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Does Estrogen Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer?

Does Estrogen Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a type of cancer in which breast cells grow out of control and create tumors in the breast tissue that cause lumps or thickening. If left untreated, the tumors can spread throughout the body and may become life-threatening. After cancer of the skin breast cancer is the second most commonly found cancer found in women in the USA. 

According to the World Health Organisation, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer, and 67,000 cancer mortality cases were reported in 2022. Breast cancer occurs in women of any age belonging to any country of the world. In this blog, we will delve into the complex role played by estrogen, a hormone essential for human development, in breast cancer. 

Is It Fair to Accuse Estrogen of Causing Breast Cancer?

Traditionally, estrogen was seen as a catalyst for cancer growth. It was believed to stimulate the proliferation and division of the breast tissue, increasing the risk of cancer-causing mutations. Furthermore, recent research reveals a more intricate and direct relationship between estrogen and breast cancer. Estrogen can directly induce the genomic arrangements within cells that lead to cancer. In simple words, it acts as both a catalyst and cause of breast cancer. Studies have shown that postmenopausal women with higher levels of estrogen caused by medications such as estradiol and Premarin tablets have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Study by the Harvard Medical School on Breast Cancer

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found a new way that breast cancer can develop, involving estrogen, a hormone known to be linked to the disease. They discovered that in about one-third of breast cancer cases, estrogen directly causes changes in a cell’s DNA, leading to cancer. This is different from the usual way estrogen is thought to cause cancer, which is by encouraging breast cells to divide and grow.

In their study, the scientists looked at the genomes of 780 breast tumors. They found that, in many cases, two chromosomes had fused near areas where cancer genes are active. They also noticed that these areas were close to where estrogen binds to the DNA. To further investigate, they conducted experiments with breast cancer cells and found that exposing them to estrogen led to the same kind of DNA changes they observed in the tumors.

This new understanding of how estrogen can directly cause DNA changes and lead to cancer could help improve how we treat and monitor breast cancer. For example, drugs that block estrogen, like tamoxifen, might work by preventing these DNA changes, not just by stopping cell growth. This could lead to better tests for tracking the progress of the disease and its treatment.

Overall, this study shows the importance of looking closely at DNA and using sequencing technology to learn more about how cancer develops. It’s a big step forward in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer.

What Causes Breast Cancer?

The exact cause of most cases of breast cancer is still unknown, but researchers have found factors that may contribute to increasing the risk of breast cancer. Expert healthcare professionals know that breast cancer happens when something changes the DNA inside cells in the breast tissue, and the cells start to mutate and become cancerous cells. These cells further divide and multiply themselves to create tumors. It is not known what triggers this change. However, researchers suggest that several risk factors may increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

Non-estrogen Related Risk Factors That May Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer

Factors that may increase your risk of developing breast cancer are as follows:

  • If anyone in your immediate family has or ever had breast cancer, your risk of breast cancer is increased. The risk of developing the condition is greater if your parent, sibling or child has a history of being diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. The risk is also higher if you have many family members who have or had breast cancer. 
  • You have an increased risk of getting cancer in the other breast if you have or had breast cancer in one breast. 
  • If you have a personal history of breast conditions such as lobular carcinoma in situ and atypical hyperplasia of the breast, you have an increased risk of breast cancer. 
  • If you are a woman or AFB and you begin your periods before age 12, it can increase your risk of breast cancer. 
  • Women who begin menopause at an older age, specifically after 55, have a greater risk of breast cancer. 
  • Everyone is born with some breast tissue, so anyone can get breast cancer. However, women and individuals assigned female at birth are more likely to develop breast cancer as compared to men and people assigned male at birth. 
  • If you have much more dense breast tissues, your risk of breast cancer is increased. Talk with a healthcare professional about other tests you should have in addition to a mammogram to look for breast cancer. 
  • If you give birth to your first child after the age of 30, it may increase the risk of breast cancer. 
  • If you have never been pregnant, it increases the risk of breast cancer. 
  • Certain inherited DNA changes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can greatly increase your risk of cancers, including breast cancer.  
  • Tobacco use and alcohol abuse are considered to cause many different types of cancer, including breast cancer. Drinking beverages containing alcohol and consuming alcohol may increase breast cancer risk. 
  • Taking menopausal hormone therapy that combines estrogen and progesterone can increase your risk of developing the condition. However, the risk may decrease once you stop taking the medication. 
  • People who are obese or overweight have an increased risk of breast cancer. 
  • If you had radiation exposure and received radiation treatments as a child or teenager, the risk of getting breast cancer is greater. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include:

  • Thickened area of skin or breast lump that is different from the surrounding areas.
  • Flattened or inward-turned nipple.
  • Changes in the color of breast skin. 
  • Change in shape, size or appearance of the breast.
  • Dimpled or orange peel like the skin of the breast. 
  • Cruting, scaling, flaking or peeling of the skin of the breast. 

Prevention of Breast Cancer

Making certain lifestyle changes can help in decreasing the risk of breast cancer. These changes include: 

  • Breast cancer screening: Consult your doctor regarding when to begin breast cancer screening and inquire about its potential risks and benefits. You should also familiarize yourself with self-examination of breasts. If there is an unusual change like a lump or change in color or texture of the breast, report it to your doctor or healthcare professional immediately. 
  • Limit your alcohol consumption: You should drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. If you are very concerned about your risk of developing breast cancer, you may choose not to drink alcohol-containing beverages at all. 
  • Exercise regularly: On most days of the week, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight: If you have a healthy weight, work towards maintaining that weight. However, if you need to lose weight, consult a healthcare professional to determine healthy ways to reduce the weight. They may ask you to eat a lesser-calorie diet and do regular physical exercise. 

By adopting these lifestyle changes and following the guidance of your doctor, you can reduce your risk of breast cancer. Consider the best Canadian online pharmacy for your other healthcare needs.


To conclude, the role of estrogen in developing breast cancer is multifaceted. For early detection and effective management of the condition, it is essential for various physiological processes to understand its impact on cancer development. With the technological and medical advancements, the survival rates of breast cancer have been increasing. And the mortality rate due to breast cancer has been steadily going down. Another reason for this development may be funding of research and widespread support for breast cancer awareness. Advancements in breast cancer screening allow early detection of the condition. Diagnosing the cancer earlier increases the chances of the cancer being cured. Even if the cancer cannot be cured, many treatments can help extend the life of the patient. New discoveries in research are helping doctors in choosing the most effective treatment plans. 

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