Purpose: A wealth of studies have examined the effects of weight, weight gain, and obesity on breast cancer risk; however, few have examined this relationship in Hispanic white women, a population with the highest rate of obesity in the U.S.
Methods: A population-based case-control study was conducted in New Mexico of Hispanic (n = 694) and non-Hispanic (n = 813) white women with incident breast cancer during the period of January 1, 1992 through December 31, 1994. Conditional logistic regression models were fitted to estimate the relative risk of breast cancer for levels of weight, weight change, and body mass index (BMI) and to assess differences in the effects by ethnicity, menopausal status, early life BMI, and estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor (ER/PR) expression in tumors.
Results: Weight change from age 18 to usual adult weight was associated with increased risk of breast cancer among Hispanics [4th quartile vs. baseline, odds ratio (OR): 2.41; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.45-4.03] with no substantial variation by menopausal status. In non-Hispanic white women, weight change was a risk factor for those in the post-menopausal group (4th quartile vs. baseline, OR: 2.27; 95% CI: 1.09-4.73). The effect of usual BMI (test for interaction p = 0.04) and weight change (test for interaction p = 0.03) differed by ethnicity. Increased risk from weight gain was largely restricted to women who were lean at age 18 and those with ER(+)/PR(+) tumors. Height, weight at age 18, and BMI at age 18 were not associated with risk in either ethnic group.
Conclusions: Weight change and obesity are risk factors for breast cancer in both Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women. However, the risk for Hispanic women is evident independent of menopausal status, while the risk for non-Hispanics is apparent in post-menopausal women. Due to the increasing prevalence of adult obesity, particularly among Hispanic women, adult weight gain may be an important modifiable risk factor for the primary prevention of breast cancer among Hispanic populations.