Males with naturally higher levels of estrogen in their blood are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer, recent research suggests. Estrogen, also known as the primary female sex hormone, is known to regulate the menstrual and reproductive cycles in females.

The study findings say that men with higher levels of estrogen are at two-and-a-half times greater risk of developing breast cancer, as compared to those with normal or lower levels of the hormone. The research was conducted at the National Cancer Institute in the U.S., in collaboration with Cancer Research UK in Britain.

During the study, the researchers examined the estrogen levels of 101 men who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The levels were then compared to 217 healthy men who had normal or lower levels of estrogen in their blood.

"We've shown for the first time that just like some forms of the cancer in women, estrogen has a big role to play in male breast cancer. So now the challenge is to find out exactly what this hormone is doing to trigger this rare form of the disease in men, and why some men have higher levels of estrogen in their blood. Our discovery is a crucial step forward in understanding the factors behind male breast cancer," lead researcher Tim Key said, as the Huffington Post reported.

Even though breast cancer is mostly linked to women, almost 400 new cases of breast cancer are identified in men in Britain every year. In addition, the researchers claimed that almost 80 percent of affected men are age 60 or above. However, the statistics are still lower when compared to the number of women who are diagnosed with the disease every year.

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