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Data from a population-based case-control study conducted in Adelaide, South Australia, and involving 451 case-control pairs, were analysed to determine whether the associations of menstrual, reproductive, dietary and other factors with risk of breast cancer differed by oestrogen receptor (ER) status. Data on ER status were available for 380 cases. The proportion of tumours which were ER+ increased with age, and there was a higher proportion of ER+ tumours in post-menopausal than in premenopausal women. Both oral contraceptive use (P = 0.055) and cigarette smoking (P = 0.047) were associated with increased (unadjusted) risk of ER- cancer, while having little association with risk of ER+ cancer. Most dietary factors had little association with risk of either cancer type, the main exception being the reduction in risk of ER- breast cancer with increasing beta-carotene intake (P for trend = 0.017). In general, however, links with the factors examined were not strong enough to suggest different causal pathways for ER- and ER+ breast cancer.