Five hundred thirty-four histologically confirmed incident cases of breast cancer in Chinese women of Shanghai and an equal number of age and sex-matched population controls were interviewed as part of an epidemiological study of breast cancer risk factors. Early age at menarche was positively associated with breast cancer risk whereas early age at first full term pregnancy, high parity, and long duration of nursing were each negatively associated. We found high average body weight to be a risk factor, especially among women over age 60. Use of oral contraceptives after age 45 also was a risk factor, but use in general was not. Personal history of benign breast disease and history of breast cancer in first degree female relatives both increased risk. Multivariate analysis showed that each of these risk (or protective) factors was independently related to breast cancer. In addition to confirming most of the breast cancer risk factors of Western populations in a low risk developing Asian country, this study demonstrates a clear beneficial effect on breast cancer risk of lactation in a population characterized by a long cumulative duration of nursing in the majority of women. Finally, this study supports several other recent reports of a residual and beneficial effect of parity on breast cancer risk after controlling for age at first full term pregnancy.


The work was supported by a grant from the Chinese Ministry of Public Health, Public Health Service Grant K04 CA00884 from the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and Grant SIG-2A from the American Cancer Society. Presented at the Fifth Symposium on Epidemiology and Cancer Registries in the Pacific Basin, November 16–21, 1986, Kauai, HI.

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