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Tuesday, 31 May 2005 12:27
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Cancer risk determined by first days of life
Researchers have discovered that the first days in a personís life may determine whether potentially cancerous genes will eventually trigger the illness.

Studies on rats suggested that exposure to the hormone oestrogen after birth could increase the likelihood of genes such as BRAC1 and BRAC2, which can lead to breast cancer, developing into tumours.

The study focused on female rats with a genetic defect which predisposes them to uterine leiomyoma, a benign tumour similar to those which develop in many women.

Groups of the genetically defective rats were exposed to the oestrogenic drug, diethylstilbestrol (DES) in the days after they were born.

The scientists from the University of Texas found that nearly all the rats exposed to DES went on to develop cancer. Conversely, for rats without a genetic predisposition to tumours, exposure to DES did not lead to a single case of cancer in adulthood.

Professor Cheryl Walker, who led the research, said that these findings provide evidence that early exposure to oestrogen can cause genes to become sensitised to the hormone and can determine whether or not a person will eventually develop tumours.


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