Early Life Exposures

Among perinatal factors of interest, recent studies have linked high birth weight29 and a negative history of breastfeeding in infancy30 to an increased breast cancer risk, while most of the studies regarding birth rank and maternal age reported little or no association.31 Fetal growth has been positively associated with concentrations of estrogens at the extremes of the corresponding distributions, although evidence for an association throughout the usual range of fetal growth is not clear.32 Recent studies suggest that the role of early life factors in determining breast cancer risk may be more apparent in younger women, but this may be due to better recall in this group.33 Differences in caloric intake, availability of specific nutrients, or possible hormonal and immunologic consequences of having been breastfed have been proposed as possible causes of a decreased breast cancer risk.33-35

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