Predictors of mammographic density among women with a strong family history of breast cancer
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BACKGROUND: Mammographic density is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer. In the general population, mammographic density can be modified by various exposures; whether this is true for women a strong family history is not known. Thus, we evaluated the association between reproductive, hormonal, and lifestyle risk factors and mammographic density among women with a strong family history of breast cancer but no BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. METHODS: We included 97 premenopausal and 59 postmenopausal women (age range: 27-68 years). Risk factor data was extracted from the research questionnaire closest in time to the mammogram performed nearest to enrollment. The Cumulus software was used to measure percent density, dense area, and non-dense area for each mammogram. Multivariate generalized linear models were used to evaluate the relationships between breast cancer risk factors and measures of mammographic density, adjusting for relevant covariates. RESULTS: Among premenopausal women, those who had two live births had a mean percent density of 28.8% vs. 41.6% among women who had one live birth (P=0.04). Women with a high body weight had a lower mean percent density compared to women with a low body weight among premenopausal (17.6% vs. 33.2%; P=0.0006) and postmenopausal women (8.7% vs. 14.7%; P=0.04). Among premenopausal women, those who smoked for 14 years or longer had a lower mean dense area compared to women who smoked for a shorter duration (25.3cm2 vs. 53.1cm2; P=0.002). Among postmenopausal women, former smokers had a higher mean percent density (19.5% vs. 10.8%; P=0.003) and dense area (26.9% vs. 16.4%; P=0.01) compared to never smokers. After applying the Bonferroni correction, the association between body weight and percent density among premenopausal women remained statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: In this cohort of women with a strong family history of breast cancer, body weight was associated with mammographic density. These findings suggest that mammographic density may explain the underlying relationship between some of these risk factors and breast cancer risk, and lend support for the inclusion of mammographic density into risk prediction models.
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