Postmenopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: the Multiethnic Cohort

Int J Cancer. 2006 Mar 1;118(5):1285-91. doi: 10.1002/ijc.21481.


Epidemiological studies indicate that menopausal estrogen-progestin therapy (EPT) use is associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. Further data are needed on whether this association varies by specific prognostic factors and ethnicity. We conducted a cohort study among 55,371 African-American, Native Hawaiian, Japanese-American, Latina and White postmenopausal women aged 45-75 years old in the Multiethnic Cohort Study (MEC). A total of 1,615 incident invasive breast cancer cases were identified over an average of 7.3 years. Adjusted relative risks (RRs) were computed for the various forms of hormone therapy (HT). Assuming current users continued HT use to the end of follow-up, current EPT use was associated with a 29% increased risk of breast cancer per 5 years of use (95% confidence interval (CI) = 23-35%), and current estrogen therapy (ET) use with a 10% increase in risk per 5 years of use (95% CI = 5-16%). These figures increased to only a very small extent when we adjusted for the estimated 3% of such women who stop HT use per year of follow-up. EPT and ET use were associated with greater risk among leaner women, but the increase in risk with EPT use was still very evident in women with BMI > or =30 kg/m(2). Current EPT use was associated with increased risk for ER+/PR+, ER+/PR- and ER-/PR- tumors. There was little difference in risk by stage of disease or histologic subtype. The increase with EPT use was clearly seen in all 5 ethnic groups; and the increase with ET in 4 of the 5 groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors