One limitation to the research, Ganti noted, is that only 40 women actually developed lung cancer, so it was a very small study group.
The estrogen receptors implicated in lung cancer "don't seem to discriminate between men and women," Ganti said, indicating that anti-estrogens might have the same effect in men, although it's too early to state this definitively.
Other than breast and gynecological cancers, such as ovarian cancers, lung cancer has been the most extensively studied with regard to its interplay with estrogen, said Jing Peng, a post-doctoral associate in the Cancer Prevention Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
There is limited evidence that estrogen may play a role in head-and-neck cancers as well.
But the issue is a complicated one, with some studies in mice suggesting that tamoxifen might actually promote lung cancer, Peng said.
"This article at least verifies that further studies should be carried out," she said.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on lung cancer.
SOURCES: Apar Kishor Ganti, M.D., assistant professor, oncology-hematology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Neb.; Jing Peng, Ph.D., post-doctoral associate, Cancer Prevention Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; Jan. 24, 2011, Cancer, online
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