Dr. Radek Bukowski, professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, has been doing research on the effect that the size of babies at birth has on the future health of the mother. Previous research indicated that delivering a full-term baby of small birth weight is an independent indicator of later heart disease for the mother. In his latest research Bukowski studied mothers who delivered larger babies.
“It showed basically that women who delivered a first baby that was large, more than eight and one-quarter pounds, had over the course of their life an increased risk of having breast cancer,” Dr. Bukowski said in an interview with Guidry News Service. “The risk increase was about two to two and one-half times.” Listen
Dr. Bukowski said the study suggests that having a large infant is associated with a hormonal environment during pregnancy that favors future breast cancer development and progression.
He said the research on this project was aided by the memories of the mothers in the study.
“The information that a woman delivers, for example, a big baby is available many years before the diagnosis of breast cancer,” he said. “In our study, the time interval between giving birth to the first baby and the diagnosis of breast cancer on average was 38 years. The other part of it is this information is readily available – women usually remember what the size of their baby was and it doesn’t require any additional testing.”
Dr. Bukowski said the research is continuing to determine how the risk factor from large babies relates to other “classical, traditional” risk factors for breast cancer.
“This information does not translate yet, as far as we know, into a prediction of breast cancer,” he admitted. “But there are several things, general good health behaviors that decrease the risk of breast cancer, which can be definitely advised to women.”
Those behaviors include breast feeding, having a healthy weight and having an active life style.
“They all decrease risk of breast cancer,” Dr. Bukowski said.
A report on the study was published in the July 17 issue of PLoS ONE. Click Here
Co-authors of the study include: Drs. Gary D.V. Hankins (UTMB); Rowan T. Chlebowski (Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center); Inger Thune (Oslo University Hospital and the University of Tromsø); Anne-Sofie Furberg (University of Tromsø); Fergal D. Malone (Royal College of Surgeons in Irelend); and Mary E. D'Alton (Columbia University).
The University of Texas Medical Branch published a news release on the study. Click Here