Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston discovered that delivering large-weight babies may increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer in the future. These findings may be relevant to women who are considering a lab test to assess their breast cancer profile.
In order to study the influence of pregnancy hormones on breast cancer risk, the team of scientists reviewed data from two earlier experiments: the Framingham Offspring Birth History Study, and the First and Second Trimester Evaluation of Risk for Aneuploidy (FASTER) trial.
About 7.6 percent of women from the Framingham study developed breast cancer. Results showed that among women whose babies were in the highest quintile of birth weight, the risk of breast cancer was 2.5 times higher than it was for women in the lowest quintile. This effect was independent of traditional disease risks, such as age, race and body mass index.
Results of the FASTER study indicated that women who delivered the babies in the highest quintile of birth weight had a 25 percent increased risk of having high levels of three hormones: estriol, anti-estrogen alpha-fetoprotein and pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A. These findings suggest an interaction between these hormones, a baby's birth weight and the future risk of breast cancer.
"Women can't alter their pregnancy hormones, but can take steps to increase their general protection against breast cancer," said lead study author Radek Bukowski.
Mothers who are worried about their breast cancer risk can undergo a special lab test for tumor markers.
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