Mammographic breast density and its association with urinary estrogens and the fecal microbiota in postmenopausal women.

Author(s): Jones GS,  Spencer Feigelson H,  Falk RT,  Hua X,  Ravel J,  Yu G,  Flores R,  Gail MH,  Shi J,  Xu X,  Goedert JJ

Journal: PLoS One

Date: 2019

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): NSRG

PubMed ID: 31067262

PMC ID: PMC6505928

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Breast density, as estimated by mammography, is a strong risk factor for breast cancer in pre- and postmenopausal women, but the determinants of breast density have not yet been established. The aim of this study was to assess if urinary estrogens or gut microbiota alterations are associated with mammographic density in postmenopausal women. METHODS: Among 54 cancer-free, postmenopausal controls in the Breast and Colon Health study, we classified low- versus high-density women with Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS, 5th edition) mammographic screening data, then assessed associations with urinary estrogens and estrogen metabolites (determined by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry), and fecal microbiota alpha and beta diversity (using Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA amplicons). RESULTS: Multiple logistic regression revealed no significant association between breast density and fecal microbiota metrics (PD_tree P-value = 0.82; un-weighted and weighted UniFrac P = 0.92 and 0.83, respectively, both by MiRKAT). In contrast, total urinary estrogens (and all 15 estrogens/estrogen metabolites) were strongly and inversely associated with breast density (P = 0.01) after adjustment for age and body mass index. CONCLUSION: Mammographic density was not associated with the gut microbiota, but it was inversely associated with urinary estrogen levels. IMPACT: The finding of an inverse association between urinary estrogens and breast density in cancer-free women adds to the growing breast cancer literature on understanding the relationship between endogenous estrogens and mammographic density.