A leading specialist has predicted that a breast cancer vaccine may be available within 10 years.
Dr Anthony Leathem, head of research for the charity Against Breast Cancer and a senior lecturer at University College London, says that lab tests with a vaccine on which his team is working have shown promising results.
AdvertisementThe researcher, who has been trying to produce a jab to prevent breast cancer for about 20 years, reckons that the vaccine will stimulate the body's own immune system against the disease.
"I have a vision that my grandchildren will not have the threat of breast cancer hanging over them like the sword of Damocles as women of today have," the Daily Express quoted Dr. Leathem as saying in an interview.
"A vaccine will be the first in a new generation of treatments which will stimulate the body's own immune system against cell structures to prevent breast cancer occurring in the first place," he added.
He said that his team was synthesising proteins that would recognise and target breast cancer cells to weaken or destroy them.
Dr Leathem said that the first vaccines would be administered to women who had already had breast cancer to prevent its recurrence. According to him, trials might begin in the next few years.
His team is also researching into the effect of diet and lifestyle on the risk of breast cancer. He has even made a significant finding that cancer cells can develop decades before they become detectable.
"We used to think breast cancers started just a few years before they became detectable but we realise they can start in teenage years and possibly even before a baby is born," he said.
He also termed the rising trend of supplement intake to protect breast cancer "useless" and "dangerous".
"I believe supplements can have a harmful effect and increase the risk of many diseases including cancers. They are seldom beneficial and may introduce chemicals which alter cell behaviour and this may suppress the immune system which could lead to cancer," he said.
Dr Leathem said that breast cancer can be avoided if women cut down on alcohol, eat lots of vegetables, exercise regularly and maintain exercise after the menopause, reduce fat intake and have a varied and balanced diet, avoid supplements, breastfeed, and get some sunshine.