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Eye on Research — Fall 2005
by Sandra L. Cross, Zero Breast Cancer Board Member

The following updates and discussions of selected studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, media reviews and other sources are not intended to be a statement of final scientific truth. It generally takes several peer-reviewed studies reaching the same conclusion before a theory is accepted as scientific truth. The discussions below are updates and reports on selected studies of interest to breast cancer advocates.


The Effects of Antidepressants on Tamoxifen

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2005: 97:30-39), published a preliminary finding that some cancer patients taking certain antidepressant drugs, i.e. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, often prescribed for their anti-hot flash effects, may be reducing their bodiesí response to Tamoxifen. The researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan, demonstrating scientific caution, were quoted as saying that “Thereís no evidence from this study that a woman who is taking tamoxifen should automatically stop using a particular antidepressant if it is helping her . . . but it may be advisable to switch to a different antidepressant in some cases.” Consult your health provider for more information.


The List Gets Longer

On February 1, 2005, the same day that the New York Times published an article by Jane E. Brody revealing that cancer has replaced heart disease as the leading killer of Americans, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the latest Report on Carcinogens from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added 17 new known and suspected carcinogens. Among the new and suspected carcinogens were x-rays, some viruses, lead and lead compounds, toilet bowl deodorants, chemicals in textile dyes, paints and inks. The list also includes heterocyclic amine compounds (byproducts of foods cooked at high temperatures from grilling or barbecuing), and furan (the substance that is released when non-stick pans are heated). The Report can be found on the website of the National Toxicology Program.


The Good, The Bad, and the Plastic

We all carry those plastic water bottles, and we know they leach carcinogenic chemicals into the water we drink.

The March Issue of the Green Guide lists plastics to Avoid:

  • #3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), an endocrine disruptor and plastic softener;
  • #6 Polystyrene (PS), another endocrine disruptor; and
  • #7 Polycarbonate (contains bisphenol-A), which can leach out of heated plastic, and is unfortunately a common ingredient in baby bottles, sport bottles and five-gallon water jugs.

Listed as Better Plastics were:

  • #1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE), the safest and common material for sport bottles. Concentrations of carcinogens in bottled spring water increase after 9 months of storage in a PET bottle.
  • #2 High density Polyethylene, and #4 Low Density Polyethylene,
  • #5 Polypropylene

For baby bottles choose tempered glass, or opaque plastic made of #5 or #1 which do not contain bisphenol-A. As a general rule, donít recycle sport bottles. Choose rigid reusable containers or for hot liquids, use thermoses with stainless steel or ceramic interiors.


Vitamin E Supplements: No longer the perfect antioxidant?

Many people religiously take their vitamin E supplements, frequently touted as a powerful antioxidant, and heart health protector. After reviewing recent articles on the efficacy of Vitamin E, the University of California Wellness Newsletter has removed the vitamin from its list of recommended supplements. The conclusions from its review were that there was no clear indication that the supplements provided any benefit, and in fact there was a slight indication of a higher death rate with long term consistent use. In summary, the article said that if the benefit was so hard to prove, perhaps the supplement should be avoided and natural sources of vitamin E, such as leafy green vegetables and nuts and whole grains should be taken instead.


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