Epidemiology of Breast Cancer in Women

  • Steven S. Coughlin
  • Yasmin Cypel


Epidemiologic studies have contributed importantly to current knowledge of environmental and genetic risk factors for breast cancer. Worldwide, breast cancer is an important cause of human suffering and premature mortality among women. In the United States, breast cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women than any site other than lung cancer. A variety of risk factors for breast cancer have been well-established by epidemiologic studies including race, ethnicity, family history of cancer, and genetic traits, as well as modifiable exposures such as increased alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, exogenous hormones, and certain female reproductive factors. Younger age at menarche, parity, and older age at first full-term pregnancy may influence breast cancer risk through long-term effects on sex hormone levels or by other biological mechanisms. Recent studies have suggested that triple negative breast cancers may have a distinct etiology. Genetic variants and mutations in genes that code for proteins having a role in DNA repair pathways and the homologous recombination of DNA double stranded breaks (BRCA1, BRCA2, XRCC2, XRCC3, ATM, CHEK2, PALB2, RAD51), have been implicated in some cases of breast cancer.


Incidence International trends Risk factors Anthropometric factors Mammographic breast density Ionizing radiation exposure Environmental exposures Genetic factors Gene mutations Genetic polymorphisms Family history Race 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Epidemiology Program, Office of Public HealthDepartment of Veterans AffairsWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyRollins School of Public Health, Emory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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