Female estrogen-related factors and incidence of basal cell carcinoma in a nationwide us cohort

Elizabeth K. Cahoon, Cari M. Kitahara, Estelle Ntowe, Emily M. Bowen, Michele M. Doody, Bruce H. Alexander, Terrence Lee, Mark P. Little, Martha S. Linet, D. Michal Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose UV radiation exposure is the primary risk factor for basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common human malignancy. Although the photosensitizing properties of estrogens have been recognized for decades, few studies have examined the relationship between reproductive factors or exogenous estrogen use and BCC. Methods Using data from the US Radiologic Technologists Study, a large, nationwide, prospective cohort, we assessed the relationship between reproductive factors, exogenous estrogen use, and first primary BCC while accounting for sun exposure, personal sun sensitivity, and lifestyle factors for geographically dispersed women exposed to a wide range of ambient UV radiation. Results Elevated risk of BCC was associated with late age at natural menopause (hazard ratio [HR] for 55 years v 50 to 54 years, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.04 to 2.17) and any use of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT; HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.30; P for trend for duration .001). BCC risk was most increased among women reporting natural menopause who used MHT for 10 or more years versus women who never used MHT (HR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.35 to 2.87). Risk of BCC was not associated with age at menarche, parity, age at first birth, infertility, use of diethylstilbestrol by participant’s mother, age at hysterectomy, or use of oral contraceptives. Conclusion These analyses confirm a previous finding of increased risk of BCC associated with MHT. Novel findings of increased BCC risk associated with MHT in women experiencing natural menopause and for late age at natural menopause warrant further investigation. Users of MHT may constitute an additional high-risk group in need of more frequent skin cancer screening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4058-4065
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number34
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

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Copyright © 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.


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