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Immune cells may increase breast cancer risk

Category: Breast

Lab tests have revealed that certain immune system cells in women may actually increase the risk for breast cancer. The results of a study from Adelaide University in Australia found that certain cells behave differently during the menstrual cycles of mice, and this change may be the same for women.

Immune cells and cancer correlation
The study found that cells known as macrophages, which are part of the immune system, behaved differently during the menstrual cycle. These cells are meant to control infections, diseases and pathogens in the body, including cancer. However, during the menstrual cycles of the mice in the study, the macrophages did not detect the cancer cells, which allowed them to continue developing and growing.

"What we find around the time that a woman has her period is that the immune defenses are down, so because these cells are important in functioning of the breast tissue they're actually increasing the chances that these cancer cells can escape detection," said Wendy Ingman, associate professor at the university, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Though the results of the study were of significance, it could be many years before the results can be used to improve cancer fighting efforts. A lab test online can help reveal cancer markers in patients who think they might be susceptible to breast cancer.

The researchers hope that the findings will enable them to continue their studies of the immune system and cancer in humans, which could lead to improvements in fighting this disease.

Risk factors for breast cancer
There are several factors that may lead to an increased risk for breast cancer. One such factor is simply being a woman - women are 100 times more likely to get breast cancer than men, according to the American Cancer Association.

Aging can also lead to an increased risk for this type of cancer. Two-thirds of cases are found in women aged 55 or older, while only 1 in 8 cases are found in women under 45.

Genetics can also play a part in breast cancer. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of cases are thought to be related to the mutated genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. These mutations can lead to the cancers that are more commonly found in younger women.

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