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New hormonal test may reveal women's chance of breast cancer

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

High levels of certain hormones in the blood can reveal a woman's risk of breast cancer up to 20 years in advance, a new study suggests. They say that high levels of the hormones estradiol, testosterone and DHEAS doubled the chances of some women developing breast cancer.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We, and others, are now evaluating if the addition of hormone levels to current risk prediction models can substantially improve our ability to identify high-risk women who would benefit from enhanced screening or chemoprevention," lead researcher Dr. Xuehong Zhang, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston says.

"If so, the current data suggest that hormone levels would not need to be measured in the clinic more than once every 10, or possibly 20, years."

According to a major U.S. investigation of risk factors affecting women's health, tests were carried out 10 years apart on participants in the Nurses' Health Study.

A total of 796 of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, 10 years after the second round of tests.

The study suggests that women in the top 25 percent of hormone levels for estradiol, testosterone and DHEAS were 50 to 107 per cent more likely to have developed breast cancer than those in the bottom quarter.

Estradiol is a potent form of estrogen. DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate) is an androgen, like testosterone, which despite being a male sex hormone, is present in women.

Raised levels of estradiol were specifically associated with an increased risk of breast cancers stimulated by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Elevated hormone levels were also linked to aggressive cancers.

"The relationship was comparable or possibly stronger for recurrent and fatal breast cancer than it was for overall breast cancer risk, although these results were based on relative small numbers of participants," Zhang says.

The findings were presented today at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting in Anaheim, California.

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