What Are the Risk Factors for Endometrial Cancer

What Are the Risk Factors for Endometrial Cancer?

• Family and genetics. About 10% of endometrial cancer cases are linked to genetics, and the other 90% are not genetically related. Hereditary endometrial cancer is mainly caused by PTEN gene mutations. PTEN genes encode tyrosine kinase, a protein that supports the expression of tumor suppressor genes. Mutations in the PTEN gene reduce the expression of tumor suppressor genes and increase the risk of endometrial cancer.

• Oral contraceptives and contraceptive devices. Women who use oral contraceptives reduce the risk of endometrial cancer by 50%. Such protective effects can last for 10–20 years. About 70–80% of endometrial cancer cases are associated with excessive estrogens that stimulate abnormal growth and proliferation of endometrial cells. Oral contraceptives contain progestin, a hormone that counters the action of estrogens, thus reducing the risk of endometrial cancer. Contraceptive devices can also lower the risk of endometrial cancer. However, both oral contraceptives and contraceptive devices increase the risk of breast cancer.

• Obesity. Women who are obese have a two- to fivefold increased risk of endometrial cancer. The fat tissues of obese women release fatty acids, hormones, and other substances that can stimulate the growth and proliferation of endometrial cells. Obese women tend to have elevated levels of estrogens that can stimulate abnormal growth and proliferation of endometrial cells, increasing the risk of endometrial cancer.

• Diabetes. Patients with diabetes have high blood insulin levels and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for endometrial cancer. Women with diabetes have a fourfold increased risk of endometrial cancer compared to healthy women. Proper body weight, regular exercise, and a nutrient-balanced diet can reduce the risk of endometrial cancer in women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

• Lack of exercise. Lack of physical exercise increases the risk of endometrial cancer. Exercise controls body weight, increases insulin sensitivity, and prevents type 2 diabetes and endometrial cancer. Women who exercise regularly and eat nutrient-balanced diets curtail the risk of endometrial cancer by 60%.

• Breast cancer. Tamoxifen is a therapeutic agent for treating breast cancer. Tamoxifen elevates the risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women with breast cancer. The incidence rate of endometrial cancer in women with tamoxifen-treated breast cancer was 0.3% compared to only 0.1% in women with non-tamoxifen- treated breast cancer.

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