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Br J Cancer. 1990 Jun;61(6):881-5.

Body height and risk of breast cancer. A prospective study of 23,831 Norwegian women.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.


The association between body height and the incidence rate of breast cancer has been examined in 236 cases of breast cancer that occurred among 23,831 Norwegian women during 11-14 years of follow-up. At the time of height measurement they were 35-51 years of age. The age-adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR) of breast cancer was 2.03 (95% of confidence limits 1.36 and 3.01) for women taller than or equal to 167 cm (mean = 170 cm) compared to women who were less than 159 cm (mean = 155 cm). The positive association with height was stronger among women who were diagnosed before the age of 51 (IRR = 2.63; 95% confidence limits 1.48 and 4.68), than among women diagnosed after this age. Moreover, the association appeared to be confined to women who had lived through their peripubertal growth during a period (1940-45) of nationally increased nutritional variability with reduction in dietary fat and restricted caloric intake. Among women born between 1929 and 1936, the relation with height displayed a strong positive linear trend (chi 2 trend = 13.4, P less than 0.001), which was not present among women born between 1925 and 1928 (chi 2 trend = 0.7, P = 0.40), nor among women born in 1937 or later (chi 2 trend = 1.5, P = 0.20). We hypothesise that a time-dependent diversity in nourishment, which may be of particular importance for women in their peri-menarcheal development, may explain the different association between body height and breast cancer risk that was observed for women in different birth cohorts.

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