Chemo drugs cause cancer in healthcare workers

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Chemo drugs cause cancer in healthcare workers

Postby NHE » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:27 pm

Here's an interesting article. It seems that many chemotherapy drugs are causing cancer and killing the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses and pharmacists, that handle them. The article discusses drugs, such as methotrexate, azathioprine, mitoxantrone and cyclophosphamide, which are often prescribed for MS patients.


Lifesaving drugs may be killing health workers
Nurses, pharmacists and others who handle chemo drugs have been getting sick. Despite multiple studies that indicate the drugs actually may cause cancers, the federal government doesn't require safeguards on the job.

Here are a few highlights from the article...

But the ranks of those who have became symbols for increased safety include pharmacists Bruce Harrison, of St. Louis, and Karen Lewis, of Baltimore; veterinarian Brett Cordes, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and nurse Sally Giles, of Vancouver, B.C.

Like Crump, all of them eventually got cancer, or in Lewis' case, a precancerous condition. Cordes was diagnosed four years ago at age 35. Giles was in her 40s, and Lewis and Harrison were in their 50s when diagnosed. All but Lewis and Cordes are now dead.

Early exposure

On an afternoon in May of 2009, Crump sat in a coffee shop near her Redmond home and perused a list of chemo drugs now deemed hazardous for health-care workers to handle. She runs her fingers down the page. It's a long list: cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, fluorouracil, methotrexate. And the list went on.

"Yeah, I worked with all of them," she said. Crump started at Swedish Medical Center in the early 1980s, before pharmacists used special protective "hoods" over countertops to contain spray and chemo contamination. They didn't use gowns or gloves.

They had no reason to think they should. Occasionally, drugs would spill on the countertops.

"We would wipe it off and throw (the towels) in the garbage," she said.

Most of the chemo came in vials and would be transferred into plastic IV bags. Sometimes there would be spray when they punctured the vials. Other drugs came in ampuls, glass vessels sized for a single infusion. "I'd file the neck of it, then snap real fast," she said. "A lot of times, I got cuts."

"But the feeling at the time was — whatever little vapors or splash — it was such a low exposure through the skin, it was insignificant."

That was a common attitude then — and now, said Dr. Melissa McDiarmid, director of occupational health at University of Maryland.

"So many people think: It's just a 'little bit.' They don't understand it's a little bit of something designed to be toxic and to be highly absorbed biologically."

Still, Crump wondered whether those early, ongoing exposures had contributed to the cancers she and her peers have gotten. She first recalled getting alarmed after a pharmacy tech — someone with whom she mixed a lot of chemo — died at age 29 of a brain tumor. Around the same time, several colleagues experienced miscarriages.

Since that time, a number of studies have shown an association between exposure to chemo agents and adverse reproductive effects including miscarriage, birth defects and low birth weights.

A 2005 survey of 7,500 nurses, reported in the journal Oncology Nursing Society, found significant associations with infertility and miscarriage in nurses who handled chemo before the age of 25.

Nurses, who occasionally spill the chemo drugs on their clothing or splash it on their skin, had a greater chance of premature labor if they administered nine or more doses of chemo per day. The survey also found that nurses who didn't use gloves as often while preparing chemo were more likely to have children with learning disabilities.

"Now all these people about my age are getting cancer — cervical, ovarian, prostate, endometrial, brain," Crump said. "All of us, at one time or another, worked with chemo — we wondered, well, is there a connection?"

In addition, chemo drugs have found wider application in the treatment of arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other diseases. For example, methotrexate is used to treat autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, and azathioprine and mitoxantrone are used to treat multiple sclerosis.




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Postby Lyon » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:37 pm

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Last edited by Lyon on Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Thomas » Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:14 pm

Chemo is poison, by design. It's descended from deadly mustard gas first used against soldiers in World War I.


8O
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copaxone ...insect poison

Postby hwebb » Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:08 pm

even my relatively "safe" copaxone seems to function as an insect poison. I go to the beach in summer, and sit in a sun-shade tent. March flys (horse flys) come in and bite me....then drop dead. At the end of the day, I shake the sun-tent out and there's a bunch of dead March flys.
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Re: Chemo drugs cause cancer in healthcare workers

Postby NHE » Mon Jul 12, 2010 10:39 pm

Thomas wrote:
Chemo is poison, by design. It's descended from deadly mustard gas first used against soldiers in World War I.


8O


I found that statement interesting as well, so I looked up some of the chemical structures of the different drugs the article discussed.

Mustard gas has the chemical structure of...

    Cl-CH2-CH2-S-CH2-CH2-Cl

A related chemical which also kills off white blood cells (an effect useful for combating lymphomas and leukemias) is nitrogen mustard. This molecule has essentially the same structure as mustard gas, but has a nitrogen substituted in for the sulfur. The structure is...

    Cl-CH2-CH2-N-CH2-CH2-Cl

Of all the drugs mentioned in the article, cyclophosphamide is most closely related structurally.

    Image

So the article is correct, at least one of the drugs mentioned was derived from mustard gas.

Anyways, the article got me thinking. Why is it that some neurologists are ok with prescribing these drugs for MS when they are killing the healthcare workers who handle them and they are so dead set against a simple venoplasty procedure of the jugular veins for CCSVI? If a doctor ever offered me these drugs, I would be tempted to say "you first" and whip out a copy of this article.


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Re: Chemo drugs cause cancer in healthcare workers

Postby NHE » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:38 pm

Here's a follow-up article to the original one from last July. It seems that some legislaters are taking action.

Bills propose tougher safety rules for handling chemo in the workplace

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/l ... mo16m.html

I still wonder, if the stuff is killing health care workers, what's it doing to the people who get it directly in their veins?


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