Job strain and risk of breast cancer

Epidemiology. 2007 Nov;18(6):764-8. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e318142c534.


Background: Cohort studies investigating the association between stress and breast cancer have shown highly inconsistent results.

Methods: The Women's Lifestyle and Health Cohort Study included 36,332 Swedish women age 30-50 years who were employed at baseline (1991-1992). Participants were followed through December 2004 using linkages to national registries. A total of 767 women were diagnosed with breast cancer during follow-up.

Results: Among women working full-time, low job control and high job demands were weakly associated with breast cancer risk (hazard ratios of 1.2; 95% CI = 1.0-1.5). Women with both low job control and high job demands ("job strain") had higher risk of breast cancer than women with high job control and low demands ("low strain") (1.2; 0.9-1.6). Multivariate adjustment slightly strengthened the association between breast cancer and job strain (1.4; 1.1-1.9), whereas the associations with control and demands were unchanged. Work characteristics were unrelated to breast cancer risk among women working part-time.

Discussion: There was a small increased risk of breast cancer among women in full-time employment who experienced job strain, but not among part-time workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology