Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Mar 16;103(6):470-7. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djr030. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Reproductive history and oral contraceptive use in relation to risk of triple-negative breast cancer.

Author information

  • 1Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA.



Triple-negative (ie, estrogen receptor [ER], progesterone receptor, and HER2 negative) breast cancer occurs disproportionately among African American women compared with white women and is associated with a worse prognosis than ER-positive (ER+) breast cancer. Hormonally mediated risk factors may be differentially related to risk of triple-negative and ER+ breast cancers.


Using data from 155,723 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, we assessed associations between reproductive and menstrual history, breastfeeding, oral contraceptive use, and subtype-specific breast cancer risk. We used Cox regression to evaluate associations with triple-negative (N = 307) and ER+ (N = 2610) breast cancers and used partial likelihood methods to test for differences in subtype-specific hazard ratios (HRs).


Reproductive history was differentially associated with risk of triple-negative and ER+ breast cancers. Nulliparity was associated with decreased risk of triple-negative breast cancer (HR = 0.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.37 to 0.97) but increased risk of ER+ breast cancer (HR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.20 to 1.52). Age-adjusted absolute rates of triple-negative breast cancer were 2.71 and 1.54 per 10,000 person-years in parous and nulliparous women, respectively; by comparison, rates of ER+ breast cancer were 21.10 and 28.16 per 10,000 person-years in the same two groups. Among parous women, the number of births was positively associated with risk of triple-negative disease (HR for three births or more vs one birth = 1.46, 95% CI = 0.82 to 2.63) and inversely associated with risk of ER+ disease (HR = 0.88, 95% CI = 0.74 to 1.04). Ages at menarche and menopause were modestly associated with risk of ER+ but not triple-negative breast cancer; breastfeeding and oral contraceptive use were not associated with either subtype.


The association between parity and breast cancer risk differs appreciably for ER+ and triple-negative breast cancers. These findings require further confirmation because the biological mechanisms underlying these differences are uncertain.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication Types, MeSH Terms, Substances, Grant Support

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk