Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 473–481 | Cite as

Physical Activity, Body Size, and Estrogen Metabolism in Women

  • Charles E. Matthews
  • Jay H. Fowke
  • Qi Dai
  • H. Leon Bradlow
  • Fan Jin
  • Xiao-Ou Shu
  • Yu-Tang Gao
  • Christopher Longcope
  • James R. Hebert
  • Wei Zheng


Objectives: Physical activity has demonstrable effects on estrogen levels in pre- and postmenopausal women. Increased oxidation of estrone to 2-hydroxyestrone (2HE) relative to 16α-hydroxyestrone (16HE) has been hypothesized to reduce breast cancer risk, but little is known about the effect of physical activity and body size in relation to the ratio of 2HE and 16HE in women. We examined these relationships in cross-sectional analyses of 157 North American and Chinese women.

Methods: Physical activity was assessed using validated questionnaires. Adiposity was assessed as body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and by anthropometric methods (% body fat). Estrone metabolites, 2HE and 16HE, were determined from urine via ELISA.

Results: Regression analyses on the 2HE/16HE ratio revealed an interaction between leisure-time physical activities and adiposity in both North American and Chinese women (p≤ 0.05). Women reporting low levels of leisure-time physical activity who had higher BMI levels had 2HE/16HE ratios that were lower than their lean counterparts. In contrast, women with higher BMI levels that were physically active maintained higher 2HE/16HE ratios.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that physical activity participation has the potential to modify the adverse effect of increased adiposity on estrogen metabolism in North American and Chinese women.

exercise obesity body composition breast cancer estrogen metabolites 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles E. Matthews
    • 1
  • Jay H. Fowke
    • 2
  • Qi Dai
    • 2
  • H. Leon Bradlow
    • 3
    • 4
  • Fan Jin
    • 5
  • Xiao-Ou Shu
    • 2
  • Yu-Tang Gao
    • 5
  • Christopher Longcope
    • 6
  • James R. Hebert
    • 7
  • Wei Zheng
    • 2
  1. 1.Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Center for Health Services ResearchVanderbilt University Medical Center, Medical Center EastNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Center for Health Services ResearchVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.David and Alice Jurist Institute for Medical ResearchHackensack University Medical CenterHackensackUSA
  4. 4.Department of MedicineUMDNJNewarkUSA
  5. 5.Shanghai Cancer InstituteShanghaiChina
  6. 6.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  7. 7.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsArnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, and South Carolina Cancer CenterColumbiaUSA

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