Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 659–669 | Cite as

Abuse victimization and risk of breast cancer in the Black Women’s Health Study

Abuse and breast cancer risk in black women
  • Lauren A. Wise
  • Julie R. Palmer
  • Deborah A. Boggs
  • Lucile L. Adams-Campbell
  • Lynn Rosenberg
Original paper


Few studies have examined the relation between abuse victimization and breast cancer, and results have been inconclusive. Using data from 35,728 participants in the Black Women’s Health Study, we conducted multivariable Cox regression to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association of abuse across the life span (childhood, adolescence, and adulthood) with breast cancer. Incident breast cancer diagnoses were reported during 1995–2009, and abuse histories were reported in 2005. No associations were found between abuse victimization in either childhood or adolescence and breast cancer. We found a weak positive association between abuse in adulthood and breast cancer (IRR = 1.18, 95% CI = 1.03–1.34). IRRs for physical abuse only, sexual abuse only, and both physical and sexual abuse in adulthood, relative to no abuse, were 1.28 (95% CI = 1.09–1.49), 0.96 (95% CI = 0.76–1.20), and 1.22 (95% CI = 1.00–1.49), respectively. IRRs for low, intermediate, and high frequencies of physical abuse in adulthood, relative to no abuse, were 1.28 (95% CI = 1.07–1.52), 1.37 (95% CI = 1.04–1.79), and 1.24 (95% CI = 0.95–1.62), respectively. Our data suggest an increased risk of breast cancer among African-American women who reported physical abuse in adulthood, but there was little evidence of a dose–response relation. These results require confirmation in other studies.


Breast cancer Violence African-American Females Risk factors 



We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of BWHS participants and staff. We also wish to thank to Emily F. Rothman, Sc.D., for providing feedback on the violence instrument used in our cohort. This work was supported by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health [CA058420]. Data on breast cancer cases were obtained from several state cancer registries (AZ, CA, CO, DE, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, NC, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA) and results do not necessarily represent their views.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren A. Wise
    • 1
  • Julie R. Palmer
    • 1
  • Deborah A. Boggs
    • 1
  • Lucile L. Adams-Campbell
    • 2
  • Lynn Rosenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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