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Prev Chronic Dis. 2019 Feb 14;16:E20. doi: 10.5888/pcd16.180221.

Higher Breast Cancer Risk Among Immigrant Asian American Women Than Among US-Born Asian American Women.

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University of California-Riverside, School of Public Policy, 900 University Ave, 4111 CHASS Interdisciplinary South, Riverside, CA 92521. Email:
University of California-Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health, Department of Community Health Sciences, Los Angeles, California.
University of California, Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Los Angeles, California.
Cancer Prevention Institute of California, Fremont, California.
University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, San Francisco, California.
University of California, San Francisco, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco, California.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford, California.
Rise Up Solutions, San Francisco, California.
Hawai'i Public Health Institute, Honolulu, Hawai'i.
University of California, Berkeley, Health Research for Action, Berkeley, California.
Ravenswood Family Health Center, East Palo Alto, California.



Given rising rates of breast cancer in parts of Asia, immigrant Asian American women in the United States may have higher rates of breast cancer than previously anticipated. This study examined breast cancer risk among Asian American women by nativity and percentage of life lived in the United States, accounting for established breast cancer risk factors.


We analyzed a breast cancer case-control data set of Asian American women living in the San Francisco Bay Area; this data set included 132 cases of women with breast cancer selected from a Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registry and 438 Asian American women without diagnosed breast cancer matched to cases by age and country of origin. We used logistic regression to compare 3 Asian American groups: US-born, immigrants who lived 50% or more of their life in the United States, and immigrants who lived less than 50% of their life in the United States.


In the minimally adjusted and fully adjusted models, both groups of immigrant Asian American women had higher risk of breast cancer than US-born Asian American women. In the fully adjusted model, compared with US-born Asian American women, immigrant Asian American women who lived more than 50% of their life in United States were on average 3 times as likely (odds ratio = 3.00; 95% confidence interval, 1.56-5.75) and immigrants who lived less than 50% of their life in United States were on average 2.46 times as likely (odds ratio = 2.46; 95% confidence interval, 1.21-4.99) to have breast cancer. We found no difference in fully adjusted odds ratios of having breast cancer between the 2 immigrant groups.


This study provides preliminary evidence that breast cancer risk among immigrant Asian American women may be higher than among their US-born counterparts.

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