From the AICR Research Conference: Dr. JoEllen Welsh on Vitamin D and Breast Cancer

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Dr. Welsh chaired our 2010 research conference and its plenary session on aging, diet, physical activity and cancer, but she also presented on her own research involving vitamin D and breast cancer.

Dr. Welsh reviews her presentation, and shares some of the implications of her cutting-edge, AICR-supported research.

Here’s a handy glossary to some of the terms she uses with which you might be unfamiliar:

“…knockout of the vdr…”:  Here, she’s talking about working w/an organism whose breast cells don’t respond to the presence of vitamin D, and tracking how this affects the way its breast tissue responds.  Her work suggests that vitamin D plays an important role in governing the breast’s immune response.

“…cytokines...”:  These are the cellular message-carriers of our immune system — they help our bodies defend against infections by passing along information and regulating our immune response.

“…the neonate…”:  The newborn.

Cancer, Nutrition and the Wide World of Proteins

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First there was genomics and now there is proteomics, one of the emerging areas of scientific research. Proteomics is the study of all the proteins made by our genes, and that’s a lot of proteins: Humans have about 20,000 genes and one gene could direct the production for tens of proteins.

It’s the nutritional proteomics session of the AICR Research Conference and there’s a lot of cutting-edge research being presented. As Dr. John Milner of the National Cancer Institute points out, food components all must have a target action site, and that is always a protein. Can exercise change our proteome? How do certain foods alter the proteome and thereby, help prevent cancer?

In one presentation, Dr. Coral Lamartiniere at the University of Alabama at Birmingham discussed his research showing that the timing of consuming a soy component – genistein – plays a big role in breast cancer risk. In animal studies, he found consumption of soy during pre-puberty reduced the risk of breast tumors. Once exposed to genistein during pre-puberty, consuming the compound as an adult increases the protective effect.

Then Dr. Lamartiniere identified the different proteins in the breast tissue between the animals that consumed and did not consume genistein.  Knowing the proteins involved will help researchers understand how genistein may play a role in breast cancer prevention and susceptibility.

It’s early, but nutritional proteomics holds a lot of promise for understanding cancer risk, says Dr. Milner. As this session made clear: more research is underway.

One Easy Pack for Breast Cancer Prevention

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To support October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, AICR has just introduced “The AICR Breast Cancer Prevention Pack.” These science-based materials provide easy-to-read and practical ideas to help women prevent breast cancer through basic lifestyle changes.

If you’re looking for materials for a health fair – in October, or any month – this pack is a perfect way to reach women of all ages.

The brochures and health aids in the packet include:

1. “Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer” – an overview of breast cancer prevention

2. “The Facts about Alcohol” – information on how alcohol affects breast cancer risk

3. “The New American Plate” – AICR’s popular guide, with recipes, for eating for a healthy weight

4. “AICR Guidelines Magnet” – developed to help women remember their daily physical activity

5. “BSE Shower Card – A waterproof “how to” and monthly reminder for breast self-exams

Let us know what kind of health fair or event your organization is planning this fall!