Background: Early adolescent weight may affect the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, and this association may be modified by a family history of breast or ovarian cancer in a first-degree relative, and/or estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptor status of the disease. Methods: Relative weight at age 12 years (above, below, or average weight compared with peers) and family history were ascertained using a mailed questionnaire in 1986, in the Iowa Women's Health Study, a prospective cohort study of postmenopausal women. Incident breast cancer cases (including ER and PR status) were identified using the Iowa Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Cancer Registry. Relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression, and were adjusted for breast cancer risk factors, including body mass index at age 18 years and body mass index at study baseline. Results: Through 2003, 2,503 cases of postmenopausal breast cancer were identified among 35,941 women in the analytic cohort. Compared with women with average weight at age 12 years, there was no association of below average weight with risk of breast cancer (RR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.92-1.13), whereas women with above average weight had a lower risk (RR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.74-0.98). There was no evidence of an interaction between weight at age 12 years and family history (P = 0.44). The inverse association of above average weight with risk of breast cancer was strongest for PR- tumors (RR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.43-0.89), intermediate for ER+ (RR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.67-0.96) and ER- (RR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.50-1.19) tumors, and weakest for PR+ tumors (RR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.74-1.09). These associations were not modified by a family history (all P > 0.18). In a joint ER/PR analyses, the strongest inverse association with above average weight at age 12 years was seen for ER+/PR- (RR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.29-0.85). Conclusion: Above average weight at age 12 years was inversely associated with risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, and was not modified by a family history of the disease. The inverse association was strongest for ER+/PR- tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas