Washington: Researchers have found that estrogen protects women from the gastric inflammation that can lead to cancer. They are working on treatment that mimics estrogen`s cancer-suppressing effects.
Several types of cancer, including the gut, liver and colon, are far more common in men than in women.
Gastric cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, and people infected with H. pylori are much more likely to develop gastric cancer than uninfected people.
Some scientists have theorized that differences in lifestyle, such as diet and smoking, may account for the discrepancy. But growing evidence suggests these differences are rooted in basic biological differences, reports the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that treating male mice with estrogen dramatically lowers their rates of stomach cancer - specifically, cancers caused by the H. pylori - according to an MIT statement.
"If we can narrow in on which estrogen effect is causing this protection, we can come up with a better therapy," says Alexander Sheh, postdoc in MIT`s Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM), who led the study.
H. pylori infection provokes an immune response that keeps the infection under control but can lead to gastritis, conducive to the development of gastric cancer.
The study also describes in new detail how estrogen protects against gastric cancer, which could help scientists find better drug targets against the disease.
It`s unlikely that doctors would treat men with estrogen, but the researchers believe their work could lead to treatments that mimic estrogen`s cancer-suppressing effects.