TODAY | December 08, 2011
>>> there is important health news this morning for women when it comes to the fight against breast cancer . we have nbc's chief medical editor dr. nancy snyder here with some answers.
>> hi, annie.
>> overnight two new drugs significantly lengthen the time before breast cancer tumors -- we need to mention this research was paid for drug companies .
>> i want to caution people that doesn't mean it's bad because outside people are looking at it. this is aggressive tumors that affect 80% of women . one group has a protein called herd 2 women have heard about and another one fueled by estrogen. these are new kinds of drugs added to traditional therapy. what they found in one group, they could decrease the time that tumors came back by six months and another group by four months. so that on its surface is pretty darned good. the question that's looming, though, is if your tumor doesn't come back for six months does that mean i can save your life longer? and we haven't equated the two yet. but, nonetheless, scientists are very excited about this.
>> the drugs are still not available.
>> clinical trials only but a big step forward. i think this is the trend we'll see in more breast cancer research .
>> in another report sponsored by the susan b. komen foundation it talks about the environmental factors that increase a woman's risk for breast cancer . we have a graphic.
>> this is from the institute of medicine funded by komen and trying to figure out what happens to the 92% of women who don't have the genetic links? you look at this stuff. second-hand smoke, night time shift work . we know if you inhale cigarette smoke there is probably going to be a link to cancer. the world health organization has already put overnight shifts as a real carcinogen. the other kinds of chemicals that a lot of people find in exhaust fumes or in the work place, it's, you know, they've associated with it but there is really no cause and effect .
>> i know over many years of research there are other factors that have been alleged to be linked.
>> this report did not find linkage for example with the next graph.
>> people are going to have pushback with this. the idea of hair dyes. we're going to say that's fine. but for the women in the work place using those, it's a real question. nonionizing radiation not an issue, like your phones and kitchen appliances . but bpa, there will be pushback on bpa and pesticides because a lot of people will say wait a minute. you can't tell me there is not a cause because it just hasn't been studied. that is where the squishiness comes in.
>> lastly, what is the most important thing that women can do then?
>> this is where women are going to go, duh, really? because these are the take homes. quit smoking, watch your weight. obesity really is increasingly becoming a bigger risk factor . women who get breast cancer do worse if they are fat. you have to exercise. avoid radiation. that's the kind that gets full body radiation when you go in for those unnecessary ct scans , hormone replacement therapy , and alcohol. this is the take home list of anything from this report.
>> just a few seconds left. the government stepping in and not allowing the release of the morning after pill for kids under a certain age.
>> the first ever time the secretary of hhs stepped in on the fda saying that the morning after pill cannot be given without prescription to women under the age of 17. i see this not as a science move but a political move and there is going to be a big brouhaha between scientists and politicians in washington.
>> all right. throwing down the gauntlet.
>> there we go. we leave it there.