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Women who produce higher levels of the hormone aromatase may be more likely to receive positive breast cancer test results, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer Research.
Investigators from the Georgetown University Medical Center studied enzyme levels in a group of mice. They found that levels of aromatase - which converts the hormone testosterone in estrogen, a known risk factor for breast cancer - closely predicted each test subject's individual risk of developing breast cancer.
Medications that block the hormone are only just now beginning to be used. They are commonly prescribed in conjunction with drugs that curb estrogen levels. The researchers suggested that aromatase inhibitors may be a bit more effective, since they block the chemical that is largely responsible for estrogen levels in the first place.
"We know that estrogen is the fuel that most breast tumors use to grow, and this study shows us that making more estrogen in the breast, right next to cells that can use the hormone as fuel, appears to be a key trigger of early breast cancer," said Priscilla Furth, who led the investigation.
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