Home > Article Index > Alcoholism > Diet

• Go Back

Reprinted from:

Insulin predicts breast cancer survival: study

Helen Branswell
The Canadian Press

īVery exciting observationī: Finding may lead to low-tech ways of fighting the disease

Helen Branswell
The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON - A team of Toronto researchers may have found an easy way to determine which women with breast cancer will respond well to treatment and which are at high risk of dying.

Blood insulin levels appear to be a reliable predictor of whether a woman with breast cancer will survive over the long term, they suggest in a new study.

The researchers caution their work should only be considered "hypothesis generating" at this point.

But if they are right, it could mean that low-tech ways of lowering blood insulin levels will become vital weapons in the arsenal used to battle breast cancer. Those include weight loss and, particularly, exercise.

"It will never replace chemotherapy or hormone therapy or radiation or surgery, but it might provide an added benefit to all of those treatments," said Pamela Goodwin, lead author of the study.

"This is early stages. Itīs a very exciting observation. Has the potential to have a significant impact on outcome. Has the potential to allow women to participate in their care, which is very important to a lot of women. But itīs not proven yet."

Dr. Goodwin is a breast cancer researcher at Torontoīs Mount Sinai Hospital. She undertook the study with colleagues from several teaching hospitals and the University of Toronto. It is published today in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Insulin is a hormone the body needs to regulate sugar levels in the blood. But it also acts as a growth hormone and is known to play a role in the development of some cancers.

Baseline insulin levels differ from individual to individual, although it is not clear why. What is known, however, is that insulin levels can be lowered by exercise.

Several years ago, Dr. Goodwin and some colleagues published research showing a link between blood insulin levels and the risk of developing breast cancer.

This time, they took the work further, looking at whether insulin levels could tell researchers which breast cancer patients would respond well to treatment and which would go on to have their cancer spread.

People who develop metastatic cancer, as it is called, run a significantly higher risk of dying.

The idea seemed logical. Researchers have already reported that obese women are at increased risk of developing breast cancer and if they do, may not respond as well to treatment as women of healthier weights.

Dr. Goodwin and her colleagues enrolled 512 women with early breast cancer in their study, using blood samples drawn after an overnight fast to determine their baseline insulin levels.

Women who had a previous cancer or who were diabetics were excluded from the study. The researchers warn their findings might not apply to breast cancer patients who are also diabetics.

They followed the women for a period ranging from three years to more than nine years, during which 76 women developed metastatic disease and 45 died.

Dividing the women into four groups, they found that women with insulin levels in the top quartile had a two-fold increased risk of developing metastatic cancer and a three-fold increased risk of death compared with those in the lowest quartile.

"It can be seen that, in each category, higher levels of insulin were associated with poorer outcomes, consistent with the existence of a prognostic effect of insulin across broad categories of body weight," they wrote.

The chairman of breast cancer research at another Toronto hospital was enthusiastic about the findings, saying they will help scientists tease out why the disease is more aggressive in some women than in others.

And Dr. Steven Narod said this line of research may also help identify a target for new drugs to fight breast cancer.

Just as statin drugs are often prescribed to lower high cholesterol levels, drugs aimed at lowering blood insulin levels may some day be prescribed as part of a breast cancer fighting or prevention regime.

"These levels of hormones tend to be modifiable," said Dr. Narod, of Sunnybrook and Womenīs College Health Sciences Centre, who was not involved in Dr. Goodwinīs research.

"Yeah, lifestyle modification is great. But itīs not that easy to lose weight. And as women go on chemotherapy, thereīs a tendency to gain weight."

Dr. Goodwin also knows that many women with breast cancer rail against the feeling of helplessness that can come with seemingly endless rounds of surgery and unpleasant treatment programs over which they have little or no control.

For them, the knowledge that they could improve their survival chances by modifying their diets and increasing their activity level might prove empowering, she said.

Still, Dr. Goodwin does not want to send the message that women with breast cancer must exercise to survive. Itīs too soon to say that based on her research. Besides, she does not want to add to the sense of guilt some women with breast cancer already feel.

"I always have this concern that Iīm going to lead to another decade of women with breast cancer feeling guilty because they havenīt exercised three times a day," she said in an interview.

"And I donīt want that."

Reprinted from:

Liver Flush - Quackery or Valuable Remedy  Apr 18 2003
Robert C. Atkins, M.D. Dies at 72  Apr 18 2003
Why You Don’t Want to Drink Pasteurized Milk  Mar 30 2003
Fish Farms Become Feedlots of the Sea  Dec 28 2002
The Truth about Osteoporosis  Aug 30 2002
Scientists shocked at GM gene transfer  Aug 28 2002
Vitamin A -- A Vital Nutrient  Aug 12 2002
Vegetarian Diet In Pregnancy Linked To Birth Defect  Aug 12 2002
Vitamin E for Your Brain  Aug 09 2002
Can GM food make your body immune to ANTIBIOTICS ?  Jul 20 2002
How You Can Avoid Having a Premature Baby  Jun 26 2002
Fish Oil Reduces Breast Cancer  Jun 08 2002
Taming the Beast; My Progress - Multiple Sclerosis  May 30 2002
Beating Multiple Sclerosis  May 29 2002
My Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis  May 29 2002
Some pain killers may delay bone healing  May 28 2002
Experiments Strengthen Link Between Fish Oil, Mental Problems  May 21 2002
Raw Eating - A book by A.T. Hovannessian (Aterhov)  May 21 2002
Caffeine, even in small doses, may hurt arteries  May 18 2002
Want a Healthy Heart? Drink Water  May 16 2002
Avoiding Wheat and Gluten May Reverse Liver Failure and Hepatitis  May 08 2002
Fish Oil Helps Prevent Diabetes  May 08 2002
Study: Folk remedy used in India cuts cholesterol  May 03 2002
Black Raspberries Thwart Colon Cancer  May 03 2002
Excitotoxins - MSG and Aspartame  May 03 2002
UK Parents Say NO To Fluoride In School Milk  May 02 2002
Vegetarians Face Child Abuse Charge  Apr 30 2002
Minnesota - the first US State to offer Freedom of Choice  Apr 30 2002
Patients Turn to Nutrition to Help in War on Cancer  Apr 30 2002
Hudfletter forskerne som slo kreftalarm  Apr 27 2002
Diet, Aging, and Muscle by Joe Friel  Apr 26 2002
Akrylamid-listen  Apr 26 2002
Kreftalarm etter giftfunn i mat  Apr 26 2002
Cooked tomatoes 'better for you than raw'  Apr 26 2002
'Programmed Obesity' Handed Down To Next Generation  Apr 26 2002
Dr. Atkins suffered cardiac arrest  Apr 25 2002
Cut Bowel Cancer Risk by Eating Less, Better: Study  Apr 25 2002
UPDATE 3-Crisps, french fries, bread may cause cancer-study  Apr 25 2002
Swedish Study of Food and Cancer Rings Alarm Bells  Apr 24 2002
Virgin Olive Oil May Reduce Cholesterol Damage  Apr 24 2002
Beans and Peas Can Cut Heart Disease Risk  Dec 15 2001

Back To Top

Google Advertisement

Google Advertisement

Google Advertisement

Google Advertisement


Donate to CureZone

0.0781 sec