In this article, we review recent findings related to estrogen exposure and the risk of breast cancer, the mechanisms that may be involved, and the clinical implications of these findings. The weight of evidence indicates that exposure to estrogen is an important determinant of the risk of breast cancer. The mechanisms of carcinogenesis in the breast caused by estrogen include the metabolism of estrogen to genotoxic, mutagenic metabolites and the stimulation of tissue growth. Together, these processes cause initiation, promotion, and progression of carcinogenesis. Insight into the mechanisms of the causation of cancer by estrogen will identify determinants of susceptibility to breast cancer and new targets for prevention and therapeutic intervention.
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