Birth Weight and Breastfeeding in Infancy May Affect Premenopausal Breast Cancer Risk
Premenopausal women who were heavier than average at birth or had not been breastfed as infants appear to be at increased risk for developing breast cancer, epidemiologists at the University at Buffalos School of Public health and Health Professions have found.
Results of the study, which showed no association between birth weight and breastfeeding in infancy and postmenopausal breast-cancer risk, were reported at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif. “The intrauterine and neonatal life periods have been suggested as critical windows in mammary gland development,” said Maddalena Barba, M.D., research instructor in the UB Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and lead researcher on the study. “In utero and early childhood exposures might affect breast cancer risk by altering the hormonal environment of the developing fetus and young infant through mechanisms not yet completely clarified.”
Barba and colleagues from UBs School of Public Health and Health Professions analyzed data collected from 2,382 women participating in the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer Study conducted from 1996-2001 during in-person, computer-assisted interviews. Complete information on the exposures of interest was available for 845 participants newly diagnosed with breast cancer during the study period who served as cases, and for 1,573 matched controls.
Researchers compared cases and controls, taking into consideration already well-recognized breast-cancer risk factors such as age, education, body-mass index, history of benign breast disease, family history of cancer, months of lactation, age at first menstrual period, age at first pregnancy, number of pregnancies and age at menopause for postmenopausal women.
Results showed that premenopausal women whose birth weight was greater than 8.5 pounds, and premenopausal women who had not been breast fed as infants, had an almost two-fold risk of developing breast cancer when compared to premenopausal women whose weight at birth was 5.5-7 pounds (reference category) and who had been breast fed.
None of these variables showed a relationship with postmenopausal breast cancer. Birth order was not associated with breast cancer risk in pre- or postmenopausal women. “Our results support the hypothesis that early life events impact womens breast-cancer risk later in life,” said Barba. “Further research based on targeted studies is needed to reach a deeper understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms.”
Additional researchers on the study were Susan E. McCann, Ph.D., Jing Nie, Ph.D., Saverio Stranges, M.D., Ph.D., Barbara Fuhrman, Maurizio Trevisan, M.D., and Jo L. Freudenheim, Ph.D., from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, and Paola Muti, M.D., formerly at UB, currently at the Italian National Cancer Institute Regina Elena in Rome, Italy.
The research was supported in part by grants from the U.S. Army and the American-Italian Cancer Foundation.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.
All latest news from the category: Health and Medicine
This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.
Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.
Researchers shrink camera to the size of a salt grain
Micro-sized cameras have great potential to spot problems in the human body and enable sensing for super-small robots, but past approaches captured fuzzy, distorted images with limited fields of view….
World-first product will be a lifesaving traffic stopper
Game-changing technology to design traffic lights that absorb kinetic energy, stopping them from crumpling when hit by a vehicle, will prevent thousands of fatalities and injuries each year and make…
Scientists capture electron transfer image in electrocatalysis process
The involvement between electron transfer (ET) and catalytic reaction at electrocatalyst surface makes electrochemical process challenging to understand and control. How to experimentally determine ET process occurring at nanoscale is…