Breast Cancer Spread: Can Dieting Reduce Risk?

overweight obese woman

What You Need to Know: Women with an aggressive subtype of breast cancer known as “triple negative” may be able to reduce the chance of disease spreading distantly by reducing their calorie intake. But… the data thus far is based on mice (and not human) studies.

Well, it does work for mice: The study published in the Journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, used mice models to investigate the impact of diet on triple negative disease, which is found in about one in five women with breast cancer. It found that when mice were given 30 per cent fewer calories, changes occurred in the body in the way cells were regulated. Mice on restricted diets produced more protective proteins in the tissues around the tumour, which make it harder for cancer to spread, the study by Thomas Jefferson University found.

My Take: We know that in among some groups of women (for example, women who are post-menopausal), obesity increases the risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately, treatment such as chemotherapy (and steroids) can cause weight gain. This weight gain can lead to worse cancer outcomes. Human trials are examining the impact of calorie restriction on outcomes. For now, I advise my patients to try to achieve, and maintain, an optimal Body Mass Index (BMI) of 20 to 25. 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 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/laura-donnelly/10856597/Dieting-may-reduce-chance-of-cancer-spread.html#source=refresh:

Breast Cancer Risk: BMI Matters (Shape, Not So Much)

obese white woman

Summary: A study of predominantly white women finds a larger waist circumference is associated with higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, but not beyond its contribution to Body Mass Index (BMI). The study, by American Cancer Society researchers, fails to confirm previous findings that body shape itself is an independent risk factor for breast cancer. The current study appears in the April 2014 issue of Cancer Causes, and Control.

Background: Abdominal obesity is linked to a number of conditions, including heart disease, type II diabetes, and breast and other cancers. Those studies have led to the theory that having an “apple shaped” body, with weight concentrated in the chest and torso, is riskier than having a “pear-shaped” body, with fat concentrated in the hips, thighs and buttocks.

The Evidence: To explore the theory, researchers led by Mia Gadet, PhD, analyzed data from 28,965 women participating in the Cancer Prevention Study II. Among those women there were 1,088 invasive breast cancer cases diagnosed during a median 11.58 years of follow-up. They found a statistically significant positive association between waist circumference and postmenopausal breast cancer risk; however, when they adjusted for BMI, the association disappeared.

“Iif you have a high BMI, regardless if you are pear or apple shaped, you are at higher risk of breast cancer,” said Dr. Gaudet. “Most prior studies on this issue looked at BMI or at waist circumference, but had not looked at them together. This study brings some clarity to the association between obesity and risk of breast cancer.”

Dr. Gaudet says the data could help women focus on what’s important in what has been a confusing array of potential risk factors for breast cancer. “We know being overweight, particularly when the weight gain happened during adulthood, is one of the important modifiable risk factors for breast cancer in post-menopausal women. This new data indicates it’s not what shape you are, it’s what kind of shape you are in that probably ought to be their focus.” 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 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: Mia M. Gaudet, Brian D. Carter, Alpa V. Patel, Lauren R. Teras, Eric J. Jacobs, Susan M. Gapstur. Waist circumference, body mass index, and postmenopausal breast cancer incidence in the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort. Cancer Causes & Control, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s10552-014-0376-4


Is High Body Mass Linked to Hearing Loss Among Women?

Overweight obese Latina woman hispanic fat

A high body mass and a large waist are both linked with self-reported hearing loss, according to a new study.

Researchers used data from a 20-year prospective study of over 68,000 women who were 24 to 42 years old at the start. After controlling for age, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other factors, they found that the higher the body mass index (BMI), the greater the risk for hearing loss. 

Compared to women with BMI less than 25, those with a BMI 25-29 had an 8 percent increased risk.

  • For BMI 30-34, the risk increased by 11 percent.
  • For BMI 35-39, the risk increased by 16 percent.
  • For BMI over 40, the risk increased 19 percent.
  • The increasing risk associated with a larger waist followed a similar pattern.
  • Morederate physical activity (as little as 4 hours of walking per week) also reduced the risk of hearing loss, but there was no further advantage with more vigorous exercise.

Obesity might compromise blood flow to the inner ear, and exercise may improve it.Hearing loss may not be an inevitable part of growing older. There may be things we can do to prevent it, offers the lead investigator Dr. Sharon G. Curhan of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, USA).

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 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: Sharon G. Curhan et al. Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, Physical Activity, and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women. American Journal of Medicine 2013;126(12):1142.

Body Fat Distribution and ER-negative Breast Cancer

What scientists call "Overweight" ch...
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Body fat distribution does not play an important role in the incidence of every subtype of premenopausal breast cancer, but is associated with an increased risk for estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer, according to a study published December 15 in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. abdominal adiposity, or waist circumference and the waist to hip ratio, was more strongly associated with risk of ER-negative breast cancer than with the risk of ER-positive breast cancer. The researchers found no statistically significant associations between waist circumference, hip circumference, or the waist to hip ratio and overall risk of breast cancer.

“These findings may suggest that an insulin-related pathway of abdominal adiposity is involved in the etiology of premenopausal breast cancer,” the authors write.

Study Details: Previous studies have shown that the association between body mass index (BMI) and the risk of breast cancer varies with menopausal status: a higher BMI is positively associated with risk of postmenopausal breast cancer but inversely associated with risk of premenopausal breast cancer. Intra-abdominal fat that surrounds organs has been associated with metabolic and hormonal changes that have been associated with premenopausal breast cancer risk, although prospective studies have produced conflicting results, and none have examined the role of hormone receptor status.

To determine the relation between body fat distribution and premenopausal breast cancer risk, Holly R. Harris, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues, conducted a prospective analysis among women in the Nurses’ Health Study II, a cohort of 116,430 women who have been followed up since 1989. In 1993 the researchers sent women in that study a questionnaire in which the women were asked to measure and report their waist and hip circumference.

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 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2010, December 15). Body fat distribution associated with a higher risk of ER-negative breast cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2010/12/101215163742.htm

Weight at Diagnosis Linked to Prostate Cancer Mortality Risk

Men who are overweight or obese when they are diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to die from the disease than men who are of healthy weight, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. In patients with more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, the researchers also found an even stronger correlation between obesity and mortality.

The Study: This study included 751 Kaiser Permanente patients with prostate cancer who underwent radical prostatectomy, an operation that includes removal of the prostate and surrounding tissue. The researchers explored the association between the patients’ body mass index and prostate cancer mortality, adjusted for tumor aggressiveness and other characteristics.

Results: The researchers found men who died from prostate cancer were 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese at diagnosis compared to men who did not die from the disease. Men with high Gleason scores, a rating of the aggressiveness of prostate cancer cells, had the highest association between BMI and death, specifically men with Gleason scores of 8 or higher. The Gleason score ranges from 2 to 10, with the highest number representing the greatest likelihood of tumor cells spreading.

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 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

HRT and Breast Cancer: Risk Varies by Race, BMI, and Breast Density

Summary: The risk of getting breast cancer risk for those who have used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) varies by several factors.

Background: Studies have associated HRT with an increase in breast cancer risk. However, differential risks by body mass index (BMI) and breast density have been reported. In addition, studies on the effect of HRT use on breast cancer risk among black women have been inconsistent.

Current Study: Researchers from the University of Chicago (USA) analyzed 1,642,824 screening mammograms, including 9,300 breast cancer cases. All women were postmenopausal, and were part of the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (a US screening mammogram registry). Data on HRT use were analyzed by race/ethnicity, age, BMI, and breast density.

Results: A greater than 20% increase in risk of breast cancer was associated with HRT among white and Hispanic women, but not black women. HRT was more strongly associated with with breast cancer risk in women with low or normal Body Mass Index, but not among those with a high BMI. In addition, women with denser breasts had an increased chance of getting breast cancer among those ho took HRT.

HRT was not linked with breast cancer for women with a high BMI and low breast density, but was associated with risk among those with low or normal BMI and high breast density.

My take: This study is the largest to date to investigate the association between HRT and breast cancer by covariables such as race/ethnicity, BMI, and breast density, Still a caveat is in order: The results were based on data for which we have no details regarding HRT type and duration of use.

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: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 03 September 2013

Nuts: Can They Lower the Risk of Diabetes?

English: a walnut and a walnut core

First of all, I should state what may be obvious: There is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the USA and in the world. Fortunately, lifestyle and diet are key drivers of the phenomenon, so there is hope that we can change the incidence of the disease. Research suggests that the type of fat eaten may play a role. Higher intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs – don’t say it like Sam Jackson) and lower consumption of saturated fat and trans fat lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Recent study: A prospective study done as part of the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS)and the NHS II looked at walnuts and other nuts. The goal? To better understand the nut-diabetes reduction link. They also tracked body mass index.

The results: Tree nut and peanut consumption are linked to lower rates of the development of diabetes, but not when adjusted for body mass index. On the other hand, walnuts appear to be independently associated with a lower rate of development of type 2 diabetes, even when adjusted for body mass index. More than 2 servings per week reduced risk by about a third!

My take: We probably should eat nuts, especially walnuts. In moderation, of course. Watch out for the caloric density of the nuts, and remember to aim for a health body mass index of 20-25. But… maybe the consumers of walnuts in the study also ate more health foods. There was no subgroup analysis to remove confounding variables like that. Still, I personally eat half a dozen walnuts 2 to 3 times per week.

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.

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