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Am J Epidemiol. 1997 Feb 15;145(4):366-72.

Explaining the relation between education and postmenopausal breast cancer.

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National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD 20782, USA.


The authors examined the relation between socioeconomic status, as defined by education level, and postmenopausal breast cancer incidence using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Followup Study. Female participants in the study were followed from 1971-1974 to 1992-1993. Cox proportional hazards modeling was used to determine the relation between breast cancer incidence and education level. There was a direct dose-response association between education level and postmenopausal breast cancer risk. Several breast cancer risk factors, including height and reproductive-related risks such as nulliparity, were found to mediate this relation. Adjustment for these factors reduced, but did not eliminate, the positive relation between education level and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer; however, the association was no longer statistically significant. The association between higher education and increased risk of breast cancer appears to be largely explained by differences in the known risk factors for breast cancer.

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