Preadolescent and adolescent risk factors for benign breast disease

J Adolesc Health. 2013 May;52(5 Suppl):S36-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.01.007.


Purpose: It is well established that exposures during childhood and adolescence affect breast cancer risk much later in life. Recently, studies have begun to evaluate whether early life exposures might also impact the risk of developing benign breast disease (BBD). A diagnosis of proliferative BBD independent of other breast cancer risk factors also increases the subsequent risk of breast cancer; therefore, understanding how to decrease the incidence of BBD may have important implications for primary breast cancer prevention.

Methods: We reviewed several studies from prospective cohort studies that have investigated the relationship between risk factors during childhood and adolescence, such as anthropometric and reproductive characteristics as well as diet and other behaviors, and subsequent risk of BBD.

Results: Higher intake of vegetable oils, nuts, vitamin E, and fiber and lower consumption of animal fat, red meat, and alcohol are associated with reduced risk of BBD. Childhood weight and adolescent body mass index are inversely associated with BBD risk, whereas a greater peak height velocity during adolescence is associated with a higher risk of BBD. There was no association between age of menarche and risk of BBD.

Conclusion: Early life exposures and behaviors appear to impact BBD risk. The current body of evidence further supports the importance of a life-course approach to breast cancer prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Anthropometry
  • Breast Diseases / epidemiology
  • Breast Diseases / etiology*
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Menarche
  • Motor Activity
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects