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Book excerpt

Progesterone Preparations and Progesterone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer

One of the questions I'm frequently asked is whether a woman whose breast cancer has
tested positive for progesterone receptors can safely take progesterone. There is a
great deal of confusion about what it means to have a breast biopsy that shows that the
tumor is positive for progesterone receptors, especially in those women who have been
using bioidentical progesterone at the time of their diagnosis.

Here are the facts. All breast cancers that are positive for progesterone receptors are
also estrogen receptor-positive. Because estrogen is known to stimulate growth of
these types of cancer cells, many people automatically assume that progesterone must
do the same. Just the opposite is true. Positive progesterone receptors indicate that a
cancer is receptive to the balancing and anti-cancer effects of progesterone.

To understand this apparent paradox, remember that hormones in the bloodstream and
the fluid surrounding cells work by uniting with receptors on the surface of the cell. The
hormone fits the receptor like a key in a lock. If the right receptor is there, the hormone
message makes its way to the chromosomes and turns on the appropriate gene to
produce a specific cellular effect. Progesterone signals the cell to stop multiplying, while
estrogen signals the opposite. For that reason, bioidentical progesterone is probably
beneficial for women with progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer.

In general, women with estrogen- and progesterone-positive breast tumors have a good
prognosis, since the presence of these receptors means that the tumor is very well
differentiated and slower growing than more poorly differentiated tumors.

Though I'm convinced that bioidentical progesterone is safe and even beneficial for
women with estrogen- and progesterone-positive breast cancers, this is a controversial
area. Use your inner guidance and consult with your doctor."

© 2006 by Christine Northrup, MD

Christine Northrup, MD, on Progesterone

Can progesterone help breast cancer patients?
Read how Christine Northrup, MD, summarizes the answer in
her book,
The Wisdom Of Menopause.
    These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.  The
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