Archive for breast cancer
Breast Cancer Risk Associated with Lignans Differs by CYP17 Genotype
Ditto. All of us here, right now, are observed the dawn of the future of medicine. Granted, it may be several generations before mainstream medicine actually begins to read their own journals and pick up on this stuff. We are seeing the matching of lifestyle factors to the genes of a patient. In the near future, a simple genetic test may be able to spell out what YOU need to do to drastically lower or eliminate your risk of most chronic diseases. And this knowledge is not far off at all…probably no more than a few years at most.
Nutrition.org — Abstracts: McCann et al. 132 (10): 3036
Adolescent diet and risk of breast cancer
While it should come as no surprise that the diets we eat in our teenage years will affect our risk of cancer down the line, at some point our national organizations (AHA, American Cancer Society, American Dietetic Association) need to wake up and smell the coffee. As a nation, we do a sickeningly poor job at prevention given the sheer volume of preventative measures. Now, at a time when the bar is raised further (i.e. educating our teens…) our national organizations maintain the status quo.
Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 and predisposition to prostate cancer
Too many people do not make the association with a family member with either breast cancer or prostate cancer if they are of the opposite sex. However, there are numerous pathways by which these can be related. I was already aware that the way our bodies breakdown estrogen (identified in research as the 2/16 hydroxylation ratio) is a risk factor for both breast, endometrial and prostate cancer.
All women want to learn how to prevent breast cancer. For far too many, this equates to mammography, since this helps with early detection. Is this good enough?
Before we go any further, I need to make one thing very, very, very clear. Mammography is NOT prevention. I cannot tell you how many times I have been given this answer while volunteering at the Komen 3-day when I ask walkers what they are doing to prevent breast cancer. If women participating in a massive event like the 3-day do not understand the term prevention, we can assume the rest of the country has some learning to do as well.
All screening procedures do that: they screen for cancer or precancerous lesions. It is an attempt to find things before they get to the later, more difficult to treat stages. This sounds like a great idea. Or, at least it would, were it not for 2 very major problems.
First, as a society, we have a tendency to forgo true prevention in lieu of early detection. The walkers at the 3-day I have come across are evidence of this. An event this large, with this much exposure, and no one seems to understand that you really can prevent breast cancer. This is, of course, despite hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands and thousands) of research studies suggesting otherwise. On the flip side, every 3-day walker knows that it takes mammography to find that tumor early.
Second, what if there are significant harms in early detection? We all bask in the false knowledge that there is no such thing as bad screening and early detection of everything. This is certainly not the first time I’ve talked about the problems associated with overdiagnosis of breast cancers due to mammography (one previous blog post can be read here).
This particular study takes another hard look at what mammography is costing our society. Here are a few of the findings:
- The introduction of screening mammography in the US doubled the number of cases of early-stage breast cancer that are detected each year.
- However, the rate at which women present with late-stage cancer has decreased by only 8%.
- Overall, out of 100,000 women, mammography led to 122 women being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Only 8 of these will progress to advanced cancer (Tweet this).
With some number crunching, the authors estimated that, in the past 30 years, 1.3 MILLION women were diagnosed with breast cancer that would not have progressed. In 2008 only, this number was 70,000 women (31% of all breast cancers diagnosed).
And we all know what happens to any women who is diagnosed with breast cancer: additional testing, biopsies and potential subsequent treatment with surgery, radiation, chemo or some combination thereof.
Of course, one side of the argument would be that we just don’t know which of these 8/100,000 women are going to progress to advanced cancers. This is certainly valid. But how much more money would we be able to throw at research to answer this question if we weren’t wasting billions more on treatments that aren’t needed?
Caloric Restriction and Incidence of Breast Cancer
Knowing that caloric restriction without nutrient restriction is the only “anti-aging” approach that consistently extends life span in mammals, the results of this study should not surprise anyone. However, I will not exactly advocate anorexia followed by pregnancy to lower your risk of breast cancer (which is what this study evaluated), but a whopping 76% reduction is breast cancer risk is incredible. Most likely the lowered risk is tied in with insulin signaling somewhere.
JAMA — Abstracts: Michels and Ekbom 291 (10): 1226 -
The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer
This is a very interesting concept brought to my attention by Dr. Harry Eidner’s newsletter produced for DSD International. Their seems to be some links between iodine deficiency and breast cancer. The additional of treatment for hypothyroidism seems to strengthen to risk of breast cancer. Given the high level of prescriptions for hypothyroidism (most notably Synthroid) this is a very real concern.
Dietary phytoestrogens and breast cancer risk
These researchers found no protective effect of dietary phytoestrogens (lignans and isoflavones) on breast cancer. However, if I might recall the research that suggested no protective effect of fiber on colon cancer risk. In both these cases, I could mutate the popular saying into “It’s the flora, stupid!!”
In neither of these studies were the participants stratified for GI flora. In both situations, the presence of a healthy bacterial flora that converts the protective compound (soluble dietary fiber into short chain fatty acids like butyrate, isoflavones and lignans into equols and enterolactones, respectively) into its active form may be the mechanism by which these compounds protect the body.
Just another example of the complex and important interactions between different aspects of human (and, in this case bacterial…) physiology that are many times missed by researchers.
AJCN — Abstracts: Keinan-Boker et al. 79 (2): 282 -
CLA Blocks Estrogen Signaling in Human Breast Cancer Cells
We have been seeing some mixed results on whether CLA has the same beneficial effects in the human body as we see in the lab. Personally, I do believe that CLA will be shown to be a safe and effective natural therapeutic agent for insulin sensitizing as well as preventing certain types of cancer.
Nutrition.org — Abstracts: Tanmahasamut et al. 134 (3): 674 -
Antibiotic Use in Relation to the Risk of Breast Cancer
While the author does not suggest this as a possible mechanism, I would offer that destruction of normal flora by antibiotics is the key. Normal flora is known to convert isoflavones in soy and flax into compounds like equol and enterolactone that then confer lowered risk of estrogen dependent cancers. These bacteria are also a source of B12. They also have detoxification systems that can break down certain toxins before the toxins get a chance to be absorbed. Maybe one day we will begin to look beyond antibiotic resistance and see that the true negative effect of antibiotic overuse is destruction of normal flora.
JAMA — Abstracts: Velicer et al. 291 (7): 827 -