Women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer treated with a combination of the chemotherapy drugs anthracycline and trastuzumab, better known by its brand name Herceptin, may be at higher risk for experiencing heart problems than previous research suggested, a new study found.
Researchers with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle looked at data from 12,500 women with breast cancer between 1999 and 2007 who received anthracycline or Herceptin, both drugs, or no chemotherapy. The researchers found a higher risk for heart disease and cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle, in women who received either drug, and a higher risk in women who received both.
Women who underwent combination therapy were seven times more likely to develop heart disease or heart failure five years after therapy compared with women who did not undergo chemotherapy, the study found. Women who received Herceptin only were more than four times more likely to develop heart disease and heart failure five years after therapy compared with women who did not receive the drug.
BOTTOM LINE: Women with breast cancer treated with a combination of the chemotherapy drugs anthracycline and Herceptin, or Herceptin alone may be more likely to experience heart problems than women who do not undergo chemotherapy.
CAUTIONS: The study is observational and may have overestimated an association between combination chemotherapy and the risk of heart problems. Researchers did not have information on the length of time the women underwent therapy or the dosages used.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Aug. 30
Metabolic syndrome and brain function
Metabolic problems related to obesity may lead to lower thinking skills and brain function in adolescents, according to a study by researchers at New York University School of Medicine.
Researchers compared brain functions of 49 adolescents with metabolic syndrome — a group of risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes — to 62 teens without the syndrome. They used magnetic resonance imaging and endocrine and neuropsychological tests.
The majority of adolescents with metabolic syndrome scored lower on math and spelling tests and had a lower attention span than those who did not have the disorder.
Brain scans also showed that adolescents with metabolic syndrome had a smaller hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in memory and learning, compared with the other teens.
BOTTOM LINE: Children with metabolic syndrome may be more likely to have poorer brain function than those without the syndrome.
CAUTIONS: It was a small study, and children with type 2 diabetes were excluded, so findings can’t be compared with those from previous research that included diabetics.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Pediatrics, Sept. 3