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Breast cancer

Human Saliva Can Indicate Breast Cancer Early Without Radiation

Tuesday, March 04, 2008 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: breast cancer, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) In the not-too-distant future, women having a dental check-up or their teeth cleaned may be offered a simple "swish and spit" test that could accurately reveal whether they have breast cancer – at an early and most curable stage.

That's the news from researchers at The University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at Houston who have found specific protein markers in human saliva that can provide an early, non-invasive diagnosis of breast cancer.

According to a study published in the January 10, 2008, issue of the journal "Cancer Investigation" (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~con...) , the test is able to distinguish between benign and cancerous tumors. Charles Streckfus, D.D.S., a UT Dental Branch at Houston professor of diagnostic sciences with an expertise in salivary function and molecular epidemiology, collaborated on the groundbreaking study with William Dubinsky, Ph.D., a biochemist and professor of integrative biology and pharmacology at the UT Medical School at Houston; and Lenora Bigler, Ph.D., clinical research professor with the UT Dental Branch.

The scientists documented that the onset of breast cancer leads to a change in the normal type and amount of proteins in glandular secretions produced by the salivary glands. These findings are currently being applied to a "lab-on-a-chip" diagnostic test being developed by UT biochemists at Austin which can easily and effectively detect the presence of cancer; even before a tumor forms.

Currently, mammograms are touted as the best way to spot breast cancer early, but they are anything but a perfect diagnostic tool. For example, the Mayo Clinic web site (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mammogram/W...) points out mammograms can miss one in five cancers in women. The reason? Some tumors may be too small or in an area, like an armpit, that is difficult to view by mammography.

In addition, women who have dense breast tissue have a heightened risk for inaccurate mammograms.
Not only can mammograms miss tumors, they can also register false-positive findings. In fact, according to a study published in the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute" (Vol. 92, Issue 20), by the time a woman has had ten mammograms, she will have a 50 percent chance of being told her results are abnormal; and false positive results often lead to additional mammograms, needless biopsies and emotional distress. When Dr. Noel T. Brewer and his University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research team analyzed 23 studies of a total of 313,967 women aged 40 and older. they found higher levels of anxiety and distress among women who received false-positive mammograms and the these effects lasted for many years.

What's more, mammography uses low-dose radiation and although many cancer specialists insist the benefits of regular mammography for women over age 40 outweigh the risks, there's simply no zero risk from radiation exposure. That's why the Breast Cancer Fund (http://www.breastcancerfund.org/site/pp.asp?...) , the leading national non-profit organization focused on identifying the environmental causes of breast cancer, finding better methods of detecting breast cancer and preventing the disease, warns that radiation exposure is cumulative over a lifetime and repeated low doses may eventually add up to a dose high enough to cause cancer in some women.

The new saliva test for breast cancer involves no radiation exposure and holds the promise of eliminating false-positive results and allowing a fast track to treatment options, whether surgery, a biopsy or further testing. The UT researchers are also pursuing salivary diagnostics for other types of cancer, such as ovarian, endometrial, cervical and head and neck cancers.

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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