Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 405–414 | Cite as

Lifetime number of ovulatory cycles and epithelial ovarian cancer risk in African American women

  • Lauren C. PeresEmail author
  • Patricia G. Moorman
  • Anthony J. Alberg
  • Elisa V. Bandera
  • Jill Barnholtz-Sloan
  • Melissa Bondy
  • Michele L. Cote
  • Ellen Funkhouser
  • Edward S. Peters
  • Ann G. Schwartz
  • Paul D. Terry
  • Sarah E. Abbott
  • Fabian Camacho
  • Frances Wang
  • Joellen M. Schildkraut
Original paper



Incessant ovulation has been consistently linked to epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). Although reproductive characteristics differ substantially by race, the association between incessant ovulation and EOC has been evaluated only in populations of predominantly white women. In the present study, we examined the association between lifetime number of ovulatory cycles (LOCs) and EOC risk among African American (AA) women.


We used data from 534 cases and 722 controls enrolled in the African American Cancer Epidemiology Study. LOCs were determined using the standard method, with modifications to include episodes of irregular or missed periods. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between LOCs and EOC risk overall and by age, while adjusting for appropriate confounders.


The mean number of LOCs was 378.2 ± 105.8 for cases and 346.4 ± 117.3 for controls. Women in the highest tertile of LOCs had 59% higher odds of EOC compared to women in the lowest tertile (OR = 1.59; 95% CI = 1.15–2.20). When examining this relationship by age, the positive association with EOC was stronger among women <50 years of age (OR for highest vs. lowest tertile = 2.61; 95% CI = 1.15–5.94), followed by women aged 50–60 years (OR = 2.27; 95% CI = 1.30–3.94). Yet, no association was present among women aged >60 years (OR = 0.79; 95% CI = 0.45–1.40).


In a population of AA women, we observed a positive association between LOCs and EOC risk, providing further support for the hypothesis that incessant ovulation contributes to the etiology of EOC.


Ovulation Ovarian cancer African American women Lifetime ovulatory cycles 



This study was supported by the National Cancer Institute (R01CA142081). Additional support was provided by the Metropolitan Detroit Cancer Surveillance System with funding from the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services (Contract HHSN261201000028C), and the Epidemiology Research Core, supported in part by the National Cancer Institute (P30CA22453) to the Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine. The New Jersey State Cancer Registry, Cancer Epidemiology Services, New Jersey Department of Health, is funded by the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute under contract HHSN261201300021I, the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under grant 5U58DP003931-02 as well as the State of New Jersey and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The authors are grateful for the AACES interviewers, Christine Bard, LaTonda Briggs, Whitney Franz (North Carolina) and Robin Gold (Detroit). We would also like to acknowledge the individuals responsible for facilitating case ascertainment across the ten sites including: Jennifer Burczyk-Brown (Alabama); Rana Bayakly, Vicki Bennett and Judy Andrews (Georgia); the Louisiana Tumor Registry; Lisa Paddock, Natalia Herman and Manisha Narang (New Jersey); Diana Slone, Yingli Wolinsky, Steven Waggoner, Anne Heugel, Nancy Fusco, Kelly Ferguson, Peter Rose, Deb Strater, Taryn Ferber, Donna White, Lynn Borzi, Eric Jenison, Nairmeen Haller, Debbie Thomas, Vivian von Gruenigen, Michele McCarroll, Joyce Neading, John Geisler, Stephanie Smiddy, David Cohn, Michele Vaughan, Luis Vaccarello, Elayna Freese, James Pavelka, Pam Plummer, William Nahhas, Ellen Cato, John Moroney, Mark Wysong, Tonia Combs, Marci Bowling, Brandon Fletcher (Ohio); Susan Bolick, Donna Acosta, Catherine Flanagan (South Carolina); Martin Whiteside (Tennessee) and Georgina Armstrong and the Texas Registry, Cancer Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Department of State Health Services.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren C. Peres
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patricia G. Moorman
    • 2
  • Anthony J. Alberg
    • 3
  • Elisa V. Bandera
    • 4
  • Jill Barnholtz-Sloan
    • 5
  • Melissa Bondy
    • 6
  • Michele L. Cote
    • 7
  • Ellen Funkhouser
    • 8
  • Edward S. Peters
    • 9
  • Ann G. Schwartz
    • 7
  • Paul D. Terry
    • 10
  • Sarah E. Abbott
    • 1
  • Fabian Camacho
    • 1
  • Frances Wang
    • 2
  • Joellen M. Schildkraut
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Community and Family MedicineDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Hollings Cancer Center and Department of Public Health SciencesMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  4. 4.Cancer Prevention and Control ProgramRutgers Cancer Institute of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA
  5. 5.Case Comprehensive Cancer CenterCase Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA
  6. 6.Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences ProgramBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  7. 7.Department of Oncology and the Karmanos Cancer Institute Population Studies and Disparities Research ProgramWayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA
  8. 8.Division of Preventive MedicineUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  9. 9.Department of EpidemiologyLouisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public HealthNew OrleansUSA
  10. 10.Department of MedicineUniversity of Tennessee Graduate School of MedicineKnoxvilleUSA

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