Studies on the effect of hormone use on lung cancer survival have been limited, and the results have been inconsistent, but now it seems that progesterone and oestrogen are what can make a real difference to survival rates.
Survival among those with lung cancer has traditionally been better for women than men, but there has been no definitive answer on why this might be so. Now a new study by Ann G. Schwartz, PhD, MPH, of Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, Michigan has for the first time made the discovery that it is women’s primary sex hormones that make the difference.
The hormone factor
The study looked at women with non-small cell lung cancer and looked at various factors including what stage the disease was when diagnosed, treatment type (surgery or radiation), smoking history, age, race, and education level. After factoring all that in the only thing that could predict survival after a diagnosis of lung cancer was the use of hormone therapy.
Women on a combination of progesterone plus oestrogen survived on average twice as long
The study was based on 485 women, and looked at giving oestrogen alone or oestrogen and progesterone. In both cases the survival rate was better than when no hormone treatment was given, but there was a higher survival rate when progesterone was included in the therapy.
Combined oestrogen and progesterone averaged a survival time of 87.0 months) and on oestrogen alone of 83.0 months. The findings of the study are published in the March issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s journal, the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO).
Progesterone and cancer protection
The role of progesterone in treating oestrogen dominance by damping down oestrogen receptors and helping protect from breast, uterine and cervical cancers is already known, but treatment for lung cancer where there is no oestrogen component is new.
However progesterone does support the body’s autoimmune and nervous systems as well as being heart protective. Progesterone’ main role is in opposing oestrogen excess and in rebalancing hormones the protective role of progesterone helps on many levels.