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Dorgan JF , Boudou P , Stanczyk FZ , Longcope C , Tejpar AA , Falk RT , Schussler N , Stephenson HE Jr
Sources of elevated serum androgens in postmenopausal women who develop breast cancer
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001 Apr;10(4) :407-10
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Postmenopausal women with elevated serum androgens are at an increased risk of breast cancer. High dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate concentrations in these women suggest increased adrenal secretion. Both the adrenals and ovaries could contribute to elevated concentrations of androstenedione (Delta4A). 11beta-Hydroxyandrostenedione (11betaOHA) is elevated, and the Delta4A:11betaOHA ratio is depressed when the adrenals are the primary source of elevated Delta4A in women. Conversely, Delta4A:11betaOHA is elevated when the ovaries are the primary source. We prospectively evaluated associations of serum 11betaOHA and Delta4A:11betaOHA with breast cancer in the Columbia, Missouri Serum Bank to identify the source of elevated Delta4A related to risk. Fifty-three postmenopausal women who were not taking estrogens when they donated blood and were diagnosed with breast cancer up to 10 years later (median, 2.9 years) served as cases. Two controls, who were also postmenopausal and not taking estrogens, were matched to each case on age, date, and time of blood collection. Serum Delta4A concentration was significantly (trend P = 0.02) positively associated with breast cancer risk. Adjusted risk ratios for women in the lowest to highest tertiles were 1.0, 1.6, and 2.4 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.9-6.5]. However, neither 11betaOHA concentration nor Delta4A:11betaOHA was related to risk. Comparable risk ratios were 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4 (95% CI, 0.5-3.6) for 11betaOHA and 1.0, 1.2, and 1.2 (95% CI, 0.4-3.5) for Delta4A:11betaOHA. Our results suggest that neither the ovaries nor adrenals are the predominant source of elevated serum Delta4A in postmenopausal women who develop breast cancer, but rather both may contribute.
1055-9965 Journal Article