Can Eating an Alkaline Diet Lower My Risk of Getting Cancer?

Some people claim that if the fluids and tissues in your body become too acidic – that is, if the concentration of hydrogen in them is too high – your chance of developing cancer increases. Similar claims state that by reducing your intake of certain foods, you can lower your acidity levels, making the body more “alkaline” and less hospitable to cancer.

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Easing the Way for Cancer Patients with Other Hardships

By Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH

When cancer strikes someone who is already facing other hardships – for example, he or she is poor, alone, or has a language barrier – the experience is very different than it might be for someone who has more resources and support.

The Cancer Care Equity Program at Dana-Farber, which is funded by the Kraft Family Foundation, helps vulnerable patients in the community obtain the cancer care they might not receive otherwise.

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When Should My Daughter Get Her First Pap Test?

By Sarah Feldman, MD, MPH

Pap testHealthy young women should get their first Pap test at age 21. If that test is normal, they should have additional Pap tests every three years. If they have symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or are found to have an abnormality on their cervix during an exam, they may need a diagnostic Pap for cervical cancer earlier. Immunosuppressed women should start Pap testing with the onset of sexual activity, then repeat annually.

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Outsmart Your Genes: Understanding BRCA1/2 Cancer Risk

When Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy earlier this year, this issue of cancer risk and genetics made front-page headlines. Jolie, who announced the operation in a New York Times op-ed, tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation and learned she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer.

Jolie’s announcement left many women wanting to know more: What is a gene mutation? Should I undergo genetic testing? What should I do if my tests are positive?

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Should Boys and Girls Be Vaccinated Against HPV?

By Robert Haddad, MD

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccinations were originally advised only for girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Pediatrics now recommend that both girls and boys be vaccinated. The recommendations are well founded: HPV infection is the number one cause of oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the middle part of the throat and is diagnosed in about 14,000 Americans each year. Men are three times more likely than women to develop oropharyngeal cancers linked to HPV.

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A User’s Guide to Cancer-Related News

By Vish Viswanath, PhD

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News about advances in cancer research and treatment appears almost daily. The pace at which new findings are reported, coupled with the complexity of the underlying science, can make it difficult to know which studies are truly significant and which are less so. It’s easy to become confused when reports seem to have varying conclusions.

Here are some tips for becoming a savvy consumer of cancer news.

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Should You Donate Tissue for Cancer Research?

By Eric Schuller

If you recently learned you have cancer, donating a sample of your cancer tissue to science is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s a topic that you might discuss with someone on your health care team, because cancer researchers often rely on donated tissue samples to help them better understand what causes cancer and which treatments are most effective.

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Genetic Testing, Cancer Risk, and Angelina Jolie’s Choice

Actress Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the headlines, but she stunned the world with her Op-Ed in The New York Times, in which she shared her very private decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” wrote Jolie. … Read more

Are Tanning Beds Safe?

Updated 1/28/16 If you’re thinking about hitting the tanning beds to get started on your “base tan,” don’t. That’s the advice of Jennifer Y Lin, MD, of Dana-Farber’s Center for Melanoma Oncology. Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is on the rise, particularly in women aged 25-32. The frequency of tanning and age at … Read more

Do BRCA Mutations Increase a Woman’s Lifetime Cancer Risk?

By Judy Garber, MD, MPH

We know that women who inherit harmful mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a sharply increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (prior to menopause). In fact, women with inherited BRCA1 or 2 mutations are about five times more likely to develop breast cancer — and at least 10 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer — than women without such mutations, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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Managing Cancer Risk: Miss America Contestant’s Decision Puts Genetics and Cancer Center Stage

Win or lose, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose made news with her decision to undergo a double mastectomy. According to the Associated Press, Rose, who lost her mother to breast cancer, inherited a rare genetic mutation which might put her at greater risk for developing cancer.

Her decision to have the preventive surgery has sparked questions about genetics, cancer risk and strategies for preventing cancer.

If you have a question about genetic factors that increase cancer risk, you can ask the Dana-Farber cancer genetics team.

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Opening of cancer center in Rwanda is “privilege beyond words”

The dirt roads in northern Rwanda now lead to a cancer center where patients can receive care for a disease that was, until now, considered a death sentence there. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which was dedicated on July 18, has allowed Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center to extend a helping hand in this tiny, densely populated country in Africa.

Dr. Larry Shulman, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Chelsea Clinton, President Bill Clinton, Jeff Gordon, and Dr. Paul Farmer

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Are Organic Foods Better For You?

Processed foods have become a staple in the U.S., making up as much as 90 percent of American diets. Pre-prepared meals are often less expensive, and save working, busy people time at the end of a long day.

However, research from the Organic Trade Association shows that trends are beginning to change. Sales of organic products grew by about 5 percent in 2009, reaching a total of $26.6 billion. And fruits and vegetables, the most popular corner of the organic market, increased sales by 11 percent, or $9.5 billion.

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