Marin Breast Cancer Rates Continue Decline

October 2013

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The most common cancer among women, breast cancer is the focus of more than half of our work, which addresses breast cancer causes, changing patterns, and prevention. We encourage you to learn about our multifaceted approach to understanding breast cancer by reading about our findings and current studies below, and to join our Prevent Breast Cancer campaign. Also, tickets to our upcoming and highly anticipated Get In Front Performance on November 12th are going fast, so be sure to get yours before they sell out!

Latest Data Show Previously Alarming Marin Breast Cancer Rates Continue to Decline

CPIC and other partners affiliated with the Marin Women’s Study (MWS) have released newly available 2006-2010 CPIC-collected data, confirming a sustained downward trend in Marin County’s breast cancer incidence and mortality rates. The investigators have kept a particular focus on breast cancer rates in Marin since the late 1990s and early 2000s, when they were the highest in the nation. “Through the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry at CPIC, we’ve been tracking breast cancer in Marin County closely for over a decade, from a time when their deviation from the California average was excessively high, until now when they are not statistically different from the average,” said CPIC Research Scientist and MWS Steering Committee Member Christina Clarke, Ph.D. “So we are very encouraged to see the rates continue a downward trend and hope that this trend continues in the future.” In 2006, Dr. Clarke and collaborators were the first to reveal the connection of hormone replacement therapy to the elevated rates of breast cancer in Marin County.

Learn more about Greater San Francisco Bay Area breast cancer rates

Join the Prevent Breast Cancer Campaign and Help Advance Internationally Renowned Work

Over half of CPIC's work is dedicated to understanding breast cancer so we can prevent it. We have a strong legacy. One of our most notable accomplishments has been identifying and reporting the dramatic decline of breast cancer rates when many women stopped taking hormone therapy, helping countless women make informed decisions about their health. We also found that the BRCA1 gene is particularly common in Hispanic women and young African American women, identifying the particular need for risk reduction and early detection in these typically understudied groups. Our innovative approach in breaking down typically lumped together groups revealed surprisingly high breast cancer rates among subgroups of Asian women. Some of our newest studies are focused on cutting-edge environmental topics, such as researching the connection between flame retardants and breast cancer. Knowing all too well the need for this work, CPIC Board Trustees Hilary Newsom Callan - who lost her mother to breast cancer - and Louisa Gloger - who faced breast cancer herself - have generously contributed to the Prevent Breast Cancer campaign.

Join Hilary and Louisa and support the Prevent Breast Cancer campaign

The Pipeline: Do Higher Hormone Levels in Girls Contribute to Breast Cancer in Later Life?

Since our last issue, CPIC has won eight grants, including support for a newly launched pilot study on what may be some of the earliest indicators of breast cancer risk. We know that women's hormone levels, as well as their height, body mass index, and age at first menstruation in adolescence are associated with breast cancer risk. However, we do not yet know whether preadolescent and adolescent hormones - which may be connected to the aforementioned factors - affect breast cancer risk. Understanding both how hormone levels relate to growth and pubertal development in young girls, as well as how certain behaviors may influence hormone levels, could mean earlier interventions for girls and women to prevent breast cancers. To inform the design of a larger planned study on hormones in young girls, CPIC Research Scientist Esther John, Ph.D., and her study team are determining best ways to collect urine samples from girls over several menstrual cycles or over several months in those who have not started menstruation yet.

Learn about our other recently funded projects

Behind the Scenes with Producers of the Upcoming Get In Front Performance

Garen Scribner, James Sofranko, and Margaret Karl - co-chairs of the 2nd Annual Get In Front performance on November 12th – don’t want to accept a future where cancer is the norm. Just last year, two of their colleagues – a dancer in Ballet San Jose and a backstage crew member for San Francisco Ballet – lost their lives to the disease. “Through the Get in Front Performance, we hope to inspire the community’s support of the scientists who do amazing cancer prevention work at CPIC, and in turn make a difference for many generations down the road,” they said. “This year’s show will feature 10 of the Bay Area's most celebrated companies, ranging from San Francisco Ballet - the country's oldest professional ballet company - to more contemporary dance companies, including one of San Francisco’s own hip-hop breakdancing crews. A special treat will be a world premiere of choreography from Yuri Zhukov of Zhukov Dance Theatre, created specifically for the Get in Front Performance.” Join Garen, James and Margaret on November 12th!

Purchase your tickets to the 2nd Annual Get In Front Performance

Stanford Blog Features CPIC Scientists’ Posts on “Gel Polish” and “Door Dings in DNA”

Once again, as part of our partnership with the Stanford Cancer Institute, CPIC scientists have contributed to Scope, the widely read blog of the Stanford School of Medicine. In mid-September, CPIC Research Scientist Thu Quach, Ph.D., who specializes in studying the health of nail salon workers, authored a post on the potential dangers of gel nail polish, the latest trend in nail salons. (Dr. Quach was also recently featured in a National Institutes of Health podcast on nail salon-related health issues.) Earlier in September, CPIC Research Scientist Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, Ph.D., whose work focuses on identifying genes that increase a person’s susceptibility to cancer, wrote another Scope piece. Her post expands upon a topic she spoke about in a video from the April issue of In Front – how certain human behaviors can lead to “dings” in our DNA that we may be able to repair over time.

Find out more about CPIC’s affiliation with the Stanford Cancer Institute

© Cancer Prevention Institute of California