Working Together To Fight Malaria In Africa

Nothing But
Nets, a campaign to fight malaria in Africa by delivering
insecticide-treated nets (bed nets), announced today that it has received
its first-ever malaria challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation. The grant was announced at an event hosted by the National
Basketball Association, one of the campaign’s founding partners.

“Nothing But Nets provides an opportunity for communities everywhere to
get involved in malaria prevention,” said Regina Rabinovich, Director of
Infectious Diseases at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We hope that
this challenge grant will encourage others to take the simple step of
sending a net and saving a life. Working together, we have the power to
prevent this terrible disease from spreading.”

The challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will
match, dollar for dollar, up to $3 million in individual contributions to
Nothing But Nets. It will be utilized by the campaign to procure and
distribute bed nets through the United Nations-led Measles Initiative.

“We’re grateful to the Gates Foundation for their support of this
campaign. Nothing But Nets demonstrates how easy it is for one person to
make a difference,” said Kathy Bushkin, Executive Vice President and Chief
Operating Officer, United Nations Foundation. “Under the leadership of the
United Nations, the Measles Initiative has emerged quickly as a major
supplier of bed nets to some of the neediest countries in Africa. We are
delighted that so many individuals are now involved in this powerful

New Commitments from the NBA and VH1

Representatives from the NBA and VH1 also announced their 2007
commitments to the campaign. The event also featured Lynda Commale and her
six-year-old daughter, Katherine, who were honored for raising more than
$10,000 for Nothing But Nets from their family, friends, and community at
the Hopewell United Methodist Church outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“The NBA is proud to be a part of this campaign — our teams and
players understand the responsibility we have to help improve the quality
of life in our local communities and those around the world. Nothing But
Nets is an easy but impactful way for all of us to save lives,” said Kathy
Behrens, NBA Senior Vice President for Community and Player Programs.

The NBA hosted the Nothing But Nets partnership announcements at their
store on Fifth Avenue and in advance of the January 5 New Jersey Nets vs.
Chicago Bulls game, the first of more than 20 in-arena awareness nights
that will take place in 2007 at NBA and WNBA games. Behrens also announced
that African Luol Deng (Sudan) of the Chicago Bulls and DeSagana Diop
(Senegal) of the Dallas Mavericks, as well as Kyle Korver of the
Philadelphia 76ers, Ruth Riley of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock, and NBA Legend
Sam Perkins, have agreed to act as spokespeople for the campaign.

“When people learn more about malaria and hear about Nothing But Nets,
they are inspired to act,” said Tom Calderone, Executive Vice President,
General Manager of VH1. “Together with all the partners, we’re going to
help broaden the reach of this campaign and highlight the work that is
being done on the ground to help save the lives of children and families in

In 2007, VH1 will generate awareness by creating and airing a public
service announcement about the Nothing But Nets initiative that will air on
VH1, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul, and VH1. The network will also produce and
air a VH1 News segment on malaria and Nothing But Nets.

Progress to Date

Nothing But Nets was created by the UN Foundation in May 2006. Inspired
by a column Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly, the campaign’s
founding partners are the National Basketball Association, The People of
the United Methodist Church, and Sports Illustrated. Other partners include
AOL Black Voices, the Rotarians’ Action Group on Malaria, and VH1.

Bed net distributions are organized and implemented by the Measles
Initiative, a partnership of the American Red Cross, the United Nations
Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World
Health Organization, and UNICEF.

Since May 2006, the Nothing But Nets campaign has raised more than $2
million, with average donations of $62. In November 2006, representatives
of the campaign traveled to Nigeria to visit with families who had received
the first shipment of more than 150,000 long-lasting, insecticide-treated
nets. The nets sent to Nigeria were the first of many that will be shipped
to Africa through Nothing But Nets.

While malaria has largely been eradicated in the United States, between
350 and 500 million people are still infected each year, mostly in Africa.
More than one million of those infected die from the disease. Seventy-five
percent of those deaths are children under the age of five. Every day, 25
million pregnant women risk severe illness and harm to their unborn
children from a malaria infection.

One of the most cost-effective and simple approaches to combat malaria
is through the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, which can prevent
malaria transmission by 50 percent. It costs $10 to buy and distribute a
bed net and to educate the recipient on its use. According to the World
Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2005, only three percent of
children under five in Africa sleep under a long-lasting,
insecticide-treated net.

About Nothing But Nets

Nothing But Nets is a global campaign to save lives by preventing
malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Inspired by Sports
Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, thousands of people have joined the
campaign that was created by the UN Foundation. Founding campaign partners
include the National Basketball Association’s NBA Cares, The People of the
United Methodist Church, and Sports Illustrated. Other partners include AOL
Black Voices, the Rotarians’ Action Group on Malaria, and VH1. It only
costs $10 to provide an insecticide-treated bed net that can prevent this
deadly disease. Visit NothingButNets to send a net and save
a life.

Nothing But Nets

AMPAKINE(R) Compounds May Protect From Drug-induced Respiratory Depression While Still Allowing The Sedative Or Analgesic To Continue Working

Patients going under the knife should be allowed to breathe easy thanks to new innovations. Respiratory depression (RD) can arise during normal physician-supervised procedures such as surgical or post-operative analgesia, and as a result of normal post-operative patient management.

If RD occurs while under the supervision of an experienced anesthesiologist, the outcome can usually be managed and there can be minimal long-term effects to the patient. Unfortunately, there are many situations during both in-patient and outpatient procedures where strong analgesic therapy is required but there is no attending anesthesiologist.

Each year, two thousand people or more die or suffer serious complications-such as organ failure, brain damage, or heart attack-from factors related to the use of post-surgical analgesic therapy, anesthesia, or a combination of drugs which depress the central nervous system.

Recent high-profile cases of these incidents include the deaths of Kanye West’s mother, Donda West, who stopped breathing after undergoing cosmetic surgery, and Olivia Goldsmith, bestselling author of The First Wives Club, who suffered from complications as she went under anesthesia.

“Currently, the only two ways to counter opiate-induced respiratory depression is either to intubate the patient, which is an invasive procedure, or to administer an opiate receptor antagonist, drugs that will also block the effectiveness of the opiate analgesic,” says Dr. Mark Varney, CEO and President at Cortex Pharmaceuticals. “While this approach may prevent serious side effects or even death, in practice it can mean patients having to endure an extended period of severe pain.”

Researchers at the University of Alberta and Cortex believe that a novel class of molecules known as AMPAKINE® compounds may provide protection from drug-induced respiratory depression while simultaneously allowing the sedative or analgesic to continue working as intended.

In animal studies the AMPAKINE® compound CX717 has been shown to prevent or reverse opiate- or sedative analgesic-induced respiratory depression without the loss of analgesia.

Cortex recently reported data from two Phase IIa clinical studies demonstrating that CX717 could prevent the reduction in basal breathing rate induced by the opioid analgesic, alfentanil, as compared to placebo. This research was performed by a leading expert in the field at the Institute for Clinical Pharmacology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt, Germany.

“Albeit early, the therapy is promising and hopes to keep patients breathing easier,” says Varney.

Cortex Pharmaceuticals

Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund for Hurricane Katrina Victims

In order to respond to the recent disaster in South Alabama, Governor Bob Riley has established the Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund. Monies donated to this fund will go to directly assist victims of Hurricane Katrina in Alabama.

The Governor’s Office has partnered with the United Ways of Alabama to ensure your gift is tax deductable and the fund will be fully accountable to you, the donor.

To make a donation please mail a check to:

Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund
P.O. Box 1523
Montgomery, AL 36102

Checks should be made to:
Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund

To pay with a credit or debit card, click here.

Platelet-Regulating Gene Mutation Involved In Lupus Nephritis And Novel Adhesion Molecule Implicated In Rheumatoid Arthritis, Studies Find

Patients with systemic autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often suffer loss of kidney function. When marked by a crescent formation in the glomerulus – a tiny ball comprised of capillary blood vessels integral to forming urine – kidney failure tends to be rapidly progressive, irreversible, and fatal. Little is known about the mechanism behind this crescent or its relationship to immune-mediated inflammation.

To gain understanding, a team of researchers in Japan began by analyzing a spontaneous mutant strain of EOD mice. Their study, published in the September 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (interscience.wiley/journal/arthritis), indicates the critical role of platelet function in this dire form of autoimmune kidney disease, crescentic glomerulonenephritis (CGN). It also sheds light on the involvement of Cno protein, a member of a large protein complex called biogenesis of lysosome-related organelle complex 1 (BLOC-1), in the development of an autoimmune disease.

Researchers isolated this mutant strain of mice from the autoimmune-prone strain EOD, which stably develops fatal CGN. Then, using blood samples, they thoroughly assessed blood cell count, immune function, platelet function, and properties of various cell types and genes in these mice, searching for clues to their marked improvement in CGN and ability to survive about twice as long as wild-type EOD mice. Among the surprising findings in the mutant mice was an ability to alter platelet functions. While wild-type EOD mice displayed massive accumulations of platelets in the glomerulus, the mutant mice did not, but they were more prone to bleeding. Further investigation revealed a mutation in the cappuccino gene, which encodes the Cno protein. Mutant platelets also showed abnormally low aggregation in response to collagen and abnormally low rates of serotonin storage.

These findings suggest links between the gene mutation, loss of Cno protein expression, defect in platelet function, and the regression of crescent formation in the glomerulus. What’s more, these links are related to BLOC-1, which controls lysosomes, tiny organelles that contain digestive enzymes critical to maintaining healthy cell function.

“The profound role of BLOC-1 appears to be platelet-specific among immuno-inflammatory cell types,” notes the study’s lead author, Dr. Masao Ono from the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine. “BLOC-1 is a possible therapeutic target for suppression of platelet functions without compromising physiologic immune responses.”

In another promising new study, using rats and gene-modified mice, researchers in Turku, Finland, uncovered a new type of adhesion molecule highly expressed on vessels of inflamed human synovial tissue. This molecule, AOC3 (amine oxidase, copper-containing 3; also known as vascular adhesion protein 1), works to spur inflammation by thwarting the infiltration of leukocytes, vital white blood cells, into rheumatoid joints. In an editorial describing the discovery and function of this adhesive enzyme, Dr. Beat A. Imhof of the University of Geneva School of Medicine and University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland, indicates the potential therapeutic value for rheumatoid arthritis patients. “Antiadhesive therapies based on the use of small molecule inhibitors certainly represent an economically interesting alternative to expensive biologic treatments, such as humanized anti-adhesion molecule antibodies, which are currently being developed for the treatment of inflammatory diseases,” Dr. Imhof notes.

Article: “Cappuccino Mutation in an Autoimmune-Prone Strain of Mice Suggests a Role of Platelet Function in the Progression of Immune Complex Crescentic Glomerulonephritis,” Minako Yoshida, Kan Saiga, Takaaki Hato, Shoko Iwaki, Toshiyuki Niiya, Norimasa Arita, Hiroaki Komori, Takahito Tsubaki, Hiroshi Furukawa, Miho Terada, Kazutaka Maeyama, Kyuichi Nemoto, Masato Nose, and Masao Ono, Arthritis & Rheumatism, September 2006; (DOI: 10.1002/art.22059).

Article: “Vascular Amine Oxidases Are Needed for Leukocyte Extravasation Into Inflamed Joints In Vivo,” Fumiko Marttila-Ichara, David J. Smith, Craig Stolen, Gennady G. Yegutkin, Kati Elima, Nathalie Mercier, Riku Kiviranta, Marjo Pihlavisto, Sakari Alaranta, Ulla Pentik?inen, Olli Pentik?inen, Ferenc F?l?p, Sirpa Jalkanen, and Marko Salmi, Arthritis & Rheumatism, September 2006; (DOI: 10.1002/art.22061).

Editorial: “Leukocyte Migration to Rheumatoid Joints: Enzymes Take Over,” Gaby Palmer, Cem Gabay, and Beat A. Imhof, Arthritis & Rheumatism, September 2006; (DOI: 10.1002/art.22062).

Contact: Amy Molnar

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Generous Donors Allow Red Cross To Respond Swiftly And Effectively To California Wildfires

The American Red Cross yesterday announced that it has met the expected costs of the California wildfires but still needs donations to its Disaster Relief Fund to ensure it can respond to the next disaster just as swiftly and effectively as it did in Southern California.

When the wildfires struck, the Red Cross opened 26 shelters in Southern California, providing a safe place to stay for approximately 6,000 evacuees at the peak of the fires. Some 5,000 Red Cross disaster relief workers – more than 90 percent of them volunteers from all 50 states – rushed to ensure that survivors had shelter, food, and comfort. Survivors are now receiving clean-up supplies, counseling, basic healthcare and family connecting services. In the coming weeks and months, the Red Cross will continue to work with community partners to identify resources that can aid in the long term recovery of survivors.

This level of response would not have been possible without ongoing donations to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross has made investments to improve its response capabilities, such as pre-positioning cots and other supplies in strategic locations across the country. While the Red Cross believes that due to the extraordinary generosity of the American public, current financial donations and pledges will be sufficient to cover the estimated costs of the California wildfires, donations are still urgently needed for the Disaster Relief Fund.

“We are extremely grateful to the American people for their outpouring of support to the victims of the California wildfires. Now that the cost of this response is essentially met, we hope the public will continue to support our Disaster Relief Fund, which enabled the Red Cross to respond quickly, effectively and compassionately to the California wildfires,” said Mark W. Everson, President and CEO of the American Red Cross. “Continued donations to our Disaster Relief Fund will ensure, just as it did in Southern California, that help is immediately available in communities across the United States whenever disaster strikes.”

Everson noted that while the Nation has not had a Katrina-like event in two years, the number of significant floods, wildfires and other disasters has risen dramatically, as well as the costs of responding to those events. The Red Cross also spends millions of dollars on costs it cannot recover, such as pre-positioning resources for Hurricane Dean, which fortunately missed our shores.

Many donations to the relief efforts remain in “pledge” form and, while not yet received by the Red Cross, have been incorporated into the estimate of funds raised for the California wildfire response. The cost of the Red Cross’s relief operations is estimated not to exceed $12-15 million. It is important for supporters to fulfill their pledged gifts.

The Red Cross is committed to keeping donors and the public informed of how donations are being used to provide ongoing relief and has a standard practice of informing the public when sufficient funds have been raised to cover the costs associated with a Red Cross disaster response. The Red Cross will no longer initiate fundraising activities specifically for the California wildfires but will continue to urge the public to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund or their local Red Cross chapter so the Red Cross can be there whenever and wherever people need us.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the California wildfires, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.


UNICEF: Nearly 700,000 Children Still In Need Of Assistance In Myanmar

Close to three months after Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar, nearly 700,000 children under the age of 17 are still in need of longer term assistance, says UNICEF. An estimated 2.4 million people were affected by the cyclone which destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes, schools and health centres.

“While we have seen a gradual improvement in the situation of children and have managed to avoid major disease outbreaks, we need to sustain our efforts so children and their families can make a complete recovery from the devastation wreaked by Cyclone Nargis,” said Ramesh Shrestha UNICEF Representative in Myanmar.

UNICEF’s emergency operation in Myanmar has concentrated on immunization, education and reuniting separated children with their families. It has distributed education supplies such as “schools-in-a-box”, essential learning packages and recreational kits to children in the affected areas and set up temporary learning spaces when schools have been completely destroyed. UNICEF has so far registered 616 separated children and has set up a family tracing and interim community care system.

A recent UN/ASEAN report revealed the immense damage inflicted by Cyclone Nargis. Major findings include 700,000 homes, 75 per cent of health facilities, over 4,000 schools damaged or destroyed in the affected areas. In addition, the cyclone struck a severe blow to people’s livelihoods by flooding 600,000 hectares of agricultural land, killing up to 50 per cent of livestock in the affected areas, and destroying fishing boats, food stocks and agricultural implements. According to the report, the damages and losses amount to $4 billion.

In a recent appeal, UNICEF requested $90.7 million for its humanitarian operation until April 2009.


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


Primary Care System Must Change How It Approaches Dementia, Editorial Says

In an editorial in the November issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, geriatrics researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. say that primary care doctors, the physicians seen by most older adults, cannot meet the needs of the growing number of older adults with dementia without changing how the primary care system approaches dementia.

“We have a dilemma in our healthcare system. The majority of people with dementia don’t see specialists. These patients receive their healthcare within the primary care system from general internal medicine and family medicine physicians. Neither the primary care system nor primary physicians have the time or resources to meet the biopsychosocial needs of individuals with dementia,” said co-author Malaz Boustani, M.D., M.P.H. Biopsychosocial issues resulting from dementia include cognitive disability, daily living difficulty, behavioral and psychological deficits, decision-making problems, and future planning concerns.

The editorial provides a possible solution to this dilemma — collaborative dementia care, which extends the dementia care setting beyond the primary care doctor’s office into the homes and communities of patients and their caregivers.

“This model, which we have studied, can be adjusted to enable the delivery of the right doses and the right combination of critical components of dementia care to the right dementia patient and the right caregiver at the right time,” said Dr. Boustani.

Patients with dementia extensively use the health care system. They typically suffer from many chronic medical conditions, receive multiple prescriptions including psychotropic drugs, and display a wide range of behavioral and psychological symptoms. More than 20% of patients with dementia are exposed to at least one inappropriate dementia medication and less than 10% are prescribed appropriate drugs for their dementing disorder according to previous research conducted by the IU Geriatrics group

Moreover, individuals with dementia are not the only ones presenting challenges to the healthcare system. Nearly 25% of their caregivers go to an emergency department or are hospitalized in a given year. The stress of caregiving is partially responsible for this frequent use of acute care services.

“Primary care needs much greater support and integration with community services and access to dementia support teams if primary care is to succeed in caring for the growing population of older adults with dementia,” the editorial concludes.

In addition to Dr. Boustani, the editorial was authored by IU School of Medicine, Regenstrief Institute, and IU Center for Aging Research geriatricians and researchers Greg Sachs, M.D. and Christopher Callahan, M.D.

Source: Cindy Fox Aisen

Indiana University

Human Lung Tumors Destroy Anti-Cancer Hormone Vitamin D, Pitt Researchers Find

Human lung tumors have the ability to eliminate Vitamin D, a hormone with anti-cancer activity, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) suggests. Results of the study, Abstract Number 2402, are being presented at the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), April 18 to 22, in Denver.

“High levels of Vitamin D help the body produce proteins with anti-tumor activity,” explained principal investigator Pamela Hershberger, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in UPCI’s Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology. “We’ve discovered that lung cancer cells make an enzyme called CYP24, which counteracts the positive effects of Vitamin D. To better study it, we developed the first radioactive-free assay that measures the amount of Vitamin D in tissues and blood.”

According to Dr. Hershberger, this test is sensitive enough to have clinical potential. “We hope this new assay will help identify the best approaches to maintain therapeutic levels of Vitamin D in tissues,” she said.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States in both men and women, killing 160,000 people annually, and remains one of the most difficult cancers to treat. The five-year survival rate remains low, and better treatments are much needed. According to Dr. Hershberger, it is possible that one day Vitamin D could be used as a chemopreventive agent to improve patient outcomes.

This study was supported by UPCI’s Lung Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence.


University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Vitamin E Or C Does Not Reduce Risk Of Dementia Or Alzheimer’s – Controversial Research Suggests Vitamins May Not Be Beneficial For Prevention

Contrary to previous research, older adults who use over-the-counter vitamin E or C supplements do not have a reduced risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This is according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that tracked patients using vitamin E and/or vitamin C supplements over a follow-up period of more than 5 years. The study also finds that the combined use of vitamins E and C, which was previously thought to offer even greater protection against the diseases, also did not reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“There is limited evidence to support supplemental use of the vitamins to prevent or delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease, says Shelly L. Gray, author of the study. “In fact, other studies show that higher doses of vitamin E may even be associated with harm in older people, such as slightly increased risk of mortality.”

The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not entirely known. One theory is that a high level of free radicals in the brain may contribute. Some vitamins, such as vitamin E, have the ability to neutralize free radicals, which might be expected to prevent injury to cells in the body that lead to disease. By taking doses of vitamin E that are higher than recommended for normal functioning of the body, it was hoped that cell injury from oxidant stress may be prevented, and that effect, if present, would result in less chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

Some older adults purchase even higher doses of vitamins E and C in the hope that they will prevent such diseases. The doses found in these supplements may be much higher than what is recommended for use by the general public and what is usually contained in a multivitamin.

At one point, vitamin E was touted as beneficial for preventing a wide variety of diseases and, therefore, this agent is still widely used. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that vitamin E also does not protect against cardiovascular disease or the many cancers thought to be inhibited through vitamin E intake. Many older adults may still believe that vitamin E is beneficial and may still be taking higher doses in hope of maintaining memory. Because vitamin E does not dissolve in water but instead in fat, it is harder for the body to rid itself of excess amounts of the vitamin.

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is a comprehensive and reliable source of monthly research and information about common diseases and disorders of older adults. For more information, please visit blackwellpublishing/jgs.
Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley’s Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit blackwellpublishing or interscience.wiley.

Unexpected Benefit Of Allergies

Long-suffering victims of allergies such as asthma and hay fever might enjoy a surprise benefit, according to research led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

In a paper presented at an international symposium in Sydney, the researchers show that people with one of these atopic diseases are up to 25 percent less likely to get the most common type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

The InterLymph Symposium is co-hosted by the Leukaemia Foundation, the Cancer Institute NSW, UNSW and the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research.

The more atopic diseases the individual has, the less likely they are to succumb to NHL. If an individual has three of these conditions, they are 40 percent less likely to get NHL.

Having had asthma and hay fever for a long time, also appears to be of greater benefit.

The result is significant given that the incidence of NHL in developed countries has escalated dramatically in the past 50 years. It is three times more prevalent now than it was in 1950, making it the sixth most common cause of cancer death in Australia, yet the cause of most cases remains unknown.

“This was a surprise result,” said the lead author, Dr Claire Vajdic. “The only known strong risk factors for NHL are immune deficiency and certain infections. This occurs in people with uncontrolled HIV infection, and those who have had a solid organ transplant.

“So we thought other forms of immune dysregulation such as atopic diseases – including hayfever, asthma and food allergies – might relate to the development of lymphoma. It was therefore intuitive to think that these conditions would increase the risk, but in fact, they do the reverse,” she said.

The research found that risk was reduced in B-cell NHL only. This is the most common type of NHL.

“While the relevant biological mechanisms are not yet known, the pooled data indicate that chronic and multiple atopic conditions impart the greatest reduction in risk,” said Dr Vajdic. “Investigation of the genetic and environmental factors underlying atopy and the apparent inverse effect of atopy on NHL risk will inform our understanding of the complex biological pathways that may be involved.”

The research involved a pooled analysis of data from 13 case-control studies involving 13,535 NHL cases and 16,388 control participants, funded by the Leukaemia Foundation.

Source: Susi Hamilton

University of New South Wales