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Cancer. 2012 Jun 1;118(11):2796-803. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26519. Epub 2011 Nov 14.

Young women with family history of breast cancer and their risk factors for benign breast disease.

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  • 1Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



Breast cancer (BC) patients wonder how their daughters might reduce their risk. The authors investigated childhood/adolescent risk factors for benign breast disease (BBD), a well-documented risk factor for BC, among girls with a family history.


GUTS (the Growing Up Today Study) includes females, aged 9 to 15 years in 1996, who completed annual questionnaires during 1996 to 2001, then in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Participants provided information regarding alcohol, menarche, height, and body mass index (BMI; kg/m(2)). Peak height growth velocity (PHV; in./y) was estimated from longitudinal heights. On 2005-2007 surveys, 6888 women (18-27 years old) reported whether they were diagnosed with biopsy-confirmed BBD (n = 67 cases); 6741 women (noncases) reported no BBD. Participants' mothers reported their own biopsy-confirmed BBD and BC, and BC in their sisters and mothers. Stratified by family history, logistic models investigated BBD risk factors.


Young women whose mothers or aunts had BC were more likely to be diagnosed with BBD (odds ratio [OR], 2.34; P = .01), as were those with maternal BBD (OR, 1.59; P = .095). Adolescents with BC family history (mother, aunt, grandmother) who consumed alcohol (7 drinks/wk) doubled their BBD risk (OR, 2.28; P = .01), similar to those with maternal BBD (OR, 1.96; P = .02). Girls whose mother or aunt had BC saw their BBD risk elevated with higher PHV (OR, 1.82 [inch/yr]; P = .05). Among girls with no family history, BBD risk appeared to be related to other factors: childhood BMI, adolescent waist circumference, and adult height.


Adolescents with family history may reduce their risk by avoiding alcohol. Separate risk factors were observed among girls with family history versus girls with no family history, possibly reflecting different causes of BC.

Copyright © 2011 American Cancer Society.

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