Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Breast Cancer Risk Differs Among Ethnic Groups

Study Shows Differences in Risk Factors for White Women and Hispanic Women
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 26, 2010 -- Factors that increase the risk of breast cancer for white women have less influence among women of Hispanic ethnicity, a new study shows.

The finding comes from an analysis of population-based data on about 4,800 white and Hispanic women enrolled in a research project called the 4-Corners Breast Cancer Study.

Known risk factors for breast cancer include reproductive history, family history of breast cancer, menstrual history, hormone use, alcohol consumption, physical activity, height, and body mass index.

Researchers found that:

  • 62% to 75% of breast cancer cases among white women were attributed to known breast cancer risk factors, compared with only 7% to 36% of cases among Hispanic women.
  • Hispanic women were more likely to have characteristics associated with lower breast cancer risk, such as earlier age at first childbirth, having more children, shorter height, less hormone use, and less alcohol consumption.
  • Among premenopausal women, taller height and family history of breast cancer were associated with increased risk in white women, but not among Hispanic women.
  • Among postmenopausal women, certain breast cancer risk factors in whites, such as recent hormone therapy and younger age at the first occurrence of menstruation, had no or little association with breast cancer in Hispanics.

The researchers say the findings suggest that many of the risk factors studied up to now explain fewer of the breast cancer cases that arise in Hispanic women compared with white women.

"These differences are likely to contribute to disparities in breast cancer incidence rates and could potentially reflect differences in breast cancer development among these ethnic groups," study researcher Lisa Hines, ScD, of the University of Colorado, says in a news release.

Ethnic differences in genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors may affect the susceptibility of women to the development of breast cancer.

Estimating Breast Cancer Risk

The researchers also conclude that the study's findings indicate that the use of models to estimate a woman's risk of breast cancer, developed from previous research involving non-Hispanic white populations, needs to be evaluated among other ethnic and racial populations.

Hines says that it is not fully understood why breast cancer occurs more frequently in certain ethnic and racial groups, but that previous studies have shown that white women have a higher incidence of breast cancer than Hispanic women.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow