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Ethnic Variations in Hormone Levels May Cause Differences in Breast Cancer Risk

y higher post-menopausal hormone levels.

“It is known that before menopause, African-American women have a higher breast cancer risk than whites, as well as higher estrogen levels,” Setiawan says. “It would be interesting to find out why their elevated rates do not persist after menopause, despite having comparatively higher estrogen levels.”

The researchers analyzed the hormone levels in 739 postmenopausal women in the cohort who were not on hormone replacement therapy. After adjusting the hormone levels for age, body mass index, and other lifestyle factors, they then compared the levels to their ethnic/racial groups’ breast cancer incidences. The study is the largest analysis of hormone levels by ethnic group, and the first large study of native Hawaiians and Latinas.

“Clearly, more work is needed to identify factors that contribute to racial and ethnic differences in hormone levels,” Setiawan says.

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