AGEs | The estrogenic effect of unhealthy foods
There is a link between, on the one hand, the eating of processed foods as fries and candybars, and on the other hand, the action of the female sex hormone estradiol. American movement scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina write this in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Their study isinteresting for women with an estradiol-sensitive form of breast cancer - and for anyone who, for whatever reason, wants to reduce the effect of estradiol in his or her body. We're going to talk about AGEs.
AGEs, short for advanced glycation end products, are molecules that arise when food is intensively processed. They also occur in the body when there is a lot of glucose in the blood for a long time.
If AGEs accumulate in tissues, then that is not a good thing. AGEs accelerate aging by hindering the enzymes and cells that rejuvenate tissues. You can read more about AGEs and health here.
AGEs in breast cancer
As they wanted to know if AGEs play a role in breast cancer, the researchers analyzed samples from women with breast cancer. They discovered that there were more AGEs in the blood in women with more developed and therefore more dangerous tumors than in women with less developed, and therefore less dangerous, tumors [bottom left].
The researchers also found more AGEs in women with an estradiol-sensitive form of breast cancer than in women who a breast cancer which was not estradiol sensitive [top right]. This suggests that there is a connection between AGEs, breast cancer and estradiol.
AGEs and estradiol
The researchers then started experimenting with estradiol-sensitive breast cancer cells in test tubes. If these cells were exposed to AGEs, the estradiol receptor was activated [bottom right]. Estradiol turns on signal molecules like Akt and Erk in cells, and AGEs did that too. AGEs thus imitate the effect of estradiol.
AGEs and antiestrogens
With a drug such as tamoxifen, which prevents estradiol from activating the estradiol receptor, oncologists try to slow the growth of estradiol-sensitive breast cancers. The more AGEs circulate in the blood, the less effective this approach may be, the researchers discovered when they exposed cancer cells in test tubes to both tamoxifen and AGEs.
AGEs and lifestyle
That is of course all very interesting, certainly because the concentrations with which the researchers experimented in their test tubes were equal to the concentrations in which you find AGEs in the body. But can you lower the concentration of AGEs in your body?
The researchers got a group of obese women, who were treated for breast cancer, to eat healthier and exercise more for 11 weeks. Their approach - walking 30 minutes a day, bla-bla-bla - was as standard as you can imagine, so we won't tire you with it.
But, as the figure below tells you, it worked.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2019 Feb;173(3):559-71.
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