Risk factors for breast cancer in elderly women

Carol Sweeney, Cindy K. Blair, Kristin E. Anderson, DeAnn Lazovich, Aaron R. Folsom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


As the population ages, an increasing fraction of women diagnosed with breast cancer will be elderly. Heterogeneity of breast cancer risk factors between pre- and postmenopausal women is recognized, but few studies have examined elderly women specifically. The authors describe the age-specific influence of risk factors for postmenopausal breast cancer, with emphasis on women aged 75 or more years. Among 36,658 members of the Iowa Women's Health Study (1986-2001), a population-based cohort study, 428 incident breast cancers were diagnosed in women aged 55-64 years, 1,297 in women aged 65-74 years, and 561 in women aged 75-84 years. Women with a body mass index (weight (kg)/height (m)2) in the highest versus the lowest quartile were at increased risk of breast cancer at age 75 or more years (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.44, 95% confidence interval (Cl): 1.12, 1.84). Family history of breast cancer (hazard ratio = 1.54, 95% Cl: 1.24, 1.93 for a first-degree family history vs. none) and an older age at menopause (ptrend = 0.07) conferred increased risk for women aged 75 or more years, and a high number of livebirths was protective (hazard ratio = 0.67, 95% Cl: 0.51, 0.88 for five or more births compared with one or two). Obesity, a modifiable risk factor, remained positively associated with breast cancer for all age groups of postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)868-875
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Cancer Institute grant R01 CA39742.


  • Age factors
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Female
  • Risk factors


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk factors for breast cancer in elderly women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this