Best of Breast: news for week ending 20 June 2014

The latest news developments from Google Alerts for Breast Cancer and Cancer, for the week ending 20 June 2014.

This week opens with the can of worms which is Diet and Cancer.

Everyone who is anyone has a view on what a cancer patient should eat:  The NO diet –  no sugar … no dairy … fruit … no fruit … low-carb … no-carbs … no meat; or the EXTREME diets:  restricted calorie … high-fat … vegan … juicing … raw food … macrobiotics … Budwig … Gerson … alkaline … ketogenic diet.  It’s sad that with cancer diets, whole groups of foods are viewed as poisons and every cancer diet is restrictive and ends up taking on the semblance of a fundamentalist religion.

Now another study comes along that purports to prove that red meat increases the risk for breast cancer.

Before you stop going to BBQs, consider the fact that the study was based on what women could recall from their diets years back and that memory is notoriously inaccurate.

I’ve had friends who were vegetarians since childhood, who still developed breast cancer.  Of course, they may be the exception to the belief that vegetarians get less cancer.

Please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Free-range grass-fed beef is a good source of conjugated linoleic acid for one.  Please see a list of research here.  Everything in moderation!


image credit:

1A.  Replacing red meat with healthier foods may help prevent breast cancer

  • Researchers investigated the association which exists between dietary protein sources in early adulthood and the risk of breast cancer reported the British Medical Journal.
  • They concluded that higher red meat consumption in early adulthood may increase the risk for breast cancer.
  • In this study each serving per day increase in red meat was found to be associated with a 13 percent increase in risk of breast cancer.
  • The absolute number of excess cases of breast cancer which are attributable to red meat intake appears substantial enough to be a public health concern.
  • It is also of interest that eating more poultry was associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
  • The researchers have suggested replacing red meat with healthier foods including:  a combination of legumes, poultry, nuts, fish.



Red meat can cause cancer may be a whole load of Bull. Image source:

1B.  Breast Cancer Surgeon: No Data Showing Red Meat is Unsafe

  • SLU Care breast surgeon Dr. Teresa Schwartz at Saint Louis University Hospital says the study was based on surveys from women aged 26 to 45.
  • “Unfortunately, the study itself doesn’t tell us anything else about the women involved,” she says. “It’s definitely based on their memorythey’re looking back and trying to remember how much meat they’ve had, which is notoriously inaccurate.”
  • So, her advice to patients?
  • “I would never tell anyone to cut red meat out altogether,” she says. “I would tell them to do it in moderation. This study doesn’t give me any data that tells me red meat is unsafe.”

For more information:  BMJ 2014; 348 doi: 10.1136/ bmj.g3437 (Published 10 June 2014), Dietary protein sources in early adulthood and breast cancer incidence: prospective cohort study

2.  Axillary reverse mapping is helping prevent lymphedema in patients

  • The new procedure helps to identify the lymph nodes coming from the arm.
  • ARM involves injection of a special blue dye under the skin in the arm.
  • The blue dye travels through the lymphatic (channels) in the arm.
  • The lymph nodes that are blue help the surgeons know which ones are coming from the arm.
  • “When you open the arm pit you see them (lymph nodes) and then you don’t take them, this is what axillary reverse mapping is.
  • “When you see those lymph nodes you only take the ones that are not blue.”
  • Because the surgeons do not have to remove the lymph nodes from the arm, it helps preserve the return circulation coming from the arm. This helps to prevent lymphedema.

What happens when scientists try to get creative with names …

3.  New study pinpoints ‘Lemur’ protein as main player in spread of breast cancer

  • Researchers have confirmed the role of a protein called Lemur Tyrosine Kinase 3 (LMTK3) in the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body.
  • Previous studies have demonstrated that LMTK3 is involved in breast cancer but little has been discovered about how, where and why it influences the development of the disease.
  • Using a mouse model, scientists have discovered that overexpression of LMTK3 gene led to an increase in tumour growth and that at a molecular level LMTK3 was involved in the breaching of tissue barriers and the subsequent infiltration of cancer cells throughout the surrounding tissue.

For more information:  Sci. Signal., 17 June 2014 Vol. 7, Issue 330, p. ra58 [DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005170], The Kinase LMTK3 Promotes Invasion in Breast Cancer Through GRB2-Mediated Induction of Integrin β1

4.  Downregulation of miR-221/222 enhances sensitivity of breast cancer cells to tamoxifen through upregulation of TIMP3

  • Aberrantly expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in breast tumorigenesis.
  • For the first time it has been demonstrated that suppression of miRNA-221/222 increases the sensitivity of ER-positive MCF-7 breast cancer cells to tamoxifen.
  • This effect is mediated through upregulation of TIMP3.
  • These findings suggest that upregulation of TIMP3 via inhibition of miRNA-221/222 could be a promising therapeutic approach for breast cancer.

For more information:  Cancer Gene Therapy , (13 June 2014) | doi:10.1038/cgt.2014.29,  Downregulation of miR-221/222 enhances sensitivity of breast cancer cells to tamoxifen through upregulation of TIMP3.  pdf:  Miller et al. JBC 2008

5.  False negative results found in prognostic testing for Her 2 breast cancer

  • A recent study evaluating HER2 testing in a large cohort of women with breast cancer found important limitations in the conventional way HER2 testing is performed in the US and internationally.
  • Breast cancer is categorized into several subtypes based on conventional laboratory, and newer molecular tests.
  • This study looked at the accuracy in classifying breast cancers in one particular subtype, specifically those that are “human epidermal growth factor receptor 2” or HER2 positive.
  • About four percent of cases that were originally determined to be HER2 negative were in fact HER2 positive on repeat testing.
  • Many of these cases were detected as being positive by testing for HER2 using both of two different and complementary tests (IHC and FISH).

For more information:  Cancer 2014 Jun 13. doi: 10.1002/cncr.28710, Assessing the discordance rate between local and central HER2 testing in women with locally determined HER2-negative breast cancer

6.  CCL20 gene link to ER negative breast cancer survival

  • A variant in CCL20 has been linked to a higher risk of death for women who have undergone chemotherapy for so-called oestrogen receptor negative (ER-) cancer.
  • CCL20 is a chemokine gene involved in immune response and migration and proliferation of breast cells-that increases the risk of breast cancer-specific death.
  • This marker explains a small fraction of the variation associated with breast cancer survival, which suggests that much larger studies will be needed to fully understand the genetic basis of ER- breast cancer prognosis.
  • This work provides an important step towards the identification of genes which could be targeted therapeutically to improve the prognosis of breast cancer patients undergoing treatment.

For more information:  Nature Communications 5, Article number:  4051 doi:10.1038/ ncomms5051, 2q36.3 is associated with prognosis for oestrogen receptor-negative breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy

7.  Major Trial: No to Paclitaxel Alone in Early Breast Cancer

  • Single-agent paclitaxel cannot be recommended as a standard regimen after surgery for women with primary breast cancer and 0 to 3 positive axillary nodes.
  • This is the latest conclusion from Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) 40101, a phase 3 randomized clinical trial of 3871 women with early breast cancer that began in 2002.
  • For this analysis, the investigators compared adjuvant single-agent paclitaxel with doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide (AC).
  • AC has been a standard regimen for many “better-risk” patients with primary breast cancer, report the investigators.
  • However, in an effort to find a less toxic regimen with similar efficacy, the team compared this standard with a hypothetically good idea: a single taxane.
  • The primary outcome of this noninferiority study was recurrence-free survival.
  • After 437 recurrence-free survival events, the hazard ratio of 1.26 favored AC, so the noninferiority of paclitaxel could not be established.
  • This conclusion, reached after a median follow-up of 6.1 years, “is unlikely to change with additional events and follow-up..
  • In addition to being noninferior, paclitaxel might actually be less effective than AC, suggest a trio of experts not involved with the study who penned an accompanying editorial.

For more information:  Journal of Clinical Oncology, doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.53.7142,  Comparison of Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide Versus Single-Agent Paclitaxel As Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer in Women With 0 to 3 Positive Axillary Nodes: CALGB 40101 (Alliance) AND doi:10.1200/JCO.2014.55.934, Twenty-Twenty Hindsight: An Adjuvant Breast Cancer Trial Through the Retrospectoscope


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