To investigate whether a family history of breast cancer increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, we analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control's Cancer and Steroid Hormone Study. The 4,735 cases were women 20 to 54 years old with a first diagnosis of breast cancer ascertained from eight population-based cancer registries; the 4,688 controls were women selected at random from the general population of these eight areas. Compared with women without a family history of breast cancer, women who had an affected first-degree relative had a relative risk of 2.3; women with an affected second-degree relative had a relative risk of 1.5; and women with both an affected mother and sister had a relative risk of 14. The risk of breast cancer for a woman was higher if her first-degree relative had unilateral rather than bilateral breast cancer or had breast cancer detected at a younger than older age. For women aged 20 to 39, 40 to 44, and 45 to 54 years, the estimated annual incidence of breast cancer per 100,000 women attributable to a first-degree family history of breast cancer was 51.9, 115.1, and 138.6, respectively, and that attributable to a second-degree family history of breast cancer was 12.1, 19.2, and 92.4, respectively.
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