Body Size and Risk of Breast Cancer
The relation between body size and breast cancer remains uncertain, particularly with regard to differences between pre- and postmenopausal women. The authors examined whether height, weight, body mass index, and weight change were associated with breast cancer risk among pre- and postmenopausal women. This population-based case-control study included women aged 20-74 years (n = 6,548) who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during 1988-1991 in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Similarly aged control women (n = 9,057) were selected at random from driver's license files and Health Care Financing Administration files. Height, weight, and information on other breast cancer risk factors were ascertained by telephone interview, and logistic regression was used to estimate multivariate-adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Among premenopausal women, the adjusted odds ratio for the upper quintile group of height relative to the lowest was 1.36 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05-1.76). The heaviest premenopausal women had a lower risk (odds ratio (OR) = 0.87, 95% CI 0.70-1.10). Among postmenopausal women, the adjusted odds ratios were higher for the upper quintile categories of both height (OR = 1.27, 95% CI 1.11-1.45) and weight (OR = 1.57, 95% CI 1.37-1.79). Weight gain since ages 18 and 35 years was associated with increased postmenopausal breast cancer risk, and risk was lower in women who had lost weight. These findings suggest that programs to avoid weight gain merit study as a means to reduce risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.