Mar
01
2008

Early Breast Cancer Diagnosis With PET/CT Scan Combination

Breast cancer remains a disease that can strike women in any age group. Despite the immense amount of ongoing research and new treatment modalities, the disease presents puzzles to researchers and treating physicians and enormous challenges to patients. Early diagnosis, accurate staging of the disease and prompt treatment remain the most important points. Breast self examinations on a regular basis are just one aspect. Mammography screening can pick up the disease earlier, and a biopsy of any suspicious area can tell more about the type of cells that cause it. A particularly aggressive type is inflammatory breast cancer. It is not characterized by a suspicious lump. The only symptom is diffuse redness and swelling in the breast of the patient.

This type of cancer can metastasize within six months. It accounts for 1 to 5% of all breast cancers in North America and has a five year survival rate of 25 to 50% of the patients. A team of researchers from the University of Texas M.D.Anderson Cancer Center in Houston led by Dr. Selin Carkaci examined a combination approach of high tech tests for early diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Carkaci pointed out that breast cancer is not a localized disease, but one that is systemic involving the entire body. Based on this knowledge 41 patients with the highly aggressive form of inflammatory breast cancer were examined with a combination PET/CT whole body scan. It was possible to identify cancer in patients’ lymph nodes with 98% accuracy. Early metastasis could be found in 49 % of patients.

Early Breast Cancer Diagnosis With PET, CT Scan Combination

Nodule in lung. A: PET scan . B : CT scan. C : PET, CT scan combo.

PET/CT scan combinations detect cancer in its earliest stages, when changes are happening at the cellular level. Other tests like mammograms, ultrasound and MRI scans can only identify disease when there is destruction of the normal anatomy. The accurate depiction of the cancer within the body is important for an effective treatment plan. PET/CT combination scans are used in cancer diagnosis for a variety of tumors where distant metastases are expected (the image above shows a nodule in one of the lungs). It is especially significant for inflammatory breast cancer patients, where it offers a promise for earlier diagnosis resulting in more effective treatment plans.

More information about diagnosis of breast cancer: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-diagnosis/

Reference: The Medical Post, December 18, 2007, page 15

Last edited November 3, 2014

Apr
01
2007

MRI Scan Finds Hidden Cancer in Opposite Breast

Approximately 1000 women from 25 cancer centers throughout the US who were recently diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast were all examined, radio graphed with conventional mammograms. They also received an MRI scan study of the opposite breast to make sure no hidden cancer would be overlooked. To the surprise of the investigators 1 in 10 women were found to have cancer in the opposite breast that would have conventionally passed as “normal”. More than 90% of these women were picked up with an MRI scan of the opposite breast that up to now would not have been part of the routine work-up. Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said that it would be a great break through to have a new technique of diagnosing these women with early cancer in the opposite breast. By diagnosing this condition early, the cancer treatment can be customized to the exact breast cancer stage improving survival significantly for these women.Dr. Constance Lehman, the principal investigator of this ACRIN Breast MRI Trial who is also professor of radiology as well as the director of breast imaging at the University of Washington and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, pointed out that unnecessary bilateral mastectomies (= surgical breast removal) can be avoided in the 90% women whose opposite breasts were normal. At the same time the 10% of women who were accurately diagnosed with early breast cancer can be treated early and effectively.

MRI Scan Finds Hidden Cancer in Opposite Breast

MRI Scan Finds Hidden Cancer in Opposite Breast

This trial has been started in April of 2003 and follow-up examinations were done at 12-18 and 24-30 months. This already shows that the group of 30 patients diagnosed with breast cancer in the opposite breast has a much better survival than patients would have had in the past. However, the final figures will only be available several years into the future.

The cancer specialists in the US have estimated that in 2007 there will be approximately 178,480 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer and about 40,460 will likely die from the disease.

Reference: The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Vol. 356, No.13, March 29, 2007

Last edited December 5, 2012

Feb
01
2007

Lycopene Benefits Backed By Science

Lately a lot of attention has been directed to the health benefits of vegetables and fruit. Vitamin C has long been an accepted household term, and nobody questions the benefits. Newer buzz words are the terms “bioflavonoids” and “antioxidants”. Some products are aggressively marketed extolling the above named beneficial substances, but often the consumer is left mildly bewildered by exaggerated claims. Often the sale prices of these miracle foods are as lofty as the bold statements that go along with them.
For any shopper it is important to know that some of the most beneficial foods are not high priced items, but very common staples. Take tomatoes, for instance. They are a significant source for the substance lycopene, which lately has received a lot of attention. Lycopene and its dietary sources as well as its benefits have been researched world wide, and the results are now in. It is responsible for the red color in fruit or vegetables, such as tomatoes, and its isomeric form 5-cis-lycopene is the most stable form having the highest antioxidant properties. Common dietary sources are tomatoes, watermelons, pink guava, pink grapefruit, papaya, apricot and other fruit. In the Western diet tomato-based foods account for about 85% of dietary sources of Lycopene. Studies have shown that lycopene is more efficiently absorbed from processed tomato products compared to raw tomatoes. Once it is absorbed it is distributed throughout the body. The highest levels showed up in the testes, the adrenal glands, prostate, breast and liver.
Research going back to 1995 showed an inverse relationship between the consumption of tomatoes and the risk of prostate cancer. A follow up publication in 1999 showed that the same inverse relation of lycopene intake and cancer also included breast, cervical, ovarian, liver and other organ sites. Further studies have followed these initial publications, and the great majority of them suggest that an increased intake of lycopene showed an association with a significant reduction in the risk of many cancers.
Coronary heart disease and lycopene benefits were also examined. The strongest population based evidence comes from a multi center case control study in Europe (EURAMIC). 662 Cases and 717 controls were recruited from 10 different European countries, and there was a significant relationship between levels of lycopene in fatty tissue and the risk of myocardial infarction. Lower lycopene levels were associated with a higher risk of heart attacks.Lycopene was also shown to decrease levels of oxidized LDL (LDL or low density lipoprotein is known as the “bad” cholesterol). Another small study showed that lycopene was reducing total cholesterol levels and as a result was lowering the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
The list of benefits does not end here: the dietary oxidant reduces oxidative stress and levels of bone turnover markers, meaning that it may contribute to the bone health, especially reducing the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Lycopene Benefits Backed By Science

Lycopene Benefits Backed By Science

For people with mild hypertension (high blood pressure), consumption of lycopene resulted in significant reductions of systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
Infertility in males was significantly helped by lycopene intake. In a study infertile man received 8 mg lycopene per day in capsule form. Laboratory tests confirmed an increased sperm density along with functional sperm concentration and mobility. This treatment protocol with lycopene supplementation resulted in a success rate of 36% pregnancies in their partners.
Pregnant women with pre-eclampsia who were treated with lycopene supplement significantly improved, which was shown by decreased diastolic blood pressure, the reduction of pre-eclampsia and a decrease of intrauterine growth retardation, resulting in a healthier mother and baby.
Future research is pending surrounding lycopene in metabolic and inflammatory diseases and in its role of possibly preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and emphysema will likely also be shown to benefit from lycopene. Preliminary data has already indicated this.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of USA has recently approved lycopene as a safe “natural coloring agent” and a Generally Recognized as a Safe (GRAS) component. The Department of Nutritional Sciences , Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, c/o Dr. A.V. Rao et al. who completed this meta analysis of the recent literature have recommended that we all consume a regular daily lycopene dose in our food and supplements as part of our diet for good health.

More info about lycopene and prostate cancer: http://nethealthbook.com/news/lycopene-reduces-prostate-cancer-risk/

Reference: The Whitehall-Robins Report, December 2006, Volume 15, No.4

Last edited November 2, 2014

Oct
01
2006

Good Nutrition Is Gender Specific

It is well known that various health concerns are related to the gender of a person, but there are findings that suggest that even nutrition has to be tailored to the needs of males or females.
Calcium is known to be beneficial to bone health, and while high calcium diet may protect a woman from osteoporosis, it does not have the same evidence for men. As a matter of fact, high calcium intake in males may increase their risk of prostate cancer. For the male it means that calcium should be used in moderation and vitamin D intake could help to offset some risks.
Fat choices, mostly sources of monounsaturated fats in the form of olive oil are important for both, men and women, and for both the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish are excellent. Men, especially those with a risk of prostate cancer, should be cautious about loading up on flaxseed and canola oil. Alpha-linolenic acid in these two oils may be a problem for the prostate.
Iron is also emphasized in healthy nutrition, but men need less than women. In the presence of an abnormal gene, excessive iron can accumulate to harmful deposits in various organs.
Social habits, for example the drinking of alcohol seem to have more grave implication to women than to men. The glass of wine that may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and certain strokes may seem harmless enough, and average men don’t seem to develop health problems, as long as the alcohol intake is low. Larger amounts will increase the risk of many ills for males and females alike, but even low doses of alcohol may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
“Super Foods” have made headlines, and all of them are known because of their high content in antioxidants. A recent study from the University of Oslo, Norway, under Dr. Bente Halverson examined, which of them are ranking highest. At the top are, in the order of strength: blackberries, grape juice from Concord grapes, artichoke hearts, walnuts and strawberries. The researchers came up with a list of high oxidant foods on the basis of typical serving sizes.

Good Nutrition Is Gender Specific

Everybody needs to find healthy food

These are the winners among the super foods and spices: blackberries, walnuts, strawberries, artichokes, cranberries, brewed coffee, raspberries, pecans, blueberries, ground cloves, grape juice and unsweetened baking chocolate. Males as well as females of all age groups will benefit from those.
Dr H. Simon, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School points out that there are fundamental facts in nutrition that apply to everyone. But there is also a fine print, which varies according to gender, age and medical conditions.

More information about nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Reference: The Medical Post, September 19, 2006, page 25

Last edited November 1, 2014

Oct
01
2006

Successful Gene Therapy For Melanoma

Scientists at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. have developed a modality of gene therapy to treat patients with melanoma.
The therapy alters the patients’ own lymphocytes to recognize and attack cancer cells. Dr. Steven Rosenberg and his team developed the new technique by drawing a blood sample containing normal lymphocytes from an advanced melanoma patient. Next the cells are infected with a retrovirus, which delivers genes that target specific receptors on T cells. Once the cells are infused back into the patient, these receptors attach themselves to the molecules on tumor cells and activate the lymphocytes to destroy the cancer cells. This method is called “adoptive cell transfer”. In early experiments there seemed to be little or no benefit, but researchers refined the methods and found valuable and promising aspects regarding the treatment of melanoma patients. It is crucial to administer the cells in their most active growth phase. This was shown in a group of 14 patients, where 2 terminal melanoma patients experienced cancer regression. Dr. Jeffrey Medin, head of the clinical research program in gene therapy at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto agrees that this new therapy is a breakthrough as it has virtually brought terminal patients “back from the brink”. It is also exciting to see that the researchers could refine the techniques in order to create a more successful therapy. As a result the method will be more applicable to other cancers and broader populations.

Successful Gene Therapy For Melanoma

Successful Gene Therapy For Melanoma

Although adoptive cell transfer has only been used in melanoma patients so far, the researchers have shown ways to engineer cells of the immune system in a similar way to attack breast, liver cancer or lung cancers.

More information about treatment of melanoma: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/skin-cancer/melanoma/treatment-melanoma/

Reference: The Medical Post, September 19, 2006, page 1 and 61

Last edited November 1, 2014

Nov
01
2005

Digital Mammography Superior For Some

Mammography has been considered a reliable screening test for breast lumps. It has become a crucial diagnostic tool for the early recognition of breast cancer. Nevertheless there are situations when the test has its limitations, which is especially true for women who have very dense breast tissue.
Dr. Martin Yaffe, PhD, a biophysics professor at the University of Toronto and Women’s College Health Sciences Center has done the groundwork for digital mammography, and 20 years of research and development have finally paid off. For women who have dense breast tissue, digital mammography will be the superior diagnostic tool, as opposed to the conventional film mammography. In a study that involved 42,760 patients who were asymptomatic both film mammography and digital mammography were used for screening. In the general study population the accuracy of the two methods was found to be similar. In the group of women under 50 years of age the digital method showed significantly more accuracy (84% vs. 69%). Accuracy for women with dense breasts was also higher with the digital method (78% vs. 68%). It also was superior for premenopausal women (82%vs.67%).

The digital equipment used was still in its development stages, and the potential of the technology will become even greater with more sophisticated equipment down the road. At this point it is not cost effective to use the digital method for all women. The digital system costs between one and a half to four times as much as the film systems.

Digital Mammography Superior For Some

Digital Mammography Superior For Some

“There is certainly no indication that digital is any less accurate than film mammography, but certainly the benefit is in a defined subgroup of women at this time,” states Dr.Yaffe. For most women film mammography remains a method that works well.

More information about breast cancer: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-diagnosis/

Reference: The Medical Post, October 4, 2005, page1, 62

Last edited November 2, 2014

Sep
01
2005

Environmental Toxins Harmful For Generations To Come

It is a known fact that exposure to toxic substances during pregnancy can cause birth defects.
Investigators at the Center For Reproductive Biology of the University of Washington in Seattle examined the consequences of environmental toxins, which are also known as endocrine disruptors in their research. Dr. Michael K. Skinner led the study. The research team worked with rats, and they noticed that it was not only the first generation that was affected, but the effect persisted for as many as four generations later The substance they used in the experiment was either vinclozolin, an antiandrogenic compound commonly used as a pesticide in vineyards or methoxychlor, an estrogenic DDT replacement. Both pesticides are endocrine disruptors, as they interfere with the normal functioning of reproductive hormones. It was no surprise that ninety percent of male offspring that had been born to the exposed females had low sperm counts and reduced fertility.
The unexpected result showed up in the next generation. If these offspring were mated to unexposed females, they still had low sperm counts and reduced fertility. The effect persisted-completely unexpectedly- through all generations tested without further pesticide exposure. The researchers concluded that the toxins affected inheritance by altering patterns of DNA in the germ line. Genetic changes that are passed on for generations to come might play a role in more frequently occurring diseases such as breast cancer and prostate disease, as they may not be caused by genetic mutations.

Environmental Toxins Harmful For Generations To Come

Environmental Toxins Harmful For Generations To Come

This is also the first report that shows the menacing ability of an environmental factor to reprogram the germ line and promote a transgenerational disease pattern.

More information on environmental toxins: https://www.askdrray.com/protecting-yourself-from-environmental-toxins/

Reference: Parkhurst Exchange Volume 13,Number 6, August 2005, page 33

Last edited October 29, 2014

May
01
2005

Burgers, Fries and High Healthcare Costs

“Everything in moderation” and “A little bit cannot harm” are the deceptively soothing terms that can lull consumers into the belief, that fast foods cannot be so bad after all. A study, called the” Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults” however gives us the facts, that paint a more realistic picture: the “little bit” actually has fairly serious consequences!
In this U.S. study a wide cross section of young adults were followed in four U.S centers: Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Minneapolis and Oakland Calif. 3031 people in the age of 18 to 30 years were recruited in 1985 and followed until 2001.

Lifestyle habits, such as smoking, watching TV and intake of other foods were recorded, and insulin resistance was measured. In addition there were detailed studies of weight, height, waist size and other body measurements. Some interesting facts emerged: women ate fast foods less frequently than men. Fast food intake was associated with lower education, more TV watching, lower physical activity, high intake of trans fats and alcohol intake. In short: fast foods and other unhealthy lifestyle choices were correlated.

Dr. Mark Pereira, PhD of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, who is one of the authors of the study, points out that it is extremely difficult to eat in a healthy way in a fast foods restaurant. The menus still include foods high in fat, sugar and calories and low in fiber and nutrients. Dr. Arne Astrup from the RVA University in Copenhagen found the same issues: besides the fact that serving sizes have increased two to five fold over the past fifty years, the energy density is twice as high in fast foods as compared to food in healthy diets. Dr. Astrup also points out in his publication, that humans have only a weak innate ability to recognize foods with high energy density and then down-regulate the amount eaten to meet and not exceed energy requirements.

Burgers, Fries and High Healthcare Costs

Burgers, Fries and High Healthcare Costs

If a person ate more than 2 fast food meals per week, which would be a modest increase of the control group that ate less than 1 fast food meal per week, the 2 meals per week group was about 5 kg heavier after 15 years, as opposed to 11 kg in the control group. The insulin resistance increased by an alarming 230 %. This finding is of significance, as insulin resistance (=metabolic syndrome) promotes the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and cancer, especially breast and colorectal cancers. The data are showing that even a modest increase has a unique effect in increasing the risks for these disease patterns, and the message is, that health care costs will only come down, if the root cause of disease is attacked at the societal and lifestyle level.

More information about the metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance): http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/metabolic-syndrome/

Reference: The Medical Post, March 8, 2005, page 20

Last edited October 28, 2014

Apr
01
2004

Breast Cancer And Miscarriages; Fear-Mongering Debunked

For many years there were conflicting reports about the emotionally charged topic of whether miscarriages (=spontaneous abortions) or induced abortions (also simply known as abortions) would lead to an increased risk for these women later in life. The problem was that the studies could not be directly compared because they differed in size, in age group and whether the women had one or more children or none.

The studies also differed in respect to whether they were prospective or restrospective. In this context a prospective study is one where it was known at the outset before the women developed breast cancer whether or not there was a history of a spontaneous or induced abortion in the past. A retrospective study would be one where a group of women with established breast cancer would be asked retrospectively whether or not they had a history of abortions (spontaneous or induced).

It turns out that the discrepancies between these studies in the past were largely because of the significant difference between the data of the unreliable retrospective studies and the very reliable prospective studies.

On March 27, 2004 the Lancet reported about a study that had been undertaken by the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer (seat of the Secretariat in Oxford, England). This study involved hundreds of scientists and clinicians from the major Cancer Clinics around the world who gathered the world-wide epidemiological evidence about breast cancer and pooled the data regarding 53 studies from 16 countries.

Breast Cancer And Miscarriages; Fear-Mongering Debunked

Breast Cancer And Miscarriages; Fear-Mongering Debunked

A total of 83,000 women with breast cancer around the world had been included in this study. The data was separated into sub-categories. For instance, 44,000 women were included in the prospective branch of the study and 33,000 in the retrospective branch. The data was carefully controlled for the factors mentioned above and many other differences to ensure that the data could be compared (rules of evidence-based medicine).

The surprise finding was that there was no statistical difference regarding the risk for developing breast cancer in the prospective branch of the study between the group of women who never were pregnant, those who had one or more children and those who had miscarriages or abortions in the past. However, the retrospective studies reported a higher incidence of breast cancer because of an observer bias. The researchers and clinicians concluded that the data of the restrospective studies were unreliable because they were not carefully controlled and there likely was more reliable reporting of the women who had developed breast cancer than the control groups who likely underreported their histories thus resulting in misleading conclusions.

Summary: Women do not have a higher risk of developing breast cancer following spontaneous or induced abortions. Forget all of the fear-mongering that you may have heard in the past in the popular press.

More information about causes of breast  cancer: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/breast-cancer/causes-breast-cancer/

Lancet 2004; 363: 1007-16.

Last edited October 26, 2014

Apr
01
2004

Less Death Rates From Breast Cancer With Exercise

At the 95th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Orlando / Fla. the results of a study regarding the effect of exercise on breast cancer survival rates was presented. Dr. Michelle D. Holmes and co-workers (Harvard University in Boston) reported about data from the Nurses’ Health Study. About 2000 patients with breast cancer were identified in the period of 1984 to 1996 who were followed until the end of 2002. At that time 209 had died from their breast cancer. The investigators were able to control the data for all the other factors such as smoking, obesity, and many other factors except for the amount of exercise per week that these women were doing. The highest risk group was the one that did not exercise and the death rate of this group was set as 100% as can be seen in this table, which I constructed based on the published data.

The various groups as indicated on the bottom of the table were the hours exercised per week from 0 hours to more than 15 hours per week (this was expressed as metabolic equivalent of a brisk walk). It can be seen that survival from breast cancer can be influenced by as little as 3 to 9 hours of a brisk walk per week (about 20% reduction in death rate) and reaches a plateau at 9 to 15 hours of exercise per week (around 50% reduction in death rate).

Less Death Rates From Breast Cancer With Exercise

Less Death Rates From Breast Cancer With Exercise

The authors of the study said that when the data was expressed as recurrence of breast cancer, the same results were obtained. This study would indicate that even 30 minutes of exercise per day will reduce mortality in a patient with breast cancer. Also, it is known from other studies that exercise will be more effective in terms of cancer prevention in general including prevention of breast cancer.

Percentage of breast cancer death rates decreases with exercise (hours of exercise per week depicted)

Less Death Rates From Breast Cancer With Exercise1

Breast Cancer Death Rate Decreases With Exercise

 

Link to breast cancer chapter of the Net Health Book.

Link to Fitness: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

Last edited October 26, 2014