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Possible Link Between Breast Cancer & Asthma

March 16, 2009, 4:23 PM by Courtney Zieller

Possible Link Between Breast Cancer & Asthma
Researchers are exploring an association between the spread of breast cancer and asthma.

At Mayo Clinic, researcher James Lee discovered an association between breast cancer and asthma. His research suggests if a woman has recurring breast cancer and also has asthma, she may be at an increased risk of her breast cancer spreading to her lungs.

"Women with asthma were getting mets to their lungs almost two times greater in frequency than women who did not have asthma,” Lee said.

When you have an allergic asthmatic reaction in your lungs, the blood vessels in your lungs open gateways to allow white blood cells in. If there are any cancer cells circulating in your blood stream, they too can enter the lungs through those gateways. Once in the lungs, the cancer cells can begin to grow.

Lee suspects if breast cancer cells can enter those gateways to the lungs, other types of cancer may be able to as well.

Eight percent of all women with breast cancer have asthma. Lee is working on studies to determine whether taking anti-inflammatory asthma medication will reduce your chances of cancer cells from spreading to the lung.

Until those studies are complete, it may be a good idea for patients with asthma to take their asthma medications as prescribed.

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