Category Archives: Triple Negative Breast Cancer

The Latest On Breast Cancer Stem Cells

 

Photo courtesy of Photokanok / freedigitalphotos.net
Photo courtesy of Photokanok / freedigitalphotos.net

The Latest On Breast Cancer Stem Cells

So what are breast cancer stem cells?

They are a specific group of stem cells, which are undifferentiated biological cells capable of creating more cells of the same type, ad infinitum, and from which certain other kinds of cells arise by differentiation.

Breast cancer stem cells were first discovered in 2003 by scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. UM scientists found that just a few breast cancer stem cells were responsible for the growth and spread of breast cancer.  They also found that unless the cancer stem cells could be destroyed, a tumor would be more likely to return and spread malignant cells to other parts of the body, a process called metastasis.

Conventional Therapies For Advanced Breast Cancer Targets The Wrong Cells

Because cancer stem cells are resistant to traditional chemotherapy and radiation, new treatments are needed that can be targeted directly at these stem cells, thus the ongoing research.  UM scientists believe that conventional therapies for advanced breast cancer have limited effectiveness because they are targeting the wrong cells. These therapies were designed to shrink cancers by killing all the rapidly growing cells in a tumor.  The scientists at UM believe that therapies could be more effective and cause fewer side effects if they were aimed specifically at cancer stem cells.  Here is a short 36-second video with Dr Max Wicha from UM explaining a little about breast cancer stem cells.  There are other, longer videos available on You Tube to view should you wish to know more.

In this study: Cancer Stem Cell Markers Are Enriched In Normal Tissue Adjacent To Triple Negative Breast Cancer And Inversely Correlated With DNA Repair Deficiency, published in September 2013, researchers discovered that women with triple-negative breast cancer have more stem cells present in their normal breast tissue than women with other types of cancer.  The scientists felt that “the presence of stem cells may be an important predictive marker for the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer.”  They stated further studies are needed to determine a causal relationship between stem cells and the breast cancer incidence.

Additionally, the study that I linked to above noted that a small percentage of women with triple-negative breast cancer also had faulty DNA-repair pathways, and put that figure at about one in 9 of women with TNBC.

So What Do We Do With This Information?

First of all, don’t worry about it.  I have only written about this because a few of my readers have asked about breast cancer stem cells. 

If you follow the advice I give in my Diet and Cancer page, you will be well-protected.  Specifically, see my entries about breast cancer stem cells in “broccoli” and “turmeric”.  Keep a strong immune system (for more advice about that see my page 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System), keep your stress levels down (Yes, take that vacation!  You need it!) and follow my advice in my newsletters and e-books.  If you are doing all these things, you are miles ahead.

References:

http://www.mcancer.org/research/stem-cells/breast

http://breast-cancer-research.com/content/15/5/R77

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

South Korean Study on MSM Indicates Potent Anti-Breast Cancer Activity

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Renjith Krishnan
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Renjith Krishnan

South Korean Study on MSM Indicates Potent Anti-Breast Cancer Activity

Recently one of my newsletter subscribers asked me about MSM – or methylsulfonylmethane – which is an organic, sulfur-containing, natural compound found in many foods.  She was wondering whether it had any value as an anti-breast cancer supplement and while I hadn’t heard of it specifically being used for breast cancer, I knew it had many healing properties so I did some digging and found a relatively new (April 2012) research study done in South Korea which showed some surprising and inspiring results.

The study, Methylsulfonylmethane Suppresses Breast Cancer Growth by Down-Regulating STAT3 and STAT5b Pathways appears on the Public Library of Science website and its authors are Lim E, Hong D, Park J, Joung Y, Darvin P, Kim S, Na Y, Hwang T, Ye S, Moon E, Cho B, Do Park K, Lee H, Park T, Yang Y (2012). 

If you don’t wish to read the entire study, make sure you read the Abstract (in the first paragraph – link above).  MSM decreased the viability of ALL types of breast cancer, including triple negative breast cancer cells, which is (according to some oncologists) a difficult-to-treat form of breast cancer because it does not respond to hormonal therapies.  This does not mean that it can’t be treated, however!

MSM Shown To Decrease Viability of Human Breast Cancer Cells

The scientists involved in the study were able to demonstrate that MSM substantially decreased the viability of human breast cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner – the higher the dose, the more benefits – and it did this in just 30 days.

So why is there no celebrating being done via news articles and press releases?  Probably because MSM is easily attainable and no drug companies are going to benefit hugely from this information.  It’s left up to health advocates to unbury the information and share it with you.

Sulfur’s Importance In The Body

Sulfur is the most abundant mineral in the human body, it comprises more than one quarter of a person’s body weight, but interestingly, it is not stored in the body.  You have to get it through your diet. 

Sulfur belongs in the same chemical family as oxygen, it is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier, it binds and assists in the removal of heavy metals from the body, among many other important functions.  Half of the sulfur in your body is found in skin, muscles, and bones and it is a super-important component of joint cartilage and keratin (found in hair and skin).

Sulfur is found in raw milk (not pasteurized milk), meat, fish, fruits, vegetables (the best source being garlic and onions) and grains.  People who eat a lot of processed foods do not have sufficient quantities of sulfur in their diet – processed foods are notoriously deficient.  So you can understand that a deficiency of sulfur could lead to a range of degenerative diseases. Will you get enough MSM through the diet to help treat breast cancer?  Most likely not. 

Daily dosing for breast cancer, approximated from the study, could be from 2,000 mg to 10,000 mg, but human studies are needed to determine optimal dosing.

MSM is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and if you know anything about cancer, you know that inflammation is involved in the process.  MSM is easily obtainable in health food stores.  If you aren’t sure whether or not you need it, or  how much to take, please see a naturopath.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-book on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

New Class of Breast Cancer Drugs: PARP Inhibitors

New Class of Breast Cancer Drugs PARP Inhibitors
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and jscreationzs

I’ve been reading a lot lately about a new class of drugs called PARP inhibitors, particularly from the City of Hope, one of the cancer centers I like to follow because they are doing such interesting research on treatments for cancer, both pharmaceutical and natural.

PARP Inhibitors – What They Are

Here is the whole skinny (well, at least what I was able to find and make sense of) on PARP Inhibitors.

PARP stands for “poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase”.  PARP is an enzyme that researchers say is over-expressed in a variety of cancers, and its expression has been associated with overall prognosis in cancer, especially breast cancer.

PARP is important for repairing single-strand breaks in DNA, termed “nicks”.  If the nicks in the DNA are not repaired, then when the cells divide and replicate themselves the new cells can cause double-strand breaks to form.

Drugs which inhibit PARP1 cause multiple double-strand breaks to form.  The reason that this is a good thing is because in tumors with BRCA1, BRCA2 or PALB2 mutations, the double-strand breaks cannot be efficiently repaired and that leads to the death of those cells.  Research is showing that cancer cells that are low in oxygen (which is the case in fast growing tumors) are sensitive to PARP inhibitors.

I wondered what that meant for normal cells – how they would be affected.  The research shows, however, that normal cells (which don’t duplicate their DNA as often as cancer cells) still have repair mechanisms operating and that allows them to survive the PARP inhibition.

PARP Inhibitors and Chemotherapy

Research is showing that by adding a PARP inhibitor to chemotherapy, the chances that the cancer cells will become resistant to the chemotherapy decrease. When cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy, the chemotherapy is no longer able to fight the cancer cells.  By lowering the chances of resistance, a PARP inhibitor may increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

City of Hope Research

In September 2012, The City of Hope released an article titled Triple Negative Breast Cancer Treatment Gets a Boost.  The article explains a little about PARP inhibitors and states “Scientists think the drugs may work especially well in cancers with BRCA mutations or triple negative breast cancers”.  Triple negative breast cancer accounts for only 14-20% of breast cancers and is not driven by hormones like the bulk of breast tumors are.

Dr George Somlo, a researcher at the City of Hope in Duarte, CA, felt that this new class of drugs showed a lot of promise “because the drugs seem to be a little easier on healthy tissue, which helps reduce side effects, and they may make chemotherapy more effective“.

Good news!

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PARP_inhibitor

http://www.cityofhope.org/about/publications/eHope/2012-vol-11-num-8-september-19/Pages/triple-negative-breast-cancer-treatment-gets-a-boost.aspx

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/25

http://ww5.komen.org/Content.aspx?id=19327354168

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Interesting City of Hope Research on Blueberries and Triple Negative Breast Cancer

blueberries
Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / Ambro

Searching around for hopeful things for breast cancer patients is one of my favorite things to do (call me crazy but I like to help) and today I found some interesting research from City of Hope, a cancer center in Duarte, California.

The research demonstrated that blueberries have the ability to control tumor growth, decrease metastasis and induce cell death in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC)

A Quick Explanation of Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Triple negative breast cancer is a particular subtype of breast cancer that lacks estrogen, progesterone and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) receptors and because most breast cancer tumors do have at least one of these receptors, doctors are able to target them with specific therapies.

I have spoken to quite a few patients whose tumors were triple negative and many were more than a little anxious over their diagnosis particularly because there seems to be a lot of really negative information on the Internet about triple negative breast cancer – that it accounts for only about 15% of breast cancer and that it has a poorer prognosis compared to other subtypes with the receptors present. Thus, whenever I do find some positive research about TNBC, I like to share it.

Blueberries Are a Triple Threat

Dr Shiuan Chen, director of City of Hope’s Division of Tumor Cell Biology said “blueberries help fight triple-negative breast cancers by suppressing pathways critical to tumor development and migration.” 

The research has not been carried out on real, live people yet (they are still waiting for the results of that study) but they have used it on TNBC cell cultures and also on laboratory animals with great results.  The researchers discovered that the group that received the blueberries had a tumor weight that was 70% lighter, exhibited significantly lower proliferation rates, and higher apoptosis activity (apoptosis means programmed cell death) than the group not receiving the blueberries.  So they considered that to be a triple threat against TNBC.  I found a YouTube video where they discuss their findings – click here to view it.

Researchers estimated that in humans, a person weighing 130 lbs would need 4 oz daily to achieve the good effects that the studies exhibited.

Got TNBC?  Get those blueberries in ya!

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Effectively Dealing with Triple Negative Breast Cancer

 

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Billy Frank Alexander
Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Billy Frank Alexander

Triple Negative Breast Cancer – What It Means

When a cancerous tumor is removed from a breast, a sample (biopsy) of the tumor is taken and a pathologist examines its characteristics to determine the status of three breast cancer specific markers – the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and a form of the epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2).

ER and PR are proteins that bind the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, respectively. These hormones are produced by the ovaries and play a major role in stimulating cell division in breast cells.

Estrogen and progesterone bind to their respective receptors on the surface of cells and stimulate cell division.  Breast tumor cells with a positive (+) hormone receptor status have high levels of ER and PR. These types of breast cancer are typically treated with hormone therapy.

HER2 is a receptor protein located on the surface of breast cells. This protein binds growth factors and stimulates cell growth and division.  Breast tumor cells with a positive (+) HER2 status have high levels of HER2 on their surface.  These types of breast cancer can be treated with a special type of targeted therapy.

The Perceived Threat

Triple negative breast tumors do not have high levels of any of ER, PR or HER2 receptors.  In theory triple negative tumors should have a better prognosis than tumors expressing ER, PR, or HER2, because they are not receiving the growth signals provided by these proteins.

This doesn’t seem to be the case, however.  Oncologists know precisely how to treat breast cancers expressing ER+, PR+, or HER2+ — they do it with drugs such as Herceptin, Tamoxifen and Arimidex that inhibit the function of the receptors.

But triple negative breast cancer is unresponsive to these targeted treatments.  Studies have shown that triple negative tumor cells may be more aggressive than other breast cancer subtypes, but the reasons for this are unknown.  About 10-20% of breast cancers are found to be triple-negative. For doctors and researchers, there is intense interest in finding new medications that can treat this kind of breast cancer.

Depending on the confidence and “bedside manner” of her doctor, patients who are categorized as triple negative can tend to worry quite a bit more than those who aren’t – there is a lot of negative information on the Internet about the lack of treatment options and the “aggressive nature of the tumor cells making triple negative breast cancer more difficult to treat”.  Please keep reading!

The website breastcancer.org (an excellent source of breast cancer information) has an article that is worth reading: “Treatment for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer“.

New research has come to light from Cancer Research UK that breast cancer actually falls into TEN different categories, rather than the subgroups discussed above (estrogen and progesterone receptor positive or negative, and either HER2 positive or negative).  One day soon we will be able to offer each woman an individualized therapy, depending on the type of breast cancer she has.

Forget the “Poor Prognosis” Terminology

My main purpose in writing this article is to calm the fears and concerns of women who are found to be triple negative.  This is not a death sentence!  You might have to fight a little harder, be a little more proactive.  You might have to arm yourself with a little more knowledge (something I always recommend anyway!) but this is definitely survivable.

The first thing I would suggest you do (besides attending all of the medical appointments suggested for you) is to expand your mind and read “The Biology of Belief” by Dr Bruce Lipton.  Dr Lipton is a cell biologist who has closely examined how our beliefs control our DNA.  This is a powerful, life-changing book.

Here’s an article by Dr Joseph Mercola on the subject of how your emotions and beliefs regulate your genes.

Then you could read “You Can Conquer Cancer” by Dr Ian Gawler, an Australian veterinarian who healed himself from a potentially lethal form of cancer using nutrition, meditation and various other natural forms of therapy.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet had it right when he said, “…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Then realize that there are some positives with your diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer:

1.  You do not have to take hormone therapy drugs that have a whole host of unpleasant side effects.

2.  Research shows that triple-negative tumors respond better to chemotherapy than tumors that are estrogen and progesterone positive. Chemo works better on you!

3.  If you remain disease-free for four or more years the chances are your cancer will NEVER return.

4.  Research for this type of breast cancer has been given a very high priority – there are study results being published practically weekly.

LASTLY, KNOW WITH EVERY FIBER OF YOUR BEING THAT YOU CAN BEAT THIS!

References:

1. http://www.cancerquest.org/triple-negative-breast-cancer.html?gclid=CIer7dzSj7ECFYe6KgodXz812g

2. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/19/breast-cancer-cancer-research-uk-disease-10-categories-dr-harpal-kumar_n_1436498.html?ref=uk

3. http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/trip_neg/treatment.jsp

4. http://blogs.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/11/epigenetic-vs-determinism.aspx

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