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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Apr;16(4):676-83.

Do factors related to endogenous and exogenous estrogens modify the relationship between obesity and risk of colorectal adenomas in women?

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Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Obesity has consistently been associated with increased colorectal cancer risk in men, but not in women. In the absence of postmenopausal hormone use (PMH), adipose-derived estrogen is the primary determinant of circulating estrogen levels in postmenopausal women, perhaps ameliorating the mitogenic effects of obesity in this group. Using data from a case-control study in the United States, we examined associations among obesity, potential modifying effects of factors related to endogenous and exogenous estrogen levels, and risk of colorectal adenoma. Cases (n = 219) were women of ages 30 to 74 years with colonoscopy proven, incident, sporadic, pathology-confirmed, adenomatous polyps of the colon and rectum. Two control groups were recruited: colonoscopy-confirmed polyp-free women (n = 438) and age- and zip code frequency-matched women randomly selected from the community (n = 247). Multivariate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for obese [body mass index (BMI) >or=30.0; compared with nonobese, BMI <25.0] premenopausal women were 2.09 (95% CI, 0.81-5.41) versus colonoscopy controls, and 5.18 (95% CI, 1.40-19.32) versus population controls. For PMH users, the corresponding odds ratios were 0.29 (95% CI, 0.12-0.70) versus colonoscopy controls and 0.64 (95% CI, 0.23-1.83) versus population controls. There was no significant association of BMI with adenoma risk for PMH nonusers. Findings for waist-to-hip ratio were similar to those for BMI. These data support the hypothesis that risk for colorectal adenoma may be increased with obesity among premenopausal women but decreased among postmenopausal women, especially if they also take PMH.

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