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Study: Women With Bigger Breasts More Likely To Get Breast Cancer

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File photo of a breast cancer procedure. (credit: SEBASTIEN NOGIER/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a breast cancer procedure. (credit: SEBASTIEN NOGIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (CBS Las Vegas) – Does chest size matter? For a leading genetics company, it does when it comes to predicting the likelihood of breast cancer.

For the first time, there’s a genetic link between breast size and breast cancer risks, according to a new study from 23andMe. The study, which was recently published in BMC Medical Genetics, identifies “seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) significantly associated with breast size, including three SNPs also correlated with breast cancer.”

The new findings come from data pulled from the survey answers of more than 16,000 23andMe customers of European ancestry. The study’s 16,175 volunteers answered questions based on their age, genetic ancestry, breast surgery history, breast feeding status and pregnancy history.

“The findings in this study show that some of the same biological pathways underlie both normal breast growth and breast cancer,” lead author Nicholas Eriksson said in a news release. “Some studies have found that larger breast size as a young woman is associated with a slightly higher risk for breast cancer. The genetic factors we found support this concept that breast size and breast cancer are related.”

Historically, the relationship between the size of a woman’s breasts and her likelihood for breast cancer has been unclear. But in finding two SNPs with a strong correlation to breast cancer and another SNP often associated with breast cancer, Eriksson and his team have found the first identifiable genetic variants in the breast size-breast cancer relationship.

“These results provide insight into the genetic factors underlying normal breast development and show that some of these factors are shared with breast cancer,” Eriksson stated. “While these results do not directly support the known epidemiological relationships between breast size and cancer, this study contributes to a better understanding of the subtle interactions between breast morphology and breast cancer risk.”

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