Research news and views on preventing and surviving cancer
Author: Teresa Johnson (Thanks to Teresa for Guest Blogging)
Teresa L. Johnson, MSPH, RDN, is a nutrition and health communications consultant with a long-time interest in the role of plant-based diets and cancer prevention. Her work draws on elements of nutritional biochemistry, phytochemistry, toxicology, and epidemiology.
Folate is a B vitamin found naturally in many green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and orange juice. It is needed in the body to make and repair DNA and may play a role in protecting us against cancer.
In 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration instituted a folate fortification program to help prevent birth defects, such as spina bifida. They used folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate. The result was a significant drop in birth defects. But recent epidemiological data have given rise to concerns that folic acid fortification may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
An animal study published in last month’s issue of Cancer Prevention Research suggests that the cancer-related effects of folate/folic-acid may partially be explained by when and how long you take this essential nutrient.
The researchers wanted to see what effects a diet lower in folate would have on tumor development. Folate acts by serving as a methyl group donor. Methyl groups are small molecules that can attach to DNA to influence the body’s production of proteins involved in immunity and inflammation—precursors to tumor development. Read more… “Folate and Cancer Risk: Is Timing the Key?”
AICR’s expert report and its updates have found that excess body fat increases the risk of developing breast cancer in postmenopausal women. As scientists are learning, how excess body fat plays a role in breast cancer varies by cancer type.
In a study published last month in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, scientists looked at the role excess body fat plays in the development of two types of triple-negative breast cancers. These types of breast tumors don’t respond to hormones and growth factors that typically fuel less aggressive types of breast cancer.
One of the changes that occurs in these two types of breast cancers is EMT, or epithelial mesenchymal transition. EMT signals early development of cancer in epithelial cells, the cells that line the breasts and other organs. It is recognized as a feature of many aggressive tumors. Read more… “Study: How Obesity May Trigger Certain Breast Cancers”
Stressed out about your stress levels? Sometimes it’s a vicious cycle. Deadlines, bills, global warming…it seems there is a laundry list of things to feel stressed about.
The bad news: Now there’s evidence that stress can increase your risk of cancer.
In a study published in the April 16 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, mice that were restrained (a huge stressor) and then exposed to radiation developed more tumors than unrestrained mice that were exposed to radiation. The researchers found that a class of hormones called glucocorticoids was elevated in the restrained (stressed) mice. Glucocorticoids suppress p53—a key protein that plays an important role in the prevention of tumors.