A possible link between the pubertal growth of girls and breast cancer in their daughters

David J P Barker, Clive Osmond, Kent Thornburg, Eero Kajantie, Tom J. Forsen, Johan G. Eriksson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    24 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    One hypothesis for the origins of breast cancer is that it is initiated by exposure of developing breast tissue in utero to maternal sex hormones. The sex hormone profile is established at puberty, when it regulates growth of the pelvic bones. The pubertal growth of girls is characterized by broadening and rounding of the pelvis. The maximal width between their iliac crests, the intercristal width, increases more rapidly than in boys. We hypothesized that higher sex hormone concentrations at puberty produce larger intercristal widths, and these are markers of increased breast cancer risk in the next generation. We followed up 6,370 women who were born in Helsinki during 1934-1944, and whose mothers' pelvic bones were measured during routine antenatal care. Women whose mothers had large intercristal widths had higher rates of breast cancer. In those born at or after 40 weeks gestation, the hazard ratio for breast cancer was 3.7 (95% CI: 2.1-6.6) if their mother's intercristal width was greater than 30 cm. Among women born to multiparous mothers this hazard ratio rose to 7.2 (3.4-15.4). Hazard ratios for breast cancer were also higher in the daughters of mothers with round iliac crests. Pelvic bone measurements which increase similarly in girls and boys at puberty did not predict breast cancer. We conclude that the intercristal width, and the roundness of the iliac crests, are markers of mothers' sex hormones, and postulate that high concentrations cause genetic instability in differentiating breast cells in their daughters in utero.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)127-131
    Number of pages5
    JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
    Volume20
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 2008

    Fingerprint

    sex hormone
    Nuclear Family
    breast neoplasms
    cancer
    sex hormones
    Mothers
    Breast Neoplasms
    Gonadal Steroid Hormones
    puberty
    Pelvic Bones
    Growth
    bone
    Puberty
    hazard
    bones
    breasts
    Breast
    prenatal care
    pelvis
    pregnancy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Anthropology

    Cite this

    A possible link between the pubertal growth of girls and breast cancer in their daughters. / Barker, David J P; Osmond, Clive; Thornburg, Kent; Kajantie, Eero; Forsen, Tom J.; Eriksson, Johan G.

    In: American Journal of Human Biology, Vol. 20, No. 2, 03.2008, p. 127-131.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Barker, David J P ; Osmond, Clive ; Thornburg, Kent ; Kajantie, Eero ; Forsen, Tom J. ; Eriksson, Johan G. / A possible link between the pubertal growth of girls and breast cancer in their daughters. In: American Journal of Human Biology. 2008 ; Vol. 20, No. 2. pp. 127-131.
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