The National Cancer Institute defines BRCA1 and BRCA2 as “human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of the cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes mutates, or is altered, such that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic changes that can lead to cancer.”
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals that women testing positive for the BRCA1 gene have a 72% risk of developing breast cancer by the age of 80. They also have a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer. For those with the BRCA2 mutation, the risk was slightly lower but still worrisome, with 69% developing breast cancer by the age of 80 while only 17% are at risk for developing ovarian cancer.
The study followed 9,856 patients whose median age was 38; they were recruited for the study from 1997 to 2011. The median age was 38 and patients were recruited for the study from 1997 to 2011. Researchers analyzed their potential risk for cancer based on age, family history and mutation location, among other factors.
Some medical experts suggest extreme measures for high risk women with BRCA1/2 mutations such as surgical removal of breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes. “This is a reasonable course for patients in this situation especially for those with a family history of cancer,” says Dr. Legato, who adds, “at the very least they should be carefully monitored and that includes men who have BRCA1/2 genes.” Past studies in the UK have shown that there is a greater risk for male breast and prostate cancers among male BRCA1/2 carriers.
Childhood Obesity Reaching Critical Mass
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts indicate that nearly 17% of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years in the United States are obese, and almost 32% of children and adolescents are overweight. Obesity in children and adolescents can result in mental health and psychological issues, asthma, sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, and adverse cardiovascular and metabolic problems such as high blood pressure, abnormal lipid levels, and insulin resistance. Childhood obesity may continue into adulthood leading to cardiovascular problems and diabetes type 2. African American girls and Hispanic boys are more at risk for obesity due to their relatively high use of sugar-sweetened beverages and fast food, watching too much television instead of adequate physical activity, among other factors.
Consequently, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that clinicians screen for obesity in children 6 years and older. The USPTF believes the benefits of “comprehensive, intensive behavioral interventions (≥26 contact hours) in children and adolescents 6 years and older who are obese can result in improvements in weight status for up to 12 months.” The USPSTF also concludes that the “harms of behavioral interventions can be bounded as small to none, and the harms of screening are minimal.” If you are concerned about your child’s weight, consult the children’s Body Mass Index (BMI) for more information as well as your pediatrician for guidance.