Early-life exposures may influence the development of breast cancer. The authors examined the association of childhood and adolescent anthropometric factors, physical activity levels, and diet with adult mammographic breast density, a strong risk factor for breast cancer. Women in the Minnesota Breast Cancer Family Study cohort who had undergone mammograms but had not had breast cancer (n = 1,893) formed the sample. Information on adolescent exposures, including relative height, weight, and physical activity at ages 7, 12, and 18 years and diet at age 12-13 years, was self-reported during two follow-up studies (1990-2003). Mammographic percent density was estimated using a computer-assisted thresholding program. Statistical analyses were performed using linear mixed-effects models with two-sided tests. Positive associations with height at ages 7 (p < 0.001), 12 (p < 0.001), and 18 (p < 0.001) years and percent density were evident overall and within menopausal status categories. The minimum difference in percent density between the tallest and shortest girls was 3 percent, with a maximum of 7 percent. Weight at age 12 years (p = 0.005) and adiposity at age 12 years (p = 0.005) were both inversely associated with adult percent density. Adolescent physical activity and diet were unrelated to percent density. These results suggest that adolescent height, a known risk factor for breast cancer, is also associated with mammographic percent density.
- Breast neoplasms
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