Women who give birth to large infants may have a more than twofold increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study. Though more research is needed before a causal relationship can be established, there seems to be a pretty clear link.
Last week, a news article reported on a study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston that said that high concentrations of certain pregnancy hormones often increases babies’ birth weights. That same hormone also increases the chances of breast cancer development.
Two long term U.S. studies were examined and found that statistically, women who gave birth to the largest babies were 2.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who gave birth to the smallest babies. The study noted that the factors were independent of traditional breast cancer risks factors and the mother’s weight. It’s believed to be the pregnancy hormone because women who gave birth to the largest babies were 25 percent more likely to have higher concentrations of of those hormones.
The study was published in the July 17 issue of the journal PLoS One and, according to the researchers, may help improve prediction and prevention of breast cancer decades before it appears. The lead author, Dr. Radek Bukowski, said in a university news release, “Women can’t alter their pregnancy hormones, but can take steps to increase their general protection against breast cancer.” Having a large baby for the week of gestation can act as a heads up to try to make healthier choices to help reduce breast cancer risks.
Ways to reduce breast cancer risks include extended breastfeeding, having more than one child, eating am actually healthy diet, and exercising.