ESTROGEN AND BREAST CANCER
DOES THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN BREAST CANCER AND ESTROGEN USE MAKE SENSE? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Why is estrogen exposure during perimenopause and menopause associated with an increased risk for aggressive breast cancers, as reported recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association? Ben Park, a breast cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, explains the association.
PARK: If we think about the root cause of all breast cancers we know that it’s about hormone exposure and in particular estrogens. Men can and do get breast cancers but the incidence is about a hundred fold less of so. We know that high doses of estrogen, sustained exposure can lead to the formation of breast cancers but also probably will lead to additional insults that can occur along the path even when a cell has decided to commit to becoming a breast cancer. That’s just adding insult to injury that the more deleterious effects you have of a carcinogen, and that’s really how we can think about estrogen, the more aggressive a cancer has a chance to evolve into. :34
While the definitive study hasn’t been done, Park says women need to carefully consider both risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.