First, researchers are stunned at their own results: Diabetes cleared in mice experiments.
Nerve cells in the pancreas may be a cause of type-1 diabetes in mice — a finding that could provide new ways to treat the disease in humans, Canadian and U.S. scientists said on Friday.
Defective nerve endings may attract immune system proteins that mistakenly attack the pancreas, destroying its ability to make insulin, the researchers said. This destruction is what causes diabetes.
Injecting a piece of protein, or peptide, to repair the defect cured diabetic mice “overnight“, Dr. Hans Michael Dosch of the University of Toronto said in a telephone interview.
Wow. That is truly a medical breakthrough if it holds in human clinical trials. I was really set back on my heels when I heard this news tonight on the radio.
And then there was this from the morning newspaper: Breast Cancer Rates Plunge.
U.S. breast cancer rates plunged an unprecedented 7 percent in 2003, the year after millions of women stopped taking menopause hormones when a study showed the pills raise the risk of tumors.
The startling new analysis, reported Thursday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, does not prove a link between hormone therapy and breast cancer, but strongly suggests it, many experts said.
“When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it,” statistician Donald Berry of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston said of the drop.
Cancers take years to form, so going off hormones would not instantly prevent new tumors. But tumors that had been developing might stop growing, shrink or disappear so they were no longer detected by mammograms, doctors theorized.
Cases dropped most among women 50 and older — the age group taking hormones. The decline was biggest for tumors whose growth is fueled by estrogen — the type most affected by hormone use.
This story is particularly fascinating and troubling given that it suggests that hormone therapy may have contributed to the increase in breast cancer we have seen over the past 20 years or so. I guess “better late than never”, but it really begs a debate over how much “tinkering” with the human body is good versus the negative outcomes. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this issue.