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Test for hormones in blood not reflective of hormones in breast tissue; breast cancer risk
Date:4/22/2009

Denver, Colo. Many studies determine hormone levels in the blood as a marker of breast cancer risk. But it hasn't been known whether these blood tests reflect what is happening in the breast tissue, where certain hormones fuel cancer. Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center's (GUMC) Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center found that measuring the levels of four hormones in blood known to be linked to breast cancer doesn't necessarily reflect the levels of these hormones in the breast tissue itself.

In fact, the scientists say that blood tests used in research studies that measure these hormones could give a false impression of both the real breast cancer risk women face, and an imprecise picture of how these hormones affect breast cancer development. The findings are being presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"We know from this study that measuring the hormones in a patient's blood is not sufficient but that is how many research studies looking at breast cancer risk are being conducted," says the study's lead author, Adana Llanos, a graduate student in genetics at GUMC. "Understanding how cancers develop in breast tissue is the key to prevention, and we need to understand how these hormones affect breast tissue."

The research team, led by Llanos and under the guidance of senior investigator, Peter G. Shields, MD, head of Lombardi's Cancer Genetics and Epidemiology Program, did something that has not been done before: They tested normal breast tissue for the levels of IGF-1, IGFBP-3, adiponectin, and leptin. High levels of IGF-1 has been linked to breast cancer development, while low levels of IGFBP-3 is linked to increased risk. High levels of adiponectin and leptin are both related to obesity, which is, in itself, a risk factor for breast cancer.

"By understanding these hormones in the normal breast environment, we will have some insight into how early changes in th
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
215-514-9751
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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