Can Hormones Cause Cancer

Can Hormones Cause Cancer?

Hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, are critical for normal reproductive function, but an imbalance or abnormal exposure to them can have health implications.

But can hormones cause cancer? If so, what types, and what specialist is needed to assess your risk?

This guide to cancers related to hormones will address these concerns and answer more questions to help you feel educated and perhaps put your mind at ease as well.

What Type of Doctor Should I See for Hormone-Related Cancer?

Consult with a gynecologist, gynecologic oncologist, and/or an oncologist specializing in women’s cancers. These healthcare professionals possess the required knowledge and training to diagnose and treat cancers influenced by female reproductive hormones.

What Questions Should I Ask a Specialist if I’m Concerned About Hormone-Related Cancers?

When consulting a specialist, it’s crucial to ask about the specific risk factors, symptoms, and screening options for estrogen-dependent cancers.

Inquire about the potential role of hormone replacement therapy, family history, and your diet and other lifestyle factors in cancer development. Additionally, discuss the available treatment modalities and their potential impact on hormone levels.

Here’s a list of questions you may want to ask, though you can modify this for your personal needs.

  • Are there lifestyle changes that I can make to help reduce my risk, prevent cancer, and/or improve my prognosis?
  • Should I avoid hormone therapy?
  • What are treatment options if I’m diagnosed with hormone-related cancer, and what are the risks and/or side effects for each?
  • Are there medications I’m taking that increase my risk or that would interfere with treatment if I have a cancer diagnosis?
  • Is this cancer aggressive? How likely is it to return after treatment?

Asking questions and being an active participant in your care can help improve your well-being.

How Is Estrogen-Related Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?

Estrogen-related cancers are diagnosed through a combination of imaging studies, biopsies, and laboratory tests. For example, ovarian, breast, and uterine cancers.

Treatment often involves a multimodal approach, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted hormone therapies. The specific treatment plan will depend on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as your overall health and preferences.

Can Hormones Cause Cancer?

Ovarian cancer

Research suggests that prolonged exposure to estrogen without sufficient progesterone may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

Additionally, certain fertility treatments and hormone replacement therapies have been associated with a modestly elevated risk of ovarian cancer. However, the relationship between estrogen and ovarian cancer is complex and continues to be studied.

Breast cancer

Estrogen promotes the growth in breast tissue, so high estrogen levels (or unopposed estrogen as it’s known when there isn’t a sufficient level of progesterone to balance estrogen) is a risk factor for this type of cancer.

This is why starting your period young (early menarche), late menopause, hormone replacement therapy, and certain genetic factors that affect estrogen metabolism are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

However, it’s important to note that other factors can play a significant role in the development of the disease.

Uterine cancer

Unopposed estrogen, often experienced by women who have never been pregnant or have irregular menstrual cycles, can cause overgrowth of the endometrium, or uterine lining, which increases your risk of uterine cancer.

A lack of sufficient progesterone, a key hormone in regulating the growth of the endometrium, can lead to uterine cancer in some. Obesity, which can lead to higher estrogen levels, is also a risk factor for this type of cancer.

Does Tamoxifen Cause Cancer Since It Acts Like Estrogen in Menopausal Women?

Tamoxifen, a medication commonly used in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, acts as a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). While it acts like estrogen in some tissues, it blocks the effects of estrogen in others.

In menopausal women, tamoxifen can have estrogen-like effects on the uterus, which may increase the risk of uterine cancer.

However, the risk is less than 1%. Also, the overall benefit of tamoxifen in reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence outweighs the potential risk of uterine cancer. Regular monitoring can help detect any early changes in the uterus.

How Do I Reduce My Risk of Estrogen-Dependent Cancer?

There are several strategies to reduce the risk of estrogen-dependent cancers:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining an active lifestyle and a healthy, balanced diet can help prevent obesity and reduce the risk of estrogen-dependent cancers.
  • Schedule regular screenings. For women at an increased risk of estrogen-dependent cancers, healthcare providers may recommend regular screenings and surveillance to detect any abnormalities at an early stage. For example, healthcare providers may recommend this for those with a family history or genetic predisposition.
  • Undergo genetic testing. For individuals with a family history of estrogen-dependent cancers, genetic testing, and counseling can provide valuable information about your risks for certain cancers and help your provider develop personalized prevention and screening strategies for you.

Here’s the Bottom Line

Understanding the role of female reproductive hormones in cancer risk is crucial for early detection as well as prevention and treatment.

By consulting with the appropriate healthcare professionals, staying informed about risk factors, and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can take a proactive approach when it comes to managing your risk of estrogen-dependent cancers and promote overall well-being.

If you’re wondering, “Can hormones cause cancer,” and now have an answer! Your next step is to book an appointment with a hormone specialist.

Turn to The Menopause Center for Comprehensive Women’s Health Services Including Cancer Prevention

The Menopause Center is the top choice for women seeking comprehensive health services. We pride ourselves on providing holistic care and support to women as they navigate through hormonal changes and concerns.

Our team empowers women to take the proper steps in caring for their health. We do so by offering thorough screenings, educational resources, and personalized prevention plans!

The Menopause Center stands as a trusted resource for promoting and safeguarding women’s well-being.

Contact us today at 703-991-6806 to schedule an appointment!

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