How the Presence of Estrogen Protects Women from Gastric Inflammation Leading to Cancer

Advanced Cancer Research
Advanced Cancer Research

In the past, scientists have attributed gender discrepancies in cancer rates to lifestyle differences. Recent evidence strongly indicates that the cause may actually lie in biological differences instead.

This theory was bolstered by the results of an MIT study involving male mice infected with H. pylori, a bacterium that can lead to gastric cancer. More than 50 percent of people around the globe are infected with H. pylori, and while many remain asymptomatic, gastric cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.

How Gastric Cancer Develops

H. pylori infections are controlled by the body’s immune system, but a common side effect is gastritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach. The result is conditions that lead to the development of gastric cancer.

Studies have indicated that estrogen can protect women from gastritis, lowering their gastric cancer risk. Conversely, Tamoxifen and other drugs that block estrogen have been linked to higher risk of gastric cancer in women.

Testing the Theory

The mice in the MIT study were treated with estrogen, Tamoxifen or both. None of them developed cancer despite a prior history of gastritis, suggesting that Tamoxifen in the stomach may mimic rather than block estrogen. In the untreated control group, 40 percent of the mice developed gastric cancer.

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