Lung cancer rates with females is generally higher than with males, across most societies. New research has found the hormone estrogen to be a significant factor in explaining this difference.
This type of research is of pressing social importance given that studies are showing that rates of lung cancer are rising with younger women in the many countries, including the U.S. See, for example, a study published by Gourd in The Lancet: “Lung cancer incidence higher in US women than men.” Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the world with 1.69 million deaths in 2015 alone, according to the World Health Organization. However, incidence in men have been falling yet the lung cancer epidemic in women have shown an increase. New research, from the University of Florida, has attempted to explain the variance between men and women and for the increase in lung cancer rates among women. According to lead researcher, Dr. Ting-Yuan “David” Cheng, speaking with the website Cure: “In a number of studies, there have been indications that, at the same levels of smoking, women may be more susceptible to lung cancer than men.” He adds: “Also, in patients with lung cancer who never smoked in their lifetime, the proportion of women is higher than men. We, therefore, hypothesized that steroid hormones, which differ between women and men, can be a factor influencing the etiology of lung cancer.” The new research looked at the connection between smoking, gender and the expression of different hormone receptors. For this the researchers took tumor samples from 813 patients (composed of 450 women and 363 men). The laboratory analysis showed that the expression of estrogen receptor beta (ER-beta), a hormone receptor that inhibits tumor growth, was lower in women than in men. The scientists additionally found that levels of this hormone in postmenopausal women and those who had never used hormone therapy. These discoveries indicate that circulating levels of the hormone estrogen, which is falls during the menopause and which is elevated due to hormone therapy could modifying ER-beta levels. Furthermore, hormone receptors could be affected by cigarette smoking. This is because there are higher levels of the estrogen receptor alpha, which can promote tumor growth, in smokers compared with non-smokers. While there is an association with the hormone and a connection with women, and then for women who are older, the researchers state that the overriding message is not to smoke. The research findings have been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The research paper is titled “Influence of estrogen in non-small cell lung cancer and its clinical implications.”
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