Ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure, the primary source of vitamin D for most people, may reduce breast cancer risk. To date, epidemiologic studies have shown inconsistent results.
The Nurses' Health Study II is a U.S. nationwide prospective cohort of female registered nurses. A UV exposure model was linked with geocoded residential address histories. Early-life UV exposure was estimated based on the state of residence at birth, age 15, and age 30. Self-reported breast cancer was confirmed from medical records. Time-varying Cox regression models adjusted for established breast cancer risk factors were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
From 1989 to 2013, 3,959 invasive breast cancer cases occurred among 112,447 participants. Higher UV exposure during adulthood was not associated with invasive breast cancer risk overall (adjusted HR comparing highest to lowest quintile = 1.00, 95% CI: 0.90, 1.11, for trend = 0.64) or according to estrogen receptor (ER) status. There were suggestive inverse associations between ER- breast cancer and early-life UV exposure at birth (adjusted HR = 0.94, 95% CI: 0.88, 1.01 per interquartile range increase [15.7 mW/m]), age 15 (adjusted HR = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.89, 1.04 per 18.0 mW/m), and age 30 (adjusted HR = 0.90, 95% CI: 0.82, 1.00 per 27.7 mW/m).
Ambient UV exposure during adulthood was not associated with risk of invasive breast cancer overall or by ER status. However, we observed suggestive inverse associations between early-life UV exposure and ER- breast cancer risk.