Ted Talks – Jorge Soto: The Future of Early Cancer Detection

Jorge Soto, along with a team of scientists and technologists have come up with a non-invasive way to test for cancer. The test harnesses real time technology such as smart phones and 3-D printers. It requires only one millilitre of blood. So far, the test has successfully identified pancreatic, lung, and breast cancer and costs 50 times less than current available methods. Currently Soto and his team are working with the German Cancer Research Centre to conduct a trial on 200 women for breast cancer. Watch the inspiring talk here:


Made With Code

Who doesn’t love talk show host Ellen DeGeneres? I mean come on, this woman is amazing no matter how you spin it. Ellen is funny, kind, generous, successful, fashionable, and she has great friends! As if all that isn’t enough, Ellen has an amazing way of making people feel good and her smile is contagious. She brings attention to the smallest and cutest youtube stars, laughs with Hollywood celebrities, and promotes awareness of large scale issues like bullying, equality, and cancer. On her show, Ellen is always giving back to those in need, reminding us that everyone is important, and helping to make the world a better, happier place. In a recent episode, Ellen calls down an unsuspecting 18 year old freshman at Columbia University who studies biochemical engineering by day, and works in a cancer research lab by night to find a cure for breast cancer. Watch the full video here:

The SCAR Project: Breast Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon

Fashion Photographer, David Jay, was inspired to act when his friend, a young woman of 32, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The SCAR Project features large scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors. The project began as a way to raise awareness, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women ages 15-40. The SCAR Project participants range from ages 18 to 35. These photographs represent their courage, their personal victory over the disease, and remind them that they are not alone. 

Birth Control vs. Breast Cancer

The National Cancer Institute notes “A number of studies suggest that current use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) appears to slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, especially among younger women. However, the risk level goes back to normal 10 years or more after discontinuing oral contraceptive use.” When my Mom was battling breast cancer that metastasized to her brain, bones, liver, and lungs, the first question every doctor asked was, “How long were you on the pill?” Attending many doctors appointments, my parents noticed a trend beginning to emerge, all pointing back to birth control. So what exactly constitutes a slight risk?

A recent study published August 1, 2014 by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that women taking oral contraceptives could face an increased breast cancer risk of 50% or higher. However, the study notes that this is specific to birth control that contains high doses of estrogen. In comparison, oral contraceptives with low estrogen did not increase the risk.

Dr. Elisabeth F. Beaber, the Fred Hutchinson staff scientist who led the study and a team from the University of Washington and the Group Health Research Institute “analyzed birth control prescription records from a large database of women enrolled in Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-area health care system. They looked at 1,102 women aged 20 to 49 who developed breast cancer from 1990 to 2009 and compared their use of oral contraceptives with 21,952 women who remained cancer-free.

Compared with the control group, the women who had used birth control pills in the previous year had a 50 percent higher risk overall than women who had either never used the drugs or had used them in the past, Beaber said.

Birth control pills containing high-dose estrogen, 50 micrograms or more, boosted breast cancer risk nearly threefold and those that contained moderate-dose estrogen, 30 to 35 micrograms, increased the chances about 1.6 times, the researchers found.

In contrast, pills that delivered low-dose estrogen, 20 micrograms, didn’t increase the risk, the study showed.”

Dr. Owen Montgomery, a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, stated that in 2014, most women were likely receiving birth control with low to moderate estrogen levels. However, the article goes on to note another culprit of increased breast cancer risk are pills containing a type of progestin called ethynodiol diacetate and triphasic pills – those that deliver drugs in multiple doses or phases – that contained norethindrone.Instead, they noted, for instance, that drugs containing ethynodiol diacetate raised the risk of breast cancer by 2.6 times. One brand that contains that formulation is Zovia. 

Other brands to watch out for include some of the most popular birth control prescriptions in the United States. The top-prescribed birth control pill is Sprintec 28, with some 4.8 million scripts issued in 2013. The drug includes norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol, which suggest a 20% increase in cancer risk, according to this study. Additional findings included the fifth most-prescribed pill, Loestrin 24 Fe. Last year more than 3 million prescriptions were issued. Loestrin 24 Fe contains norethindrone acetate, which was found to increase breast cancer risk by a startling 60%.

For more information, read the full article here: http://www.fhcrc.org/en/news/center-news/2014/08/Some-new-birth-control-raise-breast-cancer-risk.html 

“I Loved It All”

Photographer, Angelo Merendino created this touching series of photographs to document his wife Jennifer’s battle with cancer. You can read their story here:
The details of Jennifer’s amazing positivity and strength during her battle is sure to pull at a few heart strings, but most importantly encourages learning and inspiration.