Publication Abstract

Authors: Kerlikowske K, Shepherd J, Creasman J, Tice JA, Ziv E, Cummings SR

Title: Are breast density and bone mineral density independent risk factors for breast cancer?

Journal: J Natl Cancer Inst 97(5):368-74

Date: 2005 Mar 02

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Mammographic breast density and bone mineral density (BMD) are markers of cumulative exposure to estrogen. Previous studies have suggested that women with high mammographic breast density or high BMD are at increased risk of breast cancer. We determined whether mammographic breast density and BMD of the hip and spine are correlated and independently associated with breast cancer risk. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study (N = 15,254) and a nested case-control study (of 208 women with breast cancer and 436 control subjects) among women aged 28 years or older who had a screening mammography examination and hip BMD measurement within 2 years. Breast density for 3105 of the women was classified using the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) categories, and percentage mammographic breast density among the case patients and control subjects was quantified with a computer-based threshold method. Spearman rank partial correlation coefficient and Pearson's correlation coefficient were used to examine correlations between BI-RADS breast density and BMD and between percentage mammographic breast density and BMD, respectively, in women without breast cancer. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of breast cancer with percentage mammographic breast density and BMD. All statistical tests were two-sided. RESULTS: Neither BI-RADS breast density nor percentage breast density was correlated with hip or spine BMD (correlation coefficient = -.02 and -.01 for BI-RADS, respectively, and -.06 and .01 for percentage breast density, respectively). Neither hip BMD nor spine BMD had a statistically significant relationship with breast cancer risk. Women with breast density in the highest sextile had an approximately threefold increased risk of breast cancer compared with women in the lowest sextile (odds ratio = 2.7, 95% confidence interval = 1.4 to 5.4); adjusting for hip or spine BMD did not change the association between breast density and breast cancer risk. CONCLUSION: Breast density is strongly associated with increased risk of breast cancer, even after taking into account reproductive and hormonal risk factors, whereas BMD, although a possible marker of lifetime exposure to estrogen, is not. Thus, a component of breast density that is independent of estrogen-mediated effects may contribute to breast cancer risk.