Breast and Prostate Cancer NewsFebruary 26, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
While preparing today’s column I did a search on the phrase, “differences between men and women”. Any guess on how many hits this query turned up? 10,000? 100,000? 1,000,000? Try 17,700,000! One of the sites I stumbled upon contained a quote by the comedian Bill Cosby. He summed up the general sentiment conveyed by noteworthy figures throughout the ages: “Men and women belong to different species, and communication between them is a science still in its infancy”. I’m sure many of you nodded your head while reading that and with good reason. The tales my wife could tell! However, I believe our similarities far outnumber our differences. The same holds true if one were to examine the inner workings of the female and male body.
The March 2010 edition of the journal Nature Reviews Cancer contains an opinion piece entitled, “Breast and Prostate Cancer: More Similar Than Different”. The authors point out that “Although these cancers arise in organs that are different in terms of anatomy and physiological function both organs require gonadal steroids for their development, and tumors that arise from them are typically hormone-dependent and have remarkable underlying biological similarities”. (1)
I thought this might be an appropriate time to review some of most recent developments in the field of both breast and prostate cancer. Differences, similarities and everything in between.
- An analysis of alcohol intake in a group of 3,088 breast cancer survivors suggests that light to moderate alcohol consumption does not appear to be linked to breast cancer recurrence. In fact, moderate alcohol use (>300 g/mo) actually conferred a protective effect against all-cause mortality in this population. Non-obese women who drank “lightly” (>10 g/mo) also exhibited a reduction in all-cause mortality risk. (2)
- Engaging in about 4 hours of aerobic exercise per week can lower the levels of key hormones involved in breast cancer development. So says a new study published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. A total of 320 “postmenopausal, sedentary women” took part in this 1 year trial wherein half of them participated in a 225 minute-a-week exercise intervention and the remainder maintained their usual level of activity. The exercise group exhibited marked reductions in serum levels of estrogen (estradiol and free estradiol) and an increase in sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). According to the researchers involved, these changes are “consistent with a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer”. (3)
- Calcium and Vitamin D intake were the focus of a recent Japanese investigation of pre and postmenopausal women and their relative risk of breast cancer. Scientists from the Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute in Nagoya included 1,803 breast cancer patients and 3,606 “age-and menopausal status-matched non-cancer controls”. On the whole, there was a trend for lower breast cancer risk in those with the highest calcium and Vitamin D intake. However, a closer analysis revealed that only premenopausal women found a protective effect based on Vitamin D intake whereas postmenopausal women benefited primarily from higher calcium consumption. (4)
Broccoli and selenium have generated quite a lot of interest with regard to the natural management of prostate cancer. Now, a combination of these two therapeutic agents wants some of the spotlight as well. A recent experiment compared the activity of broccoli sprouts vs. selenium-enriched broccoli sprouts in a test tube study on “human prostate cancer cell lines”. Such studies are often the starting point when investigating novel treatment options. The research, presented in the November 2009 issue of the journal BMC Cancer discovered that “Selenium-enriched broccoli sprouts were superior to normal broccoli sprouts in inhibiting cell proliferation, decreasing prostate-specific antigen (PSA) secretion, and inducing apoptosis of prostate cancer cells”. In conclusion, the authors of the study suggest that this selenium rich form of broccoli be considered as “an alternative selenium source for prostate cancer prevention and therapy”. (5,6,7)
Two recent trials have looked into natural ways of addressing common side effects associated with hormone deprivation therapy in men being treated for prostate cancer. The first investigation tested the impact of a traditional Chinese herb, Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis), on hot flash occurrence. Unfortunately, the herbal remedy was not successful in reducing the duration or severity of hot flashes and, furthermore, did not exhibit any prostate specific benefits as assessed by digital rectal exams and PSA testing. Another frequent consequence of androgen suppression therapy (AST) in men is a loss of muscle mass. However, this adverse reaction may be largely prevented by engaging in an aerobic and resistance exercise regime. This is according to a recent 12 week study that involved 57 prostate cancer patients undergoing AST. Improvements in balance, lean body mass and muscle strength were observed in the men who took part in the exercise intervention in comparison to men who simply underwent androgen suppression therapy alone. Quality of life, as measured by decreased inflammation (C-reactive protein levels), an impression of “general health”, and reductions in fatigue were reported in the AST + exercise group alone. (8,9)
Harry S. Truman reputedly once said, “I’ve studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm”. This same truism can and should be applied to the way we men and women approach our individual health concerns. The job at hand is to try to reduce our personal risk of illness and to face any health challenge we do find with optimism and vigor.
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!
Tags: Breast Cancer, Exercise, Prostate
Posted in Food and Drink, Men's Health, Women's Health