That Meatless Monday routine you've been trying to adopt may do your cardiovascular system some good, but according to new research from The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, it has little bearing on your chances of developing breast cancer.
In what experts are calling the first examination of African-American women and how their consumption of meat impacts their breast cancer risk, researchers found that the link between eating meat and developing breast cancer actually varies by race.
Among 873 Caucasian women with breast cancer and 865 without, those with the highest consumption of unprocessed red meat and poultry appeared to have an increased breast cancer risk compared to Caucasian women with the lowest intake. In African-American women, however, no clear association was found between eating any kind of meat and breast cancer risk.
In fact, the study's findings suggests that eating red meat might even reduce the risk of a certain kind of tumor in black women.
Lead author, Urmila Chandran, a research teaching specialist at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, noted that since this study may be one of the first to examine this association in African-American women, further research is needed. Yet still, “this research supports encouraging Caucasian women to limit their intake of both red meat and poultry in order to reduce their risk of breast cancer," Chandran said in a release.
In addition to an overall uptick in breast cancer risk among more frequent consumers of red meat and poultry, Chandran also found that incremental increases in consumption (500 grams per week of all red meat and 200 grams per week of poultry) also seemed to increase breast cancer risk in the Caucasian group. The link was even greater among those who haven't reached menopause yet.
Earlier this week researchers at the Fifth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities uncovered similar variations in the link between breast cancer outcomes and weight. Among black women in their study, those with a higher waist-to-hip ration were more likely to die from the disease, an association not seen in the white and Latina group. Instead, researchers noted increased mortality among white women with a higher BMI.
Their research, along with Chandran's joins a growing body of evidence suggesting that breast cancer recommendations and treatment may need to be more personalized.
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One Treatment Does Not Fit All
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"D" Stands For Decreased Risk
A study published in the journal <em>Breast Cancer Research</em> in April revealed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/08/vitamin-d-may-reduce-breast-cancer-in-black-women-study_n_1411599.html">African-American women with the highest levels of vitamin D also had a specific variation in the vitamin D receptor that cut their breast cancer risk in half</a>, compared to women without it. About a third of African Americans are vitamin D deficient, however, and melanin in the skin make it harder for many to get enough. Along with a healthy does of sunshine, experts recommend a vitamin D supplement of 600 IU per day.
Even Moderate Exercise Helps
In June, researchers at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill found that women who<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/exercise-breast-cancer-risk-moderate_n_1619175.html"> exercise between 10 and 19 hours each week had a 30 percent lower risk of breast cancer</a>. And there isn't a need to break a serious sweat either. <em>All</em> levels of exercise intensity were linked with a decreased risk, the study authors said.
Regular Screening Are Key To Closing Racial Gaps
According to a study published in <em>Breast Cancer Research</em> in August, <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925153327.htm">mammograms may be the key to closing the breast cancer gap between black and white women.</a> When study participants received regular breast screening, "there was no difference in the rate of how many of them presented in the disease's later stages," researchers found. "This study reinforces the fact that racial gaps in breast cancer outcomes can be improved," said lead author Dr. Paula Grabler, an assistant professor of radiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a radiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Affordable Care Is Within Reach
In a <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/public-global-health/259519-obama-sebelius-healthcare-law-is-fighting-breast-cancer">commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness month Monday, President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius</a> credited the Affordable Care Act with bringing on "a new day for women's health and the fight against breast cancer." According to Sebelius, the healthcare law "means that women can get the potentially life-saving services they need to detect breast cancer before it spreads, without worrying how a copay would affect their family budget."
Existing Treatments Work
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Triple-Negative Treatments Are Closer
The notoriously fatal triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) may have met its match, according to researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York who found that a form of the small pox virus can be used against TBNC. In the study released this week, researchers found that a certain form of smallpox vaccine was able to kill 90 percent of TBNC cells in four days of treatment. It also inhibited blood flow to the cancer stopping its spread. TNBC is found in about 15 out of every 100 cases and is more likely to occur in Hispanics and African Americans.