Pregnancy hormones trigger the production of a protective protein that blocks breast cancer growth
26 Νοεμβρίου 2009
By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 9:50 AM on 25th November 2009
A chemical produced naturally in women’s bodies during pregnancy offers hope as a powerful breast cancer drug, scientists say.
Alph-fetoprotein, or AFP, seems to halt the growth of existing tumours and prevent new ones from appearing, a study found.
Although experts stress the findings need to be repeated in human tests, they believe the molecule could eventually be converted into a breast cancer drug.
AFP is produced by the body in response to pregnancy hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone, which are known to fuel the growth of some types of tumour.
‘Hormones in pregnancy, such as oestrogen, all induce AFP, which directly inhibits the growth of breast cancer,’ said lead researcher Dr Herbert Jacobson….
‘The body has a natural defence system against breast cancer. AFP needs to be safely harnessed and developed into a drug that can be used to protect women from breast cancer.’
Each year more than 45,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK and around 12,000 die from it.
Studies have shown that hormones released during pregnancy, such as oestrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin, may protect against breast cancer.
But the latest research suggests AFP may be the key to counteracting the cancer- causing properties of these hormones.