Decrease in US Cancer Deaths

In 2003, cancer deaths in the United States decreased by 369 deaths compared to 2002, the first drop seen since 1930. In 2004, the decrease in cancer deaths was eight times greater – 3,014 deaths – than in 2003, according to a report published in the latest issue of the American Cancer Society (ACS) journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians [1].

Experts are attributing the decreases to declines in smoking, earlier detection and more effective treatment of tumors. The three most common cancers — breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer – show a decrease in death rates, with the largest change from colorectal cancer. Experts attribute much of the credit for the reduction in colorectal cancer to screening exams and the early detection of polyps that can be removed before they become cancerous.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are organic compounds containing an amino group (NH2), a carboxylic group (COOH) and any of various side chain groups. There are twenty amino acids encoded by the genetic code, referred to as the standard amino acids. The basic components of proteins, amino acids form short polymers (meaning a long molecule made up of a chain of smaller, simpler molecules) called peptides or longer polymers called polypeptides or proteins. Additionally, amino acids can function as chemical messengers and as intermediates in metabolism.

America’s Health Rankings

Paul over at Healthy Reader wrote about the results of the United Health Foundation’s 2006 edition of “America’s Health Rankings: A Call to Action for People and Their Communities”. The report documents the lack of significant progress in improving health status, a trend they have been following since 2000. Nevertheless, the report concluded that America’s overall health improved slightly in 2006 [1].

Minnesota leads the list of healthiest states, followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Hawaii and Connecticut. Louisiana is at the bottom of the list and has consistently ranked 49th or 50th since 1990.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A consists of a group of compounds that play an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and cell differentiation [1]. It helps to regulate the immune system and may also help lymphocytes (meaning a type of white blood cell) better fight infection [2].

Vitamins

Vitamins are essential biomolecules that act as both catalysts (meaning a substance that increases or decreases the rate of a chemical reaction) and substrates (meaning a molecule that is acted upon by an enzyme) in chemical reactions and are required in very small amounts for essential metabolic reactions in the body. With the exception of biotin, vitamin D and vitamin K, the body cannot manufacture vitamins — they must be obtained through food or nutritional supplementation. There are 13 known vitamins categorized as either fat-soluble (meaning absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of lipids) and include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K or water-soluble (meaning dissolves easily in water) and include eight B vitamins and vitamin C. The body stores fat-soluble vitamins for long periods of time while water-soluble vitamins (excluding vitamin B12) remain in the body for a short period of time and must be replenished more frequently.