Stories tagged breast cancer

Here's a nice round up of opinions and press coverage of the controversy revolving around changing the beginning age for mammogram testing in women from 40 to 50. In the past several years having personally known several women under the age of 50 dealing with breast cancer, I have to admit I was dumbfounded by this new recommendation.

Sep
22
2008

What to know and when to know it: Two mammography images show the difference between a non-cancerous (left) and cancerous (right) breast.
What to know and when to know it: Two mammography images show the difference between a non-cancerous (left) and cancerous (right) breast.Courtesy National Institutes of Health
Record numbers of women are opting for a test that checks if their genetic make-up makes them stronger candidates for breast cancer. Last year about 100,000 women were tested. Doctors generally recommend against testing anyone under the age of 25, the same age that mammograms are first recommended. That’s because little can be done to screen or prevent breast cancer before that age.

But a growing movement among young women wants to find out how their genetic make-up could impact their risk for breast cancer. And they want to find out that news at an earlier age.

It’s a hot ethical question in clinics across the country today, which is explained in full detail here.

On the one side, pro-testing people point out that young people armed with this information could make lifestyle choices that could reduce their cancer risk. There is some evidence that young women with a positive genetic test have quit smoking, for example. Others have limited alcohol intake or avoided using birth control pills, two other factors that can raise breast cancer risk.

On the other side of the debate, researchers say that young women have enough health issues to deal with at an early age. Ringing alarms for something they can’t be “officially” tested for until later in life is just one more worry that they really don’t need to deal with at the time.

The tests themselves cost around $3,000. More and more medical insurance companies are providing coverage for the test.

If the test shows a faulty gene, the patient’s risk of developing breast cancer is three to seven times higher. In a few cases, parents have tested the genes of their pre-adolescent children. One girl test was just four years old.

What do you think? Is this good genetic curiosity or being a genetic busy-body? Is it important to find out this information if nothing can be done to treat the situation for a number of years? Share your thoughts here with other Buzz readers.

Sep
28
2007

Cancer causer?: A new European study is showing stronger links between daily alcohol consumption by women and their risk for breast cancer. (Flickr photo by wildflowers)
Cancer causer?: A new European study is showing stronger links between daily alcohol consumption by women and their risk for breast cancer. (Flickr photo by wildflowers)
Sometimes we write summaries of studies that have a very limited sampling of participants. Here’s one that’s more robust, and seems to have some startling news with it.

Heavy to moderate drinking of alcohol can hike up risks of developing breast cancer significantly, according to a study presented in Spain this week. The study followed the drinking habits and cancer incidences of 70,000 women.

In more detail, the study shows that women to had one or two drinks a day increased their risk for breast cancer by 10 percent. Those who drank three or more alcoholic beverages a day saw their breast cancer risks jump 30 percent.

And according to the study, it really didn’t matter what kind of alcohol was consumed: beer, wine or spirits. The European study also jives closely with the results of a 10-year study that’s been conducted in the San Francisco area which also is looking at the alcohol/breast cancer connection.

The findings fly counter to the health benefits that other studies have shown for drinking one glass a wine a day. Several studies have shown that a regular, minimal intake of wine each day can help decrease coronary problems.

Researchers in the European study acknowledge that female drinkers could be getting conflicting messages from the various studies. And they conclude that individual women should consider their family history with cancer and heart problems when deciding how often and how much they drink, particularly wine.

Scientists don't yet know why alcohol affects breast cancer.

Interested in more recent breast cancer developments? Read about this new cancer detection bra being developed in the U.K.

Sep
27
2007

Cancer cure?: The claims of a new product -- the Smart Bra -- say that it will be able to detect breast cancer at its earliest stages and digitally report them to health care providers. (Flickr image by pvera)
Cancer cure?: The claims of a new product -- the Smart Bra -- say that it will be able to detect breast cancer at its earliest stages and digitally report them to health care providers. (Flickr image by pvera)
A few years ago, it was “The Wonder Bra.” Now meet the newest innovation in women’s undergarments: “The Smart Bra.”

A United Kingdom company is developing the product, which it claims can use a microwave antenna device built into the bra as a way to detect small lumps on the breast which come in the earliest stages of breast cancer. Embedded microchips in the bra collect data and produce computer-generated images that can be looked at to find early-onset breast cancer.

"The breast screening smart bra is an invention that allows users to detect breast cancer at a curable stage. It is a low-risk, non-invasive, simple-to-use and cost-effective device that can provide easily-interpreted data," says Professor Elias Siores, Director of the Centre for Materials Research & Innovation at the University of Bolton.

As a male, this new product doesn’t have a lot of personal implications for me. But what do you think bra wearers? Is this something that you would find valuable? Do you believe these claims? Is it really possible to detect breast cancer this way? Discuss amongst yourselves here on this blog section.

pvera

Aug
25
2007

Sun, sun, Mr. golden sun.: Sunlight has both positive and negative effects on the body.  Sure is pretty, though, ain't it?  Photo by S4N7Y from Flickr.com
Sun, sun, Mr. golden sun.: Sunlight has both positive and negative effects on the body. Sure is pretty, though, ain't it? Photo by S4N7Y from Flickr.com

Sunlight is good for you! It helps your body produce vitamin D. And lots of us could use more vitamin D.

Sunlight is bad for you! Overexposure to ultraviolet light can lead to skin cancer.

Sunlight is good for you! A new study shows that vitamin D helps prevent breast cancer.

Sunlight is a myth! It hasn’t stopped raining here in over a week.

Feb
28
2006


Veggies: Vegetables are an important part of a low fat diet. Image courtesy Icarus Diving.

The Women's Health Initiative is a clinical trial sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, an institute of the National Institutes of Health. It included the largest ever study of a low-fat diet in postmenopausal women to see if such a diet reduced their rate of contracting certain diseases. 48,835 women aged 50-79 participated for an average of 8 years. The results of the low-fat diet trial showed no significant reduction in the rate of breast cancer, heart disease, or stroke and no effect on the risk of colorectal cancer. However, the women in the study had trouble sticking to the recommended amount of daily fat and they did not necessarily cut out the types of fat considered most harmful (saturated fats and trans fats).

What About Nutritional Supplements?

The study also followed 36,282 women of the same age range to find out if calcium and vitamin D supplements reduced the rate of broken bones from osteoporosis. Again the results appeared to show no appreciable advantage to taking the supplements, although there was an average of 1% gain in bone density.


X-Ray: Osteoporosis can lead to broken bones. Image courtesy Retrogradeheart.

Drop the Supplements and Forget the Low-Fat Diet?

Researchers found that the trend in positive results was going upwards for the group on the low fat diet enough to encourage the researchers that continued monitoring of the women over the next few years will show a positive result. And people connected with the calcium/vitamin D supplement study say that despite the slightly elevated risk of kidney stones that was seen in some women, the overall gain in bone density was great enough to make a difference for some women and to have a positive impact on money spent on health care for osteoporosis-related injuries.

The upshot is that there are still opportunities to learn more information about how diet and supplements affect the health of these postmenopausal women, including why some subgroups of women were affected in ways that others weren't. Doctors and researchers aren't changing their overall advice yet, although people should always discuss their diets with their doctors as cases can differ from person to person.