Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is more prevalent in men than in women. It is possible that estrogen may play a role in its development.
In this study, doctors from Taiwan evaluated the effects of reproductive factors on HCC risk. They also assessed whether the association differs between hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive and -negative women, in which hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the major cause of HCC.
The study included 218 women with HCC. The team also evaluated 729 controls selected from nonbiological and first-degree female relatives of the patients.
|Hormone replacement therapy was associated with a lower risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.|
The doctors found that the risk of HCC was inversely related to the women's number of full-term pregnancies (FTP), and their age at natural menopause.
They identified oophorectomy at age 50 during premenopausal years as a risk factor for the development of HCC (multivariate-adjusted OR 2.57).
However, the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was associated with a lower risk of HCC. There was a trend in the risk with increasing duration of HRT.
The team determined that all reproductive factors had a similar impact on HBsAg-positive and -negative women, with the exception of an early menarche. This increased the risk of HCC in HBsAg carriers (multivariate-adjusted OR 6.96).
Dr Ming-Whei Yu's team concluded, "Increased exposure to estrogen during adulthood may provide a protective effect against HCC".
"Nevertheless, an early menarche, which results in early estrogen exposure, does not confer protection for HBsAg carriers".