Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that doctors may someday be able to pinpoint which women are at greatest risk for breast cancer by using a simple blood test.
Researchers found that women with elevated levels sex hormones testosterone or estradiol were three times more level than those with low or normals levels to develop breast cancer. “This magnitude of risk is much higher than that observed for other breast cancer risk factors,” said lead study author Dr. Jane A. Cauley of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health. “Although well-established risk factors exist for breast cancer, more than 90 percent of all women have at least one of these factors and, individually, each factor only modestly increases a woman’s risk of developing the disease.”
Although past research has found that elevated estradiol levels contribute to breast cancer risk, Cauley’s study is the first to establish a link between testosterone levels and breast cancer. Further studies are planned to test the current findings, which were based on a relatively small, homogeneous population.
Cauley and colleagues hope that their research will lead to the development of preventative medicines and diet modifications designed to decrease the amounts of estradiol and testosterone in women’s blood.