Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 303–309 | Cite as

Type 2 diabetes and mammographic breast density among underserved women

  • Maureen Sanderson
  • Heather O’Hara
  • Nia Foderingham
  • William D. Dupont
  • Xiao-Ou Shu
  • Neeraja Peterson
  • Alecia M. Fair
  • Anthony C. Disher
Brief report



We conducted a study of women recruited at Meharry Medical College, a historically black medical school, to investigate the relationship between diabetes and mammographic breast density.


A total of 476 women completed in-person interviews, body measurements, and full-field digital mammograms on a Hologic mammography unit from December 2011 to February 2014. Average percent breast density for the left and right breasts combined was estimated using Quantra, an automated algorithm for volumetric assessment of breast tissue. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes was determined by self-report.


After adjustment for confounding variables, the mean percent breast density among premenopausal women with type 2 diabetes [\(\hat{\mu }\) 13.8 %, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 11.6–15.9] was nonsignificantly lower than that of women without type 2 diabetes (\(\hat{\mu }\) 15.9 %, 95 % CI 15.0–16.8) (p = 0.07); however, there was no association among postmenopausal women. The effect of type 2 diabetes in severely obese women (BMI ≥ 35) appeared to differ by menopausal status with a reduction in mean percent breast density in premenopausal women, but an increase in mean percent breast density in postmenopausal women which could have been due to chance.


Confirmation of our findings in larger studies may assist in clarifying the role of the insulin signaling breast cancer pathway in women with high breast density.


Mammographic breast density Type 2 diabetes Cross-sectional study Underserved 



This research was supported in part by Grant No. W81XWH 10 1 0993 from the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. The c-peptide assay was conducted in the Endocrine Core Laboratory of Meharry Medical College, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health via the Grant Nos. P20RR011792 and U54RR019192. The authors wish to thank the subjects and study staff (Mary Kay Fadden, Raquel Mack, Cynthia Harris, Jacqueline Favours, Asia Jones, Tierra Dennis, Melanie Velazquez, Lauren Cooper, Saima Faisal, Whitney Lovett, Helen Howse Cunningham, Merlicia Harden, Veronica Johnson, Kimberly Vaughn, Mechelle Tuck, and Nancy Harker) for their invaluable assistance with the project.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maureen Sanderson
    • 1
  • Heather O’Hara
    • 1
  • Nia Foderingham
    • 1
  • William D. Dupont
    • 2
  • Xiao-Ou Shu
    • 2
  • Neeraja Peterson
    • 2
  • Alecia M. Fair
    • 2
  • Anthony C. Disher
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineMeharry Medical CollegeNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Vanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyMeharry Medical CollegeNashvilleUSA

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