Archive for the ‘BREAST CANCER’ Category

It is truly astonishing, and most heartening. Breast cancer incidence continues to decline. Some 30,000 fewer women developed breast cancer in the US in 2003 and 2004 – the lowest rate since 1987 and something that few doubt is directly aligned to the decline in HRT use since that time. Of note, estrogen receptor postive tumours – those most likely to be affected by HRT use – have declined by a massive 14.7 percent. 

 HRT is much in the news. Two weeks ago a flurry of articles in the media announced that it appeared to be safe afterall for younger women in the ten years after menopause. It wasn’t true of course.    (more…)


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It was wonderful to hear just before Christmas 2006 that breast cancer rates have dropped significantly in post-menopausal women, and that this appears to be linked to the dramatic drop in the use of HRT from 2002. New evidence reveals that where researchers had expected to see around 200,000 new cases of breast cancer, there were in fact 14,000 fewer cases in the US in 2003, a 7 percent drop in incidence. (more…)

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Antibiotics and breast cancer

A recently published study has found a direct correlation between the increasing use of antibiotics and the risk of breast cancer. More than 10,000 women participated in a 17 year study which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that those who took antibiotics twenty-five times or more had double the risk of breast cancer to those who had not used antibiotics. It found the highest risk of cancer in the group had the highest consumption of antibiotics.

The study’s authors speculate that the detrimental effect antibiotics have on the beneficial bacteria that normally live in the human gut could be the explanation. There are normally about 500 gut bacteria, weighing one kilogram in total, in the human gut, and they play an important role in metabolising drugs, and breaking down hormones (including oestrogen) and carcinogens that pass through the gut.

In a healthy gut, the delicate balance of ‘friendly’ bacteria helps keep potentially harmful bacteria in check and prevents illness. But broad spectrum antibiotics destroy all bacteria in the gut, including ‘friendly’ bacteria, and this, in turn, reduces the synthesis of nutrients that normally occurs in a healthy gut.

While further research is planned to investigate the link, it is prudent to consume foods which contain friendly bacteria such as yoghurts with Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus, since these bacteria provide protection from salmonella, yeast infections and the bacteria responsible for many urinary tract infections. A proliferation of friendly bacteria also reduces the amount of oestrogen that is re-circulated back into the bloodstream from the gut.

After a course of antibiotics, probiotic supplements of Lactobacillus acidophilus, or Bifidobacterium infantis will help to re-establish the equilibrium of the gut.

A high fibre, balanced diet is another way of ensuring healthy gut bacteria.

JAMA. 2004;291:827-835.  http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/291/7/827

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 24 2004 – Women with breast cancer are more than 5 times as likely as their healthy peers to have measurable serum levels of DDT and hexachlorobenzene (HCB), according to a report published in the May issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Previous studies have yielded conflicting results regarding a link between exposure to organochlorine pesticides and breast cancer, lead author Dr. C. Charlier and colleagues, from Sart Tilman University Hospital in Liege, Belgium, note. Therefore, further investigations are justified, they add.In the new study, serum levels of total DDT and HCB were measured in 159 women with breast cancer and in 250 presumably healthy control subjects. The average patient age in both groups was approximately 54 years.

The researchers found that the mean serum levels of both pesticides were significantly higher in breast cancer patients than in controls. Compared with control subjects, breast cancer patients were 5.64- and 9.14-times more likely to have measurable levels of DDT and HCB, respectively.Among women with breast cancer, DDT and HCB levels were not influenced by estrogen receptor status, the investigators point out.

“These results add to the growing evidence that certain persistent pollutants may occur in higher concentrations in blood samples from breast cancer patients than controls,” the researchers state. Still, “these data warrant further analysis, and consideration of possible exposure routes or dietary intake,” they add.

Occup Environ Med 2003;60:348-351

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There are breast cancer risks for younger women who use birth control pills for many years. A new Mayo Clinic meta-analysis of 39 case-controlled studies into oral contraceptives (OCs) and breast cancer risk has found that women who have used OC’s have a small but significant increased risk for breast cancer when compared to women who have never used them. It also found that women who have used OC’s before their first full-term pregnancy have a greater risk, and that risk is even stronger if OCs are used for 4 or more years before pregnancy. www.mayoclinicproceedings  October 2006; 81(10):1290-1302

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(Summarised from NZ Green Party MP Sue Kedgely’s Environmental Health Newsletter) http://www.greens.org.nz/
There are concerns about the possible adverse effects of cumulative exposure to radiation from mammograms, and the need for research into alternative, non radiation techniques for diagnosing breast cancer. Radiation exposure is a known cause of breast cancer, and international research indicates that cumulative exposure to mammograms is a risk factor. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, for women beginning breast screening at age 40, there would be 100-200 radiation induced deaths from breast cancer for every million women.

There are a significant rate of false positives and negatives with mammograms, and there is a need for research into alternative screening methods. Mammography detects about 85 per cent of breast cancers for women 50-60 years, which means it has a 15 per cent failure rate, and only about 60 per cent of breast cancer in women aged 40-49. A significant number of biopsies following suspicious mammograms are found to be benign.

The benefits of screening among younger age groups have been oversold, andt many women are under the illusion that if they were screened, all breast cancer would be detected and at an early stage, ensuring that they would not die from the disease. Many people oppose extending breast screening to women under 50 on the grounds that the harms of doing so would outweigh the benefits.

Fortunately, there are some promising non-radiation alternatives emerging to mammograms such as thermography or ultrasound In New Zealand scientist Dr Ray Simpkin has developed a technique to detect breast cancer with the use of a radar-imaging system. With this technology, tumours can be detected much earlier and when they are much smaller than current techniques, such as mammograms and ultrasounds.

Malignant tissue interacts more strongly with a radar wave than benign tissue, and therefore shows up clearly on a three-dimensional radar image. Previous research into this technology has encountered difficulty because skin usually weakens radar waves. Dr Simpkin, however, has developed a method that overcomes this. Furthermore, radar waves are longer than x-rays, and are apparently not damaging to the patient. This technique does not require physical contact with the breast, which some women undergoing mammography find uncomfortable.

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Evidence is growing that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) namely dioxins, PCBs, DDT, 24-D, DES, delivered to us via fuel emissions, incineration, household products, pesticides, cosmetics, glues, chemical sunscreens, plastic food containers and so on, are linked to endometriosis, breast and uterine cancers, heart disease, migraine, severe PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease, fibroids and infertility. (more…)

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