Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 225–229 | Cite as

The potential for oxytocin (OT) to prevent breast cancer: a hypothesis

  • T. G. C. Murrell

Abstract

This hypothesis proposes that carcinogens in the breast are generated by the action of superoxide free radicals released when acinal gland distension, under the influence of unopposed prolactin, causes microvessel ischaemia. Inadequate nipple care in the at-risk years leads to ductal obstruction preventing the elimination of carcinogens from the breast. The regular production of oxytocin (OT) from nipple stimulation would cause contraction of the myoepithelial cells, relieving acinal gland distension and aiding the active elimination of carcinogenic fluid from the breast.

Mechanical breast pump stimulation causes an increase in plasma OT levels in the luteal but not in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. OT production upon nipple stimulation in the luteal phase of premenopausal, non-lactating women may be protective against the high rates of mitotic breast cell division noted at this time via the potential to block the effect of oestrogen.

The epidemiology of breast cancer suggests that lengthy lactation time is beneficial. Sexual activity in nulliparous women also protects and OT levels have been shown to rise with orgasm in women and in men. OT systems in the brain are intricately linked to oestrogen and progesterone levels, and it is possible that these hormones may modify the OT secretory response both centrally and through an effect on the sensitivity of the breast.

OT production with nipple care and in sex and lactation, and the reduction in cycling ovarian hormones that occurs with pregnancy, may all be important preventative factors in the development of breast cancer both pre- and post-menopausally.

Key words

ductal obstruction functional breast behaviour microvessel ischemia oxytocin prolactin 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Murrell TGC: Epidemiological and biochemical support for a theory on the cause and prevention of breast cancer. Medical Hypotheses 36: 389–396, 1991Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Murrell TGC, Head JE: The potential for oxytocin to prevent breast cancer. Abstract. The challenge of breast cancer: The Lancet Conference, Brugge, Belgium. April 21–22, 1994Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hippocrates: Des maladies des femmes. In Littre (ed) Vol 8 pp 282-283 Paris JB Bailliere, 1839Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hippocrates: The genuine works of Hippocrates. Translated by F. Adams Vol 2 p 748 London, Sydenham Society, 1849Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Soranus: Gyneacology. Translated by O Temkin Vol 3 Baltimore, John Hopkins Press, 1956Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    deMoulin D: A short history of breast cancer. Pp 19-24 Paris JB Bailliere, 1839Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mustacchi P, Ramazzini B, Rigoni-Stern DA: Parity and breast cancer. Arch Int Med 108: 185–198, 1961Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Fildes V: Breasts, bottles and babies pp 102–103 Edinburgh, University Press, 1986Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Murrell TGC: Loving, living and longevity: maybe sex is good for you. Proceedings Annual Scientific Symposium. Australian Academic Association of General Practice. Perth Western Australia: September, 1990Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Murrell TGC: The benefits of sex. Seminar, Department of Psychology, University of Adelaide, South Australia, April 1991Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Leake RD, Buster JE, Fisher DA: The oxytocin secretory response to breast stimulation in women during the menstrual cycle. Am J Obstet Gynecol 148: 457–460, 1984Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Longacre TA, Barlow SA: A correlative morphologic study of human breast and endometrium in the menstrual cycle. Am J Surg Pathol 10: 382–393, 1986Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Carmichael MS, Humbert R, Dixen J, Palmisano G, Greenleaf W, Davidson JM: Plasma oxytocin increases in human sexual response. J Clin Endocrin Metab 64: 27–31, 1987Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Konickx P: Stress hyperprolactinemia in clinical practice. Lancet 1: 273–275, 1978Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kolodny RC, Jacobs LS, Daughaday WH: Mammary stimulation causes prolactin secretion in non-lactating women. Nature 238: 284–285, 1972Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jarrell J, Franks S, McInnes R, Gemayel K, Guyda H, Arronet GH, Naftolin F: Breast examination does not elevate serum prolactin. Fertility and Sterility 3: 49–51, 1980Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mogg RJ, Samson WK: Interactions of dopaminergic and peptidergic factors in the control of prolactin release. Endocrinology 126: 728–735, 1990Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bulbrook RD: Geographical variation in endocrine function and its relation to breast cancer incidence: some general considerations. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 18: 537–540, 1991Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Dreifuss JJ, Tribollet E, Dubois-Dauphin M, Raggenbass M: Receptors and neural effects of oxytocin in the rodent hypothalamus and preoptic region. Ciba Found Symp 168: 187–199, 1992Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Key TJ, Pike MC: The role of oestrogens and progestagens in the epidemiology and prevention of breast cancer. Eur J Cancer Clin Oncol 24(1): 29–43, 1988Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Laatikainen TJ: Corticotrophin releasing hormone and opioid peptides in reproduction and stress. Ann Med 23(5): 489–496, 1991Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Murrell GAC, Murrell TGC, Pilowsky E: A hypothesis for the resolution of Dupuytren's contracture with allopurinol. Spec Sci Tech 102: 107–112, 1987Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Murrell GAC, Francis MJO, Bromley J: Free radicals and Dupuytren's contraction. Br Med J 295: 1373–1375, 1989Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Murrell GAC, Francis MJO, Bromley J: Modulation of fibroblast proliferation by oxygen free radicals. Biochem J 265: 659–665, 1990Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Jarasch ED, Grund C, Bruder G, Heid HW, Keenan TW, Frankie WW: Localisation in mammary gland epithelium and capillary endothelium. Cell 25: 67–82, 1981Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Slater TF: Free radical mechanisms in tissue injury. Biochem J 222: 1–15, 1984Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Slater TF: Free radical mechanisms in tissue injury. In: Cell Function and Disease. Candeo LE, Todd LE, Packer L, Jaz J (eds) pp 209–218 New York, Plenum Publishing Corp, 1989Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Petrakis NL, Maack CA, Lee RE, Lyon M: Mutagenic activity in nipple aspirates of human breast fluid. Cancer Research 40: 188–189, 1980Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Wainwright JMA: A comparison of conditions associated with breast cancer in Great Britain and America. Amer J Cancer 15: 2610–2645, 1931Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Jacobson HJ, Thompson WD, Janerich DT: Multiple births and maternal risk of breast cancer. Amer J Epidemiol 129: 865–873, 1989Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Layde PM, Webster LA, Baughman AL, Wingo PA, Rubin GL, Ory HW: The independent associations of parity age at first full term pregnancy, and duration of breast feeding with the risk of breast cancer. Cancer and Steroid Hormone Study Group. J Clin Epidemiol 42: 10: 963–973, 1989Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Thomas BT, Noonan EA, WHO Collaborative Study of Neplasia and Steroid Contraceptives. Breast cancer and prolonged lactation. International Journal of Epidemiology 22: 4:619-625Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Newcomb PA, Storer BE, Longnecker MP, et al. Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. The New England Journal of Medicine. 330: 2: 81-87Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Yang CP, Weiss NS, Band PR, Gallagher RP, White E, Daling JR History of lactation and breast cancer risk. American Journal of Epidemiology 138: 12: 1050-1056Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    McTiernan A, Thomas DB: Evidence for a protective effect of lactation on risk of breast cancer in young women. Results from a case control study. Amer J Epidemiol 124: 353–358, 1986Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ing R, Ho JHC, Petrakis NL: Unilateral breast feeding and breast cancer. Lancet 2: 124–127, 1977Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Garland FC, Garland CF, Gorham ED, Young JF: Geographic variation in breast cancer mortality in the United States. Preventive Medicine 19: 614–622, 1990Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Monique G, Bachelot A, Hill C: Characteristics of reproductive life and risk of breast cancer in a case-control study of young nulliparous women. J Clin Epidemiol 42: 1227–1233, 1989Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Cross BA, Findlay ALR: Comparative and sensory aspects of milk ejection. In: Lactogenesis: the initiation of milk secretion at parturition. Reynolds M, Folley SJ (eds) Philadelphia, Univ. Pennsylvania Press, 1969Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. G. C. Murrell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community MedicineUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations