Estrogen and cancer

Annu Rev Physiol. 2013;75:225-40. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-030212-183708. Epub 2012 Oct 8.


Estrogen exhibits a broad spectrum of physiological functions ranging from regulation of the menstrual cycle and reproduction to modulation of bone density, brain function, and cholesterol mobilization. Despite the beneficial actions of endogenous estrogen, sustained exposure to exogenous estrogen is a well-established risk factor for various cancers. We summarize our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms of estrogen signaling in normal and cancer cells and discuss the major challenges to existing antiestrogen therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Estrogens / adverse effects
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen