Anti - aging medicine: 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer: an anti - aging approach to beating the odds.
Subject: Breast cancer (Development and progression)
Breast cancer (Prevention)
Breast cancer (Care and treatment)
Aging (Health aspects)
Cancer (Prevention)
Cancer (Methods)
Women (Health aspects)
Women (Management)
Authors: Klatz, Ronald
Goldman, Robert
Pub Date: 02/01/2012
Publication: Name: Townsend Letter Publisher: The Townsend Letter Group Audience: General; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 The Townsend Letter Group ISSN: 1940-5464
Issue: Date: Feb-March, 2012 Source Issue: 343-344
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 282825238
Full Text: Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman's death is about 1 in 36 (about 3%). The US National Cancer Institute reports that in 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of breast cancer in women were diagnosed, and that 39,520 women died from the disease. Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with an estimated 1.6 million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2010.

Experts admit that there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are things all women can do that might reduce their risk and help increase the odds that if cancer does occur, it is found at an early, more treatable stage. Women can lower their risk of breast cancer by embracing the tenets of an anti-aging lifestyle; namely, exercise regularly, maintain a healthful body weight, and eat a healthful diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. As well, there are newly identified breast cancer risk factors - each of which can be modified, which we review in this column. We then present study findings that document potentially effective non drug approaches that may lower that breast cancer risk.


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Diets High in Fat and Cholesterol May Raise Breast Cancer Risk

Elevated fat and cholesterol levels typical of the Western diet contribute to the growth and spread of breast cancer. Philippe G. Frank and colleagues from Thomas Jefferson University (Pennsylvania, US) examined the role of fat and cholesterol in breast cancer development. The researchers utilized the PyMT mouse model, which is believed to closely parallel the pathogenesis of human breast cancer, to determine the role of dietary fat and cholesterol in tumor development. The team placed PyMT mice on a diet that contained 21.2% fat and 0.2% cholesterol, reflective of a typical Western diet. A control group of PyMT mice was fed a normal diet that included 4.5% fat and negligible amounts of cholesterol. Among the mice fed the fat/cholesterol-enriched chow, tumors began to develop quickly, the number of tumors almost doubled, and they were 50% larger, as compared with the mice fed the normal chow. To confirm the aggressive nature of the cancer in animals fed a cholesterol-rich diet, the researchers examined the levels of several biomarkers of tumor progression and found a signature of a more advanced cancer stage, compared with tumors that developed in the control group. Positing, "These data provide new evidence for an increased utilization of cholesterol by tumors and for its role in tumor formation," the researchers conclude: "These results imply that an increase in plasma cholesterol levels accelerates the development of tumors and exacerbates their aggressiveness."

Llaverias G, Danilo C, Mercier I, et al. Role of cholesterol in the development and progression of breast cancer. Am I Pathol. Jan. 2011;178(1):402-412.

Light Exposure May Raise Breast Cancer Risk

Due to its disruptive effects on circadian rhythms and sleep deprivation at night, shift work is generally recognized as a risk factor for breast cancer. As an extension of this notion, Abraham Haim and colleagues from the University of Haifa (Israel) studied whether exposure to light during sleep also may contribute to breast cancer risk. The team studied more than 1670 Israeli women, finding that those routinely exposed to higher-intensity light in their sleeping environment had 22% higher odds of developing breast cancer, as compared with women who slept in full darkness. Sleeping with open window shutters that admit outside light, or sleeping with the television on, did not significantly predict cancer in the study. The researchers urge: "Not only should artificial light exposure in the working environment be considered as a potential risk factor for [breast cancer], but also [light at night] in the 'sleeping habitat.'"

Kloog I, Portnov BA, Rennert HS, Haim A. Does the modem Urbanized sleeping habitat pose a breast cancer risk? Chronobiol Int. February 201 l;28(1):76-80.

Obesity May Raise Risks of Breast Cancer

Women who are obese and not physically active may be at increased risk of triple-negative breast cancer. Amanda Phipps and colleagues from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Washington, US) analyzed data from the 155,723 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative. They assessed levels of baseline body mass index (BMI) and recreational physical activity among the 307 women who had triple-negative breast cancer and the 2610 women who had estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. The researchers found that women with the highest BMI had a 35% increased risk of triple-negative breast cancers and a 39% increased risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. In contrast, those who reported high rates of physical activity had a 23% decreased risk of triple-negative breast cancer and a 15% decreased risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Observing, "Despite biological and clinical differences, triple-negative and ER-positive breast cancers are similarly associated with BMI and recreational physical activity in postmenopausal women," the team submits: "these results suggest potential ways postmenopausal women might modify their risk of both ER-positive and triple-negative breast cancers."

Phipps Al, Chlebowski RT, Prentice R, et al Body me, physical activity, and risk of triple-negative and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. March 2011;20:454-463.

Folate May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Premenopausal women with the highest average intakes of folate from the diet are at a 40% reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Martha J. Shrubsole and colleagues from Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center (Tennessee, US) analyzed data collected from the Shanghai Women's Health Study, involving 72,861 participants, aged 40 to 70 years. The team assessed for potential relationships between intakes of folate, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12 and incidence of breast cancer. During the course of the study, 718 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed. While the researchers found no link between vitamins B6 and B12 intakes and the risk of breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women, they did observe that folate intake was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer - with the effect limited to premenopausal women. Specifically, average intakes of 404 micrograms per day were associated with a 42% reduction in the risk of breast cancer, as compared with average intakes of 194 micrograms per day. The team concludes: "For premenopausal women, higher intake of folate was associated with decreased breast cancer risk."

Shrubsole MI, Shu XO, Li H-L, et al. Dietary B vitamin and methionine intakes and breast cancer risk among Chinese women. Am I Epidemiol. 2011;1 73(10):1171-1182.

Coffee May Reduce Risks of Certain Breast Cancers

Swedish team reports that high daily intakes of coffee may significantly reduce a woman's risks of anti-estrogen-resistant estrogen-receptor (ER-negative) breast cancer. Jingmei Li and colleagues from the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) assessed the association between coffee consumption and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in a large population-based study of nearly 6000 people. The team reported that women who consumed five cups of coffee per day were 57% less likely to develop ER-negative breast cancer, as compared with a low-consumption reference group. The researchers conclude: "A high daily intake of coffee was found to be associated with a statistically significant decrease in ER-negative breast cancer among postmenopausal women."

Li I, Seibold P, Chang-Claude J, et al. Coffee consumption modifies risk of estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 14 May 2011;13:R49.

Life-Extending Role of Strong Social Relationships

Breast cancer patients who have a strong social support system in the first year after diagnosis are less likely to die or have a recurrence of cancer. Researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (Tennessee, US) and the Shanghai Institute of Preventive Medicine (China) analyzed data on women enrolled in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survivor Study. From 2002 to 2004, a total of 2230 breast cancer survivors completed a quality of life survey six months after diagnosis and a majority responded to a follow-up survey 36 months after diagnosis. The women were asked about physical issues such as sleep, eating, and pain; psychological well-being; social support; and material well-being. The answers were converted to an overall quality of life score. During a median follow-up of 4.8 years after the initial quality of life assessment, the researchers documented participants who had died or been diagnosed with a cancer recurrence. Six months after diagnosis, the team found that only greater social well-being was significantly associated with a decreased risk of dying or having a cancer recurrence. Compared with women who had the lowest scores, women who scored highest on the social well-being quality of life scale had a 48% reduction in their risk of a cancer recurrence and a 38% reduction in the risk of death. Finding that emotional support was the strongest predictor of cancer recurrence, women reporting the highest satisfaction with marriage and family had a 43% risk reduction, while those with strong social support had a 40% risk reduction and those with favorable interpersonal relationships had a 35% risk reduction. Observing, "Social well-being in the first year after cancer diagnosis is a significant prognostic factor for breast cancer recurrence or mortality," the team submits that its data "[suggests] a possible avenue of intervention by maintaining or enhancing social support for women soon after their breast cancer diagnosis to improve disease outcomes."

Epplein M, Zheng Y, Zheng W, et al. Quality of life after breast cancer diagnosis and survival. J Clin Oncology. Feb 1, 2011.406-412.

As suggested by the studies that we have shared, avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent cancer. The first step is to identify your individual risk factors: Scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) developed the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, an online interactive program, designed to estimate a woman's risk of developing invasive breast cancer. It is freely available at

To stay updated on the latest breakthroughs in natural approaches that may help reduce your odds of breast cancer, visit the World Health Network (, the official educational website of the A4M and your one-stop resource for authoritative anti-aging information. Be sure to sign up for the free Longevity Magazine e-journal, the A4M's award-winning weekly health newsletter featuring wellness, prevention, and biotech advancements in longevity.

by Ronald Klatz, MD, DO, and obert Goldman, MD, PhD, DO, FAASP
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