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A Larger Skirt Size could Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

Update Date: Sep 25, 2014 09:35 AM EDT

Being overweight or obese has been linked to increasing the risk of many health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. In a new study, researchers looked specifically at women's skirt sizes and found that larger sizes, which were a proxy for waist size, are tied to a greater risk of developing breast cancer.

For this study, the researchers led by Dr. Usha Menon, the head of the Gynecological Cancer Research Center at University College London, examined data on almost 93,000 women all older than 50 who were a part of the British database, which collected information on cancer screenings. The women participated in that study between 2005 and 2010. At the start of the study, none of the participants had breast cancer.

The researchers asked the women about their skirt sizes at different ages. At 25, the average skirt size was an 8 (US 6). At the average age of 64, the women reported an average skirt size of a 10 (US 8). About 75 percent of the women reported an increase in their skirt size as they aged.

"Our study has shown that an increase of one size every 10 years between 25 and postmenopausal age [over 60] is associated with an increase of breast cancer [risk] in postmenopausal women by 33 percent," said lead researcher Dr. Menon according to Philly.

If the skirt size increased by two sizes within the same time period, breast cancer risk jumped up by 77 percent. The study had accounted for other variables that could have affect breast cancer risk, such as family history, fertility, reproductive history, use of hormonal birth control and hormone replacement therapy.

"Although the exact mechanism of these relationships needs to be better understood, there is a suggestion that body fat around the waist is more metabolically active than adipose tissue elsewhere," said the researchers reported by FOX News.

Fat that builds up around the waist has been linked to increasing the body's estrogen levels. These elevated levels could contribute greatly to the development of breast cancer.

"This is an observational study and no definitive conclusion can be drawn about cause and effect," Menon added.

The study, "Association of skirt size and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in older women: a cohort study within the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS)," was published in the BMJ Open.

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