A new study has linked certain types of birth control pills to a higher near-term risk of breast cancer, but the finding is unlikely to affect the majority of young American women.
“The study found no relationship between an increased cancer risk and the use of low-dose estrogen pills, which are currently the most commonly prescribed type of birth control pills in the U.S.,” according to a CBS News report.
High Risk Pills
The birth control pills implicated in the study are those containing moderate to high doses of estrogen. While birth control pills containing a moderate estrogen dose elevated breast cancer risk only slightly, high-estrogen medications nearly tripled breast cancer risk.
The two greatest offenders were triphasic combination pills containing norethindrone and birth control pills containing ethynodiol diacetate. If your birth control pills contain either of these ingredients, Issels Cancer Treatment Center staff urges you to talk to your doctor.
No Need to Panic
“Breast cancer is rare among young women, and there are numerous established health benefits associated with oral contraceptive use that must be considered,” study author Elisabeth Beaber of Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center told CBS News.
She recommended that women exercise caution in interpreting the study’s results, which are yet to be confirmed, and discuss their breast cancer risk with their physician. As CBS notes, some other studies have shown no appreciable link between birth control pills and increased breast cancer risk. Previous studies have shown that breast cancer risk declines when women discontinue birth control pills.
Is there anything more adorable and heart-warming than a four-legged friend who offers unconditional love? Pet therapy has become an increasingly popular means of providing physical and emotional support for cancer patients and others dealing with serious health problems. Mayo Clinic oncologist Dr. Edward Creagan has referred to it as “medication without side effects”.
Sigmund Freud was known to use dogs as relaxation aides for his psychotherapy patients, but it’s only fairly recently that pets have been used to “treat” those suffering from cancer. Therapy Dogs International and Pet Partners, the two earliest animal-assisted therapy groups, date back to the mid-1970s.
Cancer patients who receive visit from therapy pets have demonstrated emotional benefits such as lowered stress levels and improved moods. Interacting with the pets can help relieve the loneliness and isolation that often accompanies medical treatment. Some patients have even demonstrated a reduced need for pain medication.
While pets have been known as good companions since the dawn of mankind, researchers have tried to find the specific reasons that pet therapy has proven to be so effective. Studies have shown that visits with pets can reduce the levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. Cortisol is a hormone that produces the “fight or flight” response during high-stress situations. In addition, it can raise the level of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones.
Pet therapy can provide a valuable boost to your quality of life during cancer treatment. It’s a good complement to the integrative approach used at Issels alternative cancer treatment centers. Please contact us for more information.
For decades researchers in the lab have studied cancer cells in flat, shallow Petri dishes. As a result, assumptions about how cancer behaves in the body have been based on two-dimensional models. Now, new research is turning long-held beliefs about cancer upside down. Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that cancer actually moves quite differently in the three-dimensional human body than it does in the lab.
How Cancer Spreads in 3D vs. 2D Models
In two-dimensions cancer cells move in a slow, aimless fashion called a “random walk.” Until now researchers had assumed that cancer cells moved in the same random way in the three-dimensional human body, making it virtually impossible to determine where cancer might land when it metastasizes.
The new findings indicate that cancer cells are more directional than random when moving through three-dimensional spaces like the human body. New 3D modeling may allow cancer experts to predict the most likely path of metastasis should cancer spread.
How Cancer Cells Move Explained
“Cancer cells that break away from a primary tumor will seek out blood vessels and lymph nodes to escape and metastasize to distant organs,” Denis Wirtz, director of Johns Hopkins Physical Sciences Oncology Center, explained on HUB. “For a long time, researchers have believed that these cells make their way to these blood vessels through random walks. In this study, we found out that they do not. Instead, we saw that these cells will follow more direct, almost straight-line trajectories. This gives them a more efficient way to reach blood vessels—and a more effective way to spread cancer. This means that the time these cancer cells need to make their way out of connective tissues is much shorter than previous estimates.”
Doctors and patients are rethinking their approach to cancer treatments for people in their 70s, 80s and 90s. According to the National Cancer Institute, the average age of cancer diagnosis in the U.S. is 66; yet the average life expectancy is 81 for U.S. women and 76 for men, according to National Geographic’s U.S. life expectancy map. With the average American living well past 65 and a growing number of people living into their 90s, cancer advocates say it’s time to take age out of the cancer treatment equation.
“What really matters is not chronological age, but functional age,” Dr. Ewa Mrozek, an oncologist at the Ohio State University Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, told the Columbus Dispatch. With plans to begin a clinic devoted to serving the needs of older cancer patients, the center is riding the leading edge of a national sea change in America’s approach to treating older cancer patients.
A growing number of people are arguing that age should no longer be the primary basis for deciding whether a person will be unable to withstand the rigors of traditional cancer treatment — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — and its usually traumatic side effects. Of more importance in determining how aggressively to fight cancer should be the individual’s general health – physical, cognitive and emotional — and the impact any other medical conditions or chronic illnesses might have on his ability to benefit from cancer treatment.
Older cancer patients may want to consider the important options offered by alternative cancer treatment centers. Issels Integrative Oncology’s individualized immunotherapy provides cancer patients with a personalized, non-toxic alternative to harsh chemicals and radiation without the strenuous side effects.