4 october 2021

Alcohol Intake and Endogenous Hormones in Pre- and Postmenopausal Women: Findings from the UK Biobank

BACKGROUND: Alcohol intake may influence breast cancer risk in women through hormonal changes, but the evidence to date is inconclusive. We investigated cross-sectional associations between habitual alcohol intake and serum concentrations of testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and estradiol (premenopausal women only) in UK Biobank.

METHODS: We included 30,557 premenopausal and 134,029 postmenopausal women aged between 40 and 69 years when recruited between 2006 and 2010. At their initial assessment visit, habitual alcohol intake was assessed using a touchscreen questionnaire, and serum hormone concentrations were assayed. Multivariable linear regression analysis was performed.

RESULTS: Per 10 g/day increment in alcohol intake, testosterone concentration was 3.9% [95% confidence intervals (CI): 3.3%-4.5%] higher in premenopausal women and 2.3% (1.8%-2.7%) higher in postmenopausal women (P heterogeneity < 0.0001); SHBG concentration was 0.7% (0.2%-1.1%) higher in premenopausal women and 2.4% (2.2%-2.6%) lower in postmenopausal women (P heterogeneity < 0.0001); and IGF-1 concentration was 1.9% (1.7%-2.1%) lower in premenopausal women and 0.8% (0.6%-0.9%) lower in postmenopausal women (P heterogeneity < 0.0001). In premenopausal women, there was no significant overall association of alcohol with estradiol but a positive association was observed in the early and mid-luteal phases: 1.9% (95% CI: 0.2%-3.6%) and 2.4% (95% CI: 0.7%-4.2%) higher, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms significant but modest associations between alcohol intake and hormones, with evidence of heterogeneity by menopausal status.

IMPACT: The findings facilitate better understanding of whether alcohol intake influences hormone concentrations, but further work is necessary to fully understand the mechanisms linking alcohol with cancer risk.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Tin Tin S.; Key T. J.; Reeves G. K.
  • Issue

    Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev . 2021 Oct 4. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-21-0789.
  • Published Date

    4 october 2021