23 Mar Daffodil Day – 10% profits this wknd to Irish Cancer Society.
Daffodil Day 23rd March 2018
Today is Daffofil Day the main fundraising day for The Irish Cancer Society. This is a charity that is close to my own heart. My Mum started the Drogheda Committee in 1987 and ever since Daffodil Day has been a part of my life. Often when we think of Cancer we think of those that we have lost, this Daffodil Day I wanted to focus our thoughts on the research that is facilitating so many people to live life with cancer and after cancer. Today I wanted to highlight one of the many Irish researchers working on projects funded by the Irish Cancer Society.
Amelia Smith is a PhD student in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in Trinity College Dublin her research is funded by the Irish Cancer Society’s BREAST PREDICT collaborative research centre.
Amelia can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am originally from Drogheda, Co. Louth. I attended ‘Our Lady’s College’, Greenhills where I first became interested in science and human biology (thank you; Mr. Montgomery, Mrs. Brennan, and Mrs. Mulvihill!). I went on to study Biomedical Sciences in Maynooth University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2011.
As I was keen to stay in the area of medical research, I went on to study Translational Oncology in Trinity College Dublin in 2012, and graduated with a Masters Degree. Here, I carried out laboratory-based research into how some oesophageal cancers can become resistant to radiotherapy.
In 2014, I started my PhD as part of the prestigious Irish Cancer Society, Cancer Collaborative Research Centre, Breast-Predict. At this time, I was also awarded a place on the ‘Structured Population and Health-services Research Education’ (SPHeRE) programme, which aims to train researchers in the area of population-health and health services research. After many years of not being quite sure what I wanted to do with my career, I then knew that cancer research was the field for me. Not only is it challenging and varied, it is also hugely rewarding. The Breast-Predict collaboration has exposed me to many different types of breast cancer research and allowed me to begin to establish my own career in a field called pharmacoepidemiology.
Pharmacoepidemiology is the study of medicines in large numbers of people, and my own PhD focuses on the potential links between statins (cholesterol-lowering medications) and improved breast cancer survival. So far, I have found that statins are associated with improved breast cancer survival in women who began taking these medicines prior to their diagnosis. However, this research is part of a much bigger picture and we must still figure out exactly how this is happening.
Amelia can you tell us a little about your research?
Each year in Ireland, over 2800 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to improved treatments and earlier diagnosis from Breast Check, many women go on to lead long lives as cancer survivors. Unfortunately however, each year over 700 women die from breast cancer. These are mothers, daughters, sisters, and we must continue to research new and better ways to treat these women.
Statins (for example; Lipitor) are commonly prescribed medications for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent laboratory studies have shown that statins may also play a role in stopping breast cancer cell growth. However, the anti-cancer effect of statins in women with breast cancer is still somewhat unclear.
“To try and answer this question, we analysed information from over 4000 Irish breast cancer patients and the medications they receive to determine whether women who started statin treatment after a breast cancer diagnosis were more or less likely to die from breast cancer. “
“We found that starting statin therapy did not cause a significant reduction in deaths due to cancer. However, the potential effect of statin therapy on breast cancer remains interesting and is being pursued in further studies.”
Amelia finally, can I ask why you wanted to get involved in cancer research specifically?
My research is motivated the by the fact that cancer has touched almost all families, and each year in Ireland over 700 lives are lost to breast cancer – this is 700 too many. I want to say Thank You to the Irish Cancer Society, its volunteers, and supporters for believing in research and the vital role it can play in improving the lives of those with cancer.’
Thank you, Amelia, your work is fascinating. Thanks to the work that all the researchers are doing through out the world we can look to the future more positively. I would like to encourage everyone to get out and support their local cancer charity as together we can drive change and hopefully help to save many more lives.
10% of profits from EVB Sport online sales will go to Irish Cancer Society.