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BREAST CANCER AND ANTIBIOTICS
Do vital drugs boost risk of breast cancer? - Antibiotics may increase chances
ROBSTEIN - Special to The Toronto Star
February 17, 2004
Antibiotic use is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, a new study has found, raising the possibility that women
who take the widely used medicines are more prone to one fo the most feared malignancies.
The first-of-its-kind study of more than 10,000 Washington state women concluded that those who used the most antibiotics had double
the chances of being struck by breast cancer.
The US study also found that the increased risk was consistent for all forms of antibiotics and that the risk went up with the number
But experts cautioned that the findings should not stop women from taking he often lifesaving drugs when they need them to treat
infections. There could be other explanantions for the association, and much more research is needed before scientists can understand
what the surprising results mean.
"This is not saying that women should stop taking antibiotics. Women should take antibiotics for infections," said Stephen Taplin, a
senior scientist at the National Cancer Institute, who helped conduct the study.
"But we need to follow up and find out if this is a real association".
Nevertheless, the study was so well designed and the findings so striking it could mean antibiotics use is an important, previously
unrecognised, risk factor for breast cancer, experts said.
Antibiotics could increase the risk for breast cancer by, for example, affecting the bacteria in the digestive system in ways that
interfere with the metabolism of foods that protect against cancer, experts said. Another possibility is that antibiotics boost the risk
by affecting the immune system or the body's inflammatory respnse.
Even if it turns out antibiotics do not increase the risk for breast cancer, the finding is liely to turn out to be important because it
could lead to the discovery of whatever it is about women who use drugs that also appears to make them prone to the disease, researchers
said. "This has opened up a picture that people had not been thinking about," Taplin said.
Until the results are sorted out, experts said, the findings provide yet another reason for doctors to more judiciously prescribe antibiotics,
which are often used unnecessarily, especially for women who may be at risk for breast cancer for other reasons.
"It's a very provocative finding but it's not entirely clear what it means," Roberta Ness, an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh,
who co-authored an editorial accompanying the studyin this week's Journal of the American Medical Association. "I think a cautious
interpretation is very reasonable."
The researchers took pains to try to find other explanations for the association, such as the possibility that women who take antibiotics are
more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer because they see doctors more often. But the association remained even after they excluded that
and all of the other most likely possibilities.
The study's design, however, made it impossible to rule out the chances that women sho tend to use the medicines are somehow biologically predisposed
to breast cancer for other reasons, such as by having weak immune systems or a hormonal imbalance that is the real cause of both their increased
risk for breast cancer and for infections that prompted antibiotic use.
Scientists first proposed antibiotics may increase the risk for breast cancer in 1981. The only othe study to look at the question was in Finland
in 2000. That study also found a link, but it was not as well designed, prompting the new research.
The researchers examined computerized pharmacy and cancer screening records of 2,266 women in Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-area health plan,
who developed breast cancer, and 7,953 similar women who did not get breast cancer.
Women who had more than 25 individual prescriptions for antibiotics over an average period of 17 years had twice the risk of breast cancer as those
who had taken no antibiotics. The risk was lower for women who took fewer antibiotics, but even those who had between one and 25 prescriptions were
about 1.5 times more likely to get breast cancer, the researchers found.
The study "raises as many questions as it answers," said Marilyn Schneider, executive director of the Canadian Breast Cancer Reserach Alliance.
"Does antibiotics use cause the cancer or are there other underlying factors causing it?" she asked. "Even more important .... is it due to the use
of antibiotics or the conditions for which the antibiotics were prescribed in the first place?"
The good news to the study is that it has raised so many questions I am sure it will spur further research and hopefully Canadian research that will
clarify and get at the causes." Schneider todl the Star's Elaine Carey.
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Canadian women, accounting for almost a third of all cancer cases. An estimated 21,100 women
developed breast cancer last year and 5,300 died from it.
Recommended Osumex products:
LB17 "live" probiotic to help ensure that there is a good balance of friendly
bacteria in the digestive system to help break down and absorb food consumed. It will ensure that the body gets all the essential nutrients
Concentrated Natural Organic Flax Hulls is a very good dietary fibre as it contains both soluble and insoluble fibres.
It is totally natural and suitable for vegetarians as well as "raw foods" practitioners. In addition the Flax Hulls provide you with the
recommended daily value of Vitamin B12. At the same time they contain lignans, which are great immune system boosters,
reduces free radical activity in the body and support the prevention of prostate, bowel and breast cancers. Used with LB17 will
ensure that the lignans are absorbed efficiently by the body and helps reduce gas and bloating usually associated
with a high fibre diet.
See below for a sample of Fortified Flax Hulls (1st pic) and Flax Hulls (2nd pic)
Each jar contains 180gm of fortified flax hulls or 150gm of flax hulls
The above information is provided for general
educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace competent
health care advice received from a knowledgeable healthcare professional.
You are urged to seek healthcare advice for the treatment of any
illness or disease.
The Food Standard Agency UK has not evaluated these
statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent