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Br J Cancer. 1996 June; 73(12): 1615–1619.
PMCID: PMC2074556

A prospective study of urinary oestrogen excretion and breast cancer risk.


To test the hypothesis that high levels of endogenous oestrogens increase the risk for developing breast cancer, concentrations of oestrone, oestradiol and oestriol were measured in 24 h urine samples from 1000 women participants in a prospective study of breast cancer on the island of Guernsey. Sixty-nine subjects were diagnosed with breast cancer subsequent to urine collection. Among women who were premenopausal at the time of urine collection, cases excreted less oestrogen than controls; the odds ratios (95% CI) for breast cancer in the middle and upper thirds of the distribution of oestrogen excretion, in comparison with the lower third (reference group, assigned odds ratio = 1.0), were 0.5(0.2-1.2) and 0.4(0.2-1.1) respectively for oestrone, 0.8(0.4-1.8 and 0.4(0.2-1.1) for oestradiol, 0.7(0.3-1.6) and 0.7(0.3-1.6) for oestriol and 0.9(0.4-2.0) and 0.5(0.2-1.3) for total oestrogens. Among women who were post-menopausal at the time of urine collection, the trend was in the opposite direction, with an increase in risk associated with increased oestrogen excretion; the odds ratios were 0.9(0.3-2.2) and 1.1(0.5-2.8) for oestrone, 0.8(0.3-2.3) and 1.9(0.8-4.6) for oestradiol, 1.5(0.6-3.9) and 1.8(0.7-4.6) for oestriol and 0.9(0.4-2.6) and 1.9(0.7-4.7) for total oestrogens. The trends of increasing risk with increasing oestrogen excretion among post-menopausal women were statistically significant for oestradiol (P = 0.022) and for total oestrogens (P = 0.016). We conclude that high levels of endogenous oestrogens in post-menopausal women are associated with increased breast cancer risk, but that the relationship of oestrogens in premenopausal women with risk is unclear.

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