July 8, 2012
Bra Size Linked To Breast Cancer Risk
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The same gene that can determine a woman's breast size could also be linked to her odds of developing breast cancer, with larger cup-sizes more likely to develop tumors, according to the results of a new study California-based personal genomics and biotechnology company 23andMe.
The firm reported that they were able to identify "seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) significantly associated with breast size, including three SNPs also correlated with breast cancer," according to CBS News reports. The study, which has been published in the journal BMC Medical Genetics, marks the first time that a genetic correlation between breast size and the risk of developing breast cancer has been made.
In the study, the researchers contacted more than 16,000 women of European ancestry. Each study participant identified their bra size on a 10-point scale, ranging from smaller than AAA to larger than DDD, and also answered questions regarding their age, genetic ancestry, pregnancy history, breast surgery history, and breast feeding status, CBS News and Tamara Cohen of the Daily Mail reported.
The women were then grouped into 10 categories based on their cup sizes, and the researchers identified genome regions associated with differences in breast development, the UK National Health Service (NHS) explained.
The 23andMe scientists then compared those genome regions with those known to be associated with increased breast cancer risk, before conducting a secondary analysis of 29 DNA variations also linked to breast cancer and finding out whether or not those variations were also associated with breast size among the study group, the NHS added.
They found that two out of seven unique genome variations "significantly associated" with breast size were also associated with breast cancer, and a third variation, discovered in the secondary analysis, had a "possible association" but one that was not statistically significant.
"There are surprising connections between some of the genes involved in determining breast size and the genes involved in breast cancer," lead author Nick Eriksson told The Huffington Post. However, he also emphasized that the link is somewhat "uncertain" and that "based on current knowledge, it's not a strong risk factor" in terms of breast cancer development.
"While the precise relationships between breast size, density, obesity and breast cancer remain difficult to untangle, understanding the biology“¦ may aid in the development of novel screening tools," Eriksson added in a separate interview with the Daily Mail's Cohen.