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1.  Novel polymorphisms in caspase-8 are associated with breast cancer risk in the California Teachers Study 
BMC Cancer  2016;16:14.
The ability of tamoxifen and raloxifene to decrease breast cancer risk varies among different breast cancer subtypes. It is important to determine one’s subtype-specific breast cancer risk when considering chemoprevention. A number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including one in caspase-8 (CASP8), have been previously associated with risk of developing breast cancer. Because caspase-8 is an important protein involved in receptor-mediated apoptosis whose activity is affected by estrogen, we hypothesized that additional SNPs in CASP8 could be associated with breast cancer risk, perhaps in a subtype-specific manner.
Twelve tagging SNPs of CASP8 were analyzed in a nested case control study (1,353 cases and 1,384 controls) of non-Hispanic white women participating in the California Teachers Study. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for each SNP using all, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, ER-negative, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive, and HER2-negative breast cancers as separate outcomes.
Several SNPs were associated with all, ER-positive, and HER2-positive breast cancers; however, after correcting for multiple comparisons (i.e., p < 0.0008), only rs2293554 was statistically significantly associated with HER2-positive breast cancer (OR = 1.98, 95 % CI 1.34-2.92, uncorrected p = 0.0005).
While our results for CASP8 SNPs should be validated in other cohorts with subtype-specific information, we conclude that some SNPs in CASP8 are associated with subtype-specific breast cancer risk. This study contributes to our understanding of CASP8 SNPs and breast cancer risk by subtype.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-2036-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4711015  PMID: 26758508
Breast cancer; Single nucleotide polymorphism; Caspase-8
2.  Type I and II Endometrial Cancers: Have They Different Risk Factors? 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(20):2607-2618.
Endometrial cancers have long been divided into estrogen-dependent type I and the less common clinically aggressive estrogen-independent type II. Little is known about risk factors for type II tumors because most studies lack sufficient cases to study these much less common tumors separately. We examined whether so-called classical endometrial cancer risk factors also influence the risk of type II tumors.
Patients and Methods
Individual-level data from 10 cohort and 14 case-control studies from the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium were pooled. A total of 14,069 endometrial cancer cases and 35,312 controls were included. We classified endometrioid (n = 7,246), adenocarcinoma not otherwise specified (n = 4,830), and adenocarcinoma with squamous differentiation (n = 777) as type I tumors and serous (n = 508) and mixed cell (n = 346) as type II tumors.
Parity, oral contraceptive use, cigarette smoking, age at menarche, and diabetes were associated with type I and type II tumors to similar extents. Body mass index, however, had a greater effect on type I tumors than on type II tumors: odds ratio (OR) per 2 kg/m2 increase was 1.20 (95% CI, 1.19 to 1.21) for type I and 1.12 (95% CI, 1.09 to 1.14) for type II tumors (Pheterogeneity < .0001). Risk factor patterns for high-grade endometrioid tumors and type II tumors were similar.
The results of this pooled analysis suggest that the two endometrial cancer types share many common etiologic factors. The etiology of type II tumors may, therefore, not be completely estrogen independent, as previously believed.
PMCID: PMC3699726  PMID: 23733771
3.  Absolute Risk of Endometrial Carcinoma During 20-Year Follow-Up Among Women With Endometrial Hyperplasia 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(5):788-792.
The severity of endometrial hyperplasia (EH)—simple (SH), complex (CH), or atypical (AH)—influences clinical management, but valid estimates of absolute risk of clinical progression to carcinoma are lacking.
Materials and Methods
We conducted a case-control study nested in a cohort of 7,947 women diagnosed with EH (1970-2002) at one prepaid health plan who remained at risk for at least 1 year. Patient cases (N = 138) were diagnosed with carcinoma, on average, 6 years later (range, 1 to 24 years). Patient controls (N = 241) were matched to patient cases on age at EH, date of EH, and duration of follow-up, and they were counter-matched to patient cases on EH severity. After we independently reviewed original slides and medical records of patient controls and patient cases, we combined progression relative risks (AH v SH, CH, or disordered proliferative endometrium [ie, equivocal EH]) from the case-control analysis with clinical censoring information (ie, hysterectomy, death, or left the health plan) on all cohort members to estimate interval-specific (ie, 1 to 4, 5 to 9, and 10 to 19 years) and cumulative (ie, through 4, 9, and 19 years) progression risks.
For nonatypical EH, cumulative progression risk increased from 1.2% (95% CI, 0.6% to 1.9%) through 4 years to 1.9% (95% CI, 1.2% to 2.6%) through 9 years to 4.6% (95% CI, 3.3% to 5.8%) through 19 years after EH diagnosis. For AH, cumulative risk increased from 8.2% (95% CI, 1.3% to 14.6%) through 4 years to 12.4% (95% CI, 3.0% to 20.8%) through 9 years to 27.5% (95% CI, 8.6% to 42.5%) through 19 years after AH.
Cumulative 20-year progression risk among women who remain at risk for at least 1 year is less than 5% for nonatypical EH but is 28% for AH.
PMCID: PMC2834395  PMID: 20065186
4.  Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Lung Cancer-Specific Mortality Following Diagnosis: The California Teachers Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103735.
Previous results from research on menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) and lung cancer survival have been mixed and most have not studied women who used estrogen therapy (ET) exclusively. We examined the associations between MHT use reported at baseline and lung cancer-specific mortality in the prospective California Teachers Study cohort. Among 727 postmenopausal women diagnosed with lung cancer from 1995 through 2007, 441 women died before January 1, 2008. Hazard Ratios (HR) and 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) for lung-cancer-specific mortality were obtained by fitting multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models using age in days as the timescale. Among women who used ET exclusively, decreases in lung cancer mortality were observed (HR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.52–0.93). No association was observed for estrogen plus progestin therapy use. Among former users, shorter duration (<5 years) of exclusive ET use was associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer mortality (HR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.35–0.89), whereas among recent users, longer duration (>15 years) was associated with a decreased risk (HR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.38–0.95). Smoking status modified the associations with deceases in lung cancer mortality observed only among current smokers. Exclusive ET use was associated with decreased lung cancer mortality.
PMCID: PMC4117568  PMID: 25079077
5.  Anthropometric, behavioral, and female reproductive factors and risk of multiple myeloma: a pooled analysis 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2013;24(7):1279-1289.
Risk of developing multiple myeloma (MM) rises with age and is greater among men and blacks than among women and whites, respectively, and possibly increased among obese persons. Other risk factors remain poorly understood. By pooling data from two complementary epidemiologic studies, we assessed whether obesity, smoking, or alcohol consumption alters MM risk and whether female reproductive history might explain the lower occurrence of MM in females than males.
The Los Angeles County MM Case-Control Study (1985-92) included 278 incident cases and 278 controls, matched on age, sex, race, and neighborhood of residence at case’s diagnosis. We estimated MM risk using conditional logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). In the prospective California Teachers Study (CTS), 152 women were diagnosed with incident MM between 1995-2009; we calculated hazard ratios using Cox proportional hazards analysis. Data from the two studies were pooled using a stratified, nested case-control sampling scheme (10:1 match) for the CTS; conditional logistic regression among 430 cases and 1,798 matched controls was conducted.
Obesity and smoking were not associated with MM risk in the individual or combined studies. Alcohol consumption was associated with decreased MM risk among whites only (pooled OR=0.66, 95% CI=0.49-0.90) for ever vs. never drinking). Higher gravidity and parity were associated with increased MM risk, with pooled ORs of 1.38 (95% CI=1.01-1.90) for ≥3 versus 1-2 pregnancies and 1.50 (95% CI=1.09-2.06) for ≥3 versus 1-2 live births.
Female reproductive history may modestly alter MM risk, but appears unlikely to explain the sex disparity in incidence. Further investigation in consortial efforts is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3684420  PMID: 23568533
multiple myeloma; women; reproductive; modifiable; risk factors; association; pooling; case-control; cohort; epidemiology
6.  Circulating adipokine levels and endometrial cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial 
Circulating adipokine levels may be associated with endometrial cancer risk, yet few studies have evaluated these markers prospectively.
We conducted a nested case-control study of postmenopausal women in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (n=78,216), including 167 incident endometrial cancer cases and 327 controls that were matched on age, study center, race, study year of diagnosis, year of blood draw, time of day of blood draw and menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use. Adipokine and estradiol levels were categorized into tertiles (T). Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the associations of adiponectin, leptin and visfatin with endometrial cancer risk were estimated by conditional logistic regression, adjusting for known endometrial cancer risk factors, including body mass index (BMI) and circulating estradiol levels.
Adiponectin levels were inversely associated with risk of endometrial cancer [OR T3vsT1=0.48 (95%CI: 0.29-0.80); p-trend<0.01], whereas elevated leptin levels showed a positive association [2.77 (1.60-4.79); p-trend<0.01]. These results remained significant after adjustment for estradiol, but not after further adjustment for BMI. When analyses were restricted to non-MHT users, associations of adiponectin and leptin were stronger and remained significant after adjustment for estradiol and BMI [0.27 (0.09-0.80); p-trend=0.01 and 4.29 (1.07-17.15); p-trend=0.02, respectively]. Non-significant positive associations were observed for visfatin.
Adipokines may influence endometrial cancer risk through pathways other than estrogen-mediated cell growth in postmenopausal women not currently on MHT.
Understanding how adipokines influence endometrial cancer risk may help to elucidate biological mechanisms important for the observed obesity-endometrial cancer association.
PMCID: PMC3819202  PMID: 23696194
endometrial cancer risk; adiponectin; leptin; visfatin; obesity
7.  Obesity-related hormones and endometrial cancer among postmenopausal women: a nested case–control study within the B~FIT cohort 
Endocrine-related cancer  2013;20(1):151-160.
Endometrial cancer risk is strongly influenced by obesity, but the mechanisms of action remain unclear. Leptin and adiponectin, secreted from adipose tissue, reportedly play a role in such carcinogenic processes as cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and insulin regulation. In this case–control study, nested within the Breast and Bone Follow-up of the Fracture Intervention Trial (n = 15 595), we assessed pre-diagnostic serum leptin, total adiponectin, and high-molecular-weight (HMW) adiponectin in relation to endometrial cancer among postmenopausal women. During the 10-year follow-up, 62 incident endometrial cases were identified and matched to 124 controls on age, geographical site, time of fasting blood draw at baseline (1992–1993), and trial participation status. Adipokines and C-peptide were measured by ELISA. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were estimated via conditional logistic regression, with exposures categorized in tertiles (T). Multivariable models considered C-peptide, BMI (kg/m2), and estradiol (E2) as potential confounders. Endometrial cancer risk was significantly associated with higher leptin levels, adjusted for E2 and C-peptide (ORT3 vs T1 = 2.96; 95% CI, 1.21–7.25; P trend <0.01). After further adjustment for BMI, the estimates were attenuated and the positive trend was no longer statistically significant (ORT3 vs T1 = 2.11; 95% CI, 0.69–6.44; P trend = 0.18). No significant associations were observed with adiponectin or HMW adiponectin and endometrial cancer. Our findings with leptin suggest that the leptin–BMI axis might increase endometrial cancer risk through mechanisms other than estrogen-driven proliferation. Continued exploration of these pathways in larger prospective studies may help elucidate mechanisms underlying observed obesity–endometrial cancer associations.
PMCID: PMC4038326  PMID: 23222000
endometrial cancer; adiponectin; leptin; obesity
8.  Response 
PMCID: PMC3589258  PMID: 23586090
9.  Increased long-term recreational physical activity is associated with older age at natural menopause among heavy smokers: the California Teachers Study 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2013;20(3):282-290.
Although physical activity modulates the hypothalamic-ovarian-pituitary axis, the few studies investigating whether physical activity is associated with age at natural menopause have had mixed results. We set out to determine whether physical activity is associated with the timing of natural menopause in a large cohort of California women, overall, and by smoking history.
We investigated the association between long-term physical activity (hours/week/year) and age at natural menopause among 97,945 women in the California Teachers Study. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression methods were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). The impact of cigarette smoking (never smoker, former-light smoker, former-heavy smoker, current-light smoker, current-heavy smoker) as an effect modifier was evaluated.
In a multivariable model adjusting for body mass index at age 18, age at menarche, race/ethnicity, and age at first full-term pregnancy, increased physical activity was statistically significantly associated with older age at natural menopause (ptrend=0.005). Higher body mass index at age 18 (ptrend=0.0003) and older age at menarche (ptrend=0.0003) were also associated with older age at natural menopause. Hispanic ethnicity (vs. non-Hispanic whites, HR 1.17, 95% CI 1.09–1.26), current smokers (vs. never smokers, HR 1.68, 95% CI 1.60–1.75 for current-light smokers; HR 1.38, 95% CI 1.33–1.44 for current-heavy smokers) and older age at first full-term pregnancy (HR≥29, 2+ full-term pregnancies vs. <29, 2+ full-term pregnancies 1.10, 95% CI 1.06–1.14) were associated with earlier age at natural menopause. Upon stratification by smoking history, increased physical activity was statistically significantly associated with older natural menopause among heavy smokers only (HRHighest vs. Lowest quartile 0.88, 95% CI 0.81–0.97, ptrend=0.02 for former-heavy smokers; HRHighest vs. Lowest quartile 0.89, 95% CI 0.80–0.99, ptrend=0.04 for current-heavy smokers).
Age at natural menopause is a complex trait; the determinants of age at natural menopause, including physical activity, may differ by smoking status.
PMCID: PMC3580010  PMID: 23435025
Physical activity; smoking status; age at natural menopause; reproductive factors; cohort studies
10.  Alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women following the cessation of hormone therapy use: the California Teachers Study 
Alcohol consumption increases breast cancer risk, but its effect may be modified by hormone therapy (HT) use, such that exposure to both may be synergistic. Because many women stopped taking HT after mid-2002, it is important to quantify risks associated with alcohol consumption in the context of HT cessation, as these risks may be more relevant to cancer prevention efforts today.
Among 40,680 eligible postmenopausal California Teachers Study cohort participants, 660 were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer before 2010. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Increased breast cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption was observed among postmenopausal women who were current HT users (RR=1.60, 95% CI: 1.13–2.26 and RR=2.11, 95% CI: 1.41–3.15 for <20 and ≥20 g/d of alcohol), with risks being similar by HT preparation. Alcohol did not increase risk among women who had stopped using HT within 3 years or 3–4 years before completing the follow-up questionnaire or in the more distant past. Results were similar for ER+ and ER+PR+ tumors; while power was limited, no increase in risk was observed for ER- tumors.
Following the cessation of HT use, alcohol consumption is not significantly associated with breast cancer risk, although a non-significant increased risk was observed among women who never used HT.
Our findings confirm that concurrent exposure to HT and alcohol has a substantial adverse impact on breast cancer risk. However, after HT cessation, this risk is reduced.
PMCID: PMC3721729  PMID: 22832206
breast cancer; alcohol; hormone therapy; cessation; epidemiology
11.  Age at Last Birth in Relation to Risk of Endometrial Cancer: Pooled Analysis in the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(4):269-278.
Childbearing at an older age has been associated with a lower risk of endometrial cancer, but whether the association is independent of the number of births or other factors remains unclear. Individual-level data from 4 cohort and 13 case-control studies in the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium were pooled. A total of 8,671 cases of endometrial cancer and 16,562 controls were included in the analysis. After adjustment for known risk factors, endometrial cancer risk declined with increasing age at last birth (Ptrend < 0.0001). The pooled odds ratio per 5-year increase in age at last birth was 0.87 (95% confidence interval: 0.85, 0.90). Women who last gave birth at 40 years of age or older had a 44% decreased risk compared with women who had their last birth under the age of 25 years (95% confidence interval: 47, 66). The protective association was similar across the different age-at-diagnosis groups and for the 2 major tumor histologic subtypes (type I and type II). No effect modification was observed by body mass index, parity, or exogenous hormone use. In this large pooled analysis, late age at last birth was independently associated with a reduced risk of endometrial cancer, and the reduced risk persisted for many years.
PMCID: PMC3491967  PMID: 22831825
endometrial neoplasms; parity; reproductive history
12.  Risk Prediction for Breast, Endometrial, and Ovarian Cancer in White Women Aged 50 y or Older: Derivation and Validation from Population-Based Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001492.
Ruth Pfeiffer and colleagues describe models to calculate absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers for white, non-Hispanic women over 50 years old using easily obtainable risk factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers share some hormonal and epidemiologic risk factors. While several models predict absolute risk of breast cancer, there are few models for ovarian cancer in the general population, and none for endometrial cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50+ y from two large population-based cohorts (the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial [PLCO] and the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study [NIH-AARP]), we estimated relative and attributable risks and combined them with age-specific US-population incidence and competing mortality rates. All models included parity. The breast cancer model additionally included estrogen and progestin menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use, other MHT use, age at first live birth, menopausal status, age at menopause, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, benign breast disease/biopsies, alcohol consumption, and body mass index (BMI); the endometrial model included menopausal status, age at menopause, BMI, smoking, oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and an interaction term between BMI and MHT use; the ovarian model included oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and family history or breast or ovarian cancer. In independent validation data (Nurses' Health Study cohort) the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated; expected to observed cancer ratios were 1.00 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.96–1.04) for breast cancer and 1.08 (95% CI: 0.97–1.19) for ovarian cancer. The number of endometrial cancers was significantly overestimated, expected/observed = 1.20 (95% CI: 1.11–1.29). The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs; discriminatory power) were 0.58 (95% CI: 0.57–0.59), 0.59 (95% CI: 0.56–0.63), and 0.68 (95% CI: 0.66–0.70) for the breast, ovarian, and endometrial models, respectively.
These models predict absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers from easily obtainable risk factors and may assist in clinical decision-making. Limitations are the modest discriminatory ability of the breast and ovarian models and that these models may not generalize to women of other races.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In 2008, just three types of cancer accounted for 10% of global cancer-related deaths. That year, about 460,000 women died from breast cancer (the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women and the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death). Another 140,000 women died from ovarian cancer, and 74,000 died from endometrial (womb) cancer (the 14th and 20th most common causes of cancer-related death, respectively). Although these three cancers originate in different tissues, they nevertheless share many risk factors. For example, current age, age at menarche (first period), and parity (the number of children a woman has had) are all strongly associated with breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer risk. Because these cancers share many hormonal and epidemiological risk factors, a woman with a high breast cancer risk is also likely to have an above-average risk of developing ovarian or endometrial cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several statistical models (for example, the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool) have been developed that estimate a woman's absolute risk (probability) of developing breast cancer over the next few years or over her lifetime. Absolute risk prediction models are useful in the design of cancer prevention trials and can also help women make informed decisions about cancer prevention and treatment options. For example, a woman at high risk of breast cancer might decide to take tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention, but ideally she needs to know her absolute endometrial cancer risk before doing so because tamoxifen increases the risk of this cancer. Similarly, knowledge of her ovarian cancer risk might influence a woman's decision regarding prophylactic removal of her ovaries to reduce her breast cancer risk. There are few absolute risk prediction models for ovarian cancer, and none for endometrial cancer, so here the researchers develop models to predict the risk of these cancers and of breast cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Absolute risk prediction models are constructed by combining estimates for risk factors from cohorts with population-based incidence rates from cancer registries. Models are validated in an independent cohort by testing their ability to identify people with the disease in an independent cohort and their ability to predict the observed numbers of incident cases. The researchers used data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older that were collected during two large prospective US cohort studies of cancer screening and of diet and health, and US cancer incidence and mortality rates provided by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program to build their models. The models all included parity as a risk factor, as well as other factors. The model for endometrial cancer, for example, also included menopausal status, age at menopause, body mass index (an indicator of the amount of body fat), oral contraceptive use, menopausal hormone therapy use, and an interaction term between menopausal hormone therapy use and body mass index. Individual women's risk for endometrial cancer calculated using this model ranged from 1.22% to 17.8% over the next 20 years depending on their exposure to various risk factors. Validation of the models using data from the US Nurses' Health Study indicated that the endometrial cancer model overestimated the risk of endometrial cancer but that the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated—the predicted and observed risks for these cancers in the validation cohort agreed closely. Finally, the discriminatory power of the models (a measure of how well a model separates people who have a disease from people who do not have the disease) was modest for the breast and ovarian cancer models but somewhat better for the endometrial cancer model.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer can all be predicted using information on known risk factors for these cancers that is easily obtainable. Because these models were constructed and validated using data from white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older, they may not accurately predict absolute risk for these cancers for women of other races or ethnicities. Moreover, the modest discriminatory power of the breast and ovarian cancer models means they cannot be used to decide which women should be routinely screened for these cancers. Importantly, however, these well-calibrated models should provide realistic information about an individual's risk of developing breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer that can be used in clinical decision-making and that may assist in the identification of potential participants for research studies.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Lars Holmberg and Andrew Vickers
The US National Cancer Institute provides comprehensive information about cancer (in English and Spanish), including detailed information about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer;
Information on the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, and on the prospective cohort study of screening and the diet and health study that provided the data used to build the models is also available on the NCI site
Cancer Research UK, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about cancer, including detailed information on breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information and personal stories about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer; the not-for-profit organization Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about dealing with breast cancer and ovarian cancer
PMCID: PMC3728034  PMID: 23935463
13.  Age-Specific Incidence of Breast Cancer Subtypes: Understanding the Black–White Crossover 
Background Breast cancer incidence is higher among black women than white women before age 40 years, but higher among white women than black women after age 40 years (black–white crossover). We used newly available population-based data to examine whether the age-specific incidences of breast cancer subtypes vary by race and ethnicity.
Methods We classified 91908 invasive breast cancers diagnosed in California between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2009, by subtype based on tumor expression of estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR)—together referred to as hormone receptor (HR)—and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Breast cancer subtypes were classified as ER or PR positive and HER2 negative (HR+/HER2−), ER or PR positive and HER2 positive (HR+/HER2+), ER and PR negative and HER2 positive (HR−/HER2+), and ER, PR, and HER2 negative (triple-negative). We calculated and compared age-specific incidence rates, incidence rate ratios, and 95% confidence intervals by subtype and race (black, white, Hispanic, and Asian). All P values are two-sided.
Results We did not observe an age-related black–white crossover in incidence for any molecular subtype of breast cancer. Compared with white women, black women had statistically significantly higher rates of triple-negative breast cancer at all ages but statistically significantly lower rates of HR+/HER2− breast cancers after age 35 years (all P < .05). The age-specific incidence of HR+/HER2+ and HR−/HER2+ subtypes did not vary markedly between white and black women.
Conclusions The black–white crossover in breast cancer incidence occurs only when all breast cancer subtypes are combined and relates largely to higher rates of triple-negative breast cancers and lower rates of HR+/HER2− breast cancers in black vs white women.
PMCID: PMC3640371  PMID: 22773826
14.  Bilateral oophorectomy is not associated with increased mortality: the California Teachers Study 
Fertility and sterility  2011;97(1):111-117.
To investigate the effect of surgical menopause due to bilateral oophorectomy on mortality, in light of evidence that bilateral oophorectomy among premenopausal women rapidly reduces endogenous hormone levels thereby modifying risks of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.
The California Teachers Study (CTS) is a prospective cohort study of 133,479 women initiated in 1995–1996 through a mailed, self-administered questionnaire. Relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression.
CTS participants who, at baseline, reported having surgical menopause due to bilateral oophorectomy (n=9,785), were compared to participants with natural menopause (n=32,219).
Main outcome measures
We investigated whether bilateral oophorectomy was associated with all-cause, cardiovascular, or cancer mortality, overall and by menopausal hormone therapy (HT) use status.
Among participants younger than 45 years of age at menopause, multivariable relative risks were 0.86 (95% CI, 0.74–1.00), 0.85 (95% CI, 0.66–1.11) and 0.91 (95% CI, 0.67–1.23) for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality, respectively. Among participants with an age at menopause of 45 years or later, multivariable relative risks were 0.87 (95% CI, 0.80–0.94), 0.83 (95% CI, 0.71–0.96) and 0.84 (95% CI, 0.72–0.98) for all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, respectively. The association between bilateral oophorectomy and mortality did not differ by baseline status of HT use.
Surgical menopause due to bilateral oophorectomy vs. natural menopause does not increase all-cause, cardiovascular, or cancer mortality.
PMCID: PMC3245786  PMID: 22088205
surgical menopause and mortality; bilateral oophorectomy; mortality; California Teachers Study
15.  Body mass index and risk of ovarian cancer 
Cancer  2009;115(4):812-822.
Convincing epidemiologic evidence links excess body mass to increased risks of endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancers but the relation of body mass index (BMI) to ovarian cancer risk remains inconclusive. Potential similarities regarding a hormonal mechanism in the etiology of female cancers highlight the importance of investigating associations according to menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use. However, data addressing whether the relation of BMI to ovarian cancer differs by MHT use are very sparse. We prospectively investigated the association between BMI and ovarian cancer among 94,525 U.S. women, followed from 1996–1997 to December 31, 2003. During 7 years of follow-up, we documented 303 epithelial ovarian cancer cases. As compared with normal weight women (BMI 18.5–24.9 kg/m2), the multivariate relative risk (MVRR) of ovarian cancer for obese women (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) in the cohort as a whole was 1.25 (95%-CI=0.93–1.68). Among women who never used MHT, the MVRR for obese versus normal weight women was 1.80 (95%-CI=1.16–2.80). In contrast, no relation between BMI and ovarian cancer was apparent among women who ever used MHT (MVRR=0.96; 95%-CI=0.64–1.43; P-interaction=0.02). Exploratory analyses also suggested a positive association between BMI and ovarian cancer among women without a family history of ovarian cancer (MVRR comparing obese versus normal weight women=1.36; 95%-CI=0.99–1.85), but no relation with BMI was apparent among women with a positive family history of ovarian cancer (MVRR=0.73; 95%-CI=0.34–1.60; P-interaction=0.02). We suspect that obesity is associated with enhanced ovarian cancer risk through a hormonal mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3507338  PMID: 19127552
16.  Prospective study of physical activity and the risk of ovarian cancer 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2008;20(5):765-773.
Available studies on physical activity and ovarian cancer have produced inconsistent findings, with some previous studies reporting a positive association between vigorous physical activity and ovarian cancer risk.
We prospectively investigated the relations of self-reported moderate and vigorous physical activity to ovarian cancer in a cohort of 96,216 US women aged 51–72 years at baseline, followed from 1996–1997 to 31 December 2003.
During seven years of follow-up, we documented 309 cases of epithelial ovarian carcinoma. In analyses adjusted for age, the relative risks (RRs) of ovarian cancer for individual and joint combinations of moderate and vigorous physical activity such as entirely inactive, neither moderate nor vigorous physical activity, moderate physical activity only, vigorous physical activity only, and both moderate and vigorous physical activity were 0.88, 1.0 (reference), 0.89, 1.05, and 1.08 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.81–1.43, respectively. After multivariate adjustment, the relation was essentially unchanged (RR comparing women with both moderate and vigorous physical activity to those with neither moderate nor vigorous physical activity = 1.10; 95% CI = 0.82–1.48). The null association between physical activity and ovarian cancer persisted in subgroups of women as defined by body mass index, parity, oral contraceptive use, menopausal hormone therapy, family history of ovarian cancer, and other variables (all p values for interaction >0.05).
Neither moderate nor vigorous physical activity showed a statistically significant association with ovarian cancer in this large cohort of women.
PMCID: PMC3434951  PMID: 19116765
Physical activity; Cancer; Prospective study
17.  Oral contraceptives, menopausal hormone therapy use and risk of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the California Teachers Study 
We examined oral contraceptive (OC) and menopausal hormonal therapy (MHT) use in relation to risk of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Women under age 85 years participating in the California Teachers Study with no history of hematopoietic cancer were followed from 1995 through 2007. 516 of 114,131 women eligible for OC use analysis and 402 of 54,758 postmenopausal women eligible for MHT use analysis developed B-cell NHL. Multivariable adjusted and stratified Cox proportional hazards models were fit to estimate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Ever versus never OC use was marginally associated with lower B-cell NHL risk, particularly among women first using OCs before age 25 years (RR=0.72, 95%CI=0.51-0.99); yet, no duration-response effect was observed. No association was observed for ever versus never MHT use among postmenopausal women (RR=1.05, 95%CI=0.83-1.33) overall, or by formulation (estrogen alone, ET, or estrogen plus progestin, EPT). Among women with no MHT use, having bilateral oophorectomy plus hysterectomy was associated with greater B-cell NHL risk than having natural menopause (RR=3.15, 95%CI=1.62-6.13). Bilateral oophorectomy plus hysterectomy was not associated with risk among women who used ET or EPT. These results indicate that exogenous hormone use does not strongly influence B-cell NHL risk.
PMCID: PMC3258672  PMID: 20957632
non-Hodgkin lymphoma; oral contraceptives; menopausal hormonal therapy; hysterectomy; bilateral oophorectomy
18.  Declining Incidence of Contralateral Breast Cancer in the United States From 1975 to 2006 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(12):1564-1569.
Contralateral breast cancer (CBC) is the most frequent new malignancy among women diagnosed with a first breast cancer. Although temporal trends for first breast cancers have been well studied, trends for CBC are not so well established.
Patients and Methods
We examined temporal trends in CBC incidence using US Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database (1975 to 2006). Data were stratified by estrogen receptor (ER) status of the first breast cancer for the available time period (1990+). We estimated the annual percent change (EAPC) in CBC rates using Poisson regression models adjusted for the age at and time since first breast cancer diagnosis.
Before 1985, CBC incidence rates were stable (EAPC, 0.27% per year; 95% CI, −0.4 to 0.9), after which they declined with an EAPC of −3.07% per year (95% CI, −3.5 to −2.7). From 1990 forward, the declines were restricted to CBC after an ER-positive cancer (EAPC, −3.18%; 95% CI, −4.2 to −2.2) with no clear decreases after an ER-negative cancer. Estimated current age-specific CBC rates (per 100/year) after an ER-positive first cancer were: 0.45 for first cancers diagnosed before age 30 years and 0.25 to 0.37 for age 30 years or older. Rates after an ER-negative cancer were higher: 1.26 before age 30 years, 0.85 for age 30 to 35 years, and 0.45 to 0.65 for age 40 or older.
Results show a favorable decrease of 3% per year for CBC incidence in the United States since 1985. This overall trend was driven by declining CBC rates after an ER-positive cancer, possibly because of the widespread usage of adjuvant hormone therapies, after the results of the Nolvadex Adjuvant Trial Organisation were published in 1983, and/or other adjuvant treatments.
PMCID: PMC3082975  PMID: 21402610
19.  Reproductive and hormonal factors and the risk of non-small cell lung cancer 
Although exposure to estrogen may directly influence or modify the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer risk, results from epidemiologic studies examining the association between reproductive and hormonal factors and risk of lung cancer among women have been inconsistent. Between 1998 and 2008, 430 women diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, 316 hospital controls, and 295 population controls were recruited into the multi-center Maryland Lung Cancer Study. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) according to reproductive and hormonal exposures adjusting for age, smoking, passive smoking, education, and household income. Results were similar for hospital and population based controls, so the control groups were combined. Reduced risks of lung cancer were observed among women with greater parity (≥5 vs. 1-2 births: OR=0.50, 95% CI 0.32, 0.78, P-trend=0.002) and later ages at last birth (≥30 vs <25 years old: OR=0.68, 95% CI 0.48, 0.98, P-trend=0.04). After mutual adjustment parity, but not age at last birth, remained significantly inversely associated with risk (P-trend=0.01). No associations were found for non-small cell lung cancer risk with age at menarche, age at first birth, menopausal status, oral contraceptive use, or menopausal hormone use, including use of oral estrogens. Compatible with findings from recent epidemiologic studies, we observed a reduction in the risk of non-small cell lung cancer with increasing number of births. Other reproductive and hormonal exposures, including menopausal hormone therapy use, were not associated with risk.
PMCID: PMC3010247  PMID: 20473922
Lung neoplasms; reproductive factors; menstrual factors; exogenous hormones; case-control study
20.  Hormone-related Risk Factors and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Among Nulliparous Versus Parous Women: An Aggregated Study 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;173(5):509-517.
Nulliparity is an established breast cancer risk factor, particularly when compared with parity at young ages. The authors aggregated data from 4 US prospective studies (1979–2006) including 32,641 nulliparous (1,612 breast cancers) and 204,270 parous (8,180 breast cancers) women to examine the hypothesis that nulliparity may increase susceptibility to established postmenopausal breast cancer risk factors. The aggregated hazard ratio for nulliparous versus all parous women = 1.27 (95% confidence interval: 1.21, 1.34), and that for nulliparous versus women <25 years of age at first birth = 1.38 (95% confidence interval: 1.30, 1.46). Among nulliparous women, the hazard ratios for current menopausal hormone therapy use (vs. never use), body mass index ≥30 kg/m2 (vs. <25 kg/m2), and weekly consumption of ≥7 alcoholic drinks (vs. none) ranged from 1.3 to 1.6. The hazard ratios did not differ by parity. In a model including all women, the joint association for each of these factors and nulliparity combined compared with first birth before age 25 years was an approximately 2-fold increased breast cancer risk. Although the baseline risk is higher for nulliparous women compared with parous women, these results suggest that the associations between hormone-related factors and breast cancer do not differ by parity.
PMCID: PMC3105439  PMID: 21266505
alcohol drinking; body mass index; breast neoplasms; hormone replacement therapy; parity; prospective studies; risk factors
Results from studies examining the association between hormone therapy (HT) and lung cancer risk disagree.
We examined the associations between HT use and lung cancer risk among 60,592 postmenopausal women enrolled in the prospective California Teachers Study cohort. Between 1995 and 2007, 727 women were diagnosed with lung cancer. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models were fit using age as the time metric.
No measure of HT use was associated with lung cancer risk (all p-values for trend≥0.4). In addition, no variations in risk by smoking status (never, ever, former, current), type of HT (E-alone, E+P use), type of menopause, or lung cancer histology were observed.
Our findings do not support an association between HT and lung cancer.
This large-scale, prospective study, which capitalizes on the detailed hormone use, smoking history, and type of menopause information available within this unique cohort, was unable to find any association between intake of HT and lung cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3065239  PMID: 21266521
22.  Endometrial cancer and genetic variation in PTEN, PIK3CA, AKT1, MLH1, and MSH2 within a population-based case-control study 
Gynecologic oncology  2010;120(2):167-173.
We assessed whether common genetic variation in PTEN, PIK3CA, AKT1, MLH1, and MSH2—genes that reportedly are frequently altered in endometrial cancer—was associated with risk of endometrial cancer.
Using data from a population-based case-control study in Poland (PECS) of 417 cases and 407 matched controls, we genotyped 76 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs; located in or within 10kb upstream or 5kb downstream of the gene of interest, minor allele frequency>=5% among various ethnic groups, and not already represented by another tagSNP at a LD of r2>=0.80) on an Illumina Custom Infinium iSelect assay that included over 29,000 SNPs in 1316 genes. For individual SNPs, we used unconditional logistic regression models, adjusted for age and site, to generate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). To replicate the one statistically significant association in PECS, we independently genotyped that tagSNP among 1141 endometrial cancer cases and 2275 controls from the SEARCH study in the UK. We assessed haplotypes via extended haplotype blocks and the sequential haplotype scan method.
The rs2677764 tagSNP in PIK3CA was statistically significantly associated with endometrial cancer in PECS (OR=1.42, 95% CI, 1.03–1.95; P=0.03) but not SEARCH (OR=0.98, 95% CI=0.82–1.17). Of the 25 haplotypes observed in at least 5% of cases and controls in PECS, only 1, in PIK3CA, was statistically significantly associated with endometrial cancer (OR=1.39, 95% CI, 1.00–1.93). All haplotype global p-values were null.
Common genetic variation in PTEN, PIK3CA, AKT1, MLH1, or MSH2 was not statistically significantly associated with endometrial cancer.
PMCID: PMC3073848  PMID: 21093899
SNPs; uterine cancer; epidemiology; haplotypes
23.  Do adipokines underlie the association between known risk factors and breast cancer among a cohort of U.S. women? 
Cancer epidemiology  2010;34(5):580-586.
Obesity is a well-established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer, but mechanisms underlying the association are unclear. Adipocyte-derived, cytokine-like adipokines have been suggested as contributory factors. To evaluate their association with breast cancer risk factors and breast cancer risk, we conducted a nested case-control study of 234 postmenopausal breast cancer cases and 234 controls in a cohort of U.S. women with prospectively-collected serum samples obtained in the mid 1970’s and followed for up to 25 years. Adiponectin, absolute plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (aPAI-1), and resistin were measured by a multiplex immunoassay. Sex hormones were available for 67 cases and 67 controls. Among controls, we found that lower levels of adiponectin and higher levels of aPAI-1 were correlated with increasing levels of estradiol (Spearman r=−0.26, p-value=0.033; r=0.42, p=0.0003), decreasing levels of sex hormone binding globulin (r=0.38, p=0.0013; r=−0.32, p=0.0076), and increasing body mass index (BMI) (r=−0.31, p=<0.0001; r=0.39, p=<0.0001). Hormones were not associated with resistin. Among the relatively small percentage of women using postmenopausal hormones at the time of blood collection (13.7%), aPAI-1 levels were higher than in nonusers (p=0.0054). Breast cancer risk was not associated with circulating levels of adiponectin (age-adjusted p for linear trend=0.43), aPAI-1 (p=0.78), or resistin (p=0.91). The association was not confounded by BMI, parity, age at first full-term birth, age at menopause, current postmenopausal hormone use, and circulating sex steroid hormones. Furthermore, adipokine associations were not modified by BMI (p>0.05). The lack of association with risk may be due to measurement error of the laboratory assays. In conclusion, lower levels of adiponectin and higher levels of aPAI-1 measured in prospectively-collected serum from postmenopausal women were associated with increasing BMI but not breast cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC2949443  PMID: 20579950
24.  Effect of Changing Breast Cancer Incidence Rates on the Calibration of the Gail Model 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(14):2411-2417.
The Gail model combines relative risks (RRs) for five breast cancer risk factors with age-specific breast cancer incidence rates and competing mortality rates from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program from 1983 to 1987 to predict risk of invasive breast cancer over a given time period. Motivated by changes in breast cancer incidence during the 1990s, we evaluated the model's calibration in two recent cohorts.
We included white, postmenopausal women from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) –AARP Diet and Health Study (NIH-AARP, 1995 to 2003), and the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO, 1993 to 2006). Calibration was assessed by comparing the number of breast cancers expected from the Gail model with that observed. We then evaluated calibration by using an updated model that combined Gail model RRs with 1995 to 2003 SEER invasive breast cancer incidence rates.
Overall, the Gail model significantly underpredicted the number of invasive breast cancers in NIH-AARP, with an expected-to-observed ratio of 0.87 (95% CI, 0.85 to 0.89), and in PLCO, with an expected-to-observed ratio of 0.86 (95% CI, 0.82 to 0.90). The updated model was well-calibrated overall, with an expected-to-observed ratio of 1.03 (95% CI, 1.00 to 1.05) in NIH-AARP and an expected-to-observed ratio of 1.01 (95% CI: 0.97 to 1.06) in PLCO. Of women age 50 to 55 years at baseline, 13% to 14% had a projected Gail model 5-year risk lower than the recommended threshold of 1.66% for use of tamoxifen or raloxifene but ≥ 1.66% when using the updated model. The Gail model was well calibrated in PLCO when the prediction period was restricted to 2003 to 2006.
This study highlights that model calibration is important to ensure the usefulness of risk prediction models for clinical decision making.
PMCID: PMC2881722  PMID: 20368565
25.  Common genetic variation in the sex hormone metabolic pathway and endometrial cancer risk: pathway-based evaluation of candidate genes 
Carcinogenesis  2010;31(5):827-833.
Background. Estrogen plays a major role in endometrial carcinogenesis, suggesting that common variants of genes in the sex hormone metabolic pathway may be related to endometrial cancer risk. In support of this view, variants in CYP19A1 [cytochrome P450 (CYP), family 19, subfamily A, polypeptide 1] have been associated with both circulating estrogen levels and endometrial cancer risk. Associations with variants in other genes have been suggested, but findings have been inconsistent. Methods. We examined 36 sex hormone-related genes using a tagging approach in a population-based case–control study of 417 endometrial cancer cases and 407 controls conducted in Poland. We evaluated common variation in these genes in relation to endometrial cancer risk using sequential haplotype scan, variable-sized sliding window and adaptive rank-truncated product (ARTP) methods. Results. In our case–control study, the strongest association with endometrial cancer risk was for AR (androgen receptor; ARTP P = 0.006). Multilocus analyses also identified boundaries for a region of interest in AR and in CYP19A1 around a previously identified susceptibility loci. We did not find evidence for consistent associations between previously reported candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms in this pathway and endometrial cancer risk. Discussion. In summary, we identified regions in AR and CYP19A1 that are of interest for further evaluation in relation to endometrial cancer risk in future haplotype and subsequent fine mapping studies in larger study populations.
PMCID: PMC2864407  PMID: 20053928

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