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Researchers unlock how progesterone increases breast cancer risk
Date:1/18/2011

egulin acting through its receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor along with progesterone leads to the activation of intracellular pathways that regulate cell growth," Haslam said. "When activated, this promotes normal cell growth and the growth of tumors."

The study was performed in rats because breast cancers in rats contain receptors for estrogen and progesterone similar to the human breast and tumor growth is hormone-dependent, as are the majority of human breast cancers. The research team also confirmed the same phenomenon in human breast cancer cell cultures.

In addition, the research team found that Iressa, a cancer drug that blocks the epidermal growth factor receptor, effectively stopped the proliferation caused by amphiregulin. While those studies were done only in cell cultures and not on tumors growing in animals, the results are promising, Haslam said.

"The results indicate that the interactions between estrogen, progesterone and epidermal growth factor receptor pathways may be considered relevant targets for the treatment of hormone-dependent breast cancers," she said. "This may be especially important in premenopausal breast cancer because women produce their own estrogen and progesterone.

"A combined approach of inhibiting both the hormones and the epidermal growth factor receptor may be beneficial for some women in treating hormone-dependent breast cancer."


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Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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