Background: The Stein-Leventhal syndrome (SLS), first described in 1935, is characterized by infertility, hyperandrogenization, and obesity. Because this phenotype represents an aggregation of risk factors for postmenopausal breast carcinoma, and because in general, a hormonal imbalance underlies the disorder, the authors examined the association between self-reported SLS and breast carcinoma incidence in a cohort of 34,835 cancer-free women assembled in 1986 and followed through 1992.
Methods: All participants were between the ages of 55 and 69 and held a valid Iowa driver's license. A total of 472 women in the cohort (1.35%) reported a history of SLS at baseline. Incident cases of breast carcinoma were identified annually using the State Health Registry of Iowa. Data were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression.
Results: During the follow-up period, there were 883 incident breast carcinomas, 14 among women reporting a history of SLS. Women with SLS were more likely than women without SLS to report fertility problems and menstrual irregularities, but there were no significant differences observed regarding body mass index (BMI). Although women with SLS were 1.8 times as likely to report benign breast disease than women without SLS (P < 0.01), they were not more likely to develop breast carcinoma (relative risk [RR] = 1.2; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.7-2). Adjustment for age at menarche, age at menopause, parity, oral contraceptive use, BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, and family history of breast carcinoma lowered the RR to 1 (95% CI = 0.6-1.9.
Conclusions: Despite the high risk profiles of some women with SLS, these results do not suggest that the syndrome per se is associated with an increased risk of postmenopausal breast carcinoma.