Which medical conditions increase the risk for breast cancer?

Updated: Dec 26, 2019
  • Author: Graham A Colditz, MD, DrPH; Chief Editor: Chandandeep Nagi, MD  more...
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Various diseases and medications are known or suspected to cause or to be associated with modifications of hormones and/or growth factors and thus may influence breast cancer risk.

Women with osteoporosis and low bone density are at significantly lower risk for beast cancer, a reflection of their lower hormone levels. [80]

Type 2 diabetes has been suggested to increase risk of breast cancer. Studies have often lacked information about the type and severity of diabetes, making the interpretation of the various findings difficult. Prospective plasma-based studies now provide more direct evidence supporting a positive relation between insulin levels and risk for beast cancer. [67] Further studies of the relationship between breast cancer and insulin resistance are warranted because insulin resistance is increasing sharply in many populations and is modifiable through increases in physical activity, dietary changes, and maintenance of a lean body weight.

Strong evidence suggests that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, inhibit colon carcinogenesis in humans, thus providing a rationale to investigate an inhibitory role of NSAIDs in breast carcinogenesis. Some epidemiologic studies have shown modest reductions in risk of breast cancer associated with NSAID use, while others have found none. Evidence for risk reduction appears stronger for aspirin than for nonaspirin NSAIDs. Because most NSAID use is sporadic, it may be difficult to capture patterns of use on a questionnaire. Unanswered questions remain regarding the effect of regular NSAID use for long durations, the effect of different doses, and the effects of different nonaspirin NSAIDs.

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