Reproductive risk factors and oestrogen/progesterone receptor-negative breast cancer in the Breast Cancer Family Registry

Br J Cancer. 2014 Mar 4;110(5):1367-77. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.807. Epub 2014 Feb 18.


Background: Oestrogen receptor (ER)- and progesterone receptor (PR)-negative (ER-PR-) breast cancer is associated with poorer prognosis compared with other breast cancer subtypes. High parity has been associated with an increased risk of ER-PR- cancer, but emerging evidence suggests that breastfeeding may reduce this risk. Whether this potential breastfeeding benefit extends to women at high risk of breast cancer remains critical to understand for prevention.

Methods: Using population-based ascertained cases (n=4011) and controls (2997) from the Breast Cancer Family Registry, we examined reproductive risk factors in relation to ER and PR status.

Results: High parity (≥3 live births) without breastfeeding was positively associated only with ER-PR- tumours (odds ratio (OR)=1.57, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.10-2.24); there was no association with parity in women who breastfed (OR=0.93, 95% CI 0.71-1.22). Across all race/ethnicities, associations for ER-PR- cancer were higher among women who did not breastfeed than among women who did. Oral contraceptive (OC) use before 1975 was associated with an increased risk of ER-PR- cancer only (OR=1.32, 95% CI 1.04-1.67). For women who began OC use in 1975 or later there was no increased risk.

Conclusions: Our findings support that there are modifiable factors for ER-PR- breast cancer and that breastfeeding in particular may mitigate the increased risk of ER-PR- cancers seen from multiparity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contraceptives, Oral / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / deficiency*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / deficiency*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / genetics
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Registries
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone