Ethnic variations in mammographic density: a British multiethnic longitudinal study

Valerie A. McCormack, Nicholas Perry, Sarah J. Vinnicombe, Isabel dos Santos Silva

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    54 Citations (Scopus)


    It is not known whether the 20-30% lower breast cancer incidence rates in first-generation South Asian and Afro-Caribbean women relative to Caucasian women in the United Kingdom are reflected in mammographic density. The authors conducted a United Kingdom population-based multiethnic study of mammographic density at ages 50-64 years in 645 women. Data on breast cancer risk factors were obtained using a questionnaire/telephone interview. Threshold percent density was assessed on 5,277 digitized mammograms taken in 1995-2004 and was analyzed using multilevel models. Both ethnic minorities were characterized by more protective breast cancer risk factor distributions than Caucasians, such as later menarche, shorter stature, higher parity, earlier age at first birth, and less use of hormone therapy, but they had a higher mean body mass index; the last four factors were associated with lower mammographic density. Age-adjusted percent mammographic densities in Afro-Caribbeans and South Asians were 5.6% (95% confidence interval (CI): 3.5, 7.5) and 5.9% (95% CI: 3.6, 8.0) lower, respectively, than in Caucasians. Lower densities were partly attributed to higher body mass index, less use of hormone therapy, and a protective reproductive history, but these factors did not account entirely for ethnic differences, since fully adjusted mean densities were 1.3% (95% CI: -1.3, 3.7) and 3.8% (95% CI: 1.1, 6.3) lower, respectively. Ethnic differences in mammographic density are consistent with those for breast cancer risk.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)412-421
    Number of pages10
    JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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