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Mother-daughter breast density study points way to earlier cancer risk assessment
Date:4/29/2009

(Toronto April 30, 2009) A unique mother-daughter study that used magnetic resonance to measure breast density in younger women shows that percent of breast water could be linked to the risk of breast cancer in middle age and older.

The findings, published online today in Lancet Oncology, add another key piece to the puzzle of understanding more about breast density, an inheritable characteristic known to be a cancer risk factor, that could aid in developing prevention methods, says principal investigator Dr. Norman Boyd, a scientist at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Dr. Boyd initially verified breast density (mammographic density, or MD) as a strong risk factor for breast cancer in middle aged and older women in a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007. Until now, little was known about the development of breast density in early life, or how it relates to a young woman's height, weight and age, and the breast density of their mothers.

The findings of the current study indicate that risk assessment using less harmful techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) instead of X-ray should start much earlier in life.

Says Dr. Boyd: "It is known that the breast is most susceptible to the effects of carcinogens at early ages. Our findings suggest that differences in breast tissue composition in early life may be a potential mechanism for this increased susceptibility. By identifying the environmental and genetic factors that influence breast tissue composition in early life we may be able to develop safe and effective methods of prevention."

In this study, between 2003-2006, the researchers recruited 400 mother-daughter pairs and used MRI to examine breast tissue in daughters, aged 15-30-years, and a random sample of 100 of the mothers. In the young women, MRI was used to measure breast water concentration to a
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Contact: Jane Finlayson
jane.finlayson@uhn.on.ca
416-946-2846
University Health Network
Source:Eurekalert

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