Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Reader

“Life style, hormones, and risk of breast cancer” was surprising yet it makes sense. This study found a strong link between higher energy intake and breast cancer. They concluded that an increase in physical activity and a decrease in caloric intake can reduce the risk for ovarian cancer. It makes sense yet it is surprising because cancer is thought of as this enigma of a disease that just happens. Cancer is not usually thought about in terms of prevention, and for prevention to be so simple as a healthy diet and physical activity makes cancer less terrifying. “Evolutionary foundations for cancer biology” discussed very complex and scientific processes that at times went straight over my head. I am having trouble responding to this article. I assumed cancer was extremely complex but I have never had it explained to me. One thing I found particularly alarming was that chemotherapy allows for resistant cells to become even more resistant and more prevalent. I always considered chemotherapy to be a barbaric and unsuccessful way to treat cancer because it commonly comes back. Since chemotherapy essentially helps cancer cells thrive, maybe doctors should try something else? Low-dose chemotherapy, as described in the article, seems to have better outcomes. Similarly, I felt it is interesting that size seems to affect cancer outcomes, if one is taller one is at a higher risk for cancer. The fact that evidence of cancer was found in mummies proves that cancer is not a product of recent times is contrary to the belief that cancer is something relatively new. There were many things in this article that were interesting and compelling, I learned a great deal. 


  1. I understand your surprise on how much preventative measures of all sorts of things can make a difference in the well-being of a person. I also understand why some may think cancer just happens, as it can arise in what appear to be the healthiest of folk. I, however, am bombarded by people telling me "Oh don't do that. It might cause cancer," or "If you do this, you'll decrease your chances!" I hear these things often, especially the first one. Personally, it makes me cringe because I believe it's not all that accurate. As we've learned, everyone has cancer cells. Outside factors such as lack of physical activity don't cause cancer (that's silly), they are simply a factor in the emergence. And even then, some people are more likely to have cancer cell expression with the addition of cancer running in the family.

    The fact that there are so many things that increase the chances of cancer cell emergence, is terrifying. It makes me realize just how susceptible my body is to cancer with the plethora of things that can factor into its expression. But the fact that there are so many measures I can take to lower my chances is a relief as well.

    Also, I agree with your point on low-does chemotherapy. It's a controversial matter, but personally I would rather live with it, then die trying (I have a massive fear of dying). But then again, I say this now but if I were to ever go through such a life-altering experience, I might choose differently.

  2. I also thought of cancer as something that just happens, since I assumed that we all had cancerous cells with in us, but some of those cells would end up dieing while others would multiply and become harmful to the individual carrying them. Which is why I found it interesting that taking in more energy could actually increase your chance of getting cancer, since increased energy levels increase certain levels of hormones. One thing that I had also never known before was that certain hormone, such as progesterone and testosterone, help in the development of cancer. Which makes sense why an earlier age of menarche can also lead to cancer development, because then you will be going through more cycles that create more opportunities for a mutation to occur. The problem that we have with chemotherapy, which doesn’t kill off all cancer cells, since our cancer cells are very heterogeneous within themselves, reminded me of the problem we now have with antibiotics. Most antibiotics also are not able to kill all strains of bacteria, and the resistant strands end up being more aggressive and deadly. This can be compared to cancer treatment, since the resistant cells that are left behind can replicate and move to new regions that are now made available by the nonresistant cells. This is why I agree with you that doctors should try adaptive therapy, but I'm not quite sure how we would be able to convince the patient about this therapy, because they probably just want to be cancer free.

  3. To be honest I am not quite sure where I stand in terms of my beliefs of what causes cancer. A part of me agrees that a healthy diet has a good correlation with less chances of cancer. I also think that this is one of the main reasons why industrial communities have higher chances of cancer. My reason for thinking this is that with the speed and business that comes with an industrialized city we forget about/don’t have time for things such as a healthy diet. In cities such as this it is much more likely that people will eat fast food or processed food as opposed to organic, fresh foods. Due to this I could see how people in this environment have a better chance at getting cancer than those who have access to healthier foods.

    The part that I disagree on is that more physical activity decreases chances of cancer. Although it would make sense due to the fact that the individual would be healthier, there are many circumstance where no correlation is seen. I myself have witnessed elderly individuals who are constantly participating in marathons suffer from cancer. My reason for not supporting this correlation is the fact that no matter how physically active someone is they cannot escape from the harmful risks in our environment.

    I definitely agree with the second comment regarding using a different method of therapy to treat cancer. The only problem I see with this however is that people have a very big fear of cancer and would not want to risk undergoing a therapy that could possibly not work.