A Review of the Epidemiology of Breast Cancer in Asia: Focus on Risk Factors

Document Type : Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


1 Department of Surgery, Research Institute of Clinical Medicine, Chonbuk National University and Biomedical Research Institute, Chonbuk National University Hospital, Republic of Korea.

2 Department of Surgery and Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul National University Cancer Hospital, Republic of Korea.


Background and Aim: Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women. To date, regional differences in breast cancer risk factors have not been identified. The aim of our review was to gain a better understanding of the role of risk factors in women with breast cancer in Asia. Methods: We conducted a PubMed search on 15 March 2016, for journal articles published in English between 2011 and 2016, which reported data for human subjects in Asia with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Search terms included breast neoplasm, epidemiology, Asia, prevalence, incidence, risk and cost of illness. Studies of any design were included, except for review articles and meta-analyses, which were excluded to avoid duplication of data. No exclusions were made based on breast cancer treatment. We reported the results using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Results: A total of 776 abstracts were retrieved. After screening against the eligibility criteria, 562 abstracts were excluded. The remaining 214 abstracts, which were published between 2013 and 2015, were included in this review. Results were summarized and reported under three categories: incidence, prevalence or outcomes for breast cancer in Asia; modifiable risk factors; and non-modifiable risk factors. We found that the increased risk of breast cancer among participants from Asia was associated with older age, family history of breast cancer, early menarche, late menopause, high body mass index, being obese or overweight, exposure to tobacco smoke, and high dietary intake of fats or fatty foods. In contrast, intake of dietary fruits, vegetables, and plant- and soy-based products was associated with a decreased breast cancer risk. While based on limited data, when compared to women from the United States, women from Asia had a decreased risk of breast cancer. Conclusions: This review of 214 abstracts of studies in Asia, published between 2013 and 2015, confirmed the relevance of known non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors for women with breast cancer.


Main Subjects