Week 34 of pregnancy reduces breast cancer risk: study

Kosovan girls dressed as ballet dancers hold roses and perform in front of the National Theatre on October 10, 2018 during the International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to raise awareness on breast cancer and to promote prevention. (AFP)
Updated 24 October 2018
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Week 34 of pregnancy reduces breast cancer risk: study

  • The link between pregnancy and breast cancer risk reduction is well known among medical researchers, who have suggested breast cells fundamentally alter their composition when a woman first falls pregnant and they prepare to produce milk

PARIS: Women’s bodies undergo a “striking” change during a specific week of pregnancy that can significantly reduce their risk of developing breast cancer later in life, scientists said Tuesday.
Previous research has highlighted how women under the age of 30 can reduce their risk of contracting breast cancer later in life by having a baby.
But a new study by experts in Denmark and Norway claims to have identified the precise week of pregnancy when the change occurs.
“If you deliver a child at week 33 you get the child, which is great, but you don’t get the bonus of having a lower risk of breast cancer for the rest of your life,” Mads Melbye, from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Clinical Medicine and lead study author, told AFP.
“It’s a very distinct change in risk when you go from week 33 to week 34.”
A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks and a baby born before 37 weeks is considered premature.
Melbye and his team studied a huge database of nearly four million women in Denmark and Norway stretching back almost 40 years.
It listed the age at which each of them gave birth, how far into a pregnancy each birth occurred and whether or not they contracted breast cancer later in life.
They found that women who gave birth after 34 weeks had an average 13.6 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who had no children.
For pregnancies that ended a week earlier, the reduction in risk — while still there — was only 2.4 percent.
Melbye said what changes in women during this vital week of gestation remains a mystery.
“We don’t know what that is, but knowing that you have to get to this point of the pregnancy makes it much easier for researchers to focus because we have to know what happens around that week to understand this,” he said.
He said it may be possible a woman’s body sends a signal after 34 weeks of pregnancy to boost immunity against environmental causes of breast cancer.
“To the best of our knowledge it must have something to do with a specific biological effect that the cells reach at 34 weeks.”

The link between pregnancy and breast cancer risk reduction is well known among medical researchers, who have suggested breast cells fundamentally alter their composition when a woman first falls pregnant and they prepare to produce milk.
But Melbye and his team found that a second or third pregnancy of at least 34 weeks reduced the risk of breast cancer even further.
This held true even in women who experienced stillbirths after 34 weeks, meaning the change is unlikely to be linked to breastfeeding.
Authors of the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, said it would allow scientists to better probe the link between pregnancy and breast cancer risk by focusing on a narrow window during which the “striking” change occurs.
Although the reduction of risk is dramatic, there’s a catch: researchers found that the additional protection against breast cancer only comes in women under 30.
“It’s not only the first childbirth; every childbirth has its own reduction in breast cancer risk but there’s a trick to this: You have to have your kids before you turn 29,” said Melbye.
“Because after that age there’s no extra bonus in breast cancer risk (reduction).”


Jazz Pharma’s sleep disorder treatment gets US FDA nod

Updated 21 March 2019
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Jazz Pharma’s sleep disorder treatment gets US FDA nod

  • The drug, solriamfetol, will treat excessive sleepiness in adult patients with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea
  • The patent of Jazz's narcolepsy drug, Xyrem, were declared invalid by a US appeals court in July
The US Food and Drug Administration approved Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc’s treatment for patients with a form of sleep disorder, the company said on Wednesday.
The drug, solriamfetol, will treat excessive sleepiness in adult patients with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Solriamfetol is expected to be commercially available in the United States following the final scheduling decision by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Jazz said in a statement.
The approval comes as Jazz is trying to reduce its reliance on its blockbuster narcolepsy drug, Xyrem, whose patents were declared invalid by a US appeals court in July.
Xyrem is an approved treatment for excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy in patients with narcolepsy. It brought in sales of $1.4 billion in 2018 and accounted for about 70 percent of company’s revenue.
“Jazz is trying to reduce its reliance on Xyrem, and solriamfetol will be one of the drugs it plans to launch to do that,” Mizuho Securities USA analyst Irina Koffler said ahead of the agency’s decision.
“Solriamfetol is expected to be an important driver of both diversification and growth,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Randall Stanicky said in a note ahead of the approval.
Solriamfetol is expected to bring in revenue of $314 million by 2024, Stanicky said.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder with overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep, while obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that can cause breathing to repeatedly stop and start.
“Narcolepsy is very disabling to people as they often get diagnosed young and stop their education and drop out of high school or college,” Koffler said.
“Sleep apnea is a different problem in the sense that a lot of people don’t know they have it, have trouble breathing at night and they even fall asleep during the day.”