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 Cancer Project: THE NEWS YOU NEED

More Soy, Less Breast Cancer

University of Southern California researchers analyzed the diets of 144 postmenopausal Chinese women living in Singapore and found that those eating the most soy had 15 percent lower blood levels of estrogens (estrone and estadiol), a sign of reduced breast cancer risk. However, the women had to eat a good deal of soy (five to six ounces per day) to see the effect. Typical boxes of tofu sold in U.S. supermarkets contain three to four ounces. Higher levels of estrogens were found in overweight women and in smokers. Historically low rates of breast cancer in Asia, a trend that disappears when women adopt Western eating habits, have prompted many studies aiming to pinpoint which foods might be most beneficial.

Wu AH, Stanczyk FZ, Seow A, Lee HP, Yu MC. Soy intake and other lifestyle determinants of serum estrogen levels among postmenopausal Chinese women in Singapore. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002;11:844-851.

Studies to Examine Link between Beef Hormone and Cancer

Several universities across the United States are studying possible links between a common growth hormone used in cattle, veal, and lamb and increased breast cancer risk. Although the growth promoter zeranol has been shown to stimulate breast cancer cell growth, the Food and Drug Administration says it is safe for use in small amounts in young animals. However, early research has suggested that, in doses 30 times lower than the FDA limit, zeranol may enhance the effects of estrogen, which has long been associated with cancer risk.

Further Evidence: Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Each alcoholic drink a woman consumes daily raises her risk of breast cancer by six percent, according to a study in the British Journal of Cancer. The largest study of its kind to date combined the results of more than 50 studies involving 150,000 women from around the world and separated the effects of drinking from smoking, two activities that often occur together. While drinking increased breast cancer risk, smoking did not (although it is linked with 15 other types of cancer). Researchers estimate that alcohol accounts for 2,000 out the 40,000 new cases of breast cancer in Britain each year.

Beral V. Alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer – a collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 58,515 women with breast cancer and 95,067 women without the disease. Br J Cancer. 2002;87:1234-1245

New Links between Hormones and Breast Cancer

Postmenopausal women taking combined estrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapy for six months had a significantly increased risk of lobular breast cancer, researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle report. Scientists collected data on 4,575 postmenopausal women aged 35 to 64 with breast cancer and 4,682 healthy postmenopausal women, analyzing information on menstrual, contraceptive, and reproductive histories, tobacco and alcohol use, family history, and hormone usage. Women taking combined hormone therapy for more than five years were twice as likely to have lobular breast cancer. Lobular breast cancer rates have increased since the mid-1980s along with the increased use of the combined therapy.

Daling JR, Malone KE, Doody DR, et al. Relation of regimens of combined hormone replacement therapy to lobular, ductal, and other histological types of breast carcinoma. Cancer. 2002;95:2455-2464.

Raw Fish Associated with Cancer

The World Health Organization estimates that 40 million people are infected with worms found in raw fish. Scientists met in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi to discuss ways to prevent lung disease and liver cancer, illnesses that can develop from repeated infestations. Raw fish is eaten inmany parts of Asia, and worldwide consumption has increased with the popularity of sushi bars. However, few people are aware of the risks. The parasites are passed from snails to fish to people and recycled once again when human waste is dumped in waterways inhabited by fish.


Spring 2003
Volume XII
Number 2

Good Medicine


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