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Women's Breast Density Linked to Height During Youth

Limited association also observed with youthful weight but not with diet or physical activity

THURSDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- A girl's height in childhood and adolescence is associated with the density of her breasts as a mature woman, according to a report published in the Aug. 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Thomas A. Sellers, Ph.D., of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute in Tampa, Fla., and colleagues examined data collected for the Minnesota Breast Cancer Family Study on 1,893 women who had not had breast cancer. Information on childhood height, weight, physical activity and diet was self-reported by questionnaire.

Women who remember being taller than their peers at 7, 12 and 18 years had higher mean mammographic densities as adults. Women who remembered being heavier on average than their peers at the age of 12 had lower mean mammographic densities as adults. No overall association was observed between adult breast density and youth physical activity or diet.

"The supporting literature for a physiological basis of the observed association with height merits further exploration," the authors conclude, "as it may provide insight into possible mechanisms relating height and mammographic density to risk of breast cancer, as well as the importance of early-life developmental factors in breast cancer risk."

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