Category Archives: cancer

Why naked mole rats never get cancer

ImageArguably this is not the most adorable creature you have ever seen. But, the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) displays exceptional longevity, with a maximum lifespan exceeding 30 years. In human years (relative to body size as naked mole rats) that is 600 years!

In addition to their longevity, naked mole rats, these subterranean African mammals, show an unusual resistance to cancer. Multi-year observations of large naked mole-rat colonies did not detect a single incidence of cancer! The authors found that the extracellular matrix in naked mole rats is rich in a substance that stops cancers growing. The magic ingredient is a polysaccharide called hyaluronan, which acts as a lubricant in the body. This particular hyaluronan is an extremely high-molecular-mass hyaluronan (HA), which is over five times larger than human or mouse HA. Image

By manipulating the pathways that lead to the build-up of high-molecular-mass hyaluronan in cells, the authors showed that if we prevent the naked mole rats from making high-molecular-mass hyaluronan then tumours can be grown.

This study was published in June 2013 in the journal Nature by Tian et al, “High-molecular-mass hyaluronan mediates the cancer resistance of the naked mole rat”.

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“Five” – short films about breast cancer’s impact air tonight

Jen Aniston, Demi Moore, Alicia Keys, Penelope Spheeris & Patty Jenkins direct short films abt breast cancer’s impact.
“Five” airs tonight at mylifetimetv.

The groundbreaking original movie “Five” is an anthology of five short films exploring the impact of breast cancer on people’s lives. “Five” highlights the shared experience each short film’s title character endures from the moment of diagnosis, through an interconnected story arc that uses humor and drama to focus on the effect breast cancer and its different stages of diagnosis have on relationships and the way women perceive themselves while searching for strength, comfort, medical breakthroughs and, ultimately, a cure.

What is breast cancer?

Your cells have a normal cycle of birth, life, and death. Normally, new cells are generated only when they are needed. When the cells stop dying and replicate uncontrollably, they create a mass of tissue, which is called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign (not cancerous). If however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don’t function like the body’s normal cells, the tumor is called malignant (cancerous).

Therefore, cancer is not a disease caused by an external organism, such as a virus or bacteria, but they are your own cells growing uncontrollably and obstructing the function of normal tissues and organs.

Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate, so breast cancer originates from breast cancer cells. Like other cancers, breast cancer cells can invade surrounding tissues and also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.

Facts about breast cancer

Here is some data taken from here and here:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, after skin cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer — and is the leading cause of cancer death among women ages 35 to 54.
  • Today, approximately 1 in almost every 8 women (13.4%) will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Only 5% to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are “sporadic,” meaning there is no direct family history of the disease.
  • The risk for developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages.
  • $13.9 billion is spent every year in breast cancer treatments in the US alone.
  • And the good news: There are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the US.
  • Women can lower their risk of breast cancer by lowering alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy wait. Getting regular screens can result in early detection, which increases the chance of survival.

Many thanks to the makers of this film for showing that breast cancer awareness is so much more than wearing a pink ribbon!!!

Be an advocate and get screened.  Do self exams.  Donate to cancer research. Learn what your own risks are and how best to prevent or minimize your risks.  We can all make a real difference.

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