Influence of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy on an estrogen metabolite biomarker of risk for breast cancer

R. B. Alvarez-Vasquez, D. Axelrod, K. Frenkel, M. C. Newman, D. W. Sepkovic, H. L. Bradlow, Barnett Zumoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Whether postmenopausal hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of breast cancer remains controversial, despite numerous epidemiological studies. We approached the question from a biochemical rather than an epidemiological direction -we hypothesized that if estrogen administration increases the risk of breast cancer, it should also alter a known estrogen biomarker of risk towards what has been observed in patients who already have breast cancer. The specific biomarker we studied was the ratio of the urinary excretion of two principal estradiol metabolites, 2-hydroxyestrone and 16α-hydroxyestrone, which is markedly decreased in women with breast cancer and women with familial risk for breast cancer. We studied 34 healthy postmenopausal women not on HRT and 19 women on HRT (Premarin 0.625 mg daily plus Provera, 2.5 mg daily, in women with a uterus and Premarin alone in women without a uterus); treatment duration ranged from 3 months to 15 years. We also studied four women with recently diagnosed, untreated breast cancer. The women with breast cancer showed a significantly lower 2-hydroxyestrone to 16α-hydroxyestrone ratio than control women on HRT (1.35 ± 0.13 vs. 2.71 ± 0.84; p < 0.0001). There was no significant difference in the metabolite ratio between healthy women on HRT and women not on HRT (2.82 ± 0.92 vs. 2.71 ± 0.84). There was no significant difference between women receiving Premarin alone and women receiving Premarin plus Provera (2.46 ± 0.84 vs. 3.13 ± 0.90), and neither differed significantly from women not on HRT (2.71 ± 0.84). The finding that the ratio of women on HRT was not decreased to or toward the ratio in women with breast cancer can be interpreted, we believe, as a suggestive item of biochemical evidence that HRT is not a risk for breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-361
Number of pages4
JournalHormone and Metabolic Research
Volume35
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Breast Cancer
  • Estrogens
  • Risk Factors

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