The first research study that identified high birth-weight babies as an independent risk factor for breast cancer was published in the peer reviewed open access journal Public Library of Science on July 17, 2012, and reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site the same day.
Women who have large babies (defined in the study as greater than 8.25 pounds) were found to have hormone levels that can promote breast cancer. High levels of estrogen, low levels of anti-estrogen and the presence of free insulin-like growth factors are known to be indicators of a higher potential for breast cancer and the researchers found these hormonal changes were directly related to high-birth weight babies.
The researchers examined the relationship between a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer and the birth-weight of their children in the Framingham Offspring Birth History study and the First and Second Trimester Evaluation of Risk for Aneuploidy (FASTER) trial. The research involved 24,000 plus women and their children.
The risk of breast cancer was two-and-a-half times higher in women whose infant’s birth weight was in the top fifth of the Framingham study and the potential for women who gave birth to high birth-weight babies to have a hormonal environment conducive to the development of breast cancer was increased by 25 percent in the FASTER analysis.
The researchers note that breast feeding, having more than one child, following a healthy diet and exercising have been shown to reduce breast cancer risk.
The death rate from breast cancer in Alabama is 22.2 to 23.7 deaths per 100,000 women according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This statistic has a high correlation with the high levels of obesity in Alabama.
Dr. Radek Bukowski, professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Drs. Gary D.V. Hankins (UTMB); Rowan T. Chlebowski (Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center); Inger Thune (Oslo University Hospital and the University of Tromsø); Anne-Sofie Furberg (University of Tromsø); Fergal D. Malone (Royal College of Surgeons in Irelend); and Mary E. D’Alton (Columbia University) are responsible for the research and the paper.