Wednesday October 24, 2018

Common Plastic Chemical May Increase Breast Cancer Risk

Most breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive, and, according to the National Cancer Institute, 55 to 65 per cent of women who inherit a harmful mutation in the BRCA1 gene -- will develop breast cancer

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Bisphenol S (BPS), a substitute for the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in the plastic industry, acts like estrogen in multiplying breast cancer cells.
Bisphenol S (BPS), a substitute for the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in the plastic industry, acts like estrogen in multiplying breast cancer cells. Pixabay
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An endocrine-disrupting chemical commonly found in polycarbonate hard plastics, currency bills and thermal paper receipts may potentially interfere with the body’s hormones to increase the aggressiveness of breast cancer, a new study has showed.

Bisphenol S (BPS), a substitute for the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in the plastic industry, acts like estrogen in multiplying breast cancer cells.

Most breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive, and, according to the National Cancer Institute, 55 to 65 per cent of women who inherit a harmful mutation in the BRCA1 gene — will develop breast cancer.

“If a woman has a mutated BRAC1 gene and uses products containing BPS, her risk for developing breast cancer may increase further,” said principal investigator, Sumi Dinda, Associate Professor at Oakland University in Michigan.

“Despite hopes for a safer alternative to BPA, studies have shown BPS to exhibit similar estrogen-mimicking behaviour to BPA,” Dinda added.

Cancer
Representational image. Pixabay

The results were presented at ENDO 2017, the Endocrine Society’s 99th annual meeting in Orlando.

For the study, the team used two commercially available breast cancer cell lines obtained from women with estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer, to expose the cancer cells to varying strengths of BPS or to an inactive substance as a control.

Also Read: Blocking Digestive Hormone May Prevent Pancreatic Cancer

Compared with the control, BPS heightened the protein expression in estrogen receptor and BRCA1 after 24 hours, as did estrogen.

After a six-day treatment with BPS, the breast cancer cells in both cell lines reportedly increased in number by 12 per cent at the lowest dose (4 micromolars) and by 60 per cent at eight micromolars. (Bollywood Country)

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Immunotherapy Drugs Show Significant Improvement Against Breast Cancer: Study

Side effects need a close look, both doctors said. Nearly all study participants had typical chemo side effects such as nausea or low blood cell counts.

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Breast Cancer
This undated fluorescence-colored microscope image made available by the National Institutes of Health in September 2016 shows a culture of human breast cancer cells. For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. VOA

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. But the benefit for most women was small, raising questions about whether the treatment is worth its high cost and side effects.

Results were discussed Saturday at a cancer conference in Munich and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have transformed treatment of many types of cancer by removing a chemical brake that keeps the immune system from killing tumor cells. Their discovery recently earned scientists a Nobel Prize. Until now, though, they haven’t proved valuable against breast cancer.

Breast Cancer
Weight loss may lower breast cancer risk for post-menopausal women. Pixabay

In the study

The new study tested one from Roche called Tecentriq plus chemo versus chemo alone in 902 women with advanced triple-negative breast cancer. About 15 percent of cases are this type, their growth is not fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone, or the gene that Herceptin targets, making them hard to treat.

Women in the study who received Tecentriq plus chemo went two months longer on average without their cancer worsening compared with those on chemo alone, a modest benefit. The combo did not significantly improve survival in an early look before long-term follow-up is complete.

Failed protein test

Previous studies found that immunotherapies work best in patients with high levels of a protein that the drugs target, and the plan for the breast cancer study called for analyzing how women fared according to that factor if Tecentriq improved survival overall.

breast cancer
FILE – A patient receives chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at the Antoine-Lacassagne Cancer Center in Nice, July 26, 2012. VOA

The drug failed that test, but researchers still looked at protein-level results and saw encouraging signs. Women with high levels who received the combo treatment lived roughly 25 months on average versus about 15 months for women given chemo alone.

That’s a big difference, but it will take more time to see if there’s a reliable way to predict benefit, said Dr. Jennifer Litton of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She had no role in running the study but enrolled some patients in it and oversees 14 others testing immunotherapies.

“We’re really hopeful that we can identify a group of women who can get a much bigger and longer response,” she said.

Another breast cancer specialist with no role in the study, Dr. Michael Hassett at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said he felt “cautious excitement” that immunotherapy may prove helpful for certain breast cancer patients.

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer cell, Wikimedia Commons

Side effects and cost

Side effects need a close look, both doctors said. Nearly all study participants had typical chemo side effects such as nausea or low blood cell counts, but serious ones were more common with the combo treatment and twice as many women on it stopped treatment for that reason.

Three of the six deaths from side effects in the combo group were blamed on the treatment itself; only one of three such deaths in the chemo group was.

Also Read: New DNA Tool To Predict People’s Height And Risk For Cancer

Cost is another concern. Tecentriq is $12,500 a month. The chemo in this study was Celgene’s Abraxane, which costs about $3,000 per dose plus doctor fees for the IV treatments. Older chemo drugs cost less but require patients to use a steroid to prevent allergic reactions that might interfere with the immunotherapy. Abraxane was chosen because it avoids the need for a steroid, said one study leader, Dr. Sylvia Adams of NYU Langone Health.

The study was sponsored by Roche and many study leaders consult or work for the company or own stock in it. (VOA)