There is strong evidence that the risk of breast cancer in populations is influenced by environmental factors. Plasma lipids and lipoproteins are known to be under environmental control and to have epidemiological and/or biological characteristics that suggest they may be relevant to breast cancer risk. The purpose of the study described here was to determine whether plasma lipids, lipoproteins, and the urinary excretion of the mutagen malondialdehyde (MDA) are associated with differences in breast cancer risk. We measured plasma lipids, lipoproteins, and urinary MDA in women without breast cancer but with different degrees of density of the breast parenchyma on mammography, a strong risk factor for breast cancer. Mammograms from 273 premenopausal women were digitized to high spatial resolution by a scanning densitometer, and images were analyzed to quantify the extent of density. The percentage of the breast occupied by mammographic densities was found, after controlling for the effects of age and the Quetelet index of obesity, to be significantly associated with plasma levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceride, apoprotein B, and urinary excretion of MDA. A multivariate model comprised of the Quetelet index of obesity, alcohol consumption, apoprotein B, parity, daily MDA excretion, and the skinfold thickness sum accounted for 36% of the variation in breast density. These results suggest that differences in lipid metabolism are associated with differences in breast cancer risk as defined by mammographic densities. These findings are consistent with several other observations that show a relationship between plasma lipids, lipoproteins, and risk factors for breast cancer.

This content is only available via PDF.