Age-specific differences in the relationship between oral contraceptive use and breast cancer.
Wingo PA., Lee NC., Ory HW., Beral V., Peterson HB., Rhodes P.
BACKGROUND: Nearly all studies have suggested that the use of oral contraceptives (OC) is not associated with the aggregate risk of breast cancer diagnosed in women aged 20-54 years. Because of age-specific differences in the breast cancer-parity relationship and because of age-specific differences in other breast cancer risk factors, the Centers for Disease Control reexamined data from the Cancer and Steroid Hormone Study (CASH) to assess whether OC use has different effects on the risk of breast cancer at different ages of diagnosis. METHODS: This population-based case-control study was designed to examine the relationship between the use of OC and the risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer. CASH was conducted in eight geographic areas in the United States during 1980-1982. All participants were interviewed at home with a pretested standardized questionnaire including a calendar of life events and a photograph book of all pills marketed in the United States. RESULTS: We found that the relationship between the risk of breast cancer and OC use appeared to vary by the age at diagnosis. Among women aged 20-34 years at diagnosis or interview, those who had ever used OC had a slightly increased risk of breast cancer (odds ratio [OR], 1.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0-2.1) compared with women of the same ages who had never used OC. Among these women, there were no trends of increasing or decreasing risk with any measure of OC use. Among women aged 35-44 years, there was no association between OC use and breast cancer. Among women aged 45-54 years, those who used OC had a slightly decreased risk of breast cancer (OR, 0.9; 95% CI, 0.8-1.0). Among these women, risk estimates decreased significantly with increasing time since first and last use. CONCLUSIONS: Although the slightly increased risk estimates for the youngest women were compatible with findings by other investigators, the decreased risk estimates for the oldest women have not been described in as many studies. Available data provide no reasons to change prescribing practices or the use of OC that are related to the breast cancer risk.