The incidence of breast cancer among Japanese women is substantially increasing. This population-based prospective cohort study in Japan evaluated the associations of reproductive factors and exogenous female hormone use with breast cancer risk, both overall and separately among premenopausal and postmenopausal women. A total of 24,064 women aged 40-64 were followed from 1990 to 2003. During 309,424 person-years of follow-up, 285 breast cancer cases were documented. In overall evaluation, nulliparity was significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. There was a significant decrease in risk with increasing parity number among parous women (trend P = 0.008). No association was observed between age at menarche or age at first birth and breast cancer risk. Neither oral contraceptive (OC) use nor the use of exogenous female hormones other than OC was associated with breast cancer risk. The evaluation according to menopausal status revealed that nulliparity and parity number were significantly related to breast cancer risk only among postmenopausal women. Later age at natural menopause was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women (trend P = 0.02). Our findings suggest that parity number and age at menopause have great effects on breast cancer risk among Japanese women.
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