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Blood Holds Clues to Breast Cancer Risk

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Breast cancer is the deadliest cancer for women worldwide. More than 508,000 women are estimated to have died in 2011, with nearly 1.7 million new cases diagnosed the following year (World Health Organization). A new blood test developed by University of Copenhagen researchers holds promise for finally reversing those scary numbers. The metabolic blood profile, which describes the amounts of all metabolites, can predict if a woman will develop breast cancer within two to five years. Plasma samples from 838 Danish women enrolled in the 57,053-person Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health cohort were analyzed by proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. Half the women did not have breast cancer. The other half were healthy when first examined, but diagnosed with the disease two to seven years later. Data was studied from 129 variables measured by NMR and 47 additional lifestyle and phenotype variables. The method—developed with The Danish Cancer Society—was detailed in a study funded by the Villum Foundation and published March 3 in the journal Metabolomics. “It is not perfect, but it is truly amazing that we can predict breast cancer years into the future,” said corresponding author Rasmus Bro, Ph.D., of the University of Copenhagen. “The potential is that we can detect a disease like breast cancer much earlier than today.”

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