• breast neoplasms;
  • case-control study;
  • spouses;
  • risk factors


Spouses share the home environment, and dietary and other lifestyle habits. Furthermore, a cancer diagnosis in the husband is a stressful event for the wife also. Thus, a history of cancer in the husband may be an indicator of breast cancer risk. We investigated the issue in a large Italian multicentric case-control study on 2,588 women with incident breast cancer and 2,569 female hospital controls, admitted for acute, non neoplastic diseases. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) was 1.0 (95% confidence interval, CI, 0.7–1.4) for a history of any type of cancer in the husband, 1.0 (95% 0.4–2.7) for stomach, 0.7 (95% 0.2–2.3) for intestinal (chiefly colorectal), 0.9 (95% CI 0.5–1.7) for lung, and 1.3 (95% CI 0.4–4.3) for prostate cancer. The OR was close to unity also when data were analyzed in separate strata of patient's or husband's age, patient's education, or vital status of the husband. This study suggests that women whose husband had a diagnosis of cancer are not at increased risk of breast cancer, although results for individual cancer sites should be interpreted with caution, due to small numbers. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.