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Drug cuts cases of breast cancer in half
Date: 2013-12-12 00:00:00

A study conducted by a team of researchers at Queen Mary University of London showed that breast cancer development in high-risk women decreased by 53 percent when taking the drug anastrozole. These findings could lead to a new option in cancer prevention for postmenopausal women.

Published in the Lancet, the study gathered nearly 4,000 female participants who were postmenopausal and had high risk of developing breast cancer. Half of the women were given a placebo pill, while the rest were given 1 milligram of anastrozole every day. Lab tests were conducted and reviewed for five years, and the researchers reported that 85 women in the placebo group developed breast cancer, compared to only 40 in the anastrozole group.

"This research is an exciting development in breast cancer prevention. We now know anastrozole should be the drug of choice when it comes to reducing the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with a family history or other risk factors for the disease. This class of drugs is more effective than previous drugs such as tamoxifen and crucially, it has fewer side effects," explained lead researcher Jack Cuzick, Ph.D.

Some side effects from estrogen-depriving drugs include sharp aches and pains, however, they found that the anastrozole group had similar reactions compared to the placebo group. This likely meant that the effects were not drug related and that worries in the past about the possible side effects were overemphasized.

"This landmark study shows that anastrozole could be valuable in helping to prevent breast cancer in women at higher than average risk of disease. We now need accurate tests that will predict which women will most benefit from anastrozole and those who will have the fewest side-effects," affirmed Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK.

The next step for these researchers will be to recommend that anastrozole be added to doctors' lists of drugs for breast cancer prevention.

"By including this drug in their clinical guidelines, more women will benefit from this important advancement in preventive medicine," concluded Cuzick.

Currently, the drug Arimidex is prescribed to patients for breast cancer prevention, as it inhibits estrogen in postmenopausal women. Following the results of this study, the usage of anastrozole as treatment could begin to rise.

Menopause and cancer risk... Full Story

Link found between blood cancer in women and airborne allergens
Date: 2013-12-17 00:00:00

A research team looking into the interaction between cancer and the immune system has discovered a link between blood cancer risk in women and a history of airborne allergies. The lack of an association with men suggested that a possible gender-specific function in chronic stimulation of the immune system might lead to the development of blood-related cancers.

Published in the American Journal of Hematology, the study showed the immune system's probable role in causing cancer and is a central point of scientific interest. Materials for the study were gathered from previous lab tests on voluntary participants.

To get their results, Mazyar Shadman, Ph.D., and his team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center drew on a large sample of men and women who were part of the VITamins and Lifestyle study, which examined the association between cancer risk and supplement use. The participants, aged 50 to 76 years old, answered a questionnaire that centered on three major factors: diet, health history and cancer risk factors, and medication and supplement use. They also provided personal information such as age, race/ethnicity, diet, medical history and family history of lymphoma.

Finding the link... Full Story

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