Stem Cells, Hormones, and Mammary Cancer

  • Gilbert H. Smith
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 617)

The incidence of breast cancer (BC) is influenced by age, genetics, ethnicity, diet, socioeconomic status, and reproductive history. The latter is the strongest and most reliable risk factor besides age and genetic susceptibility (1). Reproductive factors have been associated with risk for BC since the seventeenth century, when the disease was noted to be more prevalent among Catholic nuns. It is now a well-established fact that a full-term pregnancy early in life is associated with a long-term risk reduction for developing BC. A woman who has her first child after the age of 35 has approximately twice the risk of developing BC as a woman who has a child before age 20 (see current NCI Cancer Fact Sheet on Pregnancy and BC Risk). Despite this long-term reduction in BC risk in parous women, epidemiologists agreed at a recent NCI-sponsored workshop on “Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer” ( that each gestation increases temporarily the likelihood for developing BC (2). This transient increase in BC risk lasts for a few years after a full-term pregnancy.


Breast Cancer Breast Cancer Risk Mouse Mammary Tumor Virus Mammary Tumorigenesis Somatic Stem Cell 
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© Springer 2008

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  • Gilbert H. Smith

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