Global breast cancer seasonality

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Aug;123(1):233-43. doi: 10.1007/s10549-009-0676-7. Epub 2010 Feb 4.


Human breast cancer incidence has seasonal patterns that seem to vary among global populations. The aggregate monthly frequency of breast cancer diagnosis was collected and examined for 2,921,714 breast cancer cases diagnosed across 64 global regions over spans from 2 to 53 years. Breast cancer is consistently diagnosed more often in spring and fall, both in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, regardless of presumable menopausal status (<or=50, >50). This seasonality is increasingly more prominent as population distance from the equator increases and this latitude dependence is most pronounced among women living in rural areas. Moreover, the overall annual incidence (2005-2006), per 100,000 population, of breast cancer increased as the latitude of population residence increased. These data make it clear that human breast cancer discovery occurs non-randomly throughout each year with peaks near both equinoxes and valleys near both solstices. This stable global breast cancer seasonality has implications for better prevention, more accurate screening, earlier diagnosis, and more effective treatment. This complex latitude-dependent breast cancer seasonality is clearly related to predictable local day/night length changes which occur seasonally. Its mechanism may depend upon seasonal sunlight mediation of vitamin D and seasonal mediation of nocturnal melatonin peak level and duration.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Seasons*