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Breast Cancer Res. 2009;11(5):212. doi: 10.1186/bcr2413.

Androgens and the breast.

Author information

1
Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, CRC, Room 1-3330, 10 Center Drive, MSC-1103 Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1103, USA. dimitrac@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

Androgens have important physiological effects in women while at the same time they may be implicated in breast cancer pathologies. However, data on the effects of androgens on mammary epithelial proliferation and/or breast cancer incidence are not in full agreement. We performed a literature review evaluating current clinical, genetic and epidemiological data regarding the role of androgens in mammary growth and neoplasia. Epidemiological studies appear to have significant methodological limitations and thus provide inconclusive results. The study of molecular defects involving androgenic pathways in breast cancer is still in its infancy. Clinical and nonhuman primate studies suggest that androgens inhibit mammary epithelial proliferation and breast growth while conventional estrogen treatment suppresses endogenous androgens. Abundant clinical evidence suggests that androgens normally inhibit mammary epithelial proliferation and breast growth. Suppression of androgens using conventional estrogen treatment may thus enhance estrogenic breast stimulation and possibly breast cancer risk. Addition of testosterone to the usual hormone therapy regimen may diminish the estrogen/progestin increase in breast cancer risk but the impact of this combined use on mammary gland homeostasis still needs evaluation.

PMID:
19889198
PMCID:
PMC2790857
DOI:
10.1186/bcr2413
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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