Breast cancer incidence rates in women of Asian descent have been increasing in the United States and Asia.
In a case–control study of Asian American women from the San Francisco Bay Area, we assessed associations with birthplace and migration-related characteristics and compared risk factors between Asian American and non-Hispanic White women by birthplace and birth cohort.
Birthplace and migration-related characteristics were associated with breast cancer risk only among women in the younger birth cohort (1951–1984) that comprised 355 cases diagnosed at age ≤55 years and 276 sister and population controls. Breast cancer risk was marginally increased among foreign-born women [OR = 1.40; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.97–2.03] and two-fold among foreign-born Chinese women (OR = 2.16; 95% CI, 1.21–3.88). Two-fold increased risks were associated with migration at age ≥40 years and longer U.S. residence (≥30 years or ≥75% of life). The education level was high among both cases and controls. Differences in the prevalence of risk factors by birthplace and birth cohort suggest temporal changes in reproductive and lifestyle-related factors. The prevalence in risk factors was similar between foreign-born and U.S.-born women in the younger birth cohort, and did not fully explain the observed associations with birthplace and other migration characteristics.
In contrast to studies from earlier decades, younger foreign-born Asian American women had a higher risk of breast cancer than U.S.-born Asian American women.
It is important and urgent to understand what factors drive the increasing burden of breast cancer in women of Asian descent and implement effective prevention programs.