Thyroid hormone and breast carcinoma: Primary hypothyroidism is associated with a reduced incidence of primary breast carcinoma

Massimo Cristofanilli*, Yuko Yamamura, Shu Wan Kau, Therese Bevers, Sara Strom, Modesto Patangan, Limin Hsu, Savitri Krishnamurthy, Richard L. Theriault, Gabriel N. Hortobagyi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. To investigate the role of primary hypothyroidism (HYPT) on breast carcinogenesis, the authors evaluated 1) the association between HYPT and a diagnosis of invasive breast carcinoma and 2) the clinicopathologic characteristics of breast carcinoma in patients with HYPT. METHODS. For this retrospective chart review study, 1136 women with primary breast carcinoma (PBC) were identified from the authors' departmental data base. These women (cases) were frequency-matched for age (± 5 years) and ethnicity with 1088 healthy participants (controls) who attended a breast carcinona screening clinic. Women with HYPT who were receiving thyroid-replacement therapy before they were diagnosed with breast carcinoma or before the screening visit were identified. RESULTS. The mean ages of cases and controls (51.6 years vs. 51.0 years, respectively; P = 0.30) and their menopausal status (65.4% premenopausal vs. 62% postmenopausal; P = 0.10) were comparable. Two hundred forty-two women in the case group (10.9%) with HYPT were identified. The prevalence of this condition was significantly greater the control group compared with the case group (14.9% vs. 7.0%, respectively; P < 0.001). PBC patients were 57% less likely to have HYPT compared with their healthy counterparts (odds ratio, 0.431 95% confidence interval, 0.33-0.57). Seventy-eight white patients with PBC had HYPT and, compared with women who were euthyroid, they were older at the time of diagnosis (58.8 years vs. 51.1 years; P < 0.001), were more likely to have localized disease (95.0% vs. 85.9% clinical T1 or T2 disease, respectively; P = 0.025), and were more likely to have no pathologic lymph node involvement (62.8% vs. 54.4%; P = 0.15). CONCLUSIONS. Primary HYPT was associated with a reduced risk for PBC and a more indolent invasive disease. These data suggest a possible biologic role for thyroid hormone in the etiology of breast carcinoma and indicate areas of research for the prevention and treatment of breast carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1122-1128
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2005


  • Breast carcinoma
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Menopausal status
  • Risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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