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Multiple childbirth linked to increased risk of rare, aggressive 'triple-negative' breast cancer
Date:2/24/2011

full-term pregnancy contributes to an increased risk of triple-negative breast cancer and a decreased risk of other forms of the disease are not clear," Phipps said. "We do know that the hormones of pregnancy induce certain changes in the cellular structure of the breast. Overall, those changes seem to make the breast less susceptible to cancer. It is possible, however, that the increased risk of triple-negative breast cancer we found in women who had given birth may be due to some abnormal response of their breast tissue to the hormones of pregnancy. Another possibility is that pregnancy somehow makes the breast more susceptible to certain carcinogens even while reducing breast cancer risk overall," she said.

For the study, which was based on data from the Women's Health Initiative, Phipps and colleagues analyzed the detailed reproductive histories of some 150,000 postmenopausal women, more than 300 of whom went on to develop triple-negative breast cancer. "This particular study is significant because it is one of the largest studies ever conducted on the impact of reproductive history on triple-negative breast cancer," Phipps said.

Triple-negative breast cancer, which refers to any breast cancer that does not express the genes for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) or Her2/neu, accounts for only 10 percent to 20 percent of all breast cancers, and only in the past decade have researchers become aware that this cancer subtype exists. "This research reinforces the notion that breast cancer is not just one disease," Phipps said.

"The mechanisms that lead to triple-negative breast cancer are likely different from those that lead to other forms of the disease. We still have a lot to learn about what causes this more aggressive form of breast cancer, but we hope that research like this will help us develop better tools to identify those women at greatest risk."

It is known that this cancer subtype is more predominant in Afr
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Contact: Kristen Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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