Breast cancer risk associated with skirt size

WOMEN who expand by one skirt size every 10 years between the age of 25 and menopause show a 33 per cent rise in breast cancer risk according to a study published on BMJ Open.

Researchers led by a team from University College London based their findings on survey data from 93,000 postmenopausal-women over age 50 with no known history of breast cancer. At follow-up three to four years later just over a 1090 women had developed breast cancer.

Factors such as BMI, smoking and drinking, reproductive health and fertility, family history of breast and ovarian cancer, and use of hormonal contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were taken into account. Compared to these factors, skirt size emerged as a strong predictor of breast cancer risk.

The study found that going up one skirt size every 10 years was associated with a 33 per cent increased risk of developing breast cancer after the menopause and an increase of two skirt sizes was associated with a 77 per cent greater risk.

Past research has suggested that fat gain increases the risk of breast cancer in women. Adipose tissue spurs the production of oestrogen which can fuel the growth of breast tumors. Fat tissue around the waist appears to be more metabolically active than adipose tissue elsewhere.

The researchers believe associating breast cancer risk with waist circumference and skirt size could provide women with a "simple and easy to understand message”.