Sunday November 17, 2019

Anti-stress hormone linked to breast cancer risk

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Representational image.

London: Women with low levels of an anti-stress hormone have an increased risk of getting breast cancer, says a new study.

The study focused on a hormone which circulates freely in the blood, enkephalin, with pain- and anxiety-reducing properties. Enkephalin also reinforces the immune system by directly affecting immune cells. Credits: https://www.google.co.in/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAYQjB1qFQoTCPiMsv7f3MYCFcUrpgodVqIA4Q&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.choctawnation.com%2Fnews-room%2Fpress-room%2Fmedia-releases%2Fchoctaw-bike-team-encourages-breast-cancer-awareness%2F&ei=CB6mVfjoO8XXmAXWxIKIDg&bvm=bv.97653015,d.eXY&psig=AFQjCNEi8zFFmDRriJ0iC8kBpejk9sc6Iw&ust=1437035987055497

“Among women with the lowest levels of the hormone, the risk of breast cancer was more than three times that of the women with the highest levels of the hormone. This is one of the strongest correlations between cancer risk and a freely circulating biomarker ever described,” said Olle Melander, professor at Lund University, Sweden.

The study that appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, was based on blood samples taken from over 1,900 women. The average age of the women studied was 57. The women were followed up with regard to breast cancer for an average period of 15 years.

The researchers said geographical location and age, in spite of the adjustments in the study, may be significant. After further studies, the results will facilitate prevention and early detection of breast cancer.

For those with an increased risk of breast cancer, potential preventive treatments could take the form of lifestyle interventions to reduce stress and new drugs.

“Our immediate plan is to investigate how to affect the level of enkephalin in healthy individuals. We will do this primarily in a study with a smaller number of women. We are also interested in the hormone’s role in other cancers,” said co-author Mattias Belting and professor at Lund University, Sweden.

( IANS)

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Health System Failure for Cancer Patients in Venezuela

Last year, about 4,700 women in Venezuela became ill with breast cancer, according to the Anticancer Society of Venezuela

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Cancer Patients are not just afraid of the disease itself, but they also fear dying because they cannot find or afford the necessary treatment. Pixabay

A breast cancer diagnosis is terrifying enough at any time. But for 49-year-old Grecia Solis, the arduous choices faced by all cancer patients were complicated by the crippling decline of Venezuela’s public health facilities.

After her diagnosis two years ago, doctors recommended surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Before the oil-producing nation’s steep economic decline of recent years, those services would have been available free of charge or for a nominal fee at a state-run public hospital.

But trained staff, medicines and equipment are in such short supply at those facilities today that a public hospital was no longer an option. Instead, Solis was forced to borrow money from family and friends to pay for her operation at a privately run, for-profit clinic.

Her operation, performed in May 2018, cost her $500, a modest amount by U.S. standards, but a huge sum in Venezuela where hyperinflation has ravaged most people’s savings. With additional financial help from a sister in Ecuador, Solis was able to pay for the recommended eight sessions of chemotherapy, which were completed in December.

Solis’ story is a common one among cancer patients in Venezuela. Patients are not just afraid of the disease itself, but they also fear dying because they cannot find or afford the necessary treatment.

Last year, about 4,700 women in Venezuela became ill with breast cancer, according to the Anticancer Society of Venezuela, although the nation’s health ministry has not produced official figures since 2012. The society reported 2,300 women died last year from the disease, one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among Venezuelan women.

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A breast cancer diagnosis is terrifying enough at any time. Pixabay

Senos Ayuda, an NGO that supports breast cancer patients, estimates the number of patients are even higher, at almost 7,000 a year. And it stresses that treatment, medicine and doctors are becoming ever less accessible with the deepening of the nation’s humanitarian emergency.

The problem is part of a wider crisis in public health facilities. According to several Venezuelan doctors’ organizations, 73% of the country’s operating rooms are out of service or lack supplies and have unsanitary conditions.

A survey conducted by the organization Doctors for Health indicated that 90% of radiotherapy facilities are inoperative, 94% of health centers cannot take an X-ray, and 88% of hospitals have insufficient supplies and medicines. The Anticancer Society of Venezuela has reported that 80% of public radiotherapy equipment has been inoperative in the last year.

Solis says she is frustrated the government of President Nicolas Maduro does not accept that Venezuela is in a humanitarian crisis and has done little to address the problem, leading to avoidable cancer deaths.

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Since 2018, 400,700 women in Venezuela have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. According to the Anti-Cancer Society in Venezuela, getting an accurate numbers of patients is unlikely. Since 2012, the Ministry of Health does not offer official figures. VOA

Another patient, 58-year-old Algeria Dias, was diagnosed with a breast tumor in August 2017. She was able to afford treatment with the help of family, donations, some government help and the sale of the family car, but she says she now she spends every day “going from clinic to clinic, public and private, and see if they have the space or equipment I need to monitor my disease.”

For her part, Solis says she is running out time. She has until December to raise $5,000 to pay for more than 30 additional radiotherapy sessions to prevent the likely return of her cancer.

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“Cancer does not wait. Cancer does not warn and when you have it, it overtakes you. It hurts having the uncertainty of not knowing if you can say, “I am a cancer survivor,” she said. (VOA)