Author Interviews, BMC, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Diabetes, Nutrition / 10.12.2020 Interview with: Tengteng Wang, PhD, MSPH, MBBS Postdoctoral Research Fellow Department of Epidemiology Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Channing Division of Network Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) has been associated with poor progression of breast cancer. Moreover, having a breast cancer diagnosis may also increase the risk of developing T2D. Therefore, identifying strategies for T2D prevention among breast cancer survivors may play a key role in improving their survival outcomes. One approach may be through a diabetes risk reduction diet (DRRD), a dietary pattern comprised of 9 components that has been associated with 40% lower T2D risk in a previous Nurses’ Health Study publication.1 However, no studies to date have evaluated the association between adherence to the DRRD (as measured by the DRRD score) and survival outcomes following breast cancer. In this prospective cohort study among 8,320 breast cancer survivors, we found that greater adherence to the diabetes risk reduction diet after diagnosis was associated with a statistically significant 31% lower risk of overall mortality. Reduced breast cancer-specific mortality was also observed, which was more pronounced (20% lower risk) among those who improved adherence after diagnosis compared to women with consistently low DRRD adherence before and after diagnosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Weight Research / 27.02.2020 Interview with: Carolyn Ee PhD NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney University Australia What is the background for this study? Response: Worldwide and in Australia, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Weight gain is common after diagnosis of breast cancer and may increase tumour recurrence risk, mortality rate, and worsen quality of life. As there was no national data on the prevalence of weight gain after breast cancer in Australia, we undertook a national survey which was open to any woman living in Australia who had breast cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Cost of Health Care, Diabetes, Yale / 28.09.2019 Interview with: Phoebe Tran Doctoral Student Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology Yale School of MedicinePhoebe Tran Doctoral Student Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology Yale School of Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: As the prevalence of diabetes risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and physical inactivity are considerably higher in US individuals residing in rural areas compared to their urban counterparts, rural residents face increased risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes screening is a useful tool that can be used to identify people with newly developed type 2 diabetes and offer them early treatment. In this study, we examined whether there are differences in diabetes screening levels between rural and urban areas across the US using nationally representative survey data from 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017.   (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Pediatrics, Tobacco / 17.02.2018 Interview with: Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, MS Associate Professor School of Social Work Boston College Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, MS Associate Professor School of Social Work Boston College What is the background for this study? Response: Increasing cigarette taxes has been a major policy driver to decrease smoking, including adolescent smoking, while taxes on other tobacco products have received less attention. Taxes on cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars are all fiscal policies, but they are not all equal. While state taxes on cigarettes have increased substantially over the past decade, there has been little change in policies governing alternative tobacco products. Realsitcally, everyone wants to pay as little tax as they can, which is why Tax software deals are so great for helping people pay the right amount. The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of chewing tobacco and cigar taxes, cigarette taxes, and the enactment of smoke-free legislation on adolescent male and female use of smokeless tobacco and cigars. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 05.09.2017 Interview with: Jan Alexander, MD,PhD Norwegian Institute of Public Health Oslo Norway What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background for this study was the widespread uncertainty and general concern among the public about increasing exposure to weak radio frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF-RF). The concern on whether using your cell phone while pregnant can harm your foetus are mainly due to the extensive use of cell phones, that emit EMF-RF. Even though the RF-EMF exposure that may reach the foetus is very low, evidence from previous epidemiological studies with mothers and children are inconsistent as to whether EMF-RF emission from cell phone might harm the developing brain of the foetus. This includes also animal experiments where the exposure may be very different from that in humans. We therefore studied the association between maternal cell phone use during pregnancy and child’s neurodevelopment at 3 and 5 years. We included around 45,000 mother and their children from all over Norway from the Norwegian Mother and Child Study (MoBa study) and used language development as the outcome because we in previous studies found this parameter to be sensitive to exposure to neurotoxicants. T here was no evidence of a harmful effect of the mother using her cell phone during pregnancy on her child’s neurodevelopment at 3 and 5 years. Surprisingly, we even found that the more the mother was using her cell phone during pregnancy the better language and motor skills her child had at 3 years of age. We observed no associations when the child was 5 years old. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Breast Cancer, Radiation Therapy / 02.08.2017 Interview with: Heiko Enderling, Ph.D. Associate Member & Director for Education and Outreach Dept. of Integrated Mathematical Oncology Dept. of Radiation Oncology H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute Tampa, FL 33612 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although radiation therapy after breast-conserving surgery for early-stage breast cancer has significantly improved patient prognosis, many patients will face a second cancer diagnosis within 20 years of primary treatment. Experimental and clinical studies have shown that local radiation therapy can activate an immune response that can propagate systemically to attack distant untreated metastases. However, current radiotherapy practice has not specifically focused on enhancing immune responses. We asked the question if pre-operative irradiation, when applied to the bulk of disease, could have potentially higher immune stimulatory effects. To study this, we analyzed historic outcomes of breast cancer patients treated with either adjuvant (radiation after surgery) or neoadjuvant (radiation before surgery) radiotherapies. Our analysis showed that the risk of developing a second tumor after neoadjuvant compared with adjuvant RT was significantly lower, especially for estrogen receptor-positive women who underwent breast conserving surgery or mastectomy. Historic data revealed an increase in disease-free survival of 12% over 20 years after treatment of the original tumor. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Prostate Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Weight Research / 11.07.2017 Interview with: Aurora Perez-Cornago, PhD Cancer Epidemiology Unit Nuffield Department of Population Health University of Oxford What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Greater height and adiposity have been suggested as possible prostate cancer risk factors, but these associations are not clear, probably because most previous studies have not looked separately at different tumour subtypes. For this reason, we wanted to look at these associations splitting tumours into subtypes according to tumour stage and histological grade, looking as well at death from prostate cancer. We found a marked difference in risks looking at low and high risk tumours. Taller men and men with greater adiposity had an elevated of high-grade prostate cancer and prostate cancer death. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, End of Life Care, Pulmonary Disease / 31.03.2017 Interview with: Dr Sabrina Bajwah MBChB MRCGP MSc MA PhD Consultant Palliative Medicine, King’s College NHS Foundation Trust Honorary Senior Lecturer King's College London Cicely Saunders Institute, Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation London, UK What is the background for this study? Response: Where people die is often important to them and their families, as well as being important for planning health care services. Most people want to die at home, but instead most die in hospital. While the trends have been studied in cancer, other diseases, such as respiratory, are rarely looked at even though they are common and increasing causes of death. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Interstitial Pulmonary Diseases (IPD) are common respiratory conditions. Both conditions result in a high use of hospital services, especially among people in advanced stages. This leads to high healthcare costs.1 In the UK in 2010, it is estimated that IPD costs £16.2 million per year in hospitalisations.2 The NHS spends more than £810 million annually managing COPD, with inpatient stays accounting for around £250 million annually. Understanding which factors affect place of death is vital for planning services and improving care, especially given our ageing population, rising chronic diseases and the high costs of hospital admissions. Strategies in many countries have sought to improve palliative care and reduce hospital deaths for non-cancer patients, but their effects are not evaluated. We aimed to determine the trends and factors associated with dying in hospital in COPD and IPD, and the impact of a national end of life care (EoLC) strategy3 to reduce deaths in hospital. This study analysed a national data set of all deaths for COPD and IPD, covering 380,232 people over 14 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Heart Disease, Mediterranean Diet, Nutrition / 30.09.2016 Interview with: Dr Nita Forouhi, MRCP, PhD, FFPHM Programme Leader MRC Epidemiology Unit University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine Institute of Metabolic Science Cambridge Biomedical Campus What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular health are well documented in countries of the Mediterranean region and some other countries, but there is little such evidence in the UK general population. Our work fills this research gap. In our study we followed up 23,902 initially healthy Britons living in Norfolk (Eastern England) for an average of 12 to 17 years, and determined the occurrence of new cases of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and deaths due to CVD during that time period. Our results showed that those adults who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had 6% to 16% lower risk of developing CVD, compared to those who had dietary habits further away from the Mediterranean-type diet pattern. This was the case even when we accounted for several important risk factors and correlates of CVD, including as age, sex, body mass index, lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol intake and physical activity, and socio-economic factors. We also modelled what would happen in the study population if all the participants increased their adherence to the Mediterranean-type diet. From this we estimated that nearly 4% of all new cardiovascular disease cases, or 12.5% of cardiovascular deaths in the population could potentially be avoided. This is novel information about the potential health benefit of a Mediterranean-type diet in a UK context. However, we should remember that our study was an observational study, not a clinical trial with a dietary intervention, and thus we cannot imply a cause and effect relationship between increasing adherence to the Mediterranean diet and reduction in cardiovascular disease. We defined the Mediterranean diet using a 15 point score based on guideline recommendations from a Mediterranean dietary pyramid published by the Mediterranean Diet Foundation. The recommendations had not previously been specifically tested for their associations with health, so our findings, for the first time, show the utility of the Mediterranean dietary pyramid. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, BMJ, Genetic Research / 03.12.2015 Interview with: Hatem A. Azim MD PhD Breast Cancer Translational Research Laboratory Institut Jules Bordet Université Libre de Bruxelles Brussels, Belgium Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Azim: As at breast cancer diagnosis is known to impact prognosis, with young patients having worse outcome. On the other hand, elderly patients are less studies in general and little is known on their tumor characteristics. In this study, we aimed to define the pattern of genomic aberrations in different age groups. This can result in identifying if key potentially targetable genomic alterations are more specific to particular age groups and thus could open the door to design particular studies targeting these aberrations in these age groups. We found that  age is associated with unique biological features at the DNA level, independent of tumor stage, histology and breast cancer molecular subtype. Of particular mention, the higher prevalence of GATA3 mutation in younger patient, a known driver mutation associated with endocrine resistance. In addition, age at diagnosis appears to impact the tumor transcriptome confirming previous observations, but also highlighting novel findings, of particular relevance the higher expression of stem cell related genes in young patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Colon Cancer, Microbiome / 26.06.2015

Michael B. Burns, Ph.D. HHMI Post-Doctoral Fellow Dept. of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Masonic Cancer Center Dept. of Biology Teaching and Learning University of Minnesota, Twin Cities St. Paul, MN Interview with: Michael B. Burns, Ph.D. HHMI Post-Doctoral Fellow Dept. of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Masonic Cancer Center Dept. of Biology Teaching and Learning University of Minnesota Twin Cities St. Paul, MN 55108 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Burns: Recent technological advances have made it possible to survey all the of microbes that are in, on, and around us. One of the surprising things is the sheer quantity and diversity of the bacteria in our environments and our microbiomes. Many researchers have begun the systematic characterization of the microbes that are associated with specific disease states, including cancer. With regard to colorectal cancer, there have been numerous studies that have identified specific bacteria that are linked to the presence of the disease. There have been many reports that have identified particular potentially important microbes that may be causing the cancer, driving the cancer, or some combination of the two. Among these microbes, one of the best studied so far is a group of bacteria called Fusobacterium. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Burns: In our work, we set out to perform another characterization of the bacteria in the gut microbiome that are specifically associated with colorectal tumors. We used samples of normal colon tissue from the same individuals as controls, which allowed us to account for much of the variability in the different bacteria we found that might have been simply the result of, for instance, diet. In our analysis, we confirmed the previous results related to Fusobacterium, and additionally discovered a new potential culprit in colorectal cancer, a group of bacteria named Providencia. The finding of another new set of microbes that might be causing or driving cancer is not surprising. As indicated above, there are many groups who have found other potential candidate microbes that could be implicated in the disease. Our next question was to determine if there was some reason why there might be so many different bacteria that are linked with the disease and what it might be able to tell us about what these bacteria are doing. To that end, we used computational approaches to assess what these two groups of bacteria might be doing at a functional level and if there were any similarities. We found that there was a great deal in common between Fusobacterium and Providencia, including a finding that one of the common functions was related to a large group of virulence genes. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Genetic Research, Heart Disease, Pharmacology / 12.01.2015

Caroline Attardo Genco, PhD Professor Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases Department of Microbiology Boston University School of Medicine Boston MA Interview with: Caroline Attardo Genco, PhD Professor Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases Department of Microbiology Boston University School of Medicine Boston MA MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Genco: Atherosclerosis is a common cardiovascular disease associated with heart attack and stroke. Although it has been shown that a diet high in fat as well as exposure to certain bacteria can cause atherosclerosis (the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances on artery walls which can restrict blood flow), we have for the first time identified distinct gene pathways that are altered by these different stimuli. One of these bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, is found in the mouth of humans with periodontal disease. Another is the bacteria Chlamydia pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia. We found that even though these three different stimuli all cause atherosclerosis, the gene pathways are distinct depending upon stimulus. This is the first study that has performed side-by-side comparison of genome-wide gene expression changes to address this issue. In this study, we used four experimental groups to compare genome-wide expression changes in vascular tissue. The first group was subjected to Porphyromonas gingivalis, while the second group received Chlamydia pneumoniae. The third group was placed on a high-fat Western style diet, while the fourth group was the control group. In collaboration with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at Boston University, we performed genome-wide microarray profiling and analysis of vascular tissue from all groups to reveal gene pathways altered in vascular tissue by each treatment group. These findings may explain how specific infections or high-fat diet may cause atherosclerotic plaques to undergo changes that affect their size and stability and may ultimately lead to a heart attack. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Diabetes, Nutrition / 27.11.2014

Prof. Frank B Hu Department of Nutrition Department of Epidemiology Harvard School of Public with: Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology Harvard School of Public Health Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02115 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Hu: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) affects approximately 26 million people in the United States and 366 million people worldwide, and thus primary prevention of T2D has become a public health imperative. The relation between consumption of different types of dairy and risk of type 2 diabetes remains uncertain.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, BMC / 29.09.2014 Interview with: Prof. Dr. med. Alain Nordmann Innere Medizin FMH Basel, Switzerland Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Nordmann: Based on available randomised controlled trials, garlic preparations seem to lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension in the short term. However, the quality of the studies and the lack of long-term data preclude the routine use of garlic preparations to lower blood pressure in individuals qualifying for antihypertensive drug therapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Cost of Health Care / 19.06.2014 Interview with: Natasha K Brusco Manager of Physiotherapy Services, Cabrini Health PhD Candidate, Physiotherapy Department, Faculty of Health Science, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: This economic evaluation reports that providing additional Saturday rehabilitation, compared to Monday to Friday rehabilitation alone, is likely to be cost saving per quality adjusted life year gained and for a minimal clinically important difference in functional independence. This builds on previous literature that reports that additional Saturday rehabilitation can improve functional independence and health related quality of life at discharge and may reduce patient length of stay. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Mediterranean Diet / 09.06.2014

Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventos, PhD Associate Professor Department of Nutrition and Food Science School of Pharmacy, University of Interview with: Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventos, PhD Associate Professor Department of Nutrition and Food Science School of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Lamuela-Raventós: We have found an inverse relationship between polyphenol intake and risk of overall mortality among elderly subjects at high cardiovascular risk. Adjusting for confounders and comparing the highest versus the lowest quintiles of intake, total polyphenols were inversely associated with total mortality (HR=0.63, 95 CI=0.41-0.97, P-trend=0.12), as well as stilbenes (HR=0.48, 95 CI=0.25-0.91, P-trend=0.04) and lignans (HR=0.60, 95 CI=0.37-0.97, P-trend=0.03). In fact, our results showed that all polyphenols subgroups, except for dihydrochalcones, trended to be protective although their intake did not reach statistical significance. In stratified analyses we also found a stronger association between total polyphenol intake and mortality risk for women and for those who did not drink alcohol. (more…)