Best of Breast: news for week ending 6 December 2013

A summary of Google Alerts for the latest medical developments in breast cancer for the week ending 6 December 2013.

There are two articles this week on Vitamin D.  I’ve posted previously on Vitamin D, and originally assumed (based on the research) that deficiency in Vitamin D led to the disease – French scientists now posit that it’s the contrary – that the disease leads to the deficiency, so supplementing may not lower the risk of cancer.

I know the first article isn’t a medical development, but it’s a feel-good story.  It’s not always such a happy ending of course, pregnancy hormones can fuel cancer and there are mothers who face cancer and the cruel dilemma of having to go through cancer treatment during pregnancy.

Further down the list, a study proving that women who have abortions face a higher risk of cancer – the irony of the juxtaposition in this weeks’ round-up is not lost on me!  And finally, there are women who are using their bras as pockets for their cell phones – with obvious results.

Pregnant belly

image credit:

1.  Mother who didn’t even know she was expecting, discovers pregnancy hormones had destroyed cancerous tumour

  • Nicola Weller went to hospital for surgery to remove a tumour from her womb – before she had the operation a scan revealed she was pregnant
  • She was shocked as she had had the contraceptive coil fitted
  • Doctors discovered the pregnancy hormones had caused the tumour to disintegrate meaning she did not require any treatment for it
  • Baby Brandon was born completely healthy in September 2010
  • There is still no sign of the tumour returning

This experience seems to back up the trophoblastic theory of cancer  originally proposed by Scottish embryologist John Beard (1858-1924), and resurrected by William Donald Kelley, DDS (1926-2005) and now used by Nicholas Gonzalez MD who treats cancer with high doses of pancreatic enzymes.  But please … it’s a theory.  So don’t rush out to get pregnant!

2.  Breast cancer breakthrough could spare thousands of DCIS patients unnecessary treatment

Each year, more than 4,800 women are diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) – a condition where non-invasive cancerous cells are contained within the milk ducts of the breast.

3.  Could statins help prevent breast cancer? Study finds that high cholesterol may cause the disease

I wish I could say that statins are the solution to prevent breast cancer, but statins themselves have side-effects which could outweigh the benefits, and I think we should be cautious about using them.

  • A by-product of cholesterol could fuel the growth of breast tumours
  • Statins can reduce people’s cholesterol levels, as can eating healthily
  • The by product acts like oestrogen and three quarters of breast cancers are sensitive to oestrogen – it causes them to grow
  • Previous studies have suggested that statins may actually have the opposite effect
  • Earlier this year, experts at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle found that long-term use of statins led to a heightened risk of invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), which accounts for around seven out of ten breast cancer cases.

4.  New treatment option uses acoustic energy from ultrasound to eliminate breast cancer tumors

  • The technique, called magnetic resonance-guided ultrasound ablation (MRgFUS), uses heat to destroy breast cancer tumors.
  • The outpatient procedure relies on MRI guidance to find tumors and then uses acoustic energy from the high-intensity focused ultrasound to remove tumors.
  • Dr. Napoli’s study included 12 patients who were diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer.
  • Each patient underwent the procedure once.
  • After one session, 10 of the 12 patients showed no signs of the tumor.
  • None of the 12 patients had any complications during or after the procedure.
  • The study was conducted by Dr. Alessandro Napoli and his colleagues at Sapienza University in Rome.

5.  Top surgeon calls for ALL women to be given Vitamin D to cut breast cancer… as ballet dancers reveal they use pills to keep them strong–ballet-dancers-reveal-use-pills-strong.html

  • Professor Kefah Mokbel thinks 1,000 lives a year could be saved
  • He is handing the supplements to women at his clinic in London
  • The pills would cost the NHS 12p per woman per day
  • Studies show vitamin is effective at fighting and preventing the disease

6.  Vitamin D supplements ‘don’t ward off ill health’: Little evidence pills lower risk of cancer, strokes or other conditions

  • For decades, scientists assumed that the mineral had many health benefits
  • Study involving a million adults found deficiency does not cause illness
  • In Britain, the supplements market is worth £700million a year
  • The main reason scientists thought vitamin D could protect against disease was that patients with cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer’s had very low levels of the nutrient.
  • But the French researchers now suspect that, rather than vitamin D deficiency leading to disease, these illnesses stop the body from producing vitamin D, so sufferers have lower levels.
  • Lead author Professor Philippe Autier, from the International  Prevention Research Institute  in Lyon, France, said: ‘What this  discrepancy suggests is that decreases in vitamin D levels are a marker of deteriorating health. Ageing and inflammatory processes involved in disease occurrence . . . reduce vitamin D concentrations, which would explain why vitamin D deficiency is reported in a wide range of disorders.’

For more information:  The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Early Online Publication, 6 December 2013, doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(13)70165-7:  Vitamin D status and ill health: a systematic review 

7.  Cyclin D1 governs microRNA processing in breast cancer

Cyclin D1, a protein that helps push a replicating cell through the cell cycle also mediates the processing and generation of mature microRNA (miRNA), according to new research publishing November 29 in Nature Communications.

The research suggests that a protein strongly implicated in human cancer also governs the non-protein-coding genome. The non-coding genome, previously referred to as junk DNA, makes up most of the human genome, and unlike the coding genome, varies greatly between species.

In addition to the in vitro studies, the researchers also examined over 2,200 patient samples. They found that patients with the luminal A subtype of breast cancer had increased levels of expression of both cyclin D1 and Dicer. Luminal A subtype of breast cancer is the most common type and also has the best prognosis. The more aggressive basal-like subtype of breast cancers, however, exhibited lower levels of cyclin D1 and Dicer, which would in turn globally reduce the level of mature miRNA. Indeed, lower levels of miRNAs have been observed in a number of human cancers.

“By linking the decrease in miRNA levels to Dicer, we show that a global decrease in miRNA processing may be important in the initiation and progression of certain cancers,” says first author, Zuoren Yu, Ph.D., who holds a joint appointment at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center and Tongji University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China.

More information: Z. Yu et al., “Cyclin D1 Induction of Dicer Governs MicroRNA Processing and Expression in Breast Cancer,” Nat CommunDOI: 10.1038/ncomms3554, 2013.

8.  New study shows link exists between abortion and breast cancer

A new study has emerged from China that seems to show that such a link not only exists, but that the risk rises with each abortion a woman has.

The study, titled “A meta-analysis of the association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females” was published this week in Cancer Causes and Control, a peer-reviewed international cancer journal.

The research was conducted by Yubei Huang et al. from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Hospital.

The researchers say they were initially puzzled by their findings, stating that Chinese women “historically” have had lower rates of breast cancer compared to women from western countries such as the US.

They found, however, that incidences of breast cancer in China increased at an “alarming rate” over the past two decades, corresponding with the rise of the Chinese Communist Party’s one-child policy.

The one-child policy is strictly enforced, and women who transgress the quota are often forced to abort. Over 336 million babies have been aborted in China since the 1980s.

“The marked change in breast cancer incidence was parallelled to the one-child-per-family policy,” the researchers stated.

The Chinese research follows on the heels of two similar studies earlier this year. One study publishedin the Indian Journal of Community Medicine in May found a 6-fold greater risk of breast cancer among Indian women with a history of induced abortion when compared to the women with no such history. A similar study from Bangladesh published in the Journal of the Dhaka Medical College in April found that women with a history of induced abortion had a 20-fold increase in likelihood of developing breast cancer when compared to women with no such history.

9.  Dr. Oz says keeping your cell phone in your bra can cause breast cancer

Dr. Oz says women who keep their cell phones in their bras are putting themselves at risk for breast cancer.

On the Dec. 6 episode of the Dr. Oz Show (“Why You Should Keep Your Cell Phone Out of Your Bra”), Dr. Oz said he believes there’s a definite link between cell phones and cancer.

“When it comes to cell phones, the bra has become the new purse,” said Dr. Oz, who said millions of women are unknowingly endangering themselves for the sake of convenience.

Dr. Oz’s guest was Tiffany Frantz, a 23-year-old Pennsylvania woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.

Frantz and her mom Traci were shocked because Tiffany was healthy, just 21 years old at the time, and had no family history of cancer. But Tiffany had carried her cell phone in her bra all day, every day, for four years.

Frantz developed cancerous tumors in the exact same area of her breast, on the same side, where her cell phone rested hour after hour, day after day, for four years. Frantz’s doctors were puzzled by her cancer, so she underwent genetic testing, which came back negative (meaning she was not predisposed to cancer).


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