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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Prof Gillian Bentley

Howland, R.E., Deziel, N.C., Bentley, G.R., Booth, M., Choudhury, O.A., Hofmann, J.N., Hoover, R.N., Katki, H.A., Trabert, B., Fox, S.D., Troisi, R. & Houghton, L.C. (2020). Assessing Endogenous and Exogenous Hormone Exposures and Breast Development in a Migrant Study of Bangladeshi and British Girls. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(4): 1185.

Author(s) from Durham


Timing of breast development (or thelarche) and its endogenous and exogenous determinants may underlie global variation in breast cancer incidence. The study objectives were to characterize endogenous estrogen levels and bisphenol A (BPA) exposure using a migrant study of adolescent girls and test whether concentrations explained differences in thelarche by birthplace and growth environment. Estrogen metabolites (EM) and BPA-glucuronide (BPA-G) were quantified in urine spot samples using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) from a cross-sectional study of Bangladeshi, first- and second-generation Bangladeshi migrants to the UK, and white British girls aged 5–16 years (n = 348). Thelarche status at the time of interview was self-reported and defined equivalent to Tanner Stage ≥2. We compared geometric means (and 95% confidence interval (CIs)) of EM and BPA-G using linear regression and assessed whether EM and BPA-G explained any of the association between exposure to the UK and the age at thelarche using hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Average EM decreased with exposure to the UK, whereas BPA-G increased and was significantly higher among white British (0.007 ng/mL, 95% CI: 0.0024–0.0217) and second-generation British-Bangladeshi girls (0.009 ng/mL, 95% CI: 0.0040–0.0187) compared to Bangladeshi girls (0.002 ng/mL, 95% CI: 0.0018–0.0034). Two of four EM ratios (16-pathway/parent and parent/all pathways) were significantly associated with thelarche. The relationship between exposure to the UK and thelarche did not change appreciably after adding EM and BPA-G to the models. While BPA-G is often considered a ubiquitous exposure, our findings suggest it can vary based on birthplace and growth environment, with increasing levels for girls who were born in or moved to the UK. Our study did not provide statistically significant evidence that BPA-G or EM concentrations explained earlier thelarche among girls who were born or raised in the UK.