Objectives: Women with a family history of breast cancer have an increased risk for the disease. However, the combined impact of family history and other risk factors on breast cancer risk is unclear. We conducted a large epidemiologic study to examine this issue. METHODS. In a population-based case-control study in all of Sweden, 3,345 women aged 50 to 74 years with invasive breast cancer (84 percent of all eligible), and 3,454 controls of similar age (82 percent of all selected) were included. Mailed questionnaires and telephone interviews were used to collect detailed information on potential breast cancer risk factors. Odds ratios (OR) and 95 percent confidence intervals (CI) were estimated through multiple logistic regression.
Results: Women with a history of breast cancer in any first-degree relative had an increased risk of breast cancer compared with those without such a history (OR = 1.96, CI = 1.67-2.30). There was no clear indication of a differential impact of hormonal risk factors (age at menarche, parity, age at first birth, age at menopause, use of exogenous hormones, and weight gain) or body build at age seven among women with and without a positive family history. Yet, benign breast disease and height clearly were related to breast cancer risk in subjects without a family history, whereas seemingly not so in women with a family history. Formal tests for interaction between family history and these factors, however, did not prove statistically significant.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that established risk factors entail similar associations with breast cancer risk among women with and without family history of the disease.