Body size from birth through adolescence in relation to risk of benign breast disease in young women

Catherine S. Berkey, Bernard Rosner, Rulla M. Tamimi, Walter C. Willett, Martha Hickey, Adetunji Toriola, A. Lindsay Frazier, Graham A. Colditz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: Body size, from birth throughout adulthood, is associated with breast cancer risk, but few studies have investigated early-life body size and benign breast disease (BBD), a well-established breast cancer risk factor. We consider whether prenatal factors and size at birth, 10, 18 year, and intervening growth, are related to BBD risk. Methods: The Growing Up Today Study includes 9032 females who completed questionnaires annually from 1996 to 2001, then 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2013. In 1996, their mothers provided pregnancy-related data. From 2005 to 2013, participants (18 year+) reported whether they had ever been diagnosed with biopsy-confirmed BBD (N = 142 cases). Results: Girls had greater adiposity (BMI; kg/m2) at 10 year if they were larger at birth, if mother’s pre-pregnancy BMI was higher, or if gestational weight gain was greater (all p < .01). Maternal height was (positively) associated (p < .05) with adolescent peak height growth velocity (PHV; in./year). Greater 10 year adiposity was associated with lower PHV and less height growth 10–18 year (both p < .01). Adiposity at 10 year was inversely associated with BBD (OR 0.83/(kg/m2), p < .01) as was increasing adiposity 10–18 year (OR 0.85/(kg/m2), p = .01). In a separate model, 10 year height (OR 1.13/in., p = .02) and height growth 10–18 year (OR 1.19/in.; p < .01) were positively associated. PHV was similarly positively associated (OR 2.58, p = .01, fastest versus slowest growth quartiles). In a multivariable model of BBD risk, gestational weight gain (daughters at highest risk if <20 lb gained), PHV (slowest growing girls at lowest risk), age 10 year height (positive), and BMI (inverse) were the most critical childhood risk factors (each p < .05). Conclusions: Body size factors from pregnancy through adolescence were independently associated with BBD risk in young women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Birth weight
  • Childhood adiposity
  • Gestational weight gain
  • Height growth
  • Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI
  • Prenatal


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