They discover that hormones released during pregnancy, such as estrogen, progesterone and gonadotropin, generate a protein capable of inhibiting breast cancer, according to the magazine Cancer Prevention Research.
It is the alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) that could be used as an agent for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. It is produced in the liver and in the yolk sac of the fetus naturally.
The study director, Herbert Jacobson, points out that some pregnancy hormones can induce AFP, which has the ability to inhibit the growth of breast cancer, which implies that the human body has a natural defense system to prevent this disease.
Hormones of pregnancy
The research, conducted by the Center for Immunology and Microbial Diseases and the Medical College of Albany in New York (United States), has consisted of administering pregnancy hormones to rats that had been exposed to carcinogens. They studied whether these hormones generated AFP, providing a protective effect even when there was no pregnancy.
Pregnancy modifies the function of almost all the body's glands
The study authors observed that both treatment with progesterone plus estrogen, and only estrogen, or human chorionic gonadotropin, decreased the incidence of breast cancer tumors in animals. It was also seen that serum AFP protein levels increased, proving that it inhibited the development of breast cancer cells, which means that the treatment was preventing the onset of this disease.
To conclude, and according to the data obtained, the AFP should be transformed safely into a drug that can be used to protect women from breast cancer. Therefore, we are currently working with a small part of the AFP protein, with the aim of transforming it into a product that serves for the preventive treatment of this type of cancer.