Relationship of alcohol intake and sex steroid concentrations in blood in pre- and post-menopausal women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition
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Women with a moderate intake of alcohol have higher concentrations of sex steroids in serum, and higher risk of developing breast cancer, compared to non-drinkers. In the present study, we investigate the relationships between alcohol consumption and serum levels of sex steroids and sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in 790 pre- and 1,291 post-menopausal women, who were part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Serum levels of testosterone (T), androstenedione (Δ4), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and SHBG were measured by direct immunoassays. Free T (fT) and free E2 (fE2) were calculated according to mass action laws. Current alcohol intake exposure to alcohol was assessed from dietary questionnaires.
Pre-menopausal women who consumed more than 25 g/day of alcohol had about 30% higher DHEAS, T and fT, 20% higher Δ4 and about 40% higher E1, concentrations compared to women who were non-consumers. E2, fE2 and SHBG concentrations showed no association with current alcohol intake. In post-menopausal women, DHEAS, fT, T, Δ4, and E1 concentrations were between 10% and 20% higher in women who consumed more than 25 g/day of alcohol compared to non-consumers. E2 or fE2 were not associated with alcohol intake at all. SHBG levels were about 15% lower in alcohol consumers compared to non-consumers.
This study supports the hypothesis of an influence of alcohol intake on sex hormone concentrations in blood.
KeywordsSex steroids Alcohol intake Pre-menopausal Post-menopausal women
European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition
Sex-hormone binding globulin
Body mass index
The Authors would like to thank Mr Achaintre, Mrs Bouzac and Mrs Robinot for their valuable and meticulous work in performing all the laboratory analyses, and Mrs Louled for her precious secretarial help.
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