Association of exogenous hormonal intake with the risk of development of hepatocellular carcinoma in women

Priyanka Pathak, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. Primary liver cancer, the majority of which is hepatocellular carcinoma, is the third most common cause of mortality from cancer. It has one of the worst prognosis outcomes and an overall 5-year survival of only 5-6%. Hepatocellular carcinoma has been shown to have wide variations in geographic distribution and there is a marked difference in the incidence between different races and gender. Previously low-rate countries, including the US, have shown to have doubled the incidence of HCC during the past two decades. Even though the incidence of HCC is higher in males as compared to females, female hormones, especially estrogens have been postulated to have a role in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma on a molecular level. Despite the frequent usage of oral contraceptive pills (OCP) and previously, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), their role on HCC development has not been studied thoroughly. We aim to examine the association between exogenous hormone intake (oral contraceptives and post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy) and the development of HCC. Methods. This study is part of an ongoing hospital-based case-control study which is conducted at the Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. From January 2005 up to January 2008, a total of 77 women with pathologically confirmed hepatocellular carcinoma (cases) and 277 healthy women (controls) were included in the investigation. Information about the use of hormonal contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy and risk factors of hepatocellular cancer was collected by personal interview. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were done to estimate the crude odds ratios (OR) and adjusted odds ratios (AOR). Results. We found statistically significant protective effect for the use of HRT on the development of HCC, AOR=0.42 (95% CI, 0.21, 0.81). The significance was observed for estrogen replacement, AOR=0.43 (95% CI, 0.22, 0.83) and not for progesterone replacement, AOR=0.49 (95% CI, 0.10, 2.35). On the other hand, any hormonal contraceptive use, which encompasses oral contraceptive pills, implants and injections, did not show a statistical significance either in the crude OR=0.58 (95% CI, 0.33, 1.01) or AOR=0.56 (95% CI 0.26, 1.18). Conclusions. As corroborated by previous studies, HRT confers 58% HCC risk reduction among American women. The more important question of the association between hormonal contraceptives and HCC remains controversial. Further studies are warranted to explore the mechanism of the protective effect of HRT and the relationship between hormonal contraception and HCC.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Pathak, Priyanka, "Association of exogenous hormonal intake with the risk of development of hepatocellular carcinoma in women" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1474790.