Use of combined estrogen-progestin hormone replacement therapy appears to be associated with an increased risk of invasive lobular breast carcinomas (ILC) and, to a lesser degree, with risk of invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). Conceivably, ILCs are more hormonally responsive and so may be more strongly associated than IDCs with reproductive and anthropometric characteristics that can influence hormone levels. However, few epidemiologic studies of breast cancer have evaluated these factors by histologic type. We conducted a population-based case-control study of women aged 65-79 years in western Washington State. Responses from 975 women diagnosed with breast cancer during 1997-1999 were compared to those of 1,007 controls. Associations between various reproductive and anthropometric factors and risks of IDC (n = 656) and ILC (n = 196) were evaluated using polytomous logistic regression. Earlier age at menarche, later age at menopause and obesity were more strongly associated with elevated risks of IDC than ILC. Alternatively, oral contraceptive use was associated with an increased risk of ILC but not IDC. Thus, the pattern of results that we observed suggest that factors influencing endogenous hormones and duration of ovarian function may be more strongly associated with IDC risk, while exogenous hormones may be more strongly associated with ILC risk.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.