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These articles were published in our popular science magazine: Inside Diamond
Iron is necessary for metabolism and growth of cancers, which explains why the team found a high concentration of this metal in breast cancer tumours. Copper was found to be high in the blood vessels near the tumour and is known to be important for their growth. Finally, zinc was high in a subset of breast cancers that are stimulated by oestrogens. Zinc allows these hormones to signal breast cancer to grow, and this may be a useful biomarker for patients who are resistant to standard anti-oestrogen treatments such as Tamoxifen.
All human beings are different. Metals are involved in a number of different processes, so an excess of metals could mean nothing for some people and it could prove very significant for others. It’s not as straightforward as deciding that excess metals are always a bad thing; however this team’s findings indicate that metal content could be used as an important biomarker in breast cancer cases, giving an insight into the individual disease characteristics and providing a potential new treatment option.
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