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Maternal Pregnancy Hormone Concentrations in Countries with Very Low and High Breast Cancer Risk

  • Ganmaa, Davaasambuu1
  • Enkhmaa, Davaasambuu2
  • Baatar, Tsedmaa2
  • Uyanga, Buyanjargal1
  • Gantsetseg, Garmaa1
  • Helde, Thomas T. Jr.
  • McElrath, Thomas F.3
  • Cantonwine, David E.3
  • Bradwin, Gary
  • Falk, Roni T.4
  • Hoover, Robert N.4
  • Troisi, Rebecca4
  • 1 (G.G.)
  • 2 (T.B.)
  • 3 (D.E.C.)
  • 4 (R.N.H.)
Published Article
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication Date
Jan 28, 2020
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17030823
PMID: 32012981
PMCID: PMC7037832
PubMed Central


Background: Breast cancer rates in Asia are much lower than in Europe and North America. Within Asia, rates are lower in Mongolia than in neighboring countries. Variation in pregnancy exposure to endogenous hormone concentrations may explain the differences, but data are lacking. Methods: We measured maternal serum progesterone, prolactin, estradiol and estrone concentrations in the second half of pregnancy in a cross-sectional study of urban ( n = 143–194 depending on the analyte) and rural ( n = 150–193) Mongolian women, and U.S. women from Boston ( n = 66–204). Medical records provided information on maternal and perinatal factors. Geometric mean hormones were estimated from standard linear models with the log-hormone as the dependent variable and country as the independent variable adjusted for maternal and gestational age at blood draw. Results: Mean concentrations of prolactin (5722 vs. 4648 uIU/mL; p < 0.0001) and estradiol (17.7 vs. 13.6 ng/mL; p < 0.0001) were greater in Mongolian than U.S. women, while progesterone (147 vs. 201 ng/mL; p < 0.0001) was lower. Mean hormone concentrations were similar in rural and urban Mongolian women. Results were generally similar, with additional adjustment for gravidity, parity, height, body mass index at blood draw, education and alcohol use during pregnancy, and when stratified by offspring sex or parity. Conclusions: Mongolian women had greater concentrations of prolactin and estrogen and lower concentrations of progesterone than U.S. women, while hormone concentrations were similar in rural and urban Mongolian pregnancies. Impact: These data do not support the hypothesis that estrogen concentrations in pregnant women are lower in Mongolian compared with Caucasian women.

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