A new study finds growth patterns in childhood can help predict which women will develop breast cancer later on.
Specifically, researchers link a high birth weight, reaching peak growth at an early age, being tall for one's age at age 14, having a low body mass index (BMI) at age 14, and having a high growth rate during childhood with greater likelihood of the disease.
For the study researchers used school health records to collect health information on 117,415 Danish women born between 1930 and 1975. Over the years, 3,340 women developed breast cancer. Increased risk attributed to the key findings were: birth weight: 7 percent; height at age 14: 15 percent; BMI at age 14: 15 percent, and age at peak growth: 9 percent. These risks remained elevated even after researchers adjusted for other factors thought to affect breast cancer risk, such as age of first menstrual period and age at first childbirth.
Thus researchers conclude saying that their results provide evidence that factors influencing fetal, childhood and adolescent growth are important independent risk factors for breast cancer in adulthood.