Related Topics: Cancer, Hormones, Men's Hormones, News

Estrogen and Its Impact on Prostate Cancer Risk

New research shows varying effects of estrogen on prostrate cancer risk.

AnnA Rushton

I can’t be the only one to notice that there are more men around these days with bigger breasts than our own.  Estrogen is known to be the key factor in developing the fatty tissue of the breasts and given the levels of estrogen in the environment these days I suppose it comes as no surprise, but it seems it also has another impact as well.

Prostate health is dependent on the level of the male hormones collectively known as androgens. However, it is now recognized that estrogens also play a role in the gland’s normal growth as well as in prostate cancer

What is surprising is that one type of estrogen could prove a risk factor for prostate cancer, but another type might be protective.  New research at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in the USA appears to show that a high level of one type of estrogen in a man’s body might increase his risk of developing prostate cancer.

That is one conclusion from a new study which also offers another novel finding – that high levels of the estrogen considered fuel for breast cancer might offer a protective benefit against prostate cancer.

The researchers measured estrogens and their metabolites in the urine collected from 77 men with prostate cancer, 77 healthy controls and 37 men that underwent biopsy but were diagnosed cancer-free. The relative amounts of the 15 estrogens and estrogen metabolites in the urine of prostate cancer cases were similar to that of non-cancer patients with the exception of the estrogen metabolite 4-OHE which appeared to be more abundant among men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The estrogen metabolites that are considered as ‘harmful’ in breast cancer (16-KE2 and 17-epiE3) are secreted in higher amounts among those without prostate cancer and in lower amounts in those with prostate cancer. This seems to suggest that these particular estrogens may have a protective role against prostate cancer development and that it is possible that different tissues respond to estrogens in different ways.

This research is in the early stages, but it makes sense that the potential role of 16-KE2 and 17-epiE3 in prostate cancer prevention and management should be explored further.

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