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suffering from anxiety and depression may be more at risk of dying from cancer

Anxiety and depression may raise risk of dying from cancer, research suggests

Adults struggling with anxiety or low moods see their risk of being killed by a tumor rose by 32 per cent, a study found. And for some cancers the chances of death soar by 286 per cent.Those who are most distressed are at greater risk of cancer of the bowel, prostate, pancreas and esophagus and of leukemia. Experts from University College London followed more than 160,000 men and women who were initially free from cancer.By the end of the decade-long study, published in the British Medical Journal, 4,353 went on to die from the disease.After examining levels of psychological distress – such as anxiety or depression – they found it had a significant impact.

Those with the greatest levels of unhappiness were more likely to be killed by cancer. Dr David Batty, of UCL, said: “The results show that compared with people in the least distressed group, death rates in the most distressed group were consistently higher for cancer of the bowel, prostate, pancreas and esophagus and for leukemia.”The data shows the most depressed saw their risk of bowel cancer rise 84 per cent, prostate 142 per cent, pancreas 176 per cent, throat by 159 per cent and leukemia by 286 per cent. Researchers said the study did not definitely prove distress increased the chances of cancer death.

Instead, the researchers said it may mean diagnosed cancers could cause the depression.But further analysis of the data, excluding those who died in the first five years of the study, found the link between distress and cancer death remained. Dr Batty added: “Our findings contribute to the evidence that poor mental health might have some predictive capacity for certain physical diseases but we are a long way off from knowing if these relationships are truly causal.”

More than 330,000 Brits are diagnosed with cancer each year, with around 160,000 dying. Professor Peter Johnson, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This interesting study suggests a link between a person’s mental health and their risk of dying from cancer.“But we need more research to see if this is really the case, or if anxiety and depression are linked to known cancer risks such as smoking, overweight and high alcohol intake.“Better mental health may be another way in which we can reduce our risk of developing cancer, and this deserves serious attention.”


Editing Humans

The CRISPR Gene-Editing Tool is Finally Being Used on Humans

A team of scientists in China has become the first to treat a human patient with the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique. While the results of the trial are uncertain, it’s a historic milestone that should serve as a serious wakeup call to the rest of the world. A research team led by oncologist Lu You at Sichuan University delivered modified immune cells into a patient suffering from an aggressive form of lung cancer. The scientists used CRISPR-Cas9 to make the cells more resilient in the presence of cancer, marking the first time that the powerful gene-editing tool was used to treat a human.

The study was limited to one patient in order to test the safety of CRISPR. Given the encouraging results, another 10 patients will be treated as part of an ongoing clinical trial being conducted at the West China Hospital in Chengdu. the use of CRISPR is significant in that it’s the most efficient, powerful, and easy-to-use system currently available. The news that CRISPR has finally been used on a human patient is bound to attract the attention of scientists elsewhere, and accelerate the race to get gene-edited cells into clinics. As University of Pennsylvania immunotherapy professor Carl June told Nature News, “I think this is going to trigger ‘Sputnik 2.0’, a biomedical duel on progress between China and the United States, which is important since competition usually improves the end product.”

Genetically modified cells have been transplanted into humans before, but to treat the patient with metastatic lung cancer, Lu’s team removed immune cells from his blood, and then “knocked-out” a gene using CRISPR-cas9. The unwanted gene codes for a protein that interrupts a cell’s immune response—a genetic quirk that cancer exploits to spread itself even further. The modified cells were then cultured to create a large batch, and injected back into the patient. It’s hoped that the edited cells will attack and defeat the cancer, and Lu says the initial treatment went well.

The US is a bit behind China in this area, reflecting the contrast between China’s unwavering enthusiasm for biotechnology and America’s trepidation when it comes to such work. In 2015, a different team in China became the first to genetically modify a human embryo using CRISPR. Scientists and bioethicists in the United States took notice, approving a number of baby-step guidelines that should put America on a similar path. The latest breakthrough by Lu and his team will likely motivate similar efforts in the US and elsewhere. And indeed, there are already plans in the US to start clinical trials using CRISPR to treat bladder, prostate, and renal-cell cancers, though none of these trials have been approved, nor do they have adequate funding.