Certain types of breast cancer are strongly connected to hormones found in the blood. Specifically, breast cancer cells that have estrogen receptors (ER+) or progesterone receptors (PR+) are directly affected by the release of estrogen. Estrogen will attach to these receptors (or proteins) and prompt growth in ER+/PR+ breast cancer cells.1 One approach to treating such cancer cells, in addition to primary treatment like surgery, involves cutting off the cells’ connection to estrogen with hormone therapy either by lowering estrogen levels in the blood or by “shutting off” the receptors, thus reducing the risk of metastatic growth.
While hormone therapy has shown to be useful in the treatment of breast cancer, more can be explored in the use of hormone therapy to prevent breast cancer. In particular, the presence of progesterone in breast tissue “inhibits estrogen activity… and decreases the probability of clotting.”2 Progesterone also activates cells that can act as an “immune defense mechanism destroying cancer cells.”2
For example, it is known that high levels of estrogen and progesterone are associated with pregnancy, which seems to reduce risk of breast cancer following a full-term pregnancy. A study that examined the effects of external estrogen and progesterone among mouse models with hormone-receptive cancer cells showed a reduced occurrence of mammary tumors by more than 60%.3 While the necessary hormone levels for mice and women would differ in scale, the results show that external hormone treatment effectively reduced the likelihood of breast cancer occurring.
There are even more potential benefits of hormones, progesterone in particular, in the application of cancer prevention. Read more about them here on thermographyclinic.com.
You can also connect with a pharmacist to learn more about other possible benefits of hormone therapy!