Monday, July 13, 2009

Links Between Hormones and Cancer

The market for cancer therapeutics is huge and growing by double-digits annually. This phenomenal growth is fueled especially in the area of biologic drugs. Globally, more than 10 million people are affected by cancer annually, a number that is expected to increase 2.4 percent each year through 2020 up to 14 million. Common cancers include breast, bladder, cervical colon/rectum, esophageal, liver, lung, prostate and stomach cancer.

Among the key trends of current cancer therapies including chemotherapy and biotherapeutics, is hormone therapy. Much research is needed but in a July 9, 2008 article, we learn some of the details about how estrogen and progesterone play roles in the development of certain breast cancers.

T.S Wiley has long believed that hormone therapy could affect breast cancer, and she touched upon it in her book Sex, Lies, and Menopause.

The article details how estrogen sends signals through the hormone receptors that tell breast cancer cells to grow, and when estrogen attaches to the receptors, they grow and multiply. Once breast cancer is removed, the cells are tested to see if they have hormone receptors, and if either estrogen or progesterone receptors are present, a response to hormonal therapy is very possible. The more estrogen or progesterone receptors present on those cells, the more likely that hormonal therapy will work against the particular cancer. If high levels of both estrogen and progesterone receptors are present, an even greater response to hormonal therapy is likely.

Estrogen and progesterone travel through the bloodstream and find their matching receptor sites on both healthy cells and cancer cells. Receptors are protein molecules that rest on the outside or inside of the cells in your body acting like an on–off switch for cell activities. If the right substance comes along that fits into the receptor, much like a key opening a lock, cell activity is unlocked.

It seems that many breast cancers are hormone-dependent—which means that estrogen and progesterone stimulate their growth by "turning on" hormone receptors in the cancer cells. Without these hormones, the cancer cells are not stimulated to grow, so they wither up and eventually may die.

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Thanks for joining my revolution to educate women about their hormones! Let's work together.