Purpose: To investigate whether the use of levothyroxine was associated with breast cancer risk. Methods: We conducted a population-based case–control study in Taiwan. Cases consisted of all patients who were aged 20 years and older, and had a first-time diagnosis of breast cancer for the period between 2001 and 2011. The controls were matched to the cases by age, sex, year, and month of diagnosis. Adjusted odd ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by a conditional logistic regression. Results: We examined 65,491 breast cancer cases and 261,964 controls. We found that use of levothyroxine was associated with a significant increase in breast cancer risk (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.15–1.33; P < 0.001). Compared with no use levothyroxine, the adjusted odd ratio was 1.22 (95% CI 1.11–1.35; P = 0.01) for the group having been prescribed levothyroxine 2 months to 1 year, and 1.26 (95% CI 1.12–1.41; P < 0.01) for the group with more than 1 year. When stratified by age, the adjusted odd ratio was 1.45 (95% CI 1.23–1.71; P < 0.01) for the patients aged 65 years or more and 1.19 (95% CI 1.09–1.29, P < 0.01) for the patients aged less than 65 years. Conclusion: The results of the present study are the first to suggest that levothyroxine use increased the risk of breast cancer. However, a larger long-term prospective randomized-controlled trial specifically designed to assess the effect of levothyroxine use on the risk of developing breast cancer is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-396
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Breast cancer
  • Case–control study
  • Levothyroxine
  • Odd ratio
  • Thyroid disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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