According to a new Northwestern Medicine study, a middle aged woman, say of 54, is likely to suffer from hip fracture if she is a breast cancer survivor. Though hip fracture is not common in a middle aged woman, it is a likely development in those who have gone through the therapies for breast cancer treatment.

Researchers are of the opinion that breast cancer treatment causes early menopause and along with breast cancer drugs it leads to weakening of bones, which later causes hip fractures. The study has been published in the February issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

Hip fractures are rare cases in people under the age of 70. Yet Beatrice Edwards, a physician of Northwestern Medicine observed that quite a few breast cancer survivors in their 50s were complaining of the problem.

Researchers did a meticulous study of 6 of such women over one year assessing the type of breast cancer they had, the treatment they were provided and the consequence of hip fracture on their life. Beatrice Edwards remarks that these women reported difficulty in climbing stairs and doing their daily chores even a year after the fracture.

Surprisingly, most of the women did not have osteoporosis but had lower bone mineral density suggesting that the bone structure may have been altered following chemotherapy and early menopause.

These women had been provided treatment for early-stage breast cancer including lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy with cytoxan and adriamycin one to four years before fracture occurred. At the time of the fracture, all the women were perimenopausal.

Four of these six women received aromatase inhibitors (AIs) as a part of their treatment and studies have associated AIs with possible bone loss in women. Edwards cites that bone loss is a possible adverse effect of breast cancer drugs but further research needs to be done before the mode of treatment is changed.


There is a general belief that moderate drinking lowers the risk of heart diseases since studies have shown that moderate drinkers have reported lower cardiovascular problems than heavy drinkers or complete abstainers. However, what is often ignored is a visible link between alcohol consumption and the deadly cancer. Here is a report:

1.      Liver cancer: Alcohol is one of the major causes of liver cancer. After years of heavy drinking the liver tends to do some self-repairing and in the process causes a mutation which leads to the development of cancer. The risk of liver cancer is higher in a heavy drinker who is also infected by Hepatitis B or C.

2.      Esophageal cancer: Cancer of the Esophagus is, reportedly, higher in case of regular drinkers. However, the risk gets heightened when a person indulges in both smoking and drinking.

3.      Breast Cancer: Cancer Research UK  states that the risk of breast cancer is increased by 9% for every unit of alcohol drunk everyday. Breast cancer occurs due to many factors and undoubtedly alcohol plays a key role in it. It is believed that alcohol affects breast cancer by increasing the levels of estrogen.

4.      Oral cancer: Heavy drinkers are said to be 4 times more likely to develop mouth cancer than their non-drinking counterparts. A study from the UK shows that the incidence of mouth cancer has increased by 25% over the last few years. This has been accompanied by a decline in the rate of smoking which suggests that the increase has occurred owing to alcohol consumption.

Thus, we can see that there is a direct link between alcohol consumption and various forms of cancer. Though it is not precisely known how alcohol causes cancer, there is a notion that alcohol damages DNA and, therefore, causes cancer to develop. Though a lot more research needs to be done in this field, we can safely surmise that alcohol does have a role in development of cancer and so it is best advisable to shun that sinful bottle.


A new finding suggests that dogs can detect bowel cancer even in its early stage from the breath and stool samples with an accuracy as high as 95 percent. Scientists have opined that trained dogs may be helpful in early detection of the disease.

During the onset of cancer, some chemical compounds circulate throughout the body which a trained dog can sniff out from samples of breath and stool. The presence of these chemical compounds paves the possibility of developing tests to detect the disease before it can spread.

The team of researchers included those from St. Sugar Cancer Sniffing Dog Training Centre, Minamiboso, Chiba Prefecture in Japan, and Hideto Sonoda, Assistant Professor at Kyushu University. They used a well trained Labrador retriever that completed 74 sniff tests comprising of 5 breath or stool samples at a time of which only one was cancerous.

The samples were collected from 48 bowel cancer patients and 258 people with no bowel cancer or who had had cancer in the past. Half of the latter were collected from people with bowel polyps, a precursor to bowel cancer.

Besides, 6% of breath samples and 10% of stool samples were collected from this group from people with various gut problems like inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers and appendicitis. Samples of bowel cancer were taken from patients who had cancer in various stages including early stage.

In 33 out of 36 breath tests and in 37 out of 38 stool tests, the dog succeeded in detecting which sample was cancerous and which was not. Thus, the trained dog attained 95% accuracy for breath test and 98% accuracy for stool test.

This suggests that the cancer cells give off specific odors which can be sniffed by dogs since these cancerous cells circulate throughout the body and affect the breath and stool.


Abraham Haim, a professor of Biology at Israel’s Haifa University has claimed that the energy saving light bulbs such as the CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) may accentuate the rate of breast cancer in women, making them more prone to breast cancer.

These energy-saving light bulbs emit bluer light and closely mimic daylight that disrupts the body’s production of the melatonin hormone. The older-style bulbs, in contrast, emit a yellowish light which allows the body to produce the said hormone (melatonin) which has long been associated with protection from breast and prostate cancers.

For over a decade, a link between night time light exposure and breast cancer has been drawn since studies suggested that female shift workers had a greater likelihood of developing breast cancer.

Prof. Haim and his team have discovered that there may be a strong connection between night time bedroom light levels and breast cancer. The study has been published in ‘Chronobiology International’ and it suggests that women who slept with the light on had a 22% greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who slept in complete darkness.

The researchers opine that this may be owing to the fact that modern society uses bluer light waves of shorter wavelength that may suppress melatonin production much more than the yellower old-age light.

Prof. Haim has remarked that he has removed the eco-friendly light bulbs from his house since he feels they cause light pollution. However, he emphasizes that this study doesn’t substantially prove that these cheaper, eco-friendly light bulbs heighten breast cancer cases. Dr. Sarah Rawlings, head of policy at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, also states that this link is purely speculative and more research needs to be done in this area.


Broccoli and its other vegetable cousins have for long been associated with cancer obstruction. Experiments done hitherto have showed that broccoli can stop the growth of cancer but not much was known as to how.

But now the scientists have stumbled on to a key ingredient that appears to be the reason why broccoli is so effective. A potential biochemical basis has been discovered by a team of scientists. It is, apparently, this biochemical basis that lends broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables the cancer-fighting ability.

Fung-Lung Chung and his team showed that broccoli and its veggie cousins contain substances called isothiocyanates (or ITCs) that apparently stops cancerous cells from growing. However, it was not known exactly how these substances work. But now some new interesting findings have surfaced which may prove vital to developing improved strategies for fighting cancer in humans.

The tumor suppressor gene p53 is, supposedly, the key player in keeping cells healthy and preventing them from starting the abnormal cancerous growth. During mutation this gene p53 does not offer this protection and these mutations take place in 50% of all human cancers.

The new report suggests that ITCs may be working by targeting this gene. This report appears in the ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and may prove to be highly effective in prevention and treatment of cancer in the future.

The scientists carefully examined the effect of ITCs on various cancer cells including lung, breast and colon cancer with and without the defective tumour suppressor gene. The findings suggested that the ITCs could effectively remove the defective p53 protein. Though it is too early to conclude anything with finality, in the long run drugs based on natural or custom-built ITCs may help to combat various forms of cancer.


Researchers from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) have identified a new enzyme that affects radiation response in patients suffering from head and neck cancer. PMH researchers have made a discovery that may be significant in controlling the side effects for cancer patients. They have discovered that targeting an enzyme called Uroporphyrinogen Decarboxylase (UROD) can sensitize diseased tissue to radiation and chemotherapy.

UROD has been identified as a key ingredient in human cancers and the study suggests that targeting UROD can selectively enhance the effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy in cancerous tumors of head and neck while minimizing toxicity to normal tissues. These findings have been published in Science Translational Medicine.

Chief investigator, Dr. Fei-Fei Liu (Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto and PMH, and Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute and The Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute) states that analysis of patient biopsies disclosed that UROD levels were higher in tumor tissues than in the normal ones. UROD can be used to make a general prediction of how will a patient respond to radiation therapy since the cancer patients with lower UROD levels prior to radiation treatment had improved clinical outcome.

Dr. Emma states that lower doses of radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs could be administered to cancer patients without affecting the treatment efficacy. Dr. Liu says that UROD is an enzyme that participates in production of a molecule called heme that is vital to all body organs. Targeting UROD creates an opportunity to exploit the heme synthesis pathway that disrupts the equilibrium of iron and free radical levels in cells which thereby kills cancer cells.


A new study has shown that women with both breast cancer and diabetes have a high risk of mortality than their non-diabetic counterparts. Breast cancer itself is a very deadly disease but a diabetic woman increases her chances of dying if she also has breast cancer.

A study shows that breast cancer women who have diabetes are 50 percent more likely to die than those who don’t have diabetes. However, a lot remains unexplained since the data doesn’t specify the cause of death. Author Dr. Kimberly Peairs states that the study shows that there may be a higher association between diabetes and breast cancer mortality than was previously believed.

This study has been published in the latest issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology and has been supported by grants from U.S. National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Though the exact reason of high mortality in such case is not yet known, there are various possible explanations. For instance, one study suggests that women who had type 2 diabetes were likely to have their breast cancer diagnosed later than their non-diabetic counterpart. Besides, diabetic women may tend to respond less to chemotherapy drugs or their physicians may not provide them with aggressive treatment fearing concern for their health. Insulin intake may also be responsible for a greater growth in breast cancer tumor.

Diabetes is a widespread ailment with 8% of adult population being affected by it in US in 2007. Research suggests that diabetics are also prone to higher risk of breast cancer. To keep diabetes away, women are advised to keep their BMI at under 25. And those who have been diagnosed with diabetes must ensure that they control their blood sugar levels.


Middle Tennessee Medical Center is urging the women folk to get tested for cervical cancer. January is dedicated as the Cervical Cancer Screening Month and regular screening is the best way to combat this dreaded disease.

There are basically two tests that determine if the person has cervical cancer or not- the Pap test and the HPV test. The Pap test or Pap smear is directed towards preventing cervical cancer. It looks for precancerous cells that might become cervical cancer if left untreated. Dr. Kelly Williams, a MTMC physician states that it is recommended (by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) that woman undertake an annual examination beginning at age 21.

Pap test is the main test for cervical cancer but another test called the HVP test proves to be helpful at times. HPV or Human Papilloma Virus test looks for the said virus and this test can also be used to find the presence of the virus which causes cellular changes. HPV test is generally used to screen women who are in the age group 30 and above. But it is also used to detect the presence of virus in women who have unclear Pap test results.

There is a vaccine called HPV vaccine that is a big positive leap for medical science since it provides immunity against the virus. This vaccine is recommended for women from the age 9 to 26. Dr. Kelly Williams stresses that the HPV vaccine is a major advancement for preventing cervical cancer worldwide.

Cervical cancer awareness is a positive endeavor by the MTMC since many women fall prey to this ailment. As per an estimate by the National Cancer Institute, 12,200 women would be diagnosed and 4,210 women would die of it in 2010 alone.


If you are obese or if you indulge in alcoholism, then you pose yourself at a higher risk of cancer. If the scientists and specialists are to be believed then one may surmise that being over-weight and consuming alcohol is absolutely suicidal.

According to World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), UK and other high income countries report high rates of cancer because the citizens of these countries report low physical activity, higher cases of obesity and over-indulgence in alcohol.

UK has been placed at 22nd position in cancer rate with nearly 267 people diagnosed out of 100,000. But UK ranks higher at 11th position when it comes to breast cancer. Breast cancer has long been associated with excess body fat and alcohol consumption, hence the 11th rank of UK for breast cancer hints at a direct relationship between the disease and the UK women’s indulgence in alcohol.

Research has shown that women who drink on a regular basis are more likely to develop breast cancer than their non-drinking counterparts. Besides drinking, smoking is another factor which has been directly linked to various forms of cancer. For instance, Denmark has the highest rate of cancer and it is no surprise since a huge chunk of the Danish women is addicted to cigarette and alcohol.

Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser for WCRF, states that UK and other high-income countries report high cancer rates because of the lifestyle of the people. Physical activity, healthy consumption and abstinence from alcohol and smoking are some of the preventive measures that one can take to keep cancer at bay. So, the citizens of UK and other high-income countries need to alter their lifestyles significantly in order to combat this dreaded ailment.


Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease that, as per the estimation of National Cancer Institute, has affected more than 43,000 Americans in 2010. And the fact that 36,000 died from it does not help matter either.

Though genetic science has advanced by leaps and bounds over the years, scientists are still at a loss to unravel the complex signaling pathway that pancreatic cancer takes in humans.

But a new study has thrown some light on the same. A team of researchers have resorted to a simple organism (a common roundworm) and discovered how the Ras oncogene chooses a signaling pathway and how the consequences of that choice play out in cellular development. This is a significant issue in cancer that is characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.

The team leader Channing Der explains that the cell signaling pathways are very complex in humans. Ras can opt to interact with more than 20 various partners besides the chief proteins Raf and RalGEF. In C. elegans, there is only one of each protein. This eased out the complexity and helped the researchers identify how Ras chooses a partner.

They found that Ras’ choices lead to different fates for the cell. It can help them identify if similar mechanisms work in determining how Ras causes pancreatic cancer. ‘Worm’ cells share a good deal of functional overlap with the cells of humans. Nevertheless, in a roundworm there is only one mechanism at work contrary to multiple mechanisms in humans. But the C. elegans model may be instrumental in helping the scientists find new therapeutic targets for pancreatic cancer.