Mammographic breast density is an important risk factor for the development of cancer. New research from Sweden contributes to a better understanding of what role testosterone and other androgens play in all of this.
Androgens depict a group of hormones that are formed in both sexes, albeit in different amounts. Since they play a crucial role in the development of the male reproductive system, androgens are often incorrectly labelled as “male hormones” – when in fact they play an essential part in women’s bodies as well.
Research supports that testosterone is breast protective
The effects of androgens on the normal breast as well as on the development of breast cancer are a controversial issue. Researchers have previously shown that testosterone, a strong androgen, inhibits breast cancer cell growth and reduces mammographic breast density. Breast density is a strong predictor for the development of breast cancer, whereby women with dense breasts – i.e. having less fatty and more gland tissue – are at a higher risk.
Weaker androgens such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are much more abundant in the human blood circulation than testosterone – however, their biological impact has not been fully clarified yet. Previous studies indicate that these naturally occurring weaker hormones could affect their more potent counterparts. In the context of a new study from Sweden, researchers have now claimed that the interplay of different androgens and their effects on breast cancer are indeed much more complex than one might expect.
Weak androgen DHEA influenced the effect of testosterone
In their study, recently published in Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation, the researchers from Karolinska University in Stockholm aimed to find out if the weak androgen DHEA had any impact on the negative association between circulating free testosterone and mammographic breast density in postmenopausal women.
In fact, they found the negative relationship between free testosterone and breast density to be weaker in women with the highest levels of DHEA androgens. Their findings indicate that DHEA changes the testosterone’s ability to reduce breast density. According to the scientists, the study might help to explain diverging results regarding the effects of testosterone addition in menopausal hormone therapy as well as in breast cancer therapy.
Read the original article here:
Eva Lundström, Kjell Carlström, Sabine Naessen, Gunnar Söderqvist: Dehydroepiandrosterone and/or its metabolites: possible androgen receptor antagonistic effects on digitized mammographic breast density in normal breast tissue of postmenopausal women, 25.05.2018.