Archive for February, 2011

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.