge from one field can inform another. If you have been diagnosed with cancer in the past 18 months, we encourage you to join the study. Call 1800 500 894 or complete the consent form and questionnaire on line at Cancer Council is now formally associated with the University of Sydney as an independent research institute. We look forward to continuing our long and rewarding association with the University, to productive collaborations and to welcoming many more students to supervision at Cancer Council. Cancer Council 13 11 20
  2. 2. CLEAR Study: Six areas that our scientists plan to research for cancer risk factors The CLEAR Study resource has blood samples and information in response to questions asked in each of these categories Alcohol Because of its links with bowel and breast cancer and the cancers of the upper digestive tract, alcohol has been nominated as a class 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Cancer Research. We intend to investigate which cancers appear to be linked with alcohol in Australia, whether the risk changes for people of different ethnic backgrounds, and if there are more risks if the person is a smoker or is overweight? CLEAR questions ask about the number of alcoholic drinks participants had in a week, and on how many days they typically drank alcohol. Smoking It is known there is a strong association between smoking and lung and other related cancers, but there may be links with cancers previously thought to be unaffected by smoking. We plan to investigate the contemporary risks of smoking on cancer in Australia, especially in regard to prostate, bowel and breast cancer. CLEAR questions about smoking ask whether people have ever smoked, and if so, when, for how long and how much. Body Mass Index/Physical Activity Not only are people who are obese and don’t exercise at a greater risk of heart disease and stroke but they are also at a greater risk of getting certain cancers. It’s suspected there are links between obesity and breast cancer, but we need to know more about the importance of physical activity and BMI at different stages of life; whether the results are the same for men and women, for immigrants and people born in Australia, and if it makes a difference if a high BMI is pre- or post-menopausal? There are numerous questions in CLEAR about height and weight, weight gain, time spent exercising or sitting and time spent resting. For more information, visit or email Cancer Council 13 11 20
  3. 3. Infectious Agents Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is usually the cause of cervical cancer, and it has recently been found that there are links with a number of other cancer types. While the number of cancers in Australia caused by infectious agents is very small (about 3%), they still cause unnecessary suffering and death. CLEAR has questions that enquire about sexual activity, intra-venous drug use, tattoos and body piercings, as well as organ transplants and blood transfusions, as these activities can be the source of infections. CLEAR blood samples will be tested for evidence of infections. Hormones CCNSW is looking at the link between various hormonal factors and breast cancer, particularly with regard to the use of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer. In addition, CLEAR data has been included in a worldwide collaboration examining the links between breast cancer and hormones. Questions for women in the CLEAR Study ask about the number of children, mother’s age when her children were born, contraceptive use, when periods started and use of HRT. We also ask about family history of breast and ovarian cancers, hysterectomy, mammograms and PAP smears. Questions for men relate to when they started shaving, when their voices broke and balding patterns. Sun exposure and sleep patterns We know there is a link between sun exposure and skin cancers, but we need to collect information about the consequences of UV exposure and other cancers. There is also debate about the consequences of Vitamin D deficiency and cancer risk. There may be a connection between irregular sleep patterns, such as those experienced by shift workers, and some cancer types. CLEAR asks where people have lived so UV exposure from their environment using satellite data can be calculated. We also ask about time spent outdoors, skin colour and tanning, sunburn experiences and exposure to indoor UV from solarium use. For more information, visit or email Cancer Council NSW Research Report Issue 25 • February 2014
  4. 4. Actively reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction Recent research by Cancer Council NSW reveals almost two thirds of men aged 45 and above have suffered from impotence. Overweight men, men on lower incomes, inactive men and smokers are all more likely to have erectile dysfunction. There are simple steps that can potentially reduce a man’s risk of erectile dysfunction: • Stopping smoking, • Increasing physical activity, • Maintaining a healthy weight These are the most important factors in reducing the risk, and will have longer lasting health benefits too, including a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. Current heavy smokers are 86% more likely to have erection problems than non-smokers and obese men have double the risk compared to men in the healthy weight range. Data from the 45 and Up Study shows that 61% of men surveyed have been affected by erectile dysfunction, with the odds of a man experiencing erectile dysfunction increasing by 11.3% each year over the age of 45. Raise the topic of erectile dysfunction with your GP Associate Professor David Smith from Cancer Council NSW said, “Erectile dysfunction is extremely common among Australian men and problems increase as men age, with almost all men 75 years and over reporting moderate to severe erection problems”. Cancer Council is enlisting the support of GP’s to have “the difficult conversation” with men who are at risk. Men who are experiencing ED should see their GP to find out if there are any underlying health problems. Simple steps can then be discussed to help prevent further loss of function, and to prevent potential disease.” Watch out for the ED poster at your GP’s clinic. For more information, visit: Register to join a research study today! Return completed form to: Reply Paid 79819 Potts Point, NSW 1335 Cancer Council and other academic bodies conduct research studies to do with cancer. These studies may be questionnaire based surveys, focus groups and interviews or other types of research. Study participants will not necessarily be cancer patients. Title* Register your interest to be included on our database. Your story or the story of someone you know will help us find the answers. Address* Yes, include me on the database. (If yes, we will write to ask you some additional questions relating to your health to allow us to match you to research studies that suit you.) Tick this box if you have been diagnosed with cancer in the past 18 months. (If yes, you may be eligible for the CLEAR Study and we will send you further information.) You can also register at First Name* Last Name* Town* Postcode* Email Phone Mobile * Mandatory At Cancer Council we recognise the importance of your privacy and the safeguarding of your personal information. If you have concerns about the privacy of this information, you may provide it securely online at Please be assured that in collecting this information, it will be used for research purposes only, and will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Management Plan ( which addresses our compliance with all legislative requirements. CAN 2030 02/14 Help us beat cancer