Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCSF

UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Menarche, menopause, and breast cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis, including 118 964 women with breast cancer from 117 epidemiological studies.

  • Author(s): Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer
  • et al.

Published Web Location

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70425-4
No data is associated with this publication.
Abstract

Background

Menarche and menopause mark the onset and cessation, respectively, of ovarian activity associated with reproduction, and affect breast cancer risk. Our aim was to assess the strengths of their effects and determine whether they depend on characteristics of the tumours or the affected women.

Methods

Individual data from 117 epidemiological studies, including 118 964 women with invasive breast cancer and 306 091 without the disease, none of whom had used menopausal hormone therapy, were included in the analyses. We calculated adjusted relative risks (RRs) associated with menarche and menopause for breast cancer overall, and by tumour histology and by oestrogen receptor expression.

Findings

Breast cancer risk increased by a factor of 1·050 (95% CI 1·044-1·057; p<0·0001) for every year younger at menarche, and independently by a smaller amount (1·029, 1·025-1·032; p<0·0001), for every year older at menopause. Premenopausal women had a greater risk of breast cancer than postmenopausal women of an identical age (RR at age 45-54 years 1·43, 1·33-1·52, p<0·001). All three of these associations were attenuated by increasing adiposity among postmenopausal women, but did not vary materially by women's year of birth, ethnic origin, childbearing history, smoking, alcohol consumption, or hormonal contraceptive use. All three associations were stronger for lobular than for ductal tumours (p<0·006 for each comparison). The effect of menopause in women of an identical age and trends by age at menopause were stronger for oestrogen receptor-positive disease than for oestrogen receptor-negative disease (p<0·01 for both comparisons).

Interpretation

The effects of menarche and menopause on breast cancer risk might not be acting merely by lengthening women's total number of reproductive years. Endogenous ovarian hormones are more relevant for oestrogen receptor-positive disease than for oestrogen receptor-negative disease and for lobular than for ductal tumours.

Funding

Cancer Research UK.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item