Best of Breast: news for week ending 25 October 2013

A sweep of the latest medical developments in breast cancer from Google Alerts, for the week ending 25 October 2013.

[Google Alerts is currently top-heavy on the fund-raising and charity events as it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, including pinkwashing news about a tweeting bra – I kid you not!  

So if I’ve missed something out, my apologies. Please post any new developments that I’ve missed out in the comments box and I’ll be glad to include them in the compilation, and include an acknowledgement of your contribution.]


Photo credit:

1.  Poor Breast Cancer Prognosis Associated With Low Vitamin D Levels

(This statement is nothing new, but I put it at No. 1 because it meant a happy photo.)  There have been loads of studies done on Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, and cancer.  The question is:  what is an optimal level of Vitamin D?  Too much can lead to death from other causes instead of cancer – imagine the irony!  I’m in the process of writing a post “Vitamin D – are you getting too much?”

My only niggle with this study is that it is a meta-analysis, i.e. a analysis of research done by other people, and there is a possibility of not including research that refutes the hypotheses or that the data is not qualitatively comparable across the various research programs.

2.  New HRT pill could prevent breast cancer

– so does this mean you can have breast cancer and do HRT?  A bit like having your cake and eating it?  Or is it only for women who have never had cancer?

A new HRT pill that could prevent breast cancer has been hailed as a breakthrough with the potential to help millions of women.

Like standard HRT, the new drug, called Duavee, contains oestrogen, which lessens menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis risks.

But crucially the pill also contains an agent — bazedoxifene — that blocks the cancer-causing effects of oestrogen, which is also produced naturally. And it does not contain progesterone which is in most HRT and increases breast cancer risks. The hormone is placed in standard treatments because oestrogen alone increases the risk of disease of the womb, but the new drug caused no such effect.

Scientists said the treatment was “the great hope” for women around the world, because current drugs taken by those approaching the menopause have been repeatedly linked with a higher risk of the disease.

Trials on mice found the drug — which has just been authorised for use in America and is currently being considered for use in the UK — prevented the growth of cancerous tumours.

3.  Metformin for breast cancer less effective at higher glucose concentrations