Breast cancer survivors who use estrogenic botanical supplements have lower serum estrogen levels than non users


To measure the association between use of estrogenic botanical supplements and serum sex hormones in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors, a total 502 postmenopausal women were queried 2–3 years after breast cancer diagnosis about their use of botanical supplements, and supplements were categorized according to their estrogenic properties. Concurrently, a fasting blood sample was obtained for assay of estrone, estradiol, free estradiol, testosterone, free testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), and sex hormone-binding globulin. Adjusted means of the serum hormones were calculated by use of estrogenic supplements. Women reporting use of any estrogenic botanical supplement had significantly lower levels of estrone (20.8 vs. 23.6 pg/ml), estradiol (12.8 vs. 14.7 pg/ml), free estradiol (0.29 vs. 0.35 pg/ml), and DHEAS (47.7 vs. 56.2 µg/dl) compared to women reporting no use. Data from this cross-sectional study suggest the use of estrogenic botanical supplements may be associated with sex hormone concentrations in breast cancer survivors. Considering the high use of these supplements among breast cancer patients, further research is needed to clarify the relative estrogenicity/antiestrogenicity of these compounds and their relation with prognosis.

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National Cancer Institute contracts N01-CN-75036-20, N01-CN-05228, N01-PC-67010/N01-PC-35139, N01-PC-67007/N01-PC-35138 and N01-PC-67009/N01-PC-35142, and training grant T32 CA09661. A portion of this work was conducted through the Clinical Research Center at the University of Washington and supported by the NIH grant M01-RR-00037. Data collection for the Women’s Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences Study at the University of Southern California was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development contract N01-HD-3-3175. Patient identification was supported in part by the California Department of Health Services grant 050Q-8709-S1528. Preparation of this manuscript was supported, in part, by the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, a recipient of NCI Cancer Support Grant P30-CA118100.

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Correspondence to Sharon J. Wayne.

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Wayne, S.J., Neuhouser, M.L., Koprowski, C. et al. Breast cancer survivors who use estrogenic botanical supplements have lower serum estrogen levels than non users. Breast Cancer Res Treat 117, 111 (2009).

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  • Breast cancer
  • Estrogenic botanical supplements
  • Serum sex hormones