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Br J Cancer. 2000 Oct;83(7):964-8.

Birthweight, childhood growth and risk of breast cancer in a British cohort.

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Cancer and Public Health Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK.


We have examined the relationship between birthweight and risk of breast cancer, taking into account growth in childhood, using data on a total of 2221 women born in 1946 and followed up to 1997. Thirty-seven breast cancers occurred during follow-up. There was evidence of greater risk of breast cancer with greater birthweight (rate ratio = 1.76 (95% CI: 0.92, 3.35) for birthweight >/= 3.5 kg vs birthweight < 3.5 kg), which was more marked at pre-menopausal ages (RR = 2.31, 95% CI: 0.93, 5.74). The relation with birthweight was not substantially confounded by any of the measured adult risk factors. A significant interaction was observed between the effects of birthweight and height at age 7 years. Relative to those born lighter than 3.5 kg, women who were heavy at birth (>/= 3.5 kg) and short or average at 7 years (< 1.22 m) had a 21% increase in breast cancer rates (RR = 1.21; 95% CI = 0.49-2.99), while women who were heavy at birth (>/= 3.5 kg) but tall at 7 years (>/= 1.22 m) had a four-fold increase (RR = 4.01; 95% CI = 1.82-8.83). These results suggest that the effect of birthweight on breast cancer risk may be modulated by childhood growth.

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