Relationship of alcohol intake and sex steroid concentrations in blood in pre- and post-menopausal women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition

Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Oct;17(8):1033-43. doi: 10.1007/s10552-006-0041-7.

Abstract

Objective: Women with a moderate intake of alcohol have higher concentrations of sex steroids in serum, and higher risk of developing breast cancer, compared to non-drinkers. In the present study, we investigate the relationships between alcohol consumption and serum levels of sex steroids and sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in 790 pre- and 1,291 post-menopausal women, who were part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).

Methods: Serum levels of testosterone (T), androstenedione (Delta4), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and SHBG were measured by direct immunoassays. Free T (fT) and free E2 (fE2) were calculated according to mass action laws. Current alcohol intake exposure to alcohol was assessed from dietary questionnaires.

Results: Pre-menopausal women who consumed more than 25 g/day of alcohol had about 30% higher DHEAS, T and fT, 20% higher Delta4 and about 40% higher E1, concentrations compared to women who were non-consumers. E2, fE2 and SHBG concentrations showed no association with current alcohol intake. In post-menopausal women, DHEAS, fT, T, Delta4, and E1 concentrations were between 10% and 20% higher in women who consumed more than 25 g/day of alcohol compared to non-consumers. E2 or fE2 were not associated with alcohol intake at all. SHBG levels were about 15% lower in alcohol consumers compared to non-consumers.

Conclusion: This study supports the hypothesis of an influence of alcohol intake on sex hormone concentrations in blood.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / blood*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Postmenopause / blood*
  • Premenopause / blood*
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism

Substances

  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin