Background: Postmenopausal pregnenolone and/or progesterone levels in relation to endometrial and ovarian cancer risks have been infrequently evaluated. To address this, we utilized a sensitive and reliable assay to quantify prediagnostic levels of seven markers related to endogenous hormone metabolism. Methods: Hormones were quantified in baseline serum collected from postmenopausal women in a cohort study nested within the Breast and Bone Follow-up to the Fracture Intervention Trial (B~FIT). Women using exogenous hormones at baseline (1992-1993) were excluded. Incident endometrial (n ¼ 65) and ovarian (n ¼ 67) cancers were diagnosed during 12 follow-up years and compared with a subcohort of 345 women (no hysterectomy) and 413 women (no oophorectomy), respectively. Cox models with robust variance were used to estimate cancer risk. Results: Circulating progesterone levels were not associated with endometrial [tertile (T)3 vs. T1 HR (95% confidence interval): 1.87 (0.85-4.11); Ptrend ¼ 0.17] or ovarian cancer risk [1.16 (0.58-2.33); 0.73]. Increasing levels of the progesterone-to-estradiol ratio were inversely associated with endometrial cancer risk [T3 vs. T1: 0.29 (0.09-0.95); 0.03]. Increasing levels of 17-hydroxypregnenolone were inversely associated with endometrial cancer risk [0.40 (0.18-0.91); 0.03] and positively associated with ovarian cancer risk [3.11 (1.39-6.93); 0.01]. Conclusions: Using sensitive and reliable assays, this study provides novel data that endogenous progesterone levels are not strongly associated with incident endometrial or ovarian cancer risks. 17-hydroxypregnenolone was positively associated with ovarian cancer and inversely associated with endometrial cancer. Impact: While our results require replication in large studies, they provide further support of the hormonal etiology of endometrial and ovarian cancers.
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