In breast cancer battle, exercise can save lives and dollars


Special to McClatchy Newspapers

In the battle against breast cancer, there’s one self-defense tool that every woman should be wielding. Exercise. And with the direct national cost for breast cancer care in the United States at $16.5 billion yearly, we need to be instituting public policies and community strategies that help ensure that she can.

An increasing body of research shows that exercise may be one of the best shields against breast cancer that a woman can have in her health care arsenal.

Dozens of studies show that physically active women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than inactive women. And according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), existing evidence shows a decreasing risk of breast cancer as the frequency and duration of physical activity increase. Most studies suggest, NCI states, that 30 to 60 minutes per day of moderate- to high-intensity physical activity is associated with a reduction in breast cancer risk.

Studies also show that physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis may reduce the risk of death from the disease. A recent report by Macmillan Cancer Support found that breast cancer patients’ risk of recurrence and of dying from breast cancer can be reduced by up to 40 percent by doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week.

The report also found that after treatment, all cancer patients can reduce their risk of getting side effects of cancer and its treatment—such as fatigue, depression, osteoporosis, and heart disease — by doing the same 150 minutes of physical activity.

Undoubtedly, breast cancer can affect any woman at any time — and without any identifiable reason as to why. And certainly, there are breast cancer risks that a woman simply cannot change. But with so much evidence in favor of exercise as a potential defense against breast cancer — and against other cancers and costly chronic diseases — we need to incorporate the argument for exercise into the battle cry.

Exercise is one of the most effective forms of primary prevention we have. The practice of primary prevention — engaging in beneficial lifestyle behaviors, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, avoidance of tobacco and other controlled substances, stress management, and routine medical exams in order to deter the onset of disease — boosts our health and puts us in a better position for fighting off illnesses, like breast cancer, when they do strike.

For exercise and primary prevention to really take hold, we need to create physical living and work environments, public policies, and a national culture that support healthy lifestyles. In short, we need to restructure our society so the healthier choice becomes the easier choice for everyone.

After all, if our culture, physical environment, government policies, and approach to healthcare work against exercise and other forms of primary prevention, the chances are that one of the best defenses a woman has against breast cancer — and against many other diseases — will be left unused, and for all practicality, outside her reach.

Fighting disease starts with building health long before illness strikes. In the battle against breast cancer — and against virtually every other disease — we must remove the barriers to exercise and other forms of primary prevention so we can start at a place of wellness.

That means public policies and legislation that enable national, state, and local infrastructures that support healthy lifestyles; changes in the tax code that remove barriers to workplace wellness; a reconfiguration of the health care system and the way in which the medical profession is trained so prevention comes first; a reversal of the way we have removed exercise from the lives of our children and replaced it with poor food options easily available in schools and strategically marketed through the mass media. And that’s just for starters.

Exercise really is a considerable deterrent against breast cancer, and an equally considerable ally when battling the disease. All told, exercise is a highly effective tool in building health and one that should not be left unused.

It’s time we came together — as citizens, policy makers, legislators, educators, engineers, doctors, insurance professionals, public health workers, parents, and families — to make sure that exercise is a resource to which every American has easy access.

It’s time we reconfigured our society to be a healthy society — one in which the choice for exercise and the practice of primary prevention becomes the norm. lt’s from this healthy launching point that the battle against breast cancer — and against every other life-threatening illnesses — should start.


Helen Durkin is the Executive Vice President of Public Policy for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA)—a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. She can be reached at

5 Medical Advances Predicted for 2012

5 Medical Advances Predicted for 2012

Dec 30, 2011 | 8:54 AM ET | Lauren Cox, MyHealthNewsDaily Contributor

Great medical feats were accomplished in 2011. Dallas Wiens became the first recipient of a full-face transplant in the United States, Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords survived a gunshot to her brain, and HIV researchers found a way to lower an infected person’s chance of transmitting the virus to sexual partners by 96 percent.

What significant advances can we expect in 2012? Here are five predictions, provided to MyHealthNewsDaily by experts in their fields.

Prediction 1: Medicine gets closer to treating cancer with vaccines.

Radiation and chemotherapy reign as the go-to treatments for cancer, but for 20 years researchers also have been exploring the use of therapeutic vaccines. In 2012 that work may come to fruition.

“It’s an exciting time for cancer vaccine development,” said Dr. Larry Kwak, professor and chairman of lymphoma and myeloma at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“What’s especially impressive is the diversity of cancer vaccine. It bodes well for what you’re going to be seeing in the future,” Kwak said.

More than 250 clinical trials of vaccines, including 34 for breast cancer, are under way, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Like other vaccines, cancer vaccines use a chemical marker of a disease (in one case, a virus; in another, a malignant tumor) to train a person’s immune system to fight the disease.

But unlike vaccines for the flu or chicken pox, which are preventive, “we almost uniformly vaccinate after cancer is there,” Kwak said.

Some cancer vaccines in development could be administered to many people, while others – including Kwak’s vaccine for follicular lymphoma – would have to be tailored to each patient’s tumors.

Kwak’s vaccine has passed Phase III trials and is moving toward the final steps of regulatory approval.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first cancer vaccine, called Provenge, in the spring of 2010 for the treatment of prostate cancer. A vaccine for melanoma performed well in the final stages of clinical trials last year.

“What ties them together is they are activating the immune system so it’s primed and ready to fight,” Kwak said.

The National Cancer Institute reports there are ongoing clinical trials for therapeutic vaccines to treat bladder, breast, cervical, kidney, lung, pancreatic and other forms of cancer.

Prediction 2: Malaria vaccine development will advance.

Malaria remains a deadly and debilitating disease. The World Health Organization estimates there were 216 million cases of malaria and 655,000 deaths, mostly in children, in 2010. Communities can curb malaria infections through mosquito control, but no vaccine can prevent it.

Researchers at the University of Oxford caught international attention when they announced this month they developed a vaccine that could stop many strains of the deadliest malaria parasite, the P. falciparumparasite, in animal studies. They published the findings in the journal Nature Communications Dec. 20.

“There is no doubt that malaria has been an extraordinary challenge for vaccine creation,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in Nashville, Tenn.

The key to the vaccine’s success is that it targets a crucial stage of the parasite’s development. When a mosquito bites a person (or an animal), the parasite travels through the blood to the liver, and then, in a new form, infects red blood cells, Schaffner said. There the parasite multiplies and changes into two new forms: one that attacks other red blood cells, and one that circulates in the bloodstream, ready to be picked up by another biting mosquito.

“You would think that anything that’s that complicated couldn’t possibly succeed as a parasite, but it is one of the most successful: The illness it creates is often mortal, if not debilitating,” Schaffner said. As the parasite bursts out of blood cells, toxins escape that cause fever and chills. Enough red blood cell destruction causes anemia.

However, the vaccine developed at Oxford interrupts the parasite’s entry into red blood cells. “That is an absolute critical stage. If we can keep it out of the red blood cell, it can’t make you sick,” Schaffner said.  Still, he said he is wary of too much excitement, because several malaria vaccines with other tactics to attack the parasite failed in human studies.

Prediction 3: Millions will breathe easier, thanks to new regulations.

In December the Environmental Protection Agency announced new limits for mercury emissions and air toxins that it said will prevent 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year.

Coal industry groups criticized the new EPA rules. Steve Miller, chief executive of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in a press release, “This latest rule will destroy jobs, raise the cost of energy and could even make electricity less reliable.”

But health groups such as the American Lung Association hailed the new rules. “It’s going to have a huge benefit for a lot of different people,” said Janice Nolan, an assistant ALA vice president. The new regulations curb carcinogens and pollutants that exacerbate asthma, Nolan said.

The new EPA regulations will limit the amount of mercury that power plants can release into the air, she explained. Mercury settles into water, where it is transformed into methyl-mercury and picked up by fish that people eat. The neurotoxin can injure people even before they are born, while in the womb.

The legislation also will cut levels of more than 60 air toxins, including heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium and nickel, and it targets the gases that contribute to fine-particle pollution.

Fine particles, some only a 30th as wide as a human hair, can lodge in lungs and travel to the heart, Nolan said. Reducing fine-particle pollution will “prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of heart attacks, bronchitis cases and asthma episodes,” the EPA said.

Nolan estimates more than 400 power plants in at least 40 states will be subject to the new rules, which set air-quality standards to match the clean-air performance of the top 12 percent of power plants in the country.

Prediction 4: Many crucial drugs will become cheaper.

Several top-selling brand-name drugs in the United States will be losing their patents in 2012. Makers of generic drugs will then have a chance to sell forms of the heart medicine Plavix, the diabetes drug Actos and the autoimmune disease drug Enbrel. Other blockbuster drugs losing their patents in 2012 include Viagra, Seroquel and Lexapro, according to the industry analyst firm EvaluatePharma.

Pharmaceutical companies are likely to lose billions of dollars in revenue, but the shift will lower health care costs for millions of heart, asthma, diabetes and pain patients in the U.S.

Pharmaceutical companies note that patents make it financially feasible for them to develop new treatments.

Dr. Elliott Antman, an associate dean at Harvard Medical School, discussed the costs of research, testing and manufacturing to bring a drug to market. “It used to take $800,000,” he said. “Now it takes about a billion dollars because of the sample size of the trials.”

As drugs become safer and more effective, Antman explained, studies to test a new drug against old ones can require tens of thousands of participants to find a statistical difference in effectiveness and side effects. Coordinating trials of that size, which is essential for a chance to gain FDA approval, is expensive.

“The reason they are doing this is if they know that they can get this drug to market, they will have patent protection,” Antman said.

Antman said the push for generics from insurance companies can sometimes complicate getting patients the drugs they need. But for the most part, generic forms are equivalent to brand-name drugs.

“The advantage of generics to patients is that it’s much less expensive, so it’s highly desirable,” Antman said.

Prediction 5: Legislation will make it easier to choose health insurance.

Entrepreneurs and two-income families have to choose between insurance plans. Wading through insurance coverage lingo can be confusing, and people may not realize what they will owe until they need services.

A provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that takes effect in 2012 aims to make understanding and comparing insurance coverage easier. As of March 23, group health plans nationwide must provide a uniform summary explanation of benefits and coverage. The standardized summary must be provided to people when they apply for coverage, and to policyholders when health insurance policies are issued.

16 Foods that Prevent Breast Cancer

16 Foods that Prevent Breast Cancer

About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer by the age of 95. Genetics play a strong role in some cases, but lifestyle and dietary factors may also play a role in many cases. Here are 16 foods that may help prevent breast cancer or, once the cancer has developed, prevent it from spreading.


In one study of mice, researchers found that turmeric helped to prevent breast cancer from spreading to the lungs.

According to one study, the phytochemicals in blueberries work together to stop the growth and spread of triple-negative breast cancer, which carries a poorer prognosis than other forms of breast cancer.

Tomatoes are high in lycopene, which has been found to lower the risk of breast cancer.

Avocados are high in oleic acid, which studies have found to prevent cancer.

Red Wine
Consumed in moderation, red wine is believed to lower the risk of breast cancer. However, drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day may increase the risk of breast cancer so moderation is the key. Red wine has also been found to significantly reduce the effects of radiation in women undergoing radiation therapy for cancer. One study found that the resveratrol in red wine makes the cancer cells more susceptible to radiation treatment while protecting the healthy cells from damage.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts and all other cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates which are powerful cancer fighters. Brussels sprouts appear to have the most beneficial combination of glucosinolates when it comes to warding off breast cancer and other types of cancer.

Pomegranate Juice
Promising research in Israel shows that pomegranate juice destroys breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. Pomegranate juice may also prevent new breast cancer cells from forming.

Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseeds contain high levels of lignans, which protect against . Lignans may protect against estrogen-dependent cancers.

Green Tea
Studies show that drinking green tea lowers the risk of developing breast cancer and prevents it from spreading in women who have already have the disease. This is due to a compound in green tea called EGCG.

Studies show that garlic eradicates breast cancer cells in testHave some garlic with that meat. Research has found that cooking garlic with meat reduces the carcinogenic chemicals in cooked meat that may be linked to breast cancer.

Broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that fights breast cancer by converting the type of estrogen that causes cancer into a more cancer-protective type of estrogen.

Like broccoli, cauliflower is a great source of indole-3-carbinol. 

One study found that women who ate spinach at least twice a week had half the rate of breast cancer as women who didn’t eat spinach.

Dark Cherries
Studies in rats found that a compound in cherries may inhibit breast cancer.

A study at UC Berkeley found that a diet high in kelp lowered serum estradiol levels in women and had phytoestrogenic properties. Sea vegetables also contain chlorophylones, fatty acids that may help in the prevention of breast cancer. In addition, kelp contains fucoidan, which has been found in studies to induce apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells.

Research has found that artichoke leaf extract induces apoptosis (cell death) and reduces cell proliferation in many types of cancer, including breast cancer. One Italian study found that the flavanoids in artichokes reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Yoga Clinical Trials

1. Yoga on Arrhythmia Burden and Quality of Life in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, University of Kansas

2. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) in Unipolar and Bipolar Disorders, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

3. Yoga Study in Breast Cancer Patients, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

4. Effects of Tibetan Yoga on Fatigue and Sleep in Cancer, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

5. Effects of Yoga in Breast Cancer Patients, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

6. Hatha Yoga in Improving Physical Activity Inflammation Fatigue and Distress in Breast Cancer Survivors, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital & Richard J. Solove Research Institute

7. Hatha Yoga in Improving Physical Activity Inflammation Fatigue and Distress in Breast Cancer Survivors, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital & Richard J. Solove Research Institute

8. A Yoga and Wellness Program for Breast Cancer Survivors With Persistent Fatigue, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

9. Yoga in Controlling Symptoms and Reducing Stress in Women With Ovarian Cancer or Breast Cancer, Wake Forest University

10. Yoga to Reduce Cancer Fatigue, University of Iowa

11. Yoga-Based Cancer Rehabilitation Program, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

12. Yoga in Treating Sleep Disturbance in Cancer Survivors, University of Rochester

13. Yoga Breathing for Fatigue in Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy, University of California, San Francisco

14. Mindfulness Yoga and Cardiovascular Disease, The Cleveland Clinic

15. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or General Health Education in Improving Immune Response to Human Papillomavirus in Patients With Cervical Dysplasia, Fox Chase Cancer Center

16. Effect of Yoga Vs. Stretching on Chronic Back Pain, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

17. Impact of a Course on Stress Reduction, Hamilton Health Sciences

18. Yoga in Relieving Fatigue in Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer, Wake Forest University

19. Yoga for Patients With Epilepsy, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

20. Facial Yoga Toning Program – A Pilot Study, The Cleveland Clinic

21. Yoga for Fibromyalgia, Oregon Health and Science University

22. A Study to Evaluate the Role of Alternative Medicine in Difficult to Treat GERD Patients, Kansas City Veteran Affairs Medical Center

23.”>Evaluation of Yoga for the Treatment of Pediatric Headaches, Medical College of Wisconsin

24. Effects of Qigong Tai Chi and Yoga Practice in Older Adults, Bastyr University

25. The Effects of a Yoga Program in Heart Failure Patients, University of California, San Francisco

26. Lifestyle Modification and Blood Pressure Study, University of Pennsylvania

27. Yoga Immune Function and Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

28. Yoga as a Treatment for Insomnia, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

29. Practicing Restorative Yoga or Stretching for the Metabolic Syndrome, University of California, San Francisco

30. Efficacy of Yoga for Treatment-Resistant Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Justice Resource Institute

31. Evaluation of a Yoga Intervention for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

32. Yoga for Arthritis, Johns Hopkins University

33. Yoga for Women Attempting Smoking Cessation, The Miriam Hospital

34. The Effect of Exercise and Alagebrium on the Diastolic Function of the Heart, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Kundalini Yoga Meditation Techniques that are specific for the treatment of psychiatric disorders


The ancient system of Kundalini yoga includes a vast array of meditation techniques and many were discovered to be specific for treating the psychiatric disorders as we know them today. One such technique was found to be specific for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the fourth most common psychiatric disorder, and the tenth most disabling disorder worldwide. Two published clinical trials are described here for treating OCD using a specific Kundalini yoga protocol. This OCD protocol also includes techniques that are useful for a wide range of anxiety disorders, as well as a technique specific for learning to manage fear, one for tranquilizing an angry mind, one for meeting mental challenges, and one for turning negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Part of that protocol is included here and published in detail elsewhere. In addition, a number of other disorder-specific meditation techniques are included here to help bring these tools to the attention of the medical and scientific community. These techniques are specific for phobias, addictive and substance abuse disorders, major depressive disorders, dyslexia, grief, insomnia and other sleep disorders.












Eat Pomegranates To Prevent Breast Cancer

Fruits that contain anti-aromatase phytochemicals, such as pomegranates, may reduce the incidence of hormone-dependent breast cancer, according to research published in the January issue ofCancer Prevention Research. The authors say that pomegranate is enriched in a series of compounds known as ellagitannins that appear to be responsible for the fruit’s anti-proliferative effect.

“Phytochemicals suppress estrogen production that prevents the proliferation of breast cancer cells and the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors,” said principal investigator Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., director of the Division of Tumor Cell Biology and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif.

Previous research has shown that pomegranate juice — punica granatum L — is high in antioxidant activity, which is generally attributed to the fruit’s high polyphenol content. Ellagic acid found in pomegranates inhibits aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen to estrogen. Aromatase plays a key role in breast carcinogenesis; therefore, the growth of breast cancer is inhibited.

Chen, along with Lynn Adams, Ph.D., a research fellow at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, and colleagues, evaluated whether phytochemicals in pomegranates can suppress aromatase and ultimately inhibit cancer growth. After screening and examining a panel of 10 ellagitannin-derived compounds in pomegranates, the investigators found that those compounds have the potential to prevent estrogen-responsive breast cancers. Urolithin B, which is a metabolite produced from ellagic acid and related compounds, significantly inhibited cell growth.

“We were surprised by our findings,” said Chen. “We previously found other fruits, such as grapes, to be capable of the inhibition of aromatase. But, phytochemicals in pomegranates and in grapes are different.”

According to Gary Stoner, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Ohio State University, additional studies will be needed to confirm the chemopreventive action of Urolithin B against hormone-dependent breast cancer. “This is an in vitro study in which relatively high levels of ellagitannin compounds were required to demonstrate an anti-proliferative effect on cultured breast cancer cells,” said Stoner, who is not associated with this study. “It’s not clear that these levels could be achieved in animals or in humans because the ellagitannins are not well absorbed into blood when provided in the diet.”

Powel Brown, M.D., Ph.D., medical oncologist and chairman of the Clinical Cancer Prevention Department at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, agreed with Stoner’s sentiments and said these results are intriguing. He recommended that future studies focus on testing pomegranate juice for its effect on estrogen levels, menopausal symptoms, breast density or even as a cancer preventive agent.

“More research on the individual components and the combination of chemicals is needed to understand the potential risks and benefits of using pomegranate juice or isolated compounds for a health benefit or for cancer prevention,” Brown said. “This study does suggest that studies of the ellagitannins from pomegranates should be continued.”

Until then, Stoner said people “might consider consuming more pomegranates to protect against cancer development in the breast and perhaps in other tissues and organs.”

Benefits of Pomegranate:

1. It contains three times more antioxidants, glass for glass, than red wine or green tea.

2. Drinking it will boost your intake of vitamins C, E, and K, as well as potassium and calcium.

3. It contains folic acid, necessary to make red blood cells, and iron.

4. Drink pomegranate juice after a workout as it willspeed up your recovery and reduce muscle aches. Research also indicates that it may prevent cartilage deterioration.

5. Pomegranates are thought to help protect you against cancer. Research conducted in Israel showed that pomegranate juice destroys breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

6. New research shows that it may also help to prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes, as it is understood to halt clogging in your arteries.

7. Studies have also shown that pomegranates can help to lower bad cholesterol and build good cholesterol.

8. As well as being a source of calcium, pomegranates may also help to prevent dental plaque forming on your teeth.

Citation: Lynn S. Adams, Yanjun Zhang, Navindra P. Seeram, David Heber, Shiuan Chen, ‘Pomegranate Ellagitannin–Derived Compounds Exhibit Antiproliferative and Antiaromatase Activity in Breast Cancer Cells In vitro’, Cancer Prevention Research, January 2010, doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-08-0225













Breast cancer breakthrough: watercress turns off signal that causes tumors to develop

(NaturalNews) As a cancerous tumor develops, it quickly outgrows its existing blood supply. So a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) is released that sends out signals causing surrounding normal tissues to grow new blood vessels into the tumor — and that provides the cancer with oxygen and nutrients. This plays a critical role in the development and spread of breast and other cancers. But now comes word from University of Southampton researchers in the United Kingdom that they’ve discovered something which interferes with and actually “turns off” the ability of HIF to function — a natural plant compound dubbedphenylethyl isothiocyanate(PEITC) found in the herb watercress.

“This research takes an important step towards understanding the potential health benefits of this crop since it shows that eating watercress may interfere with a pathway that has already been tightly linked to cancer development,” molecular oncologist Professor Packham, who headed the two year study, said in a statement to the media. “Knowing the risk factors for cancer is a key goal and studies on diet are an important part of this.”

Working with Barbara Parry, Senior Research Dietician at the Winchester and Andover Breast Unit, Professor Packham performed a study involving a group of breast cancer survivors who underwent a period of fasting. Then the research subjects ate 80g of watercress (about the equivalent of a cereal bowl full of the herb). Next, a series of blood samples were taken over the next 24 hours.

The blood tests revealed significant levels of the plant compound PEITC in the blood of the participants following the watercress meal. But, most importantly, the tests showed that the function of the protein HIF was also measurably affected and “turned off” in the blood cells of the women who had eaten the watercress. The results of this research, which were just published in theBritish Journal of NutritionandBiochemical Pharmacology, provide new insight and hope that simply eating watercress regularly may protect against and perhaps help treat cancer.

“This is not a cure for cancer but it may well help to prevent the disease,” said Professor Packham. “We carried out this study with a handful of breast cancer survivors but it has the potential to have the same effect with other cancers too.”

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