Smokers With HIV Far More Likely To Die Of Lung Cancer – Researchers

People who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and smokes are far more likely to die from lung cancer than HIV, researchers said Monday.

“Having HIV and using tobacco may together accelerate the development of lung cancer,” warned the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine.

Smoking reduces life expectancy among people living with HIV — and undergoing antiretroviral therapy to keep their disease at bay, more than HIV itself, it added.

The findings are of particular concern because smoking is so common among people with HIV.

The prevalence of smokers among the population of people with HIV is 40 percent, about twice the rest of the United States population.

“Smoking and HIV are a particularly bad combination when it comes to lung cancer,” said lead author Krishna Reddy, a doctor at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“Smoking rates are extraordinarily high among people with HIV, and both smoking and HIV increase the risk of lung cancer.”

Almost 25 percent of people who adhere well to anti-HIV medications but continue to smoke will die from lung cancer, said the findings.

People with HIV who take antiviral drugs and also smoke are from six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from HIV/AIDS, it added.

But there is hope for those who manage to quit.

Among smokers who quit at age 40, only about six percent will die of lung cancer, according to the study, which is based on projections using a computer model.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that people with HIV can do to improve their health and live longer,” said co-author Travis Baggett, also of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Nearly 60,000 of the 644,2000 people aged 20-64 living with HIV and receiving care are expected to die from lung cancer by age 80 if smoking habits do not change.


Governor Okorocha Condoles with Chukwumerije Family

ChukwumerijeThe Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has condoled with the family of Senator Chukwumerije, who died on Sunday, April 19.

In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor On Media, Sam Onwuemuodo, the Governor said Senator Chukwumerije had served the nation with a very high sense of commitment and responsibility, and had also dutifully served the Igbo nation.

He said that his death at this time would no doubt create a vacuum that would not be easy to fill both in the politics of the nation and in the life of the National Assembly.

The Governor expressed deep regret that the Abia State born Senator died when his services and his wealth of experience are mostly needed.

Governor Okorocha prayed God to grant the soul of Senator Chukwumerije eternal peace and grant the family members the fortitude to bear the loss.

Governor Okorocha was said to have received with deep shock the news of Senator Chukwumerije’s death.

He refereed to the former Information Minister, who died at the age of 75, as one of the illustrious sons of the South East and an outstanding patriotic Nigerian.

Senate Mourns Uche Chukwumerije

ChukwumerijeThe Nigerian Senate has expressed shock and sadness over the death of Senator Uche Chukwumerije.

Senator Uche Chukwumerije died on Sunday evening of lung cancer in a Hospital in Abuja.

Until his death, Senator Uche Chukwumerije was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Education.

Senate President, David Mark, in a statement said that Nigeria has lost an erudite and extraordinary nationalist.

He described the late Senator Uche Chukwumerije as a political giant and one of the nation’s finest legislators.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, also in a statement described Senator Chukwumerije as a fearless politician who fought for the interest of the common man and his people.

He said that Senator Chukwumerije would be sorely missed by the Senate and the entire nation.

President Jonathan Mourns Chukwumerije

ChukwumerijePresident Goodluck Jonathan has extended heartfelt condolences to the Chukwumerije family as well as the government and people of Abia State on the death of Senator Uche Chukwumerije.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, the President also commiserates with the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria over the passage of Senator Chukwumerije whom he refereed to as an ardent believer in national unity, peace, political stability and progress.

The President joined them in mourning “the late patriot and nationalist who has left behind an impressive legacy of discipline, honesty, integrity and hard work in public service”.

“President Jonathan believes that the late Senator Chukwumerije, who had a distinguished career as a journalist, social critic, Minister of Information and Senator, will be long remembered for his dedication and passion for a just and equitable society.

“As the nation mourns him, the President urges Senator Chukwumerije’s family, friends and associates to honour his memory by continually upholding the values and principles which he lived for and never stopped fighting for till his death,” the statement read.

President Jonathan also prayed that Almighty God will comfort all who mourn him and grant his soul perfect peace.

Senator Chukwumerije died on the evening of Sunday, April 19, 2015, surrounded by his family.

Senator Uche Chukwumerije Dies At 75

ChukwumerijeFormer Information Minister and Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District, Uche Chukwumerije, has passed on.

This was disclosed in a statement by his first son, Chidi Chukwumerije.

The statement read; “On the evening of Sunday, the 19th of April, 2015, surrounded by his family, Comrade Uche Chukwumerije passed into the open arms of history, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, after a long but gallant battle with lung cancer.

“His life is many volumes, which can only be told with care and time, of dedication and focus, integrity and discipline, and an unbroken love for the highest ideals of our shared humanity.

“Details of burial arrangements will be announced in due course. We ask only for your prayers and good wishes.”

Senator Chukwumerije served as Minister of Information during the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida.

Born November 1939, he was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in April 2003, representing Abia North Senatorial District on the platform of the PDP.

He studied Economics at the University of Ibadan.

Screening Might Avert Many Lung Cancer Deaths: Study

A calculation based on results from a large lung cancer screening trial projects that 12,000 deaths a year among the highest-risk smokers and ex-smokers in the U.S. could be avoided with a national screening program.

The National Lung Screening Trial, published in 2010, found 20 percent fewer deaths from lung cancer in a group of people at highest risk for the disease when they were screened annually with CT scans, a form of high-resolution X-ray that can spot suspicious lung nodules.

Based on the 8.6 million Americans who would fall into that high-risk category because of a decades-long history of smoking, researchers at the American Cancer Society say in a new study that 12,000 fewer people a year would die of lung cancer if national screening were put in place.

“This is the first paper that attempts to assess the impact of screening on lung cancer cases nationally,” one of the authors, Ahmedin Jemal, told Reuters Health. “Twelve thousand is a lot of cases,” he said.

In the National Lung Screening Trial, current or former smokers between the ages of 55 and 74 who had accumulated 30 “pack-years” of smoking – for example by smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 30 years, or 40 cigarettes a day for 15 years – were considered to be at the highest risk for lung cancer.

The 20 percent reduction in deaths among people in that category in the trial was “a singular, enormous accomplishment” said Larry Kessler, of the University of Washington in Seattle, who studies the diagnostic value of screening technologies.

“That was a pivotal event that should have woken people up,” said Kessler, who also wrote an editorial accompanying the new study in the journal Cancer.

To put a number on the potential benefits demonstrated in the NLST, the American Cancer Society researchers used U.S. census and health survey data to calculate the number of Americans at highest risk for lung cancer.

About 60,000 of those people die from lung cancer every year, according to their estimates, which could be reduced to 48,000 if every one of those people had a CT scan to identify early-stage nodules that could be removed surgically.

A national screening program would represent a breakthrough in the battle against lung cancer, which kills about 160,000 people in the U.S. every year, the researchers argue. Other major killers like breast cancer and colon cancer can be screened for with mammograms and colonoscopies, but lung cancers are too often caught too late for life-saving treatment, they point out.

Although the prospect of reducing deaths by 20 percent sounds significant, there’s a reason screening hasn’t been adopted since the NLST results came out two years ago, cautions Paul Pinsky, of the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

“You could do a quick back of the envelope calculation and come up with something pretty close to this,” said Pinsky, who was not involved in the new study. “At most it’s a rough ballpark of the potential effect if CT screening were introduced in a mass way.”

The numbers probably wouldn’t translate to a real world situation, however, because not every eligible smoker or ex-smoker will want to be screened, and if they did, there wouldn’t be enough imaging centers with the expertise to handle the testing, Pinsky said.

And even in a best-case scenario, questions about national lung cancer screening remain, according to Kessler.

“There are two pieces missing,” Kessler said. “Screening costs money, and someone’s got to pay. And it also comes with risks.”

When not covered by insurance, a CT scan can cost between $500 and $1500. If the Unites States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-backed advisory group, decides to recommend lung cancer screening for people at high risk, then the Affordable Care Act dictates it must be covered by Medicare, Kessler notes. Then insurance companies may follow suit, as they often take their cues from Medicare.

Even if the screening were made more affordable, Kessler said, it would still be unrealistic for 100 percent of eligible people to be screened, especially because smokers tend to be more reluctant to go in for tests.

Moreover, screening comes with risks that haven’t yet been assessed, he added. Lung CT scans are prone to false positives – they identify suspicious nodules that turn out to be harmless or a benign form of cancer. But, as in all screening, false positives can cause patients real anxiety and lead to further painful, invasive and expensive testing. (See Reuters Health story of May 21, 2012 here:

False positives can also lead to unnecessary surgery, which is especially dangerous, Kessler said. “With surgery, you have to be careful in the lung arena. You can’t cut out every lung nodule, like you can take out any colon polyp.”

While screening risks and benefits are being assessed, the focus should remain on helping people to quit smoking as the best way to prevent lung cancer deaths, Kessler said.

“Screening is important, but it’s not really a substitute for smoking cessation,” Jemal agreed.