Relationships between circulating hormone levels, mammographic percent density and breast cancer risk factors in postmenopausal women

Harriet Johansson, Sara Gandini, Bernardo Bonanni, Frederique Mariette, Aliana Guerrieri-Gonzaga, Davide Serrano, Enrico Cassano, Francesca Ramazzotto, Laura Baglietto, Maria Teresa Sandri, Andrea Decensi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Endogenous hormones and insulin-like growth factors (IGF) play a central role in breast cancer development. Mammographic density, an important breast cancer risk factor, has been associated with these biomarkers in premenopausal women. The aim of this study was to assess the relationships between circulating hormones, clinical features related to breast cancer risk and mammographic density in postmenopausal women. Subjects and methods: The study included 226 postmenopausal women participating in a clinical prevention trial. We performed baseline measurements of mammographic percent density and circulating levels of estradiol, sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin, C-terminal cross-link telopeptide, IGF-I, and IGF binding protein-3. Results: Median age and time since last menses were 52 years and 15 months, respectively. Median body mass index was 24.1 kg/m 2. After adjusting for age and body mass index, estradiol was the only biomarker significantly correlated with mammographic density (r = 0.17; P = 0.04). Women with normal body mass index had higher mammographic density (P <0.001), higher SHBG (P <0.0001), higher FSH (P = 0.002) and lower estradiol levels (P = 0.01) than those who were overweight. Women who had previous biopsies for benign breast disease had a higher mammographic density (P = 0.006). Conclusions: In these recently postmenopausal women, mammographic percent density is directly associated with circulating estradiol levels. Our results provide further support to the role of circulating hormones in breast cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Biomarkers
  • Breast cancer risk
  • C-terminal cross-link telopeptide
  • Insulin-like growth factor I
  • Mammographic density
  • Prolactin
  • Sex steroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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