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Women: Bigger Skirt Size Linked to 33% Higher Risk of Breast Cancer

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Measure Every woman wants to be able to wear a size 6. But as the years catch up with us, our waistlines tend to grow. And menopause doesn’t do us any favors in that department.

Now, research is showing that thickening of the waistline—even if you’re not overweight—can add to your risk of breast cancer. This new study included almost 93,000 women over the age of 50. All of them had gone through menopause. And none of them had breast cancer when they entered the study.

To get an idea of how much the women’s waist size had changed over the years, the researchers asked the women what size of skirt they wore in their 20s, and what size they currently wore.

Over an average of 3.19 years, 1,090 of the women developed breast cancer. And after evaluating all possible contributing factors, an increase in skirt size turned out to be the strongest predictor of breast cancer risk.

Going up one skirt size every 10 years after age 25 was associated with a 33 percent greater chance of developing postmenopausal breast cancer. Going up two skirt sizes in the same period was associated with a 77 percent greater risk.

The great thing about this study is that it zeroes in on abdominal fat in a way that women can easily relate to. For example, even if a woman has a normal body mass index, if much of the weight is centered around the belly (visceral adiposity) she’ll notice it in her skirt size.

“Although the exact mechanism of these relationships need to be better understood, there is a suggestion that body fat around the waist is more metabolically active than adipose tissue elsewhere,” the authors write. They also add that extra fat is known to boost levels of the female hormone oestrogen, which many breast cancer cells rely on for fuel.

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