Body mass index and breast cancer risk in African American women

Kangmin Zhu*, Joanne Caulfield, Sandra Hunter, Chanel L. Roland, Kathleen Payne-Wilks, Lindsay Texter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Studies of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and breast cancer in African American women have been few. We conducted a case-control study to examine whether BMI is associated with risk of breast cancer in this population. Cases were 304 women diagnosed with breast cancer at the ages of 20 to 64 years. Controls were 305 women without a history of breast cancer. Telephone interviews were conducted to collect data on history of exposure to various factors at or before the date of diagnosis in cases or equivalent date in controls (reference date). Using logistic regression, we compared cases and controls in BMI at age 18, BMI at the reference date, and change in BMI between the two dates. Using BMI at reference date, we found an odds ratio (OR) of 1.75 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02-3.02) and 2.32 (95% CI, 1.33-4.03) for women with BMI of 25 to 29.9 and 30 or higher, respectively, compared with women having BMI lower than 25. The corresponding OR estimates for BMI at age 18 were not significantly different from the unity. The average annual change in BMI between age 18 and date of diagnosis or reference date was associated with breast cancer risk, as shown that more BMI change tended to increase breast cancer risk compared with the baseline quartile of change. When data were analyzed by menopausal status, the association was found for both post-menopausal and pre-menopausal tumors for BMI at reference date but not for BMI at age 18. There was a higher risk for more annual BMI change compared with the baseline for both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women. Our results suggest that BMI at reference date and change in BMI were associated with increased risk of breast cancer in African American women, and the association might be found for both post-menopausal and pre-menopausal tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • Breast Cancer
  • Case-Control Study
  • Epidemiology


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