Background: Epidemiologic data and animal models suggest that, despite the predominant role of human papillomavirus infection, sex steroid hormones are also involved in the etiology of invasive cervical carcinoma (ICC).
Methods: Ninety-nine ICC cases, 121 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 (CIN3) cases and 2 control women matched with each case for center, age, menopausal status and blood collection-related variables, were identified in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Circulating levels of testosterone (T) and estradiol (E(2)); dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS); progesterone (premenopausal women); and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) were measured using immunoassays. Levels of free (f) T and E(2) were calculated from absolute concentrations of T, E(2), and SHBG. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed using regularized conditional logistic regression.
Results: Among premenopausal women, associations with ICC were observed for fT (OR for highest vs. lowest tertile = 5.16, 95% CI, 1.50-20.1). SHBG level was associated with a significant downward trend in ICC risk. T, E(2), fE(2), and DHEAS showed nonsignificant positive association with ICC. Progesterone was uninfluential. Among postmenopausal women, associations with ICC were found for T (OR = 3.14; 95% CI, 1.21-9.37), whereas E(2) and fT showed nonsignificant positive association. SHBG level was unrelated to ICC risk in postmenopausal women. No associations between any hormone and CIN3 were detected in either pre- or postmenopausal women.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest for the first time that T and possibly E(2) may be involved in the etiology of ICC.
Impact: The responsiveness of cervical tumors to hormone modulators is worth exploring.