Lifestyle, Genetic Susceptibility and Future Trends of Breast Cancer in Korea


Not only the incidence but the mortality of breast cancer has been steadily increasing in Korea over the lasttwenty years, and it became the most common female neoplasm in 2002. In fact, the increase in the rate of breastcancer mortality in Korea over the past 10 years has been higher than anywhere else in the world, and it is particularlynoteworthy that more than half of the incident cases occur among those younger than 50 years of age. The rapidwesternization of dietary habits and changes in reproductive behavior of Korean women presumably played a centralrole in this extraordinary increase in breast cancer occurrence. A large-scale multi-center case-control analysisshowed that an older age, a family history of breast cancer, early menarche, late menopause, late full-term pregnancy,never-having had a breast-fed child, and postmenopausal obesity are breast cancer risk factors in Korea.Environmental and genetic factors are known to play interactive roles in human carcinogenesis and recent studieshave shown that genetic polymorphisms may predispose individuals to breast cancer via gene-to-environment orgene-to-gene interactions. Thus research into genetic variation in xenobiotic metabolism, estrogen metabolism, DNArepair, cytokine metabolism, or cell cycle control may give insights into both the etiology and prevention of breastcancer. Epidemiologic evidence obtained from migrant and lifestyle change studies and investigations of main riskfactors strongly suggests that breast cancer will further increase in Korea. Future predictions point to a 2- to 3-foldincrease in incidence by 2020. Here, we briefly introduce health education programs and breast cancer campaigns,in the broad context of the Korean National Cancer Control Program.