Differences in mammographic density between Asian and Caucasian populations: a comparative analysis
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- Rajaram, N., Mariapun, S., Eriksson, M. et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2017) 161: 353. doi:10.1007/s10549-016-4054-y
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Mammographic density is a measurable and modifiable biomarker that is strongly and independently associated with breast cancer risk. Paradoxically, although Asian women have lower risk of breast cancer, studies of minority Asian women in predominantly Caucasian populations have found that Asian women have higher percent density. In this cross-sectional study, we compared the distribution of mammographic density for a matched cohort of Asian women from Malaysia and Caucasian women from Sweden, and determined if variations in mammographic density could be attributed to population differences in breast cancer risk factors.
Volumetric mammographic density was compared for 1501 Malaysian and 4501 Swedish healthy women, matched on age and body mass index. We used multivariable log-linear regression to determine the risk factors associated with mammographic density and mediation analysis to identify factors that account for differences in mammographic density between the two cohorts.
Compared to Caucasian women, percent density was 2.0% higher among Asian women (p < 0.001), and dense volume was 5.7 cm3 higher among pre-menopausal Asian women (p < 0.001). Dense volume was 3.0 cm3 lower among post-menopausal Asian women (p = 0.009) compared to post-menopausal Caucasian women, and this difference was attributed to population differences in height, weight, and parity (p < 0.001).
Our analysis suggests that among post-menopausal women, population differences in mammographic density and risk to breast cancer may be accounted for by height, weight, and parity. Given that pre-menopausal Asian and Caucasian women have similar population risk to breast cancer but different dense volume, development of more appropriate biomarkers of risk in pre-menopausal women is required.