In a report published in volume 52, issue 1 2005 of the journal Nutrition and Cancer (http://www.leaonline.com/loi/nc) researchers at the University of California Los Angeles showed that adding vitamin E to different breast cancer cell lines helps suppress cell proliferation in response to estrogen.
The researchers tested alpha-tocopherol on two estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer cell lines and on two lines that were estrogen-receptor negative. They found that the vitamin inhibited cell growth dose-dependently in all lines, but while the maximum inhibition in the two estrogen-receptor positive lines was 53 and 75 percent, vitamin E inhibited cell growth by just 14 and 8 percent in the estrogen-receptor negative lines.
To determine if the effect observed in the first two lines was due to a change in estrogen response, they tested the effect of several concentrations of vitamin E in response to varying concentrations of estrogen in the estrogen-receptor positive lines. They found that the growth stimulation induced by the highest concentration of estrogen was decreased in one of the cell lines by 69 percent and in the other by 84 percent by the most potent concentration of vitamin E. When the estrogen responsive cells were grown in an estrogen-deprived medium, vitamin E failed to inhibit cell growth.
The authors remarked that their study is one of the first to report vitamin E's effect on breast cancer cell estrogen response. They note that vitamin E has been shown to diminish breast tenderness and breast cyst size in up to 90 percent of women with benign proliferative breast disease, and as breast tissue hyperplasia is a risk factor for breast cancer, reducing the condition might help prevent cancer. They write, “Vitamin E may be a new nonsteroidal environmental antiestogren, and a dietary supplementation of vitamin E may be a preventive measure for breast cancer."
Breast nodules are a frequently presented gynecologic complaint. These nodules have two chief causes: benign breast disease and cancer. However, benign breast disease is the most common cause of nodules and can stem from cyst formation, obstructed ducts, inflammation, or infection.
Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD) is a condition generally characterized by lumps that move freely in the breast tissue and vary in texture and size (Lark 1996). However, because the clinical signs of breast cancer are not easily distinguished from benign breast conditions, all breast lumps should be examined by a physician and not be assumed to be benign. Only a physician can determine the nature of breast lumps or changes (National Cancer Institute 2001a).
Because FBD is a benign condition, it usually does not lead to breast cancer (American Cancer Society 1991, 1997; National Cancer Institute 2001b). Fortunately, only about 5% of FBD cases involve the type of changes that would be considered a risk factor for developing breast cancer. However, benign conditions may eventually result in calcifications (Anon. 1998). Calcifications are quite small--sometimes as small as a grain of salt--and cannot be detected during a routine exam; however, calcifications may be detected by routine mammography. Since calcifications may be associated with some types of pre-malignant lesions, it is important to follow your physician's recommendations concerning the frequency of mammography (AMA 1989).
Borage and flaxseed oils modulate inflammatory prostaglandins (Mancuso et al. 1997; Belch et al. 2000), often giving considerable relief to FBD symptoms. It may take 4-6 weeks before there is noticeable improvement. Nonetheless, treatment should be continued for 4-8 months.
Since 1965, using vitamin E has been recommended by some researchers for treatment of FBD (Abrams 1965). However, researchers are not unified concerning the use of vitamin E to successfully treat or manage FBD and evidence has been inconclusive. Vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol has corrected abnormal estrogen-progesterone ratios in some patients with mammary dysplasia (London et al. 1981).
Omega-6 fatty acids are well supplied in the diet by meat and vegetable oils. However, not all omega-6 fatty acids are of equal value. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), found in evening primrose oil, borage oil, and black currant oil is an important fatty acid that plays a beneficial role in healthy prostaglandin formation.
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