Hereditary, genetic factors as well as lifestyle and environmental factors, for example, parity and body mass index, predict breast cancer development. Gene-environment interaction studies may help to identify subgroups of women at high-risk of breast cancer and can be leveraged to discover new genetic risk factors. A few interesting results in studies including over 30 000 breast cancer cases ... [Show full abstract] and healthy controls indicate that such interactions exist. Explorative gene-environment interaction studies aiming to identify new genetic or environmental factors are scarce and still underpowered. Gene-environment interactions might be stronger for rare genetic variants, but data are lacking. Ongoing initiatives to genotype larger sample sets in combination with comprehensive epidemiologic databases will provide further opportunities to study gene-environment interactions in breast cancer. However, based on the available evidence, we conclude that associations between the common genetic variants known today and breast cancer risk are only weakly modified by environmental factors, if at all.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 12 January 2016; doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.439 www.bjcancer.com.