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Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women worldwide, and is the leading cause of death for women age 40 to 55. Approximately 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and more than 90 percent of those women have no family history of the disease. Mammography is the current recommended screening tool, but with it’s high rate of false positives and increased risk of cancer just from its ionizing radiation, experts are recommending against it.
A promising new screening that uses only a drop of blood detected more than 95 percent of breast cancers in recent worldwide studies, and shed groundbreaking new light on how it develops. Breast cancer, much like diabetes, is a metabolic disorder.
The scenario goes like this – you go for your routine mammogram and are told an area of concern has been found. There’s a lump that needs to be biopsied and you are referred to a surgeon. While you wait days or even weeks for your appointment, the stress, worry, and even panic begin to build. You research everything you can and lean on your support network.
You have the surgery and are sore and scared. You can’t think of anything else and lose sleep waiting for the biopsy results. In the meantime, you continue researching and find concerns over biopsies – their accuracy is controversial and they’ve been shown to spread cancer that was previously contained in a lump. But you trust your doctors so you don’t give it another thought.
The results come and it’s not cancer – what a relief, right? Wrong! You’ve just experienced what it’s like to be a “false positive” in mammography screening. Your quality of life has been affected and you received unnecessary, invasive treatment associated with the screening. In some cases, this unnecessary treatment extends into more surgery, plus radiation and/or chemotherapy, because of the inaccuracy of the biopsy and its interpretation.
While the statistics vary wildly between studies, depending on your age group, up to 56.7 percent of women experience a false positive result from a mammogram in a 4-year period. This means as many as 1 in 2 women will be told they may have cancer when they actually don’t.
Some might see this as acceptable risk when so many lives are saved by mammograms, but actually, this isn’t the case. In a study published in the September 2010 New England Journal of Medicine, mammograms reduced cancer death rates by only 0.4 deaths per 1000 women. This means 2500 women have to be screened over 10 years for a single breast cancer death to be avoided. And the worst part? All that targeted, ionizing radiation may actually cause breast cancer.
We started screening for breast cancer using radiography in the 1960s and mammogram came into more routine use in the 1980s. Since we started, breast cancer rates have increased from 1 in 20 women to 1 in 8 women today. While a number of factors are involved in that increased incidence, one that has to be taken into consideration is the exposure to radiation from the mammograms themselves.
Studies over the years have shown that between 1 and 10 percent of all breast cancers are caused by the radiation from repeated mammograms. The increased rates are seen in women under 40, women with larger breasts, and women with more than 35 screenings in her lifetime. Despite being advertised as “low dose” radiation, the average mammogram has the equivalent radiation of 1000 chest x-rays, and is being targeted to a smaller, more sensitive tissue in the body.
As more experts become aware of the risks of mammography, recommendations are being changed to less frequent screening. Just the change from yearly mammograms to every other year cut the rate of radiation-induced breast cancer in half for women age 40-74. If you are looking for more reliable ways to detect breast cancer, 70 percent of breast cancers are found through breast self-exam, so that’s a good place to start. But, a new, promising screening test is on the horizon, with more than 95% accuracy, and it only requires a drop of your blood.
In a groundbreaking study done by an international team of 35 researchers from 17 sites spanning 3 continents, breast cancer was found to be a metabolic disorder, with similarities to diabetes.
“This suggests that cancer is not a genetic disease arising solely from mutations as we have all been taught, but instead a metabolic condition that develops under the stress of cellular nutrient deprivation,” said Robert Nagourney, MD, senior author of the study. “Cells that cannot generate enough energy due to lack of oxygen, sugars or proteins, common to many cancers, use altered metabolic pathways to ensure their survival. Unfortunately these cancer cells’ success comes at the expense of the host patient.”
What this means is cancer cells “talk” to each other and all the surrounding cells by using chemical signals like byproducts of metabolism. They trick blood vessels, immune cells, and connective tissues into participating and even contributing to the development of cancer. Breast cancer patients have specific changes to their metabolism that not only set them up for the cancer, but can be detected in their blood with more than 95 percent accuracy.
The researchers examined and tested more than 200 different chemicals in the blood to prove that there are distinct metabolic differences between cancer patients and people without cancer that can be detected in a single drop of blood. This is in sharp contrast to the current cancer model that says cancer is caused by genetic mutations. Instead, this research shows that cancer cells borrow mutated and non-mutated cellular pathways to overcome any limitations in their nutrient supply. It explains how obesity, lifestyle, and diet all contribute to the formation of cancer.
This research provides an entirely new approach to early detection and diagnosis, and gives researchers a whole new direction to turn when looking for new prevention and treatment strategies. Right now, this detection method is limited to breast cancer and is not in mainstream use, but studies are underway looking to extend this technique into detection of other types of cancers.
Once again, the science of epigenetics, which looks at the environment our cells are in, is proving that when it comes to cancer, it’s more about your diet, your lifestyle, and the toxins you come in contact with and eliminate, than it is about your genes. Less than 10 percent of breast cancers are genetic. If you’re ready to cancer-proof your diet and lifestyle, then you need my new book, I Used to Have Cancer. In it, I share my story of overcoming cancer naturally and staying cancer-free and healthy for more than 30 years.
The post Groundbreaking in Cancer News: Early Breast Cancer Detection appeared first on Your Health Keys.