ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar
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The impact of hormones on the development of cancer

By Joana Simões, Centro Hospitalar Universitário de Santo António

PORTO - The first description of the relationship between hormones and cancer dates back to the 19th century. In 1896, the British George Beatson found that oophorectomy resulted in the regression of breast tumors in patients with advanced breast cancer. This pioneering discovery laid the foundation not only for understanding the crucial role of hormones in oncogenesis, but also for the development of oncological treatments. Charles Huggins, in 1940, also demonstrated the role of orchidectomy in metastatic prostate cancer.

Since then, research has shown the importance of hormones in the oncogenesis and pathophysiology of various cancers, particularly breast and prostate cancer. Prolonged exposure to high levels of estrogen, whether through hormonal treatments or physiological factors (such as early menarche or late menopause), increases the risk of breast cancer. Understanding and managing hormonal imbalances through lifestyle modifications or other interventions can be crucial to reducing cancer risk.

Likewise, the complex interplay between hormonal regulation and cell proliferation is at the forefront of oncology research. In recent years, the understanding of the hormonal pathways involved in oncogenesis has led to the development of targeted therapies, such as hormone receptor inhibitors or enzyme inhibitors involved in hormone production, thus improving treatment options and the prognosis of cancer patients.

Image – Joana Simões at the ‘One Health Talk’ held at ICBAS on January 18, 2024. Credits: Sofia A. Costa Lima.


Portugal is going to have a record of animals with cancer

The platform will allow understanding the frequency and distribution of these tumors across the country.

Com a plataforma ‘Vet-OncoNet‘ nasce o registo nacional para animais com cancro. Dois institutos da Universidade do Porto lançam esta plataforma que, ao “compilar informação sobre o registo oncológico” de animais de estimação, vai permitir estudar frequência, predominância e fatores de risco associados à doença em Portugal.

João Niza Ribeiro, coordinator of the platform, explained that it arose from the “need to have as systematic a record as possible of animal oncology”, namely, of pets.

“We want this structure to collect data produced in laboratories, clinics and veterinary hospitals so that they can be systematized”, he said.

Developed by the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) and by the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto (ISPUP), the platform will thus allow an understanding of the frequency and distribution of these tumors across the country.

"This structure will make it possible to know the number of cancers in the national territory, in which species is more prevalent, if it is increasing and if it is more focused on urban or rural areas", exemplified João Niza Ribeiro, member of the board of ISPUP and professor at ICBAS.

In addition to helping to understand the predominance, the platform, which was developed under the 'One Health' concept, will also make it possible to "study risk factors associated" with the disease, but also with human and environmental health.

“We think that part of the factors that lead to the appearance of cancer are environmental, and these environmental factors have an influence on both animals and humans. There is always interest, when studying the overlapping of areas, to realize that there may be common factors there and that, in the end, animals can serve as sentinels”, said the researcher.

This platform will be able to access veterinarians, animal owners and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, each of which will have its own space on the website to submit the information collected.

To Lusa, João Niza Ribeiro added that, later, the platform could also, “with another purpose”, try to compile data on farm animals

“Nós temos um serviço de inspeção sanitária das carnes, que identifica e retira do consumo numa fase muito precoce todos os animais que não estejam saudáveis. Mas, o que não há, é uma sistematização desse registo, ou melhor, está sistematizado, mas não é tratado. Essa é uma das linhas potenciais que nós temos, isto é, podermos vir a estabelecer algum acordo com a Direção-Geral de Veterinária, no sentido de podermos aceder a essa informação”, concluiu.

Source: Rádio Renascença
Text: Lusa
Photography: Alexis Chloe/Unsplash

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