* Breast cancer - Latest News, Latest Research | CANCERactive

* Breast cancer - Latest News, Latest Research | CANCERactive


Increase your personal odds of survival by empowering yourself with the latest news and research on breast cancer; news you can use today and incorporate into your integrative cancer treatment programme.

"This is just so great to have all this information in one place. The Internet is so confusing and you've pulled together all this research so I can take some control over my own life and my anti-cancer program. Thank you."  (Jane Richmond, NSW, Australia)


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2003 Research

Aspirin can cut cancer risk

Taking aspirin in your 40s could cut the risk of cancer developing later in life, according to research published in the Lancet Oncology Wednesday 29 April 2009.

In a detailed review of all the available evidence, Cancer Research UK scientists suggest that taking aspirin at an age before cancer begins to develop and for at least 10 years would maximise the drugs potential to prevent cancer.

Previous research suggests that people who take aspirin are less likely to develop bowel, breast and possibly some other types of cancer. Aspirin blocks the effects of the COX enzymes, proteins involved in inflammation and found at unusually high levels in several types of cancer.

But regular use of the anti-inflammatory drug specifically for cancer prevention is not currently recommended as it has been linked to a number of side-effects including, gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers.

Common cancers, such as prostate, breast, lung and bowel, tend to develop after the age of 60. And the chances of aspirin causing bleeding in the abdomen are much higher in people over 60.

Study author, Professor Jack Cuzick, from the Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology at Queen Mary, University of London, said: Taking aspirin regularly in your mid 40s could maximise the effect this drug has on preventing cancer. Taking aspirin at this age, which is about the time pre-cancerous lesions usually begin to develop, may be the best time to stop the disease from progressing to actual cancer.

For older patients who are already taking aspirin for cardiovascular disease the drug may also provide additional protection against some cancers, but it not yet known whether the baby aspirin can achieve this, or if the full standard dose of 300mg/day will be needed.

(Ed: Natural salicylin is an ingredient of willow bark and was chewed in the Middle Ages, for all manner of ailments. Inflammation is a known precursor of a number of cancers like prostate, breast, colon and so on. The original research won a British Scientist John Vane a Nobel Prize back in 1992. Moreover, the Mayo Clinic said all this and more in 2002 when recommending an 81 mg dose of aspirin a day. But there are many more natural anti-inflammatory agents if you wish to avoid the side effects of synthetic aspirin, such as ginger, garlic, turmeric (curcumin), aloe vera, and fish oil omega 3. Research has since been conducted on all of them, and much has been covered previously in icon. The next article amplifies the anti-inflammation story even more.)

Breast cancer - strong family history increases risk fourfold

Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer are over four times more likely to develop the disease than the general population, according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada.

The lifetime risk of breast cancer in the general population is one in nine. This research looked at women without a faulty BRCA gene but who had either one first-degree relative under 50 with breast cancer plus at least one other relative with the disease, or simply three relatives of any age with breast cancer. For these women the risk increased to just over one in three.

Dr Steven Narod leading the research concluded that a significant family history of breast cancer alone could be strong enough grounds for doctors to offer preventative treatments such as tamoxifen, which is given to most women with breast cancer to help prevent the disease from returning. Professor Jack Cuzick, Cancer Research UKs epidemiologist who leads on clinical trials to prevent breast cancer, added: Looking at ways to prevent breast cancer is an exciting field, particularly in those who are at an increased risk of the disease. Were also learning more about which women will respond to preventative treatments, which takes us ever closer to tailoring cancer treatment to each patient. Around 15 per cent of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease, so around 7,000 women a year in the UK could benefit from this research.

(Ed: This is actually a very important piece of research because it looks at those women without a known genetic fault. And it makes the conclusion there is something that is running in families. The rest of the conclusions are less impressive. Suddenly we are talking about 15 per cent of all women with a cancer line running in their family, when most previous studies drew the line at 7 per cent. Also 15 per cent of 42,000 is 6,400 not 7,000 and I worry a little that there is an accidental element of scaremongering here. Im not sure where this higher figure suddenly comes from. Then there is the lack of evidence as to what the something is. If one person smokes in a family, there could be a higher incidence of smoking. Or maybe, being overweight is a familial factor. It doesnt necessarily follow that this is definitely a genetic issue. Then theres the We could always throw Tamoxifen at it idea. This actually runs counter to two other important recent Cancer Research UK studies: One concluding that no longer could we think that one size would fit all when it came to cancer treatments, and the other the finding (on top of previous studies linking Tamoxifen to increased risk of some cancers like endometrial cancer) that Tamoxifen can cause genetic mutation. Why dont Cancer Research wake up to the sort of research that Harvard is doing? Preventing cancer avoiding oestrogen mimics and toxic chemicals, taking vitamin D or adequate sunshine, and fish oils, and daily light exercise these have all be shown in quality research to provide increased prevention in breast cancer. Who needs a drug? Interesting research. Shame about the conclusions!)

Breast Cancer developing new options

The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas is about to take new PARP drug options to clinical trial phase III. PARP inhibitors is a new class of drug being tested in women with "triple negative" breast cancer (i.e. tested negative for expression of the oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and HER-2/neu). In tests the drug was given in combination with gemcitabine and carboplatin, and showed not only an improvement in progression-free survival but also overall survival.

A different, oral PARP inhibitor was also tested in women with metastatic breast cancer and known deleterious mutations in the BRCA 1 or 2 genes. In this highly specific cohort of women, the agent showed efficacy and was very well tolerated.

Further studies using these new agents are under way, with Phase III trials being planned.

Breast cancer can radio and chemo bring it back?

In a surprising finding by researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, young women who receive radiation treatment or certain chemotherapy drugs after breast cancer surgery are significantly more likely to later develop cancer in the other breast than women who did not undergo such treatments (Journal of Clinical Oncology). Hitherto the argument has always been that the severity of factors that developed the first cancer precipitated a second cancer in the other breast.

The study involved 7,000 women, all diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 71 and who were treated for breast cancer in Netherlands between the years of 1970 and 1986.

Researchers found that women under the age of 45 who received radiotherapy after a lumpectomy were 1.5 times more likely to develop cancer in the other breast than women who received post-mastectomy radiation treatment.

Anyway, the risk of a second breast cancer among all patients under the age of 45 increased by 9 percent if they had received any radiotherapy. This increased to 78 per cent if they were under 35.

A further analysis concerning the chemo agents cyclophosphamide, fluorouracil and methotrexate revealed that they increased the risk of cancer in the other breast, but only after five years.

(Ed: Im not at all sure about this research. I cant see how they ruled out the effects of more aggressive cancers likely amongst the 35 or 45 age group. So we pass this on for information and urge caution about accepting the results at face value. Also I think radio and chemotherapy has improved a bit since 1986).

Mammogram dangers cited by whistleblowers

Nine American scientists have been writing to President Obama blowing the whistle on what they feel are distinctly dodgy practices at the Federal Drugs Agency, (FDA), the foremost approval body in the world and the one that sets the tone for approvals in the UK. Their letters said that there was a strong element of fear and that speaking out put honest scientists in danger of disciplinary action. One of their causes for concern was the FDAs silence over the increasing knowledge of risks with mammograms. The whistleblowers also asked for protection from dismissal for the letters.

Falling breast cancer rates decline in mammograms or HRT responsible?

Hot on the heels of the Cancer Research UK Press Release claiming that declines in breast cancer rates was all down to earlier diagnosis and better drugs comes a study from researchers at Stamford University (New England Journal of Medicine). Following on from the recent dramatic declines in the US breast cancer rates seen after the very public controversy over mixed synthetic HRT (oestrogen and progestin) during the American Women’s Health Initiative study in  2003 led to many women refusing to take it anymore, the researchers decided to look into this in more detail. 

The researchers monitored breast cancer rates among 15,000 women who had participated in the original study, but had ceased taking the synthetic supplements. These women were then compared to another group who had continued to take HRT.

In the years leading up to 2003 a doubling of risk from mixed HRT had been observed. After the HRT was stopped, rates plummeted by more than a quarter (28 per cent). Women who had not been part of the original study yet had still taken HRT experienced a 48 per cent decline in breast cancer rates when they stopped taking HRT. Women who continued taking HRT experienced a doubling of risk every year!

"This is very strong evidence that oestrogen plus progestin causes breast cancer," said researcher Marcia Stefanik. "You start women on hormones and within five years their risk of breast cancer is clearly elevated. You stop the hormones and within one year their risk is essentially back to normal. It’s reasonably convincing cause-and-effect data."

Some people have tried to muddy the waters suggesting that the declines in breast cancer rates were due to the declines in mammogram usage. The new research showed the same results whatever the mammogram usage.

(Ed: As we continually say, If HRT were a vitamin supplement it would have been banned by now. Look at the front page controversy that occurred when taking daily doses of synthetic vitamin E may even increase death rates by 10 per cent. How does this lifetime risk compare to an annual doubling of risk? Failure to ban HRT in the light of all this negative evidence is tantamount to negligence.)

An apple a day keeps breast cancer away

Dr Rui Hai Liu, Cornell associate professor of food science and a member of Cornell’s Institute for Comparative and Environmental Toxicology, has shown yet again that apples fight cancer. (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry)

Dr. Liu found fresh apple extracts significantly inhibited the size of mammary tumours in rats and the more extracts they gave, the better the outcome.

A highly malignant type of breast cancer called an adenocarcinoma developed in 81 percent in the control animals. However, it developed only in 57 per cent, 50 per cent and 23 per cent of the animals that received a diet supplemented by low, middle and high doses of apple extracts (the equivalent of one, three and six apples a day in humans), respectively, during a 6 month study.

Dr. Liu also announced a variety of new phenolic compounds he has discovered in apple peelings that also have "potent antioxidant and anti-proliferative activities" on tumours. Some appear to have a great effect at modifying cell cycles and controlling inflammation. We have covered research on polyphenols before for example German research that shows casein in cows milk binds to them in tea and prevents their benefits. They are more than antioxidants and more than free radical neutralisers. They seem to have many heart protective and anti-cancer benefits are we are really only just starting to learn about these natural compounds. (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories)

HER-2 Breast cancer and olive oil

Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain and the Catalonian Institute of Oncology (ICO) in Girona have discovered that the phenolic compounds in extra virgin olive oil appear to be a significant weapon against breast cancer. (BMC Cancer).

The researchers showed how phenolic compounds directly extracted from extra virgin olive oil were effective against both HER2-positive and HER2-negative breast cancers cells, in vitro experiments. The research, conducted by Javier A. Menendez, coordinator of the Translational Research Unit of the ICO and doctors Alberto Fernandez Gutierrez and Antonio Segura Carretero, confirms that polyphenols (especially those known as secoiridoids and lignans) found in extra virgin olive oil not only inhibited the activity of cancer-promoting HER-2 proteins but also promoted its degradation.

Cancer Prevention half can be avoided

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, if Governments just promoted healthy foods and exercise just over one third of cancers would be prevented (http://www.wcrf-uk.org).

The research presented showed that exercise and healthy food can prevent 36 per cent of lung cancers, 39 per cent of breast and pancreatic cancers, over 60 per cent of mouth cancers, 25 per cent of kidney cancers and 45 per cent of colorectal cancers.

Of course, if you take icon regularly, you could prevent even more. We have told you how avoiding EMFs, mammograms, dairy, chemical hormones, pesticides, certain chemicals in the home and toiletries and personal care products, taking melatonin, selenium, fish oils and vitamin D can all add to this prevention figure further. Oh and theres a lot more easy to do things too. In every issue.

Oestrogen could also cause cancer through genetic mutations.

Research studies in the USA and the UK, all covered previously in icon, have shown that taking the pill or the oestrogen only form of HRT can increase risks of breast cancer by about 26 per cent. Taking mixed synthetic oestrogen and progesten HRT can double the risk of breast cancer. Taking HRT over a number of years also increases risks of other cancers like colon cancer.

Oestrogen has long been known to fuel the fire of cancer and synthetic oestrogen may even be worse.

Now researchers for Cancer Research UK based at Clare Hall, Hertfordshire have shown that oestrogen triggers the production of an enzyme called AID. At low levels this actually helps immune systems adapt to fight off infections. However at higher levels these adaptations become mutations in the DNA. This is not the first time oestrogen has been shown to trigger cancer causing genetic changes. (Journal of Experimental Medicine; Jan 2009)

Dr Leslie Walker of CRUK said that, This link is particularly pertinent to women receiving increased amounts of oestrogen for prolonged periods, during HRT for instance.

In recent years, a number of chemicals that, once in the body, can mimic the action of oestrogen have been shown to cause genetic damage.

(Ed: Readers should be clear that many cancers have been linked to oestrogen, not just the obvious female ones like breast and endometrial cancer. Some cancers like prostate, testicular, colon, brain tumours and even some lung cancers have been linked in research to higher levels of the human, or synthetic hormone, or its chemical mimics. It is quite remarkable that the EU looks at bans and dose restrictions on natural vitamins when the synthetic ones might be linked to a 10 per cent increase in cancer risk, yet does absolutely nothing when month in month out yet more research is produced on the clear links between HRT and cancer. Shouldnt Cancer research UK be calling for a ban on this dangerous synthetic supplement if their spokesperson is so concerned? It beggars belief, frankly.)

Breast patients risking their lives by not taking prescribed Tamoxifen

Breast cancer patients are risking their lives by failing to take the tamoxifen they are prescribed, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Half of the women failed to finish a five year course of the drug and one in five regularly forget to take a tablet. 

Experts already know that taking tamoxifen for five years increases survival chances and the new research reveals that women who miss at least one tablet every five days have a 10 per cent greater risk of dying.

The researchers - based at the University of Dundee and funded by the Medical Research Council and Breast Cancer Research (Scotland) - used the prescription records of more than 2000 women to see how many did not complete the standard treatment of a tamoxifen tablet every day and linked this to other health records to see if they were more likely to die.

The results show that 10 per cent of women followed for one year stopped taking tamoxifen, 19 per cent of the women followed for at least two years had stopped, 32 per cent of the women followed for three and a half years had stopped and a total of 51 per cent of women followed for five or more years had stopped taking the drug.

The study also showed that younger women were more likely to stop taking the medication early but there was no difference in the rich or poorer groups of women.

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UKs director of information, said: We know that tamoxifen saves lives, so these results are a real concern. Its not disastrous if women simply forget to take the occasional tablet but if they forget regularly and dont complete their treatment we need to know why. We need to make it clear that taking tamoxifen regularly for the full five years gives women the best chance of surviving breast cancer. If women are experiencing problems in taking any medication then we urge them to consult their doctor.

Clinical Trial shows acupuncture better than drug with breast cancer patients

A clinical trial, titled Acupuncture for the Treatment of Vasomotor Symptoms in Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Hormone Suppression Treatment, examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating women coping with the side effects of conventional breast cancer therapies and compared acupuncture treatment specifically to venlafixine therapy for 12 weeks. The trial was randomised to ensure the reliability of experimental results.

The research team was led by Eleanor Walker, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the Henry Ford Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology in Detroit, and the results published in the September issue of The International Journal of Radiation Oncology.

Dr. Walkers study involved 47 patients who received the common breast cancer treatment of Tamoxifen or Arimidex and, as a result, had at least 14 hot flashes per week as well as excessive sweating, night sweats and depression. The 47 women were randomly divided into an acupuncture group (24 patients) and a venlafaxine group (23 patients). The patients were carefully monitored before, during and after the 12 week period.

Both of the groups showed significant improvement in the adverse effects of breast cancer treatment. The study reported that acupuncture is at least as effective as venlafaxine in reducing vasomotor and other symptoms associated with anti-oestrogen hormonal treatment of breast cancer.

Although the main symptoms were decreased relatively equally among the two groups, the venlafaxine group reported a host of negative side effects such as nausea, dry mouth, headache, insomnia, dizziness, double vision, increased blood pressure, constipation, fatigue, anxiety, feeling spaced out, and body spasms at night. The acupuncture group reported none of these.

HRT dangers for Breast Cancer survivors

Breast cancer survivors who undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are significantly more likely to have their cancer recur than survivors who do not use HRT, according to a study conducted by researchers from Kings College London and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The results ... indicate a substantial risk for a new breast cancer event among breast cancer survivors using hormone-replacement therapy, according to the experts who wrote the report.

It seems that harmful side effects of HRT have finally been clearly demonstrated, wrote Kathy Pritchard of Canada’s Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre in an accompanying editorial.

We have long warned of HRT treatment, controversially described once by the German Health Minister as equivalent to the new Thalidomide. If Quack Busters, Governments and medical experts are thinking of banning synthetic vitamins which increase risks of death by 10 per cent according to certain studies, why not be consistent and think seriously about banning HRT?

Our results ... suggest that hormone therapy not only induces and promotes breast cancer, but may also stimulate the growth of tumour microdeposits in breast cancer survivors, the researchers wrote. The risk elevation is in line with the evidence from observational studies and randomized trials that [HRT increases the risk of breast cancer in healthy women. Enough said action please.

Tamoxifens genetic action

In a Cancer Research UK Press Release entitled Scientists crack the code to Tamoxifen resistance we thought readers would be interested to know that it states that, Previously it was known that tamoxifen worked by blocking oestrogen from causing unchecked cell growth in breast cancer by switching certain genes on but the mechanism by which this occurred was unknown.

This is interesting to thousands of women who have repeatedly been told that Tamoxifen simply blocks oestrogen receptor sites in cells preventing the hormone from accessing them and thus fanning the flames of cancer. However, in a study published in Nature (Dec 2008) scientists have reported that they have finally discovered the molecular basis for Tamoxifen response and why resistance occurs.

Researchers at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute have discovered for the first time the mechanism by which the breast cancer therapy tamoxifen operates. It switches off a breast cancer gene ErbB2 via a protein called Pax2. Pax2 acts as a switch to keep ErbB2 switched off. Tamoxifen resistance occurs when ErbB2 remains switched on.

Lead author, Dr Jason Carroll, said: We knew that women developed resistance to tamoxifen but previously our understanding of why this occurred could be compared with trying to fix a broken car without knowing how the engine worked. Now we understand how all the engine parts operate and we can try to think about ways to make repairs.

(Ed: Better late than never I suppose. But it seems a little worrying that thousands of women have been routinely taking a drug for which we had no idea how it worked).

Changes occur in breast HER-2 status with Herceptin

When treated with Herceptin prior to surgery, 50% of women with HER2-positive breast cancer showed no signs of disease at the time of surgery, according to new study findings from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. However, of those women who had residual disease, about one-third had tumours that converted from HER2-positive to HER2-negative status possibly indicating a resistance to the targeted therapy.

M. D. Anderson researchers presented the results Sept. 3 2008, in advance of the American Society for Clinical Oncology Breast Cancer Symposium held Sept 5-7 in Washington, D.C.

Approximately 30% of breast cancer cells have an excess amount of the HER2 protein on their surface, which makes the cancer more aggressive. Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody that latches on to these proteins and slows tumour growth. The drug was approved in 1998 for women whose advanced, metastatic breast cancer is HER2-positive. It was approved in 2006 for use in early stage patients.

However, it is known that a percentage of HER2-positive patients develop a resistance to Herceptin during treatment, and there have been several described mechanisms for Herceptin resistance, says Elizabeth Mittendorf, M.D., assistant professor in M. D. Andersons Department of Surgical Oncology.

Obviously, this research would suggest that firstly all women on Herceptin (because they were once HER-2 positive) are regularly tested; and, secondly, that those no longer HER-2 positive may as well come off it. 

Mittendorf, however, strongly cautions that more research is needed before women who have a change of HER2 status are taken off their scheduled Herceptin treatments following surgery.

The researchers plan to see if there are any other changes in these tumours that are consistent with what is known about Herceptin resistance, including other mutations and alterations in specific markers, Mittendorf says. If other tumour markers of resistance are found in these patients, it would support the idea that HER-2 status conversion promotes Herceptin resistance.

Were beating cancer

The chance of dying from cancer before the age of 84 is apparently becoming much smaller for most types of cancer and should continue falling over the next 20 years. At least, this is according to a new study from Cancer Research UK.

The study, published today in the British Journal of Cancer, looked at the rates of people dying from 21 of the most common types of cancer. It predicts a decline of 17 per cent in men and 16 per cent in women between 2003 and 2023.

The researchers used past trends in death rates between 1970 and 2005 to project what cancer death rates are likely to be in the next 20 years.

Breast cancer the most common cancer in the UK has had the most significant fall in deaths since 1988 even though the number of people diagnosed has been increasing. The number of men dying from prostate cancer has also seen a drop of one per cent a year, despite the numbers being diagnosed rising by four per cent a year.

The researchers believe the reasons for the fall are early detection, better cancer treatments and a drop in the number of people smoking.

Professor Peter Sasieni, epidemiologist and study author said: There are two reasons why we have seen a fall in cancer death rates. Firstly, the chance of developing cancer is getting lower as a result of lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking and better food hygiene. Secondly, more people are surviving cancer because, thanks to research, there are better treatments and more effective national screening programmes. And were predicting that the fall in cancer deaths rates will continue in the next twenty years.

Our study provides a benchmark against which we can measure the effect of new screening programmes and cancer treatments.

The researchers also predicted a rise in a few types of cancers including liver cancer in men.

The authors found that whilst the death rates are going down overall, the ageing population and increasing incidence for some cancers means that overall there will be more cancer deaths in 2025 than there were in 2005. (Ed: What I think they are saying in this PR release is that I am less likely to get cancer because Ive changed my lifestyle for the good, and I get screened. And if I do get it, they can treat me more successfully that they could in the past. The trouble is there are going to be lots more older people around so actual numbers of cancer deaths will increase.)

Breast fed babies means less breast cancer, unless you are first born

Women who were breastfed as infants have a lower risk of breast cancer as adults, (University of Wisconsin at Madison, Epidemiology).

Lead researcher Hazel B. Nichols said they had concluded that "As a general group, women who reported they had been breastfed in infancy had a 17 percent decrease in breast cancer risk. However, we did not observe this reduction when we looked specifically among first-born women."

Researchers interviewed 2,016 female breast cancer patients between the ages of 20 and 69, and 1,960 women who did not have the disease. They found that the women who had been breastfed as infants had a lower risk of breast cancer than the non-breastfed women. There was also no effect on cancer risk from the mother’s age at childbirth. However, women who were born first had a higher cancer risk than women who had three or more older siblings.

Indeed, when the researchers compared only firstborn women to each other, there was no difference in cancer rates between those who were breastfed and those who were not. Among women who had not been breastfed, a mother’s older age at childbirth corresponded to a lower cancer risk for the infant. There was no relationship found between cancer risk and birth order.

Computer to replace radiologist in mammogram screening

How many experts does it take to read a mammogram? At the moment in Britain, apparently, the answer is two. But if the Cancer Research recent study results are accepted into standard practice this will become one, plus a computer. This will free up the other radiologist to do more readings and thus enable more women to be screened annually in Britain.

The new study, published in early October in the New England Journal of Medicine, monitored the results on 28,000 women and showed that a single trained expert plus a computer is just as effective at detecting breast cancer as the two experts who traditionally read a mammogram in the UK.

The implications for the rest of the world are supposedly even more significant. The Press release states that in the United States and some other European countries only a single expert reads mammograms. This means that single readers using the computer aided detection programme (CAD) will be even more effective at detecting breast cancer. I wonder if these countries agree with the implication that they had been previously less accurate?

Undeterred the release writer adds The study has huge international significance, said Professor Fiona Gilbert of the University of Aberdeen and lead author of the study. Using CAD is likely to improve breast cancer detection in those countries where only a single reader is used.

Regular readers of iconwill know that we have an excellent overview of the issues (for example, covering safety, accuracy and false positives) click here . This study does not seem to alter the report conclusions we wrote originally.  Again from the Press release Professor Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UKs professor of cancer screening, said: this large study means we can now say for certain that this system is as good at detecting breast cancer as the one used as standard practice

Laboratory tests show promise for beating breast cancer

Bisphosphonates are often provided with other treatments to prevent bone loss and protect against pain and weakness associated with cancer, for example in multiple myeloma. 

Funded by Breast Cancer Campaign, Dr Penelope Ottewell, at the University of Sheffield, carried out a unique laboratory study to determine the effects of combining the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin and the bone-protecting drug zoledronic acid on the growth of established breast tumours.  

The treatments were given alone, in sequence and in combination to find the most effective order in which to give them. 

The results of the study, published in the August issue of Journal of the National Cancer Institute, have shown that treating breast cancer using doxorubicin followed 24 hours later by zoledronic acid has a dramatic result; almost complete elimination of breast tumour growth.  If these results are translated into real life the combination could ultimately lead to improved chances of survival for thousands of women currently undergoing breast cancer treatment. 

Project leader Dr Ingunn Holen said Our work - using a model system - has shown that treatment with the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin followed by zoledronic acid kills breast tumours. These results suggest that a patient may benefit the most if these two drugs are given in this particular order. We eagerly look forward to the results of a large breast cancer trial later this year to confirm our findings. This method of treatment could then quickly be incorporated into clinical practice. (Ed: Several issues are raised here. These are laboratory, not real life, tests. Do women currently taking the bisphonates alongside their breast cancer drugs have much higher survival rates? Also, given that these drugs are already approved, presumably quickly incorporated into clinical practice means that there will be no rigorous clinical trials then? Bish bosh.)

25 years of breast cancer cell research seriously flawed

This week, the online life sciences magazine, The Scientist, published an article whose implications for breast cancer research are profound.

Tumour cell lines - living cells taken from tumours and cultured in the laboratory - are the mainstay of cancer research at the most fundamental level, and are used as the model for studying tumour behaviour and response to treatment. For the past 25 years most of the laboratory research into metastatic breast cancer has been based on a single breast tumour cell line known as MDA-MB-435. At least 650 papers have been published on studies involving this cell line.

Yet it has been revealed that this supposed breast cancer cell line may in fact not be composed of breast cancer cells at all. Instead, it appears that the cells are derived from melanoma. For 25 years, therefore, breast cancer research using this cell line and it is one of the most widely used - has been based on an incorrect model. Melanoma-derived tumour cells are not biologically equivalent to breast cancer cells; they have different molecular and genetic characteristics.

The inferential leap from Petri dish to living human cancer patient is flawed logically anyway it is simply too large a jump to make. An enormous

number of drugs and experimental techniques show significant activity in cultured cancer cell lines, only to exhibit no benefit whatever when given to human subjects in a clinical setting.

Furthermore, cell lines can degenerate over time, becoming genetically unstable. But these are relatively small concerns compared to the discovery that MDA-MB-435, the cornerstone of US breast cancer research, is not breast cancer at all.

We are constantly being reminded that this is the era of evidence-based medicine. But if the very cell lines which have provided the foundation for breast cancer research for the past quarter of a century have now been conclusively shown to be melanoma cells, not breast cancer, how solid or trustworthy is the evidence on which current breast cancer treatment is based?

(Ralph Moss MD: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Megan Scudellari. The Scientist, September 16th 2008)  http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/55013/

Now HRT can mess up your mammograms too.

According to a new large-scale study conducted by researchers from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, HRT not only increases the risk of developing breast cancer, it can interfere with cancer diagnostic techniques, even after only taking it for as little as one year, causing increased numbers of women to be told that they have abnormalities in their breast tissue.

Researchers used data from 16,600 post-menopausal women who had participated in the National Institutes of Health’s Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). They compared women who underwent combined synthetic oestrogen-progesten HRT as a treatment for menopause symptoms with those who were given a placebo.

Back in 2002 the mixed synthetic oestrogen-progesten HRT trial was stopped as a doubling of breast cancer rates along with increases in strokes and heart disease had been witnessed. This latest study confirmed the original conclusion but also found evidence that problems could emerge more quickly than previously believed, and in younger women.

Most significantly, according to lead researcher Rowan Chlebowski, combined HRT increased women’s risk of having an abnormal reading from a mammogram whether or not it subsequently turned out to be a false alarm. This effect increased with time. For example, while 23 percent of the women in the placebo group had abnormal readings this rose to 35 percent in the mixed HRT group. 10 per cent of women in the mixed HRT group (as opposed to 6 percent in the control group) then went on to have breast biopsies.

Chlebowskis team also found mixed HRT may impact women just entering menopause as well. Adverse effects on mammogram and breast biopsy performance were seen even in younger women - even up to one year after the discontinuation of combined HRT.

HRT is known to cause breast tissue to become denser and dense tissue is not only more dangerous, it is harder to read from a mammogram. Breast cancer rates have declined by about 7 per cent in the USA and this has been attributed to less women taking HRT as the risks become more public.

Breast cancer drug combination produces better results

Women with an advanced and aggressive form of breast cancer may have a little more hope following a 66 person multi-country clinical trial, an audience at the American Society of Clinical Oncology heard in May 2008. All the women tested had advanced breast cancer that had spread to other organs.

The new drug works with women who have HER-2 positive breast cancer. This accounts for between 20 and 30 per cent of all cases. HER-2 protein sticks to the surface of cells making them very hard to treat and encouraging the spread of the cancer. The new drug, pertuzumab, stops the HER-2 protein binding to cells.

The women in the test had all been shown to be HER-2 positive and had been previously treated with Herceptin, but it had failed to slow the disease. In trials, the administration of the new drug halted the progression in half the cases, and in half of those it even shrunk the tumour.

The combination of Herceptin and pertuzumab is not currently licensed in the UK. Experts are saying that it could even be given as a preventative combination to women who dont yet have the disease but test HER-2 positive.

(Ed: Having read the press release a few times, I have to wonder if Herceptin is the wonder drug everybody claimed in the first place. This release implies that it stops working unless you have pertuzumab. Can this really be the case?)

Cancer subtypes originate differently- are different diseases

Some research evidence for the theory we have used in icon over the last 5 years has emerged from Cancer Research UK. Namely that there may be many ways to develop a cancer and that your cancer may well be as individual as you are. The CRUK study shows that there is a biological distinction between breast cancers that depend on hormones and those that do not. Apparently, (unlike the icon view), CRUK scientists previously thought that hormone dependent breast cancers, which usually require treatment with surgery and anti-hormone drugs, originated from the same biological pathway as hormone independent breast cancers, which are treated with surgery and chemotherapy.

The new discovery provides the strongest evidence yet that the subtypes originate from separate pathways and could guide future research into prevention and treatments for the cancer types as different diseases.

Cancer Research UKs Dr Paul Pharoah, lead author based at the University of Cambridge, said: We looked at five genetic variants associated with breast cancer to see if they were more likely to be found in hormone dependent or independent breast cancers.

One common genetic variant, FGFR2, was strongly associated with hormone dependent breast cancer, but weakly associated with hormone independent cancer. This shows that they have distinct genetic origins, and are different diseases.

(Ed: Yet more evidence that one size wont fit all when it comes to cancer cures- be they drugs or natural therapies. This research refers to breast cancer, but could easily apply to all cancers)

Patients increase survival with Vitamin D

We have frequently covered research showing the benefits of vitamin D if you have cancer, along with its benefits as a preventative agent. Now, in a new study, led by Pamela Goodwin, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, research concluded that women with vitamin D deficiency at the time of breast cancer diagnosis were 94 per cent more likely to experience cancer spread and 73 per cent more likely to die over the next 10 years compared to women with adequate vitamin D levels.

(Ed: Thanks to various UK Health Bodies and Cancer Charities telling people to keep out of the sun, vitamin D deficiency has been increasing - even in sunny climates like Australia. A week in the sun can give you 40,000 to 70,000 International Units of this vitamin that acts like a hormone. Cancer cells have been found to have higher numbers of vitamin D receptor sites.  Yet the maximum safe limit according to Governments is around 2,000 IUs per day with 400 IUs the usual recommended levels. If you cannot get 30 minutes in the sun every day, take 1,000 IUs, twice this if you have cancer.)

Another wonder drug arrives on our shores

As you probably know already I get disheartened by the contents of many of the PR releases I receive from Pharmaceutical Companies. Most just give a glowing account of the new drug - and the detail follows six weeks later, if at all.

Last year we covered a story that Doctors in Australia received virtually all their knowledge on new treatments via the Pharmaceutical Company PR departments, or by reading the press,; and these often amount to the same thing. Allow me to simply present what Sophie Goodchild reported in the Evening Standard:

A NEW tumour-busting wonder drug could bring hope to thousands of women with breast cancer, it was revealed today (17 April 2008). US researchers from the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Centre in Houston found that the drug helps eliminate tumour-causing breast cancer stem cells.

This is being heralded as a breakthrough because these cells are known to be resistant to conventional chemotherapy. The findings, based on a study of 45 patients with advanced breast cancer were presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Berlin. Lapatinib has not yet been given approval by the UK drugs regulator, NICE. This means that health trusts are not obliged to fund treatment so patients are left to go without or pay for the drug privately.

The results will put pressure on the Government to end the Postcode Lottery that exists with life-saving cancer drugs. Scientists predict that the drug could be used to beat other forms of cancer.

According to Dr Angel Rodriguez, who led the research the drug could be crucial to the eradication of cancer. Apparently, targeting stem cells may be more effective and also prevent some of the unpleasant side-effects associated with conventional chemotherapy.

(Ed: Clearly the rest of the cancer research community can now pack up their Petri dishes and go home. But just 45 people? Is that 23 given the drug matched with 22 given a placebo? What happened to double blind matched sample clinical trials, or was that only last year?  No mention of what the side effects were or how the drug manages to only knock out the breast stem cells? (The drug is delivered all round your body, and stem cells are all over your body, and you need them to make new tissues. Does it eradicate those too?) What about side effects? And note the NICE is already naughty if it doesnt let thousands of women have this life-saving drug.  I just love the phrase tumour-busting wonder drug. Hardly an overclaim, Im sure - but shouldnt journalists be asking questions of drugs like this? Isnt that our role in the Health community on behalf of our readers?

Lapatinib could well save the entire human race and I will be very happy for cancer patients if it is a true wonder drug, but that shouldnt stop we journalists asking what the side effects are; or, given the 38,000 women every year who develop breast cancer and are seemingly treated successfully with Tamoxifen, Arimidex or Herceptin, what proportion develop a stem cell-driven breast cancer that doesnt respond to these existing drugs? I actually feel sorry for NICE, who have a defined budget to allocate to the drugs that are proven to help people the most. They can do without being attacked in advance of making a decision. Especially and blatantly by a PR machine

EMFs reduce the effects of Tamoxifen in breast cancer treatment

Not for the first time (actually its about the eighth such study) research has shown that EMFs can interfere with the effectiveness of Tamoxifen.

We have covered the increased risks of breast cancer linked to EMFs several times. There is now serious concern about their effects on treatment as well.

A very large number of breast cancer patients are treated with the anti-oestrogen Tamoxifen. However Tamoxifen resistance is known to develop in some women and no one seems to fully understand why.

In a research article from a study by three German Universities, Rainer Girgert of the University of Gottingen and team leader, stated that electromagnetic fields reduce the efficacy of tamoxifen, similar to tamoxifen resistance. You may not understand the rest of their press release, but they are all pretty convinced - and no one is doing anything for breast cancer patients who might be affected - not even warning them!

In the study researchers investigated the mechanism by which electromagnetic fields influence the sensitivity to tamoxifen. In cells exposed to 1.2 T of a 50 Hz electromagnetic field gene expression of cofactors of the oestrogen receptors was compared to sham exposed cells. Using a gene array technology several cofactors were found to be differentially expressed. The expression of the coactivators, SRC-1 and AIB1, and of two corepressors, N-Cor and SMRT, was quantified by RT-PCR. Both coactivators were expressed more strongly in the exposed cells while the expression of two corepressors decreased. The RNA analysis was confirmed by Western blots. The contradirectional changes in gene expression of coactivators and corepressors by electromagnetic fields results in a lower sensitivity to tamoxifen. Electromagnetic fields may contribute to the induction of tamoxifen resistance in vivo. (Bioelectromagnetics 29:169-176, 2008. 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc). See, I said you wouldnt understand it!

Scientists use virus to kill off cancer cells and stimulate immune response

CANCER Research UK scientists have used the immune system coupled with a virus found in horses and cattle, to hunt and purge cancer cells through the lymphatic system, a study reveals in Nature Medicine.

Studying mice, the researchers found that the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), carried by a type of white blood cell called T cells acted as a cancer hunter, tracking down tumour cells in the lymph nodes, liver and spleen, and killed them, leaving normal healthy cells unharmed. At the same time, VSV also helped to trigger an immune response against the tumour, significantly improving the anti-cancer effect.

The team hope the findings will eventually lead to the production of new treatments to target some of the most common forms of cancer, including breast, bowel and prostate, as well as improve the development of future cancer vaccines.

This new technique has been developed as the result of an international collaboration between scientists based at Cancer Research UKs Clinical Centre in Leeds and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in the US.

As part of their work, the team took the T cells from mice, added a low dose of VSV in the laboratory, and then injected the cells back into mice with cancer. This treatment killed the tumour and stimulated an immune response against the cancer.

 Professor Alan Melcher, a Cancer Research UK clinician scientist at the Leeds Clinical Centre, said: Viruses that can specifically kill tumour cells are a promising new approach to the treatment of cancer, and some are already being tested in patients. In this laboratory study, we show the VSV can be particularly effective in mopping up tumour cells that have broken away from the primary tumour and spread via the lymphatics. By hitchhiking on T cells, the virus can travel through the lymphatic system, hunting down and purging lymph nodes and potentially other sites of cancer cells.

More evidence that your mental state can give you cancer

In the October/November 2007 edition of Epidemology a study of 36,000 Swedish women showed that stress at work can increase your risk of breast cancer.

Studying the women (all between the ages of 30 and 50 at the start of the 14 year period ending in 2004) researchers ruled out the effects of alcohol, weight, number of children and so on.

The researchers reported that those women with full time stressful jobs had a 30 per cent increased risk of breast cancer. Dr Hannah Kuper of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was one of the leaders of the team felt that the stress might result in higher oestradiol levels or simply weaken the immune system.

The results prompted Cancer Research to state that they had never found a link between stress or any adverse life experiences and cancer, in any of their studies.

Abortion and breast cancer risk

A report in an American Medical Journal has caused concerns by covering a study which predicts that breast cancer levels in the UK will rise from almost 40,000 per year currently to 65,000 by 2025 and points the finger at abortions. The figures are based on a study which claims abortion increases risk by 30 per cent.

As regular readers will know we have looked into this and there are a number of research studies, which completely rule out any increased risk of breast cancer following abortions. Cancer Research UK agrees with us. Dr Lesley Walker recently stated that women should not be worried about this; a number of large independent studies including a recent re-analysis of data from 53 studies has found no evidence of a link.

Screening system to replace mammograms

According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Screening for breast ancer with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is significantly more effective at identifying suspicious breast lesions than other existing screening methods such as mammography and ultrasound. The

limitation is that MRI screening is not always accurate in distinguishing between cancerous and non-cancerous breast lesions, a fact that leads to a number of unnecessary and invasive biopsies. However, a recent study conducted at Memorial Sloan-Kettering found that combining MRI screening with a scanning tool known as magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy can help radiologists in diagnosing breast cancer by producing fewer false-positive results and reducing the

number of avoidable biopsies. that measures chemical substances known as choline compounds, which are produced by cancerous breast tumors. MR spectroscopy helps radiologists to differentiate between benign and malignant tumors, while adding only an additional ten minutes to the screening time. This ability to differentiate between tumor types is especially important in pre-menopausal

women, who sometimes develop benign non-mass lesions as a result of variations in their hormone levels. Dr Elizabeth Morris of Sloan-Kettering commented, Breast MR spectroscopy is an exciting tool that may make breast cancer diagnosis much more specific, so that a woman does not have to undergo biopsy for a benign condition.(Radiology, October 2007)

Men with breast cancer - higher risk of second cancer

So say researchers from UCLA, Irvine (Breast Cancer research: online Jan 25th, 2007; DOI; 10; 1186).  Apparently 11.5 per cent of men with breast cancer developed a second cancer they were using data from the California Cancer Registry. They recommend careful monitoring of all male breast cancer patients, after linking the finding to problems with the BRCA1 and 2 immune system genes.

Cancer risk with Dairy Again

icon has covered research before on links to ovarian, breast and prostate cancers. Now research from New York, where 5,000 people were followed for 65 years suggests that those children who grew up in families with the highest Dairy consumption (nearly two cups per day each) had close to three times the risk of colorectal cancer later in life. The study led by Dr Jolieke van der Pols of Queensland, looked at children from England and Scotland.

Hormone treatment to replace drugs for younger women

Around 5,500 pre-menopausal breast cancer patients could be offered a hormone drug that is shown to be as effective as traditional chemotherapy and so avoid potential infertility and long-term menopausal side effects - according to a Cancer Research UK report published in The Lancet. (May 2007)

Hormone therapy drugs which stop the ovaries from producing oestrogen is as effective as conventional chemotherapy for many pre-menopausal breast cancer patients with the added benefit of them being better tolerated by patients.

This means women, whose breast cancer is hormone sensitive may not need to risk becoming permanently infertile or suffering the unpleasant side effects caused by chemotherapy.

The report showed that when pre-menopausal women were treated with a particular hormone therapy drug their chance of the disease recurring was no higher than having chemotherapy alone.

The drugs, called LHRH agonists, stop the pituitary gland producing luteinising hormone, and so remove the stimulus for the ovaries to make oestrogen. But once the treatment stops the ovarian function usually returns to normal. When younger breast cancer patients have chemotherapy the treatment accelerates the menopause and can deny women the chance to have children.

Insulin resistence/intolerance found to increase cancer risk

A while ago, at CANCERactive we told you all about Insulin Resistance. Do you have trouble losing weight? This is a common sign, as are low levels of HDL, high triglycerides, high blood glucose levels and more. And while you are not a true diabetic, the principles seem the same for an estimate of up to 70 per cent of the population, who (frankly) just eat badly. We have also given you a number of research studies showing glucose drives cancer.

Not surprisingly, insulin resistance is a step along the road to diabetes and heart disease. Now it has been shown to be a step along the road to cancer too.

New research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, concluded that there is a strong link between insulin resistance and the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York have concluded that the elevated insulin levels linked to insulin resistance result in post-menopausal women having a higher risk of breast cancer.

The researchers also found that elevated blood glucose and triglyceride levels raised the risk of breast cancer by 1.7 times. Increased diastolic blood pressure (the second number when you have your blood pressure measured ) raised the risk of breast cancer 2.4 times.

Two factors are important here:

  1. Although this research was conducted looking at breast cancer, you can bet this is true for many cancers, male and female.
  2. Yet again it highlights the point we consistently make about the daft sugar-laden diets given to cancer patients in UK Hospitals.

We have complained that the NHS booklet on a diet for chemotherapy shows little drawings of cheese burgers, milk shakes and sticky doughnuts on every page. My daughter was given ice cream and Ribena endlessly in her oncology unit.

Of course the good news for everyone preventers and people with cancer - is that insulin resistance and blood sugar levels are controllable and reverse-able. Just change your diet!!!

I will list here for everyones benefit some of the tips from my book The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer:

  • Eat six small meals a day, not one or two big ones
  • Eat whole foods and whole grains (never refined, processed or fast foods)
  • Avoid alcohol, fizzy soft drinks, sweets, cakes, white bread, white pasta, biscuits, chocolate. Diet drinks are especially bad! As are smoothies and purchased fruit juices; even many so-called health drinks.
  • Eat raw most days, on an empty stomach if possible
  • Eat your fruit first thing in the morning on an empty stomach
  • Eat steamed or grilled never fried
  • Avoid Dairy (lactose is a sugar)
  • Take probiotics in several strains
  • Ensure you have no yeast excesses in your body (take cinnamon, oregano, Pau DArco and wormwood). And eat fresh raw garlic.
Remember, research from North Western shows that if you lose excess weight you reduce risk and even improve survival times.

The book contains far more detailed advice.

Being overweight increases cancer risk fact

Cancer Research UK have just researched 4,000 people and come up with the staggering fact that 97 per cent of people have no idea that being overweight is a significant cancer risk. Of course, had they read our report on the research we conducted 4 years ago they would have known that people havent much a clue what does cause cancer anyway. Indeed we went into all the key issues in our 2004 Cancer Prevention Conference, which was poorly attended by the major charities.

As we have been telling people for seven years, it all depends which report you read, and how much overweight you are, but to be just 7 kgs overweight knocks over 5 years off your life expectancy, and a whopping 13 years if you smoke as well. .All this is well documented in my book, Everything you need to know to help you beat cancer  indeed it has been there since the first edition some 7 years ago.

All this comes in parallel with new Swedish research showing overweight women tend to be diagnosed with higher grade cancers than ladies who have restrained their weight.

One of the real issues is that many overweight people are in denial. We have had ladies write to us with breast cancer and they are 13 kgs over normal weight for their height. One described herself as cuddly, another as being a bit chunky.

In our original 2004 prevention research, people stated that giving up smoking was important, as was avoiding excess alcohol, and staying out of the sun. As we pointed out at the time, Burning is bad, sunshine is sensible. 4 years ago there was too much bad science coming from cancer charities suggesting sunshine was carcinogenic. In fact there is actually a great deal of research that suggests that a daily dose of sun shine promotes vitamin D synthesis in the body, and reduces cancer risk. A few people also knew that exercise was a risk reducer. But, in all, few people knew any information about preventing cancer (unlike Heart disease or AIDS) and blame for this lack of information can only be laid at the doors of the Government and the cancer charities. It was in response to this research finding that CANCERactive decided to adopt the Precautionary Principle (that where there is expert research expressing concern, we will pass on that research information so that the people of Britain can make more informed choices). As a result just compare the volume of Prevention Topics we cover against those listed on the major charities web sites. Pesticides? EMFs? Melatonin? Toxic Chemicals, from dioxins to oestrogen mimics in plastic bottles and preservatives?

Anyone who is unsure of the factors that may increase cancer risk should go to the prevention part of our web site where they will find more information on more possible causes than on any other UK charity web site. As you will see, we have given some weight to the issue of cancer prevention!

Men more likely to get cancer the issue is why?

Men are almost 40 per cent more likely than women to die from cancer, reveals a report published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). And they are 16 per cent more likely to develop the disease in the first place.

After excluding breast cancer and cancers specific to one or other sex from the analysis, the difference is even greater with men being almost 70 per cent more likely to die from cancer and over 60 per cent more likely to develop the disease.

The researchers then looked at the figures, excluding lung cancer as well, because the disease and its main risk factor, smoking, is known to be more common in men.They expected to see that, across the broad range of remaining cancer types, men and women were just as likely as each other to die from and get the disease. But they found that for all of these cancers combined, men were still 70 per cent more likely than women to die from cancer and 60 per cent more likely to get cancer.

Experts suggest that a possible explanation for the differences seen for some types of cancer could be down to stereotypical male behaviour like down-playing important early symptoms and having an unhealthy lifestyle.

Need to prevent thousands of older people dying from cancer, prematurely

As many as 15,000 people over 75 could be dying prematurely from cancer each year in the UK, according to research presented today at the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference.

These premature deaths could be prevented if cancer mortality rates in the UK dropped to match countries in Europe and America which have the lowest rates.

The researchers from the North West Cancer Intelligence Service (NWCIS) in Manchester compared cancer death rates in the UK with Europe and America.

They found that over the past decade the numbers of people dying from cancer in the under 75s has significantly dropped in the UK. But, little progress has been made in the over 75s and the gap in death rates with other countries is getting wider.

Dr Tony Moran, lead researcher from NWCIS, said Its worrying that so many older people die from cancer in the UK compared with other countries. But, its not clear why this is. Research is urgently needed to understand the reasons for the extra deaths so that steps can be taken to prevent them.

Even rogue cancer DNA repairs itself

CRUK scientists (Nature) have discovered a sensor which exists even in cancer cells. Some drugs try to damage cancer DNA. This sensor system is actually a family of proteins (alkyltransferase-like proteins or ATLs) warns the cell and activates the DNA repair systems and so the drugs lose their effect.

New scientific study reveals flaws, even fraud, in Clinical Trials

Scientific study. Clinical Trial, Gold Standard. Non Sequetor. Well, at least according to Dr Daniele Fanelli at the University of Edinburgh. In a recent study Fanelli lists findings such as

  • Most clinical results are misleading
  • 5 per cent of scientists have admitted falsifying results
  • One third of scientists admitted observing such bad practice in others

Fanellis report states that the misconduct is more prevalent in clinical, medical, and pharmaceutical research. So much for the gold standard; but then he goes on to refer to the high profits at stake where a few word changes can make all the difference, even if its not fraud but presentation.

He also comments on studies that criticise vitamins suggesting that all too often, doses used are too low to have an effect, or the where vitamin tested is known not to have an effect on a particular disease whereas another, untested one, is.

All this coincides with a USA FDA report that reports deficiencies and flaws in up to 20 per cent of US drug clinical trials.

Organic foods are better ignore the UK Food Standards Agency

All over the UK papers comes news of the ruling from the FSA that organic food is no more nutritious than other foods. According to that well known medical journal, the Daily Mail, watchdogs have declared this to be true.

Claiming to be the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine trawled through more than 50,000 studies on the value of foods since 1958. The results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dr Alan Dangour (a public health nutritionist, no less) who was the lead researcher stated that, Currently there is no research to support the selection of organically produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.

Spokesperson Gill Fine from the FSA burbled on about, Ensuring people had accurate information and no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic foods.

What staggers us at CANCERactive is that in order to resolve this very same question the EU has just spent 12 million of tax payers money conducting as near as can be, the definitive Clinical Trial, growing fields of organic food in parallel with normal pesticide and fertiliser-grown crops and then employing top scientists to give us the results. The FSA, which is after all a Government funded unit, ought to know this and use the data. And be clear, Gill: The accurate information is that there is a considerable difference. And this is just from early assessments. The project will continue for a few more years yet, as that is how long it takes to be sure. Professor Carlo Leifert, one of the CANCERactive patrons, is a lead member of the team.We covered the early conclusions in this very magazine.

The Daily Mail falls into the usual bad science trap too, meandering on about 50 years of research and 50,000 studies. But, the researchers didnt use 50,000 studies, they used, sorry selected, 55 that met their criteria, whatever they were. So one concludes therefore they left out a mere 49,945 studies from their conclusions. Perhaps one was the definitive EU study?

Then there is Dr Alan no evidence to support nutritional superiority Dangour. I quote about 10 - 15 such studies in my book The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer. Leifert and his team have a hundred more! What planet do these people live on? Al, old chap, there is rather a lot of scientific evidence actually; I cannot believe you think there is none..

But for the last word we will return to Gill no additional health benefit Fine. All I can conclude is that she finds pesticides tasty and of absolutely harmless. Of course that view would put her directly at odds with the EU, which recently concluded that there were deep concerns and cited health hazards including cancer as a need for more regulation. It is puzzling that Gill ensuring people have accurate information Fine does not seem to be telling you all about  research studies showing that farmers using pesticides develop more multiple myeloma, and another that this is due to the pesticide making pre-cancerous MGUS proteins in the blood, or (for example) that some third world suppliers to British retailers still use the banned pesticides of DDT and Lindane, each linked to higher rates of Breast Cancer. (If she is unsure, she could always trawl through back issues of Cancer Watch for more accurate information.)

For the record, there is concern that organic foods grown on depleted soils offer little in additional mineral content over mass-farmed foods. How could they? On basic vitamins there is quite a lot of evidence that organic food is superior, but sometimes not by much. The real advantage seems to come in the area of complex natural compounds (like resveratrol, quercitin, omega 3 or polyphenols) where organic foods score much more highly. For example, the use of fungicide negates the need for grapes to produce fungus fighting resveratrol of their own several studies have measured this. And even 10 years ago researchers didnt know too much about these compounds or their health benefits, and so did not research for them. How many such studies were in the selected group?

Personally I dont think everybody should rush off and buy everything organic we have told you which foods research studies show are more likely to hold their pesticides, and which do not. So in a number of cases there is not a lot to worry about. But red fruits like strawberries and greens like broccoli do need extra caution before using the sprayed versions.

It is all very sad really. I think that the people, and especially the patients who want to beat cancer deserve better than this. But then, thats why we set up CANCERactive.

Caroteinoids help beat breast cancer

Two new studies, one from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York and the other from Harvard show that eating those colourful red, yellow and orange vegetables not only reduces the risk of developing breast cancer, they can help prevent it returning.

In both cases the groups studied almost halved their risk. (International Journal of Cancer, 2009 Jun 15; 124(12):2929-37. Cancer Epidemiology; Biomarkers and Prevention. 2009 Feb; 18(2):486-94).

Carotenoids are widespread in nature and a fundamental part of The Rainbow Diet. You should eat more red and yellow peppers, watermelon, apricots, sweet potatoes, spinach and cabbage. There is much more on our CANCERactive web site look up both vitamin A and beta-carotene.

Drop in deaths from most common cancers

The death toll from three of the UKs most common cancers has dropped to its lowest level for almost 40 years, according to new figures released by CRUK.

Mortality rates for breast, bowel, and male lung cancer are at their lowest since 1971 even though more than 100,000 people are now diagnosed with these kinds of cancers every year.

Breast cancer deaths peaked in 1989 with 15,625 women dying from the disease. The latest figures for 2007 show that figure has dropped to 11,990 which is equivalent to a drop in mortality rates of 36 per cent.

Bowel cancer deaths peaked in 1992 with 19,598 men and women dying from the disease. In 2007 16,007 died - equivalent to a drop in mortality rates of 31 per cent.

And the number of men dying from lung cancer peaked in 1979 at 30,391 but dropped to 19,637 in 2007 a drop in mortality rates of 53 per cent.

According to the PR release, although more people are getting cancer because the population is living longer, Cancer Research UK believes that fewer are dying from the disease because new and better treatments and screening are making a real difference. And deaths from lung cancer have been falling as more people give up smoking. (Ed: So why are they getting lung cancer in the first place?)

CANCERactive adds that increased patient self-help and knowledge (for example the use of the Internet by over half of cancer patients currently) must also be a significant factor in these figures. How many less women have died because they gave up HRT?

There is also a much greater awareness and usage of complementary therapies and new alternatives to standard chemotherapy nowadays. There is also increased availability and usage of specialist complementary centres. And what of the nurses? They now perform a strong informative and supporting role to back up their improved standards of care. In Cancer Watch we have covered several studies showing that improved standards of palliative care resulted in greater survival time than taking certain drugs!

Frankly, at CANCERactive we tire of the complacent and positively inaccurate view that these improvements are all down to better drugs and more screening. These PR releases simply ignore both the reality of the situation and the expertise and considerable input of nurses and complementary healthcare experts. Not to mention the patients own efforts and self-empowerment to beat their disease.

Breast cancer is the drug causing a problem?

A report presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology held recently in Orlando, Florida, by the Research on Adverse Drug Events and Reports (RADAR) pharmacovigilance programme at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found there were 287 unique cases of hypersensitivity reactions submitted to the FDA’s Adverse Event Report System between 1997 and 2007 in patients who received Cremophor-based paclitaxel, a solvent-administered taxane chemotherapy. Of these, 38 percent or 109 individuals, died. Researchers warned that actual numbers could be even higher due to the specific recording system.

The women died from a severe allergic reaction. Sadly, the researchers found some of the dead women had already been treated for early stage breast cancer and had every expectation of cure. "The deaths of women with early-stage breast cancer are particularly disturbing because without the adverse reaction, they could have likely had 40 years of life ahead of them," study leader Charles Bennett, M.D., RADAR program coordinator and a professor of haematology/oncology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School, stated in a media release. (http://www.oncolink.com/treatment/a).

Breast cancer survival check your lymph nodes

Checking lymph nodes during surgery and assessing the hormone status of tumours could help improve breast cancer survival in the UK, according to research published in Annals of Oncology. In a study of over 9,000 breast cancer patients at 10 hospitals in the East of England, researchers found that hospitals with a better average survival were those where surgeons checked lymph nodes during surgery in more than 90 per cent of patients.

Professor Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UK professor of screening and study author, said: We found that the proportion of women under 70 who had lymph node checks as recommended by NICE ranged from 81 per cent to 94 per cent with the hospitals with higher percentages having better survival.

The study also found that, for women over 70, having surgery to remove their tumour and checking the hormone type were the two main factors which explained survival differences between hospitals. The hospitals showing better survival in the over 70s were those which assessed the hormone receptor status in more of their patients.(Ed: Do some hospitals really not check hormone status of breast cancer patients in this day and age?)

Two foods help reduce risk of Breast-cancer by 90 per cent

According to a study from the University of Western Australia in Perth, two foods commonly eaten as part of the traditional Chinese diet can reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer by as much as 90 percent (International Journal of Cancer).

Researchers compared consumption of mushrooms and green tea between two groups of Chinese women, one with breast cancer and one without. They found that women who ate at least 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of fresh medicinal mushrooms per day had a 64 percent lower risk of developing the disease than those who did not eat as much. Those who also regularly drank green tea reduced their risk by a total of 90 percent.

This is not the first study supporting the effects of these foods. Medicinal Mushrooms are known to boost the immune system and restrict tumour growth, whilst the polyphenols in green tea will also boost the immune system and reduce free radical levels.

Fish oils beat the breast cancer drug for effectiveness

The omega-3 essential fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is more effective at reducing the size of breast cancer tumors than the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, and can also reduce that drug’s harmful side effects, reports a new study published in the journal Cell Division.

After research studies on mice lead researcher A.M. El-Mowafy of Egypt’s Mansoura University said, "Our results suggest a new, fruitful drug regimen in the management of solid tumours based on combining cisplatin and possibly other chemotherapeutics with DHA. DHA elicited prominent chemo-preventative effects on its own, and appreciably augmented those of cisplatin as well. Furthermore, this study is the first to reveal that DHA can obliterate lethal cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity [kidney damage and renal tissue injury."

In animals who received 125 milligrams per kilogram of DHA, tumour growth was 38 percent less than in animals who received a placebo. Animals receiving cisplatin had 55 percent less tumour growth, while those treated with 250 milligrams per kilogram of DHA had 79 percent less. The combination of DHA and cisplatin not only reduced tumour growth by 81 percent compared with a placebo, it also returned white blood cell counts to normal levels. The 250 milligram per kilogram dose of DHA was nearly as effective at restoring a normal white blood cell count as the DHA-cisplatin combination. (Natural News).

Obese women at greater risk of worse breast cancer

Researchers at Geneva University have looked at obesity, body fat, oestrogen levels and breast cancer and concluded that not only do overweight women develop more breast cancers, they have more aggressive cancers. Apparently women who are overweight are often diagnosed with tumours that are two to three times bigger than normal women and are more often Stage III or IV.

Are mammograms useful in detecting breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer mortality in women and the fifth most common cause of overall cancer death worldwide. But new research from the University of Nebraska and the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County (BioMed Central Medical Informatics and Decision Making) shows that even with women who have the screening subset of mammography-detectable cancers, there is a less than 5 percent chance that a mammogram will save her life.

The researchers, led by radiologist John Keen, noted that a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer between the ages of 55 and 70 is approximately 6 percent, with a 1 percent chance of breast cancer causing her death. The researchers concluded that by starting mammogram screening at age 50, 1.8 lives would be saved for every 1,000 women who were screened every year for 15 years. At age 40 this would only reduce a womans risk of dying by 0.1 percent. Keen added that this did not mean that mammograms were useless but that medical people recommending them needed to be clearer on exactly what the benefit rates were, when compared to the known risks.

Tamoxifen can it cause a second, more dangerous breast cancer?

In a new study published by Cancer Research online on August 25th 2009, researchers observe that breast cancer survivors have a substantially higher risk of developing a second primary new cancer in the other breast, when compared to the rate in the general population. And this cancer can be more dangerous.

While hormone therapy, (in this study, the use of Tamoxifen) reduces overall risk of reoccurrence by about 40 per cent, preliminary data from this new study indicate that it may also increase the risk of hormone receptornegative contralateral tumors. The study involved a matched control of women and showed that compared with women not treated with hormonal therapy, users of adjuvant tamoxifen for 5 or more years had a reduced risk of ER+ contralateral breast cancer but a 4.4-fold increased risk of ER- contralateral breast cancer. The researchers concluded that Although adjuvant hormonal therapy has clear benefits, risk of the relatively uncommon outcome of ER- contralateral breast cancer may now need to be tallied among its risks. This is of clinical concern given the poorer prognosis of ER- compared with ER+ tumors. [Cancer Res 2009;69(17):686570

Nanoparticles use bee venom to kill cancer

Neelesh R Soman and colleagues at Washington UniversitySchool of Medicine, St Louis, (Journal of Clinical Investigation ) looked into how melittin (a component of honey-bee venom which punches holes in cell membranes, could help deliver cancer killing nanoparticles to tumours in mice.

The tests were conducted with melanoma and breast cancer, and in these early stages the nanoparticles stopped tumour growth and caused some reduction in size when compared to placebos. 

Vitamin A can reduce damaging effects of oestrogen

Known to drive many cancers from breast, to colon, to prostate and even some brain tumours, oestrogen causes its damage by binding to cellular receptor sites. Now scientists at the University of Chicago have shown that a metabolite of vitamin A (retinoic acid) can compete with and block this damaging action. Whereas oestrogen causes random and raid cell growth to occur, the retinoic acid was found to normalise proceedings. Professor Kevin White, director of the Institute for Genomics and System Biology at the University of Chicago and his team have even mapped the effects against areas of the genome affecting breast cancer, (published in Cell). In a follow up study the scientists discovered the more strongly a tumour responded to retinoic acid, the greater the chances of long-term survival and a lack of relapse.

Mushrooms help fight breast, prostate and bladder cancers

We have covered this claim on several occasions in Cancer Watch before. Two new research studies seem to put it all in context.

Firstly, from the University of Western Australia in Perth comes research on Chinese women which shows that women who eat 10 gms of button mushrooms a day only developed one third of the breast cancers of women who did not eat mushrooms.

The reason given was their content of linoleic acid, which acts like an Aromatase inhibitor drug, and restricts the bodys oestrogen production.

The same study noted that if women consumed green tea as well their risk fell to just one in 10 when compared with women on a normal diet. Green tea has been shown to have a similar oestrogen restricting effect.

Next, scientists have discovered that the maitake mushroom can shrink tumours by as much as 75 per cent. Maitakes are common in Chinese and Japanese cooking. Hitherto, they have been used to treat blood pressure and liver disease, but some Japanese cancer hospitals have used them as a complementary therapy for a number of years. Researchers, lead by Dr Sensuke Konno, head of urology at the New York Medical Center, have published their findings in the British Journal of Urology (December 2009). Their research showed that with two cancers bladder and prostate the mushrooms could shrink the tumours and in some cases this even resulted in the cancer disappearing. In many of the cases the extract stopped the cancer growth. Researchers believe this is because a particular enzyme was activated which stops cancer growth.

Previous studies have shown the benefits of these so called medicinal mushrooms with breast cancer. One study by scientists in California (Feb 2009) seems to show that breast cancer patients who eat the mushrooms twice a day, prevent the cancer returning. This is thought due to an active ingredient which reduces oestrogen production.

The new research from New York Medical Center has been dubbed a breakthrough because it took extracts of the mushrooms in much smaller amounts than previously, but used them in conjunction with interferons, which can significantly boost the immune system. We cover interferon in some detail on this web site.

Mammograms endanger women with a higher risk of breast cancer

There is much debate over the use of regular screening mammograms. (To read the whole truth on the subject you can click here.) Women with a higher risk of breast cancer, due to genetic factors for example, are often encouraged to go for annual screening mammograms.

Now research presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America warns that this can be dangerous and actually cause more cancers in this at risk group, especially amongst the under-40s.

Women in the higher-risk group had a 150 per cent increased risk of developing breast cancer if they had even a low-dose annual mammogram. Some women were even recorded with a cancer rate two and a half times greater than the norm.

The Society recommended that these at-risk women looked at non-radiation alternatives such as Thermography and Ultrasound.

(Ed: This is actually not new news as we covered in Cancer Watch before: Women who are carriers of a gene mutation (thats about 7 per cent of all women) may be well advised to be careful and go nowhere near a mammogram. In an article in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers claimed the radiation dose from mammograms may actually cause breast cancer in women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer. In the study which looked at 1,600 European women with known mutations in BRAC1 or BRAC2 genes (mutations that put women at a much higher risk for developing breast cancer), researchers said women in the study who had at least one chest X-ray were 54 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who never had one!

The 2006 study went on to say that these women might want to consider being screened with magnetic resonance imaging instead of X-rays

Walnuts help fight breast cancer too

Researchers from the Marshall University School of Medicine have reported that a diet rich in walnuts (such as the Rainbow Diet in the Mediterranean) significantly reduces a womans risk of breast cancer (American Association for Cancer Research)

The study worked with mice who were given cancer. However, those whose diet included walnuts had less breast cancers, and when they did appear, they came on later in life and the tumours were smaller.

The omega 3 content, phytosterol, mono-unsaturated fat content and antioxidant levels were all possible factors.

Women shy away from Tamoxifen breast cancer prevention use

We have covered a similar research study before. This time it is research from the University of Michigan. It seems that when women are given objective and balanced information which explains both the benefits and the risks involved in taking Tamoxifen as a cancer preventative agent, less than one per cent of women want to use the drug. (Click here to read our report on Tamoxifen). The study in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, followed 632 women, who were recommended to use Tamoxifen by their Doctor.

Side effects include a higher risk of endometrial cancer, hot flushes and blood clots.

Lack of Vitamin D link to Breast Cancer

St Georges Hospital in London have come up with a most amazing statistic from their research. Women with low levels of vitamin D in their breast tissue have a 354 per cent greater risk of breast cancer. In other words almost 4 times more!

The best source of vitamin D is the action of sunshine on the cholesterol layers below your skin. But it is difficult to get this when you are wrapped up in jackets and scarves in Arctic Britain. A long way behind this as a source comes oily fish, with hardly anything of importance lying in third place.

If you cant get half an hour of sunshine per day, supplement. Read our article on vitamin D, a vitamin that actually acts as if it were a hormone in the body, and for which receptor sites have been found on the surface of cancer cells. Vitamin D helps convert them back to normal healthy cells. It should be a crucial part of every readers anti-cancer programme. (Click here to read our latest article on vitamin D)

DCIS breast cancer lower levels of mastectomy

We have reported on DCIS before in Cancer Watch. Especially in 2005/6 and especially in terms of the conflicting views of this disease. American Scientists, reporting at the annual US Breast Cancer Conference in California stated that 50 per cent of all mammogram detections were ductal irregularities, while 50 per cent were lobular.

They then went on to state that:

1) DCIS is not breast cancer but calciferous deposits in the milk ducts of the breast

2) 80 per cent of these ductal irregularities never become full blown breast cancer.

We then looked at how natural compounds (like omega 3 and vitamin D) might both thus reduce the calciferous deposits naturally. High blood levels of these natural compounds are proven to be linked to lower levels of breast cancer.

Shortly afterwards, our own patron Professor Tony Howell sent out a press release from his team at Christie Hospital, Manchester saying that DCIS was an extremely dangerous type of breast cancer, and they were going to run a Tamoxifen against Arimidex trial to see which drug prevented it better.

Confused? We were.

Now comes a report in the British Journal of Cancer on the Sloane Project that over 60 per cent of women who have DCIS diagnosed are now spared a mastectomy.

Apparently the size of the DCIS measured by both imaging and pathology relates to the surgeons decision of whether to conserve or remove the breast.

Researchers found that, out of 2,500 women who had DCIS detected by breast screening, around 70 per cent of patients had conservation surgery to remove the disease and save the breast.

Of those who had conservation surgery, 71 per cent only needed one operation to remove the cancer, 19 per cent needed a further operation and 10 per cent went on to have a mastectomy.

Ductal carcinomas in situ (DCIS) is termed non-invasive when confined to the ducts of the breast and has not spread to the surrounding tissues of the breast or other parts of the body. It is therefore curable if removed completely, but if left untreated may become invasive breast cancer.

This research is part of a large review of screen-detected DCIS and its treatment over the past five years through the Sloane Project, investigating the best treatment methods for DCIS.

Apparently 90 per cent of patients offered breast conservation for DCIS have a successful surgical outcome, usually from one operation, and avoid mastectomy.

Professor Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UKs professor of screening at Queen Mary University of London, said:  In the screening era, large numbers of breast cancers are diagnosed at the DCIS stage. We have a responsibility to see that these cancers are not overtreated. Therefore it is good to see that the vast majority do not get a mastectomy.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: In the past treatment for DCIS was nearly always mastectomy so its really encouraging to see that now around 60 per cent of women with DCIS have only the affected area removed, along with a border of healthy tissue around it.

(Ed: This research still doesnt really clear up the confusion though. If the American Professor from UCLA was right, that 80 per cent of DCIS never became breast cancer, it would be expected that 80 per cent of women having the DCIS irregularity removed in surgery by a lumpectomy, would not subsequently develop breast cancer, wouldnt it? Its all very puzzling. And worse if youve been diagnosed with DCIS.)

Half of all women treated for breast cancer develop chronic pain

Women who have breast cancer treatment may experience chronic pain long after the cancer is gone. A Study by Danish Researchers and reported in JAMA (Nov 11) showed that half of all women treated for breast cancer with drugs and/or radiotherapy and/or surgery reported ongoing pain several years after the orthodox therapy had been completed. And half of those described it as chronic with 80 per cent saying it occurred on a daily basis.

New drug for triple-negative breast cancers

Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York have announced results from studies in cell cultures and mouse models which suggest that the experimental targeted therapy PU-H71 may be effective against one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer which are triple negative that is they are not linked to oestrogen, progesterone or HER-2 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 2009).

PU-H71 inhibits heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), which plays a role in several types of cancer, including breast cancer, by stabilising other cancer-causing proteins. "We discovered this class of compounds at the Center about ten years ago and have been studying it since," said Memorial Sloan-Kettering chemical biologist Gabriela Chiosis, the studys senior author. "When we created PU-H71, we realised it had all the properties to make it a good Hsp90 inhibitor. It stays in cancer cells a long time, but rapidly clears from normal cells, which means that we can give high doses with little toxicity to healthy tissue."

"We are partnering with the National Cancer Institute to further develop this drug," Dr. Chiosis explained. "We are now working on additional toxicity studies and hope to begin an early-stage clinical trial next year."

New Breast Cancer gene discovered?

NRG1 is a newly discovered gene that scientists believe lies at the heart of half of all breast cancers.  Dr Paul Edwards at the Department of Pathology in Cambridge discovered the gene which does not appear to be hereditary. In fact it is a tumour-suppressor gene and commands the destruction of rogue cells until the gene itself goes faulty. It is very likely that the same gene malfunction could lie behind many cancers.

Soy helps breast cancer patients survival

Research from the Vanderbilt University, Nashville have analysed data on Chinese women with breast cancer and concluded that consuming soy can prolong survival and prevent the return of the cancer.

Some experts state that plant oestrogens (phytoestrogens) in soy are dangerous and can cause cancer. However, this is actually poor science. On all healthy cells in the body there are receptor sites for oestrogen. Some oestrogens like oestradiol bind to these sites and are highly aggressive, causing chaos with the biochemistry of the cell. Other oestrogens like oestrone are much weaker sister hormones (about 40 times weaker). Plant oestrogens have the same ability to bind to cell receptor sites but are 40 to 50 times weaker still. Hence by binding to receptor sites on healthy cell walls, they prevent the aggressive oestrogens for attaching there and causing harm.

Researchers analysed data on women in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study over a 4 year period showing that the women who ate soy had 32 per cent lower risk of cancer recurrence and were 29 per cent less likely to die during the period.

Interestingly the benefits were seen whether the women had oestrogen driven cancers or even when they were oestrogen negative! Moreover, the benefits were also seen whether a woman was or was not taken Tamoxifen, destroying the myth that somehow soy might prevent the drugs action.

The results were seen to be dose dependent up to 11 gms of soy per day, above which there was no further advantage. (JAMA Dec 2009)

Can cancer drugs spread breast cancer?

A controversial paper (extract 6014) was presented on Taxol, a top chemo drug used for cancers such as Breast Cancer, at the 27th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. German researchers from the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena have found that the action of Taxol causes a massive release of cancer cells from the primary tumour into the blood and lymph systems. The researchers concluded that this could result in metastatic secondary cancers long after the treatment had finished and the cancer was supposedly cured.

We have added this finding to our Drugs Review

Vaccine may prevent 80 per cent of breast cancers

American Scientists at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have developed a vaccine that, in trials with mice, prevented a cancer cell protein forming. The protein is present in about 80 per cent of all breast cancers.

In the study, genetically cancer-prone mice were vaccinated - half with a vaccine containing -lactalbumin; the other half with a vaccine that did not contain the antigen. None of the mice vaccinated with -lactalbumin developed breast cancer, whereas all of the control group did.

The trials were conducted with mice, because they have 99 per cent of the same genes as humans. The researchers reported this vaccine as an enormous breakthrough and the plan is to take it forward to three stages of human Clinical Trials. These could take 10 years to complete. Currently about 42,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK, although about 12 per cent of these are false positives. 

Chris’ Comment: 

As readers know my views on the issue of vaccines have been consistent for a number of years now: The failure of drugs to cure cancer on a large scale has meant that cancer bodies and drug companies have had to change their rhetoric and focus. No longer do they glibly talk cure but a more modest vocabulary of cancer survival and cancer management.

But this is not due to humility. 2 million people live with cancer in the UK today. Cancer rates are forecast to double over the next 20 years. So thats going to mean some very big profits keeping 4 million people alive with daily and weekly drug regimes. A cured person on the other hand is someone who has dropped out of the target market to use a marketing term.

So drugs companies have come up with another string to their bow If finding a cure for cancer is so elusive, why dont we create vaccines to prevent the cancer in the first place? Then we can target everybody not just the 5 per cent with cancer. Brilliant, 20 times the potential market!

Now, I am all for prevention; like cutting out dangerous chemicals and pesticides in or on our foods and in our in-home, personal care and household products, and so on. Unfortunately, many of the companies searching for cancer cures are also making these toxic products, so vested interests overwhelm common sense

But what better than to find a virus at the heart of every cancer and create a vaccine to eradicate each? Every man could then have a 5 yearly triple jab against prostate, lung and colon cancer, every woman against breast, lung and colon too. The profits will be HUGE!

Already the HBV vaccine to beat liver cancer has been developed and seems to offer a serious benefit.

By contrast, as many of you also know, I consider the fuss made over cervical cancer vaccines positively ignorant. The vaccines knock out a few strains at best of the HPV virus and may prevent 70 per cent of HPV induced cervical cancer. But only time will tell, the vaccines have only been tested for a short period, experts are already saying that women may need a top up every five years (who knows?), other factors cause cervical cancer (there is some research evidence pointing a finger at talcum powder), the vaccine has never been tested with males (who have a different biochemistry to females) yet experts think all boys should be vaccinated too, an injection for females and males oin the UK will cost the Health Service 2 billion pounds which we dont have, blah, blah, blah. Dr Diane Harper one of the top researchers involved in the Clinical Trials for Gardasil and Cevarix has gone on public record saying that This vaccine will not decrease cancer rates at all. I rest my case.

However, the theory goes wrong if it is found that viruses do not lie behind every cancer. Only recently claims that a virus XMRV lay behind prostate cancer have been shown to be rubbish. No link at all was the conclusion in the research published in Retrovirology. So the jury is out, but mark my words vaccines against viruses lying behind cancer is what the cancer bodies will be increasingly espousing (as they are prodded with very big Pharma Company sticks).

But this breast cancer vaccine is different. It neither knocks out a virus, nor boosts the immune system to fight one off, as with the history of vaccines from polio to measles. It is part of a new breed of drugs based on work with the Human Genome Project. More and more scientists are coming round to the view we have espoused for the last 6 years. Namely, that there are hundreds of different cancers and your cancer is as individual as you are. No longer will cancers be defined by location but by some unique factor, enzyme or protein that drives them. So a protein may be present in a breast cancer cell, and also a colon cancer cell and a brain tumour cell. Not all, but some of each. And drugs will be able to knock out thast protein - and even prevent it forming in the first place.

This breast cancer vaccine is an example. It is very clever.

I can see a problem: Can you really see this getting to market? Suppose it does. Then 80 per cent of the sales of Tamoxifen, Arimidex, Herceptin and other brands disappear overnight, not to mention the decline in importance and revenue of breast cancer charities! I so hope that this view is just cynical and that here, in this vaccine, we do have a genuine breakthrough that makes it to the doctors surgeries. But within two days of the first reports on this vaccine, I had already seen 5 articles raising concerns about, and even dismissing, this breakthrough.

Ill put this article in my bring forward file for ten years time! Well just have to wait and see.

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Mammograms shown to increase risks of breast cancer. Twice!

Life-saving research supporting mammograms found to be flawed

You may have read research from the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen before. It is usually the expert and prestigious centre sited for the latest vitamin bashing study in the tabloid press. However, when it concludes something against the cancer industry, its findings are barely reported.  So dont be surprised if you have not read the following before.

A major plank of support in the mammograms save lives debate has been a 2005 study where a drive to screen women in Denmark with mammography was claimed to have reduced breast cancer deaths in Copenhagen by 25 per cent.

Now scientists from the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen and the Folkehelseinstituttet in Oslo have re-examined this study along with additional data and found it flawed. In fact the corrected conclusions are exactly the opposite: Deaths from breast cancer were lower in areas where women didn’t undergo those screening tests.

This time the researchers used a control group of non-screened women and analysed the malignancy data for ten years before and ten years after the screening programme was introduced. The results showed that deaths from breast cancer declined by 1 per cent in women between the ages of 55 and 74 in the screening areas but 2 per cent in non-screening areas! In younger women, breast cancer mortality went down by 5 per cent each year in the screened areas but over 6 per cent in the non-screened areas.The highly respected, prestigious and expert Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen concluded We were unable to find an effect of the Danish screening program on breast cancer mortality (British Medical Journal).

Chris’ Comment: We have told you before of the risks of screening mammograms and we have a full review on our web site on the subject (Screening mammograms increasing the risk of cancer?). One focal study (published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine) showed that an increased incidence of breast cancer occurred with the advent of screening mammograms in Europe. Cancer experts immediately rushed to comment, Look how screening mammograms help find these early stage cancers. You may feel they are talking rubbish.

We have also covered Norwegian research in icon that showed, across a six year period, a group of women who had regular screening mammograms had significantly more cancers than the identical control group having none. (Far from concluding that mammograms were dangerous, the researchers concluded that, left alone, early cancers could heal themselves!!?)

Then we told you about research by Johns Hopkins (Journal of the National Cancer Institute) on women with breast cancer genetic issues - the very group who are told by experts that they have to be extremely watchful and should be screened regularly. This group actually develops higher rates of breast cancer if they have regular screening mammograms that the at risk girls that dont. So much for screening as a prevention tool.

We have also covered recent research that shows most mammograms only pick up a tumour when it has reached a size corresponding to at least 20 cell divisions. At around 40 divisions, you lose your fight with cancer. So 20 divisions is hardly early diagnosis (We are hopeful that mammograms may soon be replaced by new simple blood tests that catch a cancer in its very first divisions). Now the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen say one of the major planks of the mammograms save lives argument is false.

But thats not all. It has long been understood that radiation causes cell damage and can increase mutation and cancer risk. Now read on.

2 Radiation increases breast cancer risk

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in America (a US Government facility) have shown that radiation both changes the environment around breast cells and increases the risks of mutation in them; a mutation that can be passed on in cell division.

"Our work shows that radiation can change the microenvironment of breast cells, and this in turn can allow the growth of abnormal cells with a long-lived phenotype that have a much greater potential to be cancerous," said Paul Yaswen, a cell biologist and breast cancer research specialist with Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division, adding "Many in the cancer research community, especially radiobiologists, have been slow to acknowledge and incorporate in their work the idea that cells in human tissues are not independent entities, but are highly communicative with each other and with their microenvironment."

The results, (published in the on-line journal Breast Cancer Research), showed that a culture of healthy breast cancer cells stopped dividing four to six weeks after exposure, causing premature cell aging and allowing pre-cancerous cells caused by the radiation to infill the spaces around them. Normal healthy cells generate substances that prevent this in-fill. Thus radiation negatively effects the environment around breast cells.

Research has also shown that radiation can increase breast cancer malignancy by affecting a tumour-suppressing gene (p16).

Chris’ Comment: When you read all this it is no wonder women are becoming increasingly scared about the risks of screening mammograms. Especially when the cancer authorities and charities bang on claiming the screening programme saves lives. Personally, I would not squeeze my private parts between two cold metal plates and have them irradiated in the vague hope that someone might spot a 4-year old cancer. Bring on the advanced diagnostic blood tests and send these screening machines to the scrap heap. 

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Avastin not for breast cancer?

A Food and DRUG Administration (FDA) panel of cancer experts in the USA has voted 12-1 in favour of removing the approval for use of Avastin with breast cancer. Their study showed that there is very little benefit to patients with significant toxicity risks and no clear survival benefit, said Natalie Potis, the panel patients representative.

Worse, the panelists also worried that the drug did more harm than good because of serious side effect, including high blood pressure, fatigue and abnormal levels of white blood cells. Dr Wyndham Wilson of the NCI added We have definitive evidence that Avastin causes harmful side effects and weve now seen a number of well done studies that show no advantage to lifespan.

Avastin, was heralded as the blockbuster, wonder drug when launched it is a genetically engineered protein grown from hamster ovary cells and supposedly stops nutrients feeding a cancer tumour.  Roche sales of Avastin last year were $5.9 billion; Roche acquired the drug when it bought the American company Genentech last year.

The drug is also approved for use with colon, lung, kidney and brain tumours, not just breast cancer. However, this new study does not report on these other cancers. 

In 2008 the FDA approved the drug for use based on a trial showing that it extended the time before the cancer worsened by more than five months. At the time many cancer experts said that the drug had not been shown to extend survival times.

As a condition of the approval, Roche had to submit further studies and these did not show the same degree of delay when used with chemotherapy, nor did they show any significant survival time increases.

This comes in the same month that NICE stated that Avastin wasnt cost effective for bowel cancer patients with advanced stages of the disease, providing, on average, just 6 weeks more survival and at best a few months. A course of Avastin costs 21,000.
(Ed: There is more about this on our web site. Unfortunately it highlights a serious problem with monoclonal antibodies; namely they are not designed to work for everyone, so producing averages across the board is almost meaningless. If more monoclonal antibody drugs were like Herceptin, where there is a test to indicate the 20 per cent of women who might benefit, avoiding the wastage on the other 80 per cent, patients, doctors and health bodies could act with more confidence.)


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New PARP drug for breast and ovarian cancers
Researchers at Kings College London have been studying a new drug Olaparib, known as a PARP inhibitor. PARP inhibitors have been developed for women who are triple negative (Oestrogen, progesterone and HER-2). In this case the study looked at women who had inherited a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Inherited genes account for about 3 per cent of breast cancer cases and 10 per cent of ovarian cancers. The genes do not actually cause cancer; one controls DNA repair, the other influence the immune response to rogue cells. Patients were given strong doses of the drug and this inhibited tumour progression resulting in dramatic reduction in tumour size according to the Lancert. 

The drug is in early stages of development and Clinical Trials are needed.

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Breast feeding especially important to at risk women
Women with a history of breast cancer in their immediate family have a 59 per cent lower risk of breast cancer if they have breastfed their babies than women who had not. This decreases their risk rate to that of a normal and not genetically at risk woman. (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Archives of Internal Medicine).

Researchers examined the health records of 60,075 nurses in the second Harvard Nurses Health Study in 1997. Breastfeeding history was compared with cancer risk after eight years, in June 2005.

A general benefit of reduced risk amongst mothers who breast feed was noted. But this conclusion has been found in other studies previously.

The lead researcher, Dr Alison Stuebe, said that breastfeeding may reduce cancer risk as effectively as the drug Tamoxifen, which is often prescribed to women with a family history of cancer.

 (Ed:  Whilst I am sure this will be reassuring to mothers that have breast feed in the past and especially to those who are in the at risk genetic issue group, Im not too sure what use this research is if you are 75 years old and worried about breast cancer. I think all pregnant women should be given leaflets with this sort on information. Thats the time to act and breast feed rather than pop the bottle of cows milk into the microwave.)

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Fish oils cut breast cancer risk (again!)
Its that time of year again, when another major cancer centre discovers that fish oils cut cancer rates. This time it is researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. This time a study on 35,000 women found that those who regularly use fish oil supplements develop a third less breast cancers. Researchers from Harvard to Perth have shown similar results in the past. Below you will see another study from UCLA, San Francisco that showed fish oils extend the life of cells. (Ed: You can take fish oil supplements, many of which will also give you some vitamin D, every day. Or you can eat oily fish two to three times per week. But do not overdo the cod liver oil, which may result in you receiving too much vitamin A causing liver problems.) 

Radiation risks to girls for breast cancer
Researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York (Annals of Internal Medicine) have countered previous claims that somehow girls who had chest radiation had lowered risks of breast cancer. Reviewing 12 previous studies looking at breast cancer rates in women who had suffered childhood cancers they showed the risks were in fact higher. The new cancers arose as soon as eight years later.
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Rainbow Diet may reduce breast cancer risks
 New research (Trichopoulou A, Bamia C, Lagiou P, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jul 14) suggests that the Mediterranean diet (high in colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts, vegetables, seeds, olive oil and fish, with added sunshine and little meat and cows dairy products) may be linked to a lower risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. 
Several cancers, including colon cancer and breast cancer, are less common in Mediterranean countries compared to northern Europe. In this study 14,807 women from Greece answered questions about their diets, lifestyles and demographics and their adherence to the Mediterranean diet. The researchers then took account of other known breast cancer risk factors (for example, age, weight and smoking).
They then found that post-menopausal women who adhered best to the Rainbow Diet were 22 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than women who adhered least. This association did not appear with pre-menopausal women, indicating their breast cancers might be less diet-related. (Ed: We have recently covered research that virgin olive oil consumption reduces breast cancer risks too.)
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HRT When will they ban this dangerous drug?

The European Medicines Agency has taken diabetes drug, Avandia (also known as Rosiglitazone, off the market after the UK drug safety committee called for it to be withdrawn.  On the market for ten years, Avandia at one point was one of the best selling drugs in the world with sales peaking at a mere $5 billion. UK Doctors wrote over one million prescriptions last year. However the British Medical Journal called for its withdrawal on safety grounds and only recently clinical trials showed that the risks of heart attack amongst users rose between 20 and 40 per cent. Various interested parties had claimed that heart attack risk was anyway higher in people with diabetes, but the evidence against the drug slowly mounted and became overwhelming according to the Medical bodies supposed to protect us all from these sorts of dangers.

Contrast this with HRT. In 2002 a 5-year research study was halted in the USA after women taking HRT were shown to have higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer. Whilst the group of women taking only synthetic oestrogen HRT had a 26 per cent increase in breast cancer, the group taking a mixed synthetic oestrogen/progestin pill had a doubling of breast cancer! Warnings were issued in the USA, not for breast cancer, but for the increased heart problems. The trial continued for the group taking the oestrogen only pill; the trial for the mixed pill was ended.

The media comment was huge. So much so that millions of American women stopped taking the drug. Within just three years, the number of breast cancer cases in the US had fallen by 7 per cent. In Cancer Watch we have covered UK Medical concerns that The risks of HRT outweigh the benefits, and even Cancer Research UK talking about oestrogens ability to drive cancer and thus fears for people taking HRT. The German Health minister even called HRT the new Thalidomide.

But what happened to the drug? Nothing.

Is there a similar mounting body of evidence? Well, certainly, the US research was not a one-off. The Boston Nurses Study back in the mid-nineties showed a 26 per cent increased risk for breast cancer and HRT. Reanalysis of the figures showed increased risks for other cancers, rising with the length of time a woman spent on the drug. Heart problems have often been associated with the drug. The UK Million Women study also came up with an increased risk figure for breast cancer of 26 per cent.

The problem is that, like Avandia, HRT is very big business and various experts (some genuine and others with vested interests) then muddy the waters.

Now a Canadian Study has replicated the American results. Between 2002 and 2004, the scares over HRT resulted in just 4.9 per cent of Canadian women taking HRT, falling from the figure of 12.7 per cent. At the same time invasive breast cancer rates fell 9.6 per cent.

However the waters are still muddied because after a few years the cancer rates began to rise again (they are rising anyway!) allowing the researchers to conclude that HRT had not caused invasive breast cancer, but merely brought it forward! So thats alright then.

No mention was made of the heart attack and stroke risks.

HRT is regularly prescribed after menopause to relieve the symptoms of hot flushes, mood changes and night sweats.

As Peter Walsh, Chief Exec of the patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents said of Avandia, We need a review of how medicines are regulated in the UK and Europe as a whole. We fear the pharmaceutical companies have far more influence than they should have Surely not!

Interestingly The UK Commission on Human Medicines had previously uttered the concerned phrase about Avandia that the risks outweigh its benefits.

Worse in America, the FDA does not even have the legal powers to suspend a drug it has previously approved, so it can only add some restrictions to the use of Avandia.

And now a word or two about those dodgy vitamins, natural compounds and the massive UK market worth about $500 million the quack busters are always shouting about .

Acrylamides linked to breast cancer

We have covered acrylamides on a number of occasions. Typically they are produced when food is cooked to high temperatures. The WHO says that the safe level is zero, and when problems first started to emerge, they called 20 or more top scientists together for an urgent meeting over Easter about 6 years ago. Little was subsequently resolved however. Acrylamides can be found in crisps, chips, fried foods, and hi-baked products like some biscuits. Originally, they had been thought to come from the surrounding packaging. Smoking is also a source of acrylamide in the body. Research has shown that acrylamides cause increases in inflammation in the body and in dangerous oxidised low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.

Now a research study in the British Journal of Cancer has shown that acrylamide is associated with a 20 per cent increased risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.

A previous study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found that women with the highest intake of acrylamide were 31 percent more likely to develop ER+ breast cancer, 47 percent more likely to develop PR+ breast cancer, and 43 percent more likely to develop ER+PR+ breast cancer, compared to women who consumed the least or no acrylamide. (www.naturalnews.com)

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Faster genetic test for hereditary breast cancer risk

NewGene a specialist molecular diagnostic company jointly owned by Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University has developed an advanced gene sequencing process to successfully identify all mutations in the coding regions of two genes associated with inherited breast cancer BRCA1 and BRCA2.

In the first application of its type NewGene is successfully using the Roche 454 GS-FLX platform for complete sequencing of all BRCA genes. The breakthrough follows two years of assay development work with specially developed data analysis software to enable high volume testing of gene sequences to be undertaken at a level not previously possible.

This technology represents a much faster and higher capacity DNA sequencing process than the traditional Sanger technique used previously for this type of testing.

The availability of the advanced test to UK and European healthcare providers will mean the earlier identification of family members at risk of developing breast cancer. There are around 40000 new cases of breast cancer reported each year and between 5-10 per cent of cases are the hereditary form of the disease.

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New breast cancer drug breaks down cancer walls

A new drug Eribulin, a synthetic copy of natural chemicals called Halichondrin B found in sea sponges, was approved by the US FDA in 2010. Here it has just gone through Phase III Clinical Trials. The drug acts in the same way as the natural compound by stopping cancer cell division.

Women who took eribulin (brand name Halaven) in a phase III trial involving Leeds University lived for a median of 13.1 months, while those on standard treatments survived for a median of 10.6 months.

Side effects included weakness, fatigue and lowered white cell counts. Five per cent of eribulin users stopped taking the drug because of numbness or pain.

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New immune vaccine starts with aggressive breast cancers

Seattle-based biotech company, TapImmune, may well be on to something very clever in their new work on immune vaccines. Their preliminary trials involve aggressive breast cancer and the Mayo Clinic.

Most new biotech drugs target some factor in the DNA set up of a cancer cell. The TapImmune technology bypasses this:

When a foreign body enters the body, the surface of that foreign cell expresses antigens. TAP (Transporters associated with Antigen Processing) provides a biochemical pathway for these antigens to be expressed on the rogue cell surface. Your T-cells can then see these and destroy them.

However in most solid cancers, TAP levels are reduced and the immune response is inhibited. The T-cells cannot burst into action.

The new vaccines stimulate and turn the TAP back on; the T-cells can then see the cancer cells and can destroy them as nature intended. We will keep you posted on results.

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