Early-life and adult adiposity, adult height, and benign breast tissue composition

Hannah Oh, Lusine Yaghjyan, Rebecca J. Austin-Datta, Yujing J. Heng, Gabrielle M. Baker, Korsuk Sirinukunwattana, Adithya D. Vellal, Laura C. Collins, Divya Murthy, A. Heather Eliassen, Bernard A. Rosner, Rulla M. Tamimi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Early-life and adult anthropometrics are associated with breast density and breast cancer risk. However, little is known about whether these factors also influence breast tissue composition beyond what is captured by breast density among women with benign breast disease (BBD). Methods: This analysis included 788 controls from a nested case. control study of breast cancer within the Nurses' Health Study BBD subcohorts. Body fatness at ages 5 and 10 years was recalled using a 9-level pictogram. Weight at age 18, current weight, and height were reported via questionnaires. Adeep-learning image analysis was used to quantify the percentages of epithelial, fibrous stromal, and adipose tissue areas within BBD slides. We performed linear mixed models to estimate beta coefficients (b) and 95%confidence intervals (CI) for the relationships between anthropometrics and the log-transformed percentages of individual tissue type, adjusting for confounders. Results: Childhood body fatness (level = 4.5 vs. 1), BMI at age 18 (≥23 vs. <19 kg/m2), and current adult BMI (≥30 vs. <21 kg/m2) were associated with higher proportions of adipose tissue [β (95% CI) = 0.34 (0.03, 0.65), 0.19 (-, 0.40 (0.12, 0.68), respectively] and lower proportions of fibrous stromal tissue [-0.05 (-0.10, 0.002), -0.03 (-0.07, 0.003), -0.12 (-0.16, -0.07), respectively] during adulthood (all Ptrend < 0.04). BMI at age 18 was also inversely associated with epithelial tissue (Ptrend = 0.03). Adult height was not associated with any of the individual tissue types. Conclusions: Our data suggest that body fatness has long-term impacts on breast tissue composition. Impact: This study contributes to our understanding of the link between body fatness and breast cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-615
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the participants and staff of the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II for their valuable contributions as well as the following state cancer registries for their help: AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WY. The authors assume full responsibility for analyses and interpretation of these data. This work was supported by the NCI at the NIH (to L. Yaghjyan, grant number R01CA240341; to R.M. Tamimi, grant number CA131332, CA175080, and P01 CA087969; to A.H. Eliassen, grant number U01 CA176726 and UM1 CA186107), Avon Foundation for Women, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. H. Oh was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grants (2019R1G1A1004227, 2019S1A3A2099973) and Korea University grants (K2001271, L1906811). A.D. Vellal was supported by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center High School Summer Research Program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Association for Cancer Research.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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