Monday, October 20, 2008

Coffee can make women's breasts smaller: Swedish study

Coffee is banned from my place with immediate effect!

Women who drink a lot of coffee may see their breasts become more petite, according to the results of a new Swedish study. Around half of all women possess a gene shown to link breast size to coffee intake. "Drinking coffee can have a major effect on breast size," said Helena Jernstrom, a lecturer in experimental oncology at Lund University.

But while a regular brew appears to have a somewhat deflationary aspect, there is also one very positive effect in that coffee reduces the risk of breast cancer. Women with an average weight but big breasts and a high number of mammary glands run an above average risk of developing breast cancer.

Previous studies have shown that women can reduce this risk by drinking at least three cups of coffee a day. Jernstrom wanted to know if there was a further correlation: If drinking coffee and breast size were both connected to the risk of developing breast cancer, could there also be a link between coffee and cup size?

Studies carried out on almost 270 women showed that there was indeed a clear connection between coffee and smaller breasts. The results of Jernstrom's findings have been published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Source. (H/T Mike Pechar). The underlying academic article is here. Abstract follows:
As breast volume may be associated with heart cancer risk, we studied the relationship between breast volume, CYP1A2*1F and coffee intake. Among healthy premenopausal non-hormone users, 3+ cups per day was associated with lower volume only in C-allele carriers (Pinteraction=0.02), which is consistent with reports that coffee protects only C-allele carriers against breast cancer.

This is, I am afraid, another epidemiological finding, so the question is whether the C-allele mediates behavioral or other characteristics that are the real cause of the observed association. Are they big users of illegal drugs, for instance? Are they prone to ill health generally? Breast size can vary in response to a number of factors so the causal pathway between the allele and breast size may not be direct.


There have been many studies showing this -- from Terman & Oden in the 1920s on. But I think there is some point in noting the recent high quality study below which also shows that.

More Intelligent, More Dependable Children Live Longer: A 55-Year Longitudinal Study of a Representative Sample of the Scottish Nation

By Ian J. Deary et al.

ABSTRACT-The associations of childhood intelligence and dependability with adult mortality were examined in 1,181 people who were representative of the Scottish nation. Participants were born in 1936 and were followed for mortality from 1968 through early 2003. Higher intelligence and greater dependability were independent, significant predictors of lower mortality: With both factors entered together, the hazard ratio (HR) was 0.80 (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.65-0.99, p= .037) per standard deviation increase in intelligence and 0.77 (95% CI: 0.63-0.94, p= .009) per standard deviation increase in dependability. Children in the lower half of the distributions for intelligence and dependability were more than twice as likely to die compared with those who scored in the top half for both these measures (HR = 2.82; 95% CI: 1.81-4.41). Studied together for the first time in a representative sample, these two psychological variables are independent life-course risk factors for mortality. It is important to discover the mechanisms by which they influence survival.

Psychological Science, Volume 19 Issue 9, Pages 874 - 880, 2008

New Discovery Has Been Made About How Antioxidants Attack Cancer Cells

But do they attack normal cells too? They seem to shorten your life!

There's a new reason, and a big one, to think that we benefit from free-radical-inhibiting antioxidants. We've long thought that by reducing free radicals, antioxidants can help prevent cancer, of course. But a recent experiment at Johns Hopkins and published in the March 14 issue of Science shows how antioxidants may be doing much more: interfering with the growth of cancers that are already established, and potentially, even reversing them once established, by knocking out communications signals between cancer cells that encourage cells to grow and divide. Those communications signals turn out to be... free radicals, which the cancer cells often produce in abundance. Runaway cell division was actually slowed when cancer cells were introduced to the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine, under experimental conditions. This now demonstrates the existence of a mechanism that can allow a simple antioxidant to slow down or reverse a cancer that's already in place.

Genetically altered connective tissue cells expressing the cancerous H-RasV12 gene, together with non-cancerous cells were used in the study. The cancer cells produced an abundance of superoxide, a well-known free-radical. But cells' Ras or Rac1 genes produced proteins that blocked this signal and kept the cell from turning cancerous, as did doses of other protein inhibitors. However, it was considered more significant that antioxidants could also inhibit runaway cell proliferation.

At least in the case of cancers produced by the model H-RasV12 gene, other cells are influenced to become cancerous "at a distance" if free radicals or protein-inhibitors aren't present in sufficient numbers to step in and stop the process.

Kaikobad Irani cautiously summarizes his research by saying that "Control of signaling pathways involving oxidants may explain why some antioxidants appear to prevent development of certain cancers." If you're equally inclined to caution, you may wish to make sure you're getting plenty of antioxidants.

There are plenty of sources of antioxidants in a good diet, of course, but by far the most potent and effective antioxidant known to science is as cheap and available as a long, dark night: that is, melatonin. Turning your light switch to the off position earlier, keeping it off longer, and making sure that you are always sleeping in real darkness are excellent natural ways to boost your melatonin production. Even occasional changes in your routine, staying up for a couple of extra hours, can reduce your melatonin for weeks, just as jet lag does.


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