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Published on 1 March 2010

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Oestrogen “can fight male cancer”

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A female hormones-based treatment has been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer and kill cancer cells that resist conventional treatment, a study has suggested.

The research indicated that biological pathways involving oestrogen can be used to combat prostate cancer. Oestrogen binds to specific receptors on cell surfaces – molecules that trigger biochemical effects when stimulated. One receptor, the beta oestrogen receptor, causes cancer cells to commit suicide when activated, the research shows.

Prostate cancer growth is usually linked with angrogen male hormones such as testosterone, but men also have some of the female sex hormone oestrogen.

Professor Gail Risbridger, from Monash University in Victoria, who co-led the study, said: “It not only inhibits the growth of prostate cancer but also kills off cancer cells that are resistant to conventional treatment such as androgen deprivation therapy, more commonly known as castration therapy, and does so using a mechanism that is different to castration.”

The findings were published last month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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