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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Scientific Highlights March - June 2016

Posted on June 07, 2016

Cancer Topics

All Causes

Coffee Consumption

COMMENTARY: Loftfield E, Freedman ND. Higher coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of all-cause and cause-specific mortality in three large prospective cohorts. Evid Based Med; Epub 2016 Mar 3.

Leisure-Time Physical Activity

Pooling data from 12 prospective US and European cohorts, the investigators found that leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower risks of 13 cancer types (esophageal adenocarcinoma, liver, lung, kidney, gastric cardia, endometrial, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, colon, head and neck, rectal, bladder, and breast). Most of these associations were evident regardless of body size or smoking history. (Moore SC, Lee IM, Weiderpass E, et al. Association of leisure-time physical activity with risk of 26 types of cancer in 1.44 million adults. JAMA Intern Med 2016; 176:816-825 - Epub May 16).

NCI press release and research news highlights on physical activity and cancer risk.

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Bladder Cancer


Bladder cancer mortality rates have been elevated in northern New England for at least five decades. Incidence rates in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are about 20% higher than the U.S. overall. A population-based case-control study in these states reported heavy consumption of drinking water from private dug wells (which are shallow—less than 50 feet deep—and susceptible to contamination from manmade sources than drilled wells), established prior to 1960 (when arsenic-based pesticides were widely used), may have contributed to the longstanding excess. Cumulative arsenic exposure from all water sources showed an increasing risk with increasing exposure: risk among the highest exposed participants was twice that of the lowest exposure group. (Baris D, Waddell R, Beane Freeman LE, et al. Elevated bladder cancer in northern New England: The role of drinking water and arsenic. J Natl Cancer Inst 2016; 108: Epub May 2)

NCI press release and research news highlight on drinking water and arsenic in elevated bladder cancer in New England.

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Breast Cancer

Breast Milk Analysis

REVIEW: Murphy J, Sherman ME, Browne EP, et al. Potential of breastmilk analysis to inform early events in breast carcinogenesis: Rationale and considerations. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2016;157:13-22.

Genetic Susceptibility for ER-negative Disease

A meta-analysis of 11 genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified four previously unidentified loci including two at 13q22 near KLF5, a 2p23.2 locus near WDR43, and a 2q33 locus near PPIL3 that display genome-wide significant associations with ER-negative breast cancerand BRCA1-associated breast cancer risk. Functional and eQTL studies implicated TRMT61B and WDR43 at 2p23.2 and PPIL3 at 2q33 in ER-negative breast cancer etiology. All loci combined account for ∼11% of familial relative risk for ER-negative disease and may contribute to improved ER-negative and BRCA1 breast cancer risk prediction. (Couch FJ, Kuchenbaecker KB, Michailidou K, et al. Identification of four novel susceptibility loci for oestrogen receptor negative breast cancer. Nat Commun 2016; Epub Apr 27, doi: 10.1038/ncomms 11375)

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Role of the Environment

Investigators refuted the hypothesis laid out by Tomasetti and Vogelstein (Science 2015 347 78-81); the investigators found no correlation between stem-cell proliferation indices and radiation- or smoking-related cancer risk. (Little MP, Hendry JH, Puskin JS. Lack of correlation between stem-cell proliferation and radiation- or smoking-associated cancer risk. PLoS One 2016;11(3):e0150335)

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Colorectal Cancer

Fecal Microbiota and Metabolome

Investigation of microbe-metabolite relationships in the gut is needed to understand and potentially reduce colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. Microbiota and metabolomics profiling performed on lyophilized feces from 42 CRC cases and 89 matched controls demonstrated very strong microbe-metabolite correlations that were predominated by Enterobacteriaceae and Actinobacteria. Metabolites mediated a direct CRC association with Fusobacterium and Porphyromonas, but not an inverse association with Clostridia and Lachnospiraceae. This study identifies complex microbe-metabolite networks that may provide insights on neoplasia and targets for intervention. (Sinha R, Ahn J, Sampson JN, et al. Fecal microbiota, fecal metabolome, and colorectal cancer interrelations. PLoS One 2016;11(3):e0152126)

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Esophagus Cancer

Cooking Practices and Water Source

A study of 300 esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cases and 571 controls conducted in the high-risk area of Golestan, Iran showed that red meat consumption above the 75th percentile increased the odds of ESCC by 2.82-fold, while fish intake was associated with a significant 68% decrease in ESCC odds. Among meat eaters, frying meat (red or white) and fish increased the odds around three-fold each. Drinking unpiped water increased ESCC odds by 4.25 times. (Golozar A, Etemadi A, Kamangar F, et al. Food preparation methods, drinking water source, and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the high-risk area of Golestan, Northeast Iran. Eur J Cancer Prev 2016;25:123-129)

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Mosaic loss of chromosome Y (mLOY) leading to gonosomal XY/XO commonly occurs with aging, particularly in smokers. In a genome-wide association study, investigators observed the first example of a common susceptibility locus for genetic mosaicism, specifically mLOY, which maps to TCL1A at 14q32.13, marked by rs2887399. (Zhou W, Machiela MJ, Freedman ND, et al. Mosaic loss of chromosome Y is associated with common variation near TCL1A. Nat Genet 2016;48:563-568)

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Inherited Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes

Shelterin Complex

REVIEW: Jones M, Bisht K, Savage SA, et al. The shelterin complex and hematopoiesis. J Clin Invest 2016;126:1621-1629.

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Somatic Mutations

REVIEW: Zhang T, Dutton-Regester K, Brown KM, et al. The genomic landscape of cutaneous melanoma. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 2016;29:266-283.

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Fluoroscopically Guided Interventional Procedures

A cohort study of U.S. radiation technologists showed an approximately twofold increased risk of brain cancer mortality and modest elevations in incidence of melanoma and breast cancer incidence, but not mortality, among technologists who performed fluoroscopically guided interventional procedures, compared with those who never performed these procedures. (Rajaraman P, Doody MM, Yu CL, et al. Cancer risks in U.S. radiologic technologists working with fluoroscopically guided interventional procedures, 1994-2008. AJR Am J Roentgenol 2016; 206:1101-1108)

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