Background Triple-negative (ie, estrogen receptor [ER], progesterone receptor, and HER2 negative) breast cancer occurs disproportionately among African American women compared with white women and is associated with a worse prognosis than ER-positive (ER+) breast cancer. Hormonally mediated risk factors may be differentially related to risk of triple-negative and ER+ breast cancers. Methods Using data from 155723 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, we assessed associations between reproductive and menstrual history, breastfeeding, oral contraceptive use, and subtype-specific breast cancer risk. We used Cox regression to evaluate associations with triple-negative (N = 307) and ER+ (N = 2610) breast cancers and used partial likelihood methods to test for differences in subtype-specific hazard ratios (HRs). Results Reproductive history was differentially associated with risk of triple-negative and ER+ breast cancers. Nulliparity was associated with decreased risk of triple-negative breast cancer (HR = 0.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.37 to 0.97) but increased risk of ER+ breast cancer (HR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.20 to 1.52). Age-adjusted absolute rates of triple-negative breast cancer were 2.71 and 1.54 per 10000 person-years in parous and nulliparous women, respectively; by comparison, rates of ER+ breast cancer were 21.10 and 28.16 per 10000 person-years in the same two groups. Among parous women, the number of births was positively associated with risk of triple-negative disease (HR for three births or more vs one birth = 1.46, 95% CI = 0.82 to 2.63) and inversely associated with risk of ER+ disease (HR = 0.88, 95% CI = 0.74 to 1.04). Ages at menarche and menopause were modestly associated with risk of ER+ but not triple-negative breast cancer; breastfeeding and oral contraceptive use were not associated with either subtype. Conclusion The association between parity and breast cancer risk differs appreciably for ER+ and triple-negative breast cancers. These findings require further confirmation because the biological mechanisms underlying these differences are uncertain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research