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Breast Cancer Protection

July 1, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

I have a simple and completely immodest goal for today’s column: to help drastically reduce the number of breast cancer diagnoses in the years to come. It may not be realistic to expect that kind of impact from a health blog such as this. But I’m confident that implementing the research presented on this site and other scientifically based sources, you can influence the risk of developing this all too common disease. By taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you’ll then likely influence others in a positive way, including your doctors. This is how true health revolutions take foot. Inform yourself, lead by example, spread the word and defy the odds.

For starters, some researchers believe that there are three simple factors that promote breast health – food selection and minimizing the use carbohydrates; physical fitness; and the use of supplements to derive the greatest chemoprotective effect from breast cancer (BC).

A new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention draws a direct connection between the presence of metabolic syndrome and breast cancer. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of health risks that is marked by poor insulin sensitivity and at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor such as high blood pressure or cholesterol. It is believed to affect almost 50 million residents in the USA alone.

In this current trial, over 4,800 postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome were followed for an 8 year period. Certain segments of this group, specifically those with high blood pressure, sugar and elevated triglycerides, exhibited a significantly greater incidence of breast cancer. Those with hypertension were 2.4 times more likely to develop BC. High blood sugar and triglycerides resulted in 1.7 times the average risk. Higher rates of BC were also found in younger, premenopausal women with another blood sugar disorder, type-2 diabetes. If left “untreated”, metabolic syndrome often progresses into type-2 diabetes. (1,2)

The July 2009 edition of the International Journal of Cancer adds weight to the first study by describing a positive association between the consumption of high glycemic carbohydrates and breast cancer incidence. High glycemic carbs prompt severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels and instigate unnatural insulin production. This type of eating pattern and inadequate physical activity are two of the greatest modifiable causes of metabolic syndrome.

A group of Swedish researchers examined food frequency questionnaires of over 60,000 women for an average of about 17 years. In total, about 3,000 cases of invasive breast cancer were reported. A higher overall glycemic load was found to increase breast cancer risk. The authors of the study concluded that, “These findings suggest that a high carbohydrate intake and diets with high glycemic index and glycemic load may increase the risk of developing ER+/PR- breast cancer.” ER+/PR- refers to estrogen and progesterone receptors found in breast tumors. (3)

Several new studies help to strengthen the link between frequent exercise and breast cancer prevention and survival. Here’s an overview of the findings:

  • A study of 45,631 postmenopausal women found that hiking/walking for 10 or more hours a week provided a 43% preventative effect with relation to invasive breast cancer. However, that effect was nullified if the women were also on hormone replacement therapy. (4)
  • A 5 year study of 2,000 women discovered that those who engaged in frequent “leisure time” physical activity had lower breast tissue density, which is considered to be a risk factor for breast cancer. Dense breast tissue appears to contain larger quantities of cells that may predispose women to BC, perhaps due to a specific hormonal shift wherein more estrogen is produced. (5)
  • A 30 year study involving women of varying ages (20 – 83) found that those with the highest level of physical fitness, as measured by a “maximal treadmill exercise test”, demonstrated reduced breast cancer mortality. The protective effect noted was as great as 55%. The authors of the study remarked that, “These results indicate that CRF (cardiorespiratory fitness) is associated with a reduced risk of dying from breast cancer in women.” (6)

Another area of great promise in breast cancer research has to do with Vitamin D. In February, a review article in the Annals of Epidemiology described how Vitamin D can inhibit cancer cell growth, instigate cancer cell death and help the body to distinguish between healthy and aberrant cells. (7) In fact, I suspect this is part of the reason why one of the exercise studies specifically pointed out the benefits of “hiking and walking”. Most people engage in such activities outdoors. That leads to sun exposure and Vitamin D synthesis via the skin. But it’s important to note that very small amounts of vitamin D (400 IUs) do not appear to provide significant benefits. (8) Higher blood levels of D (40 ng/mL or greater) seem to be necessary in order to prevent breast cancer in postmenopausal women. (9) The only way to accurately know if you possess optimal levels of Vitamin D is to have regular blood tests.

All of these risk factors are interrelated. Eating high carb foods and not exercising enough tends to promote metabolic syndrome and obesity. Many people who are overweight are also deficient in Vitamin D. (10,11,12) As you can see, one unhealthy practice can lead to a domino effect of consequences which may ultimately encourage the development of breast cancer and a whole host of other diseases. But the good news is that by improving your diet and lifestyle, you can modify your level of risk. You have some degree of control in your future health. It’s not just an environmental and genetic lottery. This isn’t pie-in-the-sky optimism. It’s what scientists are trying to tell us. So please, put that cupcake down.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!

JP

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25 Comments & Updates to “Breast Cancer Protection”

  1. Christina Crowe Says:

    Interesting. It’s good knowing how to prevent breast cancer, especially being a woman myself. I’m also pretty active, so taking strolls outside won’t be a problem. I’ll also pay close attention to what I eat.

    On a side note: I must admit, those cupcakes look quite tasty.

  2. JP Says:

    Thanks, Christina. Good on you for taking your health seriously. That’s great!

    They do look very tempting. In the near future, I’ll do some experimenting in the kitchen and see if I can come up with a more nutritious, low-sugar cupcake that I can share on here. Maybe something that uses coconut flour instead of refined wheat flour and stevia as a replacement for all that sugar. If I can find a way to make it taste as good as those cupcakes look … we’ll really be in business. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Christina Crowe Says:

    That would be great! I look forward to reading that post. I’m a big fan on cupcakes and have always had a sweet tooth. ;)

  4. JP Says:

    Same here. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  5. mike Says:

    If you are interested in vitamin D you should take a look at http://www.vitaminD3world.com The Canadian Cancer Society now recommends that everyone take vitamin D to prevent cancer. The site has good summaries of the data and offers a new preparation of vitamin D in a micro-pill formulation. The pills have been formulated with cellulose which absorbs water very quickly. This ensures that the pill breaks up very quickly to provide for maximum absorption. The micro pill is tiny and tasteless. Many vitamin D pills on the market have very poor dissolution properties resulting in poor absorption.
    The site also offers to supply customers with a free supply of 400IU for their children and it also has a good newsletter.

  6. JP Says:

    Thanks for sharing that information, Mike.

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Dara Says:

    hmmm cupcakes delicious. good article, i think its very importent women know about this.

  8. JP Says:

    Thanks, Dara. I sure hope it helps.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Niche Topics Says:

    Thanks, JP. Insightful information! By the way, I love cupcakes ;)

  10. kajakx Says:

    Eradicating cancer is an on-going effort by scientists and researchers. Recent studies have shown antioxidants are effective in helping to combat the free radicals that cause cancer. This is a small but significant development in the larger equation. Antioxidants will help minimize the chances of developing serious diseases.

  11. JP Says:

    I agree 100% that eating antioxidant rich foods is a positive move with regard to cancer and many other conditions.

    Be well!

    JP

  12. Bonnie Says:

    JP,
    What to do you know about a bit of wine (like a glass a night while prepping a healthy dinner) and cocktails with friends – now and then as it relates specifically to BC.

    It’s hard enough for this sweet-tooth girl to give up cupcakes and especially cookies – but wine too?

    I’m currently receiving chemo treatment for BC so I am motivated, but when all this is a blip on the radar – I want some foodie fun!
    ~Bonnie
    PS: All wine, cocktails and most sweets are off the table right now.

  13. JP Says:

    Bonnie,

    The most recent news is (unfortunately) mostly negative. Based on my current understanding of the situation, I would limit my alcohol intake and choose the best possible sources if you do have some – biodynamic and organic wines, etc. The other option *might* be dealcoholized wine. Please refer to the first link for details … it appears that it’s the ethanol in alcoholic beverages that’s a primary factor in this equation.

    http://www.cancerletters.info/article/S0304-3835%2810%2900133-3/abstract Note: Increased risk in certain women – based on genes.

    http://journals.lww.com/eurjcancerprev/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2010&issue=09000&article=00008&type=abstract Note: An apparent but non-significant reduction in mortality.

    http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2010/08/23/JCO.2010.29.2730.abstract Note: Increased risk especially in overweight and postmenopausal women.

    http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/08/23/jnci.djq316.abstract Note: Increased risk especially for certain types of BC.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.25079/abstract Note: Increased risk not offset by other dietary factors.

    PS – I don’t know if it’ll help any but I’ve got a few low carb dessert recipes elsewhere on this site. :) With more to come.

    Be well!

    JP

  14. Bonnie Says:

    JP,
    Wow! Though it isn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, I am glad to have the rumors confirmed. I know, I know it’s all a no brainer – but I do love the good stuff!

    Thank you for your time and all the wonderful links. I will look through them after work today.

    All the best to you!
    ~Bonnie

  15. JP Says:

    Bonnie,

    You’re most welcome. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  16. JP Says:

    Update 04/22/15:

    http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/21/8/1877.full

    Clin Cancer Res April 15, 2015 21; 1877

    Caffeine and Caffeic Acid Inhibit Growth and Modify Estrogen Receptor and Insulin-like Growth Factor I Receptor Levels in Human Breast Cancer

    Purpose: Epidemiologic studies indicate that dietary factors, such as coffee, may influence breast cancer and modulate hormone receptor status. The purpose of this translational study was to investigate how coffee may affect breast cancer growth in relation to estrogen receptor-α (ER) status.

    Experimental Design: The influence of coffee consumption on patient and tumor characteristics and disease-free survival was assessed in a population-based cohort of 1,090 patients with invasive primary breast cancer in Sweden. Cellular and molecular effects by the coffee constituents caffeine and caffeic acid were evaluated in ER+ (MCF-7) and ER− (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cells.

    Results: Moderate (2–4 cups/day) to high (≥5 cups/day) coffee intake was associated with smaller invasive primary tumors (Ptrend = 0.013) and lower proportion of ER+ tumors (Ptrend = 0.018), compared with patients with low consumption (≤1 cup/day). Moderate to high consumption was associated with lower risk for breast cancer events in tamoxifen-treated patients with ER+ tumors (adjusted HR, 0.51; 95% confidence interval, 0.26–0.97). Caffeine and caffeic acid suppressed the growth of ER+ (P ≤ 0.01) and ER− (P ≤ 0.03) cells. Caffeine significantly reduced ER and cyclin D1 abundance in ER+ cells. Caffeine also reduced the insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGFIR) and pAkt levels in both ER+ and ER− cells. Together, these effects resulted in impaired cell-cycle progression and enhanced cell death.

    Conclusions: The clinical and experimental findings demonstrate various anticancer properties of caffeine and caffeic acid against both ER+ and ER− breast cancer that may sensitize tumor cells to tamoxifen and reduce breast cancer growth. Clin Cancer Res; 21(8); 1877–87.

    Be well!

    JP

  17. JP Says:

    Updated 08/08/15:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26246001

    Breast Cancer Res. 2015 Aug 7;17:103.

    Alcohol consumption, endogenous estrogen and mammographic density among premenopausal women.

    INTRODUCTION: Alcohol consumption may promote aromatization of androgens to estrogens, which may partly explain the observations linking alcohol consumption to higher breast cancer risk. Whether alcohol consumption is associated with endogenous estrogen levels, and mammographic density phenotypes in premenopausal women remains unclear.

    METHODS: Alcohol consumption was collected by self-report and interview, using semi quantitative food frequency questionnaires, and a food diary during seven days of a menstrual cycle among 202 premenopausal women, participating in the Energy Balance and Breast Cancer Aspects (EBBA) study I. Estrogen was assessed in serum and daily in saliva across an entire menstrual cycle. Computer-assisted mammographic density (Madena) was obtained from digitized mammograms taken between days 7-12 of the menstrual cycle. Multivariable regression models were used to investigate the associations between alcohol consumption, endogenous estrogen and mammographic density phenotypes.

    RESULTS: Current alcohol consumption was positively associated with endogenous estrogen, and absolute mammographic density. We observed 18 % higher mean salivary 17β-estradiol levels throughout the menstrual cycle, among women who consumed more than 10 g of alcohol per day compared to women who consumed less than 10 g of alcohol per day (p = 0.034). Long-term and past-year alcohol consumption was positively associated with mammographic density. We observed a positive association between alcohol consumption (past year) and absolute mammographic density; high alcohol consumers (≥7 drinks/week) had a mean absolute mammographic density of 46.17 cm(2) (95 % confidence interval (CI) 39.39, 52.95), while low alcohol consumers (<1 drink/week) had a mean absolute mammographic density of 31.26 cm(2) (95 % CI 25.89, 36.64) (p-trend 0.001). After adjustments, high consumers of alcohol (≥7 drinks/week), had 5.08 (95 % CI 1.82, 14.20) times higher odds of having absolute mammographic density above median (>32.4 cm(2)), compared to low (<1 drink/week) alcohol consumers.

    CONCLUSION: Alcohol consumption was positively associated with daily endogenous estrogen levels and mammographic density in premenopausal women. These associations could point to an important area of breast cancer prevention.

    Be well!

    JP

  18. JP Says:

    Updated 09/06/15:

    http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/bjc2015304a.html

    Br J Cancer. 2015 Sep 3.

    Prospective study of dietary inflammatory index and risk of breast cancer in Swedish women.

    BACKGROUND: The role of diet in breast cancer (BrCa) aetiology has been studied widely. Although the results are inconsistent, dietary components have been implicated through their effects on inflammation. We examined the association between a dietary inflammatory index (DII) and BrCa incidence in the Swedish Women’s Lifestyle Study.

    METHODS: The DII was computed at baseline from a validated 80-item food frequency questionnaire in a cohort of 49 258 women, among whom 1895 incident BrCa cases were identified through linkage with the National Cancer Registry through 2011. We used multivariable Cox proportional models to estimate hazard ratios (HR).

    RESULTS: Positive associations were observed between DII and BrCa (HRDII quartile 4 vs 1=1.18; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.39), with somewhat stronger associations in postmenopausal women (HRDII quartile 4 vs 1=1.22; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.46).

    CONCLUSIONS: A proinflammatory diet appears to increase the risk of developing BrCa, especially in postmenopausal women.

    Be well!

    JP

  19. JP Says:

    Updated 06/30/16:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27331363

    J Am Coll Nutr. 2016 Jun 22:1-8.

    Vitamin D Status and Risk of Breast Cancer in Iranian Women: A Case-Control Study.

    OBJECTIVE: Considering the rising incidence of breast cancer and high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Iran, this case-control study aimed to investigate the relationship between serum concentration and intake of vitamin D and risk of breast cancer.

    METHODS: A total of 135 incident breast cancer cases at the Cancer Research Center of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences were matched with 135 controls by age and menopausal status. A validated and reliable 168-item food frequency questionnaire was completed by participant interviews. To determine the vitamin D content of foods we used the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient database. To analyze the food frequency questionnaires we used the data collected in the Iranian Household Food Pattern Study, conducted by the National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute and the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture. Five-milliliter blood samples were collected to measure serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method.

    RESULTS: Women in the fourth quartile of serum 25(OH)D level had 3 times lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those in the first quartile. In the adjusted model the inverse relationship remained significant (odds ratio [OR] = 0.269; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.122-0.593). In the stratified model by menopausal status the inverse association was only seen in premenopausal women (OR = 0.25; 95% CI, 0.094-0.687). Dietary intake of vitamin D was inversely associated with risk of breast cancer (OR fourth quartile [Q4] vs first quartile [Q1] = 0.39; 95% CI, 0.196-0.784; p = 0.008). After adjusting for the confounding factors, this inverse association remained significant.

    CONCLUSION: Results from this case-control study support the protective effect of higher serum concentration of 25(OH)D against breast cancer. Moreover, dietary but not total intake of vitamin D was associated with decreased risk of breast cancer.

    Be well!

    JP

  20. JP Says:

    Updated 10/11/16:

    http://ejbc.kr/DOIx.php?id=10.4048/jbc.2016.19.3.292

    J Breast Cancer. 2016 Sep;19(3):292-300.

    Associations between Dietary Allium Vegetables and Risk of Breast Cancer: A Hospital-Based Matched Case-Control Study.

    PURPOSE: The protective effect of Allium vegetables against carcinogenesis has been reported in experimental studies particularly focusing on the gut. Therefore, we conducted a hospital-based matched case-control study to explore the association between dietary Allium consumption and risk of breast cancer among Iranian women in northwest Iran.

    METHODS: A validated, quantitative, food frequency questionnaire was completed in 285 women (aged 25-65 years old) newly diagnosed with histopathologically confirmed breast cancer (grade II, III or clinical stage II, III) in Tabriz, northwest Iran, and the completed questionnaires were included in an age- and regional-matched hospital based-control study. The odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated using conditional logistic regression models.

    RESULTS: Multivariate analysis showed that there was a negative association between the consumption of raw onion and risk of breast cancer after adjustment for covariates (OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.40-1.00); however, this association was insignificant. On the other hand, there was a positive association between consumption of cooked onion and risk of breast cancer, after adjustment for covariates (OR, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.02-2.32). However, reduced risk of breast cancer was associated with higher consumption of garlic and leek with adjusted ORs of 0.41 (95% CI, 0.20-0.83) and 0.28 (95% CI, 0.15-0.51), respectively.

    CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that high consumption of certain Allium vegetables, in particular garlic and leek, may reduce the risk of breast cancer, while high consumption of cooked onion may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

    Be well!

    JP

  21. JP Says:

    Updated 10/30/16:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mnfr.201600500/abstract;jsessionid=71038F39E426E083A7434CCBB12A51CB.f02t04

    Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Oct 29.

    Association between the dietary inflammatory index and breast cancer in a large Italian case-control study.

    INTRODUCTION: The putative relationship between diet, including its inflammatory potential, and breast cancer has been studied extensively, but results remain inconsistent. Using data from a large Italian case-control study conducted between 1991 and 1994, we examined the association between the dietary inflammatory index (DII) and odds of breast cancer.

    METHODS: DII scores were computed using a validated 78-item food frequency questionnaire. Subjects were 2569 women with incident, histologically confirmed breast cancer and 2588 controls admitted to hospital for acute, non-hormone related diseases. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on continuous and quintiles of DII were estimated by multiple logistic regression adjusting for age, study centre, education, body mass index, parity, menopausal status, family history of hormone-related cancers and total energy intake.

    RESULTS: Women in quintiles 2, 3, 4 and 5 had ORs of breast cancer of 1.33 (95% CI: 1.11, 1.59), 1.37 (95% CI: 1.13, 1.66), 1.41 (95%CI: 1.15, 1.73) and 1.75 (95%CI: 1.39, 2.21), respectively, compared to women in quintile 1. One-unit increase in DII increased the odds of having breast cancer by 9% (95%CI: 1.05, 1.14).

    CONCLUSIONS: A pro-inflammatory diet is associated to increased risk of breast cancer.

    Be well!

    JP

  22. JP Says:

    Updated 11/20/16:

    http://www.impactjournals.com/oncotarget/index.php?journal=oncotarget&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=13140&path%5B%5D=41646

    Oncotarget. 2016 Nov 5.

    Dietary fibre intake and risk of breast cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies.

    Current evidence from randomised controlled trials on the effects of dietary fibre intake on breast cancer risk is inconsistent. We conducted a meta-analysis to determine the effectiveness of dietary fibre intake in reducing breast cancer risk. We searched for prospective and case-control studies on dietary fibre intake and breast cancer risk in the English language through March 2016. Twenty-four epidemiologic studies obtained through the PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases were systematically reviewed. A random-effects model was used to compute the pooled risk estimates by extracting the risk estimate of the highest and lowest reported categories of intake from each study. The meta-analyses showed a 12% decrease in breast cancer risk with dietary fibre intake. The association between dietary fibre intake and breast cancer risk was significant when stratified according to Jadad scores, study types, and menopause status. Dose-response analysis showed that every 10 g/d increment in dietary fibre intake was associated with a 4% reduction in breast cancer risk, and little evidence of publication bias was found. Thus, dietary fibre consumption is significantly associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women.

    Be well!

    JP

  23. JP Says:

    Updated 07/09/17:

    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/7/728/htm

    Nutrients 2017, 9(7), 728

    Dietary Natural Products for Prevention and Treatment of Breast Cancer

    Breast cancer is the most common cancer among females worldwide. Several epidemiological studies suggested the inverse correlation between the intake of vegetables and fruits and the incidence of breast cancer. Substantial experimental studies indicated that many dietary natural products could affect the development and progression of breast cancer, such as soy, pomegranate, mangosteen, citrus fruits, apple, grape, mango, cruciferous vegetables, ginger, garlic, black cumin, edible macro-fungi, and cereals. Their anti-breast cancer effects involve various mechanisms of action, such as downregulating ER-α expression and activity, inhibiting proliferation, migration, metastasis and angiogenesis of breast tumor cells, inducing apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, and sensitizing breast tumor cells to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This review summarizes the potential role of dietary natural products and their major bioactive components in prevention and treatment of breast cancer, and special attention was paid to the mechanisms of action.

    Be well!

    JP

  24. JP Says:

    Updated 09/13/17:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5545949/

    Indian J Palliat Care. 2017 Jul-Sep;23(3):253-260.

    Effect of Yoga on Sleep Quality and Neuroendocrine Immune Response in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients.

    BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that distress and accompanying neuroendocrine stress responses as important predictor of survival in advanced breast cancer patients. Some psychotherapeutic intervention studies have shown have modulation of neuroendocrine-immune responses in advanced breast cancer patients. In this study, we evaluate the effects of yoga on perceived stress, sleep, diurnal cortisol, and natural killer (NK) cell counts in patients with metastatic cancer.

    METHODS: In this study, 91 patients with metastatic breast cancer who satisfied selection criteria and consented to participate were recruited and randomized to receive “integrated yoga based stress reduction program” (n = 45) or standard “education and supportive therapy sessions” (n = 46) over a 3 month period. Psychometric assessments for sleep quality were done before and after intervention. Blood draws for NK cell counts were collected before and after the intervention. Saliva samples were collected for three consecutive days before and after intervention. Data were analyzed using the analysis of covariance on postmeasures using respective baseline measure as a covariate.

    RESULTS: There was a significant decrease in scales of symptom distress (P < 0.001), sleep parameters (P = 0.02), and improvement in quality of sleep (P = 0.001) and Insomnia Rating Scale sleep score (P = 0.001) following intervention. There was a decrease in morning waking cortisol in yoga group (P = 0.003) alone following intervention. There was a significant improvement in NK cell percent (P = 0.03) following intervention in yoga group compared to control group.

    CONCLUSION: The results suggest modulation of neuroendocrine responses and improvement in sleep in patients with advanced breast cancer following yoga intervention.

    Be well!

    JP

  25. JP Says:

    Updated 10/25/17:

    https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-017-0295-9

    Nutrition Journal 2017 16:71

    The effects of EPA and DHA enriched fish oil on nutritional and immunological markers of treatment naïve breast cancer patients: a randomized double-blind controlled trial

    Background: We evaluated the effects of eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids enriched fish oil (FO) on nutritional and immunological parameters of treatment naïve breast cancer patients.

    Methods: In a randomized double blind controlled trial, the FO group (FG) patients were supplemented with 2 g/ day of FO concentrate containing 1.8 g of n-3 fatty acids during 30 days. The placebo group (PG) received 2 g/ day of mineral oil. At baseline and after the intervention, plasma levels of n-3 fatty acids, dietary intake, weight, body composition, biochemical and immunological markers were assessed.

    Results: At the end of the intervention period, no between group differences were observed regarding anthropometric parameters. There was a significant increase in the plasma phospholipid EPA (p = 0.004), DHA (p = 0.007) of the FG patients. In FG patients the percentages of peripheral blood CD4+ T lymphocytes and serum high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels were maintained while in PG patients there was a significant increase in hsCRP (p = 0.024). We also observed a significant reduction in the percentage of CD4+ T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood (p = 0.042) of PG patients. No changes in serum proinflammatory cytokine and prostaglandin E2 levels were observed.

    Conclusions: Supplementation of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with EPA and DHA led to a significant change in the composition of plasma fatty acids, maintained the level of CD4+ T cells and serum levels of hsCRP, suggestive of a beneficial effect on the immune system and less active inflammatory response.

    Be well!

    JP

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