Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Risk of breast cancer among Norwegian women with visual impairment

This article has been updated

Abstract

Experimental studies suggest that melatonin has a protective effect against breast cancer. Exposure to light suppresses melatonin secretion, but to a lesser degree in totally blind persons. Breast cancer was investigated in a cohort of 15 412 Norwegian visually impaired women. The risk among totally blind women was 0.64 (95% CI = 0.21–1.49, 5 cases only), and for those who became blind before age of 65, the SIR was 0.51 (95% CI = 0.11–1.49). Our findings give support to the ‘melatonin hypothesis’. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign http://www.bjcancer.com

Change history

  • 16 November 2011

    This paper was modified 12 months after initial publication to switch to Creative Commons licence terms, as noted at publication

References

  1. Baldwin WS and Barrett JC (1998) Melatonin: receptor-mediated events that may affect breast and other steroid hormone-dependent cancers. Review. Mol Carcinog 21: 149–155

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bernstein L and Ross RK (1993) Endogenous hormones and breast cancer risk. Review. Epidemiol Rev 15: 48–65

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Coleman MP and Reiter RJ (1992) Breast cancer, blindness and melatonin. Eur J Cancer 28: 501–503

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Feychting M, Osterlund B and Ahlbom A (1998) Reduced cancer incidence among the blind. Epidemiology 9: 490–494

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Hahn RA (1991) Profound bilateral blindness and the incidence of breast cancer. Epidemiology 2: 208–210

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Hansen E, Falch B and Quale GA (1996). Det Norske Blindekartotek 1968–1995. Oslo, (In Norwegian)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Henderson BE, Ross R and Bernstein L (1988) Estrogens as a cause of human cancer: the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award lecture. Cancer Res 48: 246–253

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Key TJ and Pike MC (1988) The role of oestrogens and progestagens in the epidemiology and prevention of breast cancer. Review. Eur J Cancer Clin Oncol 24: 29–43

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kvåle G, Heuch I and Eide GE (1987) A prospective study of reproductive factors and breast cancer. I. Parity. Am J Epidemiol 126: 831–841

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Lewy AJ, Wehr TA, Goodwin FK, Newsome DA and Markey SP (1980) Light suppresses melatonin secretion in humans. Science 210: 1267–1269

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Liburdy RP, Sloma TR, Sokolic R and Yaswen P (1993) ELF magnetic fields, breast cancer, and melatonin: 60 Hz fields block melatonin’s oncostatic action on ER+ breast cancer cell proliferation. J Pineal Res 14: 89–97

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. MacMahon B, Lin TM, Lowe CR, Mirra AP, Ravnihar B, Salber EJ, Trichopoulos D, Valaoras VG and Yuasa S (1970) Age at first birth and cancer of the breast. A summary of an international study. Bull World Health Organ 43: 209–221

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. Mevissen M, Lerchl A, Szamel M and Loscher W (1996) Exposure of DMBA-treated female rats in a 50-Hz, 50 microTesla magnetic field: effects on mammary tumor growth, melatonin levels, and T lymphocyte activation. Carcinogenesis 17: 903–910

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Narito T and Kudo H (1985) Effect of melatonin on B16 melanoma growth in athymic mice. Cancer Res 45: 4175–4177

    Google Scholar 

  15. Preston DL, Lubin JH, Pierce D and McConney M (1993). Epicure. Seattle, HiroSoft International

    Google Scholar 

  16. Stevens RG (1987) Electric power use and breast cancer: a hypothesis. Am J Epidemiol 125: 556–561

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Stevens RG and Davis S (1996) The melatonin hypothesis: electric power and breast cancer. Environ Health Perspect 104: 135–140

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. Tamarkin L, Cohen M and Roselle D (1981) Melafouronin inhibition and pinealectomy enhancement of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary tumors in the rat. Cancer Res 41: 4432–4461

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Tamarkin L, Baird CJ and Almeida OFX (1985) Melatonin: a coordinating signal for mammalian reproduction?. Science 227: 714–720

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Trichopoulos D, MacMahon B and Cole P (1972) Menopause and breast cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst 48: 605–613

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  21. Verkasalo PK, Pukkala E, Stevens RG, Ojamo M and Rudanko SL (1999) Inverse association between breast cancer incidence and degree of visual impairment in Finland. Br J Cancer 80: 1459–1460

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. World Health Organization (1980). International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps. A Manual of Classification Relating to Consequences of Disease. Geneva, World Health Organization

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

From twelve months after its original publication, this work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kliukiene, J., Tynes, T. & Andersen, A. Risk of breast cancer among Norwegian women with visual impairment. Br J Cancer 84, 397–399 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1054/bjoc.2000.1617

Download citation

Keywords

  • blindness
  • visual impairment
  • breast cancer
  • melatonin

Further reading

Search

Quick links