Sunday, March 22, 2015

Breast Cancer and Folate - Will it Protect You? Me?

I passed the first diagnostic mammo (required for two years here after treatment.)   So am I in the clear?  Can I do something to prepare for next year's?

Funny thing happened today (not really that funny.)  I zeroed in on another health problem I haven't been able to get a fix for.   And vitamin deprivation including insufficient folate was mentioned on Mayo Clinic as a possible cause of that problem.

Now today I see this Mt. Sinai Medicine Matters article that says folate in my diet might prevent BC. Hank Schmidt, MD, Phd, FACS, the writer, is also  Director of the Cancer Risk Program at Dubin Breast Center of the Tisch Cancer Institute.  He names the very large EPIC study that followed women for 11 years, also says, re Estrogen-receptive cancers:

     "...other studies have suggested the risk of ER- cancers may be
      more sensitive to dietary components, such as B vitamins."  

I found that wording a bit confusing.

So how much folate does a young woman need to try for this protection?

      "Interestingly in the EPIC study, breast cancer risk was lower with
      increasing folate intake, and lowest in women taking
      400 micrograms daily."

That certainly interested me enough to grab my vitamin bottle.  My multi-vitamin, which is not for any particular age, says, you guessed it, that 400 mcg (micrograms) daily is the minimum daily requirement of folate.  So the women studied had not been taking that much before the study?

 Okay, it says younger women but it says "particularly young women" not only young women.   Yes, I was told long ago that we don't need so much folate after we stop having periods.  But at least we need ENOUGH for the age we are.  Wonder if my doc knows how much?

There is also a PubMed article suggesting folate will help:

     Higher dietary folate intake reduces the breast cancer risk: a systematic 

      review and meta-analysis. 2014 Apr 2 

If you are young or just as interested as I am, here's the Mt. Sinai article:

I wish you health.

Friday, March 6, 2015

BREAST CANCER: HER2 Possible Cure From "Mom's Pills?"

Two recently published studies led by Mt. Sinai researchers may offer new hope from "old medicine" for cancers including a quarter of breast cancers.  Their report: Repurposing a Drug to Prevent and Treat Cancers, refers to their work with bisphosphonates--the osteoporosis drugs.

So it was not a surprise to learn that lead study author and professor Mone Zaidi, MD, PhD, FRCP, also heads the Mt. Sinai Bone Program.  The surprise was reading the cautious statement that

           "Bisphosphonates have been previously associated with slower 
tumor growth in some patients..."  

I dug around some.  Found tumors in a bone treatment article on OncoLink, a site of The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania  Last Modified: December 18, 2014. 

They were cautious, too.  But down in the bisphosphonates section I found:

"Bisphosphonates may have some level of anti-tumor activity in breast cancer. A recent Phase III clinical trial revealed that the addition of Zometa to endocrine therapy, improves disease-free pre-menopausal patients with estrogen-receptor positive early breast cancer."  

Since my DCIS was hormone receptive, that sounded like good news for me.  However their mention of other clinical trials in progress at the time, does not include HER2.  

So I was back to the Mt. Sinai research:

You probably know that HERs are human epidermal growth factor receptors.  The Mt. Sinai article outlines their first study, that revealed how bisphosphonates work.

With that study's discoveries, and with the knowledge that twenty five per cent of breast cancers "proceed from genetic changes that result in excessive amounts of HER2" they started the second study.

The researchers went into the labs, which revealed:

 Giving mice bisphosphonates early on prevented HER-driven tumors from forming, and combining bisphosphonates with the cancer drug Tarceva® not only stopped tumor growth but reversed it. 

So now we wait.  Dr. Zaidi reminds us we may get this Bc treatment 

     "... if we can confirm in clinical trials that this drug class also reduces 
cancer growth in people.”

We can’t know how long it will be before their trials are up and running.  Some women will undoubtedly comb the web and learn more before I do.  Please share what you learn with us.

I wish you health.

PS If you are on Twitter, check out the great"cartoon style" dwgs on immune checkpoints & how they work @JAMAOnc