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Medicineworld.org: Estrogen Use May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

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Estrogen Use May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Estrogen Use May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
A new study from the Dana-Farber cancer institute shows that postmenopausal women with colon cancer lives longer if they have been taking estrogen supplements within five years of their diagnosis. This becomes an interesting finding given the fact that postmenopausal estrogen usage has been on decline recently because of reports of increased risk of breast cancer linked to its use.

In this new study, which is reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers examined the effect of estrogen use on the survival of older women already diagnosed with the disease.

The scientists are not suggesting that women should be taking postmenopausal hormone therapy to prevent colon cancer risk. With estrogen use has dropped sharply among postmenopausal women in recent years, due to concerns about its role in heart disease and breast cancer, numerous studies have shown it significantly lowers the chances of developing colorectal cancer considering the other health risks linked to its use. Scientists are hoping that this finding would lead to development of new drugs from the clues obtained.

"This study provides a rationale to further study the basic mechanism by which estrogen influences the development and progression of colon cancer," states lead author Jennifer Chan, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber. "By understanding how estrogen offers potentially beneficial effects in some types of cells yet deleterious effects in others, it may be possible to design therapies that are effective against colon cancer without posing a significant risk of other problems".

Millions of older women have been taking hormone replacement therapy as a measure of prevention of symptoms linked to menopause. It also has capability of improving the bone density. However the use of postmenopausal hormone therapy has declined dramatically since researchers have reported that postmenopausal hormone therapy has other has the risks.

The research by Chan and her colleagues drew on data from 834 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study -- which has tracked the health of more than 100,000 female nurses since 1976 -- who had been diagnosed with colon cancer between 1976 and 2000. The scientists observed that, in comparison to women who had never used estrogen, those using the hormone at the time of diagnosis had a 36 percent lower chance of dying of colon cancer and a 26 percent lower chance of dying of any cause. The benefit was most pronounced in women who used estrogen for less than five years. Using it for longer, however, did not seem to provide a similar advantage.

The authors do not know why using estrogen for more than five years did not improve women's chances of survival. They theorize that colon tumors that developed in women who had used estrogen for a number of years may have been less susceptible to estrogen's growth-slowing effects.

The precise way by which estrogen foils the growth of colon cancer cells is unclear, as well. The study authors offer three possibilities: the hormone directly suppresses the cells' growth; it decreases the production of bile acids which are known to spur cancer; or it blocks certain genetic changes within colon cells that lead to cancer.

"Further efforts are needed to bring these mechanisms to light," comments Chan, who is also an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Our study provides an important rationale for undertaking those studies".


Posted by: Sue    Source




Did you know?
A new study from the Dana-Farber cancer institute shows that postmenopausal women with colon cancer lives longer if they have been taking estrogen supplements within five years of their diagnosis. This becomes an interesting finding given the fact that postmenopausal estrogen usage has been on decline recently because of reports of increased risk of breast cancer linked to its use.

Medicineworld.org: Estrogen Use May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

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