Lung cancer in women: role of estrogens

Expert Rev Respir Med. 2010 Aug;4(4):509-18. doi: 10.1586/ers.10.50.


The incidence of lung cancer in females is increasing, in contrast to that seen in males. In addition, the proportion of lung cancer cases in women attributable to smoking is approximately half of that seen in males. Female sex hormones, especially estrogen, may play a key role in this. Estrogen receptors ERalpha and ERbeta have been detected on lung cancer cells and there is new evidence suggesting that hormone-replacement therapy may increase both the incidence of, and mortality from, lung cancer in women. Laboratory evidence lends credence to the carcinogenic effects of estrogens in lung cancer. This article summarizes the current evidence on their role in lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / drug effects
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism*
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / drug effects
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / metabolism*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones