TIME Cancer

Users of Jessica Alba’s Honest Company Sunscreen Are Posting Photos of Epic Sunburns

An investigation by NBC5 in Chicago found that the company reduced the zinc oxide levels in its sunscreen to 9.3%, when the standard is between 18 and 25%

Eco-friendly Honest Company’s sunscreen may be “naturally derived,” “unscented” and “non-toxic,” according to the company’s website, but now some users on social media are claiming that it doesn’t work.

The sunscreen, promoted by sometime-movie-star Jessica Alba’s wildly successful baby product company as “providing the best broad spectrum protection for your family,” is getting bad reviews by users online, many of whom are posting painful-looking sunburn photos they say they took after using the product.

In a statement to the Today Show, the Honest Company stressed that the sunscreen is tested by an independent third party with positive results and that “the number of complaints received on our own website about our Sunscreen Lotion constitute less than one half of one percent of all units actually sold at Honest.com. We stand behind the safety and efficacy of this product.”

A country-wide investigation by NBC5 in Chicago found that the sunscreen’s formula was changed at some point, reducing to 9.3% non-nano zinc oxide from 20%. (The majority of zinc oxide sunscreens list their active ingredients at 18 to 25%). Still, the company says it added other components to make up for the difference in zinc.

“The Honest Company has been transparent about the amount of zinc since the new formula came out in early 2015 as seen on the website and the new formula’s packaging,” the company told Today.

[Today]

Read next: You Asked: Is Sunscreen Safe —and Do I Really Need It Daily?

 

TIME society

You Can Make a Teen Cancer Patient’s Birthday Wish Come True by Doing One Simple Thing

The North Carolina 16-year-old has done many selfless acts for other kids

A 16-year-old cancer patient has a simple birthday wish: lots and lots of birthday cards.

North Carolina native Chris West has had three bouts of cancer since he was first diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011. Over the years, he has done many selfless acts, such as raising money for other kids. This year, for his birthday on Aug. 19, he’s asking strangers to send him birthday cards to cheer him up. His address is: Chris West PO Box 5244 Concord NC 28027.

Read more at People.com.

TIME celebrities

Actress Valerie Harper Has Been Released From the Hospital

AARP The Magazine's 14th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards Gala - Arrivals
Gabriel Olsen—Getty Images Valerie Harper arrives for AARP the Magazine's 14th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards Gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 2, 2015

She was found unconscious before a theater performance

Actress Valerie Harper has been released from the hospital she was taken to in York, Maine, after being found unconscious backstage before a theater performance Wednesday, Deadline.com reports.

Harper, best known for playing Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, revealed in 2013 that she has terminal brain cancer.

The 75-year-old has continued to work through her illness and is currently appearing along with Sally Struthers in the Gershwin musical Nice Work if You Can Get It. She spent Wednesday night receiving treatment and was discharged Thursday morning, Deadline.com says.

Harper has experience fighting cancer — she beat lung cancer in 2009 — and has endeavored to stay positive throughout her ordeal. “When I wake up in the morning, I don’t say, ‘Oh, I have cancer.’ I say ‘Another day. How you feeling? Good? Good,’” she told People in May.

TIME Cancer

Black Men are Twice as Likely to Die of Prostate Cancer as White Men

White man's risk of getting prostate cancer is approximately 1 in 8, whereas for black men the risk was 1 in 4

Black men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with and die from prostate cancer as white men, according to a new study.

The study, published online in BMC Medicine, looked at incidence and mortality data from Public Health England and found that in the U.K., a white man’s lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer was approximately 1 in 8, whereas for black men the risk was 1 in 4. Asian men fared the best, with a 1 in 13 risk for diagnosis.

Each group was equally likely to die from the disease once they were diagnosed, so proportionally more black men die from prostate cancer than white or Asian men.

The research does not determine why there are these differences in ethnic groups, but Alison Cooper of Prostate Cancer UK, the lead author of the study, told the Guardian, “The study also provides important absolute-risk figures to help black men better understand their risk of developing prostate cancer. These figures can be used for targeted awareness-raising and to help them make an informed decision about whether or not to have a prostate specific antigen test.”

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK.

TIME Cancer

Top Cancer Doctors Call for Lower Drug Costs

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Getty Images

“It’s time for patients and their physicians to call for change"

A group of cancer doctors are joining grassroots organizers and politicians in pleading with pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of cancer treatments.

In an editorial that ran Thursday in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, 118 cancer experts produced a series of recommendations they say would lead to a reduction in treatment expenses. The doctors say that one in three individuals will be burdened with cancer in their lifetime, but out-of-pocket drug costs could easily exceed the average household income of an insured patient.

Four doses of one particular cancer drug, according to a report published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2012, costs a staggering $120,000.

“It’s time for patients and their physicians to call for change,” said Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a Mayo Clinic hematologist in a press release.

Among the recommendations are allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, permitting cancer drug imports for individual patients, and passing laws to keep drug companies from delaying access to generic drugs.

The physician’s recommendations come on the heels of a change.org petition led by patients that calls for a reduction in drug costs, particularly for cancer patients.

TIME medicine

Doctors Say Cancer Drug Costs Are Out Of Control

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JUAN GARTNER—Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF Illustration of cancer cells in middle of dividing

Prescription drug prices rose 12% in 2014

A group of 118 oncologists put their foot down on the rising costs of cancer medication in an editorial in the Mayo Clinic medical journal, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, on Thursday. The editorial threw its support behind a grassroots patient effort to push for fairer prices from drug companies.

According to the editorial, many cancer patients are bankrupted by the high cost of care. Even for insured patients, a treatment that costs $120,000 a year might only be reduced to $30,000 in out-of-pocket expenses–more than half the average U.S. household income. The cost of drugs is so high that as many as 20% of oncology patients don’t take their medication as prescribed.

Cancer drugs were not always so expensive. Over the past 15 years, according to one study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, the cost of cancer drugs rose by 10% (or about $8,500) every year. In 2014 alone, prescription drug prices rose 12%.

“High cancer drug prices are affecting the care of patients with cancer and our health care system,” the lead author, Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, who is a hematologist at Mayo, said. The doctors designed a list of ideas that would make cancer drugs more affordable for the people they treat.

The group’s solutions included a proposal to allow individuals to import cancer drugs from other countries, where the medicine is far cheaper. In Canada, for example, oncology drugs are half the price of American ones.

Other solutions included creating a regulatory body that would propose fair pricing after a drug gains F.D.A. approval, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and preventing pharmaceutical companies from delaying access to generics.

“It’s time for patients and their physicians to call for change,” Dr. Tefferi said.

TIME Cancer

When Chemotherapy Does More Harm than Good

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Photo by Selina Boertlein c/o SBPhotography—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Chemotherapy has saved countless lives and is a mainstay of cancer care. But the latest data suggests that it can also do more harm than good for some patients

A cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event, and the news—let alone making decisions about how to manage treatment—is already challenging enough. But with a terminal diagnosis, those choices become even more fraught. At some point, say ethicists, doctors and patient advocates, enough is enough. Meaning the potential for benefit has to be weighed against the quality of what life is likely to be left. But where is that line? And how does each patient find it?

A study published in JAMA Oncology highlights just how agonizing those choices can get. Holly Prigerson, director of the Center for Research on End of Life Care at Weill Cornell Medical College and her colleagues studied the use of chemotherapy among a group of 312 terminal cancer patients. All had been given no more than six months by their doctors, and had failed at least one if not multiple rounds of chemotherapy, seeing their tumors spread to other parts of their body. About half were on chemotherapy, regardless of its ineffectiveness, at the time of the study.

Read more No More Chemo: Doctors Say It’s Not So Far-Fetched

Despite the intuitive sense that any treatment is better than none, there is not much evidence that chemotherapy is the right choice in these cases—and it may very well be the wrong one. Prigerson’s analysis showed that these patients experience a drop in their quality of life if they get chemo, and that they are therefore worse off than if they hadn’t opted for the treatment. On measures of things like whether they could continue to walk on their own and take care of themselves and keep up with their daily activities, those on chemotherapy reported marked declines compared to patients who opted not to receive more chemo.

“The results were counterintuitive to some extent,” says Prigerson. “The finding that the quality of life was impaired with receipt of the toxic chemotherapy was not surprising. The surprising part was that people who were feeling the best at the start of the therapy ended up feeling the worst. They are the ones most harmed and who had the most to lose.”

In other words, the chemo made the patients feel worse without providing any significant benefit for their cancer.

Previous studies have showed that chemotherapy in terminal patients is essentially ineffective; among those with non-small cell lung cancer, for example, third rounds of chemo were associated with a 2% response rate in tumor shrinkage, while fourth rounds showed 0% response. And whatever tumor shrinkage occurred wasn’t linked to a longer life.

Read more How Fish Oil Makes Chemo Less Effective

Groups like the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) recently advised doctors to be more judicious with their chemotherapy use in terminal patients. The group’s guidelines recommend limiting it to relatively healthy patients who can withstand the toxic treatment and potentially overcome side effects.

The decision about how long to continue care, including chemotherapy, is up to each cancer patient, but Prigerson hopes that her results help to better inform those choices in coming years. Recent studies showed, for example, that despite explanations from their doctors, many cancer patients still believe that more rounds of chemo will provide some benefit to them, and are therefore—and understandably—reluctant to stop receiving therapy. But at some point, the data shows, more treatment is not better.

That may be especially true of patients with end-stage cancer who are still relatively healthy and not feeling sick. For them, additional chemotherapy will likely make them weaker, not to mention eat up more of the precious time they have left traveling to and from infusion centers. Prigerson plans to continue the study to better understand the dynamics of how decisions about treatments are made toward the end of life, but in the meantime hopes the latest findings at least convince doctors to reconsider how they advise their terminal patients about end-stage chemotherapy.

Read next: Why Breast-Cancer Survivors Gain More Weight

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TIME Donald Trump

Rick Perry Calls Donald Trump a Cancer and Carnival Act

The schoolyard taunts continue in the GOP primary battle

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking the gloves off in his assault on Donald Trump, calling the man leading the GOP presidential polls “a cancer on conservatism” and “a barking carnival act.”

Perry, who sees a pathway to political resurrection after a disastrous 2012 campaign in his vocal criticism of the real estate magnate, used the striking language to criticize Trump at a forum organized by his super PAC, the Opportunity and Freedom PAC.

“The White House has been occupied by giants,” Perry said. “But from time to time it is sought by the small-minded – divisive figures propelled by anger, and appealing to the worst instincts in the human condition.”

“He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued,” Perry said. “Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

Perry and Trump have been locked in a public feud marked by schoolyard taunts for weeks after the former Texas governor criticized Trump for suggesting that many people who have immigrated to the U.S. illegally from Mexico are “rapists.” Trump fired back by calling Perry weak on border security, while mocking his choice in glasses and questioning his intelligence.

Lagging in the polls and on the cusp of not qualifying for next month’s GOP debate, Perry encouraged his party to “beware of false prophets” like Trump. “Do not let itching ears be tickled by messengers who appeal to anger, division and resentment,” he said. “Resentment is the poison we swallow that we hope harms another. My fellow Republicans, don’t take the poison.”

Perry said Trump is the modern-day successor to the 1840’s “Know-Nothings” who blamed immigrants for the country’s ills.

“He espouses nativism, not conservatism,” Perry said. “He is negative when conservatism is inherently optimistic. He would divide us along bloodlines, when conservatives believe our policies will work for people of all backgrounds.”

Perry also laid into Trump for suggesting that Sen. John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured and imprisoned in Vietnam.

“Donald Trump was born into privilege,” Perry said. “He received deferments to avoid service in Vietnam. He breathes the free air thousands of heroes died protecting. And he couldn’t have endured for five minutes what John McCain endured for five and a half years.”

He also criticized Trump’s response to a question at a candidate forum on Saturday in which he said he could not recall ever asking God for forgiveness.

“A man too arrogant, too self-absorbed, to seek God’s forgiveness is precisely the type of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House,” Perry added.

TIME Healthcare

Everything You Need to Know About Your Gallbladder

Plus how to deal with gallstones

Your gallbladder is like a little storage sac: It sits under your liver, collecting bile until the liquid is needed to help break down fats. After you eat fatty foods, your gallbladder contracts to pump bile into your small intestine for digestion. William Silverman, MD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Iowa governor of the American College of Gastroenterology, says that when people develop a problem in this pear-shaped organ, it’s typically one of two things: “Gallstones, which are incredibly common, or gallbladder cancer, which is exceedingly rare.” Read on to learn more about both.

What exactly are gallstones?

In most cases, gallstones are small pieces of crystallized cholesterol. (The pebble-like lumps can form when there’s an imbalance of substances in the bile.) More than 25 million Americans have them—but most never even know it. Symptoms—and possibly infection—strike when the stones get stuck in the gallbladder’s narrow outlet, or in the ducts that drain the organ.

Women are more likely to get gallstones

This is especially true as we age. (Gallstones occur in almost a quarter of women by age 60.) It’s thought that the female hormone estrogen stimulates the liver to divert cholesterol into bile.

Pregnancy ups your risk. “During pregnancy you secrete the hormone progesterone in an increased amount and that decreases the gallbladder contraction,” explains Dr. Silverman. Bile lingering in the organ may become stagnant and stones may precipitate out.

Who else is at risk?

Certain populations are predisposed to gallstones, says Dr. Silverman, including the Pima Indians in Arizona. But most cases aren’t related to genetics, he says.

Waist size, however, does play a role: A large 2013 study published in Hepatology found that the higher a woman’s BMI, the more likely she was to develop gallstones.

Diabetes also raises a person’s risk, as well as bariatric surgery and extreme weight loss. (Gallstones are one of the reasons you should seek medical supervision when you hope to lose a large amount of weight.)

But the truth is, the majority of people who get gallstones don’t have any of the major known risk factors, says Dr. Silverman. “That would suggest that there are many things that we still really don’t understand.”

How are gallstones treated?

Sometimes doctors discover gallstones by accident while looking for something else. In that case it’s generally best to leave them alone. But if you’re experiencing symptoms, your doc will likely suggest cholescystectomy—an operation to remove the gallbladder (which may be done laparoscopically). Fortunately, the organ isn’t essential; once it’s gone, bile will flow directly from your liver to your small intestine.

Are there non-surgical options?

Oral medications are sometimes prescribed to patients who can’t undergo surgery, although it may take months or years for them to work, if they work at all.

In the 1980s, doctors began experimenting with a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, which successfully pulverized gallstones using sound waves. But the treatment has since fallen out of use. “The stones would simply recur for whatever reasons caused them in the first place,” explains Dr. Silverman.

In the slides ahead you’ll find the most common signs of a gallbladder problem.

Symptom: Pain in the upper right abdomen

This is where your gallbladder is located, just beneath your liver. Sudden, extreme pain could mean that stones are causing a blockage: Your gallbladder may be contracting but unable to drain, “so pressure builds up and it hurts,” explains Dr. Silverman. But there are many other reasons you might experience pain in this area, he stresses, including muscle spasms. Call your doctor for emergency advice.

Sudden, intensifying pain in your intestines—located in the center of your abdomen—could also be a sign of gallstones.

Symptoms: Fever and chills with abdominal pain

A blockage by gallstones can cause a buildup of bile in the gallbladder, which may lead to an infection called cholecystitis. Pain, chills, and a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher are classic symptoms, and may come on after a big meal. There are a variety of ways to detect the problem, including blood tests and a scan that tracks the flow of bile. If you’re diagnosed, your MD will likely want to check you into the hospital. The treatment might involve fasting, antibiotics, and pain meds until the inflammation subsides.

Symptoms: A change in the color of your urine and stools

Bile salts are what make stools brown. If you noticed that your number-twos are pale or clay-colored, that might indicate that a gallstone is blocking the bile duct.

Your urine can also provide a clue. When there is excess bile building up in the body, it can turn your pee a darker, orange color.

Yellowing of your skin and eyes may occur as well. Read on for more about jaundice.

Symptom: Yellowing of the skin and eyes

Jaundice can by a sign of gallstones, but when it’s accompanied by abdominal pain and weight loss, it may be a symptom of gallbladder cancer. If a tumor is blocking the flow of bile, the yellow-brown fluid may build up in the body and give the skin and the whites of the eyes a yellow tint. Keep in mind, though, that jaundice is caused more often by hepatitis than cancer. In any case, it’s a good idea to see your doctor right away.

A sign you may need your gallbladder removed

Gallbladder polyps are growths on the inside of the gallbladder wall show up on ultrasounds, often when doctors are investigating unrelated problems. Most of the time, they’re nothing to worry about. But people with big polyps have a higher risk of developing gallbladder cancer, Dr. Silverman says: “I would emphasize that these are very large polyps, not tiny ones.” As a preventative measure, your doctor may recommend gallbladder removal.

What about gallbladder cancer?

People who have a history of gallstones or large polyps are more likely to develop gallbladder cancer—but even among this group, the risk is very small. The American Cancer Society estimates there are fewer than 11,000 cases diagnosed per year. Still, if you’ve dealt with gallbladder problems in the past and begin experiencing abdominal pain, bloating, itchiness, loss of fever, nausea, or unexplained weight loss, then make an appointment with your doctor.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Cancer

Here’s the Amount of Exercise That Lowers Breast Cancer Risk

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Getty Images/Brand X—Getty Images/Brand X

A new study calculates how much weekly exercise can reduce fat levels enough to lower the chances of developing breast cancer

More than 100 studies have found that physical activity can lower breast cancer risk; the most active women tend to have a 25% lower chance of developing the disease than the least active women. But how does exercise help?

Christine Friedenreich, scientific leader of cancer epidemiology and prevention research at Alberta Health Services, and her colleagues had identified body fat as a possible pathway to lowering cancer risk. In an earlier study, they found that women exercising 225 minutes a week showed dramatic drops in total body fat, abdominal fat and other adiposity measures.

MORE: New Genetic Test for Breast Cancer Would Be Cheaper and Easier

That inspired the team to examine more closely the effects of the commonly recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week on body fat measures. They compared these effects to a doubling of that amount of activity, to 300 minutes a week, to see if more exercise had a greater effect in lowering body fat.

Reporting in JAMA Oncology, Friedenreich found that indeed, among 384 non-active women past menopause, some of whom were normal weight and others who were overweight or obese, those randomly assigned to exercise for 300 minutes a week over the year-long study lost more body fat than those who were active for 150 minutes each week. The women didn’t change their diet or any other aspect of their lives; they just exercised their allotted amount, by walking, running, cycling or using an elliptical machine or treadmill.

MORE: Many Breast Cancer Patients Get Unnecessary Radiation

Overall, the women exercising 300 minutes weekly lost 1 kg—about 2.2 pounds—or 1% more body fat than those in the 150 minute group. The former also lost more abdominal fat and had a bigger drop in their waist to hip ratio. They did not, however, lose significantly more weight.

That last finding is important because many physical activity and cancer studies focus on weight as an outcome and correlate pounds lost with cancer risk. But Friedenreich wanted to specifically tease apart what physiologic effects exercise has on the body, specifically on fat, since fat levels have been linked to a higher risk of a number of cancers, including breast cancer.

MORE: Here’s How Well Your Genes Can Predict Your Breast Cancer Risk

While the women who exercised more saw the biggest drops in their body fat measures, those who followed the recommended amount of activity—150 minutes each week—also melted away some of their fat. But the finding suggests that more is better, and for preventing cancer, it may take more than the recommended amount of exercise to produce a benefit.

“The exercise guidelines were developed with [heart disease] outcomes in mind,” says Friedenreich. “So at that level, they can have an effect on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and waist circumference. But for cancer prevention, we may need to exercise at higher volumes. So yes, doing 150 minutes of activity a week is good, but if you can do more, then from a cancer prevention perspective, 300 minutes is better.”

The fact that exercise can lead to a drop in body fat is especially important for cancer of the breast, she says, since fatty tissue is the primary source of hormones that can drive breast cancer after menopause. Fat also plays a role in the body’s immune and inflammatory responses, both of which are also involved in cancer. “I’m sure that doctors are advising their patients to be more physically active to prevent heart disease or diabetes,” says Friedenreich. “So we’d like to add cancer to that list of chronic diseases that exercise can potentially prevent or help to lower the risk.”

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