Age at menarche, urine estrogens and breast cancer risk

Int J Cancer. 1982 Oct 15;30(4):427-31. doi: 10.1002/ijc.2910300408.


In 511 nulliparous women aged 15-19 years and 347 aged 30-39, an analysis has been undertaken of the relationship of urine concentrations of the three principal estrogens to age, age at menarche and Quetelet's index of adiposity. The analysis was undertaken by means of multiple regression, controlling for each of the 12 centers from which the data originated, as well as for the other study variables. In the younger women, age was strongly and positively related to concentrations of E1 and E2 and less so to E3. In the age group 30-39, follicular phase specimens showed positive relationships with age for all three fractions but luteal specimens did not. Age at menarche showed inverse relationships to levels of E1 and E2 which were significant in the younger but not in the older age group. The associations of estrogens with Quetelet's index were weak and not statistically significant. The data suggest that women whose menarche occurs early not only have a longer duration of exposure to estrogens during years which are probably important in the initiation of breast cancer but, in addition, their exposures are at a higher level during those years and probably at later ages also. These observations support the hypothesis that the mechanism of the association of early menarche with breast cancer risk is via the association of both with estrogen stimulus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Estrogens / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstruation*
  • Puberty*
  • Risk


  • Estrogens