Endogenous sex steroids in premenopausal women and risk of breast cancer: The ORDET cohort

Eva S. Schernhammer, Francesca Sperati, Pedram Razavi, Claudia Agnoli, Sabina Sieri, Franco Berrino, Vittorio Krogh, Carlo Alberto Abbagnato, Sara Grioni, Giovanni Blandino, Holger J. Schunemann, Paola Muti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Previous studies showed that higher testosterone levels are associated with greater risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women, but the literature is scant and inconsistent.Methods: In a prospective nested case-control study of 104 premenopausal women with incident breast cancer and 225 matched controls, all characterized by regular menstrual cycles throughout their lifetime, we measured the concentration of estradiol, total and free testosterone (FT), progesterone, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) in blood samples collected on days 20 through 24 of their cycles.Results: In logistic regression models, the multivariate odds ratios (ORs) of invasive breast cancer for women in the highest tertile of circulating FT compared with the lowest was 2.43 (95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.15 to 5.10; Ptrend = 0.03), whereas for total testosterone, the association had the same direction but was not statistically significant (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 0.62 to 2.61; Ptrend = 0.51). Endogenous progesterone was not statistically associated with breast cancer (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.60 to 2.27; Ptrend = 0.75), nor were the other considered hormones.Conclusions: Consistent with previous prospective studies in premenopausal women and our own earlier investigation, we observed that higher levels of FT are positively associated with breast cancer risk in women with regular menstrual cycles throughout their lifetimes. No evidence of risk was found associated with the other endogenous sex steroids.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberR46
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 18 2013


  • androgens
  • breast cancer
  • estrogens
  • premenopausal
  • sex steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)


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