Another day and another friend/mother/sister/daughter diagnosed with breast cancer. Today breast cancer is affecting one in every eight women sometime during their lifetime in the USA, Europe and the UK. Looking around at my friends, family and extended family we need no reminders of the impact of these statistics. But there is good news, actually GREAT news– medical researchers at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna identified a key protein that triggers breast cancer and in December 2012 received a grant of $7.4 million from the USA Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for ongoing research.
Working for the last ten years, the research team has been able to show the synthetic female sex hormone progestin used in HRT and contraceptive pills can trigger RANKL (a protein found in breast cells). As a consequence of this trigger, mammary cells start to divide and multiply and fail to die when they should. Moreover, stem cells in the breast become able to renew themselves, ultimately resulting in breast cancer.
The research around the artificial sex hormone progestin, used in hormone replacement therapy, HRT, and in birth control pills has been the center of work for Professor Josef Penninger, (IMBA director) who found the first genetic evidence that this protein RANKL is the master regulator of healthy bones and breast cell multiplication.
“Ten years ago we formulated the hypothesis that RANKL might be involved in breast cancer and it took us a long time to develop systems to prove this idea”, says Prof. Josef Penninger. ” I have to admit it completely surprised me just how massive the effects of the system were. Millions of women take progesterone derivatives in contraceptives and for hormonal replacement therapy. Since our results show that the RANKL system is an important molecular link between a synthetic sex hormone and breast tumors, one day women may be able to reduce their risk by taking blocking medicines in advance to prevent breast cancer”.
Alternative answers are available for women suffering with menopausal symptoms and want relief from hot flashes and night sweats without adding artificial hormones to their body. Natural solutions used in Traditional Chinese Medicine are available that are safe and are made from natural plant sources, not artificial hormones.
Alternative birth control methods beyond the pill include the IUD’s without hormones, condoms, diaphragm, natural rhythm method and permanent birth control in the form of tubal litigation.
The research results presented here was an international collaboration between lead researchers at IMBA and scientists at the Medical University of Vienna; the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia; the Ontario Cancer Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and the Ragon Institute of MGH/MIT and Harvard, Boston, USA; the Institute for Genetics, Centre for Molecular Medicine (CMMC), and Cologne Excellence Cluster (CECAD), University of Cologne, Germany; University College London, UK; and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.