Seasonal variation in the secretion of mammotrophic hormones in normal women and women with previous breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1997 Jan;42(1):15-22.
Holdaway IM, Mason BH, Gibbs EE, Rajasoorya C, Lethaby A, Hopkins KD, Evans MC, Lim T, Schooler B.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1997 Jan;42(1):15-22.
Breast cancer women had a reversal of the normal seasonal pattern of melatonin secretion.
Seasonal variation.


Hormones such as melatonin whose serum concentrations vary seasonally have been previously implicated in the growth of breast cancer. The present study was undertaken to identify possible seasonal variation in a range of mammotrophic hormones which could exert a chronobiologic influence in women with breast tumours. Fifteen premenopausal women with a history of previous breast cancer (BC subjects) and 10 control women underwent 2-hourly serum sampling for 24 h at both summer and winter solstice for measurement of melatonin, growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), cortisol, prolactin and thyrotrophin (TSH). Hormone secretion at the different seasons was compared by measuring the area under the 24 h serum hormone concentration x time curves and by time series analysis of summer-to-winter differences in hormone concentration. Control women had significantly higher GH and IGF-I levels in summer compared to winter and significantly higher cortisol secretion in winter than summer. In contrast, BC women had no significant seasonal difference in IGF-I concentrations and had a reversal of the normal seasonal pattern of melatonin secretion, although seasonal changes in GH production were similar to controls. Prolactin and TSH showed no significant summer/winter variation in either group. Thus, seasonal variations in hormone secretion seen in normal women were, with exception of GH, absent or reversed in women with a previous history of breast cancer. As a result these individuals may be exposed to an asynchronous hormonal stimulus which could influence tumour growth. These changes could reflect a constitutional abnormality in BC women or may have been induced by the previous breast tumour.