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Men with high oestrogen at greater risk of breast cancer

Men with naturally high levels of the female hormone oestrogen may have a greater risk of developing breast cancer, research from an international collaboration including Cancer Research UK suggests.

Men with the highest levels of oestrogen were two and a half times more likely to develop breast cancer than men with the lowest levels of the hormone, the research revealed.

Male breast cancer is very rare with one man in every 100,000 diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK. Around 350 male cases are diagnosed each year in the UK compared with nearly 50,000 cases of breast cancer in women

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Breast cancer in men isn't discussed very often, so a diagnosis can be a big shock for the small group of men who develop the disease.

“Some of the oestrogen variation in men will simply be natural, but for others there may be a link to being overweight. Fat cells in the body are thought to drive up the body's level of this hormone in men and women, so this is another good reason to try and keep a healthy weight,” she said.

This is said to be the first time a link between oestrogen levels in the blood and male breast cancer has been identified, despite its connection to breast, womb and ovarian cancers in women.