We investigated the associations between several reproductive factors related to childbearing and the variation (V) measure (a novel, objective, single summary measure of breast image intensity) by menopausal status.


Our study included 3,814 cancer-free women within the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHSII cohorts. The data on reproductive variables and covariates were obtained from biennial questionnaires closest to the mammogram date. V-measures were obtained from mammographic images using a previously developed algorithm capturing the standard deviation of pixel values. We used multivariate linear regression to examine the associations of parity, age at first birth, time between menarche and first birth, time since last pregnancy, and lifetime breastfeeding duration with V-measure, adjusting for breast cancer risk factors, including the percentage of mammographic density (PMD). We further examined whether these associations were statistically accounted for (mediated) by PMD.


Among premenopausal women, none of the reproductive factors were associated with V. Among postmenopausal women, inverse associations of parity and positive associations of age at first birth with V were mediated by PMD (percent mediated: nulliparity: 66.7%, P < 0.0001; parity: 50.5%, P < 0.01; age at first birth 76.1%, P < 0.001) and were no longer significant in PMD-adjusted models. Lifetime duration of breastfeeding was positively associated with V [>36 vs. 0 ≤1 months β = 0.29; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.07; 0.52, Ptrend < 0.01], independent of PMD.


Parity, age at first birth, and breastfeeding were associated with postmenopausal V.


This study highlights associations of reproductive factors with mammographic image intensity.

You do not currently have access to this content.