Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
With the holiday party season coming up, it's worth thinking about what's in your glass when you're celebrating. A glass of wine can bring out the flavor of many foods, and it can be hard to resist a champagne toast at midnight on New Year's Eve. But alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer, especially in teen and tween girls whose breasts are developing (another reason to encourage the teenage girls in our lives to avoid alcohol). And other research has shown that having a few drinks a week may increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence — breast cancer coming back. The more you drink, the bigger the increase in risk.
At least 4% of breast cancers in women in developed countries are likely due to drinking alcohol. In countries where more women drink alcohol (and drink more when they do), such as France, it's likely that more breast cancers can be linked to alcohol. In France it's estimated that at least 9% of breast cancers are linked to drinking alcohol.
How much does alcohol increase breast cancer risk? There's a 10% increase in risk for each 10 grams of alcohol per day (a glass of wine is about 11 grams). So as little as 1 drink per day can increase risk slightly. Women who have 3 to 4 drinks per day have nearly a 50% increase in breast cancer risk. It's not clear if this risk goes back down if you limit how much you drink or quit drinking entirely.
Alcohol may increase risk the risk of the cancer coming back (recurrence). Just 3 or 4 drinks per week after a breast cancer diagnosis can increase the risk of recurrence. This link seems to be strongest in postmenopausal and overweight women.
Alcohol's effects may vary by type of breast cancer. Drinking alcohol seems to affect the risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers more than the risk of hormone-receptor-negative breast cancers. Estrogen can cause hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer to grow, and alcohol can increase estrogen levels in a woman's body. This estrogen increase may be why there's a link between drinking alcohol and breast cancer.
Teens and tweens need to stay dry. Girls who drink often and heavily have a much greater risk of developing benign breast disease in their 20s (benign breast disease is a risk factor for breast cancer).
Make your toasts healthy. If you want to limit or avoid alcohol, there are many delicious choices. Mocktails — drinks that use all the ingredients of cocktails except for the alcohol — are available just about everywhere. Virgin Marys offer the healthy tomato juice of Bloody Marys without the vodka. Cosmo-Nots keep the healthy cranberry juice without the booze. Many online recipe sites have tips for making non-alcoholic drinks. The makers of non-alcoholic beer, wine, and champagne have improved the taste of their products and these, too, are widely available.
Here are some ways to make your holiday beverages festive:
- Freeze your favorite juice in ice tray and use as ice cubes. This looks especially nice in a pint glass of club soda or sparkling water.
- Get creative and make a dramatic mocktail using edible flowers preserved in syrup — you can eat the flower afterward.
- Put fresh organic raspberries or strawberries in the bottom of a champagne flute and top with sparkling water or ginger ale.
- Put chunks of fresh fruit on a drink stirrer and put into a glass of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage.
- Use a candy cane or other stick candy as a swizzle stick.
- Rim your glass with colored sugar for sparkling pizzazz.
Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer.
Today, there are many risk factors that have contributed to more women being diagnosed with breast cancer. Most breast cancers AREN'T inherited -- only about 5% to 10% are. This means there are many things you can do to lower your risk of being diagnosed.
If you have no history of the disease, there are steps you can take to keep your risk as low as it can be. If you've been diagnosed, there are things you can do beyond any treatments you're receiving to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back or developing a new cancer. And if you are living with advanced-stage breast cancer, you want to do everything you can to slow the cancer's growth.
Researchers are working to learn how factors in the environments outside and inside your body may work separately and together to affect your health and your risk of developing breast cancer. The environment inside your body includes genetics (the genes you got from your mother and father), hormone levels, and illnesses. The environment outside your body includes air, water, food, and everything else you come into contact with each day. Parts of this external environment enter your internal environment every day -- the food you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe, and the vitamins or medicines you take are just a few.
Some of these factors -- your sex, your age, and your genetics, for example -- can't be changed. But many other factors -- smoking cigarettes, exercising, and eating nutritious food -- can be changed or modified. By making the healthiest choices possible, you can make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.
These recommendations are based on current knowledge and research. Some of them may seem hard -- losing weight or quitting smoking, for example -- but making these changes can help lower your risk of breast cancer. Remember, no one is perfect. Set your goals and try to do the best you can every day.
Breastcancer.org Founder and President Marisa Weiss, M.D. says, "Some steps yield instant payoff -- like stopping hormone replacement therapy or catching up on lost sleep. Other steps require a lot of work over time before payday -- like maintaining a healthy weight. Our aim is to give you steps that are very practical and reasonable. Set your goals and strive to do the best you can on an everyday basis!"
In this section, you can learn more about what risk means and how that risk can change:
- Your Risk of Breast Cancer
- Absolute vs. Relative Risk: What Does Percentage Risk Really Mean?
- Examples of Risk Increasing and Decreasing
The medical experts for Lower Your Risk are:
- Marisa Weiss, M.D., director of breast radiation oncology and director of breast health outreach, Lankenau Hospital, Jefferson Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Weiss is president and founder of Breastcancer.org.
- Joan Ruderman, Ph.D., Nelson Professor of cell biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA and member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Weiss and Dr. Ruderman are members of the Breastcancer.org Professional Advisory Board, including more than 70 medical experts in breast cancer-related fields.
Much research has shown that being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast and other cancers. Other research has found that being overweight or obese can affect the type of breast cancer a woman may get as well as affect prognosis after breast cancer is diagnosed.
A study found that being overweight or obese at diagnosis didn't affect the survival of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
Doctors use body mass index (BMI) to determine if a person is underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese. BMI takes both height and weight into account:
- BMI lower than 18.5 is considered underweight.
- BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy weight.
- BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
- BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
The researchers reviewed the records of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer who had participated in one of a number of other clinical trials.
- 197 women had a BMI under 25 (healthy weight).
- 187 women had a BMI between 25 and 30 (overweight).
- 105 women had a BMI over 30 (obese).
There were no differences in either the progression-free survival or overall survival of the women in each BMI group. Progression-free survival is the length of time a woman lives without the cancer growing. Overall survival is the length of time a woman lives whether or not the cancer grows.
Progression-free survival was:
- 10.7 months for the healthy weight group
- 13.1 months for the overweight group
- 12.2 months for the obese group
Overall survival was:
- 32 months for the healthy weight group
- 32.9 months for the overweight group
- 30.7 months for the obese group
(The overall survival numbers aren't in the story at the left; Breastcancer.org read the abstract to get them.)
If you were overweight when you were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, this study should be reassuring. Still, working toward a healthy weight might be a good idea as you try to be as healthy as you can while being treated for metastatic breast cancer. Losing weight can be hard work for healthy people and may be much harder for someone being treated for metastatic breast cancer.
If your BMI is high, you might want to ask your doctor about a safe and sensible plan for managing your weight during treatment. The National Institutes of Health offers anonline BMI calculator that allows you to calculate your BMI. For more information on creating a healthy diet plan that includes exercise, visit the pages on Healthy Eating During Treatment in the Breastcancer.org Nutrition section.
Breast cancer symptoms vary widely — from lumps to swelling to skin changes — and many breast cancers have no obvious symptoms at all. Symptoms that are similar to those of breast cancer may be the result of non-cancerous conditions like infection or a cyst.
Breast self-exam should be part of your monthly health care routine, and you should visit your doctor if you experience breast changes. If you're over 40 or at a high risk for the disease, you should also have an annual mammogram and physical exam by a doctor. The earlier breast cancer is found and diagnosed, the better your chances of beating it.
The actual process of diagnosis can take weeks and involve many different kinds of tests. Waiting for results can feel like a lifetime. The uncertainty stinks. But once you understand your own unique "big picture," you can make better decisions. You and your doctors can formulate a treatment plan tailored just for you.
In the following pages of the Symptoms and Diagnosis section, you can learn about:
- Understanding Breast Cancer
- How breast cancer happens, how it progresses, the stages, and a look at risk factors.
- Screening and Testing
- The tests used for screening, diagnosis, and monitoring, including mammograms, ultrasound, MRI, CAT scans, PET scans, and more.
- Types of Breast Cancer
- The different types of breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), inflammatory breast cancer, male breast cancer, recurrent breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, and more.
- Your Diagnosis
- The characteristics of the cancer -- featured on your pathology report -- that might affect your treatment plan, including size, stage, lymph node status, hormone receptor status, and more.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
The scientific community is continually studying the role of diet in the development of cancer. Many results are preliminary and more is being learned every day. Research is discovering that intake of fruits, vegetables, and cereal grains may interfere with the process of developing cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, lung, prostate, and rectum. In addition to reducing the risk of developing cancer, the risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases might also be prevented by eating more fruits and vegetables. There is also evidence that total fat intake of greater than 30 percent of total calories can increase the risk of developing some cancers. This is especially true when total fat intake includes saturated fat and possibly polyunsaturated fat. The Food Guide Pyramid, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and 5 A Day for Better Health Campaign are good sources for nutritional information.
What foods help to prevent cancer?
Although research studies are inconclusive at this time, preliminary evidence suggests that some components of food may play a role in decreasing the risk of developing cancer, including phytochemicals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
What are phytochemicals (or phytonutrients)?
Phytochemicals are chemicals found in plants that protect plants against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Eating large amounts of brightly colored fruits and vegetables (yellow, orange, red, green, white, blue, purple), whole grains/cereals, and beans containing phytochemicals may decrease the risk of developing certain cancers as well as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. The action of phytochemicals varies by color and type of the food. They may act as antioxidants or nutrient protectors, or prevent carcinogens (cancer causing agents) from forming.
What are specific sources of phytochemicals?
The list below is a partial list of phytochemicals found in foods:
- Allicin is found in onions and garlic. Allicin blocks or eliminates certain toxins from bacteria and viruses.
- Anthocyanins are found in red and blue fruits (such as raspberries and blueberries) and vegetables. They help to slow the aging process, protect against heart disease and tumors, prevent blood clots, and fight inflammation and allergies.
- Biflavonoids are found in citrus fruits.
- Carotenoids are found in dark yellow, orange, and deep green fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, parsley, oranges, pink grapefruit, and spinach.
- Flavonoids are found in fruits, vegetables, wine, green tea, onions, apples, kale, and beans.
- Indoles are found in broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and turnips (also known as “cruciferous” vegetables). They contain sulfur and activate agents that destroy cancer-causing chemicals.
- Isoflavones are found in soybeans and soybean products.
- Lignins are found in flaxseed and whole grain products.
- Lutein is found in leafy green vegetables. It may prevent macular degeneration and cataracts as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
- Lycopene is found primarily in tomato products. When cooked, it appears to reduce the risk for cancer and heart attacks.
- Phenolics are found in citrus fruits, fruit juices, cereals, legumes, and oilseeds. It is thought to be extremely powerful, and is studied for a variety of health benefits including slowing the aging process, protecting against heart disease and tumors, and fighting inflammation, allergies, and blood clots.
Phytochemicals cannot be found in supplements and are only present in food. Foods high in phytochemicals include the following:
- green tea
- Brussels sprouts
- bok choy
- red wine
There is no recommended dietary allowance for phytochemicals. Eat a variety of foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, to ensure you are getting adequate amounts in your diet.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that inhibit the oxidation process and act as protective agents. They protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals (by-products of the body’s normal chemical processes). Free radicals attack healthy cells, which changes their DNA, allowing tumors to grow. Research is underway to investigate the role of antioxidants in decreasing the risk of developing cancer.
- vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), vitamin C may protect against cancer of the oral cavity, stomach, and esophagus and may also reduce the risk of developing cancers of the rectum, pancreas, and cervix. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C may provide protection against breast and lung cancer.
According to the American Dietetic Association and USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the following foods are good sources of vitamin C:
§ one medium orange - 69 mg
§ 1 cup orange juice - 124 mg
§ 1 medium raw green pepper - 106 mg
§ 1 cup raw strawberries - 81 mg
§ 1 cup cubed papaya - 86 mg
§ 1 medium raw red pepper - 226 mg
§ 1/2 cup cooked broccoli - 58 mg
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C has recently been increased to 75 milligrams per day for women and 90 milligrams per day for men. Safe upper limit = 2.000mg. If on high doses of chemo or nephrotoxins, upper limit = 500mg.
- beta carotene
Beta carotene, also known as provitamin A, may help decrease the risk of developing cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, this nutrient may prevent certain cancers by enhancing the white blood cells in your immune system. White blood cells work to block cell-damaging free radicals.
Good sources of beta carotene are dark green leafy and yellow-orange fruits and vegetables. In the body, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A. Eating foods rich in beta carotene is recommended to possibly decrease the risk of developing stomach, lung, prostate, breast, and head and neck cancer. However, more research is needed before a definite recommendation on beta carotene consumption can be made. Overdosing on beta carotene is not recommended. Large doses can cause the skin to turn a yellow-orange color, a condition called carotenosis. High intakes of beta carotene in supplement form may actually cause lung cancer in people at risk, such as smokers, and it is not recommended.
While there is a recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A (safe upper limit = 25,000IU or 15mg), there is not one for beta carotene. Examples of some foods high in beta carotene include the following:
- sweet potatoes
- vitamin E
Vitamin E is essential for our bodies to work properly. Vitamin E helps to build normal and red blood cells, as well as working as an antioxidant. Research is finding evidence that vitamin E may protect against prostate and colorectal cancer. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E is 15 milligrams per day. The adult upper limit for vitamin E is 1,000 milligrams per day. Good sources of vitamin E (and the amount each serving contains) include the following:
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil - 6.9 mg
- 1 ounce sunflower seeds - 14 mg
- 1 ounce almonds - 7.4 mg
- 1 ounce hazelnuts - 4.3 mg
- 1 ounce peanuts - 2.1 mg
- 3/4 cup bran cereal - 5.1 mg
- 1 slice whole wheat bread - .23 mg
- 1 ounce wheat germ - 5.1 mg
Since some sources of vitamin E are high in fat. A synthetic form of a vitamin E is available as a supplement. Vitamin E supplementation is probably not needed for most individuals because vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in our bodies. Very high doses of vitamin E can also interfere with the way other fat-soluble vitamins work. Also, large doses of vitamin E from supplements are not recommended for people taking blood thinners and some other medications, as the vitamin can interfere with the action of the medication. To make sure you are meeting your needs, eat a varied diet that includes whole-wheat breads and cereals.
There is no recommended dietary allowance for antioxidants. Eat a variety of foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, to ensure you are getting adequate amounts in your diet.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Researchers are studying the effects omega-3 fatty acids have on delaying or reducing tumor development in breast and prostate cancer. Since our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, we must get them from food or supplements. The omega-3 fatty acids include:
- alpha-linolenic acid
- eicosapentaenoic acid
- docosahexaenoic acid
Sources and recommended servings of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include:
- seafood, especially cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, halibut, stripped bass, tuna, and lake trout (aim for three to four servings of these fish every week)
- flaxseed oil and beans such as kidney, great northern, navy, and soybeans
The American Cancer Society recommends avoiding omega-3 fatty acid supplements in the following situations:
- if you take anticoagulant medications or aspirin, as omega-3 fatty acid supplements may increase the risk of excessive bleeding
- if you have elevated cholesterol levels, as omega-3 fatty acid supplements may continue to increase your cholesterol levels
- if you are pregnant or breastfeeding (Women should talk to their physicians before taking omega-3 supplements or any dietary supplements.)
- if you are menstruating, as omega-3 fatty acid supplements may increase the tendency of developing anemia
In March 2011 Breakthrough will host its first international conference on Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
This meeting will highlight novel laboratory approaches, innovative pre-clinical science and the latest clinical trial results. The aim is to discuss and advance our understanding of the aetiology, diagnosis and treatment of this challenging disease. The meeting will be a three day programme covering all aspects of triple negative disease with invited plenary speakers and proffered abstracts presented as short talks or posters. We aim to create a workshop atmosphere with ample opportunity for discussion and sharing expertise across disciplines. The meeting which will take place at the Royal Society in
First, let's find out how breast cancer begins. Cells in the body normally divide (reproduce) only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells in a part of the body grow and divide out of control, which creates a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign (not cancerous). If however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don't function like the body's normal cells, the tumor is called malignant (cancerous).
Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate. Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
We do not know what causes breast cancer, although we do know that certain risk factors may put you at higher risk of developing it. A person's age, genetic factors, personal health history, and diet all contribute to breast cancer risk.
Who Gets Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, after skin cancer. Today, approximately 1 in almost every 8 women (13.4%) will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer -- and is the leading cause of cancer death among women ages 35 to 54. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009, approximately 192,370 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and approximately 40,610 will die. Although these numbers may sound frightening, research reveals that the mortality rate could decrease by 30% if all women age 50 and older who need a mammogram had one.
Only 5% to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are "sporadic," meaning there is no direct family history of the disease. The risk for developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages.
What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
The symptoms of breast cancer include:
· Lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle.
· A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
· A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
· A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple.
· A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed).
· Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
· A change in shape or position of the nipple
· An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
· A marble-like hardened area under the skin.