Association between thyroid gland diseases and breast cancer: a case-control study

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020 Jul;182(1):207-213. doi: 10.1007/s10549-020-05675-6. Epub 2020 May 18.


Background: At the present time, there is no consensus on the association between benign thyroid diseases and breast cancer (BC). Therefore, the aim of this study is to help shed some light on the association between hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroiditis and breast cancer risk.

Methods: Use of the Disease Analyzer database (IQVIA) enabled us to perform a retrospective case-control study of 7408 women aged between 18 and 80, who were treated for an initial breast cancer diagnosis in a general practice in the United Kingdom between 2006 and 2015 (index date). Patients with a previous cancer diagnosis and an observation time of less than 12 months prior to the index date were excluded. The control group consisted of 7408 healthy women, who were matched to cases 1:1 by age, body mass index, hormone replacement therapy, and physician. The main outcome parameters of this study were the presence of thyroid disease (hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, struma, and thyroiditis) and the TSH values in the two groups. A univariate logistic regression model was used to investigate the association between benign thyroid diseases, TSH values, and BC.

Results: The mean age was 58.4 years in both groups. We found a significant association between thyroiditis and BC (OR: 1.91, p = 0.01) and were able to refute the association between hyperthyroidism/hypothyroidism and BC. We also found that thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) had no significant effect on breast cancer risk.

Conclusion: Many experimental studies suggest a link between hyperthyroidism/hypothyroidism and BC. We were able to demonstrate an epidemiological association between thyroiditis and an increased BC risk. This shows the need for close monitoring for BC in women with thyroiditis.

Keywords: Benign thyroid disease; Breast cancer; Hyperthyroidism; Hypothyroidism; Thyroiditis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Diseases / complications
  • Thyroid Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult