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Health & Wellness

Aggressive Breast Cancer Risk Decreased By Breastfeeding

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mother child breastfeed

As researchers and medical professionals continue to study breast cancer, a new study discovered a link between breastfeeding and the risk of developing aggressive breast cancer.

According to a joint study by the American Cancer Society, Breastcancer.org, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Washington University in St. Louis, breastfeeding is linked to a 20 percent lower likelihood of breast cancer in its aggressive form. “Further evidence to support the long-term protection of breastfeeding against the most aggressive subtypes of breast cancer is very encouraging and actionable,” said Breastcancer.org president and founder Dr. Marisa Weiss in a news release.

Although the study proponents believe that further research is needed to confirm the positive effect of breastfeeding on breast cancer, several benefits can already support the promising results of breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding is a relatively accessible, low-cost, short-term strategy that yields long-lasting natural protection,” said Weiss. Besides, breastfeeding is the best nutritional source for child development.

Researchers hope that the study will push women to engage in breastfeeding for their babies. “We need to encourage women who are able to breastfeed to do so for their breast health, in addition to the health of their children,” said Dr. Paolo Boffetta of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The study and its details were published in the Annals of Oncology.


Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Breast Cancer Prevention: Single is Better Than Double Mastectomy

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breast cancer

In spite of the recent trend of undergoing double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer in women, a new study suggests that single mastectomy may already be enough for early-stage cancer.

This was confirmed by a team of researchers led by Dr. Nicolas Ajkay of the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky. In the study presented during the 2015 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, the research team looked into the benefits and disadvantages of single (or unilateral) mastectomy and double mastectomy for non-hereditary breast cancer in its early stage. The study focused on cases wherein the cancer cells were found on only one breast. Data from earlier studies on mastectomy were cross-referenced with the quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), a parameter that measures the quality of life of a person.

Results revealed that in a span of 20 years, patients who underwent single mastectomy were found to have 0.21 more QALYs than those who had both of their breasts removed. The QALY figure is equivalent to an additional 3 months of healthy life. Dr. Ajkay attributed the lower QALYs in double mastectomy patients to “struggling with surgical complications of reconstruction, lost work productivity and significant emotional hardship,” as reported in a news item.

In terms of costs (including regular screenings for 20 years), the average overall costs for single mastectomy was $13,525. In contrast, double mastectomy procedures cost $18,577 over a 20-year period. “Even under worst-case scenarios, we found that costs and quality of life were superior with unilateral mastectomy. With our study results, I can counsel patients that they may incur a higher cost over their lifetime with a lower quality of life for several months if they choose (double mastectomy),” Dr. Ajkay said.



Plant Compound May Decrease Risk of Breast Cancer in Women Under Hormone Replacement Therapy

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woman breast cancer

A number of women under post-menopausal stage undergo hormone replacement therapy by taking a combination of estrogen and progesterone. However, this treatment increases the risk of these women to develop breast cancer tumors. A new study aims to send hope to post-menopausal females through a recently identified natural compound that combats the effects of tumor-causing hormones.

The breakthrough compound is called luteolin, a naturally-occuring substance found in some plants — parsley, thyme, broccoli, and celery, to name a few. A team of researchers from the University of Missouri led by Salman Hyder discovered that the compound inhibits the connection of blood vessels in a woman’s breast tissue to cancer cells.

Laboratory tests were done in-vitro on human breast cancer cells, as well as on mice with breast cancer. Both tests showed that luteolin exhibited anti-tumor characteristics.

“Research has proven that a higher incidence of breast cancer tumors can occur in women receiving therapies that involve a combination of the natural component estrogen and the synthetic progestin,” said Hyder in a news item. With the discovery of luteolin and its promising advantages to human health, the researchers believe that more studies should be conducted to develop the compound as a real treatment option. “We feel that luteolin can be effective when injected directly into the bloodstream, so IV supplements may still be a possibility,” Hyder said.

While the compound has not yet been studied in great detail, Hyder believes that women can benefit from a healthy diet. “Until the supplement is tested for safety and commercialized, which we hope will happen after further testing and clinical trials, women should continue consuming a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables.”


Health & Wellness

Mammography Does Not Guarantee Fewer Breast Cancer Deaths

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breast cancer

Women who often undergo mammography may be exposed to more harm than good, according to a new study.

Mammography remains as the most popular method of breast cancer screening, and women who undergo the procedure heighten their chances of detecting the disease early on. However, a team of researchers from Harvard University discovered that an increase in the number of breast cancer screening procedures didn’t result to reduction in fatalities associated with breast cancer.

The study involved analysis of data of at least 16 million females 40 years old and above from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry across 547 U.S. counties. More than 53,000 women were found with breast cancer, and were monitored for the next 10 years.

Results of the study showed that a 10-percent increase in the number of mammogram procedures was linked to a 16-percent rise in identification of breast cancer. But despite having more breast cancer screening, deaths due to the disease did not decrease. Meanwhile, the rise in screening procedures resulted to a significant 25 percent increase in detection of small tumors that led to breast cancer. “Across US counties, the data show that the extent of screening mammography is indeed associated with an increased incidence of small cancers but not with decreased incidence of larger cancers or significant differences in mortality,” said study co-author Richard Wilson in a news release.

The research team explained that having too many screenings may have affected the relationship between breast cancer detection and mortality rate. “The simplest explanation is widespread overdiagnosis, which increases the incidence of small cancers without changing mortality, and therefore matches every feature of the observed data,” Wilson added.

More details about the study were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.


Health & Wellness

Breast Cancer Dilemma: Patients Oblivious About Their Health Condition

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breast check

Understanding an illness or disease can raise the likelihood of treating it. Unfortunately, most women with breast cancer do not have enough knowledge about their condition.
According to a study conducted by a team of researchers led by Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Rachel Freedman, as high as 80% of breast cancer patients are not aware about the details of their cancer status. This was determined through a survey on 500 females who were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Generic-Article-BannerInformation related to breast cancer — such as the stage of the cancer, its grade and subtype — may prove beneficial to the patients if they knew about them. Survey results showed that 32 to 82 percent of the patients knew information about the tumors growing in them, but the percentage of women who could correctly specify the details of their condition registered as low as 20%.

The research team believes that lack of understanding of a breast cancer patient about her condition may lead her to confusion or uncertainty about the treatments she is receiving. “Improving patients’ understanding about why a particular treatment is important for her individual situation may lead to more informed decisions and better adherence to treatment,” said Freedman in a news release.

Breast cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of fatalities in women at about 3% mortality rate.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

DNA Helps to Protect Some Hispanic Women from Breast Cancer

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New research has found that some Hispanic women are less prone to breast cancer thanks to their DNA. mammogram showing breast cancer

Compared with women of European or African-American descent, fewer Hispanic women develop breast cancer and fewer of them die from it, medical statistics show, and an international team led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, recently said they now know the reason why this is.

A tiny difference in the DNA of certain women makes Latinas who inherit it about 40% less likely to develop breast cancer, medical geneticist Laura Fejerman and her colleagues reported in Nature Communications. And, if women have inherited the variation from both sides of their family, they are 80% less likely to get breast cancer.

“It is strongly protective,” said cancer specialist Elad Ziv at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, who helped conduct the study funded by the National Cancer Institute. “We really need to do more experiments to nail it down and understand what it is doing.”

Women who carry the genetic variant have breast tissue that appears less dense on mammograms. High-density breast tissue is a known risk factor for breast cancer.

The finding may lead to more effective genetic testing for women at risk, by helping to determine who most needs to take preventative measures.

Health & Wellness

Breast Cancer Awareness Month This October

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The month of October has many things in store. Aside from being Depression Awareness Month and Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The annual campaign aims to raise awareness of the disease that has been haunting women — and even men.

breast cancer awareness month pink octoberThe campaign aims at not only acquiring knowledge about breast cancer, but also making sure that people take necessary precautions in order to avoid the disease. Early detection is one of the best techniques for breast cancer prevention. This step includes breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, and mammogram. The campaign is also recommending an Early Detection Plan by proactively reminding yourself to undergo breast examinations.

To inject some fun in support of the campaign, Nestle Fitness promoted its Pink Ribbon initiative by launching a short ad about how aware people are about breasts. A woman placed a hidden camera on her pink bra to see how many people look at her breasts on a given day. The video aims to highlight the fact that if other people are checking your breasts out, you should also check them regularly.

For more information about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation website.

[ Image source ]

Health & Wellness

Study finds majority of women with breast cancer don’t get enough exercise

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Only about 35% of women with breast cancer get enough physical exercise, a new study finds. breast cancer

Brionna Hair, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues, analyzed pre- and post-diagnosis physical activity levels in 1,735 women ages 20 to 74 diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from 2008 to 2011 in North Carolina.

The study, published online in the journal Cancer, found that just 35% of breast cancer survivors met current physical activity guidelines post-diagnosis. The current guidelines advocate at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week.

“Medical care providers should discuss the role physical activity plays in improving breast cancer outcomes with their patients, and strategies that may be successful in increasing physical activity among breast cancer patients need to be comprehensively evaluated and implemented,” Hair said in a statement.

Early Disease Detection

15 Year Old Develops Software to Identify Cancer-Causing Gene Mutations

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Nathan Han, a 15-year-old from Boston, has won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for creating a computer program that can predict how harmful gene mutations related to cancer might be. 

Photo courtsy of fastcoexist.com

Photo courtsy of fastcoexist.com

Han says that he’s been fascinated with bioinformatics for awhile and when a close friend’s mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, he started thinking about possible projects.

He eventually settled on his winning software, which evaluates mutations in the BRCA1 gene–a gene commonly associated with ovarian and breast cancer–to see how harmful they are.

Han programmed his software to differentiate between disease-related mutations and harmless mutations using data from public databases.

“I chose to focus on BRCA1 in particular for practicality. It’s one of the most studied genes in the human genome,” he says.

According to Han, his program has an 81% accuracy rate in identifying cancer-causing mutations. Existing algorithms have an accuracy rate of only around 40%.

His software could one day be customized to evaluate other genes and diseases.

“Down the road, as accuracy improves, I can imagine using this sort of process for personalized genomic analysis,” Han says.

For winning the Intel science fair, Han receives $75,000, which he will put toward college.

Health & Wellness

Double Mastectomy: Too Severe For Breast Cancer Prevention?

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Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy flooded news feeds in May of last year. Her decision to undergo double breast removal was based on test results that showed she was carrying a mutated gene believed to be a breast cancer precursor.

breast-cancerThis year, a study by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center revealed that about 70 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer choose to have both of their breasts removed as a preventive measure.

Study lead author and associate professor Sarah Hawley said that the breast cancer issue has developed a sense of paranoia in women. “Women appear to be using worry over cancer recurrence to choose contralateral prophylactic mastectomy… This does not make sense, because having a non-affected breast removed will not reduce the risk of recurrence in the affected breast,” said Hawley in a news release.

According to the study, out of more than 230,000 women diagnosed with cancer on one of the breasts, only 10 percent will develop cancer in the unaffected breast. What’s surprising is that in the study group composed of almost 1,500 females, 75 percent expressed worry that the cancer will recur in the other breast.

Hawley stressed the importance of making a sound decision before having both breasts removed. “For women who do not have a strong family history or a genetic finding, we would argue it’s probably not appropriate to get the unaffected breast removed,” she added.