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Carcinogenesis. 2010 Jun;31(6):1060-7. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgq009. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

Hormone therapy, DNA methylation and colon cancer.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 1441 Eastlake Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Observational epidemiological studies and randomized trials have reported a protective effect of estrogen and progestin therapy (EPT) on the risk of colorectal cancer but the findings on estrogen-alone therapy (ET) are less consistent. The mechanism by which menopausal hormones influence risk of colorectal cancer has not been well studied. To further investigate the relationship between menopausal hormones and risk of colon cancer, we conducted a population-based case-control study in Los Angeles County involving 831 women with newly diagnosed colon cancer and 755 population-based control women. Risk of colon cancer decreased significantly with increasing duration of current use of ET and EPT; the adjusted relative risk was 0.83 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 0.76-0.99)] per 5 years of ET use and 0.88 (95% CI = 0.78-0.99) per 5 years of EPT use. Risk of colon cancer was unrelated to past ET or EPT use. We explored if current use of menopausal hormones is associated with DNA methylation of estrogen receptor (ESR1 and ESR2), progesterone receptor and other genes in the colonic tissues of a subset of colon cancer patients (n = 280) we interviewed. Our results suggest that current menopausal hormone users compared with non-current users displayed increased DNA methylation of progesterone receptor in the 'normal' colonic tissues (P = 0.055) and increased DNA methylation of ESR1 in the 'tumorous' colonic tissues (P = 0.056). These findings on DNA methylation and hormone therapy use need confirmation in larger studies.

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