Bigger breasts = higher cancer risk: research

Breast checks are particularly important for women with larger breasts. 
Photo / Thinkstock
Breast checks are particularly important for women with larger breasts. Photo / Thinkstock

Women with large breasts have a higher incidence of breast cancer compared to those with an average sized chest, according to new research.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia and BreastScreen WA analysed data from almost 760,000 women aged 40 to 70 - 55,000 had big breasts.

Large breasts were defined as those that required bigger mammogram film cassettes. Standard cassettes measure 18 by 24cm while bigger ones are 24 by 30cm.

Women whose breasts had been surgically enlarged or reduced and those with a previous diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer were not included in the study.

Researchers said women with larger breasts were more likely to suffer from the disease because there is more tissue available for neoplastic change and/or because larger breasts cause increased oestrogen levels. As women age, a larger proportion of them have larger breasts.

Study author Professor Liz Wylie said the reserach highlighted the importance of regular mammograms for all women, but particularly those with large breasts.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand women, with over 2600 cases each year.

- HERALD ONLINE

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