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High copper levels feed aggressive breast cancer

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Women with higher levels of copper in their body are more likely to suffer from breast cancer that’s aggressive and spreads.

The cancer cells seem to feed off copper, and so lowering levels—by using some form of chelation—could reduce their ability to spread.

Women with a special type of the cancer—triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)—were especially at risk of the cancer spreading if their copper levels were high, researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine have discovered.

TNBC is difficult to treat and even surgery and chemotherapy often don’t stop its recurrence and spread.

But the cancers do need a lot of energy in order to spread, and copper is one of their chief feeding sources, the researchers found.  

But either blocking their access to copper, or reducing levels in the body, could be an effective way to stop it spreading.

(Source: npj Breast Cancer, 2021; 7; doi: 10.1038/s41523-021-00313-w)

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