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University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

University of Colorado Denver, Newsroom

News Release

Study addresses race and its impact on breast cancer risk

4/27/2010
 

AURORA, Colo. (April 26, 2010)— Many of the established risk factors for breast cancer explain less of the breast cancer cases in Hispanic women compared with non-Hispanic White women, says Lisa Hines, PhD, and the lead author of a new paper published online April 26, 2010 in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, “Comparative analysis of breast cancer risk factors among hispanic and non-hispanic white women.”

Hines is a cancer prevention and control scientist at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and associate professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Hispanic women have lower rates of breast cancer, yet tend to have worse prognosis. The reasons for these disparities are not completely understood.  According to this study, established risk factors were attributed to 7 to 36 percent of breast cancers in Hispanic women, compared to 62 to 75 percent of breast cancer in non-Hispanic White women.

The paper, published online in Cancer on April 26,   comes out of the 4-Corners Breast Cancer Study, designed to investigate reasons for the observed difference in breast-cancer rates. UCCC members Dr. Tim Byers (UCCC Deputy Director/AMC Prevention & Control Program/Colorado School of Public Health), Dr. Betsy Risendal (AMC Prevention & Control Program/Colorado School of Public Health) also contributed to the paper.

The 4-Corners study looked at breast cancer risk factors:
• Reproductive history
• Family history of breast cancer
• Menstrual history
• Hormone use
• Alcohol consumption
• Physical activity
• Height
• Body Mass Index

The researchers found that Hispanic women in this study tend to have their first child at an earlier age, have more children, are shorter, use less hormones and drink less alcohol than whites—all characteristics of being at low risk for breast cancer. Also, in post-menopausal women, recent hormone therapy and younger age at menarche did not seem to increase the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal Hispanic women as observed in white women.

“We also know that Hispanic women are less likely to have estrogen-receptor positive tumors,” Hines says. “Maybe there are genetic factors and/or lifestyle behaviors at a young age that makes them less susceptible to estrogens in the post-menopausal years.”

The researchers’ next steps will include looking at tumor subtypes to see if there are biological differences at play in the incidence rate disparities. They will also continue to explore genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors as contributors to both the lower rates of breast cancer and the higher risk of death.

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Contact: Lynn Clark, 303.724.3160, lynn.clark@ucdenver.edu