The Estrogen Connection For Cancer of The Prostate, Breast, and Uterus

What's the Estrogen connection between all this: the breast, uterus, and prostate?

Well..first thing is to understand something about estrogen

Estrogen is a generic name for several estrogens. Like Vitamin E, there's no one E, but 6. There are three estrogens collectively known as Estrogen. Estrogen is not strictly a female hormone, nor testosterone a male hormone. Both hormones are produced by males and females. As men get older, their testosterone drops, while the estrogen production remains the same or may even climb a little. This creates an estrogen-to-testosterone ratio in favor of the estrogen, and we see problems with this in the prostate.

Estrogens Used in The Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Maarten Bosland of the New York University Medical Center in Tuxedo, says estrogens have been used to treat prostate cancer. However, recent animal studies indicate that these hormones may actually enhance testosterone's threat to the prostate. This estrogen-to-testosterone ratio is thrown off and it now appears this is a major source of prostate cancer in men. We'll discuss this more shortly.

As the body uses or breaks down estrogen, a number of similar compounds are formed. Working both with animals and with cells grown in test tubes, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX., Joachim G. Liehr, a pharmacologist, has discovered some interesting things about estrogen.

  1. Liehr has shown that in certain female reproductive tissues, such as the breast and uterus, estrogen can be transformed into 4-hydroxy estradiol (4-HE).
  2. Also, this compound (4-HE) is a potent source of free radicals. Being such, it can cause cancer in these female tissues.
  3. Unlike other estrogen breakdown products, this one resists further degradation, so it can reach high concentrations.
  4. The pharmacologist suspects that the prostate also converts estrogen to 4-HE. This could explain much of the free-radical damage in prostates, if this is so.

Shuk-mei Ho, an endocrine oncologist at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. says that until now, the search for the mechanisms behind cancer of the prostate has centered on male sex hormones and their effects on genes. However, she and others have demonstrated that hormones can play an unexpected role in the prostate. This area of the male is full of hostile, free-radical-laden substances that hormones that might assist in the understanding of why cancer develops there.

This association of free radicals with aging in the prostate tissue has spurred the development of several things:

  • New and more precise techniques for diagnosing prostate cancer.

  • Finding evidence of DNA damage that may precede prostate cancer.

  • And, these new findings suggest that dietary and other antioxidant therapies may hold great promise for curbing this scourge.

  • Ho also notes something else happens here in the prostate that causes oxidative damage (free-radical).

  • As cells grow and use energy, they take in oxygen, and in doing so, they generate free radicals.

  • Enzymes in the cells normally produce antioxidants that limit damage by these radicals.

  • These enzymes tend to malfunction in cancerous prostates.

  • The gene responsible for activating one family of enzymes that detoxify strong oxidative damage is turned off in every sample of cancerous prostate tissue according to William G. Nelson John Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore.

  • Estrogen-to-testosterone Ratio: Estrogen may or may not be a primary source free radicals in the prostate. Nevertheless, there is a pivotol (vital or critically important) role estrogen plays here.

    The prostate's cells go into a quiescent, nonreproducing phase that lasts for decades. In men, it begins shortly after the organ reaches adult size, around 18-20 or so and continues to about age 50 or 60. Throughout this period, its cells are incessantly-and increasingly-bombarded by free radicals.

    In some way, Shuk-mei Ho believes the increased extrogen-to-testosterone ratio that men develop as they age triggers a resumption of prostate growth.

    1. Therefore, these cells copy their faulty DNA, allowing their progeny to carry the wrong information. That misinformation can lead to malignancy.

    Several studies have show that the free-radical theory of prostate cancer may explain recent dietary observations: Men taking Vitamin E are far less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who don't.

    1. Diets rich in tomatoes (Lycopene) seems to protect against cancer of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum, and prostate cancer.
    2. Selenium is found in seafood, certain organ meats, and grain may also help.
    3. Genistein, a compound found in soy protein blocks much of estrogen's activity in people, inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells.
    4. Of course, Vitamine E and Selenium are not carotenoids or flavones, but they figure in the overall protection.

    Now, let's look at what we've covered on this Estrogen Connection:

    We have estrogen break-down products forming a host of related compounds of which one is:

    As we age:

    When cells grow, divide and multiply, energy is needed and this demands oxygen use-this leads to oxidative damage.

    The Cellular Environment.

    What Goes Wrong in Cancerous Prostates.

    Gene Turn-Off.

    Estrogen-To-Testosterone ratio

    Back to where you were.