Human chorionic gonadotropin does not correlate with risk for maternal breast cancer: Results from the Finnish Maternity Cohort

Renée T. Fortner, Helena Schock, Rudolf Kaaks, Matti Lehtinen, Eero Pukkala, Hans Åke Lakso, Minna Tanner, Raija Kallio, Heikki Joensuu, Jaana Korpela, Adetunji T. Toriola, Göran Hallmans, Kjell Grankvist, Anne Zeleniuch-Jacquotte, Paolo Toniolo, Eva Lundin, Heljä Marja Surcel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is necessary for the maintenance of early pregnancy and promotes normal breast cell differentiation. Administered hCG reduces risk of carcinogen-induced breast cancer in animal models, and higher circulating hCG concentrations were associated with significantly lower long-term risk of breast cancer in a prior nested case-control study. In this study, we investigated early-pregnancy hCG concentrations and subsequent breast cancer risk. We conducted a nested case-control study with 1,191 cases and 2,257 controls (matched on age and date at blood collection) in the Finnish Maternity Cohort, a cohort with serum samples from 98% of pregnancies registered in Finland since 1983. This study included women with a serum sample collected early (<140 days gestation) in their first pregnancy resulting in a live, term birth. Breast cancer cases were identified via the Finnish Cancer Registry. Age at breast cancer diagnosis ranged from 22 to 58 years (mean: 41 years). hCG was measured using a solid-phase competitive chemiluminescence assay. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated using conditional logistic regression. We observed no association between hCG and breast cancer risk, overall [Quartile 4 vs. 1, OR, 1.14; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.94-1.39], by estrogen and progesterone receptor status, or by ages at first-term birth or diagnosis. Associations did not differ by time between pregnancy and diagnosis (e.g., <5 years, ORQ4 vs. Q1, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.64-1.89; ≥15 years, ORQ4 vs. Q1, 1.36; 95% CI, 0.86-2.13; pheterogeneity = 0.62). This large prospective study does not support an inverse relationship between early pregnancy serum hCG concentrations and breast cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalCancer research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


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