Estrogen: A Hormone that May Support Spread of Precancerous Cells in Oral Cavity


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    It has been recently reported that some groups of people, including young women, are developing head and neck cancer at a rate higher than others. Early study conducted on lung cancer on exposure to smoke reported that the body alters the way it controls the estrogen levels.

    A recent research conducted on estrogen indicates that the estrogen levels may help spread the cancer by advancing the motion of precancerous cells in the mouth. The study was conducted at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it focused on examining the estrogen levels that affect cancerous or prone-to-become cancerous cells. It was found that an enzyme, medically termed as CYP1B1, is responsible for reproduction in precancerous cells. The research group plans to study the effect of depletion of this enzyme in lesions by the use of a natural or dietary species, and determine if it is possible to prevent the cancer at a premature stage. The group previously reported that, on exposure to smoke, the enzyme CYP1B1 rests in the lungs where the changes occur.

    The present study investigated the characteristics of the enzyme CYP1B1 in more depth by stripping it from precancerous cells of the oral cavity. It was recorded that cells deficient in the enzyme CYP1B1 move slower than the ones rich in it. The group asserts that the enzyme CYP1B1 is likely to be a very important target and by addressing it in precancerous lesions of the head and neck, it is possible to check these lesions from advancing to a critical stage.

    The findings of this study can help scientists unfold the secrets behind head and neck cancer. However, a detailed investigation in humans is required in order to confirm the results of this study.

    The study was conducted by Professor Margie L. Clapper (PhD, University of Connecticut at Storrs) and Postdoctoral Associate Ekaterina G. Shatalova (PhD, Russian State Medical University, Moscow, Russia) at the Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it was published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Cancer Prevention Research. Dr. Margie L. Clapper is the Co-Leader of “Cancer Prevention and Control” and “Personalized Risk and Prevention Keystone” programs at the FCCC.

Reference: Ekaterina G. Shatalova, Andres J.P. Klein-Szanto, Karthik Devarajan, Edna Cukierman, and Margie L. Clapper, “Estrogen and Cytochrome P450 1B1 Contribute to Both Early- and Late-Stage Head and Neck Carcinogenesis.” Cancer Prevention Research, January 2011, 4:107-115; doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0133

Keywords: Estrogen, CYP1B1, Precancerous Cells, Oral Cancer, Margie L. Clapper, Ekaterina G. Shatalova, Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC), Journal of Cancer Prevention Research, Cancer Prevention and Control, Personalized Risk and Prevention Keystone