How Breast Size Affects Cancer Risk

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Asian breasts have greater density.

October Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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Females with voluminous breasts are more likely to develop breast cancer. Among women with breast cancer, those with a higher body mass index (BMI) have larger tumors and more advanced‐stage cancers at their initial diagnosis. Cancer can cause weight gain, which affects breast size. Conversely, women with larger breasts have difficulty feeling small breast lumps. Therefore, they benefit from mammography.

In one study, women with the highest BMI and those wearing a brassiere cup size D (10 cm) had 50 percent greater cancer risk than those with the lowest BMI wearing size A (2.5 cm). For all methods of detection, the odds of regional/distant stage breast cancer increased with higher BMI and bra cup size.

Breast density contributes to later cancer detection. In a retrospective review of data collected from 15,292 women, breast density appears to be greater in Asian women and least in African American women. Age and BMI or age, bra size, and cup size can account for the reported density differences except among Asians.

In a study of men in Brazil, Cameroon, the Czech Republic, and Namibia, individual preferences for breast size were variable, but the majority of raters preferred medium sized, followed by large sized breasts. Women with large bosoms may receive more attention from males in some cultures. This can cause some women to embrace higher BMI with accompanying breast volume.

The U.S. adult obesity rate reached 42.4 percent in 2020. This is the first time the national rate has passed the 40 percent mark. The national adult obesity rate has increased by 26 percent since 2008.

Body type—particularly pear shape—is sometimes hereditary. About 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers and 10 to 15 percent of ovarian cancers are hereditary. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes that help suppress cancer. A mutation in the BRCA genes can prevent them from working normally.

Men and women have hereditary imperfections or health defects that magnify with age. This is something that is minimized by avoidance of incestual interbreeding. The offspring of people who share a large number of genes have a higher risk of passing on negative traits. This is known as autosomal recessive disorder. Women who maintain a healthy weight with regular exercise and good food choices reduce breast cancer risks.

Either large breasts or small dense breasts can delay diagnosis. Discuss family history with your physician and get regular screening for early cancer detection.

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