Women who have experienced preeclampsia and other pregnancy-related complications may have a lower breast cancer risk than other women, according to a report in the May 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Mary Beth Terry, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues compared information obtained from a 1996-1997 Long Island study of 1,310 breast cancer patients with data on 1,385 controls. All the women had borne children.
The researchers found that women with preeclampsia had a lower breast cancer risk than others (odds ratio 0.7).
The risk was lower for women who had repeat episodes of preeclampsia (OR, 0.3). Postmenopausal women who had preeclampsia during a pregnancy had a lower breast cancer risk than premenopausal women. Women who had hypertension during pregnancy had a lower breast cancer risk as well, but the finding was not statistically significant.
“These data suggest that pregnancy conditions related to hypertension, particularly preeclampsia, play a role in reducing breast cancer risk,” the authors write. “Possible biologic mechanisms underpinning these associations should be further explored.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Guidelines for women’s health care. Washington, DC: ACOG; 1996:104.
Burstein HJ, Winer EP. Primary care for survivors of breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 2000;343:1086-1094.
Fisher B, Constantino J, Redmond C, et al. A randomized clinical trial evaluating tamoxifen in the treatment of patients with node-negative breast cancer who have estrogen-receptor-positive tumors. N Engl J Med. 1989;320:479-484.
Fisher B, Constantino JP, Redmond CK, et al. Endometrial cancer in tamoxifen-treated breast cancer patients: Findings from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) B-14. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1994;86:527-537.