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Population Differences in Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Posted Jan 11 2010 12:00am 1 Comment
Breast cancer rates vary widely between countries and the reasons for these differences have been a subject of interest for years.  A new breast cancer risk factor study from Canada explored differences in breast cancer risk factors between Canadian Caucasian women and Chinese-Canadian women.  In this new breast cancer risk study, which is free to download from the journal Breast Cancer Research, information on breast cancer risk factors and dietary habits were collected by telephone interviews. Some of the differences observed are outlined below.

Reproduction Risk Factors:
  • Recent Chinese migrants had a later age of puberty than Caucasian women
  • Fewer recent Chinese immigrants (~41%) reported ever using oral contraceptives compared to Caucasian women (86%).
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy was lower in recent Chinese migrants (28%) than in Caucasian women (47%).
Body Characteristic Risk Factors:
  • Recent Chinese migrants weighed less than Caucasian women.
  • Recent Chinese migrant women had a lower BMI compared to Caucasian women (BMI = 22.7 [healthy range] in Chinese women and BMI = 26.4 in Caucasian women [overweight range]).
  • As a result, Caucasian women had larger waist and hip sizes compared to recent Chinese immigrant women.
Other Breast Cancer Risk Factors:
  • A higher percentage of Caucasian women (50 - 60%) consumed alcohol at least once per month compared to recent Chinese migrant women (1 - 3%).
  • Caucasian women reported a higher rate of smoking (11 - 47%) compared to recent Chinese immigrants (0.5 - 2%).
Dietary Habits:
  • Recent Chinese immigrant women consumed more tofu, traditionally preserved vegetables, and Chinese style breakfasts and avoided cold foods and drinks compared to Caucasian women.
  • Compared to the recent Chinese migrant women, a higher percentage of Caucasian women consumed carbonated beverages, ground beef, pizza, cheese, desserts (cakes, pies, cookies), and fast food.
The overall results of this study showed that breast cancer risk factors were typically greatest in Caucasians, lowest in recent migrants, and intermediate in Chinese women born in the West or who had moved to the West before the age of 21 years.  This is interesting population-based research that confirms results of earlier studies on breast cancer risk factors and helps increase the awareness of these breast cancer risk factors.  Studies have reported that breast cancer rates are higher in the West compared to China and differences is such things as dietary habits, alcohol consumption, hormone use, and body weight appear to be an important component of this difference.

To learn more about many of these risk factors and the changes you can make to reduce your own personal breast cancer risk, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer (
Comments (1)
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It's purely because of dietary habit. People change their food habits after migrating from their own country except few.
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