Article : Heart disease, breast cancer and estrogen

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by e = \( r e u B e n \) ², Sep 19, 2003.

  1. Researchers are looking at how levels of estrogen produced by women in
    different societies might affect their risk of breast cancer and heart
    In the UK, breast cancer affects around one woman in nine - a far higher
    rate than in many other countries, especially those in the developing world.
    Heart disease claims 20 per cent of all lives in the UK, but is far less
    common among pre-menopausal women than among men. The link, in both
    patterns, is the female hormone estrogen. Research has shown that estrogen
    promotes breast cancer, but protects against heart disease.

    Dr Tessa Pollard of the University of Durham, England, believes that British
    women today are producing much more estrogen than they did in the past.
    Research with women in Mali and the Congo, whose lifestyles are probably
    closer to those of our ancestors, show they have far fewer menstrual periods
    in a lifetime than does a woman in an industrialized society (about 100
    compared to 400). This is linked to differences in the number of pregnancies
    and the duration of breastfeeding and means that a modern Western woman is
    exposed to estrogen for a longer time throughout her life, raising the risk
    of breast cancer.

    Western women's ovaries also produce more estrogen. Dr Pollard suggests this
    is associated with higher calorie intake and less physical activity in
    modern societies. Her current research is also looking at whether levels of
    nutrition pre-birth and in early childhood set the ovarian production of
    estrogen for the rest of a woman's life. She is looking at estrogen
    production in both women born and bred in the UK, comparing it with migrant
    women born in South Asia. It's hoped that this work will lead to ways of
    pinpointing women most at risk of breast cancer because of their levels of
    estrogen production and lifetime exposure to the hormone.

    British Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting 9th September