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

The Secret Behind the Power of Bacterial Sex
Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Mini DNA Sequencer’s Data Belies its Size
A miniature DNA sequencing device that plugs into a laptop and was developed by Oxford Nanopore has been tested by an open, international consortium, including Oxford University researchers.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
New Insight into Recombination and Sex Chromosomes
Not only does the platypus have some odd physical features, an updated version of its genome has also underscored the unusual genetic characteristics that it harbors.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Protein Clue To Sudden Cardiac Death
A protein has been shown to have a surprising role in regulating the 'glue' that holds heart cells together, a finding that may explain how a gene defect could cause sudden cardiac death.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
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
Interactive Map of Human Genetic History Revealed
Study identifies, dates and characterizes genetic mixing between populations.
Tuesday, February 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
Genes Linked to Being Right or Left Handed Identified
A genetic study has identified a biological process that influences whether we are right handed or left handed.
Monday, September 16, 2013
First IVF Baby with New Embryo Screening Technique
The method uses the latest DNA sequencing techniques and aims to increase IVF success rates while being more affordable.
Tuesday, July 09, 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
Genetic Fingerprints Can Track Drug Resistance in Malaria Parasites
Resistance to the frontline malaria drug artemisinin can be identified by surveying the genomes of malaria parasite populations.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Scientific News
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
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.
Biologists Induce Flatworms to Grow Heads and Brains of Other Species
Findings shed light on role of a new kind of epigenetic signaling in evolution, could yield clues for understanding birth defects and regeneration.
Turning up the Tap on Microbes Leads to Better Protein Patenting
Mining millions of proteins could become faster and easier with a new technique that may also transform the enzyme-catalyst industry, according to University of California, Davis, researchers.
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.
Ancient Viral Molecules Essential for Human Development
Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
The Secret Behind the Power of Bacterial Sex
Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Farming’s in Their DNA
Ancient genomes reveal natural selection in action.
Skyscraper Banner

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