PHILADELPHIA Women whose breast cancer came back after treatment had almost twice as much estrogen in their blood than did women who remained cancer-free despite treatment with anti-estrogen drugs in a majority of the women according to researchers in a study published in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
The findings suggest that high levels of estrogen contribute to an increased risk of cancer recurrence, just as they lead to the initial development of breast cancer, said the studys lead author, Cheryl L. Rock, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
While this makes sense, there have been only a few small studies that have looked at the link between sex hormones in the blood and cancer recurrence, she said. This is the largest study to date and the only one to have included women taking agents such as tamoxifen to reduce estrogens effect on cancer growth.
What the results mean for women who have already been treated for breast cancer is that they should do as much as they can to reduce estrogen in their blood, such as exercising frequently and keeping weight down, she added. Taking anti-estrogen drugs like tamoxifen may not completely wipe out the hormones effect in women who have high levels of estrogen.
Participants from this study were drawn from the larger Womens Healthy Eating and Living Study (WHEL), a dietary intervention trial that followed 3,088 women who had been treated for early stage breast cancer but who were cancer-free at the time they enrolled. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups one that ate a normal healthy diet and the other that ate extremely high amounts of fruits, fiber, and vegetables and were followed for more than seven years. Breast cancer recurrence was about the same in each group, according to the result
|Contact: Jeremy Moore|
American Association for Cancer Research