First, the last of the vacation updates. Thank you to everyone who wrote to offer sympathy about the norovirus that ripped through our rented house. If I could have stepped back and taken a critical view, it was interesting how different people had different versions, and there was a lot of variant in the intensity of the illness. However you consider it, it is most unfortunate to lose two days of a week long vacation to a bug, and I especially regret the missed opportunities to gorge on guacomole (Isaac, the chef, made a particularly delicious very lime-y one). We are all safely home and will remember lots of good moments. Anything that does not leave permanant damage or hurt becomes a funny story, and I am confident we will all laugh about this one.
The topic of the day is Vitamin D. As we all know, the primary source is the sun, and many of us no longer have enough daily sun exposure to keep our levels where they should be.
Adults tend to spend much more time indoors than children, and those of us who live in colder climates have months when we are barely outside at all. Just as important, we have been so educated/scared about the dangers of sun damage that we liberally apply sunscreen that prevents our bodies from being burned--and from taking in the important vitamin. A couple of pediatrician friends have told me that they have seen rickets in small children--a disease that had seemed to vanish over the last couple of centuries. I am not suggesting that we return to the days of baby oil and reflectors, but we might consider have Vit D levels checked (a simple blood test) and taking supplements if they are low.
This is an exciting report from Science Daily about a recently published story in the Journal of Cell Biology that suggests that Vit D may become an important treatment for women with triple negative breast cancers. Earlier studies have suggested that women with low levels of Vit D are more likely to develop breast cancer in the first place. Here is the beginning and then a link to read more:
... from universities, journals, and other research organizations
Jan. 22, 2013 — In research published in the Jan. 17 issue of The Journal of Cell Biology, a team led by Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University, has discovered a molecular pathway that contributes to triple-negative breast cancer, an often deadly and treatment resistant form of cancer that tends to strike younger women. In addition, Gonzalo and her team identified vitamin D and some protease inhibitors as possible new therapies and discovered a set of three biomarkers that can help to identify patients who could benefit from the treatment.
In the recent breakthrough, which was funded in part by a $500,000 Department of Defense grant, Gonzalo's lab identified one pathway that is activated in breast cancers with the poorest prognosis, such as those classified as triple-negative. These cancers often strike younger women and are harder to treat than any other type of breast cancer. Women who are born with BRCA1 gene mutations are at increased risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers within their lifetime, and the tumors that arise are frequently the triple-negative type. Although chemotherapy is the most effective treatment for triple-negative breast cancer, it has profound secondary effects. Understanding the biology of triple-negative breast cancers will help to develop less toxic therapeutic strategies.