Associations of Body Composition Measures and Endogenous Sex-Steroid Hormones among Postmenopausal Women

Lene Mellemkjaer*, 1, Jane Christensen1, Kirsten Frederiksen1, Anja Olsen1, Paul Bennett2, Kim Overvad3, Anne Tjønneland1
1 Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark
2 Statens Seruminstitut, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Copenhagen, Denmark
3 Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark and Department of Cardiology, Aalborg Hospital, Aarhus University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark

© 2011 Mellemkjær et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, Strandboulevarden 49, DK-2100 Copenhagen ø, Denmark; Tel: +45 35 25 76 12; Fax: +45 35 25 77 31; E-mail:


Several studies have shown a positive association between body mass index (BMI) and endogenous levels of female sex-steroid hormones, but relationship with the body fat mass and the fat free mass components of BMI has rarely been investigated. In this cross-sectional study, we included 265 women from the Danish “Diet, Cancer and Health” cohort who were postmenopausal and never users of hormone replacement therapy and who previously were included in a nested case-control study on breast cancer. Multiple log-linear regression analyses of the association between anthropometric measurements and serum levels of estrone, estrone sulfate and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) were performed. We found positive associations between all the anthropometric measurements included and estrone and estrone sulfate, whereas negative associations were found for SHBG. We confirmed previous findings of associations between BMI and serum levels of estrogen and SHBG among postmenopausal women. Associations were in the same direction for the two components of BMI, body fat mass index (BFMI) and fat free mass index (FFMI), and use of these more detailed measures did not give a better prediction of the hormone levels than use of BMI alone.

Keywords: Body fat mass, fat free mass, anthropometric measures, estrogens, SHBG.