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April 17, 2010

Thinner girls are at higher breast cancer risk!

WASHINGTON: Researchers 've found that girls who are leaner at age seven are at higher risk of cancer later in life. Jingmei Li worked with a team of researchers from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, to study the relationships between childhood body size & tumor characteristics in a group of 2,818 Swedish breast cancer patients & 3,111 controls.
Li said, “Our main finding was that a large body type at age seven years was associated with a decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Although strongly associated with other known risk factors such as age of menarche, adult BMI & breast density, size at age seven years remained a significant protective factor after adjustment for these other issues”.

Size at age seven was also found to determine tumor characteristics, in particular, estrogen receptor status. A large body size at age seven was especially protective against estrogen receptor negative tumors, which generally fare worse in terms of prognosis. 

The researchers' classification of childhood body size was derived from nine numbered pictograms ranging from very skinny (S1) to very fat (S9). Subjects assessed their own body type at present & how they remembered themselves at seven years old. These selections were then used to group them as lean (S1 to S2), medium (S3 to S4) & large (S5 to S9). The finding has been published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Breast Cancer Research.

Li said, “It appears counter intuitive that a large body size during childhood can reduce breast cancer risk, because a large birth weight & a high adult BMI 've been shown to otherwise elevate breast cancer risk. There remain unanswered questions on mechanisms driving this protective effect”. 

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