If you are pregnant, don’t let the cravings get the best of you. You may be risking a lot more.
A new study released today shows mothers who give birth to overweight babies are at larger risk for breast cancer in the future.
“Women who give birth to large babies are two and half times more likely at risk for breast cancer later in life,” says Dr. Radek Bukowski, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “This is independent from other risk factors for breast cancer,” he adds.
About 410 pregnant women participated in the survey. During up to 17 years of observation, 7.6 percent of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer. The average time interval from birth of the first child to breast cancer diagnosis was 38 years, with a median age of 61-years-old.
“We have found that women who give birth to larger babies are associated with a hormonal environment that favors development and progression of breast cancer,” says Bukowski.
According to Cancer.org, the connection between weight and breast cancer is complex.
Before menopause, your ovaries produce most of your estrogen and fat tissue produces a small amount of estrogen. After menopause, your ovaries stop making estrogen so fat tissues produce more estrogen. Because of the increase in estrogen levels, having more fat tissue after menopause can increase your risk of breast cancer.
“Increased weight of young girls, Hispanic or not, which can be associated with very early [first menstrual period] is not good,” says Dr. Carlos Arteaga, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University. “[Early menstruation] is associated with increased risk of breast cancer,” he adds.
According to WomensHealth.gov, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Latina women, and they are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage. Latina women are also more likely to have tumors that are larger and harder to treat that white women, according to WomensHealth.gov.
“This is the first of its finding,” says Bukowski. “Using this information can help predict future breast cancer risks,” he adds.
The study states this increased risk was not affected by adjustment for the mother’s own birth weight or other breast cancer risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol intake and exercise. Bukowski suggests breast-feeding, keeping a healthy diet and physical activity are general ways to lower risk of breast cancer.