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Breast Cancer: In the News – April 2014

Published on | Kylie Chin

Does obesity increase the risk of breast cancer?

A new study reveals that women with a specific marker in the mTOR gene are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer, and the chances only increase if they are overweight.

According to the study, women with the genetic marker were 70% more likely to have breast cancer than those not carrying the gene. This number increased to 210% for obese or overweight women, a sign that weight gain may contribute to breast cancer.

Researchers recommend daily exercise and weight loss to help lower the risk of developing breast cancer.

mTOR Gene & Cancer

Mammalian Target of Rapamycin, or mTOR, is a protein that controls cell growth and protein synthesis. In the study, obese and overweight women with a genetic marker in the mTOR sequence were eight times more likely than those without the marker to develop estrogen-negative breast cancer, a type of cancer where growth is not stimulated by the presence of estrogen (unlike estrogen-positive breast cancer, where the presence of estrogen promotes cancer growth).

Ting-Yuan David Cheng, a researcher and assistant professor at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., says eating excess calories (also called excess energy intake) triggers the mTOR gene. The function of this important gene in cell growth can stimulate cancer growth as well, explains Cheng.

Learn more here.

Bershan Shaw, author and life coach, beats breast cancer twice—attributes art to her success

Bershan Shaw, a star on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s, “Love in the City,” was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer roughly five years ago after previously beating the disease. Doctors estimated that she had only months to live, but she found a unique way to cope with her diagnosis: art.

“During that time, I was going to museums every day, looking at artists, looking at their struggle. I connected with the artists,” explains Shaw.

Now cancer-free, Shaw is working to help others find their “inner warrior,” a movement that encourages positive thinking and offers support during times of need. To help facilitate her warrior endeavor, Shaw also provides relationship tips, health and wellness advice, and self-improvement workshops on her site, bershan.com.

The cancer survivor believes that the connection found in art gave her the strength to overcome cancer.

“Art really does heal us. I want this to be a movement,” says Shaw. “Don’t be afraid, stand up… You are a warrior.”

Learn more here.

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