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term paper rough draft - NS1150 Final Draft The Potential...

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NS1150 Final Draft: The Potential Use of B vitamins in Preventing and Treating Breast Cancer Breast cancer is a collection of mutated, uncontrollably replicating cells in the breast tissue and is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women ages 20-59 and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women overall (Xu et al., 2008). The prevention of breast cancer and the improvement of the survival rates of breast cancer patients would greatly affect these numbers as well as prevent the suffering that breast cancer survivors experience during treatment. Due to the strong and resounding need for an effective way to prevent and/or treat breast cancer, people have turned their attention to their supplement intake as a way to help prevent, and in some cases actually help treat breast cancer. Recently the family of B vitamins including Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Folate (B9), Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12, has received attention as potential ways to help prevent and/or treat breast cancer. This suggestion is based on the involvement of various B vitamins in DNA (and RNA) synthesis and methylation (Lajous et al., 2006). Specifically, the role of B vitamins in the one carbon metabolism pathway is of interest because it is the target of many anti-cancer drugs, as well as a large role player in DNA methylation (Xu et al., 2008). Theoretically, increasing the intake of various B vitamins should increase the efficiency of the addition of methyl groups to appropriate nucleotides, which silences their expression, and therefore decreases the ability of cancerous cells or potentially cancerous DNA to replicate. Such an effect would be a welcome addition to the growing arsenal of breast cancer prevention and treatment tools, especially since these vitamins can be obtained in daily pill form as well as in many unprocessed foods such as bananas, beans, and even turkey. This implies that a small change in diet may help prevent a life- threatening disease or even help treat it without crippling procedures. Canadian (Kabat et al., 1
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2008) and Brazilian (Ma et al., 2009) studies oppose this view, while French (Lajous et al., 2006) and American (Xu et al., 2008) studies present a more convincing argument in support of this view. Despite a plausible chemical relationship, the effectiveness of B vitamins in preventing and treating breast cancer is not yet clear and is hotly debated. The opposition cites Canadian (Kabat et al., 2008) and Brazilian (Ma et al., 2009) studies, which fail to prove a statistically significant correlation between vitamin B intake and breast cancer incidence. In fact, the Brazilian study even mentions possible negative effects of increased folate and vitamin B6 intake in relation to breast cancer in younger women because the increased methylation may impede natural DNA repair (Ma et al., 2009). However, the Canadian study fails to take important factors into account, and the Brazilian study fails to create a rigorous method and has very
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This note was uploaded on 11/06/2010 for the course NS 1150 taught by Professor Levitsky during the Spring '05 term at Cornell.

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term paper rough draft - NS1150 Final Draft The Potential...

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