The Takeaway: Rooney Retires from 60 Minutes; Body’s ‘Microenvironment’ Can Halt or Encourage Cancer Cells

Rooney’s Last Address: Andy Rooney, the notorious curmudgeon who has been working in television for more than six decades, delivered his final weekly broadcast on CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ yesterday night. Rooney, 92, has been with the news show for the past 33 years and delivered 1,097 commentaries-and he can’t imagine his life having gone any other way. “If I had my life to live over again, I’d be on television,” Rooney said in an interview with ’60 Minutes’ that aired just prior to his final address.

“I’d get on “60 Minutes” if I could and I’d do a piece every week, of my own. I’d write it and say it. And that’s what I’d like to do best. And that’s what I do.” 

There Goes The Neighborhood: Doctors have been saying for years that exercising and keeping in shape plays a role in warding off cancer, while cancer survivors who maintain a healthy weight and fitness routine are less likely to relapse. But recently, scientists have been coming closer to understanding why this is the case.

While exercise may not change the inner workings of a tumor cell, physical activity may change the cell’s neighborhood – the surrounding tissue, blood vessels and immune cells – known as the “microenvironment,” says Patricia Ganz, a breast cancer specialist at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

A healthy microenvironment makes it difficult for cancer cells to thrive. And, in particular, exercise helps prevent chronic inflammation-inflammation is the microenvironment equivalent of a bad neighborhood. You take a few bad cells and let them run amok of an inflamed neighborhood, and they’re going to survive and spread. Don’t want your body to become the kind of place where cancer cells want to put down roots? While exercise helps keep inflammation at bay, smoking, heavy drinking, being obese and eating processed foods encourage it.

Last week, rocker and cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge, 50, made headlines when she blamed her ‘toxic’ Western lifestyle and processed foods for causing her breast cancer. Doctors are quick to pinpoint that genetics, outer environment and other things all contribute to cancer development as well, and people with cancer shouldn’t start thinking they caused the disease. But “the microenvironment, in some cases, may make the difference between a tiny little cancer that doesn’t hurt you, and one that becomes a major danger to your life,” cancer biologist Lynn Matrisian says.

Monday Quick Hits: Long-term mortgage rates in the U.S. are below 1950s levels … Shortages lead to critical drug rationing … A few dents in popular cellulite theories … 700 people were arrested in Occupy Wall Street protests this weekend … Americans say they want healthy food options, but burgers are what sell … Regretful retirement savers who converted to a Roth IRA in 2010 still have a few weeks to undo their decision … And the 10 best rock-and-roll movies ever made.

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(Photo: CBS News