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Plant foods may cut breast cancer risk

Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:28PM GMT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Postmenopausal women who eat healthy amounts of plant foods rich in estrogen-like compounds called lignans may reduce their risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.

"Following the general dietary guidelines for a healthy and prudent diet, that is, consuming large amounts and varieties of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereal products daily (all foods rich in lignans) may also help prevent breast cancer in postmenopausal women," Dr. Francoise Clavel-Chapelon told Reuters Health.

Clavel-Chapelon, from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Villejuif, France, and associates evaluated the relationship between the amount of four types of plant ligands in the diet and breast cancer risk in 58,049 postmenopausal French women.

Over an average follow-up period of 7.7 years, 1469 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Analysis of the data showed that women with the highest total amount of lignans in the diet had a 17-percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with women having the lowest dietary lignan levels.

"The reduction in risk was confined to breast cancers positive for hormone receptors, the major type, of which incidence is increasing," Clavel-Chapelon noted.

A diet containing lots of plant foods is hypothesized to offer a breast cancer prevention strategy, the researcher added. This hypothesis was recently confirmed by a study that found a reduced risk of invasive breast cancer among postmenopausal women with high lignan levels in their diet, Clavel-Chapelon said.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, March 21, 2007.


Breast Cancer News

New Screening Mammography Guidelines For Women Age 40 To 49

Article Date: 03 Apr 2007 - 0:00 PDT

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has issued new clinical guidelines for screening mammography for women age 40 to 49. The clinical guidelines and related articles appear in today's edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The ACP recommends that for every woman aged between 40 and 49 in their care clinicians should:

Senior Medical Associate in the Clinical Programs and Quality of Care Department of the ACP's Medical Education and Publishing Division, and lead author of the guidelines, Dr Amir Qaseem said:

It is important to tailor the decision of screening mammography by discussing the benefits and risks with a woman, addressing her concerns, and making it a joint decision between her and her physician". According to the ACP, breast cancer risk, and the potential harms and benefits of screening mammograpy are not evenly distributed among women between 40 and 49. This means the decision should be made by the patient and her doctor on a case by case basis.

On the plus side, screening mammography decreases breast cancer deaths, and if a woman has undetected breast cancer a mammogram will most likely find it earlier rather than later. But on the negative side, there is the chance that it will give a false positive result, lead to treatments that turn to be clinically unnecessary, and radiation exposure.

A careful assessment of a woman's breast cancer risk is important, says the ACP. The 5-year breast cancer risk can vary from 0.4 per cent for a woman age 40 years with no risk factors to 6.0 per cent for a woman age 49 years with several risk factors.

The guidelines say the risk for invasive breast cancer can be estimated using the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) calculator on their website, but cautions clinicians to be aware that while it takes into account many of the risk factors mentioned in the guidelines it has limitations.

The ACP says its guidelines have been rigorously developed and scrutinized based on the available empiricial research. They describe them as "evidence- based rather than expert-opinion or consensus guidelines".

In revising the guidelines they re-evaluated the evidence on risks and benefits on mammography screening for women age 40 to 49; they reviewed studies from the original mammography trials and another 117 studies.

The ACP also recommends more research be done to assess the benefits and harms of the different types of breast cancer screening for women between 40 and 49.

In the US, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, after skin cancer; and it is the second biggest cancer killer in women, after lung cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, this year approximately 178,000 women will discover they have breast cancer, and 40,000 women will die from it.


"Screening Mammography for Women 40 to 49 Years of Age: A Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians."

Amir Qaseem, Vincenza Snow, Katherine Sherif, Mark Aronson, Kevin B. Weiss, Douglas K. Owens, for the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians.

Annals of Internal Medicine 3 April 2007, Volume 146 Issue 7, Pages 511-515

Note: the following article, if nothing else, demonstrates how incredibly difficult it is for mammography to detect breast cancer. Obviously, few can afford to have regular MRI's. What this means to you is that thermography, which significantly increases the efficacy of mammographic screening, makes good sense and at a small fraction of the cost of an MRI.

MRI picks up elusive contralateral breast cancer

March 30, 2007

Recently diagnosed breast cancer patients should undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their other breast, experts claim.

The team found that MRI detected nearly ten times more contralateral breast cancers than expected using mammography.

Despite negative clinical breast exams and mammography of the opposite breast, almost 10% of breast cancer patients are later diagnosed with contralateral breast cancer.

The affected patients then suffer an extra round of surgery with or without chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Preliminary research suggested MRI could detect occult contralateral breast cancers in 3% to 24% of women recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Constance Lehman (University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, USA) and colleagues investigated whether MRI could improve clinical breast exams and mammography soon after a woman's initial diagnosis.

MRI detected contralateral breast cancers that were missed by previous mammography and clinical exams in 30 of 969 women (3.1%) recently diagnosed with unilateral breast cancer, the team reports in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Of the cancers detected by MRI, 60% were invasive, with potential to metastasize, they add.

"This study is pretty definitive evidence that the opposite breast needs to be evaluated with MRI," said study co-author Etta Pisano (University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, USA).

In view of their results, the authors recommend MRI screening for high-risk patients, but not as a routine measure.

"No one is recommending that we give up mammography," said Pisano.

"MRI is a very expensive tool that should be used judiciously for high risk populations. The last thing we would want is for every woman to think she should get an MRI."

N Eng J Med 2007; 356: 1295-1303