Hormones can cause breast cancer

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New advice to avoid breast cancer: hormones in the form of contraceptives can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Certain hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. An international team of researchers, with the participation of the University Hospital in Erlangen, has now scientifically explained the mechanism behind it for the first time and published the results in the journal "Nature". Based on the findings, new treatment approaches and therapies against breast cancer can be derived, as is the hope of Prof. Dr. Georg Schett, Director of Medical Clinic 3 at the University Hospital Erlangen

Hormones increase the risk of breast cancer The fact that the administration of certain hormone preparations is linked to breast cancer has long been known to experts. However, the exact process leading to the increased risk of breast cancer has not yet been scientifically discussed, the researchers said in the context of the publications now presented. The only thing that was clear was that the cells of the mammary gland have receptor molecules (receptors) for estrogens and progesterone, and they are particularly sensitive to medroxy progesterone, for example, which is used in the three-month injection for contraception. A similar reaction was seen with other synthetic progesterones, which overall increases the risk of breast cancer considerably when using such preparations, according to the scientists, according to the current state of research. As references, they primarily referred to large US studies such as the "Women's Health Initiative" or the "Million Women Study".

Protein molecule as the cause of uncontrolled cell growth
The international consortium of basic scientists and clinical scientists from Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the USA has now been able to demonstrate that progesterone stimulates the signal protein RANKL (Receptor Activator for Nuclear Factor k B Ligand). The protein molecule is actually responsible for bone metabolism and growth, but is also formed in the female breast due to the influence of progesterone, explained the research team led by study leader Prof. Josef Penninger from Vienna. Here, RANKL promotes cell growth in the mammary gland and contributes to the proliferation of stem cells, which in turn are largely responsible for the development of breast cancer (breast cancer), the researchers further explained. In their opinion, the risk of malignant tumors increases considerably through the use of hormone preparations.

New treatment approaches against breast cancer possible Since drugs have already been researched that can therapeutically inhibit the protein RANKL, the doctors see their findings as a good basis for the development of new prevention and treatment methods for breast cancer. "The knowledge of the relationship between progesterone and RANKL will result in better options for the therapy of breast cancer patients in the future, but also for the prevention of tumor development, since changes in RANKL precede the clinical manifestation of the disease," said the scientists' comment in the specialist magazine " Nature ". So far, the therapeutic inhibition of RANKL has been used primarily for osteoporosis, a disease that also affects mostly women.

One in ten will develop breast cancer, 30 percent will die. Around one in ten women will develop breast cancer in the course of their lives, with breast cancer being the most common form of cancer among women, accounting for 28% of all new cancers. Around 57,000 people develop breast cancer in Germany each year and then have to undergo surgery, cytostatics, hormones and / or radiation therapy. The likelihood that a disease will be fatal (lethality) is around 30%, making breast cancer the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 30 and 60 in industrialized countries. (fp, 04.10.2010)

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