Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Association between chronic viral hepatitis infection and breast cancer risk: a nationwide population-based case-control study

Fu-Hsiung Su12, Shih-Ni Chang345, Pei-Chun Chen567, Fung-Chang Sung58, Chien-Tien Su19 and Chih-Ching Yeh178*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, College of Public Health and Nutrition, Taipei Medical University, 250 Wu-Hsing Street, 11031 Taipei, Taiwan

2 Department of Family Medicine, Pojen General Hospital, 66 Kwang Fu N. Rd, 101 Taipei, Taiwan

3 The Ph.D. Program for Cancer Biology and Drug Discovery, China Medical University, No.91, Hsueh-Shih Road, 40402 Taichung, Taiwan

4 Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, 128, Sec. 2, Academia Rd, 115 Taipei, Taiwan

5 Management Office for Health Data, China Medical University Hospital, No.91, Hsueh-Shih Road, 40402 Taichung, Taiwan

6 Institute of Clinical Medical Science, China Medical University, No.91, Hsueh-Shih Road, 40402 Taichung, Taiwan

7 Department of Health Risk Management, China Medical University, No.91, Hsueh-Shih Road, 40402 Taichung, Taiwan

8 Department of Public Health, China Medical University, No.91, Hsueh-Shih Road, 40402 Taichung, Taiwan

9 Department of Family Medicine, Taipei Medical University Hospital, 252 Wu-Hsing Street, 11031 Taipei, Taiwan

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2011, 11:495  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-495

Published: 24 November 2011



In Taiwan, there is a high incidence of breast cancer and a high prevalence of viral hepatitis. In this case-control study, we used a population-based insurance dataset to evaluate whether breast cancer in women is associated with chronic viral hepatitis infection.


From the claims data, we identified 1,958 patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer during the period 2000-2008. A randomly selected, age-matched cohort of 7,832 subjects without cancer was selected for comparison. Multivariable logistic regression models were constructed to calculate odds ratios of breast cancer associated with viral hepatitis after adjustment for age, residential area, occupation, urbanization, and income. The age-specific (<50 years and ≥50 years) risk of breast cancer was also evaluated.


There were no significant differences in the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, hepatitis B virus (HBV), or the prevalence of combined HBC/HBV infection between breast cancer patients and control subjects (p = 0.48). Multivariable logistic regression analysis, however, revealed that age <50 years was associated with a 2-fold greater risk of developing breast cancer (OR = 2.03, 95% CI = 1.23-3.34).


HCV infection, but not HBV infection, appears to be associated with early onset risk of breast cancer in areas endemic for HCV and HBV. This finding needs to be replicated in further studies.