The Latest On Breast Cancer Stem Cells


Photo courtesy of Photokanok /

Photo courtesy of Photokanok /

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.


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 ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Alert – Breast Cancer In Younger Women On The Rise

Photo courtesy of and imagerymajestic

Photo courtesy of and imagerymajestic

Breast Cancer In Younger Women

A new and troubling study published February 27, 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association authored by Dr Rebecca Johnson, herself a breast cancer survivor, indicates that the rates of advanced breast cancer among young women has risen slightly.  Here is an abstract of the study.

The authors reviewed a U.S. government database of cancer cases from 1976 to 2009 and they discovered that among women aged 25-39, in whom breast cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, indicating advanced disease, has increased from between 1-2 cases per 100,000 women to about 3 cases per 100,000 during that time span.

This is not good news because the tumors of younger women tend to be more aggressive than those of older women and the fact that they are being found after they have already spread to other parts of the body makes it even more difficult to effect a cure.

Population Increase Not The Whole Reason

Although breast cancer is still more uncommon in women younger than age 40, the study indicated that in the mid 1970’s, there were around 250 advanced cases diagnosed in women younger than age 40.  By 2009, however, the number had risen to more than 800.  During this time period, the number of women of that age range rose nationwide from about 22 million to about 30 million, an increase that might explain part of the study trend “but definitely not all of it,” Dr Johnson said, who is a medical director of a teen and young adult cancer program at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  Dr Johnson also stated “The change might be due to some sort of modifiable risk factor, like a lifestyle change” or exposure to some sort of cancer-linked substance, she said.

I’m not reporting this to scare anyone (because I don’t believe scaring you is a good way to get you to make necessary changes), but to inform and empower you to be more proactive with your health.  For mothers and daughters alike (and also men because they can get breast cancer too), it’s important to know the risk factors for breast cancer.

Free Report Covers Cancer Risk Factors, Offers Solutions

I have spent the past 20 years or so compiling information on breast cancer risk factors – delving into research, talking to doctors and natural therapists, and I have compiled what I learned into my report “24 Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk” which normally you would need to sign up for my free newsletters to receive.  And you can still do that.  But to show you how serious I am about getting the word out to younger women that they can decrease their risk of cancer by being very proactive, you can also download my report today by clicking this link:  24 Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk

Know How To Perform A Breast Self Exam

First and foremost, know your body.  Learn how to check your breasts – click here for the 5 Steps of a Breast Self Exam from, a wonderfully informational site.  Don’t delay getting yourself to a doctor if you suspect anything unusual may be happening in your body.  Read my report, “24 Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk” and do your utmost to keep the risk factors at a minimum.  You owe this to not only yourself, but to your unborn children.

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 ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  


Stand Up To Cancer Donations Creating Dream Teams: PI3K Studies

Stand Up To Cancer Donations Creating Dream Teams PI3K StudiesI’ve been checking out an interesting website today that I thought you should know about – it is

Remember the “Stand Up To Cancer” telethon?  It’s a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and they raise money for cancer research.  Apparently several “Dream Teams” have been formed with the funds from this telethon and these Dream Teams are comprised of very talented scientists and clinicians who are collaborating.

Who is PI3K.Org? is comprised of the best minds from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vall D’Hebron Institute of Oncology, and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.  Some great minds collaborating indeed!

Here’s a video explaining where the money goes when you donate to Stand Up To Cancer.

The mission of is to “take scientific and clinical observations and rapidly apply them to cutting edge clinical trials for patients diagnosed with breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.  Our Dream Team is composed of researchers and clinical investigators that have pioneered the discovery of the PI3K pathway and have proven its significance in women’s cancers.”

So What Is PI3K?

Having never heard of the PI3K Pathway before today, I had to go into research mode. Here’s a good explanation of the PI3K Pathway offered by

Wikipedia also has this to offer: “Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI 3-kinases or PI3Ks) are a family of enzymes involved in cellular functions such as cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, motility, survival and intracellular trafficking, which in turn are involved in cancer.”

Researchers have discovered that with many breast cancer patients, problems occur in the PI3K pathway, resulting in disregulation of cell functions which can contribute to the development of many different types of cancers, including breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.

If you want ALL the gory details about cell signalling and how PI3K plays its part, click here.  If not, suffice to say that researchers are very actively involved in developing new drugs and therapies which target the PI3K pathway, which is abnormal in about 20-30% of patients with advanced breast cancer.

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 (  It is my honor to help you through this.

Migraines, Breast Cancer Risk, and a Great Recipe

migraines, breast cancer risk, and a great recipe

Photo courtesy of and Ambro

More Migraines, Fewer Tumors?

A 2010 research study made its way onto my desk today that I thought was worth sharing.

Published in January 2010 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and titled Migraine History and Breast Cancer Risk Among Postmenopausal Women, the study found that postmenopausal women who have been treated for migraines have a 26% – 33% lower risk of breast cancer than other women.

The researchers made the point that estrogen plays a role in both migraines and some breast cancers.  60% of women with migraines reported having more headaches around the time of menstruation, when estrogen levels change.  Many women reported having few migraines when they were pregnant, particularly around mid-pregnancy when estrogen levels stabilized.

Knowing you’d want to know more, I did some further research.

How Estrogen Plays a Role In Migraines

Estrogen has several important actions in the central nervous system that may account for its association with migraine headaches.  When estrogen levels decline, serotonin levels also fall due to a decline in production coupled with an increased rate of elimination. Serotonin is a nerve transmitter (primarily created in your gastrointestinal tract) and is thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.

When serotonin declines, that triggers another hormone known as calcitonin (made in the thyroid gland, it helps to regulate calcium levels) to be released, and along with a few other substances that are released, this causes cranial blood vessels to dilate (expand) and sensitizes particular parts of the trigeminal nerve, which is the largest of the cranial nerves and is responsible for sensation in the face and certain motor functions such as biting, chewing, and swallowing.

I had a massage teacher who always said that headaches were nothing more than a cerebrovascular event – “cerebro” meaning brain and “vascular” meaning blood vessels – it’s when the blood vessels in your brain dilate, causing that pain and throbbing and sometimes impaired vision that migraine sufferers describe.

My very own husband suffers from migraines sometimes and a few years ago I finally found something that absolutely stops a migraine in its tracks – at least it does for him.  Several others who have tried this recipe have also reported success, so I knew I had to share it with you!

Stopping A Migraine Quickly


  • A large glass bowl of cold water
  • Tray full of ice cubes
  • Essential oils of peppermint, ginger, marjoram (make sure they’re therapeutic grade)
  • Washcloth

To the bowl of water, add the tray of ice cubes and two drops each of the three oils.  Mix it up a little but not too much – the oil will float on the water and that’s okay.  Dip in the washcloth and then place onto the forehead of the migraine sufferer.  They will express shock initially because of the icy-ness of the compress, but should within 2-3 minutes gain great relief.  Keep soaking the cloth in the icy mixture and reapplying to the forehead (making sure the oils don’t get into their eyes, that will create a whole different kind of pain!) until the headache is gone.  Wishing you success with this recipe!

If you need to know where to get therapeutic grade essential oils, just contact me.

Source articles:

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 (  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.

British Medical Journal Article: Preventing Overdiagnosis International Conference

sb10063567ai-001On May 29, 2012 the esteemed British Medical Journal published an article titled “Preventing Overdiagnosis: How To Stop Harming The Healthy“.

The opening paragraph of the article reads: Evidence is mounting that medicine is harming healthy people through ever earlier detection and ever wider definition of disease.

I wanted to share this with you because it’s my observation that a lot of women are going through a lot of disfiguring surgeries and treatments for things that may or may not turn into a problem later on.

Overdosed, Over-Treated, Over-Diagnosed

The BMJ article tells us that there is mounting evidence that too many people are being overdosed, over-treated and over-diagnosed. The article goes on to identify the phenomenon of over-medicalization, saying healthy people are increasingly harmed by a barrage of unnecessary tests, procedures and drugs.

The article was timed to promote a new international conference called Preventing Overdiagnosis, that will aim to better assess the problem and begin working on solutions.  Not a moment too soon, I say.

Research Claims Over Half of Breast Cancers Would Amount To Nothing If Left Untreated

What concerns me the most is that academics from Australia and Canada have claimed that up to 54% of breast cancers detected in women in their 50s by breast cancer screening would never have manifested clinically.  See this article published July 10, 2009 in the BMJ: Overdiagnosis in publicly organised mammography screening programmes: systematic review of incidence trends.

I don’t know about you, but if I were one of those 54%, I’d be pissed.  Especially considering the long-term effects of some of the treatments.

Action You Can Take

So what can we do about this?  The International Conference is set to take place on 10-12 September 2013, exactly one year from now.  Here’s a link to their website.  You can submit papers, sign up for updates and find out about attending the conference (to be held at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Hanover, New Hampshire).  You can also email any concerns to

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.



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