Can progesterone-induce chronic inflammation as key factor in the risk of breast cancer?
Of the twenty-three studies examined, twenty-one showed an increased risk of breast cancer with oral contraceptive use prior to a first pregnancy in pre-menopausal women. The combined results showed an over-all risk of 44 percent.
What Causes it?
Exposure to progesterone in normal amounts and in normal circumstances causes inflammation, which promotes mammary development.
The recognition of progesterone's ability to suppress ovulation during pregnancy created a synthetic product called progestin’s which serves the purpose of controlling ovulation-known commercially as The Pill.
Individuals taking prescription drugs routinely can and do interfere with the normal absorption and essential nutrients as do women who are on oral contraception . This can and will interfere with vitamin, mineral and amino acid metabolism contributing to a deficiency in Vitamins like D, B2, B6, Folic Acid, C, Magnesium and zinc.
Pregnancy levels of estrogen suppress many cytotoxic (Cytotoxic refers to a substance or process which results in cell damage or cell death.) and innate immune responses, whereas antibody production, angiogenesis, and growth-associated phenomena can be stimulated.
One of the most important immune responses during pregnancy is the increase of B cell responses (The principal functions of B cells are to make antibodies against antigens which are a vital part of the immune system )due to the progressive increase of progesterone and estrogens during pregnancy, which reach their peak level in the third trimester .
During pregnancy several natural steroidal hormones increase, such as cortisol, estrogens, and progesterone. The role of cortisol is as an anti-inflammatory hormone.
Now progesterone promotes the development of the normal mammary gland in readiness for the new child to come.
Progesterone also turns on a wide array of genes involved in several biological processes, including cell adhesion and survival and inflammation and regulates a variety of cells These processes may be relevant to the development of breast cancer with long-term exposure to progesterone encouraging growth of tumours.
Research has demonstrated exposure to progesterone in menopausal hormone therapy is known to increase the risk. Conversely women taking less hormone therapy after menopause result in a lower rates of the disease.
Chemokine’s are a family of small cytokines, or proteins secreted by cells. These proteins control the process of inflammation. Both cytokines and chemokine’s are small cell-signaling protein molecules.
Inflammation is a process where white blood cells move into a tissue. Some chemokine’s are considered pro-inflammatory and can be induced during an immune response to recruit cells of the immune system to a site of infection or trauma or pathogens while others are involved in controlling the migration of cells during normal processes of tissue maintenance or development.
One type of white blood cell which moves to the breast during inflammation is a macrophage.
Macrophages normally enter growing glands and help them develop, building blood vessels (angiogenesis) and reshaping growing tissue.
(Macrophages are highly specialised in removal of dying or dead cells and cellular debris. This role is important in chronic inflammation.)
Macrophages may promote the development of tumours, such as breast cancer, as they make blood vessels to deliver nutrients clearing the way for tumours to grow in an optimal environment.
Understanding the genes regulating chronic inflammation in the mammary gland will improve understanding of normal breast growth and eventually treatments for the abnormal growth in cancer.
As can be seen the condition of chronic inflammation and how estrogens influence secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines must play a decisive role in the development of tumours and breast cancer as chronic inflammation and immune response can eventually cause immune dysfunction and ultimately cell damage.
Still a lot is not clear with progestin, estrogen and cancer. It must also be noted the drug companies collect billions of dollars a year in revenue from over the counter sales in The Pill. Like cigarette companies will they tell you The Pill is not bad for you?
Vitamin D is related to reduced risk of breast cancer and disease prognosis. Low vitamin D levels among women with breast cancer correlate with more aggressive tumors and poorer prognosis.
Lower vitamin D levels will help physicians predict a patient's breast cancer outcome.
If you are on the Pill you should seriously consider monitoring vitamin D levels for yourself or anyone who you know to make them understand its significance in helping prevent breast cancer.