Reproductive factors and risk of primary brain tumors in women
Gender-specific incidence patterns and the presence of hormonal receptors on tumor cells suggest that sex hormones may play a role in the onset of primary brain tumors. However, epidemiological studies on the relation of hormonal risk factors to the risk of brain tumors have been inconsistent. We examined the role of reproductive factors in the onset of glioma and meningioma in a case–control study conducted in the Southeastern US that included 507 glioma cases, 247 meningioma cases, and 695 community-based and friend controls. Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI) adjusting for age, race, US state of residence, and education. An older age at menarche was associated with an increased risk of glioma (≥15 vs. ≤12 years: OR 1.65; 95 % CI 1.11–2.45), with a stronger association observed in pre-menopausal (OR 2.22; 95 % CI 1.12–4.39) than post-menopausal (OR 1.55; 95 % CI 0.93–2.58) women. When compared to controls, meningioma cases were more likely to have undergone natural menopause (OR 1.52; 95 % CI 1.04–2.21) whereas glioma cases were less likely to be long term users of oral contraceptives (OR 0.47; 95 % CI 0.33–0.68). Increasing parity was not related to the risk of either tumor. Current findings are consistent with a limited role for hormones in the onset of brain tumors in women. Results contribute to a growing body of evidence that a later age at menarche increases the risk of glioma in women.