Estrogen worsens ovarian cancer disease.

Oct 17, 2008

Park, S-H, LWT Cheung, AST Wong and PCK Leung. 2008. Estrogen regulates snail and slug in the down-regulation of E-Cadherin and induces metastatic potential of ovarian cancer cells through estrogen receptor α. Molecular Endocrinology 22:2085-2098.

Synopsis by Benson T. Akingbemi

New research indicates that estrogen may enhance the aggressive behavior of cancer by promoting movement of cancer cells from the ovaries to other body organs.

A new cell study from researchers at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, indicate that estrogen may be the reason cancer cells becomes aggressive and move from the ovaries to other parts of the body. Because many environmental chemicals induce the making of the natural estrogen estradiol in body tissues, these results point to a potential way by which endocrine disruptors may contribute to the severity of ovarian cancer disease. Limiting estrogen exposure to both natural and synthetic estrogens and estrogen-mimicking compounds might be one way to stem the spread of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of cancer in women in the United States. Increased estrogen levels contribute to the risk of ovarian cancer but exactly how estrogen is involved is poorly understood. Using human ovarian cancer cells, the authors analyzed the effects of estrogen on genes that regulate the ability of cells to disengage from each other and move. Estrogen was found to affect cancer cells both by suppressing expression and activity of a gene that makes cells stick together better, as well as turning on genes that encourage cells to detach and move around.