Here’s the Amount of Exercise That Lowers Breast Cancer Risk

“More than 100 studies have found that physical activity can lower breast cancer risk; the most active women tend to have a 25% lower chance of developing the disease than the least active women. But how does exercise help?

“Christine Friedenreich, scientific leader of cancer epidemiology and prevention research at Alberta Health Services, and her colleagues had identified body fat as a possible pathway to lowering cancer risk. In an earlier study, they found that women exercising 225 minutes a week showed dramatic drops in total body fat, abdominal fat and other adiposity measures.

“That inspired the team to examine more closely the effects of the commonly recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week on body fat measures. They compared these effects to a doubling of that amount of activity, to 300 minutes a week, to see if more exercise had a greater effect in lowering body fat.”


Researchers Combine Common Genetic Variants, Other Factors to Improve Breast Cancer Risk Prediction

“A Mayo Clinic-led team of international researchers has now combined 77 of these common genetic variants into a single risk factor that can be used to improve the identification of women with an elevated risk of breast cancer. This factor, known as a polygenic risk score, was built from the genetic data of more than 67,000 women. The results of the research are published April 2, 2015, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).

“A companion study has extended this finding to show that this measure of genetic variation can be combined with traditional predictors of breast cancer risk such as breast density and family history to improve personalized estimates of breast cancer risk. Those findings appeared in JNCI last month.

” ‘This genetic risk factor adds valuable information to what we already know can affect a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer,’ says study co-author Celine Vachon, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at Mayo Clinic. ‘We are currently developing a test based on these results, and though it isn’t ready for clinical use yet, I think that within the next few years we will be using this approach for better personalized screening and prevention strategies for our patients.’ “


Genetic Determinant Identified for Increased Melanoma Risk

The gist: Some people’s genetics make them more likely to get melanoma. Recently, researchers found that certain genes play a previously unknown role in melanoma risk. The genes are associated with longer telomere length; telomeres are sequences of DNA found at the end of chromosomes. Knowing which genes make a person more likely to get melanoma can help with prevention and early detection. It can also open up doors to potential new treatments.

“Genes associated with longer telomere length were linked to increased melanoma risk, according to study findings.

“Moreover, the researchers noted that this association is not traceable to confounders, such as ultraviolet exposure or reverse causality.

“ ‘For the first time, we have established that the genes controlling the length of these telomeres play a part in the risk of developing melanoma,’ researcher Mark Iles, PhD, of the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, said in a press release…

“ ‘More research is needed to better understand the relationship between melanoma and telomeres, but learning more about how an individual’s genetic telomere profile influences their risk developing melanoma may help us,’ Iles said in the release. ‘It will improve our understanding of melanoma biology and gives us a target toward developing potential treatments as well as potentially helping shape advice on what behavioral changes people might make.’ ”


Shorter Course of ADT for High-Risk Prostate Cancer Patients Yields Improved Quality of Life

The gist: This article covers the results of a clinical trial—a research study with volunteer patients. The goal of the trial was to compare two different schedules of treatment with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Some of the patients who participated in the trial received radiation therapy plus an 18-month course of ADT. Other patients had radiation therapy plus a 36-month course of ADT. The researchers found that the patients on the 18-month course recovered a normal testosterone level more quickly and had better quality of life than the patients on the 36-month course. And, the shorter course did not lower the long-term effectiveness of the treatment compared to the 36-month course.

“High-risk prostate cancer patients who receive radiation therapy (RT) and an 18-month course of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) recover a normal testosterone level in a shorter amount of time compared to those who receive a 36-month course of ADT, thus resulting in a better quality of life (QOL) and without detriment to long-term outcomes, according to research presented today at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s (ASTRO’s) 56th Annual Meeting.

“Researchers analyzed data from 561 patients with high-risk prostate cancer from a multi-center, randomized phase III trial in Canada (PCS IV clinical trials, Gov. # NCT 00223171). The patients received RT and long-term ADT. A common ancillary treatment for prostate cancer, ADT reduces levels of androgen hormones in order to prevent prostate cancer cells from growing.

“Patients were randomized into two groups—one group of 289 patients who received 18 months of androgen deprivation therapy and RT, and a second group of 272 patients who received 36 months of ADT and RT. In both groups, RT started four months after the beginning of ADT.”


Study of Jewish Women Shows Link to Cancer Without Family History

“Women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent who tested positive for cancer-causing genetic mutations during random screenings have high rates of breast and ovarian cancer even when they have no family history of the disease, researchers reported Thursday.

“The finding calls into question the practice of screening women — particularly women of Ashkenazi descent, as are most Jews in the United States — for these mutations only if they report that many women in their family have had cancer. Some women are tested for mutations only after they develop cancer themselves.

“Many of the women identified by the researchers in Israel would never have known they were mutation carriers if not for the screening offered by the study, the researchers said. The study’s authors recommended routine screening of all women of Ashkenazi backgrounds for harmful mutations in the genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2.”


Low-Risk Adenoma Removal Associated with Reduced Colorectal Cancer Mortality

Editor’s note: This article is about the results of a research study for colorectal cancer. The researchers looked at the medical records of people who had high- and low-risk adenomas removed to see which patients later died of colorectal cancer. They found that people who had high-risk adenomas removed were more likely to die of colorectal cancer within 8 years. People who had low-risk adenomas removed were no more likely to die of colorectal cancer than the general population. Based on the results, people who have low-risk adenomas removed might not need to undergo surveillance after surgery. Surveillance can involve invasive colonoscopies, so many of these patients might actually be better off without surveillance.

“Patients who had low-risk adenomas removed demonstrated lower rates of long-term colorectal cancer mortality than those who had high-risk adenomas removed, according to results of a population-based study.

“The low mortality rate associated with low-risk adenomas may obviate the need for post-colonoscopy surveillance in this population, researchers wrote.

“Magnus Løberg, MD, of the department of health management and health economics at University of Oslo, and colleagues used Norway’s cancer registry and cause of death registry to assess colorectal cancer mortality among 40,826 adults who had colorectal adenomas removed between 1993 and 2007.

“Patients with high-risk adenomas — or those with high-grade dysplasia, a villous component or a size ≥10 mm — underwent colonoscopy after 10 years, whereas those with three or more adenomas underwent colonoscopy after 5 years in compliance with Norwegian guidelines.”


New Clues to Skin Cancer Development Show Sunscreen is Not Enough

“Scientists have shown that sunscreen cannot be relied upon alone to prevent malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, according to research* published in Nature.

“The work supports the approach taken by public health campaigns that call for people to use a combination of shade and clothing to protect their skin, applying sunscreen to the areas you can’t cover.

“The research explains more about the mechanism by which UV light leads to melanoma and also explores the extent to which sunscreen is able to prevent UV light from damaging healthy cells.”


Study: Cancer Center Ads Long on Emotions, Short on Facts

Advertisements for cancer centers often appeal to consumers’ emotions but rarely provide useful information about the benefits, risks, or costs of treatment, a recent analysis concluded.

“ ‘We found that cancer therapies were promoted more commonly than supportive or screening services and were often described in vague or general terms,’ the authors wrote in the May 27 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. ‘Advertisements commonly evoked hope for survival, promoted innovative treatment advances, and used language about fighting cancer while providing relatively limited information about benefits, risks, costs, or insurance coverage of advertised therapies.’ “


Study: Cancer Center Ads Long on Emotions, Short on Facts

Advertisements for cancer centers often appeal to consumers’ emotions but rarely provide useful information about the benefits, risks, or costs of treatment, a recent analysis concluded.

“ ‘We found that cancer therapies were promoted more commonly than supportive or screening services and were often described in vague or general terms,’ the authors wrote in the May 27 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. ‘Advertisements commonly evoked hope for survival, promoted innovative treatment advances, and used language about fighting cancer while providing relatively limited information about benefits, risks, costs, or insurance coverage of advertised therapies.’ “