Taking the Pill or having hormone replacement therapy can trigger cancer-causing gene mutations, say scientists.
A study to be published tomorrow has identified how the hormone oestrogen in oral contraceptives and HRT pills can start a biochemical chain reaction that undermines women’s natural defences against cancer. Researchers found oestrogen plays a key role in fighting off infections such as the common cold.
However, they also discovered that exposure to high levels can trigger genetic mutations that can cause cancer. While an association between oestrogen and cancer has long been known, the new finding provides the first clear evidence of how they are linked and could help scientists develop new ways to treat the disease.
Dr Svend Petersen-Mahrt, at Cancer Research UK’s Clare Hall Laboratories in South Mimms, Hertfordshire, said: 'We found oestrogen plays an important role in generating the diversity in the immune system that helps our bodies fight off a range of infections.