"The intrauterine and neonatal life periods have been suggested as critical windows in mammary gland development," said Maddalena Barba, M.D., research instructor in the UB Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and lead researcher on the study. "In utero and early childhood exposures might affect breast cancer risk by altering the hormonal environment of the developing fetus and young infant through mechanisms not yet completely clarified."
Barba and colleagues from UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions analyzed data collected from 2,382 women participating in the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer Study conducted from 1996-2001 during in-person, computer-assisted interviews. Complete information on the exposures of interest was available for 845 participants newly diagnosed with breast cancer during the study period who served as cases, and for 1,573 matched controls.
Researchers compared cases and controls, taking into consideration already well-recognized breast-cancer risk factors such as age, education, body-mass index, history of benign breast disease, family history of cancer, months of lactation, age at first menstrual period, age at first pregnancy, number of pregnancies and age at menopause for postmenopausal women.
Results showed that premenopausal women whose birth weight was greater than 8.5 pounds, and premenopausal women who had not been breast fed as infants, had an almost two-
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