We conducted a large-scale, hospital-based case-control study to evaluate differences and similarities in the risk factors of female breast cancer according to menopausal status. This study is based on a questionnaire survey on life style routinely obtained from outpatients who first visited the Aichi Cancer Center Hospital between January 1, 1988 and December 31, 1992. Among 36,944 outpatients, 1,186 women with breast cancer detected by histological examination were taken as the case group (607 premenopausal women and 445 postmenopausal women) and 23,163 women confirmed to be free of cancer were selected as the control group. New findings and reconfirmed factors of breast cancer were as follows. 1) The risk of at least one breast cancer history among subjects' first-degree relatives was relatively high among pre- as well as post-menopausal women. 2) A protective effect of physical activity against breast cancer was observed among both pre- and post-menopausal women. 3) Dietary control decreased the risk of premenopausal breast cancer. 4) Current smoking and drinking elevated the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women. 5) Decreasing trends of breast cancer risk were associated with intake of bean curd, green-yellow vegetables, potato or sweet potato, chicken and ham or sausage in premenopausal women, while in postmenopausal women a risk reduction was associated with a more frequent intake of boiled, broiled and/or raw fish (sashimi). Further study will be needed to clarify the age group- and/or birth cohort-specific risk factors for breast cancer among the young generation in Japan.