Cancer Risks and Weapons:
A Collection of Recent Findings

© 2010 Leonore H. Dvorkin

Note: This article was originally published in the April 2010 issue of the Denver publication Community News.

As a breast cancer survivor, I’m always watching for news on cancer: what causes it, how to help prevent it, and how to combat it. I regularly collect articles related to this topic. Here are some interesting recent items: offered in condensed form, but with references included.

1. Obesity and Breast Cancer / It is already well known that being obese after menopause increases your risk of contracting breast cancer. Now comes evidence that obese women have an increased risk of dying from breast cancer. Treatment for breast cancer appears to lose its effect more rapidly in obese patients. (American Assoc. for Cancer Research / EurekAlert, 12/10/09)

2. Alcohol and Breast Cancer Recurrence / Even moderate consumption of alcohol, 3-4 drinks of any type per week, is associated with a 30% increase in the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Post-menopausal and overweight women seem to be the most susceptible to this effect. (Kaiser Permanente / EurekAlert, released 12/10/09)

3. Osteoporosis Meds Cut Breast Cancer Risk / Many women take drugs in a class known as bisphosphonates to combat osteoporosis. Some of the drug names are Fosomax, its generic form alendronate, Actonel, and Boniva. A WHI (Women’s Health Initiative) study of more than 150,000 post-menopausal women found that women taking bisphosphonates had 32% fewer cases of invasive breast cancer than did women not using the osteoporosis medications. Several other breast cancer trials evaluating the impact of bisphosphonates are ongoing. (Yahoo! News, 12/10/09)

4. Spices That Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer: Turmeric and Pepper / Researchers at the Univ. of Michigan found that curcumin (from turmeric) and piperine (from black pepper) contain compounds that can limit the growth of cancer stem cells, the small number of cells that fuel a tumor’s growth. The effective amounts are about 20 times the amount normally consumed through diet, but the compounds are available in capsule form. (Stem Cell Research News –, 12/8/09)

5. Pistachios May Reduce Lung Cancer Risk / They may also help reduce the risk of other cancers. That’s because they are high in gamma-tocopherol, a form of Vitamin E. The same substance is protective against prostate cancer. Other good sources of gamma-tocopherol are peanuts, pecans, walnuts, and soybean and corn oils. Pistachios also help lower cholesterol. (Amer. Assoc. for Cancer Research / EurekAlert, 12/8/09)
Leonore’s note: I wrote an article called The Benefits of Nuts for the June 2007 issue of Community News.