uu.seUppsala University Publications
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Ethnic differences in breast cancer risk: a possible role for pregnancylevels of alpha-fetoprotein?
Show others and affiliations
2003 (English)In: Epidemiology, ISSN 1044-3983, Vol. 14, no 1, 85-89 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Breast cancer incidence rates are up to five times higher in white women in the United States compared with Asian women in China and Japan. A search for factors that modify estrogen's biological effect differentially between ethnic groups may add to the understanding of international variations in breast cancer risk. Recent evidence indicates that alpha-fetoprotein, a glycoprotein produced by the fetal liver, has important antiestrogenic properties. During pregnancy, alpha-fetoprotein reaches peak concentrations in maternal serum during the third trimester. METHODS: We compared pregnancy levels of alpha-fetoprotein in a population with high risk of breast cancer (Boston, MA) and low risk (Shanghai, China). Blood samples were collected around the 16th week and around the 27th week of gestation among women enrolled from March 1994 to October 1995. The number of specimens available for alpha-fetoprotein analysis was 1,033. RESULTS: Alpha-fetoprotein levels, adjusted for gestational length, were substantially higher in Shanghai compared with Boston women at both time points. When adjustments were made for prepregnancy weight, parity, offspring's sex and maternal age, alpha-fetoprotein levels remained 13% higher in Shanghai at 16 weeks of pregnancy but not at 27 weeks. CONCLUSIONS: These findings may explain, at least in part, the difference in breast cancer risk between Chinese and American women. On the population level, alpha-fetoprotein may influence risk by modifying the effect of biologically active estrogens both in the mother and in female offspring.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 14, no 1, 85-89 p.
Keyword [en]
breast cancer, alpha-fetoprotein, estrogen, ethnicity
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-64930PubMedID: 12500052OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-64930DiVA: diva2:92841
Available from: 2008-10-17 Created: 2008-10-17 Last updated: 2009-11-03Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

By organisation
Department of Medical Sciences
In the same journal
Medical and Health Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 170 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link