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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2015 Jan;149(1):245-53. doi: 10.1007/s10549-014-3232-z. Epub 2014 Dec 13.

Immunoassay and Nb2 lymphoma bioassay prolactin levels and mammographic density in premenopausal and postmenopausal women the Nurses' Health Studies.

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Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 181 Longwood Ave 3rd Floor, Boston, MA, 02115, USA,


Higher circulating prolactin levels have been associated with higher percent mammographic density among postmenopausal women in some, but not all studies. However, few studies have examined associations with dense area and non-dense breast area breast or considered associations with prolactin Nb2 lymphoma cell bioassay levels. We conducted a cross-sectional study among 1,124 premenopausal and 890 postmenopausal women who were controls in breast cancer case-control studies nested in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and NHSII. Participants provided blood samples in 1989-1990 (NHS) or 1996-1999 (NHSII) and mammograms were obtained from around the time of blood draw. Multivariable linear models were used to assess the associations between prolactin levels (measured by immunoassay or bioassay) with percent density, dense area, and non-dense area. Among 1,124 premenopausal women, percent density, dense area, and non-dense area were not associated with prolactin immunoassay levels in multivariable models (p trends = 0.10, 0.18, and 0.69, respectively). Among 890 postmenopausal women, those with prolactin immunoassay levels in the highest versus lowest quartile had modestly, though significantly, higher percent density (difference = 3.01 percentage points, 95 % CI 0.22, 5.80) as well as lower non-dense area (p trend = 0.02). Among women with both immunoassay and bioassay levels, there were no consistent differences in the associations with percent density between bioassay and immunoassay levels. Postmenopausal women with prolactin immunoassay levels in the highest quartile had significantly higher percent density as well as lower non-dense area compared to those in the lowest quartile. Future studies should examine the underlying biologic mechanisms, particularly for non-dense area.

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