RESEARCH

BRCA TESTING 

Now that genetic testing is more reasonable than ten years ago, I am a bit in shock that there is funded research on when a woman should be advised to be tested for BRCA.  It is basic breast 101 if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer you should consider being tested for BRCA. What I find incomprehensible is the fact that as women we are never asked about these tests.  We go to the gynecologist every year (if we have access) and they don't talk about BRCA or ovarian cancer.  I go to the dermatologist and they have never mentioned the link with skin cancer and melanoma.  The eye doctor looked at me like I had two heads when I asked her to check for eye melanoma because of BRCA.  When my father went for prostate cancer follow-up, they flat out told him they don't recommend BRCA testing at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis.  So basically if you have a family history of breast, ovarian, melanoma, Fallopian tube, pancreatic or prostate cancer, you should demand the BRCA test so that you can be proactive with detection.   I.E, you don't need to read this article unless you want to get your undies in a bunch like me (the link is here).

Broccoli promotes healthy gut & Reduces liver toxicity

During chemo I pumped my body full of nutrients.  One of my finds was the power of the little green trees, knows as broccoli.  The latest research from Penn State shows that broccoli may promote a healthy gut and can eliminate digestive issues such as leaky gut and colitis.  The researchers fed two groups of mice broccoli - Group A had a genetic predisposition not to protect against toxins (and inability to maintain a healthy balance in the gut flora), and Group B had a high ability to protect against toxins and maintain a healthy gut flora.  Both groups were given additives that cause digestive issues along with broccoli. The group B didn't suffer the toxicity that group A suffered. 

Many studies on rats have also concluded that broccoli intake can protect the liver from toxicity, however there have been very few studies on humans.  One study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, recently showed that a broccoli sprout extract improves hepatic abnormalities in male subjects. Although the sample size is small, the results clearly indicate that broccoli can produce antioxidant and detoxification enzymes.

During active cancer treatment you are advised not to take supplements throughout your chemo treatment, my main goal was to give my body the right fuel to rebalance itself from the poison that was curing me.  Adding broccoli to a smoothy everyday can greatly support your system.  My liver labs started changing after I started including smoothies into my daily regimen and my liver counts started climbing back to the normal range two weeks after introducing into my diet.  This in itself was motivating to encourage me to add broccoli to a power smoothy.

What else does broccoli do?

  • Cancer prevention

  • Liver Protection

  • Supports to lower Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

  • Anti-aging

  • Aids in Wound Healing

  • Eye Health

  • Improved Hormone Health

  • Increases Fertility

  • Increases Metabolism

  • Increases (Vitamin K,C,A,B6 and Folate, Manganese, Potassium, Calcium and Phosphorus) levels

PARP Inhibitors approved for BRCA+ Breast Cancer

PARP (a substance that blocks and enzyme), also called poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitor, is responsible for repairing damaged DNA.  For BRCA+ individuals, this means that by blocking PARP, cancers cells will not be able to repair their damaged DNA, causing cellular death.  PARP inhibitors are specific in the way they work, and typically do not affect other cells in the body.  

 

In January 2018, the FDA approved PARP inhibitors (Lynparza) for the treatment of breast cancer, specifically metastatic BRCA+, HER-. PARPs are given as part of the treatment plan after the full cycle of platinum based chemo therapy .  PARPs are given orally, which means that patients can take them home and not have as many hospital visits.

The Phase III OlympiAD clinical trial (link is here) , there was a "57% reduction in the risk of progression or death with olaparib versus chemotherapy in patient with HER- breast cancer." 

For those of us with the BRCA mutation at an earlier stage (II or III) there is a clinical trial known as OlympiA that is available post chemo.  I met with the study coordinators in August 2018 and opted not to enroll because I learned about resistance and toxicity.  Don't get me wrong, this drug is changing things, but I need to keep it in my pocket in case I have a reoccurrence, it may be my only defense. 

The major side effects on PARP inhibitors include nausea, anemia, fomiting and fatigue.

New test predicts which BRCA2 gene mutations lead to breast, ovarian cancers

Breast Cancer 2 (BRCA 2 ) is a tumor suppressor gene that produces protein which assists in DNA damage repair.  If there is a mutation in this gene, the DNA can't function properly and combined with environmental toxins and natural radiation leads to a higher risk of cancer.  Women who have this mutation have often chosen (or been misguided by medical professionals) to undergo a bilateral mastectomy or oophorectomy to prevent cancer.  Angelina Jolie brought BRCA 1 to the spotlight in  2013 and opted for preventative mastectomy; this was her choice, but was her was her decision based on correct data? I am thankful she brought BRCA to the spotlight, but after reviewing her statistics, I am not sure they were accurate. What she didn't discuss is that mutations in the BRCA 1 and 2 genes can be anywhere on the gene; there are literally thousands of possibilities with mutations and some of these mutations may prevent the risk of cancer.  So how does a woman know if her mutation increases or decreases the risk?  The truth is that up until now there have been no tests to support a women with decision making.  

 

Mayo Clinic researchers published in the American Journal of Human Genetics have identified which mutations in the BRCA2 gene make women susceptible to developing breast or ovarian cancers.This test is groundbreaking for women who have tested positive for a genetic mutation as knowing the exact mutation can change the statistics... which can change the decision making in terms of breast cancer prevention.  To read the full article click here.

 

  Just to recap about statistics, according to the National Cancer Institute, cancer risks are outlined below (note this information is based on "any" mutation on the BRCA 1 or 2 gene) :

If we know the exact mutation we can be more informed and reduce unnecessary surgeries or take proactive measures to prevent cancer.  If I would have known all of this earlier, I would have caught my cancer earlier.  Our family was unaware that the BRCA2 gene mutation was part of our genetics.  We are still researching the history of this mutation and I will post more information as we learn more.