Female hormones in BRCA gene carriers "explain cancer risks"

Female hormones in BRCA gene carriers "explain cancer risks"

According to a new study anomalous levels of female hormones that are in the bloodstream are a reason for women to have faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and are more prone to get breast and ovarian cancer than other cancers. Researchers from the Department of Women's Cancer at University College London (UCL) in the UK say their study brought new ways to avert the cancers in women with higher risk into picture. It is common that women with faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes develop breast and ovarian cancer easily. Due to this women decide to remove their breasts or ovaries in order to prevent it. It is focused a lot because of the actress Angelina Jolie deciding to undergo a bilateral mastectomy due to faulty BRCA gene. However, the researchers are unclear of the extent of development of breast and ovarian cancer over other cancers due to faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Professor Martin Widschwendter, head of the Department of Women's Cancer at UCL, told Medical News Today: “The cancer risk for BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers is due to a 'local' fault in the normal cells ability to mend DNA damage, making them to become malignant. There is no explanation of BRCA1/2 are considered to develop breast and ovarian cancer than other cancers."

The researchers made use of ultrasound scans to examine the thickness of 1,966 uterus linings for the study published in The Lancet Oncology, 1,573 measurements were of women negative for both faulty genes, which were compared to 203 measurements of women positive for the faulty BRCA1 gene, and 190 positive for the faulty BRCA2 gene. The researchers say, the uterus linings thickness is partially reliant on the levels of the female hormones estradiol and progesterone. The levels of hormone concentration were measured within the participant's bloodstream. Analysis revealed women with abnormal BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes showed higher concentrations of female hormones. Moreover, hormone levels differences were linked to differences in the thickness of the uterus lining in the second half of the menstrual cycle. Prof. Widschwendter told Medical News Today:"Evidently those women with BRCA1/2 gene alterations are prone to different levels of female hormones. As they are risk-factors for breast and ovarian cancer, it is explained why BRCA1/2 carriers get breast and ovarian cancer than other types of cancer."

Prof. Widschwendter says the study opens a new window of prospect to prevent breast and ovarian cancer in BRCA mutation carriers. Previous research showed progesterone is triggered by an expression called RANKL, which leads to the breast cancer. Denosumab drug is used to treat osteoporosis. It is anticipated to prevent breast cancer. Study is conducted to see the effect of estrogen hormones on fallopian tubes. "As ovarian cancers in BRCA1/2 carriers start in the Fallopian tubes," said Prof. Widschwendter, study is made to see effects of estrogens on other genes in the tubes to make drugs to prevent the carcinogenic effect of high levels of estrogens locally in the tube." Women may not decide to take drastic steps in future due to the study. Other research has challenged the findings from UCL of genetic factors regarding breast cancer.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Creighton University suggest every family has different genetic factors leading to breast cancer.” The researchers say, there are approximately 30 to 50 gene mutations identified affecting 30-40% of women commonly BRCA mutations discovered 20 years ago. For their study, published in The Breast Journal, the researchers analyzed above 20,000 genes in eight members of a family were 5 had breast cancer over three generations - and discovered a mutated gene called KAT6B. This gene is related to many types of cancer other than breast cancer. By testing this same gene mutation in 40 other families with breast cancer it is found that this particular gene mutation was not present.

Dr. Sam Ming Wang, associate professor at the Department of the Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy at UNMC, says:"According to data similar disease can have different causes. People focused on finding a common mutation among different families. Different families will have different cause so searching for a common cause will not work. This explains why after almost 20 years we haven't made major growth."

A new imaging technique that may identify breast cancer subtypes and early treatment response was reported in Medical News Today recently.