Perinatal exposures and breast cancer risk in the Western New York exposures and breast cancer (WEB) study

Maddalena Barba*, Susan E. McCann, Jing Nie, Domenica Vito, Saverio Stranges, Barbara Fuhrman, Maurizio Trevisan, Paola Muti, Jo L. Freudenheim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: There is increasing evidence that early life exposures, such as birth weight, infant feeding practices, birth rank and maternal age at delivery may play a role in breast carcinogenesis. Methods: We conducted a case-control study of women aged 35-80 in Western New York (Western New York Exposure and Breast Cancer Study, the WEB Study, 1996-2001).The study included 845 women diagnosed with primary, incident, histologically confirmed breast cancer, and 1538 controls frequency-matched to cases on age, race, and county of residence. We conducted extensive in-person interviews including self-reported birth weight, history of having been breastfed, birth rank, and maternal age at delivery. Results: Birth weight was significantly associated with pre- but not post-menopausal breast cancer risk. Compared to women whose birth weight was 5.5-7 pounds, we found an increased risk associated with a birth weight greater than 8.5 pounds (OR 1.84, 95%CI: 1.12-3.02). Risk was also increased for pre- but not post-menopausal women who had not been breastfed (OR 1.78, 95%CI: 1.21-2.60). Birth order and maternal age at delivery were not significantly associated with breast cancer risk. Conclusions: Our findings are consistent with other studies showing breast cancer risk associated with birth weight for pre- but not post-menopausal breast cancer. As we found in an earlier study, having been breastfed was associated with decreased risk. These findings add to the accumulating evidence that early life events impact women's subsequent breast cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-401
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Case-control study
  • Perinatal exposures


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