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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 Apr;138(2):601-10. doi: 10.1007/s10549-013-2463-8. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

Body size throughout the life course and mammographic density in Mexican women.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.


Mammographic density (MD) is a strong risk factor for breast cancer, but the biological mechanism underlying this association is not clear. Current adult body mass index (BMI) is inversely associated with percent MD; however, few studies have included Hispanic women or evaluated associations with measures of body fatness earlier in life. ESMaestras was established in 2006, when 28,345 women ages ≥35 responded to a detailed questionnaire that assessed possible disease risk factors, including body fatness in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. In 2007, 2084 ESMaestras participants underwent a clinical examination, which included measurements of weight, height, and sitting height and a mammogram. We measured percent MD using a computer-assisted method. The current analysis includes 972 premenopausal and 559 postmenopausal women. We used multivariable linear regression to evaluate associations between measures of body size and MD, independent of current BMI. Among pre- and postmenopausal women, we observed no significant associations between body fatness during childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood and percent MD. Among postmenopausal women, we observed a modest positive association between body fatness immediately before first pregnancy and between ages 25 and 35 after adjustment for current BMI, with differences of 4.9 and 3.6 % points, respectively, in percent MD between the heaviest and leanest women (p-trend = 0.02). There were no significant associations between height, sitting height, and percent MD among pre- or postmenopausal women in multivariable models adjusting for BMI. In general, we found no clear associations between measures of body size in early life, current sitting height, or current height, and percent MD, after adjusting for current BMI, in this population of Mexican women. Our observation of a positive association between early adult body fatness (i.e., before first pregnancy and ages 25-35) and percent MD among postmenopausal women is inconsistent with prior research and requires confirmation in other studies.

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