Breast cancer is the most prevalent malignancy in women worldwide and is a growing concern due to rising incidence and ongoing ethnic disparities in both incidence and mortality. A number of factors likely contribute to these trends including rising rates of obesity and diabetes across the globe and differences in genetic predisposition. Here, we emphasize Hispanic populations and summarize what is currently known about obesity, diabetes and individual genetic predisposition as they relate to ethnic disparities in breast cancer incidence and mortality. In addition, we discuss potential contributions to breast cancer aetiology from molecular mechanisms associated with obesity and diabetes including dyslipidemia, hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, endocrine dysfunction and inflammation. We propose that unique differences in diet and lifestyle coupled with individual genetic predisposition and endocrine/immune dysfunction explain most of the ethnic disparities seen in breast cancer incidence and mortality.