Expert Sandra Haslam Though it is known that a combination of the hormones estrogen and progesterone increases breast cancer risk, the precise reason behind this is unknown. Well, this piece of information has apparently shed light on the interaction taking place between both the hormones for raising the threat of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Scientists claim to have found the way progesterone and estrogen interact with each other to enhance cell growth in normal mammary cells and mammary cancers. The research findings can probably aid in introducing novel treatments for the ailment.

During the research, investigators employed the native hormone, progesterone, and a synthetic compound, progestin. Postmenopausal women receiving hormone replacement therapy along with estrogen plus progestin allegedly have greater risk of breast cancer than those subjected to estrogen alone. Breast cancers developed in women receiving estrogen plus progestin may be more invasive and fatal. At the time of the investigation, experts laid hands on the protein amphiregulin and its receptor. This protein and its receptor seem to be a hallmark in elevating chances of developing breast cancer.

“The results indicate that the interactions between estrogen, progesterone and epidermal growth factor receptor pathways may be considered relevant targets for the treatment of hormone-dependent breast cancers. This may be especially important in premenopausal breast cancer because women produce their own estrogen and progesterone. A combined approach of inhibiting both the hormones and the epidermal growth factor receptor may be beneficial for some women in treating hormone-dependent breast cancer,” commented, Sandra Haslam, director of Michigan State University’s Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center and lead investigator.

Amphiregulin apparently acts through its receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor, for activating intracellular pathways that control cell growth. Once the intracellular pathways are activated, the growth of normal cell and tumors is supposedly improved. While conducting the experiment on rats, researchers also noted that the cancer drug Iressa halts epidermal growth factor receptor. The research can help develop novel medications for fighting breast cancer.

The research is published in Hormones and Cancer.