PORTLAND, Ore. In a study of the maternity records of more than 6,000 women, David J.P. Barker, M.D., Ph.D., and Kent Thornburg, Ph.D., of Oregon Health & Science University discovered a strong correlation between the size and shape of a womans hips and her daughters risk of breast cancer. Wide, round hips, the researchers postulated, represent markers of high sex hormone concentrations in the mother, which increase her daughters vulnerability to breast cancer.
A womans hips are shaped at puberty when the growth of the hip bones is controlled by sex hormones but is also influenced by the level of nutrition. Every woman has a unique sex hormone profile which is established at puberty and persists through her reproductive life. The studys findings show for the first time that the pubertal growth spurt of girls is strongly associated with the risk of breast cancer in their daughters.
The study, carried out with colleagues in Finland and the United Kingdom., is described in an article just published online by the peer-reviewed American Journal of Human Biology. The authors followed up on 6,370 women born in Helsinki from 1934 to 1944 whose mothers pelvic bones were measured during routine prenatal care. The study found that breast cancer rates were more than three times higher among the women in the cohort, born at or after term, whose mothers had wide hips. They were more than seven times higher if those mothers had already given birth to one or more children.
A womans vulnerability to breast cancer, the study found, was greater if her mothers intercristal diameter the widest distance between the wing-like structures at the top of the hip bone was more than 30 centimeters, or 11.8 inches. The risk also was higher if these wing-like structures were round. The breast cancer risk was 2.5 times higher for the daughters of women in whom the widest distance was more than 3 centimeters greater than the distance at the front.
|Contact: Harry Lenhart|
Oregon Health & Science University