Oral contraceptives and premenopausal breast cancer in nulliparous women

Bruce V. Stadel, Lai Shenghan, James J. Schlesselman, Pamela Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Characteristics of women with potential for modifying the relationship between use of oral contraceptives (OCs) and the risk of premenopausal breast cancer were investigated using data from the Cancer and Steroid Hormone study, a populationdashbased, case-control study conducted in eight geographic areas of the United States. Cases consisted of 2945 women who were premenopausal and 20-54 years of age when breast cancer was diagnosed between December 1, 1980, and December 31, 1982; controls consisted of 2646 women with no history of breast cancer who were also premenopausal and 20-54 years of age when selected during the same period. Results are presented with the cases and controls divided into eight groups on the basis of age at diagnosis on selection (20-44, 45-54), parity (0, ≥1), and age at menarche (<13, ≥13). Among nulliparous women who experienced menarche before age 13, the relative risk of developing breast cancer in the age interval 20-44 years is estimated to be 1.0 for never-users of OCs (reference), 1.3 for 0>2-3 years of use (95% confidence intervals 0.7-2.4), 1.3 for 4-7 years (95% CI 0.7-2.6), 2.7 for 8-11 years (95% CI 1.2-6.3), and 11.8 for 12 years or longer (95% CI 1.4-95.7). OC use is not significantly related to the risk of breast cancer among women in any of the other seven groups. These findings suggest that prolonged OC use may accelerate the onset of breast cancer for a small group of susceptible women while having no appreciable impact on overall risk. The findings should be regarded as tentative, however, since they are based upon numerous comparisons and because age of menarche was stratified at 13 years to highlight the concentration of breast cancer risk apparent in our data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-299
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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