Prostate Cancer Family History Linked to Breast Cancer Risk

What You Need to Know: Family history is a significant risk factor for breast cancer, especially in women who have first-degree relatives with the disease. That risk might be even higher if there is a first-degree relative with prostate cancer, a new study suggests.

  • In women with a family history of prostate cancer, there was a 14% increase in the relative risk of developing breast cancer. However, in women with a family history of both breast and prostate cancer, the relative risk increased to 78%.
  • In addition, the risks associated with a family history of both breast and prostate cancer was higher in black women than in white women.

“While this study is limited to largely postmenopausal women, one might expect to see a similar or stronger risk in younger women,” said first author Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer, MPH, PhD, from the Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. “We tend to see a stronger family history of breast cancer among women diagnosed at younger ages, and the same may be true for a family history of prostate cancer,” Dr Beebe-Dimmer told Medscape Medical News. We believe that physicians may want to consider family history of prostate cancer in addition to breast cancer before making recommendations about screening,” she added.

Dr Beebe-Dimmer pointed out that there is some evidence that men might have a higher risk for prostate cancer if they have first-degree relatives with breast cancer.

“We and others have shown the opposite association, particularly when female relatives are diagnosed with early-onset disease,” she said. “It has been suggested that a relatively small proportion of the prostate cancer cases diagnosed in families with breast and/or ovarian cancer are related to BRCA1/2, suggesting that there may be other genes and/or shared environmental exposures that explain the clustering.”

Multiple Relatives Increases Risk

  • The study included  78,171 women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study from 1993 to 1998. The women were followed for a median of 132 months from the date of enrollment, and there was a median of 60 months between enrollment and the diagnosis of breast cancer. There were 3506 cases of incident breast cancer diagnosed in the cohort up to August 31, 2009.
  • Participants with breast cancer were more likely than those without to be white non-Hispanic and college educated, and to have a history of hormone use and benign breast disease. They were also more likely to have undergone mammography screening within 2 years of the baseline examination.
  • Median age at the time of breast cancer diagnosis was 69 years (range, 50 – 90 years).
  • A positive family history of breast cancer was reported by 11,608 women in the cohort, and women with breast cancer were more likely than those without to report a family history of the disease (20.5% vs 14.6%).
  • Having a single family member with breast cancer was associated with an increase in risk of approximately 40%, after adjustment for cofounders (hazard ratio [HR], 1.42; 95% CI, 1.30 – 1.55). Having multiple family members with breast cancer increased that risk (adjusted HR [aHR], 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.32 – 1.88).
  • Women with breast cancer were also more likely than those without to report that at least one first-degree relative had been diagnosed with prostate cancer (11.6% vs 10.1%). This family history was associated with a significant, albeit modest, increase in breast cancer risk after adjustment for confounders such as a family history of breast cancer (aHR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.02 – 1.26).
  • The risk was highest for those with a family history of both breast and prostate cancer (aHR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.45 – 2.19).
  • When the data were stratified by race, the risk was highest in black women who had “multiple affected first-degree family members” (aHR, 2.85; 95% CI, 1.33 – 2.08). A family history of prostate cancer was modestly predictive in both white and black women, but only reached statistical significance in white women. Although black women with a family history of both diseases appeared to be at greater risk of developing breast cancer (aHR, 2.34; 95% CI, 1.09 – 5.02), “the risk estimates were not significantly different as evidenced by the overlapping CIs,” note Dr Beebe-Dimmer and colleagues.

Reference: Cancer. Published online March 9, 2015. Abstract    

Too High levels of Vitamin D May Increasing Mortality

What You Need to Know: The level of vitamin D in our blood should neither be too high nor too low. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen are the first in the world to show that there is a connection between high levels of vitamin D and cardiovascular deaths.

The Study: Several studies have shown that too low vitamin D levels can prove detrimental to our health. However, new research from the University of Copenhagen reveals, for the first time, that too much vitamin D in our blood is connected to an increased risk of dying from a stroke or a heart attack.

“We have studied the level of vitamin D in 247,574 Danes, and so far, it constitutes the world’s largest basis for this type of study. We have also analysed their mortality rate over a seven-year period after taking the initial blood sample, and in that time 16,645 patients had died. Furthermore, we have looked at the connection between their deaths and their levels of vitamin D,” Professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine, Peter Schwarz explains.

Conclusion: Dr. Schwartz concludes: “If your vitamin D blood level is below 50 or over 100 nanomol per litre, there is an greater connection to deaths. We have looked at what caused the death of patients, and when numbers are above 100, it appears that there is an increased risk of dying from a stroke or a coronary. In other words, levels of vitamin D should not be too low, but neither should they be too high. Levels should be somewhere in between 50 and 100 nanomol per litre, and our study indicates that 70 is the most preferable level,” Peter Schwartz states.

My Take: There is a correlation between mortality rates and too low levels of vitamin D, but the new findingis that the levels of vitamin D that are too high may be linked to cardiovascular risk. As is the case with so many things, moderation may be the key. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.


The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

References:

  • D. Durup, H. L. Jørgensen, J. Christensen, P. Schwarz, A. M. Heegaard, B. Lind. A Reverse J-Shaped Association of All-Cause Mortality with Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in General Practice: The CopD Study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2012; 97 (8): 2644 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2012-1176
  • University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. “High levels of vitamin D is suspected of increasing mortality rates.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150310105222.htm>.

Fit Body at 40 May Keep Brain Bright at 60

What You Need to Know: People who are fit in their 40s seem to retain more brain volume two decades later and also perform better on decision-making tests.

The Study:

  • Just over 1,270 people underwent exercise treadmill testing in the 1970s, when their average age was 41. In their 60s, the participants underwent MRI brain scans and mental performance tests.
  • Those at midlife who had experienced a greater increase in heart rate or diastolic blood pressure after a few minutes of low-intensity exercise on a treadmill — signs of lower fitness levels — had smaller brain volumes later in life. Higher heart rate and blood pressure during exercise are indications of lower overall fitness levels and can also damage small blood vessels in the brain, the study authors explained.
  • Similarly, those with larger increases in blood pressure levels during low-intensity exercise performed worse on a mental (“cognition”) test of decision-making ability in their 60s.

Every 7.1 mm Hg rise in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a reading) and additional 8.3 beats per minute in heart rate over participants’ resting levels were equated with an additional half-year of brain aging.

“In elderly individuals, improvements in fitness have been shown to prevent brain aging over the short-term. But it has not been clear whether fitness throughout adulthood has an impact on brain aging. In particular, it has not been clear how longstanding (or short-lived) an impact midlife fitness might have on late-life cognition.”

Dr. Joseph Masdeu, director of neuroimaging and the Nantz National Alzheimer Center at Houston Methodist Neurological Institute in Texas, praised the study’s design, because data was collected over decades and not subject to misreporting of personal fitness levels. He and Spartano agreed that factors other than fitness may have influenced the findings, and that those with better diets and other lifestyle habits may also be more likely to experience better brain health at older ages.

“This study cannot prove causality, because it’s possible that people with brain changes making them more likely to get Alzheimer’s are going to be less prone to exercising,” Masdeu said. “You can’t prove that exercise is what did it.”

Spartano said she could not recommend an optimal level of fitness to achieve better brain aging based on the study results. But, people should strive for exercise “that will get the heart pumping every day,” Masdeu suggested.

“It’s hard to give a quantified amount of exercise,” he acknowledged. “We are not telling people to run marathons. It’s a good idea to do some aerobic exercise that gets the heart pumping, such as half an hour of walking every day, or going up several fl

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad: Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minuteable now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/misc-fitness-health-news-312/fit-body-at-40-keeps-brain-bright-at-60-study-697117.html

Triple-negative breast cancer: Even Low-androgen Tumors Respond to Anti-androgen Therapy

What You Need to Know: Only about 1 percent of triple-negative breast cancer cells in a tumor must be “androgen-receptor-positive” to show benefit from anti-androgen therapies. There are no FDA-approved targeted therapies for triple-negative breast cancer. Clinical trials currently underway are showing promising preliminary results of anti-androgen-receptor therapies against triple-negative breast cancers expressing a higher percentage of androgen-receptor-positive cells.

Background: Triple-negative breast cancers are those without known hormone or genetic drivers — specifically, breast cancers that do not drive their growth with the hormones estrogen or progesterone, or with the gene HER2. Without a known driver, there has been no “target” in triple-negative breast cancer to treat with targeted therapies, and the triple-negative subtype has the worst five-year survival rate of any breast cancer.

“What we’re showing is that the threshold for benefit from anti-androgen-receptor therapies in triple-negative breast cancer may be far lower than we previously thought. This is an extremely optimistic finding for many people who have been without options for targeted cancer therapy,” says Valerie Barton, the study’s first author and PhD candidate in the lab of CU Cancer Center investigator Jennifer Richer, PhD. “We’re getting closer to being able to call some triple-negative breast cancers, androgen-receptor-positive breast cancers. And we may have to start referring to the remaining triple-negative breast cancers that are completely without androgen receptors as quadruple-negative breast cancers,” Barton says.

The current study treated triple-negative breast cancer cells with the anti-androgen-receptor drug Enzalutamide, currently FDA approved for use as an anti-androgen against prostate cancer. It has been previously shown that Enzalutamide is active against “luminal” triple-negative breast cancer cells that tend to have abundant androgen receptors. The researchers tested Enzalutamide against non-luminal triple-negative breast cancer cell lines that have far fewer androgen receptors.

“Even in these cells and in mouse models of tumors with low percentage of androgen receptor positive breast cancer cells, we observed that Enzalutamide was significantly effective at reducing proliferation, growth, migration and invasion of cancer cells,” Barton says.

My Take: These results suggest that anti-androgen receptor therapy may benefit a larger percentage of triple negative breast cancers than previously thought. We look forward to results from human clinical trials. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad: Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minuteable now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

 

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Journal References:

  1.  Valerie N. Barton, Nicholas C. D’amato, Michael A. Gordon, Hanne T. Lind, Nicole S. Spoelstra, Beatrice L. Babbs, Richard E. Heinz, Anthony Elias, Paul Jedlicka, Britta M. Jacobsen, and Jennifer K. Richer. Multiple Molecular Subtypes of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Critically Rely on Androgen Receptor and Respond to Enzalutamide In Vivo. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, February 2015 DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-14-0926
  2. University of Colorado Cancer Center. “In triple-negative breast cancer, even low-androgen tumors respond to anti-androgen therapy.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150224131201.htm>.

New Study: A 10-Second Kiss Transfers 80 Million Bacteria!

What You Need to Know: Pucker up and say “ugh:” Just one kiss from your partner can send a whole lot of bacteria to your mouth, finds a new study from the Netherlands.

The Evidence: Researchers in the Netherlands had one person guzzle a probiotic drink—rich in bacterial bugs—then snog their significant other for 10 seconds. They swabbed the kissee’s tongue and saliva and analyzed the germy makeup.

Results:

  • One smooch could transfer 80 million bacteria, the scientists estimate.
  • The study also found that kissing couples who slip each other the tongue at least nine times a day have significantly higher levels of shared bacteria in their spit than those who smooch less frequently.
  •  It sounds gross, sure, but it’s usually not a reason to worry. That’s because the predominant kind of bacteria in your mouth, streptococci, tend to be completely harmless, says study author Remco Kort, Ph.D.
  • What’s more, most of the bugs that hitch a ride on your tongue are typically transient visitors—they don’t stick around long enough to set up camp in your mouth.

But the ones that do linger can actually benefit you. The layer of bacteria in your mouth can protect you from disease-causing microorganisms, Kort says. And the greater diversity of species, the better the resistance it offers.

My Take: Kiss. That’s the ticket. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Reference: http://www.menshealth.com/health/kissing-transfers-bacteria

Do This If You’re Too Lazy to Floss

What You Need to Know: To banish bacteria, give your teeth a workout: Chewing gum cleans out your mouth.

The Study:

  • Participants chomped on sugar-free gum for up to 10 minutes. After analyzing the masticated morsels, researchers found about 100 million bacteria trapped in each chunk.
  • That actually makes up just a small percentage of all the bacteria hanging out in your mouth, but the reduction is still important: It can lead to fewer cavities, healthier gums, and better breath.
  • That’s because when you chew gum, it actually cleans plaque and pieces of food off your teeth, says study author Stefan Wessel, M.Sc.

My Take: The gum company Wrigley funded the study, creating a potential for bias. But, there’s been a lot of research on this topic, and it appears that chewing sugar-free gum is indeed beneficial when it comes to reducing mouth bacteria. Chew gum stimulates production of spit, an antimicrobial. Flossing is still the best bacteria-squashing option, since the thin filaments can remove bugs from in between your teeth—an important spot when it comes to preventing cavities—while gum only hits the surfaces. Stick to sugar-free, as your mouth’s bacteria ferments the sugar in regular gum, producing acid that weakens your teeth. As for how long you should chew, cap it at 10 minutes. Anything longer and the bacteria that’s trapped in the gum might actually be released back into your mouth. Plus, the flavor’s usually long gone by then anyway.

My Take: These results suggest that anti-androgen receptor therapy may benefit a larger percentage of triple negative breast cancers than previously thought. We look forward to results from human clinical trials. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Reference: http://www.menshealth.com/health/benefits-of-chewing-gum

Study: How Red Wine May Lower Alcohol-Related Cancer Risk

What You Need to Know: Alcohol use is a major risk factor for head and neck cancer. But an article published in the November issue of the journal Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology suggests that the chemical resveratrol found in grape skins and in red wine may prevent cancer as well.

“Alcohol bombards your genes. Your body has ways to repair this damage, but with enough alcohol eventually some damage isn’t fixed. That’s why excessive alcohol use is a factor in head and neck cancer. Now, resveratrol challenges these cells – the ones with unrepaired DNA damage are killed, so they can’t go on to cause cancer. Alcohol damages cells and resveratrol kills damaged cells,” says Robert Sclafani, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the CU School of Medicine.

Background: Some of what we know about the ability of alcohol to cause cancer comes from the study of another disease, namely Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disorder that affects about 1 in every 350,000 babies. DNA naturally accumulates tangles called “cross links” and healthy genes can repair and disentangle cross-linked DNA. In Fanconi anemia, people are born without the ability to repair DNA cross links and so DNA damage accumulates. Accordingly, patients with Fanconi anemia are at greatly increased risk of developing cancers including leukemias and also head and neck cancer.

“We learn a lot from genetic disorders because you can put a finger on a gene and say, hey, we know what that does!” says Sclafani, who has presented at and regularly attends the annual meeting of the Fanconi Anemia Research Foundation.

In fact, it turns out that a genetic accelerator of cancer in Fanconi anemia is the same as the cancer-causing mechanism of alcohol. In both cases, the cause is partially metabolized alcohol. The body metabolizes alcohol by converting it first to acetyl aldehyde and then the body uses aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) to further convert it to acetic acid, which is excreted. The partially processed state of alcohol, acetyl aldehyde, is a carcinogen and produces “cross links” in DNA. Because Fanconi anemia patients cannot repair the DNA damage produced by acetyl aldehyde, they are at even higher risk for cancer if they also lack ALDH.

“With enough alcohol, the body can get behind and end up with a backlog of acetyl aldehyde,” Sclafani says. “Increased exposure to alcohol, loss of the ALDH gene that helps the body process alcohol, and loss of the ability to repair DNA cross links all result in increased cancer risk.”

With hard alcohol that’s the end of the story: increased risk for head and neck cancer due to increased production of acetyl aldehyde.

“But when you look at epidemiological studies of head and neck cancer, alcohol is a factor, but by alcohol source, the lowest cancer incidence is in people who drank red wine,” Sclafani says. “In red wine, there’s something that’s blocking the cancer-causing effect of alcohol.”

The recent article points to resveratrol as Sclafani’s “something.” Sclafani describes the effects of resveratrol in terms of probability: “The more you drink, the more you accumulate DNA damage, and the more chance that one or more cells will accumulate the specific type of DNA damage that can cause cancer. Now, resveratrol takes out the cells with the most damage – the cells that have the highest probability of being able to cause cancer.”

According to Sclafani, the resveratrol in red wine (and other chemopreventive chemicals found in grape seed extract) isn’t a magic bullet that can completely undo the cancer-causing effects of alcohol, but by killing the most dangerous cells it may decrease the probability that alcohol use will cause cancer.

“Because alcohol-related head and neck cancer has a high rate of recurrence, after a cancer has been treated once, you’ve still got a very high-risk population,” Sclafani says.

Ongoing clinical trials are testing the ability of resveratrol to prevent colon and liver cancer. Dr. Sclafani and his colleague Dr. Rajesh Agarwal plan to test resveratrol in the prevention and possibly treatment of head and neck and other cancer types.

Reference: http://www.coloradocancerblogs.org/study-red-wine-prevents-cancer/