Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 743–752 | Cite as

Physical activity and inactivity in relation to sex hormone, prolactin, and insulin-like growth factor concentrations in premenopausal women

Exercise and premenopausal hormones
  • Shelley S. Tworoger
  • Stacey A. Missmer
  • A. Heather Eliassen
  • Robert L. Barbieri
  • Mitch Dowsett
  • Susan E. Hankinson
Original Paper


An association between physical activity and premenopausal breast cancer risk may be due, in part, to relationships with sex hormones or growth factors. Therefore, we assessed whether MET-h/week of total physical activity (moderate-to-vigorous intensity), walking, or vigorous physical activity, and h/week of standing or sitting were associated with plasma concentrations of several hormones. We examined levels of estrogens, androgens, progesterone, prolactin, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), IGF binding protein-3, and growth hormone (GH) in 565 premenopausal women, ages 33–52 years, from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII). About 87% of women had both timed follicular and luteal samples; other women had one untimed sample. In general we observed few associations between sex hormone or IGF levels and measures of physical activity or inactivity. However, free testosterone was modestly inversely associated with total physical activity (p-trend = 0.02). Luteal estradiol, free estradiol, and estrone also were inversely associated with total physical activity (p-trend = 0.10, 0.04, 0.01, respectively); however, the trend was substantially attenuated when excluding women with anovulatory cycles or irregular cycles. These cross-sectional results suggest that physical activity and inactivity have limited associations with premenopausal sex hormone and growth factor levels, except possibly luteal estrogens.


Physical activity Premenopausal women Sex hormones Prolactin IGF-1 

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shelley S. Tworoger
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stacey A. Missmer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. Heather Eliassen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert L. Barbieri
    • 3
  • Mitch Dowsett
    • 4
  • Susan E. Hankinson
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Channing Laboratory, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive BiologyBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Academic Department of BiochemistryRoyal Marsden HospitalLondonUK

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