It appears that the Tribune mischaracterized real studies, at best.
The 1986 Chicago Tribune article mentions Leon Bradlow as a scientist working on the research — research that was still ongoing when the article was written. Given these two facts, and the topic being studied, I think this February 1987 paper is the result of the research: Obesity, diet, endogenous estrogens, and the risk of hormone-sensitive cancer by R J Hershcopf & H Leon Bradlow. Though the title only hints at it, this is clearly a paper that's supposed to be about women's cancers:
In postmenopausal women, obesity is positively related to the risk of both breast and endometrial cancer.
Note that endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer.
This paper is a literature review, rather than a report of new data. There are 76 citations, some studying women, others studying mixed groups, and a few even studying just men. Bradlow is an author on several of these papers.
The section most relevant to the claim is the following, which even mentions Rockefeller University:
Recent studies at The Rockefeller University Hospital (72-74) have demonstrated the effect of short-term changes in dietary intake on the mixed-function oxidase system (cytochrome P-450 system) as measured by changes in drug metabolism. Because the biotransformations of estrogens involve cytochrome P-450-linked monooxygenases, estrogen disposition might also be susceptible to dietary manipulations. Therefore, radiometric techniques were employed to study the effect of short-term dietary changes on in vivo estrogen metabolism (75,76). Eight male subjects were placed on high-carbohydrate and high-protein diets. The degree of hydroxylation at C-2 was significantly increased on the high-protein diet, while hydroxybation at C-l6 was not consistently affected (75). Moreover, it was shown that 5a-reduction of testosterone in man is considerably diminished by a high-protein diet (76), thus demonstrating that dietary composition can modulate both oxidative and reductive metabolism.
The relevant citations:
- Interactions between nutritional factors and drug biotransformations in man. (1976)
- Influence of dietary protein and carbohydrate on antipyrine and theophylline metabolism in man. (1976)
- Nutrition andoxidative drug metabolism in man: relative influence of dietary lipids, carbohydrate, and protein. (1979)
- The influence of dietary protein and carbohydrate on the principal oxidative biotransformations of estradiol in normal subjects. (1984)
(Note that "normal subjects" means "eight normal men")
- Nutrition-endocrine interactions: Induction of reciprocal changes
in the Δ4-5a-reduction of testosterone and the cytochrome P-450-dependent oxidation of estradiol by dietary macronutrients in man. (1983)
These papers were all written by mostly the same people: three people were on the author list for all 5 papers. "Bradlow HL" (from "The Rockefeller University Hospital") is an author on both 75 and 76.
It's at this point that I run into a wall. Most of these papers are behind paywalls that I can't get around. What I can access is very dense and doesn't mention a clear, real world application for the knowledge (e.g., they don't outright state anything about breast cancer or endometrial cancer). It also seems that these papers are not studying obesity (or at least did not recruit obese subjects). And while these papers study estrogen, that also plays an important role in males. At least one of the papers measured testosterone too.
But what is clear here is that the 1987 paper was about women, and the authors decided to cite several studies done entirely with men to make their point about tumors:
These studies demonstrate that diet can alter the metabolic disposition of endogenous steroids and provide the framework by which diet can influence the incidence of hormonally sensitive tumors.