Background: The association of alcohol and fibre intake with breast cancer may be mediated by circulating sex hormone levels, which are predictors of breast cancer risk.
Objective: To evaluate the relationship of alcohol and dietary fibre intake with circulating sex hormone levels among premenopausal women.
Methods: A total of 205 premenopausal women completed a validated food-frequency questionnaire at baseline and after 2 years; blood samples taken at the same time were analysed for circulating sex hormone concentrations, including oestrone (E1), oestradiol (E2), free E2, progesterone, androstenedione and sex hormone-binding globulin, by radioimmunoassay. We used mixed models to estimate least-square means of sex hormone concentrations for alcohol intake categories and quartiles of dietary intake.
Results: After adjustment for covariates, alcohol consumption was moderately associated with higher circulating oestrogen levels; those who consumed more than one drink per day had 20% higher E2 (Ptrend=0.07) levels than non-drinkers. In contrast, higher dietary fibre intake was associated with lower serum levels of androstenedione (-8% between the lowest and highest quartiles of intake, Ptrend=0.06), but not oestrogens. Similarly, consumption of fruits (-12%, Ptrend=0.03), vegetables (-9%, Ptrend=0.15) and whole grains (-7%, Ptrend=0.07) showed inverse associations with androstenedione levels.
Conclusions: The consistency of the observed differences in sex hormone levels associated with alcohol and fibre-rich foods indicates that these nutritional factors may affect sex hormone concentrations and play a role in breast cancer aetiology and prevention.