Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 115–118 | Cite as

The relation of breast size to breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women (United States)

  • Kathleen M. Egan
  • Polly A. Newcomb
  • Linda Titus-Ernstoff
  • Amy Trentham-Dietz
  • John A. Baron
  • Walter C. Willett
  • Meir J. Stampfer
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
Article

Abstract

Objective: Breast size has been hypothesized to predict a woman's risk of breast cancer although studies in the main have not supported an association. In a large, population-based case-control study we examined whether breast size might emerge as a significant risk factor among very lean women in whom breast size might be a truer reflection of the volume of gland mass at risk for malignant change.

Methods: The data derive from a population-based case- control study of women aged 50 to 79 years conducted in several New England states and Wisconsin. Incident cases of invasive breast cancer (n=2015) were identified through state tumor registries and controls (n=2556) were selected at random within age strata from population lists. Telephone interviews were conducted to obtain information on known and suspected risk factors which included bra dimensions (cup and back size) prior to a first birth, or at the age of 20 for nulliparous women.

Results: We observed a significant positive association for cup size which was limited to women who were the most lean as young adults based on chest circumference. Among those reporting a chest size under 34 inches multivariate-adjusted relative risks were 1.34 (95% CI: 1.04 to 1.74) for cup size B, and 1.76 (95% CI: 1.04 to 3.01) for cup size C and larger, compared to a cup size smaller than B, and the trend for increasing cup size was statistically significant (P=0.005). There was no relation with breast size among women reporting an average or larger back circumference (34 inches or larger).

Conclusion: Breast size before a pregnancy is a positive predictor of postmenopausal breast cancer, but this association is limited to those who were especially lean as young women.

anthropometry breast cancer breast size case-control study risk factors 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Kelloff GJ, Lubet RA, Lieberman R, Eisenhauer K, Steele VE, Crowell JA, Hawk ET, Boone CW, Sigman CC (1998) Aromatase inhibitors as potential cancer chemopreventatives (Review). Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 7: 65-78.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Weiss HA, Devesa SS, Brinton LA (1996) Laterality of breast cancer in the United States. Cancer Causes Control 7: 539-543.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gray H (1974) Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical. Reprinted: Pick TP, Howden R, eds. Philadelphia, PA (USA): Running Press, p. 1038.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Senie RT, Saftlas AF, Brinton LA, Hoover RN (1993) Is breast size a predictor of breast cancer risk or the laterality of the tumor? Cancer Causes Control 4: 203-208.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brinton LA, Brown SL (1997) Breast implant and cancer (review). J Natl Cancer Inst 89: 1341-1349.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Boice JD, Friis S, McLaughlin JK, et al. (1997) Cancer following breast reduction surgery in Denmark. Cancer Causes Control 8: 253-258.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Baasch M, Nielsen SF, Engholm G, Lund K (1996) Breast cancer incidence subsequent to surgical reduction of the female breast. Br J Cancer 73: 961-963.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dupont WD, Page DL (1987) Breast cancer risk associated with proliferative disease, age at first birth, and a family history of breast cancer. Am J Epidemiol 125: 769-779.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hsieh C, Trichopoulos D (1991) Breast size, handedness and breast cancer risk. Eur J Cancer 27: 131-135.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kato I, Clifford B, Bleich A, Su S, Kim M, Toniolo PG (1995) A nested case-control study of mammographic patterns, breast volume, and breast cancer (New York City, NY, United States). Cancer Causes Control 6: 431-438.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Katariya RN, Forrest PM, Gravelle JH (1974) Breast volumes in cancer of the breast. Br J Cancer 29: 270-273.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Thurfjell E, Hsieh C-C, Lipworth L, Ekbom A, Adami HO, Trichopolous D (1996) Breast size and mammographic pattern in relation to breast cancer risk. Eur J Cancer Prev 5: 37-41.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Scutt D, Manning JT, Whitehouse GH, Leinster SJ, Massey CP (1997) The relationship between breast asymmetry, breast size and the occurrence of breast cancer. Br J Radiol 70: 1017-1021.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Valaoras VG, McMahon B, Trichopoulos D, Polychronopoulou A (1969) Lactation and reproductive histories of breast cancer patients in greater Athens, 1965–67. Int J Cancer 4: 350-363.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hirohata T, Nomura AM, Kolonel LN (1977) Breast size and cancer [letter]. Br Med J 2: 641.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Soini I (1977) Risk factors of breast cancer in Finland. Int J Epidemiol 6: 365-373.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kolonel LN, Nomura AM, Lee J, Hirohata T (1986) Anthropometric indicators of breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women in Hawaii. Nutr Cancer 8: 247-256.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Tavani A, Pregnolato A, La Vecchia C, Negri E, Favero A, Francheschi S (1996) Breast size and breast cancer risk. Eur J Cancer Prev 5: 337-342.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wynder EL, Bross IJ, Hirayama T (1960) A study of the epidemiology of cancer of the breast. Cancer 13: 559-601.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Adami HO, Rimsten A (1978) Adipose tissue and aetiology of breast cancer. Lancet 2: 677-678.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ziegler RG (1997) Anthropometry and breast cancer. J Nutr 127: 924S-928S.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Titus-Ernstoff L, Egan KM, Newcomb PA, Baron JA, Stampfer M, Greenberg ER, Cole BF, Ding J, Willett WC, Trichopoulos D (1998) Exposure to breast milk in infancy and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. J Natl Cancer Inst 90: 921-924.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Colditz CA, Chute CG, Littin LB, Willett WC (1990) Validity of self-reported waist and hip circumference in men and women. Epidemiology 1: 466-473.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Beijerinck D, van Noord PAH, Kemmeren JM, Seidell JC (1995) Breast size as a determiant of breast cancer. Int J Obes 19: 202-205.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Egan
    • 1
  • Polly A. Newcomb
    • 3
    • 4
  • Linda Titus-Ernstoff
    • 5
  • Amy Trentham-Dietz
    • 6
  • John A. Baron
    • 5
  • Walter C. Willett
    • 1
    • 2
  • Meir J. Stampfer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women's HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA, and
  4. 4.University of Wisconsin Comprehensive CenterMadisonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Community and Family Medicine, Department of MedicineDartmouth, LebanonUSA
  6. 6.University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer CenterMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations