Introduction: Recent oral contraceptive (OC) use has been consistently associated with increased risk of breast cancer, but evidence on specific breast cancer subtypes is sparse.
Methods: We investigated recency and duration of OC use in relation to molecular subtypes of breast cancer in a pooled analysis of data from the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk Consortium. The study included 1,848 women with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer, 1,043 with ER-negative (ER-) breast cancer (including 494 triple negative (TN) tumors, which do not have receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal growth factor 2), and 10,044 controls. Multivariable polytomous logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for exposure categories relative to never use, controlling for potential confounding variables.
Results: OC use within the previous 5 years was associated with increased risk of ER+ (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.81), ER- (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.43), and TN (OR 1.78, 95% CI 1.25 to 2.53) breast cancer. The risk declined after cessation of use but was apparent for ER+ cancer for 15 to 19 years after cessation and for ER- breast cancer for an even longer interval after cessation. Long duration of use was also associated with increased risk of each subtype, particularly ER-.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that OC use, particularly recent use of long duration, is associated with an increased risk of ER+, ER-, and TN breast cancer in African American women. Research into mechanisms that explain these findings, especially the association with ER- breast cancer, is needed.