Adiposity, adult weight gain and mammographic breast density in US Chinese women

Marilyn Tseng*, Celia Byrne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The association of adiposity with dense tissue area in the breast is unclear, but suggests a mechanism by which adiposity might increase breast cancer risk. We examined associations of body mass index (BMI), usual BMI from age 20 to 29, waist circumference and adult weight gain with breast density in a sample of premenopausal United States Chinese immigrant women. Analyses included 415 participants in a longitudinal breast density study in Philadelphia. In addition to detailed questionnaire information, data collection included measures of anthropometry, and assessment of mammographic breast density using a computer-assisted method. We used multivariate linear regression to quantify cross-sectional associations with dense and nondense tissue area and percent breast density assessed at baseline. In adjusted models, BMI and waist circumference were significantly positively associated with nondense tissue area and inversely associated with percent density. BMI was also significantly positively associated with dense tissue area. Adult weight gain was associated with dense tissue area after adjusting for weight from age 20 to 29. In stratified analyses, BMI and adult weight gain were significantly associated with dense tissue area among women with BMI < 23 kg/m2, and BMI was associated with nondense tissue area among women with BMI ≥ 23 kg/m2. In this sample, adiposity and weight gain were associated with dense breast tissue area, although associations differed by level of adiposity. Given the potential implications of these findings for breast cancer prevention in premenopausal women, comparable studies in other population groups and with longitudinal data are needed. Reasons for the noted differences in associations by level of adiposity also warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-425
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian American
  • adiposity
  • mammographic density
  • weight gain


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