Sunlight, hormone replacement status and colorectal cancer risk in postmenopausal women

D. Michal Freedman, Preetha Rajaraman, Barbara Fuhrman, Richard Hoffbeck, Bruce H. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A reanalysís of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) randomized clinical trial found a significant interaction between supplementation with vitamin D/calcium and estrogen therapy and the risk of colorectal cancer risk, with reduced risks from supplementation limited to the placebo arms of the estrogen trials. To explore whether the vitamin D effects are modified by estrogen therapy, we report a largely cross-sectional, analysis of the association between sun exposure, which is an important vitamin D source, and colorectal cancer risk among postmenopausal women in the U.S. Radiologic Technologists study. Among 21,695 participants, there were a total of 108 cases. Sun exposure was based on time outdoors and on ambient ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure based on residence linked to erythemal exposures derived from the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer database. Although there was no relationship between outdoor time or ambient UV measure and colorectal cancer risk in current hormone replacement therapy (HRT) users, in never/past HRT users, there was an inverse association with higher ambient UV exposure, RR for highest vs. lowest fertile - 0.40; 95% Cl 017, 0.93; ρ for trend 0.04. Non-significant tower risks were also associated with higher levels of outdoor time (>3.5 hr/week) In never/past HRT users. The interaction between both indicators of sun exposure and HRT and CRC risk was not significant. These data, although exploratory, are consistent with evidence from the WHI suggesting a decrease in colorectal cancer risk may be associated with vitamin D exposure among postmenopausal women who are not taking HRT, but not among current HRT users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1997-2001
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Hormone replacement
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Vitamin d


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