A very male disease controlled by female hormones

Estrogenic hormones are usually considered the preserve of the female endocrine system, but recent research suggests a much bigger role in male physiology than previously known. Now, a team from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, have demonstrated that an estrogen-regulating drug aimed at men could reverse the progression of prostate cancer and prostate swelling (benign prostate hyperplasia. The team presented its findings to the Society for Endocrinology conference in London on November 6. Gail Risbridger and her colleagues have tested compounds that selectively activate one but not both estrogen receptors in men. They can thus turn on one receptor (oestrogen receptor alpha) without affecting its beta counterpart. The alpha receptor has been linked to malignancy whereas activation of the beta receptor appears to have beneficial effects on prostate disease.