Some endocrine characteristics of early menarche, a risk factor for breast cancer, are preserved into adulthood

Int J Cancer. 1989 Nov 15;44(5):783-7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.2910440506.


Early menarche is a risk factor for breast cancer. In a longitudinal manner, we have investigated the endocrine features of girls with early menarche. This study extends our investigations to the third decade of life in a cohort of girls followed up for 13 years. The group studied comprised 44 women, 20-31 years of age. Eleven women had had their menarche before 12.0 years, 14 women at 12.0-12.9 years and 19 women at 13.0 years or more. The women who had had early menarche had higher serum oestradiol concentrations during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle than the women who had had their menarche later. The serum oestradiol concentrations increased rapidly at the beginning of cycle in these "early menarche" women. If there is a threshold which serum oestradiol concentrations must exceed to increase the risk of breast cancer, then these women have more days at risk than other women. In addition, the serum SHBG (sex-hormone-binding globulin) concentration was about 30% lower in the follicular-phase specimens of the women who had had their menarche before 12.0 years compared with those who had had their menarche at 13.0 years. Our data therefore indicate that women with early menarche are subject to a high degree of oestrogen stimulation at least until approximately 30 years of age. Our findings may have important consequences for the design of intervention programs for breast cancer prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Androgens / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Estradiol / blood*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Luteal Phase
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Menarche*
  • Ovulation
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Puberty*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism


  • Androgens
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Estradiol
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone