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Medicine for RA may have effect against breast cancer

Breast cancer may be treatable through blocking an inflammatory protein with the help of a medicine now used against rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is becoming clear from a research study at Linköping University.

The study, published in the scientific periodical Cancer Research, reveals a previously unknown mechanism in breast cancer for the female sex hormone, oestrogen, and the most common medicine for the illness, tamoxifen.

Through the use of the technique of microdialysis on mouse models of human breast cancer, professor Charlotta Dabrosin and her co-workers have shown that the substances affect both cancer cells and macrophages in cancer so that the excretion of the inflammatory protein IL-1 changes.

“IL-1 can be blocked with the naturally occurring IL-1Ra, a substance used for rheumatoid arthritis under the name Kineret. Our study provides a basis for also treating breast cancer with this medicine. Before we can do that, clinical tests are needed that show it is effective and safe for patients with breast cancer,” Dabrosin says.

From the study it is also evident that linseed and certain plant oestrogens from linseed have the same effect, in part. On the other hand, another plant oestrogen, genistein, found chiefly in soy products, has no effect whatsoever on breast cancer growth. It even has effects similar to oestrogen on breast cancer cells.

“All types of dietary supplements with oestrogen-like substances should be avoided if you are suffering from breast cancer. Some of these products risk obstructing recovery and counteracting the medicines we treat patients with. Linseed might possibly be beneficial, but it remains to be shown that it is safe for patients before it can be recommended,” Dabrosin says.

Article: Tamoxifen, flaxseed and the lignan enterolactone increase stroma and cancer cell derived IL-1Ra and decrease tumour angiogenesis in oestrogen dependent breast cancer by Gabriel Lindahl, Niina Saarinen, Anneli Abrahamsson and Charlotta Dabrosin. Cancer Research, 1 Jan 2011.

Article in Cancer Research


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Last updated: 2011-02-09