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National Cancer Institute Boards Accept Scientific Workshop Findings on Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer

  • Posted: March 4, 2003

On March 3, 2003, the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Board of Scientific Advisors and Board of Scientific Counselors reviewed and unanimously accepted the findings of an "Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop." The workshop, convened by NCI, brought together a cross-section of experts to discuss available scientific data on reproductive events in a woman's life that may impact her subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.

Some of the population-based findings in the report that were presented as supported by evidence that was well-established were:

  • Early age at first full-term birth is related to lifetime decrease in breast cancer risk.
  • Increasing parity (number of live births) is associated with a long-term risk reduction, even when controlling for age at first birth.
  • The additional long-term protective effect of young age at subsequent term pregnancies is not as strong as for the first term pregnancy.
  • A nulliparous woman (someone who has never given birth to a live infant) has approximately the same risk as a woman with a first term birth around age 30.
  • Breast cancer risk is transiently increased after a term pregnancy.
  • Long duration of lactation provides a small additional reduction in breast cancer risk after consideration of age at and number of term pregnancies.
  • Induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.
  • Recognized spontaneous abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.

The findings have now been presented to NCI Director Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D. NCI is also making the report findings available for public comment on its Web site. In addition, NCI is drawing upon these updated findings to develop a fact sheet on breast cancer and early reproductive events that will be posted on the NCI Web site in the near future.

The workshop provided a unique opportunity for leading epidemiologists, clinical researchers and basic scientists to share their findings about the relationships that exist between early reproductive events and breast cancer. It also allowed the different disciplines to learn from one another's methodologies in studying the disease. The scientific review generated by the Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop gives the NCI a potential roadmap for future research.

For information on this workshop, other Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer related materials, and to provide public comment, please go to: