facts about breast cancer

Postmenopausal Women With Gum Disease Seem to Have Higher Breast Cancer Risk

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, can range from simple inflammation of the gums, called gingivitis by dentists, to periodontitis, when the gums pull away from the teeth leaving open spaces that become infected. The bacteria causing the infection and the body’s response to the infection can break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. If periodontitis isn’t treated, the teeth may become loose and have to be removed.

Gum disease can be prevented by regular tooth brushing and flossing.

Gum disease has been associated with several other diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Past research has found links between gum disease and oral, esophageal, head and neck, pancreatic, and lung cancer, so researchers wondered if there were any links between gum disease and breast cancer.

A study has found that postmenopausal women with gum disease were more likely to develop breast cancer than postmenopausal women who didn’t have gum disease. If the women had a history of smoking, the risk of breast cancer was even higher.

The study was published online on Dec. 21, 2015 by the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Read the abstract of “Periodontal Disease and Breast Cancer: Prospective Cohort Study of Postmenopausal Women.”

The research is part of the very large Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, commonly called the WHI. The WHI is looking for links between health, diet, lifestyle, and genetic factors and health problems, such as cancer.

In this study, the researchers monitored 73,737 postmenopausal women in the WHI who had never been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 26% of the women told the researchers they had gum disease.

After about 6.5 years, 2,124 women had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Overall, the risk of breast cancer was 14% higher in women who had gum disease compared to women who didn’t have gum disease. So if average breast cancer risk is about 12%, a woman with gum disease had about a 13.5% risk of breast cancer.

“We thought that periodontal bacteria — either the bacteria themselves or the inflammation that’s part of having periodontal disease — has an effect on other parts of the body, including breast tissue. We know there are bacteria in breast tissue and we know there are bacteria in mother’s milk. Women who had periodontal disease had a small increase in the risk of breast cancer overall,” said Jo Freudenheim, Ph.D., distinguished professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University of Buffalo and lead author of the study.

Because earlier studies have shown that the effects of gum disease can be more severe if a person smokes, the researchers also grouped the women by smoking history:

  • Among women who had quit smoking within the last 20 years, women with gum disease had a 36% higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t have gum disease.
  • Among women who had never smoked, women with gum disease had a 6% higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t have gum disease.
  • Among women who had quit smoking more than 20 years ago, women with gum disease had an 8% higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t have gum disease.

“There’s been an explosion of information recently that makes it clear that many different parts of the body that were thought to be sterile contain bacteria and other microbes,” Dr. Freudenheim said. “These bacteria may influence diseases that were previously thought to have no infectious component.”

The researchers said there are several possible reasons for the association between gum disease and breast cancer:

  • Bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream through tooth brushing, flossing, and chewing. Even though the bacteria are cleared out of the body quickly, the cumulative exposure to tissues can be considerable. It could be that these bacteria affect breast cancer.
  • Inflammation in one part of the body, such as the gums, may have an impact on other diseases.
  • There may be other factors that increase the risk of both gum disease and breast cancer.

“This is a new area, so we have to be careful in how we interpret our findings,” said Dr. Freudenheim. “We can’t say, ‘if you treat periodontal disease it will reduce cancer risk.’ There are new methodologies that allow us to measure things we weren’t able to before. We are now beginning to understand how much the interaction of the microbiome affects our health both in terms of acute infections and chronic diseases.”

Doing all that you can do to keep your breast cancer risk as low as it can be makes good sense. Besides exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, avoiding alcohol, and taking good care of your teeth and gums are steps you can take to control several risk factors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, gum disease can be kept in check by:

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth every day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease.
  • Seeing a dentist at least once a year for a checkup, or more frequently if you have any of the warning signs of gum disease:
    • red/swollen gums
    • tender/bleeding gums
    • loose teeth
    • bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth that won’t go way
    • gums that have pulled away from your teeth
    • sensitive teeth

(Article Excerpt from Breastcancer.org)   – See more at: http://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/gum-disease-may-be-linked-to-higher-risk

5 Rarely Discussed Breast Cancer Early Warning Signs

Breast-Cancer-Early-Warning-Signs-1-new

As an informed, health-savvy individual, you probably want to know what you need to look for right now in order to nip breast cancer in the bud. Instead of trying to deal with it after you’ve already been diagnosed – which hopefully will never happen! We’ve compiled a list of five early warning breast cancer signs, most of which are rarely talked about in the media, that you can use in your preventative arsenal to stay ahead of the game.

Don’t Just Look for Lumps

The most common way that conventional doctors look for breast cancer in women is to identify lumps in the breast. They most often do this with mammogram x-rays. This offer physicians a basic roadmap for navigating the terrain of breast tissue, allowing them to pinpoint any lumps, masses, or other questionable abnormalities that might point to a malignancy.

But mammograms can be a potential cause of cancer due to the ionizing radiation they send into breast tissue. They also aren’t accurate 100 percent of the time, despite what you may have been told. Lumps and masses in breast tissue can be either benign (harmless) or malignant (harmful), and mammograms don’t differentiate between the two. This often leads to false diagnoses and unnecessary treatments with chemotherapy and radiation.

A better option, if you choose to undergo routine cancer screenings, is thermography. This unique screening method allows doctors to not only look for unusual lumps or growths, but also identify whether or not angiogenesis is taking place within the breast tissue. This is a much stronger and more accurate indicator that breast cancer may be present.

Angiogenesis is a fancy way of saying new blood vessel growth, which may indicate that a woman’s body is trying to build a new supply system for blood to be delivered to developing breast tumors. Doctors who specialize in examining thermography images will be able to identify whether or not angiogenesis is taking place, and suggest a proper course of action.

Hormones and Cellular Health

A lot of health experts like to talk about breast cancer as something that results from “bad genetics,” being passed down from mothers to their daughters. This implies that breast cancer can’t be avoided and occurs as an unfortunate “luck of the draw” type scenario. And depending on the type of breast cancer they’re talking about, there may be some merit to this popular theory.

But most types of breast cancer are a result of environment, diet, and lifestyle, all of which dictate how a woman’s endocrine system produces and balances hormones. In other words, hormone imbalance plays a much greater role in determining breast cancer risk than many people think. Thermography can help qualified physicians determine whether or not a woman has an elevated breast cancer risk due to this often overlooked early indicator.

Learn Your Body’s Natural Rhythms

Every woman’s body has a unique ebb and flow, and getting in tune with your own personal rhythm is invaluable for staying healthy. Paying close attention to any unusual changes that might be occurring, especially within breast tissue, is critical to avoid breast cancer.

If you feel any unusual aches or pains in your breast, including occasional throbbing, pain, or even fluctuating discomfort, talk to your doctor. Many women assume that only an isolated lump with localized pain suggests the presence of breast cancer. The truth is that breast cancer can manifest as “scattered, seed-like” tumors that, in some cases, spread like small tentacles throughout breast tissue.

Experts from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston warn that breast cancer often shows up without the classic lump, showing symptoms such as swelling and irritation, dimpling, nipple discharge beyond normal lactation, nipple inversion, and/or a thickening and reddening of skin around the nipple.1

“There are breast cancers that present as half a lump or there may be no lump at all,” says Dr. Naoto Ueno, chief of Translational Breast Cancer Research at the Center, as quoted by CBS News. “It could just be a strange-looking skin appearance or skin being red or dimpled.”

Just be sure to look for patterns of change or any new and unusual symptoms that occur outside the norm. Occasional pain may not be indicative of breast cancer, but persistent itching, for instance, could point to fluid buildup, poor lymph function, or your body trying to create new blood vessels for breast tumors.

Can Back Pain Indicate Breast Tumor Development?1

Upper back pain that feels as though it’s coming from deep within the bones may be an early sign of breast cancer – but don’t assume that every occasional bout of soreness or back pain means you’re becoming the next statistic! Chronic back pain that doesn’t relent with stretching, chiropractic or other means may be a sign that breast cancer tumors are forming.

Sometimes when tumors are developing in a woman’s breast, they put pressure on the ribs and spine causing new found and persistent pain. You need to be aware of any changes that occur in your spinal column, upper back, and eve2n neck. Talk to your doctor if you feel as though the pain you’re experiencing is unusually pronounced and marked by pressure from a possible internal growth.

Nutrient Deficiency and Cancer

If you’re not getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet, including things like vitamin D and iodine, your risk of developing breast cancer is already elevated. Nutrient deficiency is endemic in the West. Many people don’t realize that what they’re not eating is increasingly their likelihood of developing chronic health conditions such as breast cancer.1

Nearly 75 percent of the adult “healthy” population is deficient in iodine, which has been shown to help ward off cancer cells in the breast and elsewhere throughout the body. Vitamin D is another risk factor in breast cancer. A 2012 study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that low vitamin D levels are a hallmark in women with breast cancer. Other studies show similar findings.

A good rule of thumb in today’s nutrient-depleted world is to supplement with these and other cancer-fighting nutrients such as selenium and zinc. You may also wish to consult with a trained naturopath or integrative doctor. They can help you identify any specific nutrient deficiencies you might have and help you optimize your unique biological “terrain” for best breast cancer prevention.

(Article Excerpt and Image from TheTruthAboutCancer.com), article by:  Posted by:  Ty Bolinger  – See more at: http://thetruthaboutcancer.com/5-early-warning-breast-cancer-signs/

Breast Cancer Treatments Expose A Huge Systematic Issue In American Health Care

The more breast cancer treatments a radiologist administers, the more reimbursements he or she typically receives. This is known, in healthcare, as fee-for-service medicine — and lots of experts don’t like it, largely because it creates an incentive to provide as much care as possible, regardless of whether patients get any healthier.

For ages, conventional treatment has been a five- to seven-week course of radiation after a lumpectomy. Women have to come see the doctor each day for breast cancer treatments, and doing that for over a month can be disruptive. But around 2008, researchers started publishing some great news: three weeks of higher-dose therapy could deliver equally good results for many patients. It has no worse side effects, and patients could spend less time and money on doctor’s visits.

“When we see patients who have breast cancer, their first concern is if it yields the same cure rate, which it does, and the second is whether it’s more toxic, and it’s not,” says Justin Bekelman, a radiation oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania whose practice focuses on treating prostate cancer. “Then it’s like, wow, if that’s true and the new breast cancer treatment is only three weeks, its a no-brainer.”

It seemed like a no-brainer to radiation oncologists too. In 2011, their trade group, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, found that the two options were “equally effective for in-breast tumor control and comparable in long-term side effects” for a huge percent of patients.

doctors don’t have incentives to stay up-to-date on new treatments

This makes it all the more surprising that, three years later, new research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the vast majority of radiation oncologists aren’t using the new treatment.

The slow adoption of a faster and cheaper technology — one that delivers a better patient experience at a lower cost — isn’t just an issue with breast cancer treatments. It speaks to a lot of what’s screwed up in the larger American health care system. Doctors don’t have big incentives to stay up-to-date with new treatments. Sometimes, it’s actually financially ruinous for them to do so.

“This is the case where everyone could win, except for the radiation oncologists, who would be getting less money for fewer treatments,” says Zeke Emanuel, a bioethicist at University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the new study with Bekelman, the oncologist. “We have a persistence of no-value care, and that’s not good.”

Two-thirds of early-stage breast cancer patients get the wrong treatment

The new research looks at the insurance records of thousands of women treated for early-stage breast cancer between 2008 and 2013. It uses the billing claims that their providers submitted to see what type of treatment they got.

“We have a persistence of low-value care.”

It finds that use of the new treatment — known as hypofractionation whole breast irradiation — definitely increased from 2008 through 2013, as more research came out proving its efficacy. In 2008, when there was nearly as much research as there is today, 10.6 percent of women for whom the new treatment was endorsed ended up receiving it.

By 2013, that number had grown to 34.5 percent. That’s way more than 2008 — but also nowhere near a majority of patients getting a newer, faster, and equally good treatment as the older option. While the United States has made progress since 2008, for Emanuel, that one-third figure still raises the question: why, two years after national guidelines endorsed the new treatment, were most breast cancer patients not getting it?

Why don’t doctors pick the better treatment?

One cynical answer has to do with money: the more treatments a radiologist administers, the more reimbursements he or she typically receives. This is known, in healthcare, as fee-for-service medicine — and lots of experts don’t like it, largely because it creates an incentive to provide as much care as possible, regardless of whether patients get any healthier.

The billing records that Bekelman, Emanuel, and their co-authors examined show that insurance plans were billed more than $4,000 more for patients who received the older, longer course of treatment than those who had the newer, shorter chemotherapy sessions. Patients also had slightly higher (about $100) out-of-pocket costs for radiation-related expenses.

health care costs

“In terms of the financial pressures, right now we work in an environment that rewards higher intensity care and quantity rather than quality,” says Bekelman. “It’s not the whole story, but it’s part of it. Our health-care system certainly doesn’t incentivize and may even disincentivize high-value cancer care.”

And there’s also the role of old habits being hard to kill, and radiologists relying on the same treatment they’ve used for years now. Yes, it is a bit more expensive and inconvenient for patients, but there’s no evidence that it’s actively harming their health.

“If you don’t take into account convenience, costs to patients, and costs to society, you can tell yourself that it’s not the worse option,” says Emanuel.

This could be true not just on the part of oncologists but on the part of patients, too, who might assume that the longer, more expensive course of treatment has to be better. In most other things we shop for, like cars and vacations, bigger and more expensive generally means higher quality. Why wouldn’t health care be like that too?

“In cancer care, we’ve always thought that more is better,” Bekelman says. “The fact is more isn’t always better. Sometimes less is just right. But making that change in mindset can be difficult.”

Low-value care happens everywhere in the health care system

The financial incentives, the doctor preference, and patient attitudes — all of these add up to American women getting worse breast cancer care than women in other countries. In Canada, for example, more than 70 percent of eligible patients receive the new treatment. That’s double the rate here in the United States.

This isn’t an issue limited to breast cancer care. The American health care system is replete with examples of doctors providing care that doesn’t help people get better — care that wastes time, money, and energy on the part of patients and providers. Medicare, for example, spends an estimated $1.9 billion on care that study after study shows doesn’t make people healthier.

And by rewarding volume over value, the American health are system makes this type of unnecessary, unhelpful breast cancer treatments especially easy to provide. The incentives are all there to encourage doctors to provide more care, even if, like the older breast cancer treatment methods, it isn’t the best choice for the patient.

(Article Excerpt and Image from How we treat breast cancer exposes a huge systematic issue in American health care, December 10, 2014, www.news.yahoo.com).

Scroll to Top