Estrogen metabolism and breast cancer

Cancer Lett. 2015 Jan 28;356(2 Pt A):231-43. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2014.04.018. Epub 2014 Apr 28.


There is currently accumulating evidence that endogenous estrogens play a critical role in the development of breast cancer. Estrogens and their metabolites have been studied in both pre- and postmenopausal women with more consistent results shown in the latter population, in part because of large hormonal variations during the menstrual cycle and far fewer studies having been performed in premenopausal women. In this review we describe in detail estrogen metabolism and associated genetic variations, and provide a critical review of the current literature regarding the role of estrogens and their metabolites in breast cancer risk.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Estrogen; Estrogen metabolites; Postmenopausal women; Premenopausal women; Sex hormones.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Estradiol / biosynthesis
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estrogens / biosynthesis
  • Estrogens / genetics
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyestrones / metabolism
  • Postmenopause
  • Premenopause
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors


  • Estrogens
  • Hydroxyestrones
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • 16-hydroxyestrone
  • Estradiol
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System