From Tribune Newspapers
March 21, 2012
In a finding that strengthens the link between environmental pollutants and rising rates of breast cancer, new research finds that women whose diets contain higher levels of cadmium are at greater risk of developing breast cancer than those who ingest less of the industrial chemical in their food.
Cadmium, a heavy metal long identified as a carcinogen, leaches into crops from fertilizers and when rainfall or sewage sludge deposit it onto farmland. Whole grains, potatoes, other vegetables and shellfish are key dietary sources of cadmium, which also becomes airborne as a pollutant when fossil fuels are burned.
The new study, published by the American Association for Cancer Research, found that among 55,987 post-menopausal women, the one-third with the highest cadmium intakes were 21 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than the one-third with the lowest intakes.
The study offers new evidence in a large human population that environmental chemicals that mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen may contribute to women's risk of certain cancers, including endometrial and breast cancers.
Genetic profiling aids treatment of bone marrow cancer
Advances in genetic profiling are paving the way for more precise and effective treatment of the aggressive bone marrow cancer known as acute mylogenous leukemia, or AML, according to new research.
Two studies, published in the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, show that genetic testing can guide doctors in how best to use current therapies, as well as identify new drug targets.
"As lots of studies identify new alterations in genes in leukemia and other cancers, we need to begin to understand how these alterations in DNA can predict outcomes and determine differences in treatment," said Dr. Ross Levine ofMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centerin New York and the lead author of one study.
A second study from Washington University in St. Louis found that 85 percent of bone marrow cells in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood-related disorder that can precede AML, were linked to mutations in progressive cancer.
The Sloan-Kettering study analyzed bone marrow samples for mutations in 18 genes associated with the disease.
The study found that high-dose chemotherapy improved the rate of survival for patients with three specific genetic mutations, compared with standard-dose chemo.
Kids' diet, cutting carbs
When it comes to managing children's obesity, cutting portion sizes and cutting carbohydrates can work equally well — though carb control is tough for many kids, a new clinical trial finds.
Many adults have tried to win the battle of the bulge by shunning carbohydrates, especially highly refined or starchy carbs such as white bread and potatoes.
But much less has been known about how those eating plans work for kids, including whether they are safe and nutritionally sound, as low-carb diets tend to be relatively high in fat.
For the study, published in Pediatrics, researchers randomly assigned 100 obese 7- to 12-year-olds to one of three eating plans: one that followed the conventional wisdom of portion control, a low-carb diet or a "reduced glycemic load" plan that cut down on certain carbs that typically cause surges in blood sugar — such as white bread, sweets and white potatoes.
Over one year, all three plans worked equally well in controlling kids' weight gain. The difference, researchers found, was that the low-carb plan was tough to stick with.
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