Breast cancer incidence in women with a history of progesterone deficiency

Linda D. Cowan, Leon Gordis, James A. Tonascia, Georgeanna Seegar Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


In order to investigate the nature of the association of involuntarily delayed first birth and risk of breast cancer, 1083 white women who had been evaluated and treated for infertility from 1945-1965 were followed prospectively through April 1978 to ascertain their breast cancer incidence. These women were categorized as to the cause of infertility into two groups, those with endogenous progesterone deficiency (PD) and those with nonhormonal causes (NH). Women in the PD group had 5.4 times the risk of premenopausal breast cancer compared to women in the NH group. This excess risk could not be explained by differences between the two groups in ages at menarche or menopause, history of oral contraceptive use, history of benign breast dis ease or age at first birth. Women in the PD group also experienced a 10-fold increase in deaths from all malignant neopiasms compared to the NH group. The Incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer did not differ significantly between the two groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-217
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1981


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Fertility
  • Progesterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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