Body fat distribution and risk of premenopausal breast cancer in the Nurses' Health Study II.J Natl Cancer Inst 2011; 103(3):273-8JNCI
Body mass index is inversely associated with risk of premenopausal breast cancer, but the underlying mechanisms for this association are poorly understood. Abdominal adiposity is associated with metabolic and hormonal changes, many of which have been associated with the risk of premenopausal breast cancer. We investigated the association between body fat distribution, assessed in 1993 by self-reported waist circumference, hip circumference, and waist to hip ratio, and the incidence of premenopausal breast cancer in the Nurses' Health Study II. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to calculate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Statistical tests were two-sided. During 426,164 person-years of follow-up from 1993 to 2005, 620 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed among 45,799 women. Hormone receptor status information was available for 84% of the breast cancers. The age-standardized incidence rates of breast cancer were 131 per 100,000 person-years among those in the lowest quintile of waist circumference and 136 per 100,000 person-years among those in the highest quintile. No statistically significant associations were found between waist circumference, hip circumference, or the waist to hip ratio and risk of breast cancer. However, each of the three body fat distribution measures was statistically significantly associated with greater incidence of estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios of ER-negative breast cancer for the highest vs the lowest quintile of each body fat distribution measure were 2.75 (95% CI = 1.15 to 6.54; P(trend) = .05) for waist circumference, 2.40 (95% CI = 0.95 to 6.08; P(trend) = .26) for hip circumference, and 1.95 (95% CI = 1.10 to 3.46; P(trend) = .01) for waist to hip ratio. Our findings suggest that body fat distribution does not play an important role in the overall incidence of premenopausal breast cancer but is associated with an increased risk for ER-negative breast cancer.