You can read a good interview with me wearing my novelist hat--and comment to win a free copy of my first novel, Lord Lightning--HERE.Star Crossed Seduction, accepted by my publisher, than I learned that it would be included in a campaign meant to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.
Kiss and Teal"--referring to the teal blue ribbons used by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance for its fund raising efforts. The reason for Avon's participation is personal--one of Avon's top editors and one of its biggest bestselling authors both lost their mothers to ovarian cancer recently and together they came up with the idea of using the fact that millions of women buy romance novels to make women more aware of the warning signs of ovarian cancer and of the organization that can help them find the best treatment and clinical trials.
Avon will be donating a portion of the proceeds from every book sold that has the "Kiss and Teal" medallion on the cover, including Star Crossed Seduction, to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Our publicist is also arranging media appearances for us authors--most of whom are far more successful and famous than I am--and gave us an orientation with someone from the Alliance who taught us a lot about this deadly disease. This will make it possible for us to tell a larger audience about the warning signs of this cancer that is the fifth most common cancer killer of women.
My college roommate died of a form of cancer closely related to ovarian cancer at the much-too-young age of 28. Her death was one of the first events that made me aware of the dangers of pharmaceutical drugs, because she was a DES daughter. Her mother had been prescribed a hormone pill that was supposed to avoid pregnancy complications. Instead, it caused terrible damage to the children of those who took it, including fatal cancers like those that killed my roommate and reproductive tract anomalies. It is still causing significant problems in surviving DES daughters--they have a greater risk of ovarian cancer--and in the grandchildren of the women who took it.
Every woman should read about the warning symptoms of ovarian cancer which you'll find HERE. If you are a DES daughter, it is even more important that you do this.
This early experience with a drug whose negative impacts took decades to emerge should have made doctors think about the long term impact of drugs they prescribe. DES was prescribed in the late 1940s. But obviously, it hasn't. Hormones were new and exciting in the 1940s in the same way that drugs that block receptors and turn off gene expression are in this decade.
Which is why, as long term readers of this blog know, I continue to worry about the long term impact of prescribing DPP-4 inhibitors like Januvia and Onglyza that turn off a gene the body uses to fight ovarian cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer and lung cancer. (Details HERE and HERE).
Just this week, a friend of the blog sent me a study, published back in February in the journal, Gasteroenterology, and completely ignored by the health media, which found a much higher incidence of pancreatic and thyroid cancers among people taking Januvia and Byetta. You can read it HERE.
Though there are issues with the methodology used--which the authors are very frank in describing--there is no question that, as we learned from the artificial hormone DES years ago, drugs that use novel mechanisms that mess with hormones (like GLP-1) and supress gene expression(as does Januvia, Onglyza, etc.) may very well cause cancer--and they will do it after a much longer time period has passed than the brief two or three years over which which drug acceptance studies last. (After a drug is approved there is no significant tracking of its subsequent connection with cancers, and the database that attempts to collect this data is, as the Gastroenterology study discusses, quite limited and flawed.)
The lesson is clear. Drugs have short term benefits that may be much easier to see than the long term disturbances they make in our body that might kill us. Messing with systems we don't really understand--like the human body--is going to produce unexpected results.
So here's a bit of ovarian cancer awareness for those of you with diabetes--and you don't have to buy my novel to benefit from it, though of course I hope you will. Anyone with a family history of ovarian cancer should stay away from any drug that inhibits DPP-4. It will take 20 years for it to become clear what the impact of turning off this tumor suppressing gene really is.
But it is often hard to know if you have a family history of ovarian cancer, due to the huge burden of shame and silence that kept women of earlier generations from telling anyone that they suffered from this kind of cancer. So if you have had female relatives who died of any mysterious cancers, you should be particularly careful about what drugs you take, and it is essential that you NOT take any of the DPP-4 inhibitors that make it easier for a preexisting ovarian cancer to spread.
Metformin, fortunately, seems to have a protective effect against cancer, which is why I, a melanoma survivor, take it even when my blood sugars are in very good control.