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Breast Cancer Prevention

Estrogen, the main female sex hormone, is produced mostly by then ovaries. It is responsible for a woman’s sexual development, including the growth of breasts and regulation of her menstrual cycle. At menopause (usually around age 51) the ovaries stop producing estrogen, but small amounts are still made from pre-hormones (substances that are converted to hormones) produced by the adrenal glands. These pre-hormones are then transformed into estrogen by fat tissue.

Estrogen travels through the bloodstream and attaches to estrogen receptors on specific cells in your body. Breast tissue has these types of cells and is one of the main targets for estrogen. Estrogen stimulates the growth of breast cells. For example, pregnant women have higher estrogen levels that cause the breasts to get larger in preparation for breastfeeding. For this reason, if a woman develops cancer cells in her breast, estrogen can stimulate the growth of that cancer.

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The Hormone Foundation

Dr. Lysette Iglesias M.D.

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