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Study finds hormones can change the breast's genetic material
Date:1/31/2013

the development of breast tissue including ducts and milk-producing cells, and for maintaining the activity of breast stem cells and their daughter progenitor cells. However, life-long exposure to hormones could lead to breast tumour initiation through increased levels of EZH2 and the changes that it orchestrates in the epigenome."

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women, accounting for almost 30 per cent of all cancers affecting women. One in nine women in Australia will develop breast cancer by the age of 85.

High levels of EZH2 are a marker of poor prognosis in breast cancer and have been frequently observed in basal-like breast cancers, the most aggressive types of breast cancer. "The link between progesterone, EZH2 and the epigenome, could be crucially important in the very early stages of breast cancer development," Professor Visvader said.

Professor Lindeman said there were decades of evidence linking hormone exposure with breast cancer, but the hormones' influence on the epigenome was not known. "Our discovery points to a role for hormone-induced changes in the epigenome in the early stages of breast cancer initiation, and could lead to new therapeutics for treating breast cancer," Professor Lindeman said. "Inhibitors against EZH2 are being developed by others, but it will be several years before we know the outcome of these on cancer."


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Contact: Liz Williams
williams@wehi.edu.au
61-405-279-095
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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