When we talk about genes we are normally referring to the protein coding genes (rather than the somewhat more mysterious non-coding genes). In the simplest terms, these genes contain the instructions for building a protein that controls the way your body works, using a two stage process called transcription and translation.
If you are diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer before menopause you will most likely be prescribed Tamoxifen, a selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. The key benefit of this drug is that it protects hormone sensitive breast tissue and tumour cells from the effects of growth-promoting oestrogen – without completely suppressing oestrogen in the rest of the body. It’s a win-win!
There’s no doubt that Tamoxifen saves lives, but leaving oestrogen in circulation has been shown to increase the risk of other hormone-mediated cancers, and a proportion of women find that Tamoxifen adversely impacts their quality of life with increased pain, depression, headaches and mood changes – which can be severe. In my experience most women show tremendous courage in dealing with the balance of risks and benefits of breast cancer treatment and accept the downs with the ups. But in this case you don’t need to settle for the downside: nutritional therapy can help you mitigate the extra risk that Tamoxifen poses and minimise the mood and menopause effect that some women experience, without diminishing the benefits of the drug: a win-win-win!Continue reading
Triple negative breast cancer accounts for around 15% of breast cancers, and it is a more diagnosis common in younger women. This subtype of breast cancer tends to share similarities with BRCA-related disease, being more likely to be linked to faulty DNA repair and reprogrammed cellular metabolism. TNBC tumours don’t exhibit the over-expression of oestrogen and growth receptors found in other forms of breast cancer, and this lack of modifiable receptors tends to be seen as bad news. But all it really means is that we don’t currently have any specific adjuvant medical treatments, which makes it all the more important to look for other modifiable factors, such as diet and lifestyle.Continue reading
A post in The Guardian today includes the news that gut bacteria may influence bowel cancer risk. How confusing! For years we’ve been taught that cancer starts with genetic mutations. So how can bacteria be involved?