Aim: To examine medical and lifestyle preventive behaviors among women with varying levels of familial breast cancer risk. Methods: Using cross-sectional data from the Minnesota Breast Cancer Family Study, a historical cohort of 426 families, we compared medical (mammography adherence, antiestrogen use, and prophylactic surgery) and lifestyle (physical activity, smoking, alcohol, and diet) behaviors across three groups of cancer-free women ages 18 to 95 defined by their family history of breast cancer. Family history was classified as high-risk, moderate-risk, or average to low-risk depending on the number and degree of relationship of family members with breast cancer. Results: After adjusting for age and education, high-risk women were twice as likely to have ever used an antiestrogenic agent (9.0% versus 4.6% among moderate-risk and 4.1% among average to low-risk; P = 0.002). Among women ages <40, the high-risk group were more likely to have ever had a mammogram (82% versus 47% among moderate-risk and 35% among average to low-risk; P < 0.001). Average to low-risk women were the least likely to be current smokers and high-risk women may consume slightly fewer fruits and vegetables compared with the other groups, but there were no other differences in lifestyle behaviors, including physical activity and alcohol use. Conclusions: Women with strong family histories of breast cancer are more likely to undertake medical but not lifestyle preventive behaviors.
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