Both obesity and breast cancer are among the most researched medical conditions because up to now, there is no definite management for either of them. People with breast cancer may have options to go for chemotherapy, surgery or radiation, but neither of the three provides a 100% cure for the disease. In the same manner, there may be various treatments for obesity, but none of them provide 100% beneficial results.
In line with this, a research aimed at finding out whether hormone-suppressing drugs are effective in managing obese women found that these hormone-suppressing drugs were also established to be beneficial for breast cancer.
The research was conducted by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Research In London. The study found out that the estrogen levels of obese women greatly decreased after treatment with hormone-suppressing drugs; however, the level was still higher compared to normal women.
Obese women usually have significantly increased estrogen levels compared to non-obese women. Experts believe that these increased estrogen levels may play a part in the development of obesity. Hormone-suppressing drugs aim at decreasing estrogen levels to normal levels in order to yield weight loss results.
Estrogen plays a role in fat metabolism because it increases the build-up of cholesterol and fats. When estrogen is increased, there may be possibilities that women become overweight and even obese because of fat build-up.
In line with estrogen, breast cancers usually benefit from an increased estrogen level. Cancer cells need estrogen to grow so giving a medication that will suppress estrogen may help reduce the growth and proliferation of cancer cells contributing to the destruction of the malignant cells in the breast.
The specific hormone-suppressing drug used for obesity and found to benefit breast cancer patients is an aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase inhibitors function by reducing the amount of estrogen levels by preventing aromatase from biosynthesizing estrogen. Aromatase is essential in the synthesis of estrogen so inhibiting the enzyme may help reduce estrogen levels.
Although aromatase inhibitors may also help patients with breast cancer, some research has indicated that these hormone-suppressing drugs are actually the same in terms of efficacy as the well-established breast cancer treatment, which is tamoxifen. Other researchers also studied whether aromatase inhibitors are more efficient than tamoxifen in managing breast cancer and found that the two are similar; although tamoxifen is still widely used because of established evidence regarding its use.
Future research needs to be conducted regarding aromatase inhibitors in order to come up with an effective and safe treatment both for obesity and breast cancer.
The results of the study also implicate that since breast cancer cells thrive more with high estrogen levels, it would be essential for obese women diagnosed with breast cancer to undertake more effective means to lose weight in order to increase the success of breast cancer treatment.
The discovery of aromatase inhibitors is another milestone in the treatment of breast cancer.
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