April 9th, 2013
12:41 PM ET
Although drinking alcohol is known to be a risk factor for developing breast cancer, a new study suggests that alcohol may not have any effect on whether you survive the disease. In fact, researchers found that being a moderate drinker may actually improve your chances of survival.
"The results of the study showed there was no adverse relationship between drinking patterns before diagnosis and breast cancer survival," said Polly Newcomb, director of the cancer prevention program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the lead author of the study.
"We actually found that relative to non-drinkers there were modestly improved survival rates for moderate alcohol intake."
February 26th, 2013
04:02 PM ET
Diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in women younger than 40 has increased 2% a year, every year, from 1976 to 2009, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The increase was seen in women aged 25 to 39 of all races and ethnicities, living in both rural and urban areas.
It's a devastating diagnosis, particularly because a woman younger than 40 who is diagnosed with breast cancer is more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease and face lower survival rates.
But for perspective, the overall population of women who are affected still remains small. FULL POST
November 14th, 2012
06:02 PM ET
While breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among American women, the number of patients dying from the disease continues to decline. That's the good news; the bad news is that those statistics do not look so good for African-American women.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that large gaps between black and white women in terms of mortality and stage of diagnosis continue to persist.
Black women still have a disproportionately higher breast cancer death rate - 41% higher than white women. This finding is based on 2005 to 2009 data, showing that even though African-American women have a lower incidence of breast cancer, they are more likely to die of this disease than women in any other racial or ethnic group. FULL POST
October 26th, 2012
07:15 AM ET
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as you might have gathered from pink ribbons and fundraising events in your community.
Many CNN commenters expressed skepticism about the so-called “pinkwashing” of October, echoing the sentiments of some women quoted in my recent article who don't feel connected to all of the awareness efforts.
October 25th, 2012
04:01 PM ET
Christina Applegate, star of the television comedy “Up All Night,” has talked openly about her experience with breast cancer.
Still, the actress wishes she hadn’t been outed to the world in 2008 before the anesthetic from her mastectomy surgery even wore off.
“The good thing is that we got the information out,” Applegate says in this month’s edition of MORE magazine. “But talking about the facts of the disease, I didn’t have to see what was going on with me. I think when it slowed down, all of that came crashing down.”
April 30th, 2012
05:59 PM ET
When to get a mammogram screening? Beginning at age 40? 50? Every year or every other year? Recommendations over the past few years have been varied depending on which medical organization you look at. Now two new studies suggest that women who are at increased risk for breast cancer will benefit from mammogram screenings every other year starting at age 40.
April 3rd, 2012
03:24 PM ET
New research reveals that women who take any type of hormone replacement therapy for longer than 10 years may increase their risk of breast cancer.
Some women still use hormone replacement therapy to help ease unpleasant symptoms of menopause, which can include hot flashes, night sweats and memory problems.
Estrogen plus progesterone is prescribed for women who still have a uterus because research has shown that progesterone decreases the risk for cancer in the uterus lining. Women who no longer have a uterus because they’ve had a hysterectomy are treated with estrogen-only therapy.
Over the past decade research has gone back and forth about these drugs, raising concerns about their impact on breast cancer and heart disease. A study published just last month suggested estrogen might be good for you in the short term, but a new study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference in Chicago this week is the first study to examine the effects of hormone replacement therapy for longer than 10 years.
January 4th, 2012
02:55 PM ET
A new report from the American Cancer Society shows that death rates from cancer have been going down since 1999, with the risk of death from cancer declining by more than 1% in both men and women. About 1 million deaths from cancer have been avoided since around 1991.
That sounds promising, but it's not as good as it could be, says Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society and CNNHealth.com conditions expert.
December 7th, 2011
06:50 PM ET
Catholic nuns take a vow of chastity, so you might not think that any sister would need to be on birth control.
But oral contraceptive pills have other uses besides preventing pregnancy; in fact, Catholic bioethicists say there is no inherent conflict in nuns (or any other Catholic) taking these very same substances for prescribed, therapeutic reasons, such as for treating heavy menstrual bleeding or endometriosis.
A new article in the journal The Lancet goes one step further. It argues that nuns "should be free to use the contraceptive pill to protect against the hazards of nulliparity” – that is, heightened cancer risk among women who do not bear children.
December 7th, 2011
06:04 PM ET
A report, released by the Institute of Medicine on Wednesday, says there are steps women can take to reduce their risk of getting breast cancer that is associated with environmental exposures.
The IOM says there are several environmental factors that can increase a woman's chance of getting breast cancer. According to the report, "Breast Cancer and the Environment," exposure to ionizing radiation (that's radiation associated with diagnostic tests such as mammograms, X-rays and CT-scans) is one such environmental factor.
Others include combination estrogen-progestin hormone therapy, oral contraceptives and weight gain - especially after menopause. Limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking, staying physically active and avoiding weight gain also help reduce the risk, the study found. When researchers talk about environmental factors, they are referring to anything that is not related to inherited DNA.
It is less clear how exposures in the workplace to things like gas fumes and car exhaust, or chemicals found in things like benzene (a solvent used to make lubricants, dyes, detergents and pesticides) or ethylene oxide, a chemical used in antifreeze, adhesives and even cosmetics add to the risk of getting breast cancer. The committee found that because there is such little testing on chemicals in cosmetics, dietary supplements and other products before they actually go to market, they were unable to draw conclusions as to whether minimizing exposure to these chemicals is actually beneficial.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.