On the pulse 18 December 2013

  • Awareness Event at the Vietnam Laos Cambodia Community Centre
  • Cancerkin Christmas Opening Hours
  • Study shows that taking anastrozole daily could significantly reduce the likelihood of developing breast cancer

Awareness Event at the Vietnam Laos Cambodia Community Centre
Last week, Anisah visited the Vietnam Laos Cambodia Community Centre in Hackney to give a talk on the importance of being breast aware.

She spoke to a group of 28 men and women, all of whom were very receptive, with lots of questions and laughter, and a real interest in the breast awareness message. The Centre kindly provided a translator for us to ensure that everyone who attended could fully understand our message, and the importance of being breast aware.

We would like to thank everyone who attended and particularly Jenny who not only invited us to talk but also translated for us.

If you know of a community or religious group that would benefit from a breast awareness talk, please contact Anisah on 020 7830 2310 or eastldn@cancerkin.org.uk.

Cancerkin Christmas Opening Hours
The Cancerkin Centre will be closed from Monday 23 December 2013 until Friday 3 January 2014 (inclusive). We will be back in full swing for the New Year from Monday 6 January 2014!

Study shows that taking anastrozole daily could significantly reduce the likelihood of developing breast cancer
Research published in the Lancet has found that a drug, anastrozole, can halve the likelihood of women at high risk of breast cancer from developing the disease.

Scientists based at Queen Mary University of London followed 3,864 postmenopausal women who, based on family history, were at high risk of developing breast cancer. Half of these women were given 1mg of anastrozole a day while the rest received a placebo. In the five years of the study, only 40 of the women in the anastrozole group developed breast cancer, compared to 84 women who were given no treatment. They concluded that women who took anastrozole for five years were 53% less likely to develop breast cancer.

Anastrozole works by stopping the production of the hormone oestrogen, which is known to fuel the growth of most breast cancers, and is already used to treat postmenopausal women with oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Anastrozole is cheap, as the patent has run out on the drug, with a five-year course of treatment costing £137. However, as anastrozole cannot prevent the ovaries from producing oestrogen it is only effective on woman after the menopause.

Earlier this year the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that tamoxifen and raloxifene should be offered to women at high risk of breast cancer over the age of 35. These drugs also work by blocking oestrogen activity. However, the side effects of these drugs do include increased the risk of womb cancer and deep vein thrombosis alongside aches, pains and hot flushes. This study found, however, that the woman who took anastrozole had virtually no side effects, on top of being more effective and cheaper.

Professor Jack Cuzick, the lead researcher, said: “We now know anastrozole should be the drug of choice when it comes to reducing the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with a family history or other risk factors for the disease. This class of drugs is more effective than previous drugs such as tamoxifen and crucially, it has fewer side-effects.”

For more information, please see BBC Online, the Guardian or Cancer Research UK.

On the pulse 12 December 2013

  • The Big Give
  • Cancerkin Christmas Opening times
  • New method of secondary breast cancer study discovered by Breakthrough Breast Cancer scientists


The Big Give
We would like to thank all of our kind supporters who responded to our Big Give plea in last week’s On the pulse. I am delighted to announce that we easily meet our target of £10,000, raising £12,645. It really was lovely to see the generosity of our supporters and was a lovely early Christmas present for Cancerkin! All the money raised will go towards continuing our complementary therapy and support services throughout 2014.


Cancerkin Christmas opening hours
The Cancerkin Centre will be closed from Monday 23 December 2013 until Friday 3 January 2014 (inclusive). We will be back in full swing for the New Year from Monday 6 January 2014!

New way to study secondary breast cancer discovered by Breakthrough Breast Cancer scientists
Scientists at Breakthrough Breast Cancer have found a new way to look at the mechanisms that cause breast cancer cells to spread to the bone.


The majority of breast cancer deaths occur once breast cancer cells have metastasised, or spread to other parts of the body. This is also known as secondary breast cancer. Research has recently shown that cancerous cells might migrate from their original site earlier than previously thought, and then lie ‘dormant’ for a period of time.  The study, published in Cancer Research, created an experimental model which recreated the conditions which cause metastatic breast cancer cells to reside dormant in bone, which has enabled the scientists to learn more about how breast cancer can spread. Ultimately, it is hoped that this research could help to prevent the progression of metastatic breast cancer.

Dr Matthew Lam, Research Officer at Breakthrough, said: “This new method will help scientists unravel the processes that control movement of cancer cells into the bone so it can be detected early, which really is the key to stopping metastasis before it takes hold.”

For more information, please see Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

On the pulse 5 December 2013

  • The Big Give
  • Christmas Tombola
  • Study proves link between high cholesterol and increase risk of breast cancer

The Big Give
The Big Give is two thirds of the way through and we still have £3,000 to go to meet our target!

The Big Give Christmas Challenge gives supporters the opportunity to double any donations they make online to Cancerkin via to our Big Give page; for every £1 donated, our generous supporters at the Padwa Charitable Foundation and the Big Give itself will contribute another £1. Our target is to raise £5,000 (which means we could receive an incredible £10,000). However, we have only raised £2,000 (which has been matched to £4,000)so far.

Every pound counts in this unique fundraising event so we do hope you are able to support us on the final day tomorrow (7th December). Matched funds are limited, so please click here Big Give page and donate at 10am tomorrow to make sure your generosity goes twice as far.

If you have any questions, please contact Holly, either on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or by calling 0207 830 2323. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Christmas Tombola
Our annual Christmas Tombola was held in the Royal Free Hospital this week, and we had some excellent prizes on offer: meals at local restaurants, a haircut, photo sessions at Snappy Snaps Hampstead, hot drinks from Costa, luxury chocolates, champagne and much, much more. The delight shown by many of the winners was wonderful to see and we thank all the local businesses, supporters and patients who generously gave us prizes.

As well as the Tombola, we also sold donated goods, including jewellery which had been handmade for us, and ran a used book stall. Finally, we gave out mince pies to people passing by to bring a little festive cheer! We do have a few books left over, and we will be selling these from our waiting room; do drop in and have a browse!

The Tombola and stall were mobbed all day and we are very grateful to our brilliant volunteers who keep everything running so smoothly. It is thanks to their efforts that this year was such an amazing success.

All the proceeds raised will go towards our complementary therapy and support programme, directly benefiting people diagnosed with breast cancer. We would like to thank everyone who contributed (by either donating goods or helping on the day), as well as the Royal Free Hospital, who kindly allowed the space to hold the tombola free of charge.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Study proves link between high cholesterol and increased risk of breast cancer
A study published in Science has found evidence for a link between high levels of cholesterol and the spread of breast cancer. While previous studies have shown that elevated cholesterol is associated with a higher breast cancer risk, this is the first study to explain the mechanism behind this.

Previous work has shown obesity is a major risk factor for breast cancer, as the fat in overweight people can produce hormones such as oestrogen, which drive the growth of cancers. Now researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute in the US have found that cholesterol can have a similar effect.

When cholesterol is broken down in the body, it produces a particular product called 27HC. In this study, the scientists injected 27HC daily into mice with breast cancer and found that their tumours grew much faster than the tumours in mice which hadn’t been treated.

The researchers believe that 27HC mimics the behaviour of oestrogen in the body, encouraging the spread of breast cancer by switching on two receptor molecules that promote tumour growth and spread.

Prof Donald McDonnell , chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke, said: “A lot of studies have shown a connection between obesity and breast cancer, and specifically that elevated cholesterol is associated with breast cancer risk, but no mechanism has been identified.

“What we have now found is a molecule – not cholesterol itself, but an abundant metabolite of cholesterol – called 27HC that mimics the hormone oestrogen and can independently drive the growth of breast cancer.”

While this is an interesting result, no definite conclusions can be drawn yet regarding the reduction of cholesterol levels.  Dr Emma Smith, the science communications officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “As the research was only done in the lab, it’s a long way from showing that taking statins [a cholesterol-reducer] will lower a woman’s chances of developing the disease.  As things stand, until we know more about the effects of statins on cancer risk, the best ways to cut the risk of developing breast cancer are to stay a healthy weight, cut down on alcohol and keep active.”

For more information, please see Cancer Research UK or BBC News Online.