Hormone Replacement Therapy linked to breast cancer

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (February 13 2002;287 (6):734-41) found a clear association between long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in women and an increased risk of breast cancer.

The study looked at 705 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancers of all types between 1990 and 1995 as well another 692 randomly selected age-matched women.

Researchers concluded that those who had been on long-term HRT, both on estrogen alone and estrogen plus progestin, had a risk of contracting breast cancer of any type that was 60% to 85% higher than that of women who had not been on long-term HRT. When considering only the lobular type of breast cancer, the risk was more than three times higher for the HRT group.

Cancer rate in the United States highest in the world

A new study published in the International Journal of Cancer (2002;97:72-81) compared cancer rates in major developed and developing countries.

1.5% of the North American population was diagnosed with cancer over the past 5 years (this study excluded skin cancers, except for melanoma). Western Europe was second with 1.2%, followed by Australia, New Zealand and, finally, Japan with 1%.

Developing countries were found to have consistently lower rates, a fact that is attributed to the lower life expectancy in those countries. It is reasoned that, since people die younger from other causes, not enough of them reach an age at which cancer becomes more likely.

It is interesting to note, however, that the Japanese – with their dramatically lower cancer rate – have a higher life expectancy than we do. Like the U.S.A., Japan has its share of environmental chemicals and other pollutants, including mercury contamination of its seafood but, overall, the Japanese favor a more traditional diet with fewer processed foods.

Colon cancer, fruits and vegetables

People continue to be told by some medical professionals that there is no known relationship between colon cancer and diet and that they are completely healthy except for this unfortunate event ñ cancer ñ that occurred to them.

In yet another large-scale study (Natl Cancer Inst, 2001;93(7):525-533) that followed more than 60,000 people for almost ten years, researchers found – guess what – that people who ate the least amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables had the highest incidence of colon cancer.

Antioxidants and Cancer

Antioxidants include the vitamins A, E and C; the minerals selenium and zinc; and other products like lipoic acid, bioflavonoids, coenzyme Q10, and melatonin. Cancer patients tend to have low blood levels of antioxidants and conventional treatments further deplete them.

It was therefore theorized that antioxidant supplements could be helpful in an integrated approach to cancer, but experts cautioned that not enough was known about their effects and that they could possibly prevent medications from working.

An in-depth analysis of existing studies can be found in the Alternative Medicine Review (2000; 5 (2): 152-163). The authors evaluated more than 100 previously published studies and concluded that, in almost all cases, antioxidants either did not interfere with medical treatments or actually helped them by reducing side effects while at the same time enhancing the medical treatment’s therapeutic effects.