GOING GLUTEN-FREE

Gluten is a particular kind of protein that is not found in eggs or meat but is in barley, rye, wheat and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Going gluten-free means avoiding these grains. A gluten-free diet is essential for those who have celiac disease, a condition that causes inflammation in the small intestines, or gluten allergies.  Symptoms of celiac disease include anemia, constipation or diarrhea, bloating, gas, headaches, skin rashes, joint pain and fatigue.

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A DIET FOR HEALTH & WEIGHT LOSS

Have you noticed? Look around and you’ll see a majority of Americans who are either overweight or obese. Look in supermarkets and you’ll see a plethora of food products, many of them processed or high-fat and/or sweet laden.  Consuming such a diet often leads to poor health and weight gain. It is not surprising that the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. A number of diseases, including pre-diabetes, diabetes, stroke and depression, are linked to how we eat .....

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ANTIBIOTICS IN OUR FOOD

Just what is in the food we eat? Considering the food chain, did you know adding antibiotics to food dates back to the 1940s? Antibiotic use has led to a dramatic reduction in illness and death from infectious diseases, yet there is a downside to this practice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others encourage health care professionals and patients to use antibiotics more wisely and seek education and understanding about both the risks and benefits of using them.

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Last February, the FDA approved the drug Palbociclub. When used with the breast cancer drug Letrozole in trials, the combination stopped cancer progression in postmenopausal women with a treatable but incurable type of chronic breast cancer (ER-positive, HER2-negative advanced breast cancer) for an average of 20.2 months, about double the time with just Letrozole alone.


Genetics

Last May, researchers at Cambridge Research Institute found 93 genes whose mutations convert a normal breast cell into a cancer cell. They shared their findings with universities, pharmaceuticals and biotech companies to start developing new drugs. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the European Bioinformatics Institute sequenced the genomes of breast cancer genes. They found five additional genes associated with breast cancer and 13 new mutational signatures that influence tumor development. This shows new causes for cancer and explains why the disease affects certain individuals. It also allows for precision medication individualized for each patient. 


Genes also play a role in whether chemotherapy will work for a patient. Now there is a test to determine this. The Oncotype Dx test analyzes 21 genes in the tumor to see if the cancer is likely to recur and to determine whether chemotherapy will be effective. This will spare thousands of women from undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine last September.

There are an estimated 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, a testament to the more than 25-year decline in mortality, according to the American Cancer Society. Still, 231,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and about 40,000 will die. Fortunately, there have been some exciting breakthroughs in breast cancer detection and treatment recently.


Blood Tests

Last fall, international researchers discovered isotopes carbon-13 and nitrogen-15 in certain proportions in a tissue sample can reveal the presence of cancer. This means doctors may be able to detect breast cancer with a blood test in a few years, according to lead researcher Guilaume Tcherkez. The results were published in the journal Nature. The current “best method” of detection – mammograms – are inaccurate 16 percent of the time, which results in misdiagnoses and false positives. A breast cancer blood test is already in development in France. In the United States, gene-sequencing company Illumina is working on a liquid cancer biopsy that can detect any cancer, enabling early detection. Illumina expects the product to be on the market in three years.


Drugs

Triple-negative breast tumors are aggressive, fast-growing cancers more common in women under 40. They kill a quarter of patients within

LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN BREAST CANCER TREATMENT

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

five years. The drug PIM-1 inhibitor, already in trials for fighting leukemia, attacks cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy. PIM-1 is a molecule found in leukemia patients. Scientists at King's College, London, and the Institute of Cancer Research found the PIM-1 molecule helps triple negative breast cancer cells survive by telling the cancerous cells to ignore “death signals” from toxic chemo drugs. The scientists claim giving the PIM-1 inhibitor can make cancerous cells vulnerable to chemo again. The research findings, funded by the charity Breast Cancer Now, were published in the journal Nature.


Other research found the combination of two cancer drugs, trastuzumab (Herceptic) and lapatinub (Tyverb), eliminated all signs of cancer in 11 percent of patients in 11 days. In 17 percent of the cases, the drug combination caused the tumors to shrink so significantly that chemotherapy was not warranted. The results from this combination further uncovered the role and function of the HER2 protein that halts the growth of a certain type of tumor in one out of 10 breast cancers, according to Science Daily. Better understanding of the HER2 protein revealed the RAS protein is responsible for reactivating HER2. The combination acts as a