Metabolic syndrome and mammographic density: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation

Shannon M. Conroy, Lesley M. Butler, Danielle J Harvey, Ellen B Gold, Barbara Sternfeld, Gail A. Greendale, Laurel A. Habel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. In our study, we evaluated whether the MetS was associated with an increase in percent mammographic density (MD), a breast cancer risk factor. We used linear regression and mixed models to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of the MetS and components of the MetS to percent MD in 790 premenopausal and early perimenopausal women enrolled in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). In cross-sectional analyses adjusted for body mass index (BMI), modest inverse associations were observed between percent MD and the MetS [β = -2.5, standard error (SE) = 1.9, p = 0.19], abdominal adiposity (β = -4.8, SE = 1.9, p = 0.01) and raised glucose (β = -3.7, SE = 2.4, p = 0.12). In longitudinal models adjusted for covariates including age and BMI, abdominal adiposity (β = 0.34, SE = 0.17, p = 0.05) was significantly positively associated with slower annual decline in percent MD with time. In conclusion, our results do not support the hypothesis that the MetS increases breast cancer risk via a mechanism reflected by an increase in percent MD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1699-1707
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • adiposity
  • body mass index
  • breast cancer risk factor
  • mammographic density
  • metabolic syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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