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Pregnancy may help protect against bladder cancer
Date:6/25/2008

Pregnancy seems to confer some protection against bladder cancer in mice, scientists have found.

Female mice that had never become pregnant had approximately 15 times as much cancer in their bladders as their counterparts that had become pregnant, according to new findings by investigators at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Their work appears online as a rapid communication in the journal Urology.

The researchers led by Jay Reeder, Ph.D., are focusing on a fact that has puzzled doctors and scientists for decades: Why does bladder cancer, the fifth most common malignancy in the nation, affect about three times as many men as women? Scientists long blamed men's historically higher rates of smoking and greater exposure to dangers in the workplace, but the gap has persisted even as women swelled the workforce and took up smoking in greater numbers.

"While some researchers have asked why men are more vulnerable to bladder cancer, perhaps we should be asking why women have more protection," said Reeder, a research assistant professor in the departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Urology, and Imaging Sciences. "When it comes to bladder cancer, being female is a very good thing."

First author Aimee Johnson was investigating ways in which hormones might make males more vulnerable to bladder cancer. She was comparing rates of bladder cancer in male and female mice when she took a closer look at the females. She found an unexpected, marked difference in cancer rates and volumes among the female mice.

Female mice that had gotten pregnant repeatedly had far fewer bladder cancers than both their normal male counterparts and their female counterparts that had never gotten pregnant. On average, the total tumor volume was about 15 times greater in female mice that had never gotten pregnant compared to mice that had gotten pregnant.

"We were shocked at the differences between the two groups," sa
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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