Breast cancer battle needs your help, says Dr. Susan Love

Susan Love breast cancer
Dr. Susan Love, breast cancer survivor, activist and researcher.

Dr. Susan Love has been on both sides of the examining table: In 2012, the chief visionary officer of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation — which works to eradicate breast cancer with new research approaches — was diagnosed with leukemia. Her cancer is now in remission, but her fight’s not over.

Dr. Love’s foundation is behind the Health of Women study, which polls all types of women for clues into what leads to breast cancer and how we can end it. Participants complete lifestyle surveys a few times a year, providing valuable data to Dr. Love’s team of researchers. “We need everybody, because we need to compare,” she tells us. “It can contribute to our understanding and pushing research.”

Because Dr. Love and her team work to eliminate the disease, we spoke to her about what exactly we need to do to get there.

Are we at all close to winning this war?
No. [Laughs] I don’t think we’re as close as we would like to be. We’re still treating with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, sometimes targeted drugs — we started that when I started out in the early 1980s. We keep adding drugs, but we don’t ever subtract anything, and our results are a little better, but not great. What I really think we need to do is shift from trying to find exactly what is the gene that’s gone wrong, or the metabolic pathway that’s gone wrong, and fix it, to trying to figure out what are the conditions that cause it in the first place. I think we’ll be much more successful if we go looking for the cause rather than focusing on fixing it after it’s already broken. We have that great example of cancer of the cervix, where we were doing total hysterectomies for abnormal pap smears when I started because we didn’t know what else to do. So you lost your fertility, and had surgery for something that hadn’t even gotten far. It’s sort of like what we do for DCIS [abnormal cells in a breast’s milk duct] today. These mastectomies for DCIS, it’s like doing a hysterectomy for an abnormal pap smear — we don’t know what else to do. Then we figured out that it was sexually transmitted that it was a virus and now we have a vaccine. How much better would that type of approach be for cancer of the breast!

Why is that approach better?
All cancers have mutations in them, but we make lots of mutations in our bodies over the years. We’re exposed to carcinogens all the time — from the radiation in the atmosphere through environmental things, through the sun, through cigarettes — and the reason cancer is more common as you get older is because the longer you live the more chance you have to experience all of these carcinogens and get mutations. But not everybody gets cancer, so it obviously is more than just an abnormal mutation that’s the problem. If you think about, say, kids that grow up in a bad neighborhood, you can either try to capture every kid as they do a crime and put them in jail, or you can look at the conditions of the neighborhood and maybe you clean up, get rid of the gangs, get a farmers market, do all these things we talk about. By changing the neighborhood, [those] same kids will turn out differently — not 100 percent, but a lot.

So what needs to be done?
One of the things that we’re doing here at the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is putting out the call for people to give us questions to ask in the Health of Women study about the collateral damage [breast cancer] creates. I think [with] people who haven’t had breast cancer, there is a sense that, “Oh, well, you get diagnosed, then you have to have surgery and maybe radiation and chemo, but then you’re back to normal and everything’s great.” And anybody who’s had it will say no. [Laughs] You’re never back to normal — it’s a different reality. … So we’re putting out a call for questions and we’re gonna work with other breast cancer groups this October. Then we’ll put it in the health study and we’ll be able to document what the cost of the cure is and also maybe correlate it with some other things in people’s health. There may be links that haven’t been really looked at because people don’t pay that much attention to them.

What can we do to help?
We really need your generation to help push. We’ve got awareness, we’ve got screening, we have treatments — they’re not great, but we’ve got some treatments and we’re doing better — but let’s just get rid of it. To hell with it! The time’s come to go the next step. Let’s just end it — let’s find the cause and end it. And it’s a doable thing. We’ve done it with other cancers, we can do it with this.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.