Friday, July 20, 2012


Stress Fuels Breast Cancer Metastasis to Bone

ScienceDaily (July 17, 2012) — Stress can promote breast cancer cell colonization of bone, Vanderbilt Center for Bone Biology investigators have discovered.

The studies, reported July 17 in PLoS Biology, demonstrate in mice that activation of the sympathetic nervous system -- the "fight-or-flight" response to stress -- primes the bone environment for breast cancer cell metastasis. The researchers were able to prevent breast cancer cell lesions in bone using propranolol, a cardiovascular medicine that inhibits sympathetic nervous system signals.

Metastasis -- the spread of cancer cells to distant organs, including bone -- is more likely to kill patients than a primary breast tumor, said Florent Elefteriou, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Center for Bone Biology.

"Preventing metastasis is really the goal we want to achieve," he said.

Elefteriou and his colleagues knew from their previous studies that the sympathetic nervous system stimulated bone remodeling, and that it used some of the same signaling molecules that have been implicated in breast cancer metastasis to bone.

"We came to the hypothesis that sympathetic activation might remodel the bone environment and make it more favorable for cancer cells to metastasize there," Elefteriou said.

Evidence from the clinic supported this notion. Breast cancer patients who suffered from stress or depression following their primary treatment had shorter survival times. Both stress and depression activate the sympathetic nervous system.

To explore this possible link, the researchers studied cancer cell metastasis in mice. They followed fluorescently "tagged" human breast cancer cells that were injected into the mouse heart to model the stage of metastasis when breast cancer cells leave the primary site and move through the circulation.
They found that treating the mice with a drug that mimics sympathetic nervous system activation caused more cancer lesions in bone. Using physical restraint to stress the mice and activate the sympathetic nervous system also caused more cancer lesions in bone. Treating the restrained mice with propranolol, one of a family of blood pressure medicines called "beta-blockers," reduced the number of bone lesions.

The investigators demonstrated that sympathetic nervous system activation increases bone levels of a signaling molecule called RANKL, which is known to promote the formation of osteoclasts -- bone cells that break down bone tissue. RANKL has also been implicated in cell migration, and Elefteriou and colleagues were able to show that breast cancer cell migration to the bone depends on RANKL.
The findings suggest that beta-blockers or drugs that interfere with RANKL signaling, such as denosumab, may be useful in preventing breast cancer cell metastasis to bone. Propranolol and other beta-blockers are inexpensive, well characterized, and safe in most patients. They may be a good choice for long-term treatment if future studies in patients with breast cancer confirm their ability to block cancer cell metastasis to bone, Elefteriou said.

"If something as simple as a beta blocker could prevent cancer metastasis to bone, this would impact the treatment of millions of patients worldwide," he said.

Efforts to reduce stress and depression in patients with cancer may have unappreciated benefits in terms of metastasis prevention, he added


  1. Hello, my name is Ari, I am a survivor (so far...) of two cancers, a widower of a cancer victim (now re-married..) and is dedicated to fighting cancer, and helping others do so.
    I lived in Toronto, Canada (my family is in southern California), and last year, after marriage, I moved to the Philippines. I am majority owner of a Dialysis clinic, and built a unique cancer clinic, the one I dreamt of having when my first wife was struggling. I took her to Mexico clinics twice, for treatments (which were very successful!), talked to dozens of physicians, and always found lack of properly equipped clinics, which could do a lot better if they were.
    Along the way, I have gained insight of how proper Hyperthermia should be applied. This is a method which doubles the success rate of conventional therapies, and alternative ones as well, provided it is done properly. I have purchased the most powerful device for this, and added two other types of devices, which when applied in the right order, prevent a process of DE-sensitizing of cancer cells to the effects of specific frequency hyperthermia. We also do mild whole body hyperthermia in order to strengthen the immune system (with no side effects),and help reach the right thermo-therapeutic levels within the tumour.(the right temperature simply destroys the tumour...). There are also other aspects to this, biological ones, which for lack of commercial incentive (UN-patentable..) is not pursued by multinational pharmaceutical corporations which control all medical research in the field.
    I also introduced other forms of immunotherapy, and alternative cytotoxic elements, such as Helixor, a mistletoe extract, which has three times better success rate then most chemo agents, without the side effects.
    I can give information about many clinics I learned about, (mainly in Mexico and Germany
    If you are interested in getting free advice, please feel free to contact me, @
    Ari Idan

    1. Ari - it sounds like you are providing a very significant alternative to the "slash/poison/burn" approach to cancer treatment. Thank you for the detailed information. I will say hyperthermia is an avenue I have not been familiar with - I am so pleased you shared all this on my blog. I am going to post your comment as a "post" to make sure others read.

      With much appreciation...TC

  2. Please do not trust this Ari IDan. He masquerades as an expert in hyperthermia, when infact all he wants to do is to promote his cancer place in the Phillipines. His promo material contains lines such as " We guarantee a 30% reduction in your tumour ir your money back"....doesn't he know that there is no exact way to measure a tumour ? His promo email makes no mention of any doctors or oncologists at his facility, no mention of qualifications or even an address. Please be aware and know that his 'tips' are suspect and not from a qualified source. Ari Idan has already been removed from the Inspire cancer support web site.

    1. Anonymous - I appreciate your words of caution. There are many "promises" out there when it comes to treating a chronic disease. A consulting oncologist, who is the "guru" of cancer medicine in my area, "promised" me that my chances of survival from stage IV MBC were close to nil if I continued to reject chemo and radiation. Eventually, his "promise" will come to pass, but not this past year, and not today. Regrettably, there are indeed alternative "charlatans" out there too. The dark-side of human nature appears to include taking advantage and exploiting the fears, and hopes, of the vulnerable. I would be interested in knowing what your first-hand experiences with Mr. Idan have been.

      With much appreciation...TC