Photo courtesy of Photokanok /

Photo courtesy of Photokanok /

The Latest On Breast Cancer Stem Cells

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.

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 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, there are quite a number of foods and supplements and even mind/body techniques that can directly target breast cancer stem cells.

Broccoli and cauliflower

Broccoli sprouts




Black Seed Oil

Turmeric (curcumin)


Vitamin D3

Fermented soy products (organic)

Black pepper

Turkey tail mushrooms




Green Tea


Frankincense (boswellia)


This is not an exhaustive list – we are finding more things all the time that destroy breast cancer stem cells.

Be sure to get and keep your stress levels down – yes, take that vacation!  You need it! Learn meditation, it is a game-changer with regard to helping you manage stress.

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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 (Marnie Clark Breast Health Coach) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.