Association between urinary prostaglandin E2 metabolite and breast cancer risk: a prospective, case-cohort study of postmenopausal women

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013 Jun;6(6):511-8. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0040. Epub 2013 May 1.


Overweight or obese women are at increased risk of developing and dying from breast cancer. Obesity-driven inflammation may stimulate prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)-mediated aromatase activation and estrogen biosynthesis in breast tissues. We hypothesized that increased production of PGE2 would contribute to elevated breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. We carried out a case-cohort study with 307 incident breast cancer cases and 300 subcohort members from the Sister Study cohort. HRs and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated for the association between urinary levels of a major PGE2 metabolite (PGE-M) and breast cancer risk using Prentice's pseudo-likelihood approach. Several lifestyle factors were associated with urinary levels of PGE-M: smoking, high-saturated fat diet, and obesity increased urinary PGE-M, and use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAID) decreased urinary PGE-M. Although there was no association between urinary PGE-M and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the overall analysis or among regular users of NSAIDs, there was a positive association among postmenopausal women who did not regularly use NSAIDs with HRs of 2.1 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0-4.3]; 2.0 (95% CI: 1.0-3.9); and 2.2 (95% CI: 1.1-4.3) for the second, third, and highest quartiles of PGE-M. Our findings suggest a link between systemic PGE2 formation and postmenopausal breast cancer, and a possible modification of the association by lifestyle and pharmacologic interventions. If confirmed in larger studies, these results may have useful implications for the development of preventive strategies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / urine*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / urine
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dinoprostone / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Postmenopause / drug effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Dinoprostone