Body fatness during childhood and adolescence and breast density in young women: A prospective analysis

Kimberly A. Bertrand*, Heather J. Baer, E. John Orav, Catherine Klifa, John A. Shepherd, Linda Van Horn, Linda Snetselaar, Victor J. Stevens, Nola M. Hylton, Joanne F. Dorgan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence are associated with reduced breast cancer risk, independent of adult body mass index (BMI). These associations may be mediated through breast density. Methods: We prospectively examined associations of early life body fatness with adult breast density measured by MRI in 182 women in the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC) who were ages 25-29 at follow-up. Height, weight, and other factors were measured at baseline (ages 8-10) and annual clinic visits through adolescence. We used linear mixed-effects models to quantify associations of percent breast density and dense and non-dense breast volume at ages 25-29 with quartiles of age-specific youth body mass index (BMI) Z-scores, adjusting for clinic, treatment group, current adult BMI, and other well-established risk factors for breast cancer and predictors of breast density. Results: We observed inverse associations between age-specific BMI Z-scores at all youth clinic visits and percent breast density, adjusting for current adult BMI and other covariates (all p values <0.01). Women whose baseline BMI Z-scores (at ages 8-10 years) were in the top quartile had significantly lower adult breast density, after adjusting for current adult BMI and other covariates [least squares mean (LSM): 23.4 %; 95 % confidence interval (CI): 18.0 %, 28.8 %] compared to those in the bottom quartile (LSM: 31.8 %; 95 % CI: 25.2 %, 38.4 %) (p trend <0.01). Significant inverse associations were also observed for absolute dense breast volume (all p values <0.01), whereas there were no clear associations with non-dense breast volume. Conclusions: These results support the hypothesis that body fatness during childhood and adolescence may play an important role in premenopausal breast density, independent of current BMI, and further suggest direct or indirect influences on absolute dense breast volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number95
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 16 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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