Monday, April 20, 2009

Bone drugs may protect against radiation exposure

By Julie Steenhuysen – Sun Apr 19, 3:09 pm ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Drugs commonly used to strengthen bones to prevent osteoporosis may protect people exposed to radiation against developing leukemia, U.S. researchers said on Sunday.
They said two compounds in a class of drugs called bisphosphonates delayed and in some cases prevented mice exposed to high doses of radiation from developing leukemia, a common long-term side effect of radiation exposure.
Alexandra Miller, a scientist at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, has been studying ways to protect military personnel and astronauts from radiation exposure.
But she said the findings, which she presented at the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver, Colorado, could also help cancer patients treated with radiation who later develop leukemia as a side effect of their treatment.

The compounds Miller studied are bisphosphonates known as ethane-1-hydroxy-1, 1-bisphosphonate or EHBP, which Miller said is chemically similar to Procter & Gamble's osteoporosis drug Didronel or etidronate.
The other was an experimental drug called CAPBP, which Miller said is similar to Roche's Boniva or ibandronate.
She picked the drugs because of studies in humans that suggest bisphosphonates may help prevent cancer from spreading to the bone. They also have been shown to remove uranium from the body.
Miller exposed lab mice to radiation strong enough to cause leukemia. She injected some of the mice with one of the two compounds and waited.

Typically, mice exposed to radiation developed leukemia and died 92 to 110 days later.
"With the drug, the animals were developing leukemia too, but it took much longer, 150 to 170 days," Miller said in a telephone interview.

"The total number that actually developed leukemia was significantly lower with both of the drugs," she said.
She said all of the untreated animals developed leukemia after radiation exposure, but only about half did in the treated group.
"It was very significant. We didn't have any toxic effects with the drug treatment," she said.
Miller said many more studies would be needed before the drugs could be used in humans, but she thinks the compounds show promise as a way of addressing one of the most toxic side effects of radiation exposure.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Recovery from surgery on small intestine

It's now been 10 weeks since my surgery to remove 10 inches from my small intestine. As I look back on the recovery process a few things stand out:

1. I lost more weight than I expected (about 10 pounds total) and it took several weeks to steadily build up energy.
2. the worst part of the recovery was the first two weeks dealing with incision pain when I coughed ...
3. it took about 6 weeks before I could swing a golf club easily and attempt to play tennis.
4. it took about 8 weeks before I was able to play golf and tennis normally.
5. even in the past two weeks I still feel some incision discomfort but it's minor. The discomfort seems to move a bit and comes and goes although it's pretty mild at this point.
6. getting my full energy back has been a steady process. I was surprised how debilitating the surgery and 3 night stay in the hospital was on my energy level --- I remember walking 18 holes of golf after 3 weeks and was extremely tired afterward.
7. the digestive process and bowel movements from the first week on have been quite normal which has surprised me. I have been able to eat anything from the day I left the hospital. I did supplement my diet drinking Ensure "milk shakes" to take in more calories as I wanted to gain back the weight.

The incisions are still quite visible --- there are 3 small (1/2 inch) incisions that are still noticeably reddish, and about a 2 1/2 inch main incision above my belly button that is also reddish. I can feel a minor discomfort when pressing on them even now.