Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Sex Hormones Linked to Breast Cancer Risk in Women Under 50

Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Premenopausal women with high levels of sex hormones in their blood have an increased risk of breast cancer, though further research is needed to understand this link.

Lead author Professor Tim Key of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford said: 'While the link between higher levels of sex hormones and breast cancer is well established in older, postmenopausal women, it's much less clear what effect hormones have on cancer risk in younger, premenopausal women.

'But from this study we can say there appears to be a link, which has important implications for understanding the biology of breast cancer and for planning future research.'

The Oxford researchers looked at data on hormone levels in the blood of up to 760 premenopausal women with breast cancer and 1700 without, from seven earlier studies.

They found that women who had the highest levels of sex hormones were at an increased risk of breast cancer of between a fifth and a third, compared with women with the lowest hormone levels. These were the 'female' sex hormones oestradiol and oestrone, and 'male' sex hormones androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) and testosterone.
The findings are published in The Lancet Oncology journal.

Professor Key explained: 'This analysis combined the results from seven previous studies to provide enough data for us to focus on the association of hormone levels with the risk for women developing breast cancer before the age of 50.

'The results demonstrate a link between higher overall levels of the female sex hormones and breast cancer in premenopausal women – although due to the large variation in hormone levels over the menstrual cycle these findings cannot be used now to classify the risk for individual women.'

The researchers also looked at the association between increased hormone levels in premenopausal women and other lifestyle factors, such as drinking and smoking.

They found that women who smoked 15 or more cigarettes a day, or drank two or more glasses of wine a day, had higher levels of the male sex hormones compared with women who didn’t smoke or didn’t drink. Women who drank the most alcohol also had higher levels of oestrogens.

Hazel Nunn, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, which funded the work, said: 'This is a fascinating piece of research which is helping us to understand more about the role of sex hormones and the effect they might have on breast cancer.

'With one in five breast cancers now diagnosed in women under 50 it's important that we find out as much as we can about what increases the risk for younger women. We don’t yet know why having higher levels of some sex hormones might increase a woman's risk so further research is needed to investigate this link.'

Around 10,000 women under 50 are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, although 80% of all breast cancer diagnoses are in women over 50.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Investment In Cancer Research At Oxford University
Centre for Molecular Medicine to focus on cancer genomics and molecular diagnostics, through a partnership with the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Genetic Tracking Identifies Cancer Stem Cells in Patients
The gene mutations driving cancer have been tracked for the first time in patients back to a distinct set of cells at the root of cancer – cancer stem cells.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Eating Organic Food Doesn't Lower Overall Cancer Risk
Women who always or mostly eat organic foods have the same likelihood of developing cancer as women who eat conventionally produced foods.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
New Trial of Personalized Cancer Treatment Begins in Oxford
Phase I trial in Oxford will investigate a new drug, called CXD101.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Scientists Break Blood-Brain Barrier to Allow Cancer Drugs In
Oxford University scientists have found a way of delivering drugs more effectively to treat life-threatening cancers that have spread to the brain.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
'Jekyll and Hyde' Protein Offers New Route to Cancer Drugs
The mood changes of a 'Jekyll-and-Hyde' protein, which sometimes boosts tumour cell growth and at other times suppresses it, have been explained.
Friday, September 27, 2013
One-two Combination Floors Cancer
A new tag-team approach to combating a type of skin cancer is showing early promise in the lab.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
46 Gene Sequencing Test for Cancer Patients on the NHS
The first multi-gene test that can help predict cancer patients' responses to treatment using the latest DNA sequencing techniques has been launched in the NHS.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Rare Genetic Faults Identified in Families with Bowel Cancer
The findings are published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Friday, January 04, 2013
Genetic Cause of Insulin Sensitivity Offers Diabetes Clues
The first single gene cause of increased sensitivity to the hormone insulin has been discovered by a team of Oxford University researchers.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Probing What Fuels Cancer
Cancer is often described as a genetic disease, after all the transition a cell goes through in becoming cancerous tends to be driven by changes to the cell's DNA.
Monday, August 06, 2012
Scientific News
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy
Berkeley lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier.
RNA-Based Drugs Give More Control Over Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can be transiently activated and inactivated using RNA-based drugs, giving researchers more precise control in correcting and inactivating genes.
University of Glasgow Researchers Make An Impact in 60 Seconds
Early-career researchers were invited to submit an engaging, dynamic and compelling 60 second video illuminating an aspect of their research.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
Dead Bacteria to Kill Colorectal Cancer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have successfully used dead bacteria to kill colorectal cancer cells.
CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing: Check Three Times, Cut Once
Two new studies from UC Berkeley should give scientists who use CRISPR-Cas9 for genome engineering greater confidence that they won’t inadvertently edit the wrong DNA.
Genetically Engineering Algae to Kill Cancer Cells
New interdisciplinary research has revealed the frontline role tiny algae could play in the battle against cancer, through the innovative use of nanotechnology.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos