Objectives: The etiology of male breast cancer is obscure, although an excess risk has been associated with Klinefelter syndrome, testicular disorders, benign breast disease including gynecomastia, use of exogenous estrogens, radiation, and a family history of male or female breast cancer. We conducted a case-control study to investigate risk factors further for breast cancer in men.
Methods: Based on data from the 1986 National (United States) Mortality Followback Survey (NMFS) of almost 20,000 deceased adults (age 25 years or over), we compared information obtained from next-of-kin interviews of 178 men who died of breast cancer with that of 512 male controls who died of other causes. Information was obtained on selected demographic and other factors, including diet, exercise, occupation, height and weight, and use of tobacco and alcohol.
Results: Increased risks were found for men who were described by their next-of-kin as very overweight (odds ratio [OR] = 2.3, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] = 1.1-5.0). The risks associated with the three upper quartiles of body mass index (BMI) (wt/ht2) were 1.3, 1.6, and 2.3, respectively, with a significant dose-response relationship (P < 0.01). An excess risk was also associated with limited exercise (OR = 1.3, CI = 0.8-2.0). Consumption of red meat was associated with an increased risk, and consumption of fruits and vegetables with a decreased risk, although the trends were not significant. No association was found for tobacco or alcohol use, but an excess risk was associated with higher levels of socioeconomic status (SES) (OR = 1.8, CI = 1.1-3.0).
Conclusions: Our study suggests that obesity increases the risk of male breast cancer, possibly through hormonal mechanisms, while dietary factors, physical activity, and SES indicators also deserve further investigation.