Public Release: 

Other highlights in the November 2 JNCI

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Study Examines Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk

Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, but not ER-negative, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, according to a new study.

Many epidemiologic studies have found an association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk, but it has not been known whether this risk varies by hormone receptor type. Alicja Wolk, Dr.Med.Sc., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues evaluated data on alcohol consumption collected from 1987 to 1990 and again in 1997 from 51,847 postmenopausal women in the population-based Swedish Mammography Cohort. By mid-2004, 1,188 breast cancer patients were identified.

Alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of ER-positive tumors, regardless of progesterone receptor (PR) status, but there was no association with ER-negative tumors. The absolute rate of ER-positive breast cancer was 232 cases per 100,000 person-years among women in the highest category of alcohol consumption compared with 158 per 100,000 person-years among women in the lowest category. The researchers also observed an interaction between alcohol intake and the use of postmenopausal hormones on the risk of ER-positive/PR-positive tumors.

Contact: Dr. Alicja Wolk, Karolinska Institutet,

Extra Years of Tamoxifen Reduce Death From Coronary Heart Disease

Women with early-stage breast cancer who are treated with 5 years of tamoxifen have a lower rate of death from coronary heart disease than women who receive the drug for only 2 years, according to a new study.

Between 1983 and 1992, 4,610 Swedish patients with early-stage breast cancer were randomly assigned to be treated with 2 or 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen therapy. Among those who received 5 years of therapy, all-cause mortality, breast cancer-specific mortality, and the incidence of contralateral breast cancer were reduced, but the incidence of endometrial cancer was higher compared with those women who received only 2 years of therapy.

After an additional year of patient recruitment and a median of 10.6 years of follow-up, Bo Nordenskjöld, M.D., Ph.D., of Linköping University Hospital in Sweden, and colleagues report that 2.1% of patients in the 5-year group and 3.5% of patients in the 2-year group died from coronary heart disease.

Contact: Dr. Bo Nordenskjöld, Linköping University Hospital, Sweden, +46 13 222012,

Study Examines Anticancer Effect of Herbal Medicine in Cancer Cells

A new study in cancer cell lines has found that the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)--a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in several plant oils that has been used as an herbal medicine--affects the expression of the Her-2/neu oncogene. The study found that GLA inhibited Her-2/neu in a different way from that of trastuzumab (Herceptin), the monoclonal antibody approved for treatment of breast cancer patients with high levels of Her-2/neu.

The Her-2/neu oncogene is involved in the development of many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Javier A. Menendez, Ph.D., of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute in Illinois, and colleagues found that treating cancer cell lines that overexpressed Her-2/neu with GLA reduced Her-2/neu protein levels. In addition, GLA exposure in these cell lines led to a decrease in Her-2/neu promoter activity and an increase in the levels of a transcriptional repressor of Her-2/neu.

The researchers also found that treating the cancer cell lines with both GLA and trastuzumab led to a synergistic increase in apoptosis and reduced cell growth.

Contact: Ruth Lupu, 224-364-7672,; Javier Menendez, 224-364-7671,; Elizabeth Crown, Northwestern University, 312-503-8928,

Transcription Factor May Help to Regulate Telomerase Activity in Malignant Gliomas

The transcription factor E2F1 may participate in the regulation of telomerase activity in malignant glioma cells, according to a new study.

Candelaria Gomez-Manzano, M.D., of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues investigated the functional role of the retinoblastoma-E2F1 pathway in regulating telomerase activity in malignant gliomas, in glioma cell lines, and patients with malignant glioma. They found evidence that E2F1 may participate in the regulation of telomerase activity in malignant glioma cells and that E2F1 expression appears to be strongly associated with the survival of patients with malignant brain tumors.

Contact: Laura Sussman, Communications Office, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 713-745-2457,

Gene Variant May Contribute to Development of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

A new study has found that a genetic variant of the gene B-cell lymphoma 6 (BCL6) may contribute to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Yawei Zhang, Ph.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues examined the association between a particular genetic polymorphism in the BCL6 gene that could potentially alter BCL6 mRNA transcripts and NHL risk in a population-based case-control study of women living in Connecticut. The risk of NHL in women with the CC genotype was more than double that of women with the TT genotype. The authors conclude that their results support the hypothesis that this genetic variant is involved in the development of NHL.

Contact: Karen N. Peart, Yale Office of Public Affairs, 203-432-1326,

Also in the November 2 JNCI:


Note: The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute. Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage. Visit the Journal online at

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.