Objective: We sought to determine whether serum concentrations of estrogens, androgens, and sex hormone binding globulin in postmenopausal women were related to the presence of mammary hyperplasia, an established breast cancer risk factor. Methods: Study participants provided serum before breast biopsy or mastectomy in three hospitals in Grand Rapids, Michigan, between 1977 and 1987. A total of 179 subjects with breast hyperplasia were compared with 152 subjects with nonproliferative breast changes that are not associated with increased breast cancer risk. Results: The odds ratios (OR) associated with the three upper quartiles of estradiol in comparison with the lowest quartile were 2.2 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.1-4.6], 2.5 (95% CI, 1.1-5.3), and 4.1 (95% CI, 2.0-8.5; Ptrend = 0.007). The corresponding ORs for bioavailable estradiol, estrone, and estrone sulfate were of generally similar magnitude (Ptrend = 0.003 for bioavailable estradiol, 0.0004 for estrone, and 0.0009 for estrone sulfate). Relative to women concurrently in the lowest tertile for serum estradiol, estrone, and estrone sulfate, women concurrently in the highest tertile for all three hormones had an OR of 5.8 (95% CI, 2.2-15.2). Serum concentrations of sex hormone binding globulin, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, androstenedione, and androstenediol were not associated with risk of hyperplasia. Conclusions: Serum concentrations of estrogens, but not of androgens or sex hormone binding globulin, were strongly and significantly associated with risk of breast hyperplasia in postmenopausal women, suggesting that estrogens are important early in the pathologic process towards breast cancer.
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