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09.11.2017 | Original paper | Ausgabe 1/2018

Cancer Causes & Control 1/2018

Determinants of prolactin in postmenopausal Chinese women in Singapore

Cancer Causes & Control > Ausgabe 1/2018
Tiffany A. Katz, Anna H. Wu, Frank Z. Stanczyk, Renwei Wang, Woon-Puay Koh, Jian-Min Yuan, Steffi Oesterreich, Lesley M. Butler
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10552-017-0978-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Mechanistic and observational data together support a role for prolactin in breast cancer development. Determinants of prolactin in Asian populations have not been meaningfully explored, despite the lower risk of breast cancer in Asian populations.


Determinants of plasma prolactin were evaluated in 442 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Singapore Chinese Health Study, a population-based prospective cohort study. At baseline all cohort members completed an in-person interview that elicited information on diet, menstrual and reproductive history, and lifestyle factors. One year after cohort initiation we began collecting blood samples. Quantified were plasma concentrations of prolactin, estrone, estradiol, testosterone, androstenedione, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). Analysis of covariance method was used for statistical analyses with age at blood draw, time since last meal, and time at blood draw as covariates.


Mean prolactin levels were 25.1% lower with older age at menarche (p value = 0.001), and 27.6% higher with greater years between menarche and menopause (p value = 0.009). Prolactin levels were also positively associated with increased sleep duration (p value = 0.005). The independent determinants of prolactin were years from menarche to menopause, hours of sleep, and the plasma hormones estrone and SHBG (all p values < 0.01).


The role of prolactin in breast cancer development may involve reproductive and lifestyle factors, such as a longer duration of menstrual cycling and sleep patterns.

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