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Birth Size and Breast Cancer

And you thought your relationship to your mother was already complicated. Last year we learned that the size of your mother's hips might affect your risk for breast cancer. Daughters born to mothers with wide hips, according to a Finnish study, are three times as likely to develop breast cancer. New research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine adds more insight to the mother-daughter breast cancer connection. This time, however, the factors putting you at risk are your birth weight and birth length.

After analyzing data from 32 studies that evaluated more than 22,000 cases of breast cancer among more than 600,000 women, this study found that baby girls born weighing 8.8 pounds or greater had an increased chance of developing breast cancer, by 12 percent. If the baby girl was born long, measuring over 20 inches in length, her chance of developing the disease rose by 17 percent. While those numbers seem high to me, the epidemiologist behind the study feels they are quite modest and should not be a large concern for women that were considered large or long babies.

The connection between birth size and breast cancer is not understood, but could be related to high estrogen levels in the womb. These research findings are interesting, but have not yet affected the medical and screening practices for breast cancer. In other words if you weighed over 8.8 pounds at birth, you need not rush out for a mammogram. However, these findings could be a piece of the ever complicated puzzle of this disease.

For more information, visit the FitSugar Health Guide section on breast cancer.


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