Do regular ovulatory cycles increase breast cancer risk?

Cancer. 1985 Sep 1;56(5):1206-8. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19850901)56:5<1206::aid-cncr2820560541>;2-9.


The "estrogen window hypothesis" of the etiology of breast cancer proposes that unopposed estrogen stimulation is the most favorable state for tumor induction and that normal postovulation progesterone secretion reduces susceptibility. The authors believe that epidemiologic and experimental studies suggest rather that the opposite is true, i.e., that breast cancer risk is directly related to the cumulative number of regular ovulatory cycles. Unlike the endometrium, breast tissue mitotic activity is enhanced in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Regular vigorous physical activity is one method of reducing the frequency of ovulatory cycles, and such exercise could markedly reduce a woman's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovulation*
  • Risk


  • Estrogens