Review

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 145, Issue 3, pp 567-579

Breast cancer risk accumulation starts early: prevention must also

  • Graham A. ColditzAffiliated withThe Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery, Washington University School of MedicineThe Siteman Cancer Center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Kari BohlkeAffiliated withThe Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery, Washington University School of MedicineThe Siteman Cancer Center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine
  • , Catherine S. BerkeyAffiliated withChanning Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Nearly one in four breast cancers is diagnosed before the age of 50, and many early-stage premalignant lesions are present but not yet diagnosed. Therefore, we review evidence to support the strategy that breast cancer prevention efforts must begin early in life. This study follows the literature review methods and format. Exposures during childhood and adolescence affect a woman’s long-term risk of breast cancer, but have received far less research attention than exposures that occur later in life. Breast tissue undergoes rapid cellular proliferation between menarche and first full-term pregnancy, and risk accumulates rapidly until the terminal differentiation that accompanies first pregnancy. Evidence on childhood diet and growth in height, and adolescent alcohol intake, among other adolescent factors is related to breast cancer risk and risk of premalignant proliferative benign lesions. Breast cancer prevention efforts will have the greatest effect when initiated at an early age and continued over a lifetime. Gaps in knowledge are identified and deserve increase attention to inform prevention.

Keywords

Premalignant lesions Prevention Adolescent diet Childhood Adiposity