File photo: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
Cape Town – Parents of teenage girls have been urged to better understand their genetics to make the best possible choice of birth control.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women, with more than 2million cases reported last year.

According to the American Cancer Society, two out of three breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, which means the cancer cells grow in response to oestrogen or progesterone.

Co-founder of 3X4 Genetics Dr Yael Joffe said every day we put more hormones in our bodies through the food we eat and the contraceptive pills we take.

“When it comes to hormone metabolism, our genes determine how balanced our hormone metabolism is. This is why some women might suffer more from PMS (premenstrual syndrome) while others could have fertility battles. Our genes determine how our bodies deal with hormones.”

Joffe said a simple genetic test could make a fundamental difference to the future health of a patient prescribed contraceptive pills. 

The test would be able to indicate whether the teen has gene variants that make it difficult for her to metabolise oestrogen and adding extra hormones to her body might not be a good idea.

She said bodies were made to metabolise anything that arose in or entered them - whether spinach or cigarette smoke, a slow release of oestrogen or a burst of adrenalin, all molecules needed to be processed and all toxins excreted.

“Some of us are highly effective at processing hormones such as oestrogen and can more easily prevent a build-up of hormone metabolites. 

"Others could be less efficient, and you’re only going to know this about your own body by unlocking the information from genetic pathways in your body that govern the production and metabolism of your hormones.

“There’s this overwhelming deluge of hormones finding their way into our bodies, both women and men, that has nothing to do with the natural production inside our bodies,” said Joffe.

“We’re living lives focused on wellness, making good choices, but what we don’t know about may well be compromising our chances of achieving optimal health. 

"This is the great advantage of using sound, advanced genetic testing to provide deep insight to guide your lifestyle decisions and daily health choices.”

Cape Times