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Concept: Estrogen receptor


BACKGROUND: Endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, some of which may not yet have been classified as such, are present in many occupational environments and could increase breast cancer risk. Prior research has identified associations with breast cancer and work in agricultural and industrial settings. The purpose of this study was to further characterize possible links between breast cancer risk and occupation, particularly in farming and manufacturing, as well as to examine the impacts of early agricultural exposures, and exposure effects that are specific to the endocrine receptor status of tumours. METHODS: 1006 breast cancer cases referred by a regional cancer center and 1146 randomly-selected community controls provided detailed data including occupational and reproductive histories. All reported jobs were industry- and occupation-coded for the construction of cumulative exposure metrics representing likely exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. In a frequency-matched case–control design, exposure effects were estimated using conditional logistic regression. RESULTS: Across all sectors, women in jobs with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors had elevated breast cancer risk (OR = 1.42; 95% CI, 1.18-1.73, for 10 years exposure duration). Specific sectors with elevated risk included: agriculture (OR = 1.36; 95% CI, 1.01-1.82); bars-gambling (OR = 2.28; 95% CI, 0.94-5.53); automotive plastics manufacturing (OR = 2.68; 95% CI, 1.47-4.88), food canning (OR = 2.35; 95% CI, 1.00-5.53), and metalworking (OR = 1.73; 95% CI, 1.02-2.92). Estrogen receptor status of tumors with elevated risk differed by occupational grouping. Premenopausal breast cancer risk was highest for automotive plastics (OR = 4.76; 95% CI, 1.58-14.4) and food canning (OR = 5.70; 95% CI, 1.03-31.5). CONCLUSIONS: These observations support hypotheses linking breast cancer risk and exposures likely to include carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, and demonstrate the value of detailed work histories in environmental and occupational epidemiology.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Oncology, Estrogen, Endocrinology, Estrogen receptor, Endocrine system, Endocrine disruptor


BACKGROUND: Postmenopausal women experience estrogen deficiency-related menopausal symptoms (e.g., hot flashes and mood swings) and a dramatic increase in the incidence of chronic diseases. Although estrogen-replacement therapy (ERT) can reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease and improve osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms, its side effects have limited recent use. This study investigated the estrogen-like activity of aqueous extract from Agrimonia pilosa Ledeb. METHODS: The estrogenic activity of A. pilosa was investigated by using several in vitro assays. The binding activity of A. pilosa on estrogen receptors was examined using a fluorescence polarization-based competitive binding assay. The proliferative activity of A. pilosa was also examined using MCF-7 cells. Furthermore, the effect of A. pilosa on the expression of 3 estrogen-dependent genes was assessed. RESULTS: Using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, the 3 major peaks of A. pilosa aqueous extract were identified as apigenin-hexose, luteolin-glucuronide, and apigenin-glucuronide. The aqueous extract induced the proliferation of estrogen receptor-positive MCF-7 cells (p < 0.05). A. pilosa-stimulated proliferation was blocked on adding the estrogen antagonist ICI 182,780. Moreover, A. pilosa treatment increased the mRNA expression of the estrogen-responsive genes pS2 and PR (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest A. pilosa can be used to improve estrogen deficiency-related menopausal symptoms or to treat diseases in postmenopausal women.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Hormone replacement therapy, Breast cancer, Menopause, Estrogen, Estrogen receptor, Menstrual cycle, Atrophic vaginitis



Therapies targeting estrogenic stimulation in estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer (BC) reduce mortality, but resistance remains a major clinical problem. Molecular studies have shown few high-frequency mutations to be associated with endocrine resistance. In contrast, expression profiling of primary ER+ BC samples has identified several promising signatures/networks for targeting.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Menopause, Estrogen, Estrogen receptor, Breast


Xenoestrogens are synthetic compounds that mimic endogenous estrogens by binding to and activating estrogen receptors. Exposure to estrogens and some xenoestrogens has been associated with cell proliferation and increased risk of breast cancer. Despite evidence of estrogenicity, parabens are among the most widely used xenoestrogens in cosmetics and personal care products, and generally considered safe. However, previous cell based studies with parabens do not take into account the signaling cross-talk between estrogen receptor (ERα) and the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) family.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Signal transduction, Epidermal growth factor, Estrogen, Receptor, Estrogen receptor, Breast


Breastfeeding is inversely associated with overall risk of breast cancer. This association may differ in breast cancer subtypes defined by receptor status, as they may reflect different mechanisms of carcinogenesis. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control and prospective cohort studies to investigate the association between breastfeeding and breast cancer by estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Breast cancer, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Epidermal growth factor, Growth factor, Estrogen, Estrogen receptor, Tamoxifen


Glyphosate is an active ingredient of the most widely used herbicide and it is believed to be less toxic than other pesticides. However, several recent studies showed its potential adverse health effects to humans as it may be an endocrine disruptor. This study focuses on the effects of pure glyphosate on estrogen receptors (ERs) mediated transcriptional activity and their expressions. Glyphosate exerted proliferative effects only in human hormone-dependent breast cancer, T47D cells, but not in hormoneindependent breast cancer, MDA-MB231 cells, at 10(-12) to 10(-6) M in estrogen withdrawal condition. The proliferative concentrations of glyphosate that induced the activation of estrogen response element (ERE) transcription activity were 5-13 fold of control in T47D-KBluc cells and this activation was inhibited by an estrogen antagonist, ICI 182780, indicating that the estrogenic activity of glyphosate was mediated via ERs. Furthermore, glyphosate also altered both ERα and βexpression. These results indicated that low and environmentally relevant concentrations of glyphosate possessed estrogenic activity. Glyphosate-based herbicides are widely used for soybean cultivation, and our results also found that there was an additive estrogenic effect between glyphosate and genistein, a phytoestrogen in soybeans. However, these additive effects of glyphosate contamination in soybeans need further animal study.

Concepts: Gene expression, Cancer, Breast cancer, Human, Menopause, Estrogen, Estrogen receptor, Breast


BACKGROUND: Tamoxifen and raloxifene reduce the risk of breast cancer in women at elevated risk of disease, but the duration of the effect is unknown. We assessed the effectiveness of selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) on breast cancer incidence. METHODS: We did a meta-analysis with individual participant data from nine prevention trials comparing four selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs; tamoxifen, raloxifene, arzoxifene, and lasofoxifene) with placebo, or in one study with tamoxifen. Our primary endpoint was incidence of all breast cancer (including ductal carcinoma in situ) during a 10 year follow-up period. Analysis was by intention to treat. RESULTS: We analysed data for 83 399 women with 306 617 women-years of follow-up. Median follow-up was 65 months (IQR 54-93). Overall, we noted a 38% reduction (hazard ratio [HR] 0·62, 95% CI 0·56-0·69) in breast cancer incidence, and 42 women would need to be treated to prevent one breast cancer event in the first 10 years of follow-up. The reduction was larger in the first 5 years of follow-up than in years 5-10 (42%, HR 0·58, 0·51-0·66; p<0·0001 vs 25%, 0·75, 0·61-0·93; p=0·007), but we noted no heterogeneity between time periods. Thromboembolic events were significantly increased with all SERMs (odds ratio 1·73, 95% CI 1·47-2·05; p<0·0001). We recorded a significant reduction of 34% in vertebral fractures (0·66, 0·59-0·73), but only a small effect for non-vertebral fractures (0·93, 0·87-0·99). INTERPRETATION: For all SERMs, incidence of invasive oestrogen (ER)-positive breast cancer was reduced both during treatment and for at least 5 years after completion. Similar to other preventive interventions, careful consideration of risks and benefits is needed to identify women who are most likely to benefit from these drugs. FUNDING: Cancer Research UK.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Breast cancer, Carcinoma in situ, Estrogen, Estrogen receptor, Tamoxifen, Selective estrogen receptor modulator


Tumor evolution is shaped by many variables, potentially involving external selective pressures induced by therapies. After surgery, patients with estrogen receptor (ERα)-positive breast cancer are treated with adjuvant endocrine therapy, including selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and/or aromatase inhibitors (AIs). However, more than 20% of patients relapse within 10 years and eventually progress to incurable metastatic disease. Here we demonstrate that the choice of therapy has a fundamental influence on the genetic landscape of relapsed diseases. We found that 21.5% of AI-treated, relapsed patients had acquired CYP19A1 (encoding aromatase) amplification (CYP19A1(amp)). Relapsed patients also developed numerous mutations targeting key breast cancer-associated genes, including ESR1 and CYP19A1. Notably, CYP19A1(amp) cells also emerged in vitro, but only in AI-resistant models. CYP19A1 amplification caused increased aromatase activity and estrogen-independent ERα binding to target genes, resulting in CYP19A1(amp) cells showing decreased sensitivity to AI treatment. These data suggest that AI treatment itself selects for acquired CYP19A1(amp) and promotes local autocrine estrogen signaling in AI-resistant metastatic patients.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Estrogen, Chemotherapy, Estrogen receptor, Tamoxifen, Aromatase, Aromatase inhibitor


In a consortium including 23 637 breast cancer patients and 25 579 controls of East Asian ancestry, we investigated 70 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 67 independent breast cancer susceptibility loci recently identified by genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted primarily in European-ancestry populations. SNPs in 31 loci showed an association with breast cancer risk at P < 0.05 in a direction consistent with that reported previously. Twenty-one of them remained statistically significant after adjusting for multiple comparisons with the Bonferroni-corrected significance level of <0.0015. Eight of the 70 SNPs showed a significantly different association with breast cancer risk by estrogen receptor (ER) status at P < 0.05. With the exception of rs2046210 at 6q25.1, the seven other SNPs showed a stronger association with ER-positive than ER-negative cancer. This study replicated all five genetic risk variants initially identified in Asians and provided evidence for associations of breast cancer risk in the East Asian population with nearly half of the genetic risk variants initially reported in GWASs conducted in European descendants. Taken together, these common genetic risk variants explain ∼10% of excess familial risk of breast cancer in Asian populations.

Concepts: Bioinformatics, Cancer, Breast cancer, Statistical significance, Estrogen, Estrogen receptor, Asia, Multiple comparisons