Author Affiliations: Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer diagnosed among women in the
United States. Established risk factors include age, family history, reduced
parity, earlier age at menarche, alcohol use, postmenopausal adiposity, and
hormone therapy. In this issue of THE JOURNAL, Velicer and colleagues1 report another potential risk factor: the use of prescribed
antibiotics. Among 2266 women with breast cancer, as compared with 7953 controls,
the use of antibiotics was more common; the risk of breast cancer was greater
with longer duration of antibiotic use and was consistent across antibiotic
classes. This observation is potentially worrisome in that antibiotic exposure
is common and sometimes nonessential. Thus, if real, the risk of breast cancer
attributable to the use of antibiotics could be large and partially preventable.
Ness RB, Cauley JA. Antibiotics and Breast Cancer—What's the Meaning of This?. JAMA. 2004;291(7):880-881. doi:10.1001/jama.291.7.880