News on Wellness

Breast Cancer: Risk Increases with Skirt Size

skirt-size-and-cancerA new study published in BMJ open reveals that as skirt sizes go up risk of breast cancer increases. According to Dr. Usha Menon, lead researcher of the study and head of the Gynecological Cancer Research Center at University College London, to minimize the chance of developing breast cancer, skirt sizes should stay the same over the years.

Researchers identified a direct link between an increase of just one skirt size every 10 years for women 25 to over 60 and a greater risk of breast cancer. Information was gathered on 93,000 women who were enrolled in a British database pertaining to cancer screening. At the time of entering the study in 2005 and ending in 2010, all the women were 50 or older and void of a breast cancer diagnosis.

When questioned about skirt size at the age of 25, most wore an 8 but at the start of the study when the average age of participants was 64, skirt size had increased to a 10. Overall, 75% of the women had an increased skirt size. Researchers found a 77% greater risk of developing this form of cancer for every two higher skirt sizes every 10 years, going from age 25 to over 60.

Menon clarifies by saying that for each skirt size increase every 10 years, the five-year risk of developing cancer after menopausal age climbed from one in 61 women to one in 51 women.

As part of the study, information specific to height and weight was provided by the women, which in turn was used to calculate Body Mass Index or BMI. Details about other factors that could potentially affect risk of breast cancer were also gathered to include family history of this and other types of cancer, fertility, reproduction, and the use of hormone replacement therapy or birth control.

In the beginning, the women revealed current skirt size but also what it was during their mid-twenties. For three to four years, the participants were carefully monitored by researchers and asked additional questions about overall health to include any diagnosis of breast cancer. During this timeframe, 1,090 did in fact receive a diagnosis of having cancer.

Researchers expected an increased risk of cancer pertaining to things like hormone replacement therapy and family history but surprisingly, skirt size increase was the biggest predictor, this according to Dr. Menon.

Dr. Menon stressed that no definitive conclusion can be made about cause and effect with this being an observational study. However, increase in skirt size over the years is definitely something that needs to be considered as a risk factor for breast cancer. The bottom line – skirt size was the proxy for weight gain around the abdominal area and when compared to the BMI risk factor, increase in skirt size was actually a much better predictor.

If a woman needs a larger skirt size, it means there is an increase in abdominal fat. As stated by Dr. Menon, the specific mechanism between added abdominal fat and a higher risk of breast cancer still needs to be studied more but it has been proven time and time again that obesity boosts the amount of estrogen in the body, a hormone needed by many breast cancers in order to grow.

Dr. Leslie Bernstein, director of cancer etiology at the City of Hope Cancer Center in California says that the findings of Dr. Menon’s study make perfect sense. She sums it up by saying that fat around the waist is metabolically more active than fat tissue found anywhere else in the body and that while no cause and effect link had been established, clothing size to determine risk can product accurate data that ultimately will help save lives.

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