HealthWise at 5 From 1.22 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/22/03

HealthWise at 5 From 1.22

  • Breast Cancer and Fertility

Women who have had Breast Cancer are in a bind if they have trouble getting pregnant. You see their chemo may have made them infertile, yet, if they take fertility drugs to get pregnant that increases the risk that their cancer may come back. But here's what's new.

A study at New York's Cornell University has found that a drug taken by some Breast Cancer survivors to prevent cancer from returning may also help them conceive and it should work for all infertile women. The drug is Tamoxifen, the oral chemotherapy that binds to cancer cells, keeping estrogen from fueling Breast Cancer.

Researchers say now that Tamoxifen also increases fertility. "It binds to estrogen receptors in the brain and blocks them, and now the brain does not see enough estrogen in the body and it wants to pump up more estrogen. To do that, it has to force this hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone to stimulate ovaries to make more eggs which in turn would produce more estrogen," says Dr. Kutluk Oktay, an OB-GYN.

So, Dr. Oktay and colleagues gave Tamoxifen to Breast Cancer patients for a few days at the start of their menstrual cycles. Their study found that the women taking Tamoxifen produced more eggs and subsequently embryos, than the women who were not treated with Tamoxifen. Because Tamoxifen is only used for a few days at a time, you don't experience the side effects that are seen with when its used for long term Breast Cancer treatment. Dr. Oktay also says that women who are getting Breast Cancer treatment should seek advice before they get chemo if they want to have babies. The study is reported in Europe's Journal Human Reproduction.

  • Marijuana Use

A new study shows that the age a person starts using marijuana is more of a factor in predicting whether they'll turn to harder drugs or alcohol later than genetics. A team of researchers from the U.S. and Australia looked at 311 sets of same sex twins to compare individual behavior and family background.

In each set of twins, one began using marijuana by age 17. When the twins were interviewed in their late 20's and early 30's the early marijuana users developed higher rates of problems with alcohol and other drugs. Researchers say their findings make a stronger case now that early marijuana use leads to later substance abuse.

While this study demonstrates that genetic and environmental factors cannot explain the risk, it's not clear how early marijuana use may be related to later substance abuse. Researchers also emphasize that just because a person uses marijuana before age 17, it does not guarantee problems later.

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