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Childbearing May Increase Risk of Hormone Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer in African-American Women

Tue, 08/16/2011 - 9:40am
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•    Two or more full-term births put African-American women at higher risk.

•    Increased risk occurred only in women who did not breast-feed.

PHILADELPHIA — African-American women are at higher risk for hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, one of the most difficult subtypes to treat, but this risk could be ameliorated somewhat by breast-feeding their children.

“African-American women are more likely to have had a greater number of full-term births and less likely to have breast-fed their babies,” said Julie Palmer, Sc.D., professor of epidemiology at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University. “This study shows a clear link between that and hormone receptor-negative breast cancer.”

Palmer based her report, published in a recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, on the Black Women’s Health Study, which has followed 59,000 African-American women since 1995.

Between 1995 and 2009, researchers recorded 457 cases of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and 318 cases of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer among study participants.

For women who had two or more children, there was a 50 percent increased risk of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. However, among women who breast-fed, there was no longer a significant increased risk.

For estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, a higher birth rate was associated with a decreased risk and breast-feeding had no effect.

“The adverse effect of high childbirth without subsequent breast-feeding seems to be confined to the hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, which carries a higher mortality rate and is more common in African-Americans,” said Palmer.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.

Media Contact:

Jeremy Moore

(267) 646-0557

Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org

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