Ask any woman and she will tell you that yes, breasts are sensitive to hormones and now it seems science is catching up at a rather deeper level. Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia have discovered that breast stem cells are highly sensitive to the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone and believe this opens the way for the development of new breast cancer treatments.
The research has come out of years of evidence linking breast cancer risk to sustained exposure to female hormones, particularly oestrogen. Dr Jane Visvader, who led the research with Dr Geoff Lindeman, said “There is clear evidence that the more menstrual cycles a woman has the greater her breast cancer risk. There is even an increase in breast cancer risk in the short-term following pregnancy. However the cellular basis for these observations has been poorly understood.”
Around 2005 these same Doctors discovered that breast stem cells lacked ‘receptors’ that would allow them to be directly controlled by the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone but this new research, funded by the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, has revealed that despite lacking receptors for oestrogen and progesterone, breast stem cells are still remarkably sensitive to female hormones.
Once a month this might have already occurred to you, but let’s hope the scientists make good on their discovery and use it, as they have said may happen, to help the development of new treatment options for breast cancer.
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