Less risk for breast cancer in women becoming pregnant young


Women who become pregnant at a young age have a 30 per cent less risk of breast cancer, according to a latest study. Women who are 25 years and younger getting pregnant have the least risk.

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has come out with the study. CSHL researcher Camila dos Santos for the last several years was researching on molecular details behind the protective effects of pregnancy.  They found that one of the ways by which the breast cells in mice protect themselves from cancer after pregnancy is to tuck away a particularly potent cancer gene, cMYC. Another way found was to keep breast cells suspended in a state of “pre-senescence”. This is a situation in the cell’s life cycle between dying, living, and potential cancer.

The researchers said that pregnancy blocks the deadly action of cMYC by rolling away the gene. Dos Santos was quoted as saying that the event of pregnancy changes how regions of DNA are open or closed.  The researchers said that they found epigenetic alterations to the MEC regulatory landscape. This enabled the reactivation of pregnancy induced programs in response to pregnancy hormones, they said. These programs influenced the development of premalignant lesions, the researchers added.

They noted that pregnancy turned off the cMYC gene and turned on another set of genes that promoted senescence. Da Santos noted that the senescent cells were in the grey zone. The cells can stay senescent, die, or grow too much and turn into cancer cells depending on how the cells are pushed.

Dos Santos said that pregnancy can inhibit a cell from interacting with a cancer promoting gene. The researcher and her team are now working with human breast tissue organoids to see if human tissues act like those in mice. They are also transplanting cells altered by pregnancy into mice that were never pregnant to see if the altered cells can affect a non-pregnant environment.



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