Background African American (AA) women have a disproportionately high incidence of estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer, a subtype with a largely unexplained etiology. Because childbearing patterns also differ by race/ ethnicity, with higher parity and a lower prevalence of lactation in AA women, we investigated the relation of parity and lactation to risk of specific breast cancer subtypes. Methods Questionnaire data from two cohort and two case-control studies of breast cancer in AA women were combined and harmonized. Case patients were classified as ER+ (n = 2446), ER- (n = 1252), or triple negative (ER-, PR-, HER2-; n = 567) based on pathology data; there were 14 180 control patients. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated in polytomous logistic regression analysis with adjustment for study, age, reproductive and other risk factors. Results ORs for parity relative to nulliparity was 0.92 (95% CI = 0.81 to 1.03) for ER+, 1.33 (95% CI = 1.11 to 1.59) for ER-, and 1.37 (95% CI = 1.06 to 1.70) for triple-negative breast cancer. Lactation was associated with a reduced risk of ER- (OR = 0.81, 95% CI = 0.69 to 0.95) but not ER+ cancer. ER- cancer risk increased with each additional birth in women who had not breastfed, with an OR of 1.68 (95% CI = 1.15 to 2.44) for 4 or more births relative to one birth with lactation. Conclusions The findings suggest that parous women who have not breastfed are at increased risk of ER- and triple-negative breast cancer. Promotion of lactation may be an effective tool for reducing occurrence of the subtypes that contribute disproportionately to breast cancer mortality.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research