Effects of a moderate intensity exercise intervention on estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal women

Charlotte Atkinson, Johanna W. Lampe, Shelley S. Tworoger, Cornelia M. Ulrich, Deborah Bowen, Melinda L. Irwin, Robert S. Schwartz, Kumar Rajan, Yutaka Yasui, John D. Potter, Anne McTiernan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Physical activity has been associated with reduced breast cancer risk, potentially via hormonal pathways, and high urinary excretion of 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OH E1) relative to 16α-hydroxyestrone (16α-OH E1) also has been associated with reduced breast cancer risk. Studies suggest that body composition and exercise can influence estrogen metabolism. We determined the effects of a 12-month moderate intensity aerobic exercise intervention on urinary 2-OH E1, 16α-OH E 1 and their ratio in overweight and obese, previously sedentary, postmenopausal women, ages 50-75 years. Women were randomized to a 12-month exercise intervention (n = 87) or stretching control group (n = 86); 170 completed the study. Urinary 2- and 16α-OH E1 were measured in spot urines collected at baseline, 3, and 12 months. Body composition was measured at baseline and 12 months. Differences between exercisers and controls for excretion of estrogen metabolites were determined using general estimating equations. Further analyses assessed change in estrogen metabolites and their ratio by subgroups of change in body composition. Overall, there were no significant effects of the exercise intervention on 2-OH E1 16α-OH E1, or their ratio (P > 0.05). There appeared to be an effect of change in intra-abdominal fat and adherence to the exercise intervention on change in the estrogen metabolites or their ratio. However, this did not reflect a potentially desirable change in estrogen metabolites associated with the exercise intervention. Thus, this 12-month moderate intensity exercise intervention did not significantly alter urinary excretion of 2-OH E1, 16α-OH E1, or their ratio in this population of women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)868-874
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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