Low doses of oestrogen could help treat some forms of breast
cancer, according to a clinical study.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association, could lead to a partial reversal in how metastatic
breast cancer is currently treated using medicines to lower
"When oestrogen-lowering drugs no longer control metastatic
breast cancer, the opposite strategy might work," said a statement
from the Washington University School of Medicine, which carried
out the tests.
Matthew Ellis, an oncologist who was the lead author of the
study, said around a third of the women who did not respond to
standard treatment reacted well to the new regimen.
"Raising oestrogen levels benefited 30% of women whose
metastatic breast cancer no longer responded to standard
anti-oestrogen treatment," he said.
What the study found
Side effects from raising oestrogen levels could include
headaches, bloating, breast tenderness, fluid retention, nausea and
vomiting, but Ellis said side effects were limited in comparison to
"We found that oestrogen treatment stopped disease progression in
many patients and was much better tolerated than chemotherapy would
"Overall, we demonstrated clearly that the low dose was better
tolerated than the high dose and was just as effective for
controlling metastatic disease." – (Sapa, August 2009)