Breast cancer and thyroid: Women with overactive thyroid need to be extra cautious

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Breast Cancer
Karelia Davilas a breast cancer patient writes a poem in her computer as she prepares to participate in a poetry festival dedicated to the elderly in Managua, Nicaragua, October 29, 2015. According to a non-governmental organization serving women with this disease, around 900 cases of breast cancer are detected every year in Nicaragua, the second cause of death among women aged 40-44 years with a mortality rate 23 women per 100,000. Pictures taken October 29, 2015. Reuters/Oswaldo Rivas

A new study has revealed that women who have an overactive thyroid are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. Experts in Denmark used nationwide registries to identify women with underactive and overactive thyroid glands between 1978 and 2013. Next they estimated the breast cancer risk compared with the expected risk in the general population.

The study, published in European Journal of Endocrinology, reveals how hyperthyroid women are 11 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, and women with hypothyroidism are 6 percent less likely to develop the cancer.

Hyperthyroidism, which is a condition where there is too much thyroid hormone inside the body, is a relatively common condition. Hypothyroidism, where there is an underactive thyroid gland, carries a lower risk of breast cancer compared to the general population.

The researchers went through data of more than four million women. Around 80,343 women were diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and 61,873 women with hypothyroidism. The findings highlight the imminent need for raising breast cancer awareness in women with hyperthyroidism.

According to lead author Dr. Mette Sogaard from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, it is also important to further the understanding of this potential risk.

“In vitro experiments show that sex hormones such as oestrogen play an important role in the proliferation of breast-cancer cells. High levels of thyroid hormone levels can have oestrogen-like effects, which may explain why hyperthyroidism is associated with higher risk of breast cancer,” said Sogaard.

Another research by UC Davis researchers has revealed that empty shells of Hepatitis E virus can carry drugs or vaccines into the body. The scientists have developed a way by which virus-like particles, based on Hepatitis E proteins, could be used to attack cancer. The technique has been tested in rodents as a way to target breast cancer.

If the research proves effective in humans, there will come a day when cancer patients will simply drink the vaccine and the virus-like particles, carrying cancer cure drugs would start killing the cancer cells.

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