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Thinner girls at greater risk of cancer: study

Published: 16 Apr 2010 06:57 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 Apr 2010 06:57 GMT+02:00

The risk of contracting cancer after the menopause is greater for girls who are considered thin at the age of seven than their chubbier counterparts, a new Swedish study published on Wednesday claims.

The surprising conclusion is made by Karolinska Institutet researchers who looked at data from 2,818 Swedish breast cancer patients and 3,111 healthy counterparts.

"Large body type at age seven years was associated with a decreased risk of post-menopausal breast cancer," said lead researcher Jingmei Li.

"It appears counterintuitive that a large body size during childhood can reduce breast cancer risk, because a large birth weight and a high adult BMI have been shown to elevate breast cancer," Li added.

"There remain unanswered questions on mechanisms driving this protective effect."

BMI means body mass index, a measure of fat.

A girl's BMI at the age of seven also dictates the risk of so-called oestrogen receptive negative tumours, where the outcome is often less favourable than other cancer types, said the study.

The paper is published online in an open-access, peer-reviewed journal, Breast Cancer Research.

Separately, in a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, scientists drew a map of 20 genetic mutations behind a highly lethal, fast-spreading form of breast cancer.

So-called "triple negative" breast cancer disproportionately affects younger women and those who are African-American.

The gene profile came from a 44-year-old African-American woman who was killed within months after breast cancer spread to her brain.

The work adds to knowledge about fast-track breast cancer and throws up new drug targets for women diagnosed with "triple negative" tumours, said Elaine Mardis, co-director of the Genome Center at Washington University.

"We are getting an intimate look at the lethal spread of a breast cancer, which is now possible because we can sequence entire genomes quickly at a reasonable cost," said Mardis.

The first draft of human genetic code was published nearly a decade ago, on June 26 2000. Since then, the cost of sequencing has fallen by a factor of 14,000.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:21 April 16, 2010 by calebian22
I wonder if the researchers at the Karolinska institute were influenced by listening to Freddie Mercury sing Fat Bottom Girls on their mp3s?
08:26 April 16, 2010 by peropaco
LOL. I guess a large percentage of girls from US, Sweden, UK, new of this risk way before any medical reseach. Supersize is the way to go..
08:39 April 16, 2010 by CarlBlack
And what is the difference in chance of getting breast cancer? 3% or 30%? Why don't the journalists ask such basic question?

And why don't they put here link to the article, especially since it is open access?
14:16 April 16, 2010 by 2394040
You wonder if the medical profession knows what it is talking about. For years we've heard that being overweight increases the possibility of certain diseases, including cancer. Now being too thin does it. Do you ever get the impression that the medical profession is mostly interested in scaring people into seeing doctors more than they really need to?
15:15 April 16, 2010 by sissygirl
There we have it. Just LIVE people and quit worrying about every morsel you consume. All we hear is "This causes cancer, that prevents cancer." My mother was obese. She prayed I would not be fat. I was always a shrimp to her relief. And now I might get cancer. Bring on the cigarrettes and red M&Ms!
15:38 April 16, 2010 by AndreaGerak
"...and throws up new drug targets" - this is the point of this research.

Money talks. Simple.

If you wanna know a bit more about cancer research that fro example Cancerfonden doesn't like to tell us:

http://www.thelocal.se/blogs/stuckinstockholm/2010/04/09/cancer-research-forward-or-backward/
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