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Links discovered between sex hormones, SHBG and the risk of developing bowel cancer

Women with naturally higher levels of oestrogen are less likely to develop bowel cancer after menopause than women with low levels, new study results suggest.

Picture credit: SPL

To examine the relationship between bowel cancer and the levels of sex hormones in the blood, including oestrogen, researchers from Imperial College London studied 1,200 women taking part in the Womens Health Initiative clinical trial. None of the women were receiving hormone replacement therapy.

They found that women with the highest levels of oestrone the main form of oestrogen after menopause had a 56% lower risk of developing bowel cancer compared with women who had the lowest levels.

The study also found that women with the highest levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) a protein that carries sex hormones around the body were two and a half times more likely to develop bowel cancer then women with the lowest levels.

Lead study author Neil Murphy, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said: This important research is the first time we

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Picture credit: SPL

To examine the relationship between bowel cancer and the levels of sex hormones in the blood, including oestrogen, researchers from Imperial College London studied 1,200 women taking part in the Women’s Health Initiative clinical trial. None of the women were receiving hormone replacement therapy.

They found that women with the highest levels of oestrone – the main form of oestrogen after menopause – had a 56% lower risk of developing bowel cancer compared with women who had the lowest levels.

The study also found that women with the highest levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) – a protein that carries sex hormones around the body – were two and a half times more likely to develop bowel cancer then women with the lowest levels.

Lead study author Neil Murphy, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said: ‘This important research is the first time we have seen strong links between sex hormones, SHBG, and the risk of developing bowel cancer.

‘By tracking older women’s hormone levels, we could find those at higher and lower risk of bowel cancer, and we may one day be able to tailor the amount of screening women are offered based on this information.’

The study results were presented on November 4 at the National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference in Liverpool.

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