This section contains information for the general public including summaries of recent publications and public engagement activities


Endometriosis Patient Day

Endometriosis Research Now!

Endometriosis Scientific Research Conference for those with endometriosis, their supporters and friends was held in Edinburgh in November 2019.

Leading researchers updated patients on the latest scientific research into endometriosis - in areas such as genetics, pain management and fertility.

The event was organised by the charity Endometriosis UK.

Link between cholesterol and womb cancer

Womb cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women in the UK. Being overweight or obese is the biggest preventable risk factor for womb cancer. Commonly, women who are overweight also have increased cholesterol in the blood.


Cholesterol can be changed by cells in the body into 27-Hydroxycholesterol (27HC). 27HC can act like the hormone estrogen and send signals to cells which normally respond to estrogen. Too much estrogen can increase the risk of womb cancer but whether 27HC can also have this affect is not known.


We examined womb cancer tissues removed from women having surgery as part of their treatment and found that the cancer tissues had the factors needed to change cholesterol into 27HC. We looked at how cancer cells responded when they were given 27HC in a dish. We found 27HC could act like the hormone estrogen and could send signals that made cancer cells grow more quickly. This study suggests that 27HC may contribute to the risk of womb cancer.

‘Male’ hormones may help fertility in older women

Every month the womb re-organises its structure to create an environment that can support and sustain pregnancy. This is controlled by hormones which signal to cells in the womb lining to change their function in preparation for pregnancy. A fertilized egg will only implant into the womb if the conditions are just right.


In women, implantation rates decline with increasing age and this may partly be due to changes in the amount of hormones present in the blood. We know that the adrenal gland produces fewer hormone precursors as women age and we hypothesised that this could partly explain why some older women find it difficult to become pregnant.


In our study we investigated the responses of cells from the lining of the womb of older women and found that androgens, typically thought of as ‘male’ hormones, help make the womb lining ready for a fertilized egg. We found that when precursors to androgens were given to the cells they made more ‘active’ androgens and increased production of markers associated with implantation and pregnancy.